"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « The Objection Raised in Romans 9:14 | Main | Images of the Savior (I – Joshua's Succession of Moses) »

    Can anyone relate?

    I read the following comment (online) and just wondered how many of us could relate to the sort of journey this person describes:

    I grew up Baptist... and went to a non-denominational Christian university..., and basically considered myself Arminian, but I recognized that there were elements of Calvinism that were undeniably in Scripture.

    Over the next five or six years after college I adopted each of the "five points" one at a time, in this order:

    Total Depravity - It seemed pretty obvious to me that every part of us is affected by sin, not just superficially. This one really should have triggered all the rest, since they all progress out of it.

    Perseverance of the Saints - Even coming from an Arminian perspective, this one is affirmed all throughout the Bible. The only seemingly-contrary passage was Heb 6:4-6, and one should be cautious of forming a doctrine around a single verse. (I've since come to believe that this verse in Hebrews refers to the same type of people as in Jesus' parable of the Sower when he mentions the seed sown on rocky & thorny ground. They hear the word and respond joyfully but they don't actually put salvific trust in Christ.)

    Unconditional Election - Even as an Arminian, I'd say that nothing in us merits salvation, but I struggled with whether "faith" itself was a work that earned salvation. I gradually began to understand that faith is a work, but not ours. Rather, it's God's work in us, for his own sovereign, mysterious reasons.

    Irresistible Grace - At this point, I was at the "Four-Point Calvinist" position, having recognized Arminian theology as Biblically untenable, and therefore, in violation of the principle of Sola Scriptura. Its popularity in the West is probably best explained by our obession with Enlightenment principles of individualism and humanism, etc.

    Limited Atonement - This one came last because I didn't understand it for so long. I watched an R.C. Sproul lecture over at the Ligonier website that finally clicked for me. I had been misinterpreting it and rejecting it in a negative sense: "Christ didn't die for the whole world", when I should have been interpreting it in a positive sense: "Christ died specifically for his sheep." Once I looked at it from that angle, all of a sudden it made complete sense that although Christ's death is so valuable it could cover everyone in the world, of course Christ's death doesn't cover the sins of those who reject him; their penalty still awaits them.

    FWIW, I found Sproul's series here to be incredibly helpful:

    He also feels like the names of the five points can be misleading, and he prefers terms he thinks are more accurate, such as "Definite Atonement" instead of "Limited Atonement."

    Posted by John Samson on April 21, 2010 04:18 PM


    Yes, I can relate to this. The only difference for me would be switching "P" with "T", but otherwise, my journey through TULIP was pretty much the same.

    In my case, though, it took some traumatic events (death of a parent and a case of Numbers 23:32 being applied to my life) for my to truly come to grip with the sovereignty of God and fully embrace the doctrines of grace.

    I can definitely relate. The order of acceptance was the same for me as it was for you. Interestingly, shortly after my conversion I sought to disprove Calvinism because one of my friends adamantly believed it. In so doing, I was slowly led to see that Calvinism was definitely more seen in the Bible than what I had grown up believing. After that realization I bought R.C. Sproul's book, "What is Reformation Theology" (The print version of the only teaching you watched) and was overwhelmingly convinced.

    I have come to realize that if people would just pick up their Bible and read the text for what it clearly says rather than trusting what they have learned over the years, we would not see this debate nearly as much as we do now. So many people are ignorant of the Scriptures! May God open their hearts and lead them to the glorious truth of His ABSOLUTE sovereignty over all creation.

    I can relate except growing up in a church, and going to a christian school.
    But the Armenian stuff was defiantly me.
    What got me was John MacArthur teaching on Limited Atonement. I listened to it at least 10 times. All the rest fell in place and the weight I had put on my shoulders to be an effective evangelist was removed.

    "God Saves Sinners"

    There is no Numbers 23:32 Michael, I think you mean Numbers 32:23. In any event I embraced the Docs of Grace, in 2001, quite readily since this teaching was never given in all the churches I attended over a period of 30 years. Praise God for true witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    1. Said sinner's prayer in a Baptist church when I was 8

    2. Grew up in an A/G church

    3. Worked in porn for my adult life while attending a COGIC church

    4. Divorced.

    5. Attended a non-denom megachurch in the suburbs.

    6. God saved me (this was 3 years ago)

    7. Sitting with friends late night, somebody mentioned Calvinism and I asked, "What's that?" only to get the triple eye-rolling "UGHness!" and "They believe that God predestines people to be saved?" to which I responded, "I thought we had free will."

    8. Read about Calvinism and TULIP. What a load of garbage.

    9. Then I started studying Scriptures and keep seeing T, U, L, I, P over and over again.

    Like I always said, "I wasn't a Calvinist until I started reading the Bible."

    Wow! I had a similar experience in a nutshell.

    1. Agnostic sinner.

    2. New believer in Christ.

    3. Free will Baptist/General evangelical.

    4. Read R.C. Sproul's book "What is Reformation Theology".

    5. 5-point Calvinistic Baptist.

    6. Soli Deo Gloria!

    Yes, me too. I can relate.

    I cannot say I developed along the lines of a five point Calvinist, though.

    I have studied the Bible all my adult life. I am 56. I was opened up to understand that I was lost when I was about 20 years of age and began a persevering endeavor to discipleship and Spiritual discipline in 1975 forsaking the world then. I was fortunate to have a "Christian Community" I could come into fully divorcing myself from the world's treasures. I can't say that about my flesh, though! I too have found the same things true and hold to them as the Apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 7. I do under somewhat, in part this verse from Romans 8:

    Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

    I studied and studied, read and read, the Bible in at least 20 translations, looking deeper at the Hebrew and Greek and of late, Aramaic. It is recently over the last four or five years that my exposure to "Reformational thinking" and to Calvin's thinking and Luther's thinking have occupied my spare moments.

    As I have read works by these men and a number of others contemporary to each of them; and then to those minds after them down through history, it is now my firm conviction that there is little if anything unbiblical about Martin Luther's understanding of the Bible and his thinking written down about his historical life and works; and the same holds true that it is my firm conviction that there is little if anything unbiblical about John Calvin and his thinking written down about his historical life and works.

    Having acknowledged that, I do say that each of these great minds have been sorely misread and misrepresented and misunderstood, sadly maligned by some and caused division among us.

    Why, just this last weekend, a dear man, a Scholar and a Ph'D, a brillant Lutheran theologian, was saying of John Calvin, no, but of "Calvinists" rather, that it is his belief about Calvin that the meaning of the word "world" he held too so that as TULIP was developed when they come to get "Limited Atonement" from it it is and was wrong, citing 2 Cor. 5:18-19.

    Here I was, sitting there listening to him, facing a conundrum, "keeping" my opinion to myself, because, I found myself wondering why he doesn't accept that "world" means the "world" of God's people as John Calvin understood it to mean and so he rejects out of hand one petal of that glorious plant's flower?

    Is it a heaven and hell deal breaker? No, I think not!

    Anyone think otherwise?

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