An Invite to Discuss Peacefully, and God's Sovereign Choice
Lately, I have had a few folks question me about my Theology. Many of my Sandy Creek Baptist friends (which consist of most Baptists in my area) tell me I sound like a Calvinist, and some of my Reformed brethren (which are few in number) say that I sometimes sound like an Armenian. More the first than the second. I kinda like it like that. I do agree with the 5 points of Calvinism, but many in my area don't really know what they teach or what they imply. All they hear is that "we are dead in our trespasses and sins, and that we need God to awaken our dead souls to life." When they hear that, or they hear the word "Calvinist," anger sets in, faces turn red, and many unreasonable conclusions are drawn without proper discussion. When this happens, the discussion is over because usually the person driven by their emotions cannot rationally discuss anything. Sometimes, I have seen people get down right nasty in their accusations. Most of them are not told to me directly, but I hear them from time to time. What is strange is that I do not set out to stir up strife, in fact most of the time, I am unaware of the storm around me. I have been accused of many things because of this, but many haven't been willing to sit down and discuss this peacefully to try and clarify that they understand what I believe. I won't get angry if the person disagrees with me. I love a peaceful discussion, even with those I disagree with. One of the best ones I ever had was with a Jehovah's witness who invited me to his house to discuss the Bible with him. At the end of the day, we walked away disagreeing, but we both had a better understanding of each other. I still pray for him.
I have also heard rumors about my beliefs that are usually not true. I think it is interesting the conclusions we are all prone to be drawn to when we hear something that doesn't sound right to us. Instead of being willing to get our hands dirty and do some work to find out what we are hearing is all about, we can be lazy and just write someone off as being false. I have been guilty of this before. I don't believe that any person can be totally objective, but I do think we should give the other side a proper hearing. This goes not only for the Calvinism/ Arminianism debate, but other issues as well. At the end of the day, we may still disagree, but maybe we will have a better understanding of the other side and a general respect for them. Not because we or they are worthy, but because God is worthy and due all honor and praise. We also should bear in mind our own improprieties. "We see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV). It isn't that we can't have confidence in what we understand the Bible to say, but we should be respectful to those we disagree with because we are all flawed and do not see as clear now as we will. God is great, the Bible is sufficient, but not exhaustive. John said at the end of his Gospel "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen." (John 21:25 NKJV) There is so much more. There is an element of mystery bound up in the person of God, what He does, and how He does it. We can understand some things to point, but when it is all said and done, He always has the preeminence.
Below is a great excerpt from one of Charles Spurgeon's sermons on the subject of God's sovereign choice as it is taught in Scripture. I think the explanation is factual and accurate to the Biblical account concerning the proper order of God's choice and our choice. If you know me and would like to discuss my beliefs concerning the wonderful God of the Universe and His Word, I would love to put on a pot of coffee and discuss this with you. May God be exalted!
"I am a 5 Point Spurgeonist"
“But there are some who say, ‘It is hard for God to choose some and leave others.’ Now, I will ask you one question. Is there any of you here this morning who wishes to be holy, who wishes to be regenerate, to leave off sin and walk in holiness? ‘Yes, there is,’ says some one, ‘I do.’ Then God has elected you. But another says, ‘No; I don’t want to be holy; I don’t want to give up my lusts and my vices.’ Why should you grumble, then, that God has not elected you to it? For if you were elected you would not like it, according to your own confession. If God this morning had chosen you to holiness, you say you would not care for it. Do you not acknowledge that you prefer drunkenness to sobriety, dishonesty to honesty? You love this world’s pleasures better than religion; then why should you grumble that God has not chosen you to religion? If you love religion, he has chosen you to it. If you desire it, he has chosen you to it. If you do not, what right have you to say that God ought to have given you what you do not wish for?
Supposing I had in my hand something which you do not value, and I said I shall give it to such-and-such a person, you would have no right to grumble that I did not give to you. You could not be so foolish as to grumble that the other has got what you do not care about. According to your own confession, many of you do not want religion, do not want a new heart and a right spirit, do not want the forgiveness of sins, do not want sanctification; you do not want to be elected to these things: then why should you grumble? You count these things but as husks, and why should you complain of God who has given them to those whom he has chosen? If you believe them to be good and desire them, they are there for thee. God gives liberally to all those who desire; and first of all, he makes them desire, otherwise they never would. If you love these things, he has elected you to them, and you may have them; but if you do not, who are you that you should find fault with God, when it is your own desperate will that keeps you from loving these things—your own simple self that makes you hate them?
Suppose a man in the street should say, ‘What a shame it is I cannot have a seat in the chapel to hear what this man has to say.’ And suppose he says, ‘I hate the preacher; I can’t bear his doctrine; but still it’s a shame I have not a seat.’ Would you expect a man to say so? No: you would at once say, ‘That man does not care for it. Why should he trouble himself about other people having what they value and he despises?’ You do not like holiness, you do not like righteousness; if God has elected me to these things, has he hurt you by it? . . . If any of you love to be saved by Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ elected you to be saved. If any of you desire to have salvation, you are elected to have it, if you desire it sincerely and earnestly. But, if you don’t desire it, why on earth should you be so preposterously foolish as to grumble because God gives that which you do not like to other people?” (Charles H. Spurgeon, sermon on 2 Thessalonians 2:13, available at www.Monergism.com).
"Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. NKJV (Rev. 22:17b).