Is Calvinism Biblical?

calvinist

Now that I have asked that, did you go to feelings or to Scriptrue? To logic or to personal preference?

Calvinism has been on the surge, as have its opponents. Here is a short article with some good thoughts. Yes, some Calvinists make the ‘emotive’ (emotional based) arguments too, and can turn off people about it, when in fact both sides rarely use and know the Bible in, especially online.

If properly examined, Calvinism, as John Calvin taught, is Biblical, because it is just the logical inverse of Scripture in context by inductive reason. Or just read Romans and if you do not like Paul, read 1 Peter chp 1, if you do not like Peter, then read John chps 14-15. If you do not like John, well you have bigger problems. That is, if one would look to the Book, not to feelings, ideas, personal philosophy, what my pastor said or musings…. You would be ‘Reformed.’

Personally, I do not use the term ‘Clavinisim’ much, as it has too much baggage, because most people never have read Calvin and make assumptions that are not true. And some Calvinists are ‘A holes’ (the main problem with Christianity is a lack of Fruit, Gal 5) as this article points out. I have read Calvin, all of him, and found him passionately powerful and true. Talks more about prayer and devotion to God and personal responsibility over all else. I personally prefer the term ‘Reformed’ and if there is a disagreement, I will not quote Calvin, instead, “let us go to Scripture and reason together, look to contexts and see for yourself….”

Always base theology of God’s Word, not of mens or your feelings…. I am not an apologist for Calvin, I am an apologist to proper reason, logic, when look to Scripture, using proper rules of Induction and Hermeneutics.

What is the main contention point? Calvin placed the emphases on God’s purpose. The Armenians place the emphasis on our choosing and God’s foreknowledge.

I certainly will not solve this debate. Both points are valid to a degree, so we can agree to disagree. But, I challenge you to carefully read and study these Scriptures. I grew up in Reformed churches (Episcopal, Lutheran and Presbyterian) and went to a Reformed Seminary, yet for years I rejected four of the five points. The reason was that I refused to see the evidence, instead, choosing to believe my feelings, what my mentors stated, and interpretation along with popular Evangelical thinking. I also did not read Calvin myself. I knew only what others said of him, and, as we will see, most people do a very good job of misrepresenting Calvin! It wasn’t until through a Seminary buddy (Michael Horton), who kept pestering me to examine the evidence, did I finally and surely come to the logical and clear reformed perspective.

My presumptions were in the way, as were my sources, which were plainly wrong. 

So let us focus on God’s Word. Look at it carefully in its context and lift up the blood of Christ as our final Lord and Mediator.

What to know about Calvinism and where it comes from and why it is Biblical? Here is an article that does not quote Clavin; rather, just takes you to Scripture, shows both arguments and you can see for yourself…>

http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=44056&columnid=4541

And here http://theresurgence.com/2012/07/25/5-myths-about-reformed-theology

How goes “The Great Commission” in your church?

The Matthew 28 passage presents us with “The Great Commission,” as these are the marching orders for our faith and practice! This is also the hallmark passage for evangelism and missions! This is the climax of redemption and the critical call of the Church. This passage contains the ultimate wonder of the universe-the incredible impossible, and the incredible triumph. Jesus was crucified; He died, and was buried.

 

The-great-commission

 

What does make disciples mean to your church? What has your church done with Christ’s most important call? Why do so few churches and Christians do this?

 

The history of man, his fallen state, the move of our Lord though history and our lives has interwoven to the finishing point. He lived on our behalf. He has died in our place to absorb God’s wrath and pay our debt of sin; now, He rises back to life, conquering death, and giving us victory and grace for a life of fulfillment and fullness (Psalm 16:11; 107:09; Isa. 26:3; John 14:21; Gal. 5:16; 22-23; 1 John 1:7-9; 3 John 4)! 

Let’s look at what this all means: 

“Make disciples” literally means someone who pledges to be a “learner.” Moreover, it is someone who follows another’s teaching, and adheres to it. It is a commitment and a process. It involves commitment, and time to undertake the learning, and, as a Christian, a yearning to imitate Jesus!  

This refers to what rabbis did, that is, take people under their wing and teach them the Scriptures and procedures of the Temple and life. Thus, they could then become rabbis, and so forth. There were few formal schools then; and, even after going to a formal school as Paul did, becoming a disciple was still paramount, as it is yet today! The Jews baptized, but not in the name of people, but rather, for repentance. Jesus is God and He saves; we respond by repenting (Matt. 4:17; Eph. 1:3‑14; 2:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:18‑2:16; 15:1‑8).  

The difference is that rabbis made disciples like themselves, with their traditions and beliefs. We are called to make disciples like Christ, and teach His precepts and ways!  

“Baptize” meant conversion and identification; the person was to become identified as a person of faith and as a follower of Christ. It does not presuppose a ritual, but rather a mindset. The physical act of baptism is essential (not for salvation), as it is a public showing of our faith and commitment. The specifics of how and when are not as important as the faith and obedience to follow Christ (Matt. 4:18-19).  

“Teaching” means to show what is in the Scriptures, how to understand God’s Word, what is God saying to us, and how to live by God’s Word. Personal instruction helps us understand and then apply His precepts into our lives. We are to live for Him and to serve Him. For the rabbi, this meant the Law, Commandments, and the Prophets. Now, it also means the teachings of our Lord.

“Observe.” We are called to learn what to believe and to obey. We do this by observing; it is cemented in us by doing! This passage is called “practical holiness.” Jesus calls us to observe (to learn and grow) and then to do it!  

“Always be with you.” The great comfort we have is that the God of the universe, our Creator and Lord, knows us, loves us, and will be with us! This also refers to Jesus being fully God. One of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, which means “God is with us (Matt. 1:23).”  

To make this all work, the remaining disciples had to surrender their will to His in order to know who He was and what He was doing in them (John 3:30). 

We cannot make disciples of others until first we, ourselves, become disciples of Jesus (2 Pet. 1:13)! 

The disciples bore witness to His call to make disciples of all nations; they were His witnesses and His messengers. What will you do about this today (Acts. 1: 22; 4:2, 10, 33; 2 Cor. 5:20)?

 The key to implement this is to realize who Jesus is-and His authority! When we have acknowledged His authority, then we can allow His work in us. Then, He can use us in the lives of others. The opportunities and potentials are limitless (Luke 10:17-20; John 15:7; Acts 20:24)! 

What can you do to help your church see the veracity of The Great Commission and do a better job of knowing Christ so they can then make Him known? What would your church look like doing this? What would your neighborhood look like?

 

http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/?articleid=42799&columnid=4540

Beware of Reading in our Feelings and Desires as His Word!

In Matthew 21:18-32, Jesus gave a seemingly weird illustration and example to get our attention and get us out of our complacency and pride when He cursed a fig tree. Why did He do that?

This has always perplexed me and as a youth pastor, I sometimes used it as a joke to make a point. But, in the ten years it took me to research and write an inductive commentary on Matthew, I delved into this fig tree and the answer was easy to find and quite simple and inspirational. This time of year, figs would be just forming leaves and have small, green, uneatable fruit. Apparently, this tree had nothing but leaves, displaying only self-interest. The readiness of the fruit was not the issue; it was the willingness to make the fruit, which is a very profound mirror to us and our churches. A tree that has leaves at that time of year should also have fruit, even though it would not be ready to eat. It was cursed because it refused to produce. This tree promised, but did not deliver; it was just a display having no real intention, impact, or worth.

In this passage, the emphasis is for us not to doubt or to hold back, lest we lose out on what is best for us and those around us!

This is exactly what Jesus wants us to get for our lives; we must be fruitful; and we do this by immersing ourselves in His Word.

Consider this: making leaves is essential for a tree, especially an evergreen; but, unless it also produces fruit, a fruit tree is useless. We are meant to be fruit trees for our Lord! The fig tree only cared about itself, whereas the other fig trees produced fruit before their leaves. We need to take a deep look into our lives and see ourselves as God sees us.

Perhaps you can consider yourself as a tree; are your roots strong and healthy? That is, are you being fed, then carrying His nutrients to all the parts of your being? Is your trunk strong?

That is, how is your relationship with Christ? Are your branches supporting the nests of birds? That is, are you nurturing and exhibiting good character, being useful to others? Are your leaves healthy and strong? That is, how is your personality and disposition? Do you attract people or are you revolting to them? And, are you producing fruit or just leaves? If you are not in the Word, none of this will work (Matt. 7:15-20; 1 Pet. 4: 1-11; 2 Pet. 1:1-11)!

Leaves are essential, but the leaves are only good for that plant, not for others. Fruit is to be harvested and shared. Is your faith real so it makes a difference to you and others around you?

We must make sure that our lives are not just about the care of ourselves, but the care of others as well. If you think this is too hard, consider and take comfort in the fact that He will not give us anything we cannot handle! So, let us live with excellence, being our best for His glory! We can be a good tree or a bad one. Your church can produce fruit to nourish and impact others, or give out rotten fruit that will discourage and repulse all those in your neighborhood. Faith is the key to allow your determination and His call to move you. Be willing to be led by the truth of His Word, and by your faith and trust in Him (Phil 2:10-13; 4:8-9; Heb. 2:10; 11:1).

Super Bible

The Problem of Reading in our views and ideas into God’s Views and Ideas

We must be careful not to let our feelings and distractions lead us away from knowing our instructions.

God is the “ultimate author” and as depicted in the Bible, uses many ways and means of communicating such as visions, direct speaking, angels, dreams, and people to bring His message of hope and salvation as well as His precepts. God speaks the personal revelation and the coming and precepts of Christ, echoing the prophecies, types, reverberations, and shadows of the Old Testament, which come to fruition with Christ and His Work. At the same time, God carefully and progressively gave humanity, piece by piece, His instructions, revelations, and precepts, which they could comprehend-culminating with Christ. All laid out in the Bible without err!

This means God has an important message for us and we must heed it.

We can be changed, He does speak to us today; He wants to hear from you; He loves you and cares for you. So, why not clue yourself in to His plan and precepts by just spending some time in the Bible each day? Can there really be something better to do to grow your life and solve your problems? You are not going to find it in a cheap book or on TV; the best stuff comes from Him who has His directions readable and open to us now! What the Prophets of old could only imagine, dream, and hope for, we have now so we can comprehend and apply His message to our lives and pulpits (Num. 12:6-8; Heb. 3:5)!

Obey Him, live for Him, serve Him, and be grateful! This is our call, to walk with Christ. To do exactly what Jesus wants us to get for our lives. To be faithful, to be fruitful; and we do this by immersing ourselves in His Word.

Do not ignore Him or misuse His Word; rather, embrace Him and His Word, the Bible head on, fast and hard. We have a God who is Most Holy and He will not be thwarted or misrepresented or disrespected. Therefore, let us put our faith and hope in Him. Remember your experience in His love and grace and feel His fellowship and empowerment as we are His people and He is our loving Lord. As Christians, let us all be appreciative for who we are in Christ and what He has done for us, so we can worship Him and live contented lives (Hebrews 12:14-29)!

Then, with what He gives, be transformed, and made relevant. We are to build our faith and fruit, which is what we are given when we grow in Him, what we add to, and what He then multiplies. Then, we will have more of the awareness of God and His will, which has more to do with our character and faith then what we do for a living! As Christians, we operate from heaven as God’s ambassadors (Rom. 5:1-5; 1 Cor. 13; 2 Cor. 5:20).

 

What Bible Illiteracy Does

 

It creates false teaching! 

A pious, fraud, megalomaniac, Bible teacher can come in and say whatever he would like. And, because of his personality and charisma and our lack of knowledge, we believe whatever he says.

Thus, Bible illiteracy prevents us from thinking, processing and applying to our lives what is actually in the Bible. Instead, we get our feet caught in the gopher holes of this dysfunctional, bad teaching. We have seen this with the “little gods” phenomena that has spread like cancer with the false teaching crowd. What about all the end times’ books and speculations that led countless Christians no nowhere in faith or practice, or the overzealousness of a particular Bible translation and thus no biblical transformation results, or the rabbit holes on which we place our tent of faith that distracts us from God’s true Truth. We may think our pursuits are good, but in fact, we are just distracted from what God has for us and our church!

It creates mindless speculations. 

Too many Christians get so captivated and fixated on speculations and things that Jesus told us not to, like the timing and arrangements of His second coming, that they miss the main point of Matthew 24. His coming again is not about when or how, but what we are doing to prepare for it. That preparation has to do with our faith formation more than anything else-not our ideas of when and how. It has nothing to do with a rapture or not a rapture; a pre-trib/post-trib/ no trib/pan trib, but through all the argumentations and conjectures, the Truth and point are missed. Christ wants us to be loyal and obedient to His Word in precepts and call. He is calling us, His people in His Church, to Him!

What we do instead is take Bible passages out of their context, string them together to satisfy our whims, and fight to the death to make our obtuse points. How sad that is!

It creates shallow Christians and pretentious, incompetent leaders. 

The result? Shallow people and a faithless church, moving away from the Bible and embracing anything but Him and His Word. I am not talking about liberalism, although this is a problem too. Rather, I allude to conservative and Reformed churches moving away from the centrality of Scripture and the disciplines to learn and grow, substituting cheap stories without substance, shallow messages without challenge, and pride replacing love and fruit to be the icing on the cake of pretentiousness.

It creates emptiness and hurt!

Because it keeps us away from God and the blessings and opportunities He has for us. The Bible contains God’s voice; so, do you hear Him clearly or do you just hear your voice and think it is His? God spoke! God speaks to His Son and to His people through His Son. In Hebrews, we have the “prophetic revelations” such as Moses and Isaiah where His voice was heard and written down for us to hear too. This has become our Bible, which contains His Word, instructions, and call for us to heed. As great as this was when first heard, it was incomplete and waiting for a culmination and fruition; now, through Christ, His revelation is clear and complete and audible for us to hear. So, why do we not desire to hear it more (Acts 2:17; 1 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 10:1; 13:20; 1 John 2:18)?

We create an inability to learn from our lives, failures, and hurts. 

Sometimes, God has to get our attention though adversity; sometimes, we have a willingness to listen. He has to break our pride and call attention to our misplaced priorities. The key Jesus uses is His explanation to us of how we are able to receive Him. Are we able and willing to understand? Sometimes, that may not come until eternity as it was with Job.

Our key to Exegesis (drawing out from the Bible) and Bible literacy is to trust and know that He is in control and He will be there with us carrying us through. It is not just about understanding ourselves; rather, it is our understanding Christ. Ask Him to show you His deep, hidden treasures and be willing to listen and grow.

The Consequences of not Knowing the Bible

The Church, as well as the airways, is becoming more and more filled with bad, false teaching from faulty models of biblical interpretation! 

At the same time, more and more Christians are not delving into the Bible for their spiritual nourishment, rather swapping it for “feel good” books that do not properly instruct and/or turning on the TV for the false teacher crowd-or else doing nothing at all for their spiritual growth. Bible studies, Bible based small groups where God’s Word is sought, delved into, discussed and used as challenge and talking points for a life that is transformed are shrinking and/or missing from most lives of Christians and absent from most church programs and happenings.

Endeavors that remain are being attended less and are lacking value and promotion. Additionally, we have the problem of busyness; church leaders-even pastors-are too busy to bother with Bible reading, thus leading from pride and presumption. The people in the pew are so overwhelmed in life, work, family life, and even at church that the Bible, which could solve their problems by showing them their call and God’s precepts, is the last place examined. In many American churches, we have lost our instruction book to the detriment of the Christian community’s spiritual formation, as well as the ability to know and model Christ to the community and world at large, leaving the people in the pew spiritually bankrupt and the neighborhoods with bad models of Christ and thus unreached.

When we do not garner our spiritual nourishment from God’s Word, the Bible, and instead trade it for our whims and mind-sets, we cheat ourselves and weaken our churches, holding back Christ’s work in us and our church’s life; we neuter God’s potential work to those around us too.

Thus, we swap what is good, legal tender for that which is counterfeit and thus leave nothing in our spiritual wallets but confederate notes that are worthless and thus of no spiritual or fruitful value to spend for life and ministry. To counteract these evils and stop Bible illiteracy, we must feed from God’s glorious and wondrous buffet of precepts for our faith and knowledge.

What can we do about it? This is actually easy; just take the time to read it through. Read and know the Bible!

It just takes minutes a day, less than half of a half-hour TV sitcom, to know our Lord and grow in Him for an effectual, transforming life and to dig out what He plainly and abundantly has for us so we have His spiritual spending power. Our reading of the Bible is not meant to merely learn its trivia; rather, we are to be rehabbed in Christ, be changed, renewed, and transformed.

We must take this remarkable currency of His remarkable and astounding precepts and spend it for our spiritual improvement and then for kingdom building. But, what gets in the way of our good buffet and spiritual currency? Simply ignoring God by ignoring or misusing His Word. 

What does Bible illiteracy give us? Shallowness and pretentiousness! These rotten fruits have taken our churches hostage, leaving our pews filled with ignorant, hurt, disconnected children of God who do not know His love or His ways and who make pathetic faith decisions and bad life choices, creating more dysfunction and stress in their lives and homes, and a church that is inept, dysfunctional, and impotent, with an incapacity to know and glorify the very Lord we are to be all about.