Saturday, March 21, 2009

Demanding more of Calvinism, appreciating Grace Evangelical Society

One of the concerns I have about Calvinism is the "P" in TULIP which stands for "perserverance." My concern is that many Calvinists, after affirming that they are saved by grace alone, then seek to live their new life in Christ by putting themselves back under the Law or the Ten Commandments. As noted in earlier posts, Christians are no longer under the Law of Moses, whether we're talking about the moral, ceremonial or social Law that God gave Moses for the Jews to follow.

Good examples of Calvinistic denominations which publicly promote following the Ten Commandments include the Protestant Reformed Churches in America and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America--you will hear them even talk about observing the Sabbath (on Sunday).

Again, while we recommend Christians uphold the moral values in the Ten Commandments, we insist that we are not under the Commandments but under the grace of Christ. Christ himself is the fulfillment of the Commandments. The good works we do are not motivated by ourselves, but the guidance of the Holy Spirit. ...which God hath forordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

We would change "perserverance" in TULIP (the doctrines of grace) to "preservation" because it is Christ who gives us everlasting life and it is he who also preserves us in the salvation or everlasting life he has given us. Jesus tells us that he is holding onto us. We are in his hand and Jesus promises us: "...neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:28)

With this in mind, I offer the following "Affirmations of Belief" posted by the Grace Evangelical Society. (I'll write about slight edits I'd like to make in the following tomorrow, but for now it is the same as it is written, found at I especially like the following because it is unafraid to state what must be stated--we truly are saved--as Christ promised--by faith alone plus nothing.

The sole condition for receiving everlasting life is faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died a substitutionary death on the cross for man’s sin and rose bodily from the dead (John 3:16-18; 6:47; Acts 16:31).

Faith is the conviction that something is true. To believe in Jesus (“he who believes in Me has everlasting life”) is to be convinced that He guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it (John 4:14 ; 5:24; 6:47 ; 11:26 ; 1 Tim 1:16 ).

No act of obedience, preceding or following faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,20such as commitment to obey, sorrow for sin, turning from one’s sin, baptism or submission to the Lordship of Christ, may be added to, or considered part of, faith as a condition for receiving everlasting life (Rom 4:5; Gal 2:16; Titus 3:5). This saving transaction between God and the sinner is simply the giving and receiving of a free gift (Eph 2:8-9; John 4:10 ; Rev 22:17 ).

Assurance of everlasting life is certainty that one is eternally secure simply by faith in Jesus. Assurance of everlasting life is based only on the promise God makes in His Word that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ alone possesses everlasting life (John 5:24; 1 John 5:9-13). Good works, which can and should follow regeneration, are not necessary for a person to have assurance of everlasting life (Eph 2:10 ; Titus 3:8).

Assurance is of the essence of believing in Jesus for everlasting life. That is, as long as a person believes in Jesus for everlasting life, he knows he has everlasting life (John 5:24 ; 6:35 , 47; 11:27 ; 1 John 5:9-13).

Discipleship(Growing in Christ)
The ultimate goal of the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer’s life is to produce spiritual maturity reflected in consistent Christlike behavior and attitudes (Gal 5:22-25; Luke 14:25-33; Col 1:23-29). Therefore, obedience to the Word of God, while not necessary for obtaining everlasting life, is the essential responsibility of each Christian (Rom 6:12-23; Heb 5:13-14; 1 Cor 2:14–3:4). However, the Bible does not teach that this obedience will be manifested in all believers. If a believer does not yield to the ministry of the=2 0Holy Spirit in his experience, failure will result, evidenced by sinful acts or even prolonged disobedience (1 Cor 10:1-13; Gal 5:16-21).

The believer is assured of everlasting life and is thus eternally secure, since that life is guaranteed by the Lord Jesus Christ to all who believe in Him, and is based upon His substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection (John 10:28-29; Rom 8:38-39). Therefore, it is inconsistent with the gospel and with Scripture to seek to gain or keep everlasting life by godly living. The Scriptures, however, do present several motivations for obedience in the Christian life.

1. A powerful motivation for living the Christian life is gratitude to God for saving us by His grace (Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 5:14 -15; Gal 2:20 ).

2. Believers should also be motivated by the knowledge that their heavenly Father both blesses obedience and disciplines disobedience in His children (Heb 12:3-11; Lev 26:1-45). God is not mocked. Whatever a person sows, that he also reaps (Gal 6:7).

3. Finally, every Christian must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, not to determine his eternal destiny, for that is already set, but to assess the quality of his Christian life on earth (2 Cor 5:10; Rev 22:12). Anticipating either reward or loss of reward at the Judgment Seat should also motivate believers to perseverance and=2 0to faithfulness to God’s revealed will (1 Cor 3:10 -17, 9:24 -27; Jas 5:8-9; 1 John 2:28 ). One’s capacity to glorify Jesus will forever be based on how faithful he was in his stewardship in this life (Luke 19:17 , 19, 22-26).