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Tom
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#17146 - Tue Aug 24, 2004 7:29 PM God's Choosing... Man's Choice  
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I hope I am able to communicate what is on my mind properly, as I am a bit tired at present.

As someone who is Calvinist in soteriology, I want to be faithful to the Scriptures when it comes to the gospel message.
One thing that I have noticed over the years is that even among those of the Reformed faith, at times one particular aspect of the gospel is emphasized at the expense of the other.
This of course isn't always done intentionally, but never the less it is what the listeners/readers understand to be communicated.
For instance my daughter and her friend just got back from teen camp. So I asked my daughterís friend what the youth pastor spoke on. She began to tell me all about how he taught on making choices on whether or not you want to be saved or not.
Now I know this particular youth pastor and I know he is reformed in his beliefs, but having listened to him before sometimes what he says comes out more Arminian than Calvinist.
I have talked to him about this before and he doesn't think he does this.
Anyway, I don't mean to pick on him I just used him to emphasize my point.

As someone of the Reformed faith, how would you best speak on this matter while not coming off Arminian, and not emphasizing one aspect too much at the expense of the other?

If you can give examples, it would be appreciated.

Tom

#17147 - Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:51 PM RE: The Gospel Message [Re: Tom]  

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Dear Tom,

When you say "this matter" and "one aspect" and then "the other," as in "As someone of the Reformed faith, how would you best speak on this matter while not coming off Arminian, and not emphasizing one aspect too much at the expense of the other?", I am going to assume that "this matter" is "the Gospel message" and that "one aspect" and then "the other" is "God's choosing" vs. "man's choosing."

Frankly, Tom, I don't think that there is a Calvinistic Gospel and an Arminian Gospel. There is only one Gospel. And there is only one Gospel message. I think that John Piper summarizes it best as follows:

Biblical truth #1: God created us for his glory.

"Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the ear . . . whom I created for my glory" (Isaiah 43:6-7)

Biblical truth #2: Every human should live for Godís glory.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Biblical Truth #3: All of us have failed to glorify God as we should

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

Biblical Truth #4: All of us are subject to Godís just condemnation

"The wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23).

Biblical Truth #5: God sent his only son Jesus to provide eternal life and joy.

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..." (1 Timothy 1:15).

Biblical Truth #6: The benefits purchased by the death of Christ belong to those who repent and trust him.

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out" (Acts 3:19).
"Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).

With Christ's love,
Ted

#17148 - Tue Aug 24, 2004 11:06 PM Re: God's Choosing... Man's Choice [Re: Tom]  

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Something that I do when I preach the gospel is say that you don't have a choice when it comes to the gospel. From the Arminians I get a shocked face, and the Calvinists grin. But I follow it up by saying something to the effect of, "That's right! There is no other name under heaven given whereby you must be saved and that name is Jesus Christ. You have no choice. You believe the gospel and are saved, or you don't and go to hell. You're only gonna get to heaven by believeing on Jesus, so go to Him now!"

I find this to be effective in the sense that no one objects to what I say but I still am obviously preaching my convictions about the sovereignty of God.

#17149 - Tue Aug 24, 2004 11:30 PM Re: God's Choosing... Man's Choice  
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You believe the gospel and are saved, or you don't and go to hell. You're only gonna get to heaven by believeing on Jesus, so go to Him now!

Personally, I never speak of "getting to heaven" or "going to hell" as being the results of one's "choosing Christ". In fact, I avoid any mention of such things, as if one is called to vote Christ into office or join His side, etc.

As I have so often written on this Board, the Gospel cannot be reduced to a 10 second sound byte, e.g., the "Four Spiritual Laws", whether one tries to assimilate it by adding "Calvinistic terminology", or whatever. I believe it is insulting to God, dishonoring to Christ and simply prostituting the Gospel.

My antidote to this modern tendency to reduce everything down to a quick sales pitch type message can be found here: A Gospel Summary.

The emphasis of the Gospel, which is taught in Scripture is the grace of the Triune God saving sinners; the infinite love of the Father sending forth His only begotten Son to redeem sinners, the Son atoning for the sins of those whom the Father elected to save from their sins by living a perfect life according to the law and dying as their substitute on the cross, and the Holy Spirit's working of regeneration, conviction and faith in sinners, and leading them to the Lord Christ so as to be reconciled to God through faith Him.

So again, it is NOT a matter of going to heaven or hell. But rather, a God-hating sinner being transformed by the Holy Spirit and led to Christ Jesus in whom one must trust with all their mind, heart and strength, so as to be reconciled to God.

In His Grace,


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#17150 - Tue Aug 24, 2004 11:55 PM Re: God's Choosing... Man's Choice [Re: Pilgrim]  

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I agree fully, and am deffinitely going to work on how I present the gospel to people to be as correct as I can be.

Thank you!

#17151 - Wed Aug 25, 2004 3:55 PM Where? [Re: Tom]  

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Hi, Tom. I had a thought. Actually, a question:

Where, in a Gospel presentation, would the concepts of "man's choice" and "God's choice" fit? I don't see where either fit, but maybe I'm completely missing the boat.

In HIS grip,
Ted

#17152 - Wed Aug 25, 2004 4:07 PM Re: Gospel Summary [Re: Pilgrim]  

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Hi, Pilgrim. I just read the Gospel Summary that you linked. GREAT piece. Thank you for sharing!! (Oh, how much glory we give to God when we extol his sovereign attributes!)

#17153 - Wed Aug 25, 2004 5:54 PM Re: Where?  
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Ted said:
Where, in a Gospel presentation, would the concepts of "man's choice" and "God's choice" fit? I don't see where either fit, but maybe I'm completely missing the boat.

Ted,

If you have not already read the following article by Dr. J.I. Packer, you should do so. If you HAVE already read it, then read it again. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/giggle.gif" alt="" /> About mid-way through the "Intro", Packer addresses this question and compares the "modern gospel" with the "old Gospel" magnificently. I think you will truly benefit from this read.

The section I'm referring to begins with this: [color:"blue"]'You talked about recovering the gospel,' said our questioner; 'don't you mean that you just want us all to become Calvinists?'[/color]

Clicky here: The Death of Death in the Death of Christ

In His Grace,


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#17154 - Wed Aug 25, 2004 7:30 PM Anything Wrong With This? [Re: Tom]  
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"I offer you salvation this day; the door of mercy is not yet shut, there does yet remain a sacrifice for sin, for all that will accept of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will embrace you in the arms of his love. O turn to him, turn in a sense of your own unworthiness; tell him how polluted you are, how vile, and be not faithless, but believing. Why fear ye that the Lord Jesus Christ will not accept of you? Your sins will be no hindrance, your unworthiness no hindrance; if your own corrupt hearts do not keep you back nothing will hinder Christ from receiving of you. He loves to see poor sinners coming to him, he is pleased to see them lie at his feet pleading his promises; and if you thus come to Christ, he will not send you away without his Spirit; no, but will receive and bless you. O do not put a slight on infinite love--he only wants you to believe on him, that you might be saved. This, this is all the dear Saviour desires, to make you happy, that you may leave your sins, to sit down eternally with him at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Let me beseech you to come to Jesus Christ; I invite you all to come to him, and receive him as your Lord and Saviour; he is ready to receive you. I invite you to come to him, that you may find rest for your souls. He will rejoice and be glad. He calls you by his ministers; O come unto him--he is labouring to bring you back from sin and from Satan, unto himself: open the door of your hearts, and the King of glory shall enter in. My heart is full, it is quite full, and I must speak, or I shall burst. What, do you think your souls of no value? Do you esteem them as not worth saving? Are your pleasures worth more than your souls? Had you rather regard the diversions of this life, than the salvation of your souls? If so, you will never be partakers with him in glory; but if you come unto him, he will supply you with his grace here, and bring you to glory hereafter; and there you may sing praises and hallelujahs to the Lamb for ever. And may this be the happy end of all who hear me!"

#17155 - Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:35 PM Re: RE: The Gospel Message  
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Ted,

Thanks for Piper's biblical truths. Now, I have a question. Piper does not get involved with the mechanics of how God works (His effectual calling and regeneration of the believer) in his biblical truths. He basically stays with who God is, His general calling, and man's response. Would we say that Piper biblical truths are the gospel, or does the mechanics need to be brought out as well. I think that is where the argument points are in the debate within the Reformed camp.

I apologize for the use of mechanics, but I cannot think of a better term.

Last edited by John_C; Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:36 PM.

John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7
#17156 - Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:50 PM Re: RE: The Gospel Message [Re: John_C]  
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I was reading in 2 Corinthians this afternoon and thought of this thread.

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2 Corinthians 5:12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
16Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 21For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.


Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love and the future to God's providence." - St. Augustine
Hiraeth
#17157 - Thu Aug 26, 2004 5:27 AM Re: Anything Wrong With This? [Re: Tom]  
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This, this is all the dear Saviour desires, to make you happy


That's what's wrong with it. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bigglasses.gif" alt="" />


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
#17158 - Thu Aug 26, 2004 9:22 AM Re: RE: The Gospel Message [Re: John_C]  

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John_C said:
Ted,

Thanks for Piper's biblical truths. Now, I have a question. Piper does not get involved with the mechanics of how God works (His effectual calling and regeneration of the believer) in his biblical truths. He basically stays with who God is, His general calling, and man's response. Would we say that Piper biblical truths are the gospel, or does the mechanics need to be brought out as well. I think that is where the argument points are in the debate within the Reformed camp.


I think what Piper is doing, and I could be wrong, so someone correct me if I am, is laying the foundational things the Bible says about salvation. Yes, regeneration and effectual calling and unconditional predestination are all parts of the salvation "process", but to an unbeliever, they won't understand that stuff. As the Bible informs us,

Quote

We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God's Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually. (1 Corinthians 2:13-14)


The unconverted man is not going to understand how the Holy Spirit works in his life unless the Holy Spirit has or is working in his life. So why deliberately burden them with something that we know will only make them closed-minded?

I think what Piper is doing is giving a good way of sharing the gospel with an unbeliever by saying that we are sinners, and Christ died to save us.

I hope I made sense.

Last edited by Kalled2Preach; Thu Aug 26, 2004 9:23 AM.
#17159 - Thu Aug 26, 2004 9:51 AM Re: Anything Wrong With This? [Re: CovenantInBlood]  
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You might be surprised at who wrote that.
George Whitefield

By the way I agree, the Lord doesn't gaurantee a happy life.
I don't think Stephen was happy as he was being stoned to death.
Instead he had a peace that surpasses understanding.

Tom

#17160 - Thu Aug 26, 2004 11:51 AM Re: RE: The Gospel Message  
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Kalled2Preach comments:
The unconverted man is not going to understand how the Holy Spirit works in his life unless the Holy Spirit has or is working in his life. So why deliberately burden them with something that we know will only make them closed-minded?

I think what Piper is doing is giving a good way of sharing the gospel with an unbeliever by saying that we are sinners, and Christ died to save us.

The unconverted man can certainly "understand" any/all of these things. The problem with an unregenerate man is that he DOES comprehend what is being said but rejects it. But, for the sake of conversation, it would appear that you believe that an unregenerate man CAN understand what you might consider to be the "basics of the Gospel" without the Holy Spirit is working in his life but not the more "theological" truths of salvation?? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/scratchchin.gif" alt="" /> But I would have to disagree with any such notion and say that without the Holy Spirit, everything about God, Christ and salvation is foolishness to him. I mean, what is so difficult to comprehend about a statement such as, "God from all eternity has predestinated a certain number of people from Adam's fallen race to be reconciled in Christ."?? From my experience and many others, to be sure, a statement like that most always results in a very negative response; yes, and most strongly from professing Christians. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

The truths/concepts are certainly easy enough to grasp. But the truth of them is hated and thus rejected. Once again, it is my strong belief that sinners need to be told in unmistakable language about the sovereignty of God in all things, not excluding salvation, their hopeless and helpless condition, the penalty which rests upon them, the efficacy of Christ's atonement, the blessed work of the Holy Spirit Who enables poor sinners to come to Christ and their responsibility to repent and belief upon Him. ONLY THEN will anyone cast off any idea of reliance upon themselves and truly trust in the Lord Christ.

In His Grace,


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