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Tom
Tom
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#43969 - Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:40 AM The Joy of the Reformed  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 3,305
Tom Offline
Needs to get a Life
Tom  Offline
Needs to get a Life

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 3,305
Kelowna, British Columbia, Can...
I recently found an article about Joy and Reformed Theology that made me contemplate its merit.
I thought it might prove to benificial to pos the link to this article here on the Highway boards. In order to get some feed back, on whether the article has merit.

http://www.reformation21.org/articles/the-joy-of-the-reformed.php

Tom

#43970 - Sun Jan 03, 2010 5:30 AM Re: The Joy of the Reformed [Re: Tom]  
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Robin Offline
The Boy Wonder
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The Boy Wonder

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Florida
I too am in "immigrant" to the Reformed faith from non-denominational evangelicalism, but my experience of joy has been far greater in the Reformation camp than it was even in my Pentecostal/Charismatic experience. While the latter had all the outward trimmings of joy (the singing and shouting and celebrating and dancing and "ecstatic speech" etc), it was used to hide inward confusion, uncertainty, fear, and even shame.

While we have no dancing and gibberish in my Reformed church, almost all the speech is truly "ecstatic," because it flows from understanding, certainty, faith, and freedom. I came into the doctrines of grace pretty much on my own, and when confronted with it in a conversation with a Reformed pastor, he named my findings "the Reformed faith."

I was surprised to learn that what I called "sovereign, certain, accomplished grace" was already quite familiar to some people, and it went by the names "Reformed" and "Calvinism." That last one really caught me by surprise, because I had sternly warned for many years to stay away from Calvinists. I had been taught that Calvinists were cold-hearted, unfeeling, uncaring, un-evangelical, stoic, cheerless, doctrinaire, "head-knowledge-only" nominally Christian, devoid of both Spirit and truth. Needless to say I was shocked that I had become a Calvinist independently. But I was definitely feeling far more joyful and far more motivated to evangelism and far hungrier for God's word and the work of His Spirit in my heart than I had during those years of confusion and fearful Charismatic chaos. I feel truly liberated and truly loved. I no longer strive to gain what I have already been given in full measure. I no longer second-guess every feeling and every utterance. I'm no longer tossed about by every wind of doctrine. And having that anchor and that rest is truly joyful!

Your mileage may vary, I guess, depending on where you're coming from. But of the evangelical folks I meet and with whom I am able to share, the ones who come to adopt the doctrines of sovereign, certain, accomplished grace do so with profound joy and unrestrained delight!

-R

#43971 - Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:17 AM Re: The Joy of the Reformed [Re: Tom]  
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Pilgrim Offline
Head Honcho
Pilgrim  Offline

Head Honcho

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NH, USA
Tom,

Since you found this article and have contemplated its merits, which obviously means you have read it at least once, what about YOUR feedback? You seem to have a habit of asking for everyone else's opinion about things you hear, see or read, but rarely do you initially share what YOU think.

Soooooo, when I am able to read what your thoughts are about Mr. Selvaggio wrote in the linked article, then I will think about sharing my thoughts, having read the article too. grin


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simul iustus et peccator

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#43972 - Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:32 AM Re: The Joy of the Reformed [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Tom Offline
Needs to get a Life
Tom  Offline
Needs to get a Life

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 3,305
Kelowna, British Columbia, Can...

Pilgrim

You are correct that I do indeed have a habit of posting things for other peopleís opinions before I say my own opinions. I do not do this because I donít have an opinion; I just find it helps me to clarify my thoughts. Perhaps this isnít a good practice, but I think it helps me.

My thoughts are that at times I do not have joy. This is mainly because I came to the Reformed faith through a lot of struggle. Other than on forums such as this one, there are not a lot of Reformed Christians out there.
During my struggle with some of the doctrines of grace, I actually didn't want to believe some of them, because at the time they didn't seem fair. This of course was because of the Arminian teaching that I had been taught.

I also found that when I tried to talk to other Christians around me about Reformed theology, many were not very receptive to it. Some were even antagonistic to it.
I can say now that as I contemplate on God's sovereignty, God's joy does fill me because I know that God is with me, no matter what the circumstance. I know that even things that are unpleasant are meant for my ultimate good.

I still fight the tendency to look to my feelings rather than looking to God for my strength. But Reformed theology does bring me joy (not sure how to describe it), as I actually look to our sovereign God.

Tom

#43977 - Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:14 PM Re: The Joy of the Reformed [Re: Tom]  
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Jacy Offline
Journeyman
Jacy  Offline
Journeyman

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 82
USA
Quote
Second, I think we are joyfully deficient in the Reformed church because we are perpetually circling the theological wagons. The Reformed church seems continually occupied with the task of theological preservation, a struggle that resembles Tolkien's battle at Helm's Deep. We are simply forever consumed with survival and we don't have time to focus on neglected, but seemingly less vital, topics like joy. For example, when it comes to the topic of worship we don't spend our time pontificating on the joy of worship, but rather we exhaust ourselves, appropriately so, with topics like the regulative principle. When it comes to the topic of justification, we expend our resources, again appropriately so, in defending its forensic nature rather than on the joy which flows from it. The end result is often joyfully deficient theological precision


In our experience, this seems to be the primary reason for the lack of joy we've seen amongst good brothers and sisters who embrace these wonderful doctrines. Maybe it's a reaction (or overreaction) to the carelessness and irreverent approach of many in Christendom. What has always interested me is not only what a person believes and ascribes to, but just as equally important and vital is how what he believes affects his daily life. How some can truly see the doctrines of grace and not have deep, bubbling over joy along with humility and genuine gratitude to God is beyond me.

Funny, part of this article was quoted in the sermon we heard tonight at church.

Quote
I still fight the tendency to look to my feelings rather than looking to God for my strength.


Don't we all? When I look back over my Christian life, though, I am so joyful and grateful to see how much God has delivered me from depending on my feelings as I once did. I'm sure you've made much progress in this area too.


#43979 - Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:49 AM Re: The Joy of the Reformed [Re: Tom]  
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Pilgrim Offline
Head Honcho
Pilgrim  Offline

Head Honcho

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Tom,

Okay, here's my assessment of that article.

  1. I think the author is 100% correct in regard to the source of that joy of which he is addressing. 1) What it is NOT... it is not superficial, i.e., a basic emotive expression. This is decidedly not, for example, the same or even similar to an expression of joy (ecstatic) when your favorite team wins the pennant, or the world championship, etc. It does not evoke one to jump up & down, scream "Hallelujah", run around waving your hands in the air or any such thing! nope 2) What it IS... it is a deep, inexpressible "warmth", shall I say, that penetrates one's very soul. This joy is knowing that you have been reconciled with the most holy and almighty God of all creation due to the infinite love of God for you in Christ. It is that assurance that you have been adopted as God's son/daughter through faith; that your sins have been washed away in Christ's blood and that there is an incomprehensible future awaiting you when Christ shall return and gather you to Himself. This joy is sober vs. ecstatic. At the real risk of diminishing the reality of this Spirit-given joy, I might suggest it is that 'feeling' that you get when your mother or father wraps their arms around you and pulls you closely in a loving embrace. I think Paul sums up my understanding in this way:

    Quote
    Ephesians 1:3-14 (KJV) "Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
  2. What I have to disagree with is the author's estimated reason for the lack of joy in Reformed churches/people: "Second, I think we are joyfully deficient in the Reformed church because we are perpetually circling the theological wagons." This may be true according to his limited experience but I would say that his experience is far too narrow to make such a sweeping judgment. For, my experience is totally opposite. My acquaintances do indeed have that Spirit-given joy. But whether this is true to a greater degree in most Reformed churches I could not say. What I can say, however, is that it is all too true that TRUE doctrinal preaching is sorely lacking in many Reformed churches. How can I know that? Well, because I have visited the websites of literally hundreds of alleged Reformed churches and their doctrinal statements (What We Believe) is NOT "Reformed". Many of them practice profane worship, i.e., contemporary emotionally-based revelry which is not in accord with the Regulative Principle, even if understood in a broader way.

    Secondly, even if true doctrinal and expository preaching does exist, can we say with absolute assurance that the majority of the members of such churches are truly regenerate? Sadly, the pure Gospel of Christ is not commonly preached from pulpits in our day and thus there are many false 'conversions'. Consequently, this "joy" will not and cannot be found among those who own a temporary faith.

    Lastly, is having this wonderful joy something which should be our focus? Or, should the church focus upon that which God requires of His Church; the pure preaching of the Gospel and the edification of the saints through faithful teaching and its right application and in the administration of discipline? Since this "joy" is of the Spirit, it is not the responsibility of the Church to spend its energy on trying to produce it. Rather, it should be diligent in the faithful use of the means by which the Spirit works in the minds and hearts of believers.

That's my [Linked Image]


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simul iustus et peccator

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#43984 - Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:28 PM Re: The Joy of the Reformed [Re: Pilgrim]  
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chestnutmare Offline
Annie Oakley
chestnutmare  Offline
Annie Oakley

Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,862
NH
I've been a little hesitant to join the discussion on this one mainly because I was a little concerned about where this was heading. Early in my Christian experience, I attended a nondenominational evangelical church (arminian) that embraced the teaching of the "Victorious Christian Living" movement. The congregation was instructed that if they were truly Christian, they would necessarily bear the joy of the Lord and this was to be evidenced by a smiling face. What I saw were smiling faces with a deadness in their eyes and spirit. The joy of the Lord was indeed taught but could not be replicated by these unbelievers. This was most disturbing to me.

The joy of the Lord cannot be feigned. Apart from the saving knowledge of God, one cannot truly say that "the joy of the Lord is my strength" for it does not belong to an unbeliever or as Pilgrim pointed out, to temporary believers. One can certainly rouse emotions and call them joy, yes even strong emotions and call them joy. These feelings may indeed be their only experience of anything like joy. But the believer who trusts in the Lord, the Lord is his strength and he is endowed with joy. It is the tried and true believer who enduring the various trials of faith knows unwavering that his Redeemer liveth. This is the source of the believer's joy. The Christian needs to focus his attention on Christ and then he may know His benefits.
Psalms 37:4 "Delight thyself also in Jehovah; And he will give thee the desires of thy heart."


The Chestnut Mare
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by frost.
- - - -JRR Tolkien "Lord of the Rings"
#43987 - Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:01 AM Re: The Joy of the Reformed [Re: Tom]  
Joined: Nov 2008
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muchforgiven Offline
muchforgiven  Offline


Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 45
Tennessee
I must also comment on this article which I read before you posted it Tom. As I was thinking about it, I thought of the believers I know,many of whom are going through very difficult trials. The one thing I can say is that they have and I have, a joy that can only be from the Lord. As Pilgrim stated so well, it is not a feeling so much as a state of being.Knowing I am loved by the Almighty God of the Universe, not because of who I am, but because of who He is, gives me joy.
I must say as C.S.Lewis, that I was surprised by this joy.My life before Christ was anything but joyful. When He lifted me out of the pit of addiction, I knew that he was a God I could put my faith and trust in. The fact that he is always there,that His grace is sufficient for all my needs,that He is bringing me from glory to glory, thrills my being.
All that is to say that, I would not and have not been in a church where folks don't have this joy. The joy is in the Knowing and being Know.
Maybe this writer is hanging around the wrong churches.


Be killing sin or it will be killing you. John Owen
#44005 - Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:32 AM Re: The Joy of the Reformed [Re: Tom]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 3,305
Tom Offline
Needs to get a Life
Tom  Offline
Needs to get a Life

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 3,305
Kelowna, British Columbia, Can...
Pilgrim

This has become the kind of discussion I had hoped it would become.

I have been looking at Scripture verses where the word "joy" is used and it appears that it supports what you have written.

Joy happened as a result of God making people joyful. Ezr.6:22.

Joy happened as the "Word" becomes sufficient in Jeremiah's life, in spite of the people rejecting him. Jer. 15:16

Joy happened to the eunuch after he believed Philip's preaching and was baptized by Philip. Acts 8:27-40

These are just a small example of what I found.

Tom


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