Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Am I Better?

I listened to the August 18 "Radio Free Geneva" program today, reviewing Micah Coate's new book, "A Cultish Side of Calvinism" (shouldn't that be "Cultic"?).

"White believes the act of receiving God's grace is a type of work that takes away from the sovereignty of God." (Micah Coate)

Dr. White replies: "No, what I've always said is - if that is not the result of the work of God's grace, if it is an autonomous free act outside of God's decree, then God can attempt to save all He wants. It's always up to man. And once you take that position, in eternity to come, those standing around the throne will always have something to boast about. Not a work, but there was something better about me. I was more sensitive, I was more spiritual. I'm the one that allowed the grace of God to succeed in my life. And those people who didn't - well, they just weren't as good as me."

And I have to be honest, it's this that bothered me from the very beginning. I realized this logical conclusion 15 years ago. I just blocked it out and tried not to think about it too much.

I believed that God drew all people (yes, this contradicts John 6:44, where all those who are drawn are raised up to eternal life). If you responded to that drawing, He would draw you more, and so on until you were saved. I took "all" to refer to every single person on earth, never allowing for the nuances of meaning in John's writing.

What I believed made no sense in the context of the whole of Scripture, and I never bothered to look at the contexts of the passages. I had to rush through passages that seemed to contradict what I believed - Romans 9 was a big one, but also parts of John 6, and many other verses scattered throughout Scripture. I didn't want to think about it because that was a God I could not worship. I was afraid of losing my faith if I explored it.

It was only last year that I came to the point of being able to accept it, and that only after a true work of God in my heart (and I am so grateful). I can now see what I believed for what it is - there is something better about me than someone who does not respond to the same drawing given to me. And I do not see that as a God-honoring position. I see that as taking some of the glory due to God unto myself. He says He will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11), and trust me, when I have tried to take some of that glory, it has not ended well for me.

The whole point of Calvinism is to give all the glory to God and take none for myself. There was nothing more spiritually sensitive about me that was not given to me. I have been more sensitive since I was little, but do I suppose that is something I did? Or was it a gift of God that I can now look back and see His hand on my life, guiding me, since I was a little child? That is why, in my flesh, I searched for Him in all the wrong places. I knew He was there, but rejected the one way to Him through Jesus. And so I got involved in all sorts of silliness, looking for that fulfillment everywhere but the one place it could be found.

He is the one who broke through. He is the one who revealed Himself to me, turning my world upside down and pursuing me relentlessly until I was too worn out to fight any more. He is the one who saved me, with no help from me. That is a God I can worship because that is a God in control of this world. That is a God who glorifies Himself through the outworking of all His attributes - His mercy as well as His justice, His grace as well as His wrath. This is the fullness of God that shines through both testaments. If I am a Calvinist it is simply because the Bible constrains me to be.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Soli Deo Gloria

I posted a quote: "God saves some because He is merciful. God damns others because He is just." ~Philip Stallings

K. said: "(J)ust hope you're one of the lucky ones who get mercy. If you are, you can rejoice."

I replied: "I rejoice in God's glory, whether that glory is shown through mercy or justice."

This is not an abstract concept to me. Last year, yes, it was. It was a fun intellectual exercise. I've been very upfront about that. But all that changed this year. When Dad died, everything changed. Abstract concepts became all too real. I was left to try to fit my new theology into a world of pain and sin and suffering and death and hell. I reeled as a drunk man trying to find my way through the maze I was confronted with. I am forever grateful to the people God used who helped me through by answering my questions

So when I say "I rejoice in God's glory, whether that glory is shown through mercy or justice," I mean it. If my Dad died unsaved (and he probably did), then God had His purpose in not saving him, a purpose that will work to His glory.

If God judges Family Radio for her sin instead of saving us through mercy, He will not only be totally right in doing so, but He will derive greater glory from judgment than from mercy. I may not see all the ways that will happen, but it will. Everything - EVERYTHING - will work for the greater glory of God.

I pray for mercy for FR. God uses means to accomplish His ends, and prayer is one of those means. It is a privilege to be involved in God's work through prayer.

I say all this as I see judgment fall against FR. I say that as my job of 14 years is in jeopardy. God will be glorified in anything and everything that happens at FR. I rejoice in His receiving glory, even if the outcome for myself is not so good. His glory matters much more than my momentary happiness. My joy is in Him, and seeing glory being brought to Him.

So yeah, this Calvinism stuff isn't theoretical to me anymore. My Dad is dead, my job of a decade and a half could be gone in a moment. I am living this stuff, and I can still say, "I rejoice in God's glory, whether that glory is shown through mercy or justice." My joy is founded in His glory, not on changeable things of the world. Soli Deo gloria - all glory really does go to Him.

God's Foreknowledge

You know how it feels when something you never quite got suddenly "clicks." Yeah, that feeling. :)

I get it! I finally REALLY "get" it! I have wondered about the foreknowledge of God being active or passive. Calvinist says it's active (it is an active verb); Arminians say it's passive. Then I read in my book, The Sovereign Grace of God, "God's 'knowing' of us is a personal thing." I thought back to Adam "knowing" Eve. That is the way that God "knows" me - intimately! I get it! I think I finally understand those "foreknowledge" verses! He fore-knows us! Thank You God! It finally "clicked."

I've read the arguments before - it's covered in The Potter's Freedom - but last night it finally "clicked" in my mind to where I can see it. "God's knowing us is a personal thing." That sentence did it. Having the argument brought down to a personal level helped me to see. He fore-knew me, intimately fore-knew me. That helps me see Romans 8:28 in a new light. :)