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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Dead in Sin

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. (John 6:33 ESV)

Craig R. Brown:

In summary, the Arminian believes that man is born sick in sin, but still has enough good in him to choose John CalvinGod. The Calvinist believes that man is born corrupt (dead in his sin), so he must be made alive spiritually before he can do anything of a spiritual nature. Under the Calvinistic doctrinal system, man’s depravity is total in extent (though not in degree). In other words, all of man’s nature is corrupted by sin, but he is not as evil as he could be.  (The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism)

Election Must be Taken into Account!

Augustus M. TopladyElection must be taken into account, or else we believe that God saves no one, or that those he saves are randomly selected like a lottery winner without design or purpose. God’s goodness and mercy forbids the first; while His wisdom and providential care excludes the latter. According to Augustus Montague Toplady:

Our modern inverters of Christianity, the Arminians, by endeavoring to found election upon human qualifications, resemble an insane architect who, in attempting to raise an edifice, should make tiles and laths the foundation, and reserve his bricks and stones for the roof. … [I]f sanctification be God’s gift, men’s goodness could not possibly be a motive to their election: unless we can digest this enormous absurdity, viz. that God’s gifts may be conditional and meritorious one of another. Do you imagine that God could foresee any holiness in men which himself did not decree to give them? You cannot suppose it, without believing at the same time that God is not the author of all good; and that there are, or may be, some good and perfect gifts which do not descend from the Father of lights; and that the apostle was widely mistaken when he laid down this axiom, that it is God who, of his own good pleasure, worketh in us both to will and to do.

According to our Church, God’s election leads the van; sanctification forms the centre; and glory brings up the rear:

“Wherefore, they that be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called, according to God’s purpose, by his Spirit working in due season: they, through grace, obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made the sons of God by adoption.” (Article xvii)

Hitherto good works are not so much as mentioned. Why so? Because our reformers were Antinomians, and exploded or despised moral performances? – by no means. Those holy persons were, themselves, living confutations of so vile a suggestion. The tenor of their Augustus Topladylives was as blameless as their doctrine. But they had learned to distinguish ideas, and were too judicious, both as logicians and divines, to represent effects as prior to the causes that produce them. They were not ashamed to betake themselves to the Scriptures for information, and to deliver out the living water of sound doctrine, pure and unmingled, as they had drawn it from the fountains of truth. Hence, election, calling, justification, and adoption, are set forth, not as caused by, but as the real and leading causes of, that moral change which, sooner or later, takes place in the children of God. (“A Caveat against Unsound Doctrines”)

May God’s Plans be Defeated?

Loraine Boettner in 1917 at the age of 16Loraine Boettner D.D.:

The Arminian idea which assumes that the serious intentions of God may – in some cases at least – be defeated, and that man, who is not only a creature but a sinful creature, can exercise veto power over the plans of Almighty God, is in striking contrast with the Biblical idea of His immeasurable exaltation – by which He is removed from all the weaknesses of humanity. That the plans of men are not always executed is due to a lack of power or a lack of wisdom; but since God is unlimited in these and all other resources, no unforeseen emergencies can arise, and to Him the causes for change have no existence. To suppose that His plans fail and that He strives to no effect is to reduce Him to the level of His creatures. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

Chance Happenings?

Loraine Boettner in 1917 at the age of 16Loraine Boettner D.D.:

If God had not foreordained the course of events but waited until some undetermined condition was or was not fulfilled, His decrees could be neither eternal nor immutable. We know, however, that He is incapable of mistake, and that He cannot be surprised by any unforeseen inconveniences. His kingdom is in the heavens and He rules over all. His plan must, therefore, include every event in the entire sweep of history. That even the small events have their place in this plan and that they must be as they are, is easily seen.

All of us know of certain “chance happenings” which have actually changed the course of our lives. The effects of these extend throughout all succeeding history in ever widening influences, causing other “chance happenings.” It is said that the quacking of some geese once saved Rome. Whether historically true or not, it will serve as a good illustration. Had not the geese awakened the guards who gave the alarm and aroused the defending army, Rome would have fallen and the course of history from that time on would have been radically different. Had those geese remained silent who can imagine what empires might have been in existence today, or where the centers of culture might have been? During a battle a bullet misses the general by only an inch. His life is spared, he goes on commanding his troops, wins a decisive victory, and is made the chief ruler of his country for many years,—as was the case with George Washington. Yet what a different course history would have taken had the soldier on the other side aimed the slightest trifle higher or lower! The great Chicago fire of 1871, which destroyed more than I half of the city, was started, we are told, when a cow kicked over a lantern. How different would have been the history of Chicago if that one motion had been slightly different! “The control of the greatest must include the control of the less, for not only are great things made up of little things, but history shows how the veriest trifles are continually proving the pivots on which momentous events revolve. The persistence of a spider nerved a despairing man to fresh exertions which shaped a nation’s future. The God who predestinated the course of Scotch history must have planned and presided over the movements of that tiny insect that saved Robert Bruce from despair.”

Examples of this kind could be multiplied indefinitely. The Pelagian denies that God has a plan; the Arminian says that God has a general but not a specific plan; but the Calvinist says that God has a specific plan which embraces all events in all ages. In recognizing that the eternal God has an eternal plan in which is predetermined every event that comes to pass, the Calvinist simply recognizes that God is God, and frees Him from all human limitations. The Scriptures represent God as a person, like other persons in that His acts are purposeful, but unlike other persons in that He is all-wise in His planning and all-powerful in His performing. They see the universe as the product of His creative power, and as the theater in which are displayed His glorious perfections, and which must in all its form and all its history, down to the least detail, correspond with His purpose in making it. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

Who Shall Receive The Glory?

From the desk of Augustus Toplady:

“One great contest, between the religion of Arminianism, and the religion of Christ, is who shall stand entitled to the praise and glory of a sinner’s salvation? Conversion decides this point at once; for I think that, without any imputation of uncharitableness, I may venture to say, that every truly awakened person, at least when he is under the shine of God’s countenance upon his soul, will fall down upon his knees, with this hymn of praise ascending from his heart, Not unto me, O Lord, not unto me, but to thy name, give the glory: I am saved not for my righteousness, but for thy mercy and thy truth’s sake.”

Marketing The Church

John MacArthur

From the writings of John MacArthur:

“The philosophy that marries marketing technique with church growth theory is the result of bad theology. It assumes that if you package the gospel right, people will get saved. It is rooted in Arminianism, which makes the human will, not a sovereign God; the decisive factor in salvation . . . The goal of market-driven ministry is an instantaneous human decision, rather than a radical transformation of the heart wrought by Almighty God through the Holy Spirit’s convicting work and the truth of His Word. An honest belief in the sovereignty of God in salvation would bring an end to a lot of the nonsense that is going on in the church. (MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, 85)

John MacArthur On Human Decision

John MacArthur

Quoting John MacArthur:

“The philosophy that marries marketing technique with church growth theory is the result of bad theology. It assumes that if you package the gospel right, people will get saved. It is rooted in Arminianism, which makes the human will, not a sovereign God; the decisive factor in salvation . . . The goal of market-driven ministry is an instantaneous human decision, rather than a radical transformation of the heart wrought by Almighty God through the Holy Spirit’s convicting work and the truth of His Word. An honest belief in the sovereignty of God in salvation would bring an end to a lot of the nonsense that is going on in the church.” (MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, 85)

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