Am I Calvinist?

In my recent dealings with theology I find more and more that I subscribe to a reformed view of theology. I think at the heart of why I believe that thinking to be correct is that the sovereignty and glory of God are at the forefront of everything it stands for. I have been subscribed to the school of Arminianism since I became a Christian and I found that, while it is not a damnable heresy, it has been too inconsistent and difficult in reconciling certain key scriptures. At this point in my walk with Christ and my studies I have come across the 5 points of Calvinism. While the 5 points do not total the sum of my theology, they do provide a great starting point on which to build. Some of the scriptural truths found in the 5 points may be difficult and even incorrect for those who do not follow the Reformers and their theology. In his defense of Calvinism, the great theologian Charles Spurgeon was noted as saying;

“I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.”

I have come to believe that his statement could be nothing further from the truth laid out in the Gospels for us. I also believe that Christ along with his 12 disciples all wrote and preached on Pentecost about what we now called Calvinism. What follows is the 5 points I mentioned earlier and the scriptures on which these 5 points stand.

Basically, Calvinism is known by an acronym: T.U.L.I.P.

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

These five categories do not comprise Calvinism in totality. They simply represent some of its main points.

Total Depravity:

Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body, are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.

The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick (Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, “In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?” The answer is, “He cannot. Therefore God must predestine.”

Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).

Unconditional Election:
God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).

Limited Atonement:
Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many’; John 10:11, 15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many (not all).

Irresistible Grace:
When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that “it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy“; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s.

Perseverance of the Saints:
You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.

While I believe all these statements to be true I would like to add, especially on the note of once saved always saved, I believe there are some who have participated in the kingdom of Christ and have fallen away, leading many in the church to think that we are a church of hypocrites and liars. The author of Hebrews tells us that;

It is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” (Heb 6:4-7)

This statement from the writer leads me to believe that there are those in the church right now who will stand before God and He will tell them, “depart from me I never knew you”. There are those in the church right now who are preaching Christ and yet have no deep and lasting personal relationship with him. There are those that can fool many with the message of the cross but in the end I believe they will be exposed for the false teachers that they are. Let us be wary to run our race in such a way that glorifies God. Let us make our calling sure lest we fall away and are proven to be false in the end.

 

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One Reply to “Am I Calvinist?”

  1. Good thoughts, but I also think it is important to not dwell on which theology is right and which is wrong. While, yes, we are to study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim 2:15), I don’t think it is possible to “figure” everything out. His ways and thoughts are much higher than ours (Isa 55:9).

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