Why We Hold To Calvinism: Understanding TULIP

In the next few weeks I’d like to lay down the biblical foundation for, although it is only one component of “Reformed Theology”, what is commonly referred to as Calvinism. This issue is of paramount importance to address in an appropriate depth and comprehensiveness for two reasons:

1. The very word Calvinism is fraught with misconceptions and often comes as a “loaded term” relative to who your talking to.

2. Here at Proclaiming His Glory we strive to magnify God in every way possible and we are convinced that if we are to “rightly handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) then we must clarify and explain why we view God the way we do.

Therefore, in the course of this post I will explain how Proclaiming His Glory views the above two statements.

Allow me to begin with a word on definitions. Often times, in both my own personal communication and review of others, I have heard a concerned expressed over the very meaning of what Calvinism is. Does it express an agreement or indicate a follower of the teachings of John Calvin? Or does it simply refer to the “predestination, free will” talk that always gets thrown around with reference to its name? In its most literal sense it would seem to imply that Calvinists are followers of the teachings of John Calvin! John Calvin

This is precisely why I either don’t call myself a Calvinist or immediately explain what I mean when I do so. It normally depends entirely on whom I’m talking to. As much as I would like to say I am a Calvinist in the literal sense of the word the problem is, I haven’t read any of his works or really extensively studied his views on every subject. Not only did the man write exhaustively on a wide breadth of doctrines, but I must be honest when I say that I haven’t taken the time to read any of his works! Oh sure, I’ve read a few quotes and excerpts here and there but I can’t possibly be honest and say, in the strictest sense possible, that I am a “Calvinist”. Starting to see some of the baggage that comes with the term?

Hold on a minute though! You may say, “Isn’t the very title of this post about why you do hold to Calvinism?” and of course this would be true. How does one resolve this dilemma? Enter TULIP.

Before I explain it allow me to give you a bit of important history first.TULIP, was a mnemonic formulated in the early 20th century which attempted to easily summarize the result of what came out of the main controversy that took place four centuries early at the Canons of Dort in 1618. Now its important to note that John Calvin himself died in 1564 and his most famous student Jacobus Arminius (surprised?) died in 1609. Therefore, it was Arminius’s followers that formulated the original five articles of the Remonstrance which demonstrated a departure from Calvin’s teachings on the will of man, election, predestination etc. At the Canons of Dort in 1618 Calvin’s followers developed and summarized their specific responses to the five articles of the Remonstrance.  These responses were then organized and first described in print in a 1932 work on the reformed doctrine of predestination.

So why is it important to know that history? What I want you to remember is that the purpose of TULIP was not to describe the totality of what John Calvin, or Reformed Theology for that matter, teaches. Historically, the purpose was to easily identify the differences with the Arminian viewpoint. Now unfortunately that is not the way it is viewed today. Therefore, for the purposes of conversation in today’s common understanding of Calvinism (which is strictly an adherence to TULIP) I will, and the other authors on this blog, readily identify myself as such.

So what is this TULIP I have keep referring to? Now that we understand the way that I will using the word “Calvinism” I would say that TULIP is the best way to remember the tenets of Calvinism. They are the following:

TULIP

 Total Depravity

Unconditional Election

Limited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

 

I will be the first to admit those titles can be misleading and slightly confusing as to what they are intended to represent specifically. Nonetheless, it will be my intent to clearly elucidate what we mean by them and why we hold to them.

Let me close this post on an important note. The question may arise “why would you claim to be a Calvinist when you haven’t read much, if any, of John Calvin’s work?”. The reason I haven’t read much of Calvin is because I don’t rest my belief in Calvinism on his shoulders. They stand 100% on scripture. Although I would never deny that I have been influenced by theologians I read, I must make clear that my adherence to Calvinism was formed before I had ever read a word written by the man. Therefore, it is essential when discussing these issues to primarily rest our discussions and debate over what the word of God says in its contents.

Additionally, please don’t view these posts like they are, as my favorite rapper would say “controversy for the sake of controversy or theological nitpicking”.  A.W. Tozer once said “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” What the Bible says on topic like Calvinism will profoundly affect how you view God and therefore it is essential to study carefully. That’s how we “rightly handle the word of truth” and by doing so we Proclaim His Glory

-praisethekingofglory

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Ordo Salutis: An Introduction

We are sinners. It’s not a new statement, it’s literally thousands of years old. As Christians, we believe that all are sinners (Romans 3:23), and no one is good (Romans 3:10). With this in mind, we look upon God. God is holy and righteous, which basically means He’s the opposite of sin. He cannot sin and is perfect. He is also a just God who, when he sees sin, wishes nothing more than to throw the perpetrator into Hell. He hates sin. He becomes angry at sin. He cannot stand the sight of it. What needs to be done is that someone needs to be punished for sin. The person who obviously deserve the punishment is the sinner. In that case, we all deserve Hell. But wait! There is one more thing about God that needs to be said. God is loving. The Bible goes so far to say that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). This loving God “wants all to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). While all are not saved (we’ll get to that), we know that God does save. He sent his perfect Son, Jesus, to live a sinless life and a die a perfect death, that atonement could be paid for the elect (again, we’ll get to that).

We call this the Gospel. That a just God would love us to the point of sacrificing his Son so that people might come to a relationship with the Father. What happens when God so moves in the life of people is they become “saved” as we have come to call it. They have experienced salvation. What becomes the questions of almost every Christian is, “What now?” What does a Christian do now that they are “saved”? I believe that every Christian first needs to learn exactly what Salvation is. What this great mysterious wonder that changes lives, saves lives, is. We need to tell them of the love the Election, the life-changing power of Regeneration, the guiltless feeling of Justification and so on. And that’s what I want to do. To explain what I believe salvation is.

The order of salvation is called Ordo Salutis in Latin. The Ordo Salutis is one of the most important doctrines of Christianity because It tells what being a Christian means. There are differing opinions on how the Ordo Salutis is in sequence. Historically this has been the subject of much debate. Here at Proclaiming His Glory, we will be following Wayne Grudem’s explanation in his Systematic Theology.

1. Election (God’s choice of people to be saved)

2. The Gospel Call (proclaiming the message of the Gospel)

3. Regeneration (being born again)

4. Conversion (faith and repentance)

5. Justification (right legal standing)

6. Adoption (membership in God’s family)

7. Sanctification (right conduct of life)

8. Perseverance (remaining a Christian)

9. Death (going to be with the Lord)

10. Glorification (receiving a resurrection body)

In the next ten weeks on every Friday I want to take time for us to study and fully understand what each of these means for us. I want to end this introduction with something to keep in mind as we study these topics: this is all about Jesus. The whole reason God became a man and lived a perfect life and then died a sinless death was for His glory. We are here to proclaim His glory, and what better way to do that than remember his most amazing and awesome act, the Gospel and the salvation it brought. Never forget that God didn’t die for us, but for his glory. We are saved only to worship his almighty name. Let the ransomed sinners rejoice. Our God is a saving God.

-The Ransomed Sinner

Halloween for a Christian?

So today is Halloween!!! This is a day that has always been full of thoughtful consideration for me in years past so this time I have decided to write out in full my views on the subject. Let me note the following is mainly my own personal journey but the conclusion that I have reached is the same as the other members that post here in ProclaimingHisGlory.

I grew up in a family that not only didn’t celebrate Halloween, but genuinely thought it was wrong to and harmful for children to participate in. A lot of this was from our local church and the mindset that was enforced by my parents always stuck with me. Now please don’t get me wrong, I love and respect my parents and how they came to their position. From their perspective they were trying to keep their kids as safe as possible and set apart from worldly practices. I appreciate their protection and guidance in my early years and  how it has shaped who I am today. The reason for this post though is because over time I have come to change my mind on Halloween and I wanted to share the progression of how this happened.

Halloween to me was always a very dark day. The whole idea of trick or treating and dressing up as spooky characters just seemed to be explictly giving permission to the way the world celebrated it. Whatever happened to being “transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Rom 12:2) and dwelling on “whatever is pure and lovely” (Phil 4:8)? While I understood many of my Christian friends who would participate in all of the usual activities didn’t do so with the intention of acting like the world, I always asked myself the question aren’t we supposed to look differently? Ever since I have had a pretty strong emotional and spiritual rejection of Halloween. Even the smallest dressing up, like a baby or a crayon, just seemed like an excuse to cover up or “lighten” the obvious fact that your just trying to join in on the same fun as the world instead of not conforming to the patterns of the world.

The strange thing is, even though I still spiritually and emotionally feel that way, intellectually I’m just not convinced anymore. There were a few reasons that hit me while I was reading about other’s views on Halloween that seemed to make sense.

One is how I  think its a double standard when I respond to other Christians who don’t celebrate Chrismas because of its pagan roots and yet I turn around and look down on Christians who celebrate Halloween because of its pagan roots. What I often point out to those that reject Christmas for those reasons is that its a genetic fallacy when a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone’s origin rather than its current meaning or context. Some historians think that the wedding ring was originally a sign of bondage that showed the wives were to be held captive by their husbands in ancient societies. Does that mean everyone should throw out their wedding rings now because we don’t reject that? No of course not. Christmas, I often say, is an example of Christians taking a day to purposefully celebrate our saviors birth. That is how we view it despite whatever its original historical purpose may have been.

The thing is, I never thought of that with regards to Halloween. If those that point out the pagan roots of Christmas are correct, and they have done a lot of historical research so I’m pretty certain they are, many of the things that are “traditional” to do on Christmas, like putting up a tree, recognizing it on December 25th etc are just as pagan and occult as some of the supposed horrible Halloween origins. The reason we do it on Christmas is because A. Most don’t know about them. and B. we don’t use those things for the same purpose now. Why can’t the same be the case with Halloween?

Well isn’t that an example of a Christian compromising on his spiritual convictions because he just wants to participate in a worldly holiday for fun and candy? Possibly, but it doesn’t have to be. Now I’m coming to think its a matter of conscience and Christian liberty. Like I said before, for those friends of mine who have studied the origin of Christmas they honestly feel like they can’t in good conscience celebrate the day because they feel like they would be giving support to what they have learned.

I, on the other hand, always grew up thinking the point of the Christmas tree was supposed to point to Christ because of the Star on the top. Our family would even have a manager set and Jesus wouldn’t come out until Christmas day! Each child in our family only got three gifts from our parents because the wise men only gave three gifts. I mean hey we even had a birthday cinnamon role for Jesus before we opened presents! I look back now and see the symbolism and realize just how different our family was, but growing up that was just the way things were so I considered it normal.  Why can’t there be the same redeeming quality about Halloween? I doubt I will ever come to see it the way I can with Christmas because my early childhood was filled with sadness and even confusion over all the christian friends I had that would celebrate it for no other reason then to get candy but perhaps there is some way to redeem Halloween and use it to Proclaim His Glory. 

I read a blog today that pointed out how Christians today show more fear of paganism when they hide in their homes and do everything they can NOT to celebrate Halloween, instead of recognizing that Jesus has already won the day! Today is a day HE has made! We should rejoice and be glad in it. We show confidence in the finished work of Christ and his power over death when we go forth and boldly preaching the Gospel on this night perhaps even while trick or treating. I mean what better time to show zero fear over death or demonic activities? You give me candy and I will give you a Gospel track. Or you give me candy, and I’ll pray for you.

Finally, consider 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. In this passage Paul says “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” Ultimately, I see Halloween as a matter of Christian liberty. We need to follow our conscience and I will say for myself I don’t think I will ever be able to dress up, but nor will I look down on those that do. Paul continues “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.”

This is particularly interesting because the meat could have in fact been offered in some pagan ritual and was later being sold at the market. Yet Paul says this is not for the Christian to question nor is it important to worry about, what we need to remember is “For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”. He goes on to say “If someone says to you “This has been offered in sacrifice” then do not eat it for the sake of the one who informed you and for the sake of conscience- I do not mean your conscience but his.” This is important as well because we need to note that the reason Paul is saying don’t eat it isn’t because the meat is bad in someway. Its because it may affect the attitude of another who doesn’t follow the same freedom in Christ that they have. In verse 30 we see “If I partake with thankfulness why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This needs to be the focus of whatever it is you do tonight. Whether its trick or treating, harvest festing, or staying home with your lights off and your door locked so as not to attract the neighbors make sure the glory of God is your focus. Especially on a night with as much activity as this.

In the spirit of Reformation Day I’ll rest my case with Martin Luther: “”The best way to drive out the Devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.”

-praisethekingofglory

The Gospel According to Ezekiel

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Have you ever thought about just how amazing it is that the Bible tells one unified story of glory? It truly is a testimony to the work of God that authors coming from such diverse backgrounds, periods of history, and cultural upbringings would produce a message that points, ultimately, towards one realization. The Gospel. Now its commonly recognized in preaching and evangelism to point to the numerous passages in the NT, specifically Romans, when sharing this powerful message because of its clarity on directness. While this is true and definitely beneficial I must say in my recent studies I have been amazed at seeing the near parallel passages in multiple places throughout the OT!

I just finished going through Ezekiel and I must say my expectations of lengthy passages on confusing prophecies were completely destroyed by the clear presentation of the Gospel! In Ezekiel we can find specifically God’s view of sin, God’s standard of punishment for sin, His view of a righteous man, and how mercy can be obtained!

Ezekiel 18:4 says “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.”  Is this not just a clear precursor for Paul’s declaration in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”?

Ezekiel 18:9 says “[he who] walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord GOD.” Who else could possibly fulfill this standard other then Christ?  Romans 3:21-22 explains “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

Ezekiel 36:26-27 says “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances” Is this not another beautiful picture of the same regeneration that a believer experiences in receiving the Holy Spirit? Romans 8:11 explains “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

As I shared just a few of the many examples I found in the book of Ezekiel I am amazed at how much NT Gospel is laid out plainly in the OT. The words of a wise Puritan, Thomas Adams come to mind. He wrote: “Christ is the sum of the whole Bible, prophesied, typified, prefigured, exhibited, demonstrated, to be found in every leaf, almost in every line, the Scriptures being but as it were the swaddling bands of the child Jesus.”

-praisethekingofglory

 

To Die Is Gain

It’s striking how often persecution is referenced in the New Testament. In his letter to the Romans, Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 to summarize the state of the church in his day;

“Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;

   we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Sheep to be slaughtered. There’s a fundamental willingness to lay down one’s life and deny oneself for the sake of Christ that’s essential to Christianity. I would gladly die for the sake of the gospel. And if we are willing to die for Him, how much more should we be willing to live for Him?

A vapor then it’s gone

This little life we lead

Just as well two seconds long

So to this pay due heed

You can try with all your might

To stem the river’s flow

But no matter how you fight

Our vapor flees still this we know

You can try to hold the dams

But you cannot plug the leak

What if we die like little lambs

In true submission, gentle, meek

For I do not know my story

Yet I know Christ’s path

And I know the Author’s glory

He shows me grace not wrath

I know to live is Christ

I know to die is gain

I know he sacrificed

I know he suffered pain

We should not fear to die

To suffer with our Lord

From this world we all will fly

Why not by the sword

And if He owns my death

Then every moment inbetween

Every little breath

Goes to Him on whom I lean

I would die for Christ it’s true

And so I live for Him

Every second through and through

Must to Him be a hymn

-forthecross

About Proclaiming His Glory

Who are we?

Three guys who are passionately in love with the Lord and have a desire to share what God has put on their hearts.

What will we write about? 

Our main interests are biblical theology, apologetics, and philosophy but we know our posts won’t be limited to those subjects. We have all  been influenced heavily by Reformed Theology and hope to write explanations, defenses, and reflections on the gospel in all its power.

Why are we doing this?

Our overriding goal is that God’s name would be made great among the nations. Our hope is that by the proclamation of Christ as King and Savior, the Holy Spirit would use our little writings to magnify His name!

Deuteronomy 32:3 “For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God!”