Friday, December 11, 2009

Over the mountains and through the woods.....

to the farmhouse we have in Missouri! Yay! We are leaving this Sunday for a two week visit to our property. Hopefully the pipes haven't frozen! The children are looking forward to Christmas in Missouri. I hope it snows for them while we are there. Today and tomorrow will be a flurry of activity getting ready. We are taking a load of stuff on the trailer, so there will be less to move when we do. We have a new plan. We are planning to move there in February regardless of whether or not our house in TX sells. If we have to, we will rent it out. So, that's the plan. Pray for us!

Reformed thoughts from a wretched believer

These are my personal beliefs about the Lord's hand in saving sinners from eternal damnation. They are based soley on scripture. I believed these things before I even knew what the word Reformed meant, and before I even knew who John Calvin was. The Holy Spirit led me to these beliefs by using the Holy Scriptures that the Lord has so graciously allowed us to have access to. (Thank you Martin Luther for that!) If you do not read all the scripture I have included in this email, please do not write back arguing and saying that the Lord "told" you in your thoughts otherwise. Scripture is the only authority we have about these things. If you can show me in scripture where I am wrong, then I will most gladly read those scriptures too. I am going to try to put the scripture in bold.

I believe that we can only rely on scripture and not on feelings or thoughts that pop into our heads. Scripture is the great revealer. If something we think does not line up with the Word of the Lord, then it is not to be trusted as true. I have made a few remarks after some of the scripture. I pray that your spirit will be teachable and my spirit will be humble. And please remember Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

Hebrews 9:15
15Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

Heb 9:15 very explicitly states "those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance"

Man is totally depraved. They are dead in trespasses and sins. Being dead, they absolutely cannot regenerate their own lives. It is only by the working of the Holy Spirit that they can even begin to come to the Lord.

Ephesians 2 1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Eph 2:4-5 states that it is God who made us alive when we were dead
Eph 2:8 states that faith and salvation are a gift of God, not of ourselves
Eph 2:10 God prepared in advance (indicating He knows us beforehand)

Reformed believers believe in:

1. The Absolute Sovereignty of God:
God is the Great King of the Universe. He rules over all things perfectly and completely. God does whatever He wishes, no one can restrain His will, His plans and counsels are always perfects accomplished. God never fails; nothing is outside of His perfect control and His overarching rule.

Scriptures supporting the Lord's sovereignty:

The LORD has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all. –Psalm 103:19

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You done?" –Daniel 4:34-35

“And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power.” -Deuteronomy 4:37

(again, God did the choosing)

“And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." –Revelation 7:10

(Salvation belongs to the Lord)

The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” – Jeremiah 31:3

(The Lord draws us.)

“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace.” –Ephesians 1:4-6

(Again, He chose us and those who are chosen are predestined.)

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” –John 15:16


“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” –Deuteronomy 7:6
(He chose us.)

“And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted.” –1 Kings 3:8
(God's people are chosen.)

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” -1 Peter 2:9
(We are chosen by His own calling.)

2. The Total Depravity of Humanity: Human beings are born sinners with a sinful nature we inherited from Adam. We are born condemned, and our personal actions and choices only worsen our condemnation. We are dead in our sins and trespasses against God and His law. We are slaves to sin. On our own, we can do nothing that pleases God or has any real spiritual value. This does not mean that we are all as bad as we can possibly be. God’s common grace restrains us from total chaos. Yet, we are thoroughly corrupted at every level of our being: mind, body, heart and soul.

Verses concerning man's depravity:

Psalm 51:5 “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me."

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. –Genesis 6:5

The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? –Jeremiah 17:9

"There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." "Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips"; "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." –Romans 3:10-18

3. The Complete Sufficiency of Christ: The only hope such sinful people have of salvation lies entirely in the work of Christ on our behalf. Jesus’ sinless life, perfect and sacrificial death and glorious resurrection accomplished our salvation in its entirety. The whole basis for our forgiveness and acceptance by God is the work of Christ. We add nothing to this work by our own actions or decisions. Christ and Christ alone is our entire salvation.

Verses concerning the sufficiency of Christ:
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

Colossians 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Romans 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Corinthians 1:30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

Now, regarding accepting children as a gift from the Lord and not limiting them, that is absolutely not contrary to the Lord. We allow Him to bless us with those whom HE chooses to bless us with. We believe in His sovereignty so much that we know that only He is the author and giver of Life. Who am I to reject HIS blessings? I am nothing.

And lastly, for those who say they cannot believe a loving God would create souls destined for hell and for those of you who do not believe in predestination, Do you believe in univeralism? Do you believe that all people will be saved regardless of their beliefs? So, the Muslim, and the athiest will also be saved? Because it is obvious to me that these people were created by the Lord, and if they don't come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, then they will perish. But all I am saying is that it is the Lord who draws them to salvation (or any of us!)

Blessings and praying for all who read this,

footnote: paragraphs labeled 1, 2, and 3 -

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Calvin and Me

I recently wrote this in reply to a question on an email list about whether the God of Reformed Calvinists is the same loving God of other protestant denominations.

I am a reformed Calvinist. I attend a reformed Calvinist church. This is the best church I have ever been in my entire saved life. I spent twelve years in a typical baptist church where my spirit waxed and waned and where I was the oddball for allowing the Lord to open and close my womb and for homeschooling. By the time I left that church, I was cynical and depressed. My spirit was just beaten and had rarely (especially at the end) received the nourishment it needed in the baptist church I was in. When we changed churches, it was like a veil was lifted from me. My heart began to be convicted anew of sins I had not seen before, because I was in a spiritual coma. Life became pleasant again, and I no longer had a critical spirit. I too, battled with the idea that if some of God's creation were predestined, then logically, some were created unto damnation. But that is wrong thinking. God calls whom He will call, and since absolutely none of us deserves His grace, who am I to judge His intentions about the elect? When I was doing that, it was as if I thought I knew better than God. I have since repented and know that it is not my place to say whom the Lord should save through His election. When we read through the old testament, do we not see the Lord "playing" favorites, as it were? He chose Jacob over Esau, He chose Abel over Cain, He chose Isaac over Ishmael. He saved Noah and his immediate family, but no one else. He saved Lot and his daughters, but not others. I'm sure there are more examples I am missing right now. Anyway, who am I to tell the Lord whom He should save? I am nothing, I am the creation, He is the creator. Isaiah 45:9 "Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, 'What are you making?' or 'Your work has no handles'?

As far as missions goes, if a church does not believe in sending missionaries to the far ends of the earth, then that church is disobeying a direct command of our Lord. I would say to anyone, run away from a church like that, no matter their denomination. My church went on 5 mission trips this last year, we had a missions conference and 12 of our young people and 10 more older people committed to moving towards a life of missions. We currently support approximately 8 missionary families and intend to support those leaving from our church to go into the mission field. My oldest son, who is 17 today, is finishing high school this year with his mind on becoming a missionary to Mexico. In fact, becoming a missionary as soon as possible is what finally motivated him to get his schoolwork done and not only done, but done early. We are commanded by our Lord and savior to Go!

Just because the Lord chooses whom He will choose, does not make Him an unloving God at all. It makes Him a loving and just God. He keeps His word. I am so thankful to now believe in the election of the saints, as before, I was always worried if I was really saved. Am I doing all the right things. Even before, though I "knew" that I could not save myself, now I really know it. It takes the pressure off of me. I do have assurance of salvation as well.

John Piper and John Macarthur are both Calvinist. If you can get some books by either one, they explain it so much better AND accurately. Also, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem is very good.

My knowledge of Calvinism probably isn't as refined as it should be. But I know this, the Lord is a loving and Just God and He changed my life radically when I responded to His wooing. I am not saved by Calvin, but by grace alone, in Christ alone, through faith alone.
Serving a loving, all mighty, all knowing God.