Posts Tagged ‘theology’

An Introduction To The Doctrines Of Grace And Why I Dislike Calvinism

In links on May 3, 2008 at 10:11 pm

John Calvin ShirtHere is a great 9-part series on the Doctrines of Grace taught by John Piper, audio/video/text is available to suite your fancy. Yes, you could call this an introduction to Calvinism if you’d like. (HT: JT)

On a personal note, I’m beginning to dislike the term Calvinism more and more. As I look through what Calvin taught and how he taught it, I’m not so sure he would have agreed to this 5-point summary commonly referred to as TULIP. Not so much because the doctrines are contrary to his beliefs or teaching, but more so because it is such a short and quick summary of it. John Calvin seemed to go about his teaching for the long-term effect of it. He taught seminary-type classes for his more advanced “students” one day per week, every week. Given the fact that John Piper covered TULIP in 9 sessions, and that includes a bit of history and a discussion on Arminianism, it would appear that John Calvin was into a whole lot more than just five points.

If you look through what is commonly called John Calvin’s seminal work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, you’ll see statements like this:

Moreover, it has been my purpose in this labor to prepare and instruct candidates in sacred theology for the reading of the divine Word, in order that they may be able both to have easy access to it and to advance in it without stumbling. For I believe I have so embraced the sum of religion in all its parts, and have arranged it in such an order, that if anyone rightly grasps it, it will not be difficult for him to determine what he ought especially to seek in Scripture, and to what end he ought to relate its contents.

So, it is difficult to say that Calvin was only interested in these 5-points that bear his name. It was a kind sentiment by his students to name an entire doctrinal system after the great reformer, but it’s unfortunate that something that causes so much misunderstanding and division seems to be the one thing that most folks remember John Calvin for.


Good Theology Questions

In links on April 25, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Reclaiming the Mind Ministries has been posting some great theological-type questions lately. As always the comments really add to the discussion as well so have a look:


Acts 14:7

In acts_14_7 on April 15, 2008 at 6:55 pm

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.” 1 Timothy 1:3-11

There is a doctrine that is in accordance with the gospel and a teaching that is not. Jesus entrusted this teaching to the apostles to spread to the entire world (Matt. 28:20) and the other came about as a result of speculating and guessing. How do you tell the difference? How do you know what to listen to? One simple test is this: is it in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God? Teaching in accordance with the gospel will always be Christ-centered, Christ-exalting, Christ-loving, and Christ-glorifying. It will never add to the gospel or take away from it; proper doctrine is drawn from the gospel.

“And there they continued to preach the gospel” – Acts 14:7

Each Tuesday a different reflection on the gospel and its continual effect on our lives

Acts 14:7

In acts_14_7 on April 8, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Jude 3…the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. There is something I have in common with Peter the apostle, and Paul the apostle, and Augustine, Justin Martyr, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley and George Whitefield. We all became believers of the gospel message. When I read about the sacrifices these men made to preach the gospel to people who had not believed, I feel a sense of unity with them, a common bond, because of the gospel message. The message hasn’t changed over the years. God hasn’t been refining the gospel since it was first preached as if it were something that means different things to different people. The truth that Peter believed is the same truth I now believe.

All of these men came from different backgrounds, lived in different cultures, spoke different languages and had different careers. Yet, each one believed he had sinned against God and that only Christ’s atoning death and resurrection could save him. The gospel is universal, it is not exclusive to certain races or educational backgrounds. The gospel is for everyone because all are guilty of sin. This message was entrusted to the apostles that they should teach it and pass it down from generation to generation regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, geographic location, or lifestyle. All those who believe are united in Christ according to the same gospel message.

“And there they continued to preach the gospel” – Acts 14:7

Each Tuesday a different reflection on the gospel and its continual effect on our lives

Signs and Wonders, Heresy, and Love for God; Part II

In theology on April 5, 2008 at 2:30 pm

A few days ago I posted a reference to an article by John Piper titled Signs and Wonders, Heresy, and Love for God. I wanted to think about it for a few days and write some more.

The basis of Piper’s article is that great signs and wonders have always and will always happen and that God uses them to test us. I thought about what kinds of false signs and wonders we might witness today. At first I thought about, honestly, dinosaurs. Maybe the fossils we have today could be one of these false signs because it does lead the people astray to follow after the god of science. I quickly talked myself out of this because it does not fit with the text. Both the Matt. 24 and Deut.13 passage imply some kind of miracle that is performed by a false prophet, either a prophecy of future events or a miracle performed in front of their eyes.

The only thing I could come up with was healings and fortune tellers. These are definitely miraculous (when they work) and would be very convincing to those who witness them that the person performing them has some kind of supernatural power. But the Bible tells us that true prophets can do the same things. So then the question is, how can we distinguish the false from the true? Thankfully, God never leaves us to fend for ourselves, He gives us a spirit of truth and tells us to test the spirits. Here is our test:

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God…They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world – 1 John 4:2-5

This passage tells us that we can know false spirits from true spirits by their doctrine. What they say and what they preach. Their acts may appear loving and compassionate but their teachings will not. Their doctrine will tell of a different Christ than then one we believed in. False doctrine goes right for the cross and tries to skirt around it; preaching a Jesus that did not join in humanity, taking on the flesh and all its temptations, and suffer on our behalf only to be killed as an atoning sacrifice and rise up again to life on the third day.

Signs and Wonders, Heresy, and Love for God

In theology on April 2, 2008 at 9:13 pm

Here is a great article from John Piper that I am still pondering.

In it, Piper opens with a verse from Matthew 24:24:

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

And explains that these signs and wonders are supernatural but that they aim to deceive. So, if these things are supernatural, what is God’s purpose in them happening? Piper brings up Deuteronomy 13:1-3

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

And then spells out five things to notice from this passage, mainly that God is testing us by it. There are a few things I want to think about with this passage, but I’d like to hear from you if you have any stories of witnessing one of these signs/wonders? The passage in Deuteronomy says the sign will come true, meaning the sign was some kind of future-telling event or miraculous performance as opposed to teaching some kind of false doctrine to try and lead the church astray. So, has anyone ever seen something like this? What was it?

Acts 14:7

In acts_14_7 on April 1, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Do you ever think about how much it delighted Jesus to serve us? Do you ever consider that Jesus rejoiced at the idea of becoming like us and suffering as he did? Listen to what John Owen said:

As then we lay under the eye of Christ in our misery, we were the objects of his pity and compassion; but as he looketh on us as recoverable out of that state, his love worketh in and by delight. It was an inconceivable delight unto him, to take a prospect of the deliverance of mankind unto the glory of God; which is also an act of love. See this divinely expressed, Prov. viii. 30, 31, as that place has been elsewhere explained.

Don’t miss what’s being said here, Christ delighted in his life, death, and resurrection. In the gospel, we see that he did not leave his father begrudgingly with an attitude of annoyance at having to come down from his throne; he came because it was his joy to do it. He finds his pleasure in us! Jesus said he did not come to be served, but to serve. God serves us? The maker serves the created? The only explanation for this is love. God loves us with such a passion that he was not only willing, but excited, to come and take on our sins so that he could restore our relationship with him.

“And there they continued to preach the gospel” – Acts 14:7

Each Tuesday a different reflection on the gospel and its continual effect on our lives

More On Ephesians

In reference on March 31, 2008 at 8:09 pm

I realized yesterday that after posting my nifty little diagram, I didn’t actually say anything about the passage…

As Paul does fairly often in his letters, he opens up Ephesians with a doctrinal explanation before exhorting his readers towards godly living. This passage in Ephesians 1:3-14 seems to be Paul praising God for what He has done. He starts off by saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has…” A friend of mine made the point that all praise comes from doctrine; you praise God because of what you know about Him through His revelation to us and you praise Him because of what He’s done knowing that doctrine teaches you what God does and does not do. For example, you praise God for His creation but doctrine teaches you that He was the one that created it.

Paul then explains what God has done for us in Jesus. He:

  • chose/elected us (v4)
  • predestined us for adoption (v5)
  • redeemed us and forgave our sins (v7)
  • gave us an inheritance (v11)
  • sealed us with the Holy Spirit (v13)

And this seems to be the main point of this passage, that we praise God for giving us every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.

But along the way, Paul makes these great little sidetracks that dig deeper into what Christ has done for us. In v11 Paul says that we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the council of His will. Whatever your view of predestination is, these passages make us thankful that God is sovereign because His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are perfect and therefore we can trust in His will for our lives. It reminds me of Christ telling us not to worry about anything in Matthew 6:25-34.

Even with these sidetracks, which we could get lost in thoughts about God’s sovereignty for hours from, Paul always ends up praising God by saying that all things are to the praise of His glory. This seems to be what Paul wanted his readers to see, that we are so blessed in Christ and that it was all done to the praise of His everlasting glory.

Acts 14:7

In acts_14_7 on March 25, 2008 at 8:56 pm

This week, R.C. Sproul explains the gospel. Enjoy!


Click here if the above link does not work

“And there they continued to preach the gospel” – Acts 14:7

Each Tuesday a different reflection on the gospel and its continual effect on our lives

Acts 14:7

In acts_14_7 on March 11, 2008 at 6:38 am

It says in Romans 8:15 that “you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ” Abba! Father!” This adoption we have into God’s family is difficult to grasp. I still call my earthly dad, dad and my earthly mom, mom. The process of adoption we have in the world today is a legal process. At some point, an adopted person legally goes from being under the care of one family to being under the care of another. But this spiritual adoption that Paul describes is different, we retain our family here on earth while at the same time we join a much larger family. We are adopted into Christ’s family, his church, and receive all the blessings of his inheritance. In fact, Paul will later say that we are joined with all who have been chosen by God. This means that every person who ever had a saving faith in God (before Jesus’ death and after) is considered a brother or a sister to us.

We know what the process of earthly adoption looks like, but how does this spiritual adoption work? John 1:12 says that all who receive him, who believe in his name, have this right of spiritual adoption. It says that we must believe, we hear the gospel message of forgiveness and put our faith in Christ and his righteousness. But what a blessing it is to know that, just as a family chooses the child it adopts, so to does God choose his children. You may say that God’s choosing seems unfair, but I wonder how many adopted children who were taken out of desperate situations and brought into a home of love and kindness and protection will say the same?

“And there they continued to preach the gospel” – Acts 14:7

Each Tuesday a different reflection on the gospel and its continual effect on our lives