“Biblical Calvinism – An Introduction to the Doctrines of Grace” by Dr. Curt Daniel, Part 5

Limited Atonement 

God, then, chose some sinners to save. This did not make them saved at that time. It only guaranteed that they certainly would be saved in the end. Two more things needed to be done: prepare the means for their salvation and apply it to them. First, we read in Scripture that God foreordained that Jesus Christ would become a man and would die on the Cross as the means of salvation (Acts 2:23; 4:28). Christ died as a substitute for others (1 Cor. 15:3; Rom.5:8). He suffered the infinite wrath of God for sin, and satisfied that wrath. This is called propitiation (1 John 2:2, 4:10). Because Jesus was a perfect man and God in the flesh, His sacrifice had infinite value. He did not pay an exact equivalent for our sins; He paid a super-abundant payment infinitely above what we owed. All that He did would have been necessary had only one sinner been chosen, but He would not have had to do any more had all sinners been chosen.

Historic Calvinists teach that there are two aspects of this one atonement. The first is that there is a sense in which Christ died for all men everywhere (John 1:29, 3:16, 4:42, 6:33, 51; 2 Cor. 5:14, 19; I Tim. 2:4-6; John 2:2; 2 Pet 2:1). By His death on the Cross, He removed all legal barriers in case any man believes. His death for all men also purchased the common bounties of life for all men. It also secured a delay of judgment for them, as it were, though not a permanent one. All will one day be judged, but the fact that all men are not already in Hell is due to the atonement of Christ. Moreover, on the basis of this universal aspect of the atonement, salvation is offered freely to all men: “Come and dine, for all is ready!” (cf. Matt. 22:2-14; Luke 14:16-24). Also, Christ died for all men in this sense in order to be Lord of all men, whether alive or dead, elect or non-elect (Rom. 14:9; Phil. 2:10-11).

Most Evangelicals will agree with this analysis so far, but Calvinist go yet further. We teach that the death of Christ is sufficient for all men, but is efficient only for the elect. There is a sense in which Christ died for all, but there is a sense in which He died only for the elect. He died for all, but especially for the elect (1 Tim. 4:10). He purchased some blessings for all men, but all blessings for some men. Since the elect are scattered throughout the world and mingled together with the non-elect, Christ purchased the whole world with the special intent of owning the elect (cf. Matt. 13:44). This special aspect of the atonement is what is called Limited Atonement. Some call it Particular Redemption.

Eph. 5:25 says, “Christ also loved the Church [the elect] and gave Himself up for her.” A man loves all other persons, but has a special love for his wife and will do some things for her that he will not do for all other persons. The same is true with Christ. He has a general love for all men and did something for all men at the Cross because they were His creatures. But He has a special love for His bride and did something special for her at the Cross. He died for her in such a way as to guarantee that she would be saved, made perfectly holy and ready for Heaven (vs.26).

There are other verses that indicates this special intent of the atonement. John 10:15, 17 and 18 say that Christ the Good Shepherd died for “the sheep”. Lest somebody think that this could include all men everywhere, Christ goes on to say that some people are not His sheep (vs. 26) Hence there is a sense in which He died for the sheep (the elect) and not for the goats and wolves (the non-elect). Later in John 15:13-14, Christ said that He would lay down His life for His “friends.” But not all men are His friends. Isaiah 53:8 prophesied that Christ would die for God’s “people”, but not all men are God’s people-only the elect. Acts 20:28 says that Christ purchased “the Church” with His blood, but not all men are the Church. Further, Rom. 8:32 says that if God gave Christ to die for us, then He will surely give us all other things. Since He does not give all these things of salvation to all men, then it follows that Christ was not given for them at the Cross in this special way. Christ died so as to make possible the salvation of all men, but He died to make definite the salvation of the elect alone. It was designed for the elect.

Again, there are many objections to this truth, but they can all be answered by pointing out that no man deserved for Christ to die for him. Actually, there is no dispute that Christ did not die for Satan or the demons; the atonement is clearly limited there. But the non-elect are in the same situation as Satan-none will be saved because none were elected. The thing to keep in mind is that the atonement was designed for the elect.

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Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Farewell, Willow Creek: Where the “Regular” Churches Can Go From Here by Jonathan Aigner

The previous article I posted about WIllow Creek was published in CT Magazine. You can read it here. This article was published at Patheos.com and it takes a different approach to the events at WIllow Creek. I don’t regularly visit Patheos.com, but I found this article quite interesting and I can appreciate much of what the author discusses.

Farewell, Willow Creek: Where the “Regular” Churches Can Go From Here

by Jonathan Aigner

It looks like the beginning of the end at Willow Creek. They aren’t saying that, but I feel like that’s what’s happening.

If so, good riddance.

And you can take the megachurch movement you spawned with you.

I’m sorry if I sound bitter. I’m not, really. More relieved than anything else. Saddened for the stories of abuse, gaslighting, and hero worship. Grieved by the commoditization of human hearts and souls, the theological void, and the liturgical collapse. But relieved that this sad chapter in American religious history is rattling to an end.

Stanley Hauerwas said that the church growth movement was “the death gurgle of a church that had lost its way.”

Well, one of the biggest players is dying a quick death.

It was bound to happen anyway, regardless of the specific failures of Bill Hybels and the inept, buffoonish response of the Willow Creek board.

See, the rest of us are tired. We’re tired of having to compete with the downtown destination or suburban center house of entertainment that calls itself a church. We don’t have the energy, we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the desire, but we’ve felt like we’ve had to conform. Because you were growing, and we were shrinking! We felt like we had to do something drastic.

Paranoia struck so deep in our hearts and souls that, in desperation, we cried out for your bag of tricks. So we signed up for your silly, overpriced conferences. We copied the happy, clappy dreck you dared to call worship. We tried to find a charismatic leader like yours. We tried to be a mini-Willow in our own neck of the woods. We gave up ourselves: our message, our mission, our liturgy, our identity.

No more. We’re tired. We’re disillusioned. We’re embarrassed. We’re just done.

After decades of believing churches like Willow Creek had discovered the antidote, after 25 years of copying, emulating, strategizing, and leadership conferencing, we’re finding out that we’ve built our behemoth, nondescript church buildings on the sand like the foolish people we are.

Well, Weeping Willow Creek and all others of its ilk, we’re on to you. We see the chinks in your armor, and they’re gaping open ever wider with each passing day. Another one of your empires has fallen, and others will follow soon.

We should have known all along.

Celebrity pastors cannot possibly be good shepherds to their people.

Attractional worship is only entertainment, nothing more.

A fast food version of Jesus can never be the real version of Jesus.

The church growth movement leads to a bloated, unhealthy body of people who don’t really understand what they’ve signed up for.

Capitalism does not hold the keys to evangelism.

The Pastor as CEO idea will always fail, often with far-reaching, disastrous results.

Big churches are not good role models for the rest of our churches. In fact, their methods will ruin us, too, if we’re not careful.

Though Willow Creek and those like it may crumble and fall, the church will go on. God will preserve it, and none else can stop it. We know that the cosmic renewal, redemption, and restoration has already begun, set in motion by God’s mighty acts in Jesus Christ.

But here in this culture, it must almost begin anew. The megachurch movement was nothing more than a last ditch effort to save a church created in our own image. The calling is clear: Christ must be born again within us.

So church, it’s time to rediscover your sacred, holy identity. It was never just about filling pews. Go on about the gospel that still calls to you. Go on with your liturgy. Preach the Word, administer the sacraments. Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God, even as it become more novel, more strange, and more isolating. Spread the great and glorious news that Jesus Christ has brought into this world, even when your culture no longer gives it lip service.

After all, church, what does it proffer you if you gain thousands of butts in your seats, but give up your heart and soul?

Nothing. In fact, church, you lose, and you lose big.

Adding more campuses is not discipleship.

Hiring more staff is not church growth.

Getting more butts in the seats is not evangelism.

So free yourselves from the church growth obsession.

Free yourselves from your slavery to numbers. Free yourselves from the neurotic counting. Free yourselves from the mind-numbing, maddening task of data disaggregation. Release yourselves from the anxiety over empty pews. Realize that you don’t have to keep wondering what you will eat or drink or wear if your budgets shrink.

Remove the [obsession with church] growth.

Free yourselves from what your Americanized gospel thinks of as success, because if you don’t, you may just end up in the same boat as this giant.

Resist the temptation to use worship as a hook, a holy bait-and-switch. Because your message is sounding more and more like an unwanted, confrontational Amway spiel. It sounds like you want people in your services because you’ve got some property for sale somewhere that’s too good to be true.

Free yourselves for the higher calling of the Gospel of Christ. Be who you are called to be. Stop counting. Stop strategizing. Jesus promises that he is engaging enough, even though the most numerically successful churches claim otherwise.

Maybe it’s time we stop trying to top him, and just take him at his word.

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Photo:
wikipedia

“The Healing of Willow Creek” by Mark Galli

This is an article published in CT Magazine that speaks of what happened  with Bill Hybels and Willow Creek up to this point in time that looks at it through the lens of “loyalty”.

The Healing of Willow Creek

Misguided loyalty harmed this historic congregation. True loyalty can redeem it.

Mark Galli| August 13, 2018

The Healing of Willow Creek

Image: JLM

In light of the resignation of its pastoral staff and elder board, it’s time to rally around Willow Creek Community Church with support and prayers. With those resignations, and the repentance they suggest, Willow has an opportunity to enter into a new fruitful season of ministry.

Let’s ponder what has happened in the last few months and why, because a simplistic reading of the events will only tempt Willow—and any Christian institution in a similar crisis—to react in such a way that the fruitful season will wither away all too quickly. Many women have come forward and said Bill Hybels has abused his power and sexually harassed female colleagues. The current leadership, pastors and elder board, have failed early to take seriously the accusations being brought forth. We are wise to try our best to grasp the moral and psychological complexities of what has taken place, so deep redemption can take place.

Rediscovering True Loyalty

Given the number of troubling testimonies about Hybels’s behavior, it’s easy to forget we’re still dealing with allegations and not proven fact. Many are of the opinion—me included—that he is guilty. Hybels, however, continues to deny many of the most serious allegations. It’s not merely an American thing but is also required of Christian charity: The accused are entitled to their day in court. For independent churches in Willow’s situation, that court is the sort of independent investigation that Willow has at long last commissioned. An independent investigation will hopefully be able to bring to light the full truth of the matter. The choice of the organization to investigate, as well as its work, are certainly matters to keep in prayer.

The current pastoral leaders and the board have shown both courage and humility in resigning. That in itself is an act of repentance, and for that we can be grateful. Without excusing the leadership, we do well, however, to note why staff and boards who otherwise show signs of wisdom are tempted in a crisis to downplay accusations and protect their leader at all costs, for they do it often.

One reason for many is loyalty. Loyalty is an especially precious virtue in mission-driven organizations, especially in an age when missions are so easily undermined. We do not want to hire staff or form boards whose first instinct is to suspect the leader of the worst after every accusation.

And here is the rub, because loyalty is more complex than we first imagine. We tend to think that loyalty means always taking the side of the leader to whom we want to be faithful. Loyalty instead means doing everything in your power to make the leader not only a better one but a more faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. It’s not unlike patriotism for one’s country. The true patriot loves his country; so much so that he will speak out when he believes the country is doing wrong, to call the nation to adhere to its deepest ideals.

In the face of substantive accusations, then, it is not a betrayal to look seriously at accusations in a way that the truth will come forth and not be covered up. It is an act of loyalty—for the sake of the leader’s integrity.

Loyalty to the leader continues and drives even deeper when it appears that the leader is guilty of a shameful offense. That’s when the leader needs the loyalty of a true friend. This doesn’t mean denying or excusing wrong behavior. At such times, it means standing with them, praying for and with them as they begin to wrestle with wrongdoing and hesitantly, awkwardly try to repent. Because it is inevitable that in such crises, leaders usually do not have the spiritual wherewithal to confront every aspect of their sins immediately. Repentance is a hard and fearsome thing. We need God’s powerful grace to repent, and that grace is often communicated by patient and loving counselors who can help lead us to a proper and deep repentance.

But loyalty is more complex still. Pastoral staff and boards are also called to be loyal to their congregations. This is one reason leadership at every level is so hard and why it tests the best of men and women. Staff and boards often feel they have to choose between loyalty to their leader or to their congregations they are called to serve, and they often end up choosing one or the other. This is what has happened at Willow, and not only with the board. People are either for the congregation, and especially the women who have come forward, or they have been for the staff, board, and Hybels. But loyalty and love require that we parse how and in what ways we need to be loyal to all parties, even when we believe one party has made grievous errors of judgment or has been immoral.

Of course, all these loyalties are grounded in our loyalty—that is, faithfulness—to Jesus Christ, who has demonstrated his loyalty to us, even while we were sinners.

Going Forward

Some have said that Willow staff and elders have been too loyal to Hybels, and some argue that boards should not be so loyal. As the argument above suggests, we beg to differ. Instead, we believe boards should be even more deeply loyal to their congregations and to their pastors—with all that loyalty requires.

One question now is who is going to be loyal to those who have just resigned? And to Bill Hybels and his family? And what does loyalty look like now for those who remain and those who will be called into leadership? Who will be approaching any who have erred and sinned and have wreaked havoc? Is there anyone offering them prayer and support, inviting them out for coffee and conversation, being willing to listen to their story—all the while prodding them to deeper repentance and righteousness?

Many are saddened and rightly angry at the way the initial accusers of Hybels have been either ignored or slandered. That is a terrible thing. But it would only make matters worse if those we believe who have acted disgracefully are shunned in turn.

More than anyone, of course, the accusers of Hybels—those women who have apparently been bullied or sexually harassed—need people to rally around them. This nearly goes without saying. But the gospel calls some of us to rally around the accused and guilty, as well. What loyalty and love looks like in each situation is different, but in the end it should be a combination of honesty and grace, tough love and tender mercy, that leads one and all into a deeper relationship with God.

In short, our love and loyalty must span the breadth of innocence and wrongdoing, of wisdom and malfeasance, if we are to discover a redemption that truly heals.

In this painful moment, Willow has been given a divine opportunity—that is, a chance to be born again. It is entering into a season of self-reflection and repentance, which begins with that independent investigation. If it allows it to be a season, not something to be rushed though, it will see the slow and steady growth of grace set deep roots. May our prayer simply be the promise of the Lord in Amos (9:14–15), when he announced he would bring his people back from exile:

They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
they will make gardens and eat their fruit.

I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted
from the land I have given them.

Mark Galli is editor in chief of Christianity Today.

“Biblical Calvinism – An Introduction to the Doctrines of Grace” by Dr. Curt Daniel, Part 4

Unconditional Election 

Man cannot save himself in whole or in part. Only God can save Man. The good news of the Gospel is that God has provided a way of salvation through Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4). But to understand God’s way of salvation, we have to again go back to the eternal mind of God in predestination.

Before all things were created, God foreordained to divide all mankind into two groups. Some would be His people and the rest would be left in their sins (Rom. 9). First, let us look at what the Bible teaches concerning the doctrine of election. In its simplest form, it is this: “He chose us” (Eph. 1:4). He did this in eternity past, not in time (2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 1:4). Those whom He chose are called “the elect” (Matt. 24:22, 31; Mark 13:20; Luke 18:7, etc.). They are sinners who have been chosen to receive salvation (1 Thess. 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:13). What moved God to choose them in the first place? God chose them by sovereign grace alone (2 Tim. 1:9; Deut. 7:7-8). God elected them to receive mercy (Rom. 9:23), to go to Heaven (Matt. 25:34), to be made perfectly holy (Eph. 1:4), and to be totally glorified (Rom. 8:29-30). God chose the elect “in Christ” (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9: Rom. 16:13).

In a general sense, God wills all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). But in another, higher sense, God chose only some sinners to be saved. When He chose them, He wrote their names down in the Book of Life (Luke 10:20; Rev. 13:8, 17:8). The Father chose them and gave them to Jesus (John 17:2, 6, 9,24). God chose the elect. Christ is also God, so He had a vital part in this choice. What was it? Jesus chose His own bride from among the mass of sinful humanity. This was His right and privilege. He said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). Nor did He choose the elect on the basis of anything He foresaw in them, for all He foresaw in their nature was sin. He “foreknew” the elect in the sense of knowing them in love from all eternity (Rom.8:29; 1 Pet. 1:2; cf. Amos 3:2). Remember Scripture says, “He chose us.” He did not choose us because He foresaw we would choose Him. Rather, He chose us solely out of free grace.

This election is personal. He chose the elect by name. And since it is not conditional upon anything in us, it is absolutely sure that all the elect will be saved one day. Therefore, we have Unconditional Election. Election is irreversible. When one comes to believe in Christ unto salvation, he then has the privilege of knowing that he is one of the elect (2 Pet. 1:10).

But God did not choose all men. He did not choose Satan or any of the demons, and He did not choose all sinful human beings. Some are elected, the rest were left in their sins (Rom. 9). This is the doctrine of Reprobation, or non-election. Since they were not chosen to salvation but left in their sins, they were foreordained to receive the due penalty for their sins-eternal wrath (1 Thess. 5:9; 1 Pet. 2:8; Prov. 16:4). Their names were not written in the Book of Life in eternity past (Rev. 13:8, 17:8), nor were they ever known by Christ in the election of grace (Matt. 7:23). In time, God leaves them in their evil nature and even hardens their hearts and further blinds their minds (John 12:39-40; Rom. 9:18, 11:7; Deut. 2:30; Josh. 11:20). God is fattening them up for the slaughter which they deserve.

But lest anyone think this is unfair, God replies, “Who are you, O Man, that answers back to God?” (Rom. 9:20). No man can blame God, for Man is sinful Man and God is a holy God. No man deserves to be elected; all deserve to be rejected. The wonder is not that God rejected some sinners; the wonder is that He chose any sinners to be saved.

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Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

“Biblical Calvinism – An Introduction to the Doctrines of Grace” by Dr. Curt Daniel, Part 3

Total Depravity 

God is sovereign, but He made Man a responsible being. This is a paradox. We must believe both truths for they are both taught in Scripture. Man is certainly accountable to God (Rom. 14:12; Eccl. 12:13-14). God created Adam and Eve as morally responsible persons. In fact, they were created without any sin (Eccl. 7:29). But they fell into sin (Gen. 3). Since Adam was the head of the race of humanity, and we all descended from him, his sin affected the whole human race (Rom. 5:12-19). Human nature ever since then is flawed by sin, and every human being except Jesus Christ has inherited Original Sin (Psa. 51:5; Rom. 3). As a result, we all sin by nature and by choice.

Man is born in sin with an evil and wicked nature (Eph. 2:3; Matt. 7:11). In fact, we share the same evil nature as Satan (John 8:44). We sin because it is our nature to sin. Sin completely fills every aspect of our beings from head to toe (Isa. 1:5-6). Our hearts (Eccl. 9:3) and minds are filled with sin (Tit. 1:15; Eph. 4:17-19; 1Tim. 3:8; 6:5). “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and desperately wicked” (Jer.17:9). There is no good left in man whatsoever (Rom. 7:18). Man is basically evil, not good.

The Bible paints a grotesque picture of Man, far different than the beautiful idea Man imagines of himself. Man is dead, not sick (Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13). He is blind, not near-sighted (2 Cor. 3:14). His heart is as hard as stone (Ezek. 11:19; Jer. 23:29). By nature we are slaves of sin (2 Pet.2:19; John 8:34; Rom. 6:16, 20) and slaves of the Devil (John 8:44; Eph. 2:2; 2 Tim. 2:26). Calvinist utterly deny that Man has a “free will.” How can it be free when Scripture so frequently says that it is a slave? Man is enslaved to his sinful nature. What’s more, he is a willing slave and does not want to be free. He would rather be a slave to sin than serve God as his king.

There’s more still. Because of the utter sinfulness of human nature, Man does not have the moral ability to change his nature (Jer. 13:23). He cannot stop sinning or even want to stop sinning (2 Pet. 2:14). Everything he does has a sinful motive behind it, even when he does what outwardly appears to be good. “The wickedness of Man was great on the Earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Man never obeys God. He is unable any longer to truly obey God (Rom. 8:7-8; Matt. 7:18). He never seeks God (Rom. 3:11) and is unwilling to come to God for help (John 5:40). He is unwilling because he is unable (John 6:44, 65).

Calvinism also denies that Man is ever morally neutral (Matt. 6:24, 12:20). Man is always set against God. His will is not neutral or self-determining. He always wills in accordance with his nature; since his nature is evil, his thoughts and motives are always evil. But this moral inability does not annul his responsibility. Quite the contrary-it compounds his guilt. Remember, this sinfulness is self-inflicted. God does not cancel Man’s debt simply because Man has squandered the loan and is unable to pay God back. Man is guilty and deserves to go to Hell (Rom 6:23). Granted, there are degrees of sin. Some sins are worse than others, and some sinners are worse than other sinners (John 19:11). But even the least sinner is totally depraved and morally unable to obey. At heart, all men love sin and hate God with all their hearts (John 3:19-20; Prov. 21:10; Matt. 6:24). He is totally without hope (Eph. 2:12), without strength to obey (Rom. 5:6) and without excuse (Rom. 2:1).

No theology except Calvinism teaches the full truth about the sinfulness of Man.

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Part 1

Part 2

Social Injustice and the Gospel by John MacArthur

This is the first of several articles Dr. MacArthur plans addressing an important issue concerning the evangelical church.

Social Injustice and the Gospel

by John MacArthur

Monday, August 13, 2018

Scripture says earthly governments are ordained by God to administer justice, and believers are to be subject to their authority. The civil magistrate is “a minister of God to you for good . . . an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” (Romans 13:1–4). But it is also true that no government in the history of the world has managed to be consistently just. In fact, when Paul wrote that command, the Roman Emperor was Nero, one of the most grossly unjust, unprincipled, cruel-hearted men ever to wield power on the world stage.

As believers, “we know . . . that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), so worldly power structures are—and always have been—systemically unjust to one degree or another.

Even the United States, though founded on the precept that all members of the human race “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” incongruously maintained a system of forced slavery that withheld the full benefits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness from multitudes. Many generations of people from African ethnicities were thus legally (but immorally) relegated to subhuman status. According to the 1860 census, there were about four million in the generation of slaves who were being held in servitude when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Civil War and the abolishment of slavery did not automatically end the injustice. A hundred years passed before the federal government banned segregation in public places and began in earnest to pass legislation safeguarding the civil rights of all people equally. Until then, freed slaves and their descendants in Southern states were literally relegated by law to the back of the bus and frequently treated with scorn or incivility because of the color of their skin.

I got a small taste of what it felt like to be bullied and discriminated against in the American South in the 1960s. I spent a lot of time traveling through rural Mississippi with my good friend John Perkins, a well-known black evangelical leader, preaching the gospel in segregated black high schools. During one of those trips, as we drove down a dirt road, a local sheriff—an openly bigoted character straight out of In the Heat of the Night—took me into custody, held me in his jail, and accused me of disturbing the peace. He also confiscated (and kept) all my money. He ultimately released me without filing charges. I suppose he considered the money he took from me an adequate fine for doing something he disapproved of.

In those days any appeal to higher authorities would have been fruitless and possibly counterproductive. All I could do was try not to antagonize him further.

I was again ministering in Mississippi with John Perkins and a group of black church leaders in April 1968 when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. One of the men leading our group was Charles Evers, head of the Mississippi NAACP. (His brother Medgar had been killed in 1963 by the KKK.) When news of Dr. King’s murder broke, we drove to Memphis—and literally within hours after Dr. King was assassinated, we were at the Lorraine Motel, standing on the balcony where he was shot. We were also shown the place where James Earl Ray stood on a toilet to fire the fatal shot.

I deplore racism and all the cruelty and strife it breeds. I am convinced the only long-term solution to every brand of ethnic animus is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ alone are the barriers and dividing walls between people groups broken down, the enmity abolished, and differing cultures and ethnic groups bound together in one new people (Ephesians 2:14–15). The black leaders with whom I ministered during the civil rights movement shared that conviction.

The evangelicals who are saying the most and talking the loudest these days about what’s referred to as “social justice” seem to have a very different perspective. Their rhetoric certainly points a different direction, demanding repentance and reparations from one ethnic group for the sins of its ancestors against another. It’s the language of law, not gospel—and worse, it mirrors the jargon of worldly politics, not the message of Christ. It is a startling irony that believers from different ethnic groups, now one in Christ, have chosen to divide over ethnicity. They have a true spiritual unity in Christ, which they seem to disdain in favor of fleshly factions.

Evangelicalism’s newfound obsession with the notion of “social justice” is a significant shift—and I’m convinced it’s a shift that is moving many people (including some key evangelical leaders) off message, and onto a trajectory that many other movements and denominations have taken before, always with spiritually disastrous results.

Over the years, I’ve fought a number of polemical battles against ideas that threaten the gospel. This recent (and surprisingly sudden) detour in quest of “social justice” is, I believe, the most subtle and dangerous threat so far. In a series of blog posts over the next couple of weeks, I want to explain why. I’ll review some of the battles we have fought to keep the gospel clear, precise, and at the center of our focus. We’ll see why biblical justice has little in common with the secular, liberal idea of “social justice.” And we’ll analyze why the current campaign to move social issues like ethnic conflicts and economic inequality to the top of the evangelical agenda poses such a significant threat to the real message of gospel reconciliation.

I hope you’ll see that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25)—and that’s never more true than when we are talking about the strategy God has chosen for the spread of the gospel and the growth of Christ’s kingdom.

 Source

“Biblical Calvinism – An Introduction to the Doctrines of Grace” by Dr. Curt Daniel, Part 2

The Sovereignty of God

To begin, we must go back to eternity past to when God alone existed. “In the beginning, God”(Gen. 1:1). God has always existed and is self-existent (Rev. 1:8). God is therefore totally independent of everything else. He alone is totally free and self-sufficient. He does not need Man or anything in all Creation (Acts 17:25). He is perfect (Matt 5:48) and is therefore perfectly happy in Himself. God is so far above Man that we cannot even begin to comprehend Him of ourselves (Isa. 57:15). In sum, God is God (Ex.3:14).

Now we know that God created all things (Gen.1:1). But have you ever wondered why God created the universe? What moved Him to do that? Or even more, why does God do what He does? God himself tells us in His Word: : “Our God is in the Heavens. He does whatever He pleases” (Psa. 115:3; cf. Psa. 135:5-6; Job 23:13; Eph. 1:11; Dan.4:35). God does whatever He wants to. This is the mere pleasure of God (Matt. 11:26). God does as He pleases, always as He pleases, only as He pleases.

God willed to create a universe. But before He did the creating, He formed a “plan” (Jer. 49:20; 50:45). Scripture calls this His eternal “purpose” (Rom. 8:28, 9:11, Isa. 46:10-11; Eph. 3:11; Acts 4:28; 2 Tim. 1:9). It is a blueprint for everything, as it were (cf. Luke 14:28-30). It is not merely a wish or a command, but His decree that preprograms everything. He “works all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11; cf. Psa. 33:11). Thus, it is absolutely essential to see that God foreordained everything that will come to pass. He predestined everything that will ever happen, down to the smallest detail. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36).

Moreover, God will never change His mind on this eternal plan. His purpose shall stand forever because God never changes (Jer. 4:28; 23:20; 30:24; 1 Sam. 15:29). Therefore, His purpose shall most certainly come to pass exactly as He planned it. Nothing can prevent it (Psa. 33:11; 148:3; Tit. 1:2; Prov. 19:21; Isa. 14:27; Heb. 6:17; Job 42:1). Neither Man nor demon nor angel can frustrate God’s eternal purpose from being accomplished, for all of their thoughts and actions are included in that purpose. God did not consult with us, not even by foreseeing what we would do or say. He consulted only with Himself within the Trinity (Eph. 1:11; Rom. 11:34; Isa. 40:13-14). With all this in view, then, we see that there is no such thing as chance, luck or accidents. There are no coincidences; everything has been predestined. Why, God has even determined in advance the flipping of a coin (Prov. 16:33; Jonah 1:7; Acts 1:24-26).

“The Lord God omnipotent reigns” (Rev. 19:6). God is King over everything that is, was or ever shall be (Psa. 93:1; 99:1; 103:19). He is an absolute monarch, yes, the most absolute monarch of all because He is King of Kings (Rev. 19:16). This is what we mean by the sovereignty of God. He has 100% total authority over everything. The universe is not a democracy; it is a kingdom ruled by God. And not only did He predestine all that happens in time, but in time He sovereignly guides all things through providence (Rom. 8:28; 11:36; Eph. 1:11). Lest somebody object that this does not seem right, God reminds us that the universe is His property and He can do whatever He wants to with it (Matt. 20:15). And He does just that– whatever He wants to.

The question then arises, “What is the final purpose for which God does all things?” Though God has not told us all the details of His secret plans (Deut. 29:29), He has granted us the privilege of knowing the bottom line. What is it? The final goal of the whole universe is the glory of God. “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to Whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:36). He foreordained and created all things to display His glory, and everything will give Him glory and praise at the end of time in eternity future (Prov. 16:4; Psa. 145:10; Phil. 2:11; Rev. 4:11). God is the First Cause and Last End of all things. There is neither chance nor fate. The universe has meaning, and so do we. We exist to give God glory.

This principle of the sovereignty of God must be clearly understood in order to grasp what Calvinism is all about.

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Part 1