I know for many people that the concept of Sovereignty is foreign to their thinking. As we all know, we don’t live in a time where we are being ruled over by a king in our country and hence grasping the idea of a sovereign who sits on a thrown ruling with righteousness is clearly not something we can all relate to.
As a Christian and especially as a student of scripture, I have come to recognize that bible teaches unquestionably the sovereignty of God and for the most part Christians will agree with me. Where our disagreements tend to begin is to what extent God is sovereign. The problems begin when we begin to try to define what exactly God is sovereign over. When we begin to say that God is sovereign even over the salvation of men then we are stepping on the toes of many evangelical Christians. With that said, many have adopted a very incomplete understanding of what is meant by God’s sovereignty over salvation. This has lead to numerous misrepresentations of what we believe and has resulted in more heat than light.
Anyone who reads this blog will be familiar with a website called monergism. It is honestly the creme of the crop for online sound biblical resources. The sheer amount of articles, books, MP3, videos is remarkable. They also have a great blog and an online bookstore with reputable books on theology, commentaries and bibles as well as many more resources that can be purchased. Please take the time to search the website for any resources that might be useful to you.
The owner of the website, John Hendryx, is also converting many classic books to eBook format (Kindle, ePub,etc…) and also to PDF for those who don’t own an eReader. This includes many Puritan and Reformation classics as well.
I just saw that Monergism has made Martin Luther’s classic “The Bondage of the Will” available in eBook format. This book is a response to the famous Roman Catholic theologian, Desiderius Eramus, whom some might know as the man who gave us the Texus Receptus, on the nature and freedom of the will in regards to Salvation and sin. While many who want to know anything about the reformation will turn to a history book, there will be much missing from this approach. For those of you who wish to get a real sense of what the reformation was all about, please take the time to read this book carefully as it has had a far reaching impact on the nature of man, the extent of his depravity, election, the atonement and the glory of justification. It will give you the real sense of the issues affirmed and fought against by Luther, Zwingli and Calvin.
There are many individuals who believe that the doctrine of particular redemption or definite atonement cannot be substantiated biblically. They argue that the bible simply does not teach that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ actually saves those for whom it was offered but mingle the intellectual assent of man in the mix. The idea that there are no texts that teach definite atonement is a mere caricature. There are a number of texts that could be examined to demonstrate the biblical doctrine of the atonement especially in light of its particularity. We think of texts such as John 10 and Revelation chapter 5 as clear examples of this blessed doctrine amongst many others.
Recently I had purchased from Faithful Servant Books a small booklet by W.E. Best on the examination of definite atonement from another proof text mainly the text of Isaiah 53. Best does a remarkable job at demonstrating that the suffering servants death would in fact be a perfect sacrifice that could not fail. It would actually purchase and redeem men for God and that this death would be victorious. I was pleased to see that the book is now available online in PDF for those who wish to read through Best’s exegesis and analysis of Isaiah 53.
Objections to any theology or biblical interpretations are sometimes viewed negatively since people feel they just cause division. While the division is certainly negative, I believe it is healthy to question biblical interpretations and in return searched the scriptures like a good berean in order to grow in our understanding of the bible as a whole.
I hold to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in Salvation consisting of the doctrine of depravity, election, particular atonement, efficient grace and the ultimate victory of the Holy Spirit in the perseverance of the saints. While this is consistently contested by non-Calvinistic believers, I hold to these doctrines and welcome others to critique these precious truths in order to help me strengthen my position or prove me wrong.
Humility and self-diffidence, and an entire dependence on our Lord Jesus Christ, will be our best defense. Let us therefore maintain the strictest watch against spiritual pride, or being lifted up with extraordinary experiences and comforts, and the high favours of heaven, that any of us may have received. We had need, after such favours, in a special manner to keep a strict and jealous eye upon our own hearts, lest there should arise self-exalting reflections upon what we have received, and high thoughts of ourselves, as being now some of the most eminent of saints and peculiar favourites of heaven, and that the secret of the Lord is especially with us. Let us not presume, that we above all are fit to be advanced as the great instructors and censors of this evil generation; and, in a high conceit of our own wisdom and discerning, assume to ourselves the airs of prophets, or extraordinary ambassadors of heaven. When we have great discoveries of God made to our souls, we should not shine bright in our own eyes. Moses, when he had been conversing with God in the mount, though his face shone so as to dazzle the eyes of Aaron and the people, yet he did not shine in his own eyes; “he wist not that his face shone.” Let none think themselves out of danger of this spiritual pride, even in their best frames. God saw that the apostle Paul (though probably the most eminent saint that ever lived) was not out of danger of it, no not when he had just been conversing with God in the third heaven: see 2 Cor. xii. 7. Pride is the worst viper in the heart; it is the first sin that ever entered into the universe, lies lowest of all in the foundation of the whole building of sin, and is the most secret, deceitful, and unsearchable in its ways of working, of any lusts whatever. It is ready to mix with every thing; and nothing is so hateful to God, contrary to the spirit of the gospel, or of so dangerous consequence; and there is no one sin that does so much let in the devil into the hearts of the saints, and expose them to his delusions. I have seen it in many instances, and that in eminent saints. The devil has come in at this door presently after some eminent experience and extraordinary communion with God, and has woefully deluded and led them astray, till God has mercifully opened their eyes and delivered them; and they themselves have afterwards been made sensible that it was pride that betrayed them.
The Doctrines of Grace have been a glorious and world shattering discovery for us. We feel that these precious truths have truly allowed us to see the biblical teaching of God and man in a systematic way. God’s Sovereignty and holiness are accented to their proper place, man’s depravity is manifested in its truest sense, the atonement is seen in its perfection and God’s power is manifested in His elective purposes, in true regeneration and in bringing saints to glory. We have been so affected by these doctrines that we have a special section on this website devoted to materials relating to them. While these truths are so clearly seen in scripture, there are still those who would argue that the systematic understanding of God’s salvation is unbiblical.
I saw this article written by Steve Hays in which he presents an overview of the bible from Genesis to Revelation demonstrating that the bible does in fact teach the theology that is found in what is often referred to as Calvinism. I thought it might be worthwhile to share with those who had perhaps not seen it. Hays does a good job in presenting text after text and commenting of the proper interpretation of these texts. enjoy!
“A preacher may induce a man to believe what Scripture says about his lost condition, persuade him to bow to the divine verdict, and then accept Christ as his personal Savior. No man wants to go to hell, and fire is assured intellectually that Christ stands ready as a fire escape, on the sole condition that he jump into His arms (“rest on His finished work”), thousands will do so. But a hundred preachers are unable to make an unregenerate person realize the dreadful nature of sin, or show him that he has been a lifelong rebel against God, or change his heart so that he now hates himself and longs to please God and serve Christ. Only the Spirit can bring man to the place where he is willing to forsake every idol, cut off a hindering right hand or pluck out an offending right eye.” —A. W. Pink