Posts: Calvinism And The Rest Of It
Since the fall, God has not required of man for justification anything other than faith. At no time was salvation ever by works, not even under the Old Covenant. I’m not sure what the rule currently is on how many times you can repeat a phrase in a modern worship song, but I’d like to think that this if this series were a song, I’d have broken that rule twice over by now. Justification is by faith alone.
In fact, I’ve emphasized justification by faith alone so often that I considered not even writing this post. Yet although Paul knew that justification by faith had been written in all capital letters all throughout Scripture, he still decided to write about it even more. To write about justification by faith in greater detail is no grievance for me and it may prove helpful to the reader. • • • Read More • • •
The world is going to hell in a hand basket. The church isn’t doing her job and it’s only a matter of time before she’s altogether vanquished by the democrats, the Muslims, or perhaps even Fox News. That’s what many Christians will tell you if you ask them how humanity and the church are doing. Things are going from bad to worse quicker than you can say “Satan is alive and well on planet earth.”
Much of this comes from a low view of man’s moral condition, which is a good sort of view to have. We shouldn’t expect man to solve his own problems anymore than we should expect pigs to suddenly realize their repulsive reputation, bathe themselves, and start drinking tea with their little piggy pinkies extended. Man’s nature is hopelessly sinful. Biblically-oriented Christians recognize that. • • • Read More • • •
When you turn on a flashlight outside on a cloudless day, it likely won’t do much. Actually, you probably won’t be able to even tell that it’s turned on. The light of the sun is so much greater than the light of your little LED-bulb that the latter is rendered almost imperceptible by the former. It would be a mistake, however, to thus assume the flashlight isn’t working or producing any light.
Many people misunderstand the Old and New Covenants in much the same way. The light of the risen Christ is so great that it can cause the light God gave in the Old Covenant to be difficult to perceive. Because of this, some people assume that the Old Covenant was deficient and broken—that it didn’t show people Christ or administer grace. As we’ve seen, however, that simply isn’t the case. Men and women have always been saved by faith in Christ. If a man can’t see Christ in the Old Covenant, the deficiency is in the man, not the covenant. • • • Read More • • •
Writing about the Old Covenant is something of a difficult task. If you look at your Bible, you’ll note that three quarters of it are largely dedicated to the Old Covenant. Beyond that, the only thing more misunderstood in contemporary evangelicalism than the Old Covenant is, perhaps, the book of Revelation. This, by the way, is not a coincidence.
When Christ came to His covenant people, He came to a people who had every Old Testament book that we have but hardly understood any of it. This is not a fault of the Old Testament. Man’s inability to see Christ in the temple furniture is not a deficiency in the carpentry. It’s also not a deficiency in our eyes; we have them and they work, but we don’t see. By faith, we can see Christ everywhere—in the Old Covenant and the New. Without faith, we can’t even see Him in the gospels. • • • Read More • • •
Human history could be described as a sunrise. The point where the Bible divides between the Old and New Testaments is the point at which the sun starts to rise just above the horizon. Prior to that point, man walked in darkness. Men were still saved by grace through faith, but God’s promise—the covenant of grace—was harder to see.
Graciously, however, God has provided us with proverbial 20/20 hindsight in the form of the New Testament. The apostolic comments on the Old Testament function as something of a lighthouse that shines back on the Old Testament to explain what God was doing during before Christ came. By way of example, most Christians would agree that the seed promised in Genesis 3:15, which was the very first revelation of God’s plan to save mankind through Jesus (Revelation 20:2, 10). The reason we understand this is because of the light the New Testament shines on this promise. • • • Read More • • •
Redemptive history is the history of how God has redeemed man. There are two ways to understand this history. You can swallow it whole, slurping it like an exceptionally long piece of spaghetti; or you can take it as a multi-course meal, eating one thing at a time, washing the balsamic dressing on the Genesis 3 salad down with a glass of water so it doesn’t affect the way you taste your Revelation 22 desert too much. • • • Read More • • •
The last post left Adam in something of a mess; he broke covenant with God, resulting in the corruption and condemnation of the whole human race. In order to understand God’s response, we’ll need something of a flashback to before all of this began. Feel free to imagine the rest of this post being sepia-toned and old-fashioned looking. • • • Read More • • •
In my last post, I spoke metaphorically of the necessity of recognizing the characteristics attributed to ducks by Scripture, and the importance of being able to thereby identify otherwise unnamed waterfowl. If an animal looks like a duck and quacks like the same, we ought to understand that Scripture is telling us that the animal is, in fact, a duck. That is, we need to be able to read Scripture holistically and identify things in it by their description, even though they might not be directly named for us. • • • Read More • • •
The things covered in this series thus far have been plain from Scripture with little need for advanced hermeneutics. But God’s Word is not always an easy thing to understand. There is a reason why we are commanded to study and meditate on it. Many things, especially those things which are necessary for salvation, are clear. Not all things, however, are quite so clear. God does not hand us all doctrine on our first reading; He expects us to read Scripture many times and to think about it long and hard. He also expects us to read Scripture in the context of the church and to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. • • • Read More • • •
Watch the news.
That was discouraging, wasn’t it? You’re welcome. The world can be an amazingly horrific place. I’ve not watched the news in a while myself, but last time it was filled with reports of murders, robberies, rapes, political scandals, wars, rumors of wars, and the rest of it. All of this is happening everyday throughout the world whether you’re paying attention or not.
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We live in a universe that God is speaking. God spoke light, planets, oceans, llamas, and the rest of it into existence from nothing. Jesus is holding all things together by the Word of His eternal power. We speak in words while God speaks things. He doesn’t simply describe light with His speech, He causes things to come into existence and stay that way by His Word. This is what Scripture tells us. • • • Read More • • •
I’ve decided to write a series of posts as an introduction to Reformed Theology. This is in large part because of the misconceptions about Calvinism that seem to be more common than fleas on a stray dog—and just as troublesome too. It seems some people’s idea of defending doctrine is playing the role of bully in the playground of biblical interpretation. There are more straw men in this debate than can typically be found in a scarecrow factory. • • • Read More • • •