Since we have featured two posts about Calvinism already this week, why not a third? I've always liked the symmetrics of three-point sermons anyway.
What follows is an excerpt from one of my Shepherds' Conference seminars in 2007. You can download the entire message for free HERE. In that seminar I argued that everyone who truly believes the gospel has already embraced the core principles of Calvinist truth. Even the most ardent Arminian, if he is trulyevangelical, is a Calvinist when it really counts. Here's an excerpt:
y trek from Arminianism to Calvinism took more than ten years. Every time one of my arguments against Calvinist doctrines would fall, I would be forced to embrace some doctrine that I had heretofore been desperately trying to argue against.
But I never had any sense of defeat. It was more like I was resolving nagging conflicts in my own mind. Because I kept discovering that the truths at the heart of Calvinism truly are the doctrines of grace—principles that I had always affirmed: God is sovereign, Christ died for me, God loved me before I loved Him, He sought me and drew me and initiated my reconciliation while I was still His enemy. Those are all biblical truths, and I believed them even when I was a gung-ho Arminian.
So embracing Calvinism was natural—and inevitable—because all I was doing was ridding my mind of wrong ideas and faulty assumptions about human free will and other notions like that, which are not even taught in the Bible—so that I could wholeheartedly affirm what I really believed anyway: That God is God, and He does all His good pleasure, and no one can make Him do otherwise, and He is in control and in charge no matter how much noise evildoers try to make.
And not only is He in charge, He is working all things out for my good and His glory.
That's Calvinism. And if you believe those things, you have affirmed the heart of Calvinist doctrine, even if you call yourself an Arminian. Those are the basic truths of Calvinism, and if you already believe those things, you are functioning with Calvinist presuppositions.
There's more. If you are an authentic Christian, you know in your heart of hearts that you weren't born again because you were morally superior to your unbelieving neighbors. You were worthy of God's wrath just like them (Ephesians 2:1-3). According toEphesians 2:4-6, it wasGod who quickened you and showed you a special mercy—and that is why you are a believer. You already know that in your heart. You don't really believe you summoned faith and came to Christ in your own power and by your own unaided free will. You don't actually believe you are morally superior to unbelievers. You therefore must see, somewhere in your soul, that God has given you special grace that He has not shown everyone.
You also believe God is absolutely sovereign over all things. I know you do, because you lean on the promise of Romans 8:28. And that promise would mean nothing if God were not in control of every detail of everything that happens. If He is not in control of all things, how could He work all things together for good?
Furthermore, you pray for the lost, which means in your heart, you believe God is sovereign over their salvation. If you didn'treally believe He was sovereign in saving sinners, you'd quit praying for the lost and start doing everything you could to buttonhole people into the kingdom by hook or by crook, instead. But you know that would be folly.
And you pray about other things, too, don't you? You pray that God will change this person's heart, or alter the circumstances of that problem. That's pure Calvinism. When we go to God in prayer, we're expressing faith in His sovereignty over the circumstances of our lives.
You believe God operates sovereignly in the administration of all His providence. You say things like, "If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that" (James 4:15)—because you believe that God works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11), and nothing happens apart from his will.
Nothing is more biblical than these doctrines that are commonly labeled Calvinism. In a way, it is a shame they have been given an extrabiblical name. Because these truths are the very essence of what Scripture teaches.