How Much Do You Have to Hate Someone Not to Proselytize?

Francis Schaeffer on the Origins of Relativism in the Church

One of My Favorite Songs

An Inspiring Song


Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Ol' Memory Works Slow, It Does

After the comments-exchange I had with Russ yesterday, I knew that the whole thing reminded me of something, but it took me a few minutes to remember exactly what. It is this passage from Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, which expresses quite well what I think about the whole issue of God's sovereignty in salvation and what Christians believe about it. Here 'tis, for those interested. Emphasis, where present, is mine and in bold: I going to spend time proving to you the particular truth that God is sovereign in salvation. For that, too, you believe already. Two facts show this. In the first place, you give God thanks for your conversion. Now why do you do that? Because you know in your heart that God was entirely responsible for it. You did not save yourself; He saved you. Your thanksgiving is itself an acknowledgement that your conversion was not your own work, but His work. You do not put it down to chance or accident that you came under Christian influence when you did. You do not put it down to chance or accident that you attended a Christian church, that you heard the Christian gospel, that you had Christian friends and, perhaps, a Christian home, that the Bible fell into your hands, that you saw your need of Christ and came to trust Him as your Saviour. You do not attribute your repenting and believing to your own wisdom, or prudence, or sound judgment, or good sense. Perhaps, in the days when you were seeking Christ, you laboured and strove hard, read and pondered much, but all that outlay of effort did not make your conversion your own work. Your act of faith when you closed with Christ was yours in the sense that it was you who performed it; but that does not mean that you saved yourself. In fact, it never occurs to you to suppose that you saved yourself.

As you look back , you take to yourself the blame for your past blindness and indifference and obstinacy and evasiveness in face of the gospel message; but you do not pat yourself on the back for having been at length mastered by the insistent Christ. You would never dream of dividing the credit for your salvation between God and yourself. You have never for one moment supposed that the decisive contribution to your salvation was yours and not God's. You have never told God that, while you are grateful for the means and opportunities of grace that He gave you, you realize that you have to thank, not Him, but yourself for the fact that you responded to His call. Your heart revolts at the very thought of talking to God in such terms. In fact, you thank Him no less sincerely for the gift of faith and repentance than for the gift of a Christ to trust and turn to. This is the way in which, since you became a Christian, your heart has always led you. You give God all the glory for all that your salvation involved, and you know that it would be blasphemy if you refused to thank Him for bringing you to faith. Thus, in the way that you think of your conversion and give thanks for your conversion, you acknowledge the sovereignty of divine grace. And every other Christian in the world does the same.

It is instructive in this connection to ponder Charles Simeon's account of his conversation with John Wesley on Dec. 20th, 1784 (the date is given in Wesley's Journal): '"Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions...Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?" "Yes," says the veteran, "I do indeed." "And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?" "Yes, solely through Christ." "But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?" "No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last" "Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?" "No." "What, then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?" "Yes, altogether." "And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?" "Yes, I have no hope but in Him." "Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: It is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree."
Couldn't a-said it no better m'se'f...except that I would add that it is also all my predestination, all my the-will-is-not-free.

An' that's 'bout all I have to say 'bout that.
But it is not all that might be said. I have had way too much time on my hands today. It has not even been realistic for me to try to figure out exactly why my Bronco II isn't running well enough to drive. Maybe tomorrow. But I was poking around and found something very similar to the above material, only from C.H. Spurgeon. Here's the quote:
You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say; but you never heard an Arminian prayer—for the saints in prayer appear as one in word, and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free will: there is no room for it. Fancy him praying,
Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was born with a glorious free-will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that 1 have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but l do. There are many that wilI go to hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Ghost given to them; they had as good a chance, and were as much blessed as l am. It was not thy grace that made us to differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not—that is the difference between me and them.
That is a prayer for the devil, for nobody else would offer such a prayer as that. Ah! when they are preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to pray, the true thing slips out; they cannot help it. If a man talks very slowly, he may speak in a fine manner; but when he comes to talk fast, the old brogue of his country, where he was born, slips out. I ask you again, did you ever meet a Christian man who said, “I came to Christ without the power of the Spirit?” If you ever did meet such a man, you need have no hesitation in saying, “My dear sir, I quite believe it—and I believe you went away again without the power of the Spirit, and that you know nothing about the matter, and are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.” Do I hear one Christian man saying, “I sought Jesus before he sought me; I went to the Spirit, and the Spirit did not come to me?” No, beloved; We are obliged, each one of us, to put our hands to our hearts, and say—
“Grace taught my soul to pray,
And made my eyes o’erflow;
‘Twas grace that kept me to this day,
And will not let me go.”
Is there one here—a solitary one—man or woman, young or old, who can say, “I sought God before he sought me?”No; even you who are a little Arminian, will Sing —
“O yes! I do love Jesus—
Because he first loved me”

1 comment:

  1. And that is just the difference I see... That while I know I could not have been saved on my own, I know my desire for salvation did not come from God. And yet I don't feel I'm "splitting the glory" with God in any way, any more than a slave set free would feel like his desire for freedom had actually set him free.

    I desired, God performed: To God be the Glory! I certainly didn't have the ability to carry through my desires, or even move one thousandths of one inch towards fulfilling them. In fact, to the contrary, the whole time I desired, I was actually moving in the opposite direction of my desires. My condition was miserable in the extreme.

    While my desire was corrupt, God perfected it into faith. Just as while my whole being is corrupt, and God is perfecting it, as well. But the one thing I know is this: I am saved. I am not being fooled for the pleasure of God into thinking I'm saved (as Calvin himself said could happen). I'm not 99.9% certain I'm saved, hoping I maintain enough works to prove my salvation until the day I die.

    I'm 100% certain. As only someone who believes God takes our desires into account before appointing us with salvation can be.

    But, honestly, I don't want to carry on a huge long debate. Salvation is the key, and we are in territory that men with more study than us have argued about for a long time--even Calvin changed his mind on this one multiple times.