How can you believe in Free Will and Predestination?

How can you believe in Free Will and Predestination?

A common objection to Reformed and Calvinist theology is that it is fatalist, doesn’t allow for man to have free will. If God predestines man “before the foundation of the world” to salvation or damnation (e.g. ), then how can man have free will?

A good question. Calvin’s answer is somewhat counter intuitive. Man is not free when they are in sin. They are slaves to sin (, ). Or, as Luther would say, sinful man’s will is in bondage. Calvin says that “without the Spirit man’s will is not free, since it has been laid under by shackling and conquering desires.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.2.8) Calvin likewise affirms that only the regenerate man is truly free. Regeneration by the Holy Spirit makes man free, as his will is no longer in bondage and slavery to sin.

Continue reading How can you believe in Free Will and Predestination?

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

The Root of Sin

The Root of Sin

The great reformer, theologian, and pastor, John Calvin wrote a massive work called Institutes of the Christian Religion. I am working my way through it with a small, but growing, group of men at the moment. It is much easier to tackle a work of such magnitude when others are tackling with you. I may, from time to time (and indeed, already have), share some of Calvin’s extraordinary work with you on this blog.

Calvin writes of sin that it’s root can be found in “unfaithfulness” (2.2.4). This is interesting, as the common expression of the root of sin, the very cause and foundation of sin, is usually pride. He quotes Augustine as saying as much; “pride was the beginning of all evils.” He then moves on to stating that , since Eve was deceived to contravene God’s command, then “disobedience was the beginning of the fall.” And then he says the following; that “the first man revolted from God’s authority,” not only because of Satan’s deception, but also because he was “contemptuous of truth.” He rejected what God had clearly and authoritatively said. “And surely” writes Calvin, ” once we hold God’s Word in contempt, we shake off all reverence for him.” Continue reading The Root of Sin

God’s Providence: Our Comfort

God's Providence: Our Comfort

John Calvin writes about our “knowledge” of God’s providence in his Institutes of the Christian Religion:

‘Gratitude of mind for the favourable outcome of thing, patience in adversity, and also incredible freedom from worry about the future all necessarily follow upon this knowledge.’ (see 1.17.7)

By knowledge he means that we properly understand and see the ramifications of the doctrine. By “providence” he means that as described by many passages of scripture (e.g. ), and by the 1689 London Confession 5:1, which says that God “upholds, directs, organises and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least … ” I wrote about God’s providence recently here.

With that in mind, read the quote again. Calvin says that when we know and trust God in his providence, we should be 3 things.

1. Thankful for all of the good things that come about in our life,

2. Patient in difficult times in our life, and

3. Free from worry.

God is in control, says Calvin. So, be thankful! Be patient! Don’t worry!

Picture credit: John Calvin’s church in Geneva, by Mark Gstohl. Some rights reserved.

10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
11 calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

High Octane Calvinism

Speaking of Calvinism, I like what Douglas Wilson has to say about the grace & works dilemma and how “High Octane Calvinism” is the only solution. How can we balance our focus on God’s grace, and also our focus on obedience and discipleship? Watch here for his answer.

Calvinsim: more like Schmalvinism!

© kristykay22 under Creative Commons

Calvinism must be one of the most overused and abused terms going around in church circles. Much of what I say below I really mean, but it is rather tongue-in-cheek. Also, the way I box people into categories is very fluid, as I will explain later. Finally, I should also apologise to anyone who goes by the name Schmalvin; any confusion is completely unintended.

There are quite a number of streams of Calvinism. Each of the groups I describe below all locate themselves in the theological heritage of the French Protestant reformer, John Calvin. It is very confusing. I hope this helps. Continue reading Calvinsim: more like Schmalvinism!

Baptism & The Lord’s Supper: Why has God given them to the Church?

A couple of months ago, Pastor Martin administered the ordinance of baptism on a member of the Hills Bible Church Congregation. Baptism is one of the instituted ordinances of the Christian faith. The Lord’s Supper is the other. In Reformed theology, ordinances are described as ‘means of grace.’ The means of grace are things by which God communicates his grace to us. He tells us about himself and his relationship to us by the means of grace. A common conception of this is that the gospel is communicated through Word (the Bible) and Ordinance (baptism, Lord’s Supper).

Augustine says an ordinance is “a visible form of an invisible grace.” He also calls it a “visible word.” John Calvin’s definition is as follows:

Continue reading Baptism & The Lord’s Supper: Why has God given them to the Church?