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At Least 10 Things I’ve Learned in 15 Years of Being Reformed

January 18th, 2016

As a person 15 years into reformed theology, I’ve learned a few things:

1. Read MANY reformed authors. Piper gets a lot of things right in terms of understanding God’s Sovereignty, but misses in other areas (i.e. baptism, quasi-pacifism). Sproul gets baptism right, but goes with classical apologetics instead of presuppositional/covenantal apologetics. God has purposely allowed many of us to have blind spots in order to avoid us being arrogant about ‘having it all right’ (for those asking, eschatology is my ‘blind spot’ and I’m more than willing to slow my roll here….).

2. People learn and come to understand at different rates. Phil Johnson​ took about 15 years, I took 4, Michael Armstrong took around 2. If you are new (4 years or less) to reformed theology, avoid arguing about Calvinism over the internet, please. It’s very easy (I speak from experience) to slip into fighting to be right and thinking it’s because you’re fighting for biblical truth. Yes, you can be right (and being biblically correct is important), but the motivation behind being right may cause your good works to turn to wood.

3. Grow thick skin. There are plenty of people who will simply attack you because they have no other Biblical evidence on their side….so they make the discussion about YOU instead of about what the Bible teaches on the subject. Forgive them ahead of time, keep your tone calm and the subject of your discussion on the scriptures.

4. Remember you were once one of those “I don’t care about denominations/I don’t follow man-made systems/I don’t follow Calvin or anyone, I follow Jesus” folks once too. Full of zeal, lacking in knowledge. Be patient in conversation (see #3) and ready to explain yourself at length….repeatedly.

5. If you understand that the noetic effects of sin (sin not only affects humanity spiritually but also intellectually) can cause us to take ‘longer’ to get things at times (sometimes not at all), understanding why some of your non-Calvinistic friends can’t see what’s “RIGHT THERE!!!!” in scripture makes a whole lot of sense. Be patient with them, pray that the Lord will gradually take more of the ‘blind spots’ out of their vision as He did with you. It is the Lord who opens eyes to see truth. He may use you…. He doesn’t have to. It does NOT all depend on you.

6. Hold truth humbly, with mercy. Don’t be quick to shake your finger at folks – you too could have been giving money to Creflo Dollar, thinking it was the Lord’s will to sow a seed. God pulled you away from that mess (see #5).

7. If you are new to the reformed tradition (i.e. you just realized that the Bible DOES teach ‘Calvinism’), get into a consistently reformed church ASAP (PCA, OPC, reformed baptist….in that order would be my preferences). Do NOT try to ‘change’ your church from the bottom up (i.e. a Sunday school class, discussions with other congregants designed to prod the pastor into bringing these issues to the fore and discussing them publicly). You will get branded as a trouble-maker, divisive, unloving and people will turn on you. Leave your old, “semi-Arminian, semi-pelagian, nice-people-who-love-Jesus” church through the front door (in full view and in good standing).

Here’s (hopefully) a nice way of saying it:

“Since I believe the scriptures teach X, Y, Z, I don’t believe I can stay here with a good conscience and I don’t want to be seen as divisive, since a lot of what gets preached, I don’t find myself in agreement with anymore. I’m not saying the people here aren’t Christians at all – we just disagree on some things Biblically and that puts a bit of a problem in the way in terms of fellowship, since we fundamentally approach certain things from different theological assumptions. Therefore, I want to respectfully withdraw my membership from this assembly.”

Why leave ? Simple. The type of growth you experience is directly tied to the type of preaching you sit under. Reformed theology has consequences for Christian living in every area of life. It is meant to not simply be “a few things I choose to believe” or even “a few things I believe because the Bible teaches them” or even “stuff related to salvation”, but an entire worldview. It is MUCH larger than simply “the five points”. You will not get that full worldview-level preaching sitting in the church you are currently in anymore than a child playing on the beach will get an idea of how deep the ocean is by staying on the beach and simply looking at it from a distance.

8. Read more Bible than reformed authors (but read reformed authors). Reformed authors are good for getting ahold of how exegesis and application should work. J.I. Packer is no substitute for Paul. J.I. Packer may help you understand Paul a bit better, as Packer (who is about to turn 90) has been walking with the Lord and dealing with hard passages of scripture longer than you (and probably your parents) have been alive. But nothing will beat the Holy Spirit working to renew your mind as He opens the text of scripture up to you while you read it.

9. Learn from older brothers and sisters in the faith. Learn from older writings (read Calvin, not just Piper and Sproul – see the second half of #8), learn from older brothers and sisters in the church (see #7). The Mark Driscolls of the world come and go. Driscoll’s arrogance at correction from men like MacArthur came back to bite later when it was shown that every single criticism men like MacArthur had against him was true. Beware the arrogance of ‘youth’. Better yet, beware the arrogance of ‘we need to hear something relating to now, not what people did yesterday’ (as if humanity has changed fundamentally). If you aren’t teachable, you’ll become hardened, argumentative and arrogant very quickly.

10. Realize that every true believer is reformed at heart. If you press hard enough and long enough, any true believer will affirm:

– Christ saved me, not just made me ‘savable’.
– It was God who orchestrated events in my life to bring me to a point of realizing my need for salvation.
– No, I suppose that if I was left to myself without God keeping me, I’d probably walk right into hell.
– Yes, at some level, I understand that God is indeed guiding all aspects of my life, though I don’t exactly understand how and ultimately I know that my life is truly and completely in His hands.

What Did Jesus Say About……?

May 20th, 2012

It’s interesting to see people misquote Jesus who claim to be Christian. What’s not interesting is to see the millions of biblically illiterate folks follow along with them without even once opening their bible to see if what was said was:

1.  Actually in the Bible

2. Actually said by Jesus

3. Said in the same context as they mean it

4. Means the same thing as they mean.

So, this series is going to start off pretty simple and straightforward. The words of Jesus on particular topics that people say ‘Jesus never said anything about that’.  We’re also going to see if the rest of scripture agrees with this or if the apostles introduce something ‘new’ to the mix along the way (for the benefit of our ‘red letter Bible’ friends who think the only things that matter in the NT are the words of Jesus).

So here’s my basic topic list – What Did Jesus Say About (WDJSA):

  1. Who He is
  2. Repentance and Faith
  3. Homosexuality, Marriage, Adultery and Pre-marital Sex
  4. The Bible
  5. The Poor
  6. Election and Predestination
  7. Education
  8. Parenting
  9. Hell
  10. Heaven
  11. Church Leadership
  12. Social Justice

I’m more than willing to expand the list, so feel free to add some possible topics in the comments below or on Facebook.

*edit: Just added a few more to the list.

An Unbeliever’s Perspective on Evangelism

March 1st, 2010

OK.

Please don’t tune me out just yet.

I admit: I myself would question reading an article with such a ridiculous title since it is biblical scripture that we should follow concerning how to share Jesus. Not an unbelievers opinion! But give me a minute to explain.

There’s an excellent book I’m just about finished reading by a college student named Kevin Roose called “The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University.” I recommend this work to everyone! A friend who normally recommends excellent books suggested I read it but I initially had reservations since I thought it was simply going to bash Liberty University (a school I have mixed feelings about anyway) and/or cause Christians to question things that are simply misunderstood or taken out of context. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is an amazing, balanced, refreshing book. It’s about a guy who is NOT a conservative Christian transferring for a semester from Brown University (which is what I call “limp-noodle liberal”) to Liberty to blend in and see what life is like among folks who are his generational peers but who are very different than he is ideologically. Please go to the bookstore and get it as soon as you can.

So back to my point … a few minutes ago I sauntered over to YouTube and came across a live streaming interview of Kevin where he answered a lot of valuable questions and listeners were able to enter the chat room and interact with him by making inquiries that were read to Kevin by the host.

There are a couple of spoilers in the interview, but I highly recommend that you jump to the 21:40 minute mark and listen to about 23:32. In this section, Kevin recounts his experience going with a group of Liberty students down to Daytona Beach during Spring Break to evangelize! Yes, I’m serious. Anyway, one of the people watching this interview asked what he thought, as an unbeliever, about the method of evangelism the LU students used. And he had an interesting reply I think is worthy of contemplation.

Again, I don’t think Christians should use anything but the Bible to determine how we should share Christ. Nevertheless, I believe a valid question after listening to this interview is “how much of Kevin’s advice CAN actually be found in scripture?”

Maybe this can revolutionize how we share the Faith.

Enjoy by clicking here.

Your thoughts are solicited.