Tuesday 3 February 2009

What is Calvinism?

What is Calvinism?

Three sections:
An Explanation about this conference and its purpose
A Brief exposition of Romans 16: 17-27.
What is Calvinism?

How did this conference come about?
The conference has come together by God’s grace: Explain about the influence and initiative of Sandi Sonteya.

Where did the conference title come from?

Answer:The autobiography of Spurgeon, volume 1, The Early Years, chapter 13 ‘A Defence of Calvinism’.

“We only use the term ‘Calvinism’ for shortness. That doctrine which is called ‘Calvinism’ did not spring from Calvin; we believe that it sprang from the great founder of all truth. Perhaps Calvin himself derived it mainly from the writing of Augustine. Augustine obtained his views, without doubt, through the Spirit of God, from the diligent study of the writings of Paul, and Paul received them of the Holy Ghost, from Jesus Christ the great founder of the Christian dispensation. We use the term then, not because we impute any extraordinary importance to Calvin’s having taught these doctrines. We would be just as willing to call them by any other name, if we could find one which would be better understood, and which on the whole would be as consistent with fact”- C.H.S
“The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox’s gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again.” – C.H.S

‘The Reformed Church is Always Reforming’ Gisbertus Voetius (1589-1676) from Utrecht and a delegate of the Synod of Dort (1618-19).

This is needed in every generation
It is difficult work
People do not like change, even though it means Sola Scriptura

A brief summary of church history from the Reformation, however church history spans 2000 years and the gospel springs from the heart of God the Father in eternity.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) and the 95 theses in Wittenberg on October 31st 1517. He was God’s vessel to begin the Reformation and to especially pioneer the recovery of the doctrine of justification by faith, total depravity and Augustine’s doctrine of salvation.
John Calvin (1509-64) and his reforming work in the city of Geneva. Calvin developed a full reformed systematic theology springing from biblical exposition. A pastor, theologian, church planter, reformer of the highest honour. Calvin’s model was a doctrine of the church and society that was replicated in Scotland, Holland, France, Hungary, England in part and later in the USA. Even today, Reformed churches are those who look to Calvin and Geneva in some measure as a prototype for reforming the church.
The second reformation in the seventeenth century. In the Netherlands there was the Synod of Dort to defend the gospel against Arminianism but there was also a need seen for further reformation. For example the Church of England was only half or partly reformed and the Puritans began to grow agitated and impatient.
The Reformed church is always reforming’ is a slogan very much needed in the 21st Century. We need a vibrant expression of Calvinism in our generation!!

Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
17 ¶ Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.
18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil.
20 And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
21 ¶ Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and [so do] Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.
22 I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.
23 Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother.
24 [The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]
25 ¶ Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,
26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, [leading] to obedience of faith;
27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

1. The danger of false gospel’s (v 17-20)

§ Dissensions contrary to the teaching which you learned and turn away from them. The issue is doctrine and this is not a secondary issue to love. To love pure doctrine is to love God purely.
§ V18 Paul’s calls them slaves. Why? Their message is a slavery to sin and leads to legalism rather than freedom. They use smooth and flattering speech to deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting (na├»ve).
§ The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The true gospel of God in our hands crushes Satan’s false gospels and the slavery that follows.
2. The Importance of Relationship’s in the Gospel (the whole chapter but note v21-24)

§ Note the list of names
§ Timothy and other gospel workers= we need teamwork!
3. The Glory of God is the heart of the Gospel

· The purpose of the book of Romans in 1: 1 is ‘the Gospel of God’.
· Key doctrinal theme’s of this book is the Apostles’ doctrine.
· Benediction (blessing):V25 we are strengthened according to A. the gospel (my gospel), do we hold Paul’s gospel? B. The Preaching of Jesus Christ. C. This revelation is rooted in the OT Scriptures. D. Now it is being made known to all nations (a missionary vision)
· The question in missions = What is the content of the message we are delivering?
· V 26. This is all happening according to the command of the eternal God to bring about the obedience of faith (election and the church).
· To the only wise God be glory forevermore! The glory of God runs through Romans.

3. What is Calvinism?

A Definition of Calvinism: Spurgeon’s autobiography

A Nickname for the Biblical Gospel

CHS wrote in The Defence of Calvinism:
I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of Hid elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus such a gospel I abhor.

1. Calvinism is the doctrine of the church.

Spurgeon wrote: Calvinism is the gospel and nothing else. Is this true? The answer is yes but it is incomplete because Calvinism is a world view consumed with a God centred approach, Calvinism is also a doctrine of the church.
There is no such thing as Calvinism that is not concerned with the Re-formation (to the biblical plan) of the church.
Look at Luther, Calvin, Knox, The Netherlands, the English Reformers etc.

2. Calvinism is confessional

Explain the three confessions of faith in the English language.

3. Calvinism and the five points

Summary: A definition of Calvinism.

Calvinism is a doctrine of the church that looks to Calvin and Geneva as a model for the reformation of the church that needs to be applied in all ages.
Reform = a dictionary definition,
To improve by alteration, correction of error, or removal of defects; put into a better form or condition.

To abolish abuse or malpractice in: reform the government.
To put an end to (a wrong). See synonyms at correct.
To cause (a person) to give up harmful or immoral practices; persuade to adopt a better way of life.

A Reformed gospel affirms the five points of Calvinism as agreed at the Synod of Dort and this requires a commitment to educate and train men to preach this gospel. A Reformed church holds to one of the historic confessions of faith as a joyful safeguard of the gospel for the saints to propagate through a reformed church.
Is there the need for church reform in the twenty-first century?

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