Monday 14 April 2014

My journey to the Reformed Faith (the five points of Calvinism)

At some point on a doctrinal pilgrimage, it is impossible to avoid wrestling with the five points of Calvinism. These five points relate to the doctrine of salvation and they are derived from the Synod of Dort (1818-19) when they responded to the disciples of Jacobus Arminius in The Netherlands. Though the series on Romans that I had read had been a life-changing experience, with the doctrinal wisdom that emanated from these books of sermons on Romans, yet MLJ never explicitly spelled out the five points of Calvinism. So, what helped me at this point?

Two books arrested my attention and gave me serious answers. These were "Revival and Revivalism" by Iain Murray and "The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination" by Lorraine Boettner. The latter book cleared up the five points of Calvinism. Providentially at the time I also came across a man called Ian Mortimer (he is now a member of Sheffield Presbyterian Church) who had in the years before me worked through the same issues of doctrine. He was at that time an enormous help, especially as I sought to get my mind around particular redemption; this is the doctrine that Jesus purchased the salvation of the elect upon the cross.

The power of literature is wonderful and it is amazing how the Lord will bring the right people across our path at the right time to help us. However, as I began to explain these truths and to defend them against false conceptions of the gospel, I began to face increased opposition and misunderstanding. I remember being in a room with ministers and the issue of salvation arose. It had become clear in my mind that there are only two alternatives regarding the final answer to salvation: either man's will has the primary say or God's will. As I expounded that it is the will of God and the glory of God that decides whether someone is saved, I was amazed how deep the traditions of Arminianism were. Arminianism is the teaching of "free-willers" and it is the mainstream evangelical position today in the West, even though it contradicts the plain teaching of the Bible.

What do I recommend for further reading for those who are interested in exploring reformed doctrine. These are my reading suggestions:
Ephesians 1:3-14
John 6:22-70
Romans 9
Acts 13:48

John 6:37 "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out".

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