15 Things That Self – Atonement Says

Bridge

I “know” the gospel. I know it factually. And while that may be good (we need to know the gospel) I realize I often do not live in the good of the gospel. I regularly do not “own” it. Whenever, I find myself seeking to self-atone (seeking to earn God’s favor and salvation), I have lost my way from the truths of the gospel. Don’t misunderstand. I believe in “effort”!  Paul said to the Ephesians that we were saved “for good works.”

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Grace, The God Who Is More

 

Man stands by the edge of the water.  Landscape of a mountain stream.

Grace, she takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Bono, U2

All of life teaches us to earn.  We earn a paycheck, a grade, or even a reward… all are based on our performance.  Performance, Performance, Performance.  When it comes down to it, our culture says, “This is what matters.” Parents, marriages, workplace, churches, and all the rest wraps itself in rewards. Society shouts performance. Evaluations by peers and evaluation of ourselves is all blanketed in performance.

And so, when we come to an understanding of grace, it is not surprising that we hiccup!

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The King is a Servant

Serving

 

I loved to be served. Actually, don’t we all?

Have you noticed that nobody had to teach you to enjoy being served? It comes very natural to me. Maybe it is my gift? Tim, gifted by God to be……. served. Hmmmm, I like it.  :-)

But serving others is another story. Because serving is well….. serving.

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5 Aspects Of Grace That Stand Out For Me Here In India

Again, quick post as I am writing at 2:30 a.m. India time / it is 5:00 p.m. EST.

While, I do desire to post about the mission trip itself, I also think it is important for me to share a few personal items in an effort to give praise to God.  So, here goes…..

There are 5 aspects of grace that I am thanking God for regarding this trip.

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Why The Planned Parenthood Video Should NOT Surprise Anyone, And Why It SHOULD Appall Everyone

 

ultrasound

Let’s get right to it.

1.)  Not Surprised

I don’t think we should be surprised by the two undercover Planned Parenthood videos that have been released. When I first viewed the videos, I was speechless. What we see being discussed casually over a salad and wine is absolutely deplorable. Is it illegal? Yes!  Is it amoral? Absolutely! Have we lost our minds as a society? Most certainly! But, is it surprising? I don’t think so.

Continue reading Why The Planned Parenthood Video Should NOT Surprise Anyone, And Why It SHOULD Appall Everyone

Is There A 3rd Option?

Benches

 

Proud Calvinism?!?

6 Signs of proud Calvinism

After these two blog posts (linked above) a friend asked:

“Two realities, which I personally struggle with, because they seem to be in tension are: How do you show this kind of humility while at the same time standing firm in the faith one for all delivered to the saints…aka, not being a sort of post-modern, uncertain, wavering, passive type of Christian.

I fear that I all-to-often sound like the proud Calvinist, but often the only alternative seems to be compromise and sounding like a post-modernist—you know, “we can’t really know the truth, so let’s just agree to disagree.”

 

Thanks for asking the question! I sure don’t want to come across as the guy who has this all figured out! Because, I don’t! But, I do have a couple thoughts that might be helpful, and if not helpful… there is a great little book listed at the end of the post.

First of all we need to recognize there are not two options. We need to know there is a third option.

We tend to think in 2 options:

Option 1:  Humility means watering down the message and convictions.  So to keep the peace, I need to be a “passive – keep the peace” Christian.

Option 2:  Arrogantly defend my views and convictions to the death of all future conversation.

Option 1 is not helpful as it misses truth.

Option 2 is not healthy as it misses grace.  Can you hear the clanging cymbals that Paul writes about in I Corinthians 13.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV)

Now while the context of I Corinthians 13 is NOT chatting theology with a friend.  However, there is a helpful application of the text for us.

How sad, the Corinthian church was gifted, but their lack of love seems to be noise in the ears of everyone around them. Option 2 is not a good option.

But is that all?  Might there be another option?  This is where a person may have the “right” argument but he presents them it in the “wrong” way. (Sounds like my parenting at times!)

We don’t want to just be “right”. It is not simply about being “right” – we need to communicate what is right and do so in the “right” way.

So that…. we realize – This conversation is not only about the message, but our character in delivering that message matters as well!

In a similar way:  The Corinthians had the “right” gifts but they used them in the “wrong” way? So Paul basically tells them to knock it off!

There is a 3rd option.

Option 3:  Humility that flows from the gospel.  (Truth and Grace)

1.) The Gospel Informs The Conversation:

Think about it: When we present the gospel, arrogantly….  we are disconnected from the very gospel we are presenting. How odd is that? It should stop us in our tracks.

The gospel is humbling! We are sinners, separated from God. God in His mercy sent His Son to die for our sins and redeem us. We were not smart enough to figure this out nor are we holy enough to deserve it. Rather, God in His unfathomable mercy drew us, saved us, chose us!

“For by grace you were saved and this is not of your own doing, it is the gift of God….” Ephesians 2:8-9

How in the world does my pride crawl into that?

The truth of the gospel informs our character in the midst of the conversation, even when we disagree, we can disagree with humility.  Because Christ dying for undeserving sinners is… humbling.

Disagreeing with a brother arrogantly is a disagreement that is disconnected from the Gospel itself.

We want to let the gospel not only be the content of the conversation, but allow the gospel to inform your heart in the conversation.

Is it possible for a believer to blast a friend with ones supposed superior knowledge AND be affected by the gospel at the same time….?  I don’t know – because I have never been able to pull that one-off!  :-)

2.) The Sovereignty of God releases me.

Isn’t it great! I am NOT the Holy Spirit! And neither are you!

Last time I checked there was no job opening in the Trinity.

This is wonderfully liberating. I don’t have to convince someone of my convictions. I do not feel the need to win an argument. It is ok, God is able to reveal Himself to this person. And, since I DO NOT have it all figured out… God is able to take care of me too!

By the way, isn’t it funny how it can take years to become convinced of something. God is kind and He is soooo patient with us. But, eventually God works in our hearts and change soon follows.

How weird is it then that what takes us years,  we turn around and demand someone to “get on board” with what we are saying in a 30 minute coffee chat?

“How’s come they don’t get it?”

It’s ok – chill out – Tim!

I love it when Paul says in Philippians 3:

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. (Philippians 3:14-15 ESV)

What a relief, the apostle Paul seems to release himself from this burden and turns it over to God.  That does not mean that Paul waters down his convictions or refrains from the truth.

3.) My knowledge is not all that!

We think so highly of ourselves, don’t we?!? We read a bit, study some things, and think we have it all figured out. I wonder how much we really have figured out.

I think it is likely that we will all have a lot of “ah ha” moments in heaven!!!!

Lastly, I think we would do well to remember this does not need to be the end of the conversation. There are times when the stakes are high and the truth must be defended. But, even in that, I want to make sure that the person that sits across the table from me knows that I love him and care about him. If we want there to be a future conversation than the arrogance and noisy gong is not going to help.

Book Recommendation:

This is a liGrace and Truth Paradoxttle book that I have gone back to often.

Grace and Truth Paradox By Randy Alcorn

 

 

 

 

Proud Calvinism?!?

John Calvin

Full disclosure:  I am a Calvinist.  Yep, all 5 points…. Offended?

Stick around, it will be ok!

Now that we got that out-of-the-way, the point of this post is NOT to make a case or argue for Calvinism.  Have you noticed? It has kinda already been done!  There are many better places to make a humble argument for or against Calvinism.

So, Let’s dive in!

It is a great day we live in where there has been a resurgence of reading, studying, and learning of theology.  10 years ago you could not pay a guy to read a theology book.  So, I begin with gratitude!

I am grateful for those who have taken up big, thick, theology books written by dead guys and living guys.  LOVE IT!

I also enjoy the conversations that the reading has stirred.

And, I love, most of all, OUR great God! He is God, the focus, and the reason for all this great theology!

BUT

I have this growing concern for my friends in the reformed theology camp.  (Oh, Oh… perhaps this post will offend BOTH Arminians and Calvinists? I hope not.)

It is with the reformed brothers that I have the most agreement….. and well, disagreement.

You see, amidst this surge in theology, there seems to be an accompanying surge of pride.  Yikes!  Not the pride word! How dare I mention it while so MUCH pride is still hanging on to my heart and life? Dare I attempt to write about “Proud Calvinism”?

“Tim, what are you thinking!?!”

Well, I press on and pray for a work of humility in me. Besides, if you think about it, today’s topic falls under the scope of this blog.  “Gospel Connections.”

There seems to be a gospel disconnect when it comes to proud Calvinism.

How does one subscribe to reformed theology and do so with a pronounced arrogance??

At the core of Reformed theology is the Sovereign God.  

I don’t like to use the term “Calvinist”.  Not that I don’t like John Calvin, or have gained from John Calvin. Rather, it’s because I don’t think John Calvin would like the term “Calvinist”!  The term immediately takes the glories of Christ off of….. well, Christ.   And, it places an emphasis on….. a man.   Ugh!

A right understanding of Reformed theology specifically points the attention away from man and seeks to center the attention where it belongs…. God!

Reformed theology is not about Calvin!

Reformed theology is not about you or me!!

Reformed theology is about GOD!!!

Here is what I am getting at…. How is it that there seems to be in this surge of theology an accompanying surge of pride?

 

It’s in the coffee shop in Anywhere, USA.  Two brothers sitting down, sipping their Americano, debating theology.  (By the way, I have NO problem with brothers debating theology!  Quite the contrary!  May there be an increase of humble theological discussions over coffee!)

The Reformed brother believes he is saved by the grace of God, the Arminian brother does too. And, it is in that moment Barney Fifethat my Reformed friend kicks into high gear.  Feeling the need to unpack everything he learned the night before.  Like Barney Fife he has a bullet.  This brother knows enough….. to be dangerous.

Arminians…. don’t get overly excited about the above paragraph. The temptations are the same in both camps.

Like the clanging gong Paul references in I Corinthians towards the “we are so proud of our spiritual gifting” Corinthians.  I don’t think your friend can hear you over the noisy cymbals and gongs. We must ask, Where is the love for my brother?

I know my Arminian friends are saying…. “yep, I have met the proud Calvinist” Please be kind in the comments section below and don’t try to add to the noisy gongs we Reformed guys are creating.

Isn’t proud Calvinism an oxymoron? You know…..

Jumbo Shrimp

Pretty Ugly

Proud Calvinist

Consider our salvation: we believe we were “dead in our transgressions and sins….” Ephesians 2.  And dead means….. dead.  Not almost dead, just….. dead. We believe that in our spiritually dead place, God by His Spirit called / chose / elected us to salvation.  And because He did – we then responded to His gospel call.

Praise be to God! We were once dead in our sins and now we are alive in Christ Jesus!  (I know the above paragraph is overly simplified! Did I mention, the intent of the post is not an attempt to unpack the reformed view of salvation….)

My point is to simply say – isn’t the above paragraph inconsistent with the accompanying pride we see in the coffee shop?

To my reformed brothers of whom I AGREE…..

Do we really have it ALL figured out?  AND, even if we did……(which we don’t!)  But, for the sake of the argument, let’s assume we have it all figured out. Does it then become our right to blast our brothers and sisters with the sum total of all our reformed wisdom over a 60 minute coffee?  The damage we do in the name of Reformed theology – in the name of Christ!

I believe God is sovereign over my salvation! That said – God is sovereign over my salvation does not equal…..pride.  When we rightly understand that God is sovereign over my salvation the accompanying heart response is humility and worship.

God chose me and did so in spite of me… How does my wicked heart bring pride into that equation?

Reformed theology is not a gonging cymbal. God forbid! It is brokeness and humble gratitude.  Thanks be to God – I am saved!  Praise Him!

We might do well to leave that bullet in our shirt pocket and instead worship and glory in OUR Savior.

Stay tuned:

Next post:  “Signs of Proud Calvinism”

 

 

Comments?  

To the Arminian followers of this blog – give us your perspective!  How do we Calvinists need to grow?  Be honest, humble, and gracious in your thoughts.

To the Calvinist followers of this blog – give us your perspective!  How have you been proud? How are you seeking to repent and change?