When it comes to the doctrine of election, it’s clear that it’s controversial. We debate it. We write books about it. We talk about it. We preach sermons on it. We sometimes divide over it. Do you find it odd that Paul began his letter to the church in Rome by pointing to the doctrine of election? In fact, if you look closely, you will see the doctrine at the beginning of several letters in the New Testament—including Ephesians and 1 Peter. Paul began his letter to the church at Ephesus (and churches in surrounding cities) by pointing out the fact that God “chose” them in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Peter began his letter to the scattered believers in his day with these words: “To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Pet. 1:1).
If we find the doctrine of election used in the opening lines of important letters to local churches in the New Testament intended to encourage believers in their walk with Christ—why do we have so much division, debate, and mud slinging over the doctrine? Charles Spurgeon, once said the following, “No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of mankind than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God.” Why do so many people hate the precious doctrine of election? Could it be that people have an issue with authority, and they want to possess control over their own soul? Could it be that people have learned a wrong view of election and view God as unfair in his treatment?
When rightly understood, the doctrine of election kills pride in two specific areas — anger and arrogance.
The Doctrine of Election Kills Angry Pride
When was the last time you talked about the doctrine of election with someone who differed with you on the subject and that conversation was calm, respectful, and ended in joy? It’s extremely common to have people who want to throw stones at you if you claim to embrace the absolute sovereignty of God over the entire universe—including the work of salvation. People would rather God be fair until they consider mercy. People would rather be in control of their salvation until they consider depravity. God is not fair. God is God. God is merciful, and we should be thankful.
There is no escaping the doctrine of election in the Bible (Col. 3:12; 1 Tim. 5:21; Tit. 1:1; Eph. 1:3-14; Deut. 7; Rom. 9; Mal. 1:2-3; John 15:16; John 6:44). The more you read, the more you see it. Paul began his letter to the church in Rome with these words:
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 1:1-7).
Notice several places where God makes a distinction between the church in Rome and the city of Rome. We find it in Romans 1:6 with the language of God’s “call” to salvation. It resurfaces in the next verse as Paul makes a distinction between the love of God for the city of Rome and the church in the city of Rome. What does election mean? To be the “elect” of God is to be chosen by God. The word often translated “chosen” or “elect” is from the Greek term ἐκλεκτός, meaning to be selected or chosen. According to Paul elsewhere in Ephesians, this choice was carried out in a very specific way, that when rightly understood, kills the pride of anger.
Chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4).
This choice resulted in the predestination and adoption through Jesus Christ—based on God’s will and for his glory—apart from any good deed or action on our part (Eph. 1:4-10; Titus 3:5; Rom. 9).
Pride causes anger in our hearts because we have a natural tendency to despise authority and sovereignty. We want to be the captain of our own soul, and the doctrine of election removes any means of boasting in the flesh.
The Doctrine of Election Kills Prideful Arrogance
We’ve all seen the man who escaped his cage and is running around like a lose cannon shooting election bombs at anyone who will give him a hearing. Such people do harm to themselves and it’s likely that many have yet to truly grasp the doctrine of election. If someone boasts about election as if they are one of the “chosen” ones to salvation and “chosen ones” to understand the doctrine—they fool themselves. The doctrine of election, when rightly understood, brings us low to the ground and causes us to see that on our very best day we could not save ourselves. From start to finish, salvation is a work of God’s mercy and grace. The entirety of God’s saving grace depends on God. From our election before the foundation of the world to our glorification at the culmination of God’s redemptive timeline—all of it is designed by God and performed by God.
When Paul writes to the church at Philippi, he writes these words, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). When God desired to provide Israel a reality check, he spoke these words to them through Malachi, “‘I have loved you,’ says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’ ‘Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ declares the LORD. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert'” (Mal. 1:2-3). It was a reminder that by outward appearances, Esau was the choice, but instead, God chose Jacob. It was a look back to Deuteronomy 7:6-8, as God declared his choice of Israel to be based on his choice to love a weak people.
If you know the doctrine of election, you will not walk around with a swagger. Instead, you will be humble. It will cause you to boast in the cross of Jesus—not the flesh of mankind. Listen to what Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the famous nineteenth-century English preacher, eloquently said regarding the doctrine of election:
Before Salvation came into this world, Election marched in the very forefront, and it had for its work the billeting [lodging] of Salvation. Election went through the world and marked the houses to which Salvation should come and the hearts in which the treasure should be deposited. Election looked through all the race of man, from Adam down to the last, and marked with sacred stamp those for whom Salvation was designed. ‘He must needs go through Samaria,’ said Election; and Salvation must go there. Then came Predestination. Predestination did not merely mark the house, but it mapped the road in which Salvation should travel to that house; Predestination ordained every step of the great army of Salvation; it ordained the time when the sinner should be brought to Christ, the manner how he should be saved, the means that should be employed; it marked the exact hour and moment, when God the Spirit should quicken the dead in sin, and when peace and pardon should be spoken through the blood of Jesus. Predestination marked the way so completely that Salvation doth never overstep the bounds, and it is never at a loss for the road. In the everlasting decree of the Sovereign God, the footsteps of Mercy were every one of them ordained.
The doctrine of election removes anger and arrogance when the pure doctrine is gleaned from the pages of Scripture. Do you know this truth? Have you struggled with it? Has it become a burden rather than a blessing? Allow this grand doctrine which runs through the entirety of the Bible be a source of encouragement to your soul.
John 15:16 – You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of the Bible: New Testament, vol. 4, “Things That Accompany Salvation” (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1963), 77.
Today I’m continuing a short 5-part series on the five solas of the Reformation. This post would normally be posted on Tuesday, but since tomorrow happens to be the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I will be writing a completely different article on that subject tomorrow.
The five solas are specific Latin slogans that emerged from the Reformation era as a means of identifying specific doctrinal positions that stand in contrast to the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. The slogans are:
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory)
Today’s focus is on the fifth sola—Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone). If the five solas are built upon the firm foundation of sola Scriptura—it’s appropriate that we come to understand that the work of God in saving sinners is all for the glory of God alone. When Johann Tetzel and others would say, “When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.” This was to ascribe glory to man’s alms or the Roman Catholic Church’s authority to make the transaction. This is nothing but a blasphemous doctrine.
Why Soli Deo Gloria?
The work of salvation is a work of God alone. Sure, man responds to God in the process, but not until the work of God has already been accomplished and put into motion. Man is dead in trespasses and sin and cannot work his way to God, will his way to God, worship his way to God, or pay his way to God (Eph. 2:1-5). Salvation in many evangelical circles has been reduced down to a three step process whereby people make a decision to follow Jesus by asking Jesus to come into their heart.
All throughout the Bible, we see that salvation is something far different than a human decision. Salvation, as Jonah said, “belongs to the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). John the apostle, in his Gospel put emphasis on the fact that sinners are born of God (John 1:12-13). He makes it clear that we are not born again by the will of man, the will of the flesh, by blood relationships, or any other common belief. We are saved when we are born of God. John returns to that same thought as he writes to a group of churches in his epistle known as 1 John. He writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been bornofGod and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
Robert Robinson penned these famous words in 1758:
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
As the Bible places great emphasis upon the fact that God saves sinners and that the work of salvation is a work of God in divine mercy saving a people who not only don’t deserve to be saved, but are completely unable to save themselves—it only makes sense that salvation is for the glory of God alone. That’s why the Reformers pointed back to God—not the pope, priests, saints, or any other religious hierarchy. Salvation of fallen sinful man is to the praise of God alone.
The next time you hear people giving a congratulations to sinners who have just been rescued by the sovereign grace and mercy of God—remember that the sinner didn’t do anything to deserve or earn salvation. Instead of praising the new Christian—we should praise God.
Last of all, let it be known that for us to praise God and for God to desire the praise and glory is not in the slightest degree sinful. We should never equate the football player who struts into the end zone with arrogant chest pounding displays of human effort with God who desires the praise of His people. When people desire to be praised it’s an ugly thing, but when God desires to be praised it’s a wonderful thing. God’s jealousy is not birthed out of arrogance and sin. Instead, it flows out of the purity of God’s holiness (Ex. 20:3-5).
Revelation 4:11 — Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.
Today I’m continuing a short 5-part series on the five solas of the Reformation. The five solas are specific Latin slogans that emerged from the Reformation era as a means of identifying specific doctrinal positions that stand in contrast to the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. The slogans are:
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory)
How can the phrase, sola gratia (grace alone) be misunderstood and misapplied by Protestant believers? In the attempt to stand in a continual protest of the works based salvation of the Roman Catholic Church, we must continue to point out that God saves sinners by grace alone—not based on the value of any works. However, we must never diminish the need for good works to be present in the life of a child of God.
Defining Sola Gratia
When the Reformers used the phrase, sola gratia, they were insisting that God saves sinners based on God’s divine grace alone. The idea was nothing new, in fact it was taken from the clear teachings of Scripture. In Ephesians 2:1-10, the apostle Paul makes his point clear—salvation is by grace alone, apart from works, so that no one will be capable of boasting. As the Reformers were protesting the selling of indulgences and various other practices of the Roman Catholic Church—their motivation in sola gratia was to point upward to God and make a clear point that God saves sinners by his grace and anything added to God’s grace is no longer grace.
Misunderstanding the Catholic Church
When people make the claim that the Roman Catholic Church does not believe in the saving grace of God, that actually is a misrepresentation of the Catholic’s position. According to official Roman Catholic doctrine, they do embrace the teachings of salvation by the grace of God. However, where the problem arises is when Protestants attach the word “alone” to the statement. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that sinners are saved by the grace of God, but not all alone. For instance, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1257:
“Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude . . . “
While it should be clear that baptism is a work of man in obedience to God’s command, sometimes it is overlooked because it’s one of the ordinances of the church. However, if you continue to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2010, you will see these troubling statements regarding works:
”The specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation,”
At the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church made this frightening statement to anyone who embraced salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone:
“If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema,” (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).
Misunderstanding Sola Gratia
Not only do people often misunderstand sola Scriptura, but they likewise misunderstand and misrepresent the intent behind sola gratia. While we as helpless sinners are saved by God’s grace alone, the grace of God should never be alone in the life of a believer. In other words, works do not save a sinner, but good works are present in the life of a believer as a direct result of the changed life by the grace of God. Hear Paul in his letter to the church at Galatia:
yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified (Gal 2:16).
The Judaizers had crept into the church in Galatia and were teaching a salvation by faith in Jesus, but they added circumcision to the equation. Suddenly, it was no longer salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins. They added works to the formula. In doing so, they changed the gospel from God’s gospel to something else—and Paul gave a stern warning to such practices in the opening words to the church at Galatia (see Gal. 1:6-9).
As we turn over to James, we see language that perhaps seems to be contradictory. James argues for works to be present and active in the life of a believer. James writes, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). James’ point is clear—the works of a person’s life reveals their true spiritual condition. Faith without works is dead and lifeless which points to the reality of a person who has never experienced the grace of God.
Do you have good works that flow out of God’s grace in your life? Charles Spurgeon once wrote the following statement, “Although we are sure that men are not saved for the sake of their works, yet we are equally sure that no man will be saved without them.” 
Don’t misrepresent sola gratia by denying the need for good works and a pursuit of holiness in the life of a child of God. At the same time, never lean upon good works as a means of your salvation.
Charles Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit, 4:265.
In 2008, Collin Hansen published a book titled: Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinistsand in doing so, coined the phrase Young, Restless, Reformed. Today, that same group is no longer so young and restless. Although the movement is largely populated by a younger demographic, there are many older people who identify as New Calvinist in their persuasion and remain active online and in various para-church ministry settings.
Not only did authors, theologians, and media outlets such as Time Magazine pick up on this doctrinal resurgence in the last several years, but so did Les Lanphere, a film maker who has recently unveiled a project that charts the explosive boom of the New Calvinist movement in recent years. The film is well researched, graphically appealing, and accurately documents the modern day resurgence of historic biblical theology.
One of the points that the film drives home is the necessity of the local church—which happens to be a passion of mine and it just so happens that Les Lanphere interviewed me on that subject and included a portion of that interview as a loving critique of the New Calvinism movement within his film. I was grateful that he pointed out the areas that deserve praise as well as some of the deficiencies among the movement—such as an unhealthy fascination with celebrity icons and personalities that often have a greater voice in the ears of local church members than their local pastors.
I highly recommend this film and believe that it can be used to do more than chart a movement. It can point out the need for solid biblical preaching that places a big God before people on a weekly basis. What are some of the shortcomings of the film? Every book, article, sermon, and song will have some area of deficiency and perhaps this film does as well. While it charts the movement from various angles and documents the use of media outlets, technology, and conferences—there were some noticeable voices missing from the film such as Voddie Baucham, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, and Mark Dever.
It was Mark Dever who asked a very important question in an article titled “Where’d All These Calvinists Come From?” where he documented the resurgence of Calvinism in our present day. Mark Dever along with several other voices have been a large catalyst among the Calvinistic resurgence in evangelicalism and especially within the Southern Baptist Convention—a Convention founded by Calvinists in the mid 1800s.
Aside from lacking a few additional key players in the movement—the film is an excellent documentary and one that you will want to add to your library of resources. Remember, this film does more than document a movement—it actually teaches truth at the same time.
Many people claim that John Calvin was against missions and that those who call themselves Calvinists or ascribe to the 5-points of Calvinism are anti-missional in their thinking. Is that true? Does the belief in a robust God who saves spiritually dead sinners create cold hearts who resist any work of gospel missions among the neighborhoods and the nations?
Over the past several years, the population of men and women who embrace the doctrines often called Calvinism has drastically increased within the evangelical church—notably so within the Southern Baptist Convention. This has caused many to question their beliefs, examine their positions, and in some cases, to take up the sword and fight. The common charge is that anyone who’s a Calvinist is also a hyper-Calvinist—someone who opposes the spread of the gospel. First of all, there must be a distinction between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism (just as there must be a distinction between the First Baptist Church in your local community and Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas). Calvinism is not hyper-Calvinism and before we label someone a heretic, we must understand that vocabulary choices matter.
John Calvin’s Missionary Zeal
Did John Calvin teach people to hide the gospel under a basket (Matt. 5:14-16)? The very moment that you stop listening to horrible sermons, inaccurate lectures in Bible college and seminary settings, and stop reading historically and intellectually dishonest blogs in the Internet, you will actually discover something rather refreshing about this often hated figure from church history. John Calvin was not only a man with a passion for preaching the Bible, he was also a zealous hearted, missions focused preacher.
As Calvin’s preaching thundered from his pulpit in Geneva, he was preparing men to go and lead churches in France. He organized, trained, developed, and sent out hundreds of these zealous hearted missionaries who proclaimed the good news of the gospel. These missionaries stood upon the firm foundation of a robust sovereign grace. As these men were convinced of God’s sovereignty in salvation, such knowledge became the fuel in the furnace of their hearts as they went out to plant churches and preach the gospel. By 1562, Calvin (with the aid of other surrounding cities) had planted over 2,000 churches in France. Some of the missionaries who were sent out from Calvin’s church died as martyrs. Does this sound like a hyper-Calvinist to you?
The hyper-Calvinist rejects any effort to proclaim the gospel to the non-elect. Rather than preaching the gospel indiscriminately and allowing God to bring sinners to faith, the hyper-Calvinist resists any attempt to offer the gospel to those who aren’t the elect of God. Does this sound like the ministry of John Calvin? Edward Panosian writes the following:
From that city [Geneva], hundreds of missionaries, evangelists, and pastors traveled to all corners of the continent preaching the gospel. Their efforts, sometimes sealed with a martyr’s blood but always crowned with success, thrilled Calvin. 
Harry R. Leader points out that “Calvin’s beloved France, through his ministry, was invaded by more than thirteen hundred Geneva-trained missionaries.”  Why would someone who rejected the idea that we need to send out missionaries to preach the gospel actually send out hundreds of trained missionaries to preach the gospel?
I’ve read about (never met an actual hyper-Calvinist other than the Westboro group) people who were hyper-Calvinistic in their theology, and they would never send missionaries out to spread the good news of Christ. They would consider it a waste of time and effort. One such figure from church history was named John Ryland, and he rebuked William Carey for inquiring about “using means” to reach unbelievers (it should be noted that it was William Carey, the Calvinist, who was trying to organize a missions effort).
The Missions Preaching of John Calvin
No hyper-Calvinist would preach with a missionary zeal as was consistently evident in the preaching ministry of Calvin. In a sermon titled, “The Call to Witness” Calvin preached from 2 Timothy 1:8-9. He made this powerful statement:
If the gospel be not preached, Jesus Christ is, as it were, buried. Therefore, let us stand as witnesses, and do him this honor, when we see all the world so far out of the way; and remain steadfast in this wholesome doctrine. . . . Let us here observe that St. Paul condemns our unthankfulness, if we be so unfaithful to God, as not to bear witness of his gospel; seeing he hath called us to it.
The preaching ministry of a hyper-Calvinist is cold, lifeless, and without passion for the lost world. That doesn’t describe the preaching of John Calvin. For instance, in a sermon on Isaiah 12:5, he said the following:
[Isaiah] shows that it is our duty to proclaim the goodness of God to every nation. While we exhort and encourage others, we must not at the same time sit down in indolence, but it is proper that we set an example before others; for nothing can be more absurd than to see lazy and slothful men who are exciting other men to praise God.
John Calvin was not only a faithful expositor of God’s Word and a defender of the true faith, he was also a zealous proclaimer of the faith. He preached with trumpet zeal and passionately pointed people to Jesus Christ. In a letter to five missionaries who had been arrested and were facing death, John Calvin wrote a letter to them on May 15th, 1553. Here is what he said:
Since it pleases him [i.e. God] to employ you to the death in maintaining his quarrel [with the world], he will strengthen your hands in the fight, and will not suffer a single drop of your blood to be spent in vain. And though the fruit may not all at once appear, yet in time it shall spring up more abundantly than we can express. But as he hath vouchsafed you this privilege, that your bonds have been renowned, and that the noise of them has been everywhere spread abroad, it must needs be, in despite of Satan, that your death should resound far more powerfully, so that the name of our Lord be magnified thereby. For my part, I have no doubt, if it please this kind Father to take you unto himself, that he has preserved you hitherto, in order that your long-continued imprisonment might serve as a preparation for the better awakening of those whom be has determined to edify by your end. For let enemies do their utmost, they never shall be able to bury out of sight that light which God has made to shine in you, in order to be contemplated from afar. 
Hyper-Calvinists are heretics who oppose the open preaching of the gospel and never engage in missions. Whatever your opinion of John Calvin is, let’s be sure to make this clear point—he was no hyper-Calvinist. The towering figure of Geneva who labored in his expository preaching, trained missionaries, and prepared them to die well—was no heretic. We must be careful to learn church history from accurate records and to use vocabulary carefully.
If the missionary preaching of John Calvin’s ministry is what it means to be a Calvinist, may the Lord raise up many more.
Edward Panosian, “John Calvin: The Theologian” in Faith of Our Fathers, ed. James Cardinal Gibbons, (New York: Aeterna Press, 2015), 109.
Harry R. Leader, “The Churchman of the Reformation” in John Calvin: A Heart for Doctrine and Doxology, ed. Burk Parsons, (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust, 2008), 68.
Letter 318 [in Jules Bonnet, ed., Letters of John Calvin, tr. Mr. Constable (1858 ed.; repr. New York: Lenox Hill Pub. & Dist. Co., 1972), II, 406].
Last week, I was interviewed by Chris Arnzen on his radio show, Iron Sharpens Iron, on the subject of hyper-Calvinism. It caused me to think about this subject and the importance of using vocabulary properly. As the father of a type 1 diabetic, I spend much of my time explaining to people in random conversations that type 1 diabetes (T1D) is not the same thing as type 2 diabetes (T2D). Therefore, let me begin by clearly stating this point—Calvinism is not hyper-Calvinism. When I engage in conversation with people who want to discuss Calvinism, I’m happy to do so, but I want to be sure that we’re using the same dictionary.
What is Calvinism?
Calvinism is a system of theology that seeks to systemize the teachings of Scripture on the subject of salvation. What is the relationship between the absolute sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man? This is the central issue of Calvinism. It takes the name of the Reformer John Calvin, who was a passionate preacher of Scripture in the Sixteenth Century in Geneva, Switzerland. During the Protestant Reformation, the Reformers were seeking to unleash the true gospel from the intense strangle hold of the Roman Catholic Church. It was through this period of time that the Bible was being printed in the common language of the people and was simultaneously being proclaimed expositionally.
A group of followers of Jacobus Arminius who studied under Theodore Beza (a disciple of John Calvin) drafted a document known as the Remonstrance. It was a detailed refutation of the sovereignty of God in salvation. It elevated the free will of man above the sovereign initiative and power of God. These people were known as Arminians. Their doctrine would eventually become known as Arminianism.
An official meeting, known as the Synod of Dordt, was held in 1619 in order to respond to the submission of the Arminians in their Remonstrance. The overall conclusion was that the Remonstrance was incorrect and that the biblical view of salvation teaches that God is the author and finisher of saving grace. The “five points” of Calvinism came as an answer to the unscriptural five points authored by the Arminians in 1610 me eventually were organized with an acronym T.U.L.I.P. To explain the key teachings.
Historical Timeline Surrounding the Doctrines Known as “Calvinism”
440 Bishop Leo of Rome becomes “Bishop of Bishops.” Asserts Primacy of Rome over the Church; Dark Ages Begin. 1382 John Wycliffe translates Bible. 1384 John Wycliffe martyred by Rome. 1439 (Approximate) Printing press invented. 1517Luther Nails 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Church Door; The Reformation begins (Post Tenebras Lux). 1522 Luther’s New Testament. 1526 Tyndale’s New Testament. 1536 William Tyndale Martyred by Rome; Institutes of the Christian Religion (John Calvin). 1553 Bloody Mary becomes queen of England and restores power to the RCC. During
Mary’s reign, more than 300 Protestants are burned. John Rogers (publisher of the Matthew’s Bible) is the first to be burned at the stake. Many Protestants flee from England to Geneva. 1559Calvin opens his college in Geneva. Within five years the college would have over 1500 students. 1560 The Geneva Bible is printed. It was the first Bible with verse references and sold over one million copies between 1560 and 1640. John Foxe publishes Foxe’s book of Martyrs. 1561 Belgic Confession (Guido de Bres). 1563 Heidelberg Catechism (Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus). 1564John Calvin Dies. 1571 The Synod of Emden (birth of the Dutch Reformed Church). 1609 Jacobus Arminius dies. 1610 Remonstrance (Arminians or Remonstrants led by Johannes Uytenbogaert). 1611 Counter-Remonstrance (led by Pieter Platevoet). 1618 Opening of the Synod of Dort & Opinions of the Remonstrants. 1619 Synod Dismisses the Arminians & Adopts the Canons (AKA – 5-Points of Calvinism).
The system known as Calvinism is really five counter points to Arminianism. Years later, Wesley adopted the Arminian position and thus the Methodist movement was born. Although there are certain exceptions, historically, Baptists and Presbyterians have been more Calvinistic and opposed to the doctrines of Arminianism while the Methodists and groups such as the Assemblies of God have embraced the doctrines known as Arminianism. Today, Calvinism is sometimes known by titles such as Reformed theology and the doctrines of grace.
What is Hyper-Calvinism?
Hyper-Calvinism is not a term used for those who are overly passionate about Calvinism. That’s actually what we refer to as “cage stage Calvinism.” When understood properly, hyper-Calvinism is a technical term for an extreme and unbiblical view that rejects any need for Christians to engage in missions and evangelism. Simply put, hyper-Calvinists forbid the preaching of the gospel and the offer of salvation to the non-elect. Such people believe that God has chosen people in Christ in eternity past and will bring about His results without the help of His people. Hyper-Calvinism is heresy and must be rejected.
To illustrate the views of hyper-Calvinism, consider what happened during a pastors’ meeting years ago. A man named William Carey wanted to organize an effort to get the gospel to what he called heathen nations. Carey stood up and addressed the crowd by requesting that they discuss “the duty of Christians to attempt to spread the gospel among the heathen nations.” Mr. Ryland, and older minister, exclaimed loudly, “Sit down, young man! When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine.” Carey did not stop. His allegiance was to Christ – not Mr. Ryland. Carey went to India and proclaimed the good news of Christ.
Carey would write a book titled – An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to Use Means for the Conversion of Heathens. He would argue his case that we should use means to reach heathens – contrary to what Mr. Ryland – the elder minister said in his meeting as he scolded the young Carey for bringing up the subject.
William Carey, in his Enquiry, wrote: “It seems as if many thought the commission was sufficiently put in execution by what the apostles and others have done; that we have enough to do to attend to the salvation of our own countrymen; and that, if God intends the salvation of the heathen, he will some way or other bring them to the gospel, or the gospel to them. It is thus that multitudes sit at ease, and give themselves no concern about the far greater part of their fellow sinners, who to this day, are lost in ignorance and idolatry.”
It must be pointed out that William Carey was a Calvinist. Although William Carey had only a grammar school education – he would shake the world with the gospel. Carey once preached a sermon where he stated – “Expect Great Things – Attempt Great Things.” It was later added – “Expect Great Things From God – Attempt Great Things For God.” That’s exactly what he did as he proclaimed the true gospel of King Jesus. India would never be the same. The world would never be the same. The way the church viewed missions would never be the same – because of this Christ-exalting Calvinist that has become known to us as the “father of modern missions.”
What’s the Difference?
The difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism is the distance between heaven and hell. Calvinism is full of life and passion for God and desires to make God’s glory shine among the nations. Hyper-Calvinism is lifeless heresy that damns people to hell, kills evangelism, and ruins churches. Take a good look at the missionary movement of church history and you will see Calvinists leading the charge. Men like William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and Charles Spurgeon were all Calvinists. Many people overlook the missionary heart of John Calvin himself. He trained and sent out many missionaries who passionately preached the truth. Many of these men were martyred for their faith.
The next time you’re talking to someone with type 1 diabetes, just remember—it’s not the same thing as type 2 diabetes. Also, the next time you’re talking to a Calvinist, remember, Calvinism is not hyper-Calvinism. To call faithful Calvinistic Christians hyper-Calvinists is to consign a massive number of people from church history to the flames of hell (including people like Charles Spurgeon, William Carey, Martin Luther, Andrew Fuller, Adoniram Judson, and George Whitefield). What’s the difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Calvinism proclaims the true gospel while hyper-Calvinism proclaims no gospel at all.
Iron Sharpens Iron Radio show – Tuesday (11-15-16)