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Note: In the following correspondence, the e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My replies are in red.
Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light
>I came across your website and very much appreciated your dialogues concerning Calvinism. We attend Countryside Bible Church in Southlake, TX. About three years ago at age 35, God drew me to Himself and gave me the desire to read through the entire Bible. (Oh, yes, I was exposed to the truth as a churchgoing youth, was intrigued by prophecy in my 20s, and knew deep down that the idea of a substitutionary sacrifice rang true, but I still wanted to continue in ignorance and rebellion).
By His grace, He gave me a desire to know and believe His Word and overwhelmed me to repent, bringing to light His holiness and my sinfulness. I also came away with the big picture that God is completely sovereign, all the more reason to trust in Him (Genesis, Isaiah, John, Romans, Hebrews, et al). Knowing that He is my Rock, that Jesus is God Who condescended to mankind in human flesh in order to save me from His own wrath, I came to the very same conclusions that Calvin, Pink, Ryle, Sproul, Boice, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards, Knox, Nettleton, and so many others had come to. I only recently started reading various commentaries and found myself reading the same exact thoughts and conclusions that I had pondered beforehand.
I believe, inasmuch as I see it so far, that it boils down to how our views of God and man line up with what God has declared. Another 'litmus' test is whether a doctrine is Biblically declared, taught, and supported --- not based on whether it 'sounds' good or palatable (Arminianism). My own flip-side way of saying it is, "If the non-Christian culture embraces it, it is probably something to avoid," like psychology or self-esteem, the typical stuff touted by Oprah or Schuller.
What I would add to the discussion about God's sovereignty is this: someone who does not yet embrace Calvinism says, "Why Evangelize?" Three reasons, at least, stick out for me:
1) Jesus commanded us to -- He has chosen to give us redeemed sinners the privilege of spreading the Gospel to everyone (the external call), not to figure out who the elect are and only preach to them;
2) According to man's way of thinking about efficiency or productivity or a good investment, it seems inefficient or incomplete or incongruous that God should send a missionary to some distant jungle to preach the gospel, suffer many physical hardships during his long stay, and see less than 1% of the tribes people repent before the unrepentant decide to kill him -- ah, but His ways are not our ways (Like Peter thinking that he should dissuade Jesus from going to Jerusalem to be killed) -- His ways seem inefficient looking at earthly circumstances with earthly eyes, BUT from God's perspective, He who is the Almighty I AM, who loses not one soul whom He has chosen to redeem, He is perfectly efficient; and,
3) God has a dual purpose in proclaiming the Gospel: He declares Himself to be both a Savior to His elect (the internal call by the Spirit) and a Judge to the condemned, and will receive glory as both.
The other question often asked by non-Calvinists is, "Why would God command man to do something (i.e., repent and believe the Gospel, or as they say today, 'accept' Christ) when God knows that man cannot because he will not?" My response: Well, God has also declared to man that His Law must be obeyed, yet mankind, such as we are -- shut up in disobedience (Romans 11:32) -- cannot obey it. What then is God's point of such a seemingly contradictory unreasonableness on His part?
The FACT that His Law is good and righteous and holy combined with the FACT that we can't measure up because we don't want to obey should drive us to the only logical conclusion: beg for mercy and forgiveness which is made available by the sacrificial atonement of Christ. Yet, those who are not drawn by God to Himself to repent will never come out from under their own fig leaves.
Something else that I think about concerning this present-age argument of election by grace is what we SHALL be in the presence of God and the Lamb in the new life to come: just as Adam and Eve had (for lack of a more appropriate term) the 'freest' choice, in a sense, during their innocence to continue in obedience or not; and, just as mankind since the Fall and never please God by attempts at obedience (we can only please Him by faith and trust in Him); so the redeemed will never be able to disobey Him because they will be glorified with the righteousness of Christ. WOW!!! What an awesome redemption!
What is really repugnant to me is the unavoidable Arminian conclusion that God somehow failed, that man can frustrate His plans, that God's hands are tied.
I again thank you for your website, and please let me know where I fall short in my understanding. I want to be sharpened and know that what I believe is true and Biblical.
Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him...." Job 13:15a
<<Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved>>
Thank you for your email. It is all very good. You are very obviously thought these controversial issues out very well and have come to very sound Biblical conclusions.
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