Eternal Security and Christian Living

Practice is from position, never to position. The ethical mandates of the New Testament are decisively clear that believers are to walk in the richness of the position we have been given (Eph 1:3), and that the position is actually necessary for the walk (Heb 11:6). Never is a believer warned that their position as a child of God is in danger because of their walk.

Certainly there are warning passages. Hebrews 4:1 warns us to fear lest we “may seem to have come short” of entering His rest. Hebrews 4:11 prescribes diligence so that “no one will fall.” In the same context, the writer exhorts, “let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). Why else would we need continuing grace and mercy if we were without sin in our practice?

Later, the writer reminds, “we are not of those who shrink back to destruction (Heb 10:39). There is no future of destruction for believers because “the believing one has eternal life” (Jn 6:47). Once eternal life is given, then by definition, it is eternal. Any end to it would make it something other than eternal.

The warnings, then, are not about loss of position, but about loss within that position. One whose practice is lacking will suffer loss—even losing reward—but that person is still secure in position (1 Cor 3:12-15). Read more about Eternal Security and Christian Living

Understanding the New Calvinism: Personalities & Networks

With a basic explanation of the Calvinistic aspect of the New Calvinism completed, it is time to move forward to an understanding of New  Calvinism. What makes New Calvinists new? How do they differ from historic Calvinists?

New Calvinism is more easily identified and described than defined. E. S. Williams’ definition that it is “a growing perspective within conservative evangelicalism that embraces the fundamentals of 16th-century Calvinism while also trying to be relevant in the present-day world,”1 while somewhat helpful, could also define any number of modern evangelical efforts and movements which are trying, in one fashion or another, to reach postmodern people with the gospel.

The current wave flowing through evangelical cutting-edge ministries of all stripes is that the church is hopelessly out of step with the surrounding culture and that if it does not change it will die.2 As Hugh Halter and Matt Smay state in their book The Tangible Kingdom, “What worked in the past simply does not work today, and we must adjust to culture.”3 Virtually all of those associated with New Calvinism would subscribe to a similar philosophy, but this is not uniquely defining of the movement. Nor is New Calvinism exclusively found in an official organization or denomination, as it transcends such structures and is more ecumenical in nature. Rather it is better identified by personalities, conferences, blogs and websites which are promoting Reformed-charismatic philosophies, doctrines and concepts of engaging culture. Read more about Understanding the New Calvinism: Personalities & Networks

Understanding the New Calvinism: Core Doctrines

There is a great deal of interest and confusion about a movement within conservative evangelicalism sometimes called “New Calvinism” or Neo-Calvinism. As with many movements it is not monolithic and therefore describing its teachings is not always easy. Some have labeled virtually everyone who is a member of the Gospel Coalition or speaks at Together for the Gospel conferences as a New-Calvinist but that is surely painting with too broad a brush. Some hail Neo-Calvinism as a breath of fresh air that has united the passionate ministry of the Holy Spirit with the solid doctrines of the Reformation. Others see it as a dangerous departure from the faith which opens the door to aberrant teachings of extreme Pentecostalism. While some fear the movement, others cheer it. Therefore it is important to take a careful look at what New Calvinism is and what it is not.

If there is a New Calvinism then by necessity there must be an “old” Calvinism. We need to start then with the teachings of classical Calvinism and see in what ways the new variety is similar and how it is different. Proponents of historical Calvinism would certainly trace its roots to Scripture. But the theological system known today as Calvinism finds its beginnings in the works of a number of theologians, the first of which was Augustine. Nevertheless, it was the famous Reformer John Calvin who mapped out the essential doctrines of the theological structure that bears his name. Read more about Understanding the New Calvinism: Core Doctrines

The Science of Conversion

(About this series)

CHAPTER V - THE SCIENCE OF CONVERSION

BY REV. H. M. SYDENSTRICKER, PH. D., WEST POINT, MISSISSIPPI

1. THE CASE STATED

The penetration of scientific investigation into the erstwhile unknown regions of things is one of the wonders of the age. All departments of creation are yielding up their secrets to the searching eye of science.

The causes of things are being sought after, not only in the natural world, but in all realms as well, so that things may be brought more certainly and directly under the human will. The unseen operations by which powerful results are produced are forced to yield and tell their secrets. New powers are discovered in all realms of investigation and subdued as never before to the service of man. Practically everything is reduced to science, and men are learning the how and the wherefore of things physical, mental and spiritual. The better these things are understood, the more completely are we the masters of the world for whose subjection man was commissioned. Read more about The Science of Conversion

Graves, Landmarkism and the Kingdom of God (Part 5)

(Read the entire series.)

The clear implications of J.R. Graves’ ecclesiology was that local Baptist churches have been the sole repository of biblical faith and practice since the time of Jesus Christ.

On this account the Baptists may be considered the only Christian community which has stood since the apostles, and as a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrine of the gospel through all ages.1

Moreover, Graves believed that he could not, in good conscience, even recognize non-Baptists as Christian brethren. In July of 1851, one of the adopted “Cotton Grove Resolutions” asked, “Can we consistently address as brethren those professing Christianity, who not only have not the doctrine of Christ and walk not according to his commandments, but are arrayed in direct and bitter opposition to them?”2 Graves was pleased to record that the answer to this question, as well as the other four under consideration, was a resounding, “No!”

On Graves’ view, as we have seen: Read more about Graves, Landmarkism and the Kingdom of God (Part 5)

More Thoughts on Convictions, Complexities, and Drinking

First

I appreciate all of the spirit, and much of the substance, of Ed’s work on this topic yesterday. It’s just reality that even in historically total-abstaining circles, ministry leaders are going to be working with Christians who believe Scripture allows them to consume alcohol. That being the case, we should do more to help these believers exercise wisdom and restraint—or to recover, if they’ve stumbled into problems with drunkenness.

For those of us (including me) who are persuaded that total abstinence is the right course, there’s some temptation to think “Well, just don’t drink—and if you do, the consequences are your problem.” But where’s the ministry heart in that? I’m reminded of Matthew 12:20. Our Lord was not in the habit of breaking bruised reeds or quenching smoldering wicks. The spiritual thing to do is “restore … in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 6:1), “encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thes. 5:14). Read more about More Thoughts on Convictions, Complexities, and Drinking

Convictions and Complexities about Drinking

Today I am going to take a stab at applying convictions and preferences to the subject of drinking. Let’s begin with convictions.

Convictions in General

A conviction is a belief or value we embrace as a crucial part of what we stand for and who we are. It is very different from a preference—or merely assenting to a belief or value.

For the believer, there are two levels of conviction. The first level—the deepest level—involves biblical conviction, although some deep convictions may extend beyond the Bible (e.g., a soldier surrendering his life for our country’s freedom). Our biblical convictions should be first and foremost. Where the Bible is emphatic, we must be clear and take a firm stand. This does not mean we must demand others to take that stand, but we certainly must urge fellow believers to follow what the Word actually says. This is not necessarily what we think it says, but what it actually says.

The difference between a biblical conviction and a preference is that we would suffer loss rather than disavow our biblical convictions. It may mean we lose a job, flunk a class, or be ostracized. In some nations, it means imprisonment or even death. Read more about Convictions and Complexities about Drinking

Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: the Objectives of Grace Giving

It’s time to get practical. So far, we’ve looked at grace giving as a biblical principle and concept. Please read parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, which are foundational to this article.

To whom and what should we give? As we consider grace giving, is there any biblical guidance regarding the people and causes we should support with our finances? The answer is readily apparent from specific instructions given by the Apostles and from the practice of the first New Testament believers.

Of course the primary objective is to glorify God. Hebrews 13:16 says of grace giving, “with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” But our financial offerings are not burned up on an altar. They provide practical benefit to someone or something. The New Testament specifies who and what should be the targets of our giving. Read more about Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: the Objectives of Grace Giving