Scripture: (1 Peter 1:2 KJV) Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
The first thing and perhaps the most important thing for us all to come to the knowledge of, is the undeniable truth of God's love. There is one thing that I can not tell you enough, and that is that God loves you. God is love and He has a perfect plan for your life. Do not give up on yourself, or better yet, do not give up on Him for no matter what you may be going through God is with you and on the other side of this thing is the joy of the LORD.
I told you that right off the bat today because I do not want to end up boring you with some of the theological fodder that I am going to attempt to struggle through and you not hearing the ultimate message. And that message is relevant and lasting. Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever. Not that today's message, or any of my messages for that matter, is going to be boring. It is just so important that you know the reality of God's love for you. The Bible tells us that our eyes have not seen, nor have our ears heard, neither has it even entered into our hearts, the wonderful things that God has prepared for us. It is His great love that will see us through all the confusion and fear. For perfect love casts out fear and God has not given us the spirit of fear but rather of power and love and of a sound mind. So as we take on these theological questions let us allow God to bring to rest any doubts that we might have about what we believe, and let His word strengthen our faith as His Spirit continue to guide us closer to Him In Jesus name Amen and Amen.
So, now lets get right into it. Today I want to look at two different schools of theology that can have a tendency to both divide the body of Christ as well as cause us to be uncertain of our election. And that is one of the key words of our discussion right there; election. The debate that I want to take up today deals with the controversy between what is known as Calvinism and Arminianism. Now I do not care what religion you are, the theology of these two men, John Calvin and Jacob Arminius, have impacted your faith. John Wesley, for instance was a stout Arminian, whereas Charles Spurgeon was a devout Calvinist. I know, I know, some of you do not know who any of these people are or even yet have a clew as to what I am talking about. Well, if it helps John Wesley represents the Methodist Churches while Spurgeon represents the Baptists.
So what am I talking about and what difference does it make to me any way? Well first lets look at what both believed and then after comparing the fundamental ideas with what the Bible teaches lets then apply it to our personal faith and then to our daily lives. Like we will have time to do all of that today. Well, let's start with the Calvinist's five articles of faith.
It will be easier to remember these by remembering the word tulip.
T stands for Total depravity. Calvinisim states that man is basically bad with a propensity for Good. We inherited our depravity from Adam. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
U is for unconditional election. God predestined who would be saved before the foundations of the earth. This predestination and election is 100% dependent upon the will of God. God is sovereign and forever in control.
L represents the limited atonement. or particular redemption. Have I bored you yet? Come on stay with me. This is going to start getting good. Limited atonement suggests that Jesus did not die for everyone but just for the elect. Other wise His death would have been in vain for those who would not accept it. We will come back to that, but for now let's move on.
I stands for the irresistible grace of God.1st Peter 5:10 tell us how it was the grace of God that called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus. That same grace perfects us, strengthens us and grounds us in the faith.
P is for perseverance. This is the once saved always saved school. And I will tell you the truth I like the idea of knowing where I am going when I die and why. I am going to heaven and it sure is not because of anything that I did. It is because of what Jesus Christ did upon that cross. It is by the grace of God. It is because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeith in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Do you know where you are going when you die? Because you never know when that might be. If you said you are going to heaven; why do you think you deserve to go there. I am telling you it sure is not by anything you have ever done to deserve getting in. You can not purchase your way into heaven with good works. Because the price has already been paid and it was a great price indeed. But God who knows all things valued you enough to pay it all for you. I beg you, if you have not accepted that price, if you have not asked Jesus to be your savior and LORD you are not only missing out on eternity but you are missing out on life and love and true peace and joy. Accept Him today and live.
OK now for equal time. On the other side of this debate is the Arminians. Lets use the TULIP and look at how the other side believes.
T: in place of the total depravity of man it is more of a weakness that was inherited from Adam. Thus man is basically good with a propensity towards evil.
U: God's choice of predestination of the elect or the unconditional election was based on His foreknowledge of our decision. God knows the future as well as the past and is eternally in the present. In that, He gave us the free will to decide our destiny yet He knew the decision of our will from the foundation of the world.
L: The idea of Christ only dieing for the elect suggests that God does not love everyone. The Arminians teach that Jesus died for everyone's sins yet His death did not secure the salvation of anyone. For that is dependent upon each individuals free will choice as to the acceptance of Christ's atonement.
I: Irresistible Grace: This side of the argument suggests that God gave us the free will to choose or to resist His grace no matter how awesome it is. Thus our salvation is not by the irresistible grace of God but is dependent upon our free will decisision of acceptance.
P: The perseverance of the saints. Here we have the idea of our ability to end up backsliding and going to hell. Although a horrific thought, I am sure you all may know people who have given themselves over to the dark side. We all ourselves have at times after knowing that we have Jesus in our hearts, felt the reality of our unworthiness and worried about our election.
Now that I have cover both sides five article's of faith you might be able to see the controversy and understand why there has been so much debate over the difference of teaching over the years. Oh, it would be nice to be able to just take the two ideas and pick this one and that and come up with your own belief. But then that would end up being a subjective reality and I hope you are looking for more of an objective truth. There should be no confusion in the truth. 1st Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is not the author of confusion but of peace. So in the little time I have left today let me assure you that there is an answer.
We could take each of these points apart and logically analyze each one and dig deep into the word of God to justify both points of view but that has just brought more confusion and strife among the body of Christ. Let us please, look unto Jesus and rest in the knowledge of His love for us. The hallmark of a Christian is not logic, but love. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your LORD and savior then you are indeed a new creation in Christ and thereby one of the elect. If you are reading this today and still have not committed your life to Christ , do not despair you still may be one of the elect, you just might not know it yet. For you are a whosoever. God so loved the world (that's everyone) that He gave His only begotten Son (that's Jesus) that whosoever (you) believeith in Him (Jesus) will not perish ( your life will not be wasted) but have everlasting, eternal, abundant life. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world for it was condemned already. Look, I am not ok, you are not ok, but God made a way, OK? Jesus came that the world might be saved through Him. For He who knew no sin became sin for us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
How do we make all of this relevant and real in our life? By realizing the great price that was paid for you. By realizing the wonderful gift of life that God has given you. By falling at the feet of Jesus and allowing Him to reveal the mysteries of the universe to you and bring you peace in the midst of confusion. Are you searching for answers? Are you looking for comfort? Are you ready for change? Are you in need of rest? Our hearts desire can be found in Him. Delight in Him today. Wrap your heart around Him and do not let the distractions of the world turn you away. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Let Him really live within your heart and discover all the answers you will ever need. Discover more peace then you ever knew possible. Experience the joy of His presence in every area of your life. Jesus is the answer and He really does love you. More then you know He loves you. Walk with Him today in Jesus name Amen.