The way of the Calvinist

Posted: March 11, 2007 by Daniel in Christianity, evangelism, theology, Way of the Master

Using the law in evangelism is pure Calvinism.

A healthy article by Bethlehem Baptist Church Staff on the ‘5 points of Calvinism’ examines the points in the following order as they pertain to salvation: 

  1. We experience first our depravity and need of salvation.
  2. Then we experience the irresistible grace of God leading us toward faith.
  3. Then we trust the sufficiency of the atoning death of Christ for our sins.
  4. Then we discover that behind the work of God to atone for our sins and bring us to faith was the unconditional election of God.
  5. And finally we rest in his electing grace to give us the strength and will to persevere to the end in faith.

Although these points do not entirely translate to tasks for the evangelist, I think there is value in understanding how God works and in doing so we might learn something for our evangelism efforts.

In evangelism, we need to first start with the Law of God to show sinners their current condition before God and their need of God. Before we can get to this first point, however, there should be some time spent clarifying just who is this God who has given the law. The people we are talking to might not even think there is any evidence that He exists. In sharing the Law we are attempting to show the sinner how he is already condemned by doesn’t know it yet. We are trying to show them the judgement and eternal damnation that awaits them in their current state.

When the Law has been used by God to humble the sinner, the grace of God can be presented. This is when the evangelist shares about the cross and how Christ died for sinners. This will extend on the explanation on how a price must be paid for sin – Christ has come to be our ransom. He has died that we might share in his righteousness.  How joyful to know that the grace that we are sharing is irresistible to those who are being saved.

The Holy Spirit can then use the words of the evangelist to cause the gift of faith in our wonderful Saviour to spring to life in the heart of the sinner. This might not happen on the spot, but God is faithful in acting in those he chooses for his glory.

It’s important that the sinner in moved to a faith that trusts in the atoning work of Christ alone. This is only possible again through he gift of God, but the sinner needs to hear what they are required to do: repent and trust in Christ alone.

 Points 4 and 5 are useful for people to know after conversion. It is often beside the point when witnessing to someone – the most important thing is that we tell them to repent and put their full trust in Jesus. Going into the election of Christians and the perseverance of Christians are wonderful truths to learn when the journey with God has begun.

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Comments
  1. HI,
    I just stumbles on your blog and would like to put my two cents in it. I agree with everything you say. But for me is it like this. If anyone had come to me and had hit me with the Bible and the ten commandments over the head I probably woulve never gotten to know our Lord. I had those people trying to attract me to the Lord but it was like with the Jehovas witnesses, you hise and act like your not at home, know what I mean?
    And now since I am saved, of course my goal is to lead people to Christ, but the funniest thing…they come after me. Mostly because they know me from before, and somehow I have changed in their eyes, and they ask me all kinds of quesions, and then it ends up that they want to go to small group with me, or like tomorrow I meet someone to guide them to our church. They just see something in me and they want to know what it is I have and they miss. And I think that is for me the best way to witness, to let it be shown in my behaviour and in my actions. This is what attracts sinners to me!

    Enough with the rambling…have a blessed evening
    Andrea

  2. Thanks Andrea

    Yes, most definitely. You’re right to point out something that was missing from this post. We have to first build a friendly relationship with the person we want to share the gospel to.

    I have got in the habit of forgetting this once or twice when witnessing and it really doesn’t work that well – but God can still use our failures.

    There are many different ways we might go about evangelism, but the message is still the same. I have friends at all sorts of stages – some I have shared the gospel with but still don’t believe. I am still friends with them.

    I guess the big question is how long do we wait after we have built that relationship? I think it is possible to show enough concern and interest in someone in 3 minutes to support the sharing of the gospel. This makes effective street witnessing a possibility.

    Yes, we don’t want to be ‘thumpers’ be we do want to be going out in love and sharing this message we have received.

  3. augustrose says:

    “In evangelism, we need to first start with the Law of God to show sinners their current condition before God and their need of God.”

    Glad you already covered this. I must say, the reason a large part of the world is turned off to a relationship with the Lord is because it is approached from the “your sin” standpoint. Religion (the stiff, staunch, lifeless rules and regulations) is the evil twin of relationship. The Bible tells us it’s the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. Unless you’re a total knothead I would imagine most everyone is aware they have sinned/missed the mark/blown it.

    When you let your light shine before men, just like the bug zapper, they are mezmerized by the difference and are drawn to you. It’s the life of God in you, the presence of the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus in you. The Baptists show them Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Isn’t that sufficient?

    What’s your presentation if you don’t have time to build a relationship. Some of the folk that need Jesus the most would never be caught hanging around out with Christians. What now? If we throw the first stone, so to speak, they’re already on the defensive and we’ll just ensure the fact they don’t want anything to do with our “religion.”

    Now, dumb question. What is a Calvinist?

  4. PB and J says:

    while i have never been a five pter, when you put the pts in that order with that explanation, i agree wholeheartedly. very interesting. because i know so many people who are turned off by presbyterians (and other calvinists) simply because of the wrongly labeled 5 pts of calvinism. they traditional way they are given arent even what “calvin” said.

    anyway, i agree about law first. jonathon edwards preached like that.

    shalom
    peter

  5. Bill says:

    Augustrose,

    I believe the reason the world is turned off to a relationship with Jesus is because they’re enemies with God by their wicked works (Colossians 1:21). If I sin against someone, I could probably make them worse enemies, but I can’t make them worse enemies by lovingly explaining the gospel, or quoting a Bible verse.

    The reason the law is usually necessary is because people don’t understand that their sin is against God, (primarily not against other people) and they don’t understand how serious their sin is.

    Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul.

    Romans 3:19, 20. Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

    Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

    Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    If you’ve found a great way to witness–go for it. I’m going to do what Jesus told us to do.

    Bill

  6. Bill,

    Thanks for that clear anthology of Scripture on the usefulness of the law in bringing a sinner to repentance. Sure Agustrose, God’s kindness leads us to repentance:

    Romans 2 v 4-5 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed.

    But the point is that we cannot really understand the riches of God’s kindness in saving us if we don’t know what we have been saved from – God’s right judgement of our transgression of the Law. I don’t agree that everyone in the world already understands this. I am in Australia and I am constantly surprised by the amount of people who think that they are good. Perhaps it is different where you come from?

    On a separate matter – the Way of the Calvinist was a bit of a play on words referring to just how much there is in common with the teaching of the Way of the Master and Calvinism. What is a Calvinist? It is a polarising term – one is either a Calvinist or and Arminian. There is plenty of good defence of Calvinism at http://www.monergism.com but I don’t know where to find any Armenian perspectives – I am sure there is some out there on the net.

  7. Dave says:

    Hey Daniel,

    I’m reformed pretty much 🙂 and I found this post to be really a great way to share the five points in a loving, warm and especially evangelistic way. 🙂

    You said:

    But the point is that we cannot really understand the riches of God’s kindness in saving us if we don’t know what we have been saved from – God’s right judgment of our transgression of the Law. I don’t agree that everyone in the world already understands this. I am in Australia and I am constantly surprised by the amount of people who think that they are good.

    I agree fully. When we look at Romans 5, 6. 7 and 8 we learn that we are unable to keep the law perfectly. We learn that we have a sin problem, that we are rebellious and unrighteous. But we also learn that God saved us from having to obey the law perfectly. So when we put our faith and trust in Jesus, we are no longer slaves to the law and sin, but rather, we are slaves to the law of the spirit. The law causes death and only points us to our need for a savior.

    We see in Romans 1 and 2 that everyone internally knows they are guilty of wrong doing. Everyone internally knows of God and their need to be forgiven, but most have suppressed this knowledge and have traded the truth for a lie. We also learn in Romans 9 that God is sovereign, for does not the potter have the right to do what he wants with the clay? He will have mercy on whom He has mercy and compassion on whom He has compassion. So we know that there has to be a working in the heart of the unbeliever by the Holy Spirit to bring them from the darkness of their unbelief to that of the light of Gods truth. But we must always remember we are the instruments that He uses for justification and sanctification.

    When we evangelize, we do so praying to a sovereign God that the Holy Spirit would do a work in those we are evangelizing too. When we pray, we are praying to a sovereign God who is in complete control of all of creation. We pray that the Holy Spirit will convict people of their own self-righteousness and inability to obey Gods holy moral law, that they will be humbled and that they will admit that they are unrighteous before God and that they deserve eternal death and that they would then repent and turn towards Jesus. Only when this monergistic work is done in the heart of the reprobate, by the Holy Spirit, will they be able to truly know God and be covered by the blood of Jesus’ righteousness.

    Monergism.com is a really good site for anyone wishing to explore the Reformed Faith more. While I don’t consider myself to be totally reformed in all ways, my personal understanding and doctrinal possition of saving faith is completely Calvinistic. So I do recommend Monergism.com and their blog as well for everyone.

    Y.B.I.C,

    Dave

  8. Dave says:

    Sorry correction,

    I said ‘reprobate’ when I meant ‘unregenerate’. A difference in definition where reprobate is a theological term defining those who will never be saved and unregenerate meaning those who have yet to be saved. A minor difference and I often confuse the two. Sorry again.

    Dave.

  9. Nice comment Dave. I have just been studying Romans 6 and I really enjoy reading what you have to say about it.

    We see in Romans 1 and 2 that everyone internally knows they are guilty of wrong doing. Everyone internally knows of God and their need to be forgiven, but most have suppressed this knowledge and have traded the truth for a lie.

    Augustrose was right in saying that “Unless you’re a total knot head I would imagine most everyone is aware they have sinned/missed the mark/blown it.”(Way of the Calvinist, comment 3) but you have clarified the issue in this last post. People may know in their conscience that they have broken God’s law, but they have suppressed this knowledge.

  10. As an evangelical apostate, I wonder if the average predeterminalist would consider all of the “lost souls” I led to Jesus genuine or false conversions. I mean, I never was “truly saved”, was I? Maybe god had a plan in using a false convert to bring souls to him.

  11. Hi Former

    Thanks for visiting our blog and posting here and there. We will get to your questions. I have viewed you blog and understand a little of where you may be coming from. Your questions/statements reveal that you are in some way familiar with the bible. I don’t understand what you mean by the term predeterminalist. Quite simply, we believe that salvation is the work of God.

    What evidence do you know of that proves God exists?

  12. I have two posts dedicated to the supposed proof of god’s existence. To summarize, conscience and creation are being cited as the strongest irrefutable proofs of god’s existence. I refute those proofs.

    Aso, I am very familiar with the bible; I will refer you to my deconversion story on the site.

  13. If another person believes something that is different from me is that OK?

  14. On a personal scale or a cosmic scale? Are you wanting to go down the “moral relativism is dangerous” path? I’ll gladly follow your lead.

  15. Can you qualify your position on both?

  16. I was kind of hoping you would qualify your initial question. “If another person believes something that is different from me is that OK?” is not only poorly written, it’s also incredibly vague.

    To answer your original question with no further explanation, I would say that it’s absolutely fine to believe whatever you like. Where I draw the line is when your personal beliefs infringe upon another person’s right to believe or act in a manner which is harmless to his or her surroundings.

    The point I’m trying to make is that all Christians (religionists, even) employ the use of situational ethics no matter their dogmatic belief structure. A better explanation of this can be found in this post (http://www.wotmwatchdog.org/2007/09/todd-friel-is-moral-relativist-and-he.html). Be sure to read the comments.

  17. Of course it is socially fine for anyone to believe whaterver they want. That is what we do in western society. How could anyone really stop anyone from believing something anyway? Of course we don’t let people do things that are against the law of our society (deemed by society to be harmful.) That is not advanced ethics – it’s common sense.

    Is it OK for WOTM to use situational ethics? How is that harmful and worthy of getting a dot com for? 🙂

    What ways (if any) have you seen Christians infringe on other people’s harmless beliefs? You obviously feel that WOTM does this.

  18. It may be socially acceptable for individuals to believe whatever they like but, according to the first commandment in the decalogue, it is a mortal sin (“… no gods before me.”). When you accept a dogmatic stance on morality and try to convert others by holding them up to that stance of morality, you are then impinging on their rights to live a happy, healthy godless existence.

    No, it is not okay for WOTM to use situational ethics becaue that is not what they advocate.

  19. So if an evangelist helps someone compare their life to God’s standard that’s bad?

  20. It’s “bad” to the extent that “god’s standard” is morally bereft. It leaves no room for situational ethics which every healthy human employs. You employ situational ethics daily… your god disapproves.

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