Monday, June 8, 2015

Why Worry?

Many of the books that I review on my blog come through crossfocusedreviews.com. As part of receiving the free book, I agree to post my review on my blog as well as on amazon.com. Occasionally, I will receive feedback from my blog readers, but most of the negative comments I receive are responses to my book reviews posted on the Amazon website. Therefore, I have a series of blog posts that I've labeled Countering Criticism where I evaluate the validity of the negative feedback I receive. Today, I would like to look at one comment from a poster named Doug H. regarding my book review on Living Without Worry. You can read my original review here.

On June 7, 2015, Doug H. wrote:
"I read your review and understand where you are coming from (an extreme Calvinistic perspective). If your theology is correct and there is no offer of salvation in the Bible, the [sic] each and every person has MUCH to worry about. How can we know we are truly elect until we persevere in good works till the end of our lives? Do you not see that this is works for salvation?

I agree the Bible does not say to accept Jesus into our lives. Rather the saving message is to believe in JESUS for everlasting life (John 3:16, 5:24, 6:47). It has nothing to do with behavior; salvation depends on God's faithfulness and not our own."
First, Doug contends that I'm coming from an "extreme Calvinistic perspective". I'm not sure really what he means by extreme. The belief that salvation is a monergistic work of God (Calvinism) is not extreme; it is biblical. God has chosen His elect "before the foundation of the world," (Eph. 1:4) and "predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will," (Eph. 1:5). In other words, God elects His people according to His will. That's plainly written in Ephesians. If we read a little further, we are told that "[f]or by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, Not of works, lest any man should boast," (Eph. 2:8-9, emphasis mine). Clearly, God alone is the agent of salvation. There is no free will in salvation. After the Fall in Genesis 3, man does not have the capacity nor the desire to choose Jesus. We read in Rom. 3:10-11, 23: "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God...For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Finally, in the words of Jesus Himself: "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father," (John 6:65).

Next, Doug's argument is not coherent. I'm really not sure what his point is because he does not clearly express his belief of how salvation is achieved. No man is able to believe in Jesus on his own since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). In addition, he obviously does not understand the 5 tenets of Calvinism. In my review, I never said that Christians must persevere in good works to prove they are saved because that's not biblical, and Calvinism does not teach that either. Doug is making statements based on what he has heard or what he thinks Calvinism teaches. Once regenerated, Christians persevere in faith by the power of God and do good works because good works are ordained by God as well: "For we are workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them," (Eph. 2:10).

I'm surprised that Doug doesn't think anyone should "accept Jesus"; we both agree on that point. While it is true that the "saving message is to believe in Jesus for everlasting life", I would also include the need for repentance unto salvation. Doug then says, "salvation depends on God's faithfulness, not our own." This is where his argument is contradictory and actually proves my point. Salvation is wholly a work of the One, True, Faithful God because depraved, unregenerate man can not, and will not, be faithful. Based on Doug's comments and the Bible verses he referenced, it appears that he believes that once man believes, then he is saved. The biblical picture that I've shown above is just the opposite. God regenerates (or saves) man through His Word and the work of the Holy Spirit, and then man repents and believes.

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"Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified," (Rom. 8:30).