Do not be impatient today with those who have not yet discovered what you learned yesterday.

Warning: this entry is, without apology, a theology lesson. What does theology have to do with depression, self-mutilation, fear, anger and marriage problems? Everything. What you believe is more important than what you do because what you believe determines what you do. This biblical counselor believes every counseling problem is a theological problem.

People captive to sinful habits are active worshippers at the wrong altar. The false deities of people in sin promise to give them their good feelings without consequences. These idols offer control and ease and never send things that hurt. In short, people in sin only love gods that are less than sovereign.

Now the theology lesson. I am a monergist. That is, I recognize the biblical teaching that salvation is all of God rather than a cooperative effort between God and man. I believe that regeneration is what produces faith in us (John 1:13; 3:3; 1 Peter 1:3) and that both grace and faith fall into the category of "and that not of yourselves" (Ephesians 2:8-10). For lack of a simpler word, that makes me a Calvinist (see a little chunk of my Romans 8 exposition for a biblical description).

It has been a refreshing discovery for me to finally realize that my salvation from start to finish is a work of God. My delight is increasingly found in the author and finisher of my faith instead of in my great choice. My service is increasingly motivated by the desire to see the purposeful work of Christ on the cross bear its certain fruit in the lives of those who are called to faith when I preach the gospel. I have not only learned what it is to rest in Christ, I have learned the right motivation to work hard for Christ.

Having said all that, the balance of this entry is going to chastise some of my theological allies. It is even going to chastise me. Here is a hard question: Do people who, apart from grace, are empty-headed fools have any business saying "Raca" or "Thou fool" (see Matthew 5:22)?

Of all the issues I face in the counseling room, the most destructive is pride. Those of us who embrace the Doctrines of Grace are not in danger of being right. We are in danger of being proud that we are right.

We Calvinists know how to pronounce (and some of us can even correctly spell) Arminian with a tone of disdain. My trouble is this: how can a pride-crushing theology produce pride in the people who embrace it? If the grace of God alone brought me to faith and I cannot boast in the quality of my faith or the smartness of my choice, how can I take any credit for discovering the system of theology that recognizes those truths? "Proud Calvinist" is an oxymoron.

Please remember that your system of theology is more than what you claim to believe. You can answer the delightful question 11 from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, saying, "God's providence is His completely holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing every creature and every action" and then live a life that proves you would rather not have a sovereign God tell you how to love your wife, submit to your husband or manage your money.

I do not write these things because I have somehow won this battle myself. Let me take this instruction as I give it. Do not be impatient today with those who have not yet discovered what you learned yesterday. Those who celebrate the free will of man to the exclusion of celebrating the free will of God are in error, but they are not necessarily the enemy. They may be deceived by the enemy.
Yes, there are those who need to be directly confronted. Sharp rebuke may often be in order, but being quarrelsome is never in order. Paul taught Timothy another way of dealing with error: "with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:25-26).
Here is my challenge to you who have been released from the bondage of a man-centered theology:
  1. Live life in your home and in your workplace like one who has been rescued from slavery and set free to serve.

  2. Take as much credit for your system of theology as you do for your salvation.

  3. Present the glorious truths that humble you before the sovereign God with the gentleness that logically springs from your theology.

1 comment:

  1. Ok time to get on the stick, you are way over due for the next post. I want you to know that there are ppl out here that read your blog and wait with held breathe for the next installment. So with that thought in mind how about getting something going on here huh huh

    In Him


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