The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Calvinism: Why Is It So Great?

As Calvinism (also known as reformed theology and/or the doctrines of grace) continues to make headway into the Church again, some may wonder why this "new" teaching is becoming so popular. The truth is, it isn't new, it's old. It is the faith of the Puritans, it is in step with the theology of Martin Luther who came before Calvin, it is the faith and theology of Charles Spurgeon, of the leaders of the first great awakening such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, and the writer of the hymn Amazing Grace, John Newton, was likewise a Calvinist.

So, why have so many godly men who have lead the great revivals of the past been proponents of Calvinism? Why did Charles Spurgeon even say that "Calvinism is simply a nickname for historical Christianity?" The truth is, I would argue, because these men all saw the truth of Calvinism as revealed in the Bible, and it is the realization of the truths of Calvinism that set their hearts ablaze to live as they were called and to share the gospel with everyone.

So there I have stated what makes Calvinism so great in one aspect; it is great because it sets your heart ablaze to live like a Christian. That's what Calvinism does to you, and that is certainly what makes it great, but the reason it does this to you is where the real, lasting value is at. Many emotional messages and sermons can momentarily magnify our passion and devotion and love for God and our desire to serve Him. The great difference between those momentary peaks and Calvinism is that, because Calvinism is grounded in the Truth of Scripture, the devotion to God doesn't die out because the devotion is grounded on God's Truth rather than emotionalism or pressure by a pastor who motivates mainly through guilt and fear of hell or even merely out of obligation (meaning some sort of "Christian duty").

Now I know when it comes to our "views" of God, for anyone who calls themselves a Christian this is their life. So when I say that your understanding of God is wrong and your understanding of the gospel is wrong whenever and wherever you disagree with Calvinism, I know that I am touching on something that is very sensitive, indeed at the core of every true Christian. At the same time, I know that as true Christians we are to get our understanding of God from the Bible alone, not from our opinions or other men's opinions, but from the Word of God alone. That is WHY I am a Calvinist. Does that confuse you? It should not. All I am saying is that the Word of God is where John Calvin went to get his theology, and the Word of God is where the doctrines of Calvinism originated.

Now it is true that a Calvinist interpretation of Scripture could be wrong, just as much as any other interpretation. In response to that, let me ask you this. Do you believe that the gospel is knowable? Do you believe that from the Bible we can clearly ascertain the meaning of the gospel, what the message of the gospel is, and why God has chosen to bring the gospel to us? If you answer yes, then why couldn't Calvinism be the correct interpretation? If you answer no, and you are a Christian, well how can you be certain of your Christianity given the basis of your faith, the gospel, is not knowable? If God has not spoken to us clearly in His Word concerning the gospel, the Bible has no value to us. Christianity and the Bible rises or falls on the ability to comprehend and grasp the gospel, and that is all that Calvinism itself elaborates on, the gospel, and God's overarching plan to save man through the gospel.

So, to state it concisely, the truth that Calvinism teaches that makes Calvinism so great and, when it penetrates our hardened sinful hearts by the grace of God, transforms us and literally gives us a far greater desire and passion to serve God and learn more and more about Him in His Word so that we CAN rightly serve Him is the reality and realization of the depths of our own sinfulness and depravity AND despite this and in light of this, the amazing grace, compassion, and mercy of God and His Son Jesus Christ in dying not merely to make salvation possible, but to actually bring us to faith and repentance by His Holy Spirit and grace so that God is the one who sovereignly chooses to save us and makes us willing to believe by His grace. That's it right there in a nutshell. The single deepest and greatest and most wonderful thing I learned through studying Calvinism is that the Bible really does teach that I never would have repented and put faith in Christ unless God had chosen to save me by overcoming my unrepentant, hardened heart by the power of His grace. In other words, I realized the only difference between me and the greatest sinner ever, someone like Hitler or whoever the worst possible sinner is that you can imagine, is the grace of God. That's the only difference. If it wasn't for the grace of God, I'd be a murderer, a thief, a rapist, you name it. And except for the grace of God, I would be an unbeliever, blaspheming God, living for myself, living in sin.

In short, I finally realized in the fullest sense what it means to be saved by grace. I learned that being saved by grace means not simply that Jesus Christ died to save those who are "good enough" to make that really smart decision to "repent" (stop sinning and start living for Christ by the power of their own will/decision), but that being saved by grace really means that Jesus Christ died to save all those WHOM GOD BY HIS GRACE HAD ALREADY CHOSEN TO BRING TO FAITH AND REPENTANCE. Just as Christ's death on the cross for my sins was an unspeakable grace, so my faith and repentance are also graces and gifts of God, not of works so that I may not boast as Ephesians 2:8-10 says.

Now to close, I understand that me simply stating this will not change you. You must do the hard work of studying Scripture yourself and see that the Bible really does teach that repentance and faith are gifts and graces of God and you would not have faith unless God had chosen to give it to you. You may not believe that, but it is what the Bible teaches. And until you see that for yourself, you will not be able to enjoy the truths of the gospel to its fullest, and therefore you will not be able to live for Christ to the fullest. Once you see these great truths of Calvinism clearly taught by God Himself in His Holy Bible, then and only then will you be a true Calvinist. It is one thing to numbly talk about the doctrines of Calvinism, but it isn't until you come to the position to see that Calvinism is indeed the very truth of God that it will actually move you and fill you with a desire to follow Him and serve Him SOOOO much more and from a far more proper, gracious and humble attitude.

Therefore, I encourage you, study the Bible for yourself. Find out what precisely Calvinism teaches, look at the Scripture used to support it, and come to your own conclusions. I can assure you that you will find the Bible teaches the five points of Calvinism unless you simply hope that they do not. If you hope the Bible does not teach Calvinism, it is likely because you think Calvinism somehow compromises the goodness and fairness of God. It does not do that either, and if you have questions about that, or anything that I have said, please do not hesitate to ask me. Calvinism truly changed my life, and if you see that the Bible truly does teach it, it will change your life in the most profound and wonderful way as well, I promise you that.


  1. when i saw the teaching of gods sovereignty
    i was sitting there in my chair loosint my eyes almost.
    I could not belive what i saw in scripture was true.
    But I was praising God for what i saw and was so amazaed about what a big God we got.
    the verses i read was amos 3:6 and ex 4:11

  2. John Calvin's murder of people who held different doctrinal views

    Dieu vous ouvrent les yeux, de Genève Suisse