The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Friday, February 18, 2011

Invest In Souls Of Men, Not The Numbers Of Men.

I remember a Paul Washer sermon, where he was denouncing decisional evangelism like he so often, and so rightly, does. And in this sermon he began nearly crying and saying that people aren't numbers that you just add to your "people that you got saved" list. And that got me thinking...

It is the grace of God that leads men to repentance. Faith and repentance are gifts of God, yet we are commanded to preach the Word to all people, trying to persuade them with the truth of the gospel. What we need to realize, what I need to realize, is that instant conversions aren't the norm. Not even close. Further, the pursuing of the lost by God through His messengers brings Him glory; notice, the pursuit itself brings glory to God, let alone whether or not a person actually repents or believes, because it is God ultimately who is doing the pursuing. 

What I am saying is that, even when men resist God for a period of time, the relentless pursuing of God through His messengers brings Him glory, because it shows that, though men spurn His grace, His salvation, yet for those whom He has chosen to save, He saves! It may be months, years for some before they are brought to salvation, yet God brings them despite their hard-heartedness and years of resistance.

Now we must conclude that if God has elected all who will be saved, and the great majority of those who are saved, are saved after weeks, months, even years of having Christians proclaim the gospel to them and show the love of God to them, that this in and of itself brings God glory! And I think this is what Paul Washer is hitting on. How much do I really love someone when I am calling for decisions after a 20-30 minute "gospel" presentation? That is treating someone like a number, someone not worth more than a few minutes of my time, and just another notch in my "I got them to make a decision for Christ in only x amount of minutes" belt.

But when you passionately plead with unbelievers for hours, and days, and weeks, and years, and you do not compromise on the demands of the gospel and what it truly means, then you are doing true evangelism, then you are showing the true love of Christ- because Christ pleaded, Christ persuaded with many words, with well reasoned arguments, and so did Peter and Paul. And when an unbeliever is being relentlessly pursued by God, and finally realizes it, and sees how mean, how hostile, how hateful he has been to God his whole life, and yet God still extends His grace to Him- when such an unbeliever is finally given eyes to see this passionate pursuit of God... we cannot begin to even fathom how beautiful the grace of God appears to them!

Yet much of today's evangelism robs God of this glory, by trying to "sell" the gospel and alter it or water it down. It is not about numbers, it's about faithfully and passionately preaching the true gospel to those whom you come in contact with, preaching it repeatedly, and living life consistently in light of the gospel, so that those who you are preaching to may see your good works and in seeing your good works come to see their own sinfulness and the graciousness of the gospel.

The Difference Between Being A Calvinist And Not Being A Calvinist (Part 1)

I decided to go ahead and write another blog, even though I said I wouldn't until March. I think this one is long overdue. I am a Calvinist Christian. I would not call myself just a Christian anymore, simply because the word Christian has different meanings for different people. And, I hesitate sometimes to simply call myself a Calvinist, because many have a bad understanding of it too, and the word seems to carry bad connotations for some. 

But nonetheless, I think it is important to stress the life changing doctrines of Calvinism, because they truly are life changing.

So first, let me list a basic attitude that many people who do not have an understanding and belief in Calvinism usually look like.

1.) Shallow relationship With Christ: This is the biggest thing right here. Apart from the doctrines of grace (which is Calvinism) a person cannot have a deep, rich, healthy relationship with Christ, because they do not understand what He is truly like very well, and often they ascribe characteristics to God that are not true of God. This creates a passion for God that is not according to knowledge, which the Bible condemns and says is useless.

2.) Rely on self for following Christ: This is a big one too. A non-Calvinist often thinks that he or she must live for Christ by their own strength. They may pray to God for help, but because they don't fully understand the gravity of their sinfulness, and because they often think God is wanting them to live for Him in their own strength to show their trust in Him and love for Him, they think they are able to actually live for Him by their own power. What often happens is, people fail to live for God and become depressed, and may even wander if they are really saved.

3.) Pretend that everything is alright: Often non-Calvinist Christians will take a "I am doing very well spiritually, thank you" approach. They often do this indirectly, by the way they act around other Christians, or simply by avoiding the subject of sin and denying that they struggle with it. I think this is a natural outworking of number 2.

4.) An almost exclusive emphasis on doing things for God (good works) and an almost complete negligence of having to struggle to stop sinning: Sometimes for the non-Calvinist it seems two lives develop- a public life, where you put on a godly exterior and take this mental approach that everything is alright and sin is not a battle, and then your private life, where reality sets in and sin is seen to truly be a battle. This is unhealthy, because rather than directly attacking sin and knowing how to do it biblically, you try to ignore it, which allows it to grow and fester in the heart, which will privately be made manifest and often in time lead to really big sins like adultery or stealing that will become known to everyone.

5.) A misunderstanding of God's ultimate purpose in the universe: Non-Calvinist either do not understand or have a diminshed and tainted understanding of what God is doing in all of life. This is either because they do not understand God's holiness and sovereignty fully, or they distort God's holiness and limit His sovereignty.

In part two, I will show how Calvinism addresses all five of these issues and gives us a full-orbed understanding of Christianity so that we can know God more, love God more, and because we love Him and know Him more, live for Him more.
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