A Very Hard Teaching

This is my blog from 2 years ago when I first started believing Reformed theology.  I realize how much better my writing has become since then, haha!

From April, 2012:

“Lately, I have been really wrestling with certain aspects of Scripture. I have gone back and forth on some issues for a few years now, but tonight, God opened my eyes to some key verses that have always been there, but that I have always ignored or overlooked so that I could continue to believe what I had always been taught, what was most comfortable to me. I am talking about Calvinism.

I always hesitate to use the word because it has so many negative connotations and many who hold to these veiws do so with a self righteousness and do not embrace the true meaning and value of these doctrines, also known as the Doctrines of Grace. I realize that it is much easier to believe or accept that everyone will get to Heaven eventually or that all anyone has to do is simply say a pre-written “sinner’s prayer” to be saved, but the more I study the Scriptures, the more I find that these things are just not there.

And the more I study the Scripture, the more I find that these “Calvinistic ideas” are everywhere. The Old Testament talks a lot about God’s choosing of people before they were born or before the foundations of the earth, and these ideas continue all the way throught the New Testament including many of the teachings of Jesus Himself.

The passage I read was John chapter 6, which I encourage everyone to read (also Romans chapter 9) because it involves a deep discussion that Jesus was having with His disciples, and not just the twelve. There were thousands still following Him at this point because He had done so many wonderful things, the most recent of which was feeding them from two fish and five barley loaves. They were trying to force Him to be their King, which is what prompted Jesus to say these things. The verses that stuck out to me the most and hit me the hardest were verses 64-66 of chapter 6.

“Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.’ As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” -John 6:64-66

It’s been right there in plain sight the whole time, “No one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” When Jesus said this, it caused many people to turn away because it was “a hard saying. Who can accept it?” (Verse 60) This seems to be the reaction of so many people today as well. In a way, I guess that’s kind of how I reacted when I was first introduced to these ideas.

We as humans tend to think, “That’s not fair of God to choose some but not others.” We want God to be “fair” but someone gave a very valid point to me. If God was truly being as “fair” as we wanted Him to be, then He would not have sent His Son to die on the cross and raise Him from the dead. He would not have provided a way to salvation for anyone at all but would have left every single person on earth dead in their sin. We would all be going to Hell.

But this is not the case. This is the Good News, that despite the fact that we are all sinners, completely enslaved to our sin, God made a way out. We as believers have a reason to rejoice and praise God for allowing us to be part of His Church.

For me, it was very hard to rejoice at first because all I saw was the negative fact that there are many who are not chosen and how hard to understand this all is. But I’ve come to a better understanding that God has saved me and freed me from sin and has done so for many others who have believed, do believe and will believe.

I still struggle with it because it is a very hard teaching, but I realize that the Gospel is supposed to make people stumble, it is supposed to be offensive. This teaching made Jesus’ disciples grumble and He knew it. (verse 61) But my focus as a disciple is not to be worried about whether the Gospel offends people or not, but to continue to gain knowledge of Scripture and to obey what Jesus said, to go and make disciples of all nations.

It is not my responsibility to save people, only God can do that. But it is my responsibility to share with the World what God has done for me and what He can do for them. Many will hear the Word of God, but like the parable of the sower in Luke 8, some of the seed will fall by the wayside, some will take root among thorns and be choked out, some will take root among rocks and be scorched but some will fall on good soil and will grow and produce fruit, and that is the reason we are to take the Good News to the whole World.

We have no control over what happens to the “seed” once it has been planted but we are to simply obey. I am not saying that this is easy, but it’s not supposed to be. Our Americanized version of the Gospel has made us think that being a disciple is easy and involves only simple belief. But for many this belief is only superficial and is simply just that, belief. But the Greek word used in the New Testament for belief is pisteuo, which means a complete trust and total reliance upon.

Unfortunately, many who say they believe in Jesus only believe that He existed, died on the cross and rose from the dead, but they do not rely on that completely in their lives as the basis for all that they do. They do not follow Him with their whole heart and are not willing to obey Him at any cost. They have only as much “faith” as the demons do, because the demons even know these things to be true (James 2:19). But the difference is that the demons do not obey Christ and that belief is not the essence of all that they do.

I’m not saying that I have this all figured out or that I do not struggle with any of this. But I feel that God laid this on my heart to share as I continue in my journey to know God more and to obey Him with all of my being. I am still wrestling with my faith and my beliefs, but I feel that that is a healthy place to be rather than complacent and unquestioning because then I am not learning or growing, but in my wrestlings and strugglings, I find that I am learning more now than ever before and am more excited about my faith that ever before.”

 

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