When I first began to grow in my study of the Bible and in my prayer life, the Holy Spirit had initiated a desire in my heart for theology. I had no intention (at the the time) to be a preacher, professor, orator, or a theologian. All I wanted was to simply answer one question that would not leave my mind: how did I become a Christian? It was tempting to pass it off like many other Christians do, and it was even more tempting to simply believe that it was because I had come to that knowledge on my own. I had grown up believing in free will, but for some reason “free will” wasn’t a good explanation for me.
This was my dilemma: My philosophy was that man can choose to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, or they can run from Him, but the Scriptures would say things that would contradict my philosophy. In Psalms 14:2-3 (ESV) it says, “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” Again in the Bible it spoke about man’s wickedness, only this time it was spoken by Jesus Himself in Luke 18:19 (ESV), “No one is good except God alone.”
This truth was more than a great shock; this view demanded a complete change in my understanding of my faith, my salvation, and God. The theological ground that I stood on began to look very shaky. Not only was what I believed in completely the opposite of what the Bible said, but it was illogical. How could anyone believe that there is any good in man when all that man has created has been destructive? Cars, drugs, guns, porn, etc. Mankind has no ability to make anything good, pure, and blameless. Even when there is an invention that seems to have any benefit, that invention will prove itself to have the potential to bring destruction.
So, I came to the conclusion that humanity is depraved because they are unable to know what is good and evil, but there was one problem with that theological stance: it’s not biblical. Genesis 2:17 stated very clearly that the tree which man took the forbidden fruit from, was called the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. This meant that man indeed knew what was good and what was evil, but chose evil anyway. Mankind is not a group of helpless creatures who don’t know better, but rather it is collective that rebels against God’s laws, commands, and statutes. The difference between God and man is simple: God knows what is good and evil, but He always chooses good; mankind knows what is good and evil, but mankind always chooses evil. Philippians 2:13 (ESV) makes it very clear that God is the source of any good, saying, “…it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
The Bible was clear that it was not God who needed me, but it was I who needed God. God was the one who needed to save me from my sin, and it couldn’t be done based on my own free will. If my free will was a key component of salvation, then I would’ve never been saved. Therefore, the only way for me to be saved was for God to sanctify my heart so that I could repent. I needed repentance in order to be saved, and in order to repent my heart had to be regenerated. This meant that there was a fact that I had to embrace: I didn’t choose God, but rather it was God who chose me. As I began studying Scripture, Calvinism began to make more and more sense. The more I thought about the course of my life, the more I realized just how applicable Calvinism really was. Reformed theology became the substance that rested on top of the foundation, which was Christ and His word.
Now that I have grown in my view of Reformed theology and its applications, I have been able to see the beauty of it in the Scriptures and how much it matters to me. There are valid reasons why I consider Calvinism to be the best soteriological view from Scripture, and the most precious of all doctrines of the Christians faith. The following are those reasons:
1) It is biblical.
There are multiple texts of Scripture that point to total depravity, divine election, predestination, and other themes of Reformed theology. It is clear as day in Scripture that God is the one who ordained all things, and is the one who is sovereign over all things. John 6:44, Ephesians 1:4-5, 1 Peter 1:20, Galatians 1:15, Romans 9:15-16, Ephesians 1:11, 2 Peter 1:10, and more and more Scriptures speak of God’s predestined plan to choose people to come to the saving faith. There is no better reason to believe in the Doctrines of Grace than the fact that the Bible is so clear that Calvinism is Scriptural.
2) It glorifies God.
People seem to forget the glory that God deserves if Calvinism is true. If we didn’t choose salvation, then God did; and if God chose who would be saved, then those chosen are to be more grateful than anyone in the world. Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 1:28-30 (ESV) saying, “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” If Calvinism is true, than God has received, receives, and will continue to receive the ultimate glory for His work of predestination.
3) It is humbling.
If we are not deserving of His grace, than we must realize that it was solely because of God’s love and grace that anyone is saved. Calvinism also implies that mankind is not as smart as they think they are. 1 Corinthians 1:25 (ESV) says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Whatever we consider to be knowledge, God considers to be foolishness apart from Him. Likewise, no one can be considered strong if that person is far from Christ. Apart from God, we are nothing. Therefore, mankind is left in a humble state, and left with nothing to do other than to praise God for His work of election.
4) It is a comforting doctrine.
One passage of the Scripture that I consider to be the most encouraging is Romans 8:28 (ESV) which says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” God’s work of election is the reason we can know He works everything for good, and that all He wills is going to come to pass. Those who are called according to His purpose can rest assured in the fact that God will keep His word to us, that we will see a great reward in Heaven, and that He will be our greatest joy in life.
and finally (this one is a big one for me)…
5) It inspires me to evangelize.
So many modern Evangelicals believe that Reformed theology is bad because it would cause us to be lazy. The idea is that if God predestines who will be saved, what is the point of making disciples? It’s interesting however that the greatest missionaries that ever lived were the ones who held to the views of Calvinism. People like William Carey, Francis Schaefer, George Whitfield, Charles Simeon, Amy Carmichael, and John Calvin himself were all people who were passionate about mission because of their views that God is the one who predestines people to salvation. A burden is lifted off of my shoulders when I believe in God’s work of election because no longer do I depend on cheap tricks to bring people to Christ, but rather I preach the Word of God with all my might, and I trust that the Holy Spirit will work out the rest. Paul, the greatest missionary that ever lived, and the one who wrote more about predestination than anyone else, wrote this in Titus 1:1 (ESV): “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect.” We endure everything for the sake of reaching out to the elect of God.
Though it may be difficult to come to accept, especially for those in the modern Christian church, the Bible has been clear that God is the one who preordained those who would be saved. I can’t escape that truth when reading the Scriptures, and I don’t see how people can’t seem to find it. Reformed theology is the reason I hold so dearly to my faith, knowing that God foreknew me before the foundations of the world to become His child. I didn’t deserve it, and I certainly didn’t ask for it, but God is love and He was glorified in choosing me. I am now His, and He will never let me go. One day, I, among many others, will see the promise of Romans 8:30 (ESV): “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” I await Heaven knowing that the Father’s will is going to come to pass.
Soli Deo Gloria.