Friday, October 12, 2007

Continually Reforming

My journey to becoming Reformed started as a little girl. I was not raised in a Reformed church but rather as a Conservative Baptist where I was taught the five points of Calvinism. But, it wasn't until many years later that I realized what this particular theology meant.
Our family was attending a non-denominational, popular church in the Central Valley of California. We were helping fascillitate Growing Kids God's Way, I sang on a worship team, and hubbie and I taught a three year old Sunday School class. It was a big church but we had many friends and we loved the music and teaching. That is until they decided to change things. Along came Ed Silvoso and his lighthouse movement. It was suppose to be a community thing where we as churches united to spread the gospel throughout our neighborhoods. There was one glitch though....they must not have thought that we would actually read his book. It was full of third wave revival antics. His stories were absurd and were along the lines of Benny Hinn and Paul Crouch. This man believed that if you just prayed, God, who was some kind of puppet, would grant your every wish. You could even use canola oil out of your pantry to annoint the mail boxes of your neighbors in hopes that the Holy Spirit would change their lives.

After a Mr. Silvoso had a speaking engagement at our church, Hubbie went to the pastor and asked why they allowed someone like Mr. Silvoso into the pulpit. Hubbie showed them the evidence of unbiblical teaching and also told the pastor of our concern with the direction the church was going. They were moving toward a seeker sensitive church where entertaining the masses was much more important than teaching the offensive Word of God. Needless to say, we left the church after this meeting.

There were three other families that left at the same time so we started a weekly biblestudy to explore what it is that we really believe. We all began to attend an Orthodox Presbyterian Church. That biblestudy went on for a few years and then it turned into a morning breakfast where the men continued to work out what they believed. At this time two of the families moved on to other churches for various reasons. We stayed at the OPC and learned quite a lot about Reformed theology. But, we missed the joy and love that we felt at the other churches we had attended in the past. We were seeing first hand why they say that usually those who have deep theology lack love and those who have love usually lack deep theology. But, there had to be a way to have both.

The four families eventually came back together and started Evangelical Reformed Church (now Central Valley Presbyterian). We are striving constantly to have good, deep theology within a community of loving believers that enjoy joyful worship.

So, what is it that we now believe? We believe in the Five Solas:

  • Sola Gracia - By Grace Alone

  • Sola Fide - By Faith Alone

  • Sola Scriptura - By Scriptures Alone

  • Solus Christus - In Christ Alone

  • Soli Deo Gloria - Glory to God Alone
We also believe that the five points of Calvinism is a true rendering of scriptural principles. It was a point by point answer to the unscriptural five points submitted by the Arminians to the Church of Holland in 1610. It is sometimes laid out in an acrostic but many of us do not like the terms that you have to use to complete the acrostic.

  • Total depravity (total inability) - we are completely unable to seek God. Our whole being is sinful and is destined to an eternity separate from God. Romans 5:12 says that "as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned". It is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that we become alive in Christ. Ephesians 2:1-5 says "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins...But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)."

  • Unconditional Election - God chose those whom he was pleased to bring to a knowledge of Himself. This is not based on anything we have done to please Him (Total Depravity shows that we can not do anything to please Him without the help of the Holy Spirit). It is based purely on His grace and not on His looking forward to find out who would "accept" the gospel. The hardest part of this tenet is the fact that Scripture clearly says that God has elected some for glory and some for damnation. Romans 9 is one of my favorite chapters but hard words. Verse 21 says " Does not the potter have the power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?". I found this information at I thought is was a very important point to Unconditional Election..."This doctrine does not rule out, however, man's responsibility to believe in the redeeming work of God the Son (John 3:16-18). Scripture presents a tension between God's sovereignty in salvation, and man's responsibility to believe which it does not try to resolve. Both are true -- to deny man's responsibility is to affirm an unbiblical hyper-calvinism; to deny God's sovereignty is to affirm an unbiblical Arminianism."

  • Limited Atonement (better said as Particular Redemption) - Christ died for those whom God gave him (John 17:9 "I pray for them, I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours."). He did not die for every man because, obviously every man is not saved. He died for specific sins of specific sinners. He died to make the church holy. John 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."

  • Irresistible Grace - This means that if you are called, you will certainly respond to God's calling. John 6:44 says "No one can come to Me unless the Father who went Me draws him...".

  • Perseverance of the Saints - You are called out of your depravity before the foundation of the world, saved by the blood of Christ, and you are safe in the arms of the King. He will never let go of those whom He has sacrificed His son for. Romans 8:28-39 is an incredible passage that clearly states that we are bought and paid for. We can not "lose our salvation". Verse 29-31 states "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these he also called; whom He called, these he also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" So, if God is going to do all this for His children would He let them go?
So, there you go. Ever since we realized that this is what we truely believe we have been continually reforming as we go back to the Scriptures and study those things that we took for granted for so many years. In the next post I will talk about one of those issues: headcovering.

*The majority of the material that I used in today's post was taken from Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics


BelovedPeace said...

I think it's so sad to see "0 Comments" so I had to comment! Hehe! ;-)
Nice post!
Say Hi to everyone!
Love, Amy :O)

jaz said...

I really enjoyed reading about your journey to reformed theology. While I am the wife of a Southern Baptist Pastor, I share your desire to find that right balance of deep theology and gracious, joyful love. I completely agree that churches tend to make these things mutually exclusive. I am thankful for the way reformed thinkers, including yourself, are making many profound truths so accessible; bringing them to the table, so to speak. Thank you!
-Jamie Z. :0)

Mommy Homemaker said...

This was very mind clearing. I understand your words better than anything else I have read on the reformed theology.

Studying over here and enjoying your blog. I linked by Fletch's.