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Free Choice in Reformed Theology

The critique that in Reformed theology there is no free will is a great misunderstanding. Chapter IX of the Westminster Confession of Faith is entitled “Of Free Will”. Usually this misunderstanding is based off a different definition or lack of understanding of how free will/freedom is defined in Reformed theology. Therefore in the beginning we must define “freedom”. John Murray gives a helpful definition

Freedom is thus defined negatively and affirmatively, as the absence of compulsion and self-determination respectively.

In other words, freedom exists when the act with not from force and the person acts as they desire. This freedom is also the basis of accountability. Murray argues that a person is responsible for their actions because those actions are the outworking of the person’s will (or volition). Persons are responsible for their volitions because volitions are given energy by the person they belong to. It therefore follows that a person’s volition is an expression of who they are. It reflects their mind, their heart, their biases, and their prejudices.  (more…)

The Trinity is Foundational

The Reformed faith is framed by covenantal thinking. The covenants of Scripture are what you see when you take away everything related to Reformed faith and practice. At the foundation of our doctrines is the doctrine of the Trinity. We don’t look at the Trinity as one of the doctrines that are added on or part of another doctrine. The doctrine of the Trinity serves to structure all of our faith and practice. It’s all over our theology. It’s everywhere in worship (praying, singing, preaching, sacraments). And the Trinity is part of the life of the Christian. Herman Bavinck stated “The Father, the Son and the Spirit is above us, before us, and within us.”

In history, God reveals himself to Israel and they will agree, as part of their covenant, that they will serve God and him alone. God is one and he says in many places of Scripture that there are no other gods besides him. Part of conversion and repentance of the people who turned to God was that they would have to give up their false idols. By nature humanity had known that God existed and they knew the true God. But their sin kept them loving and serving idols rather than God. It was only when God worked in their hearts they could love him. (more…)

Beza: The Part of the Word of God called “Gospel”

The Part of the Word of God called “Gospel”: Its authority, why, how and for what end it was written

2940013596092_p0_v1_s260x420After we are made aware of the Law the Gospel is made all the brighter. While the Law produces fear, the Gospel produces hope. In the “Select Works of Theodore Beza”, Beza writes that, after we know the Law we “find the use and necessity of the Gospel”. Seeing a necessity and use of the Gospel, Beza makes a primary argument that there is only one Gospel.

To support the argument that there is only one doctrine of salvation that is called the Gospel. Beza argues the Gospel (Good News) was fully announced and declared to the world by Jesus Christ, the Apostles and recorded faithfully by the Evangelists.

Jesus

John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

The Apostles

John 17:8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

2 Cor 5:19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Cor 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Recorded by the Evangelists

Eph 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,

1 Pet 1:25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

It can be concluded, as Beza argues, that the doctrine of the Gospel was faithfully recorded as a protection against variances of other apparent versions of the Gospel. In support to preservation and recording of the Gospel, Beza makes three more arguments:

  1. They added nothing of their own as far as substance of the doctrine is concerned:
  2. They omitted nothing which is necessary for salvation.
  3. What the Apostles and Evangelists did write, was written in a way for even the simplest person to understand what is necessary for salvation.

(more…)

Quick Thought: Spurgeon and Why God Chose

“Ah! sir, the Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards.” I am sure it is true in my case; I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love.

Spurgeon, Charles H. (2010-05-14). A Defense of Calvinism (Kindle Locations 61-63).  . Kindle Edition. (more…)

Calvin’s Geneva – Calvin’s Thought to the Liturgy and the Order of Worship

John_Calvin_2In the last post I wrote about that prior to Calvin in Geneva there was William Farel. Farel was instrumental in cleansing Geneva from all the remaining superstitious traditions of Rome but he wasn’t equipped to be the person to replace their forms of worship. Calvin, however, was equipped and in a very methodical and thoughtful manner put together a liturgy and Order of Worship that would remain influential for the Reformed tradition for centuries. In this post I will show that while Calvin wanted to return to a historic pure form of worship he was still a pastor that was mindful of the fragile souls in his ministry. (more…)

The Finality and Sufficiency of Scripture Part 2 of 2

image70Part 1 is here

We are completely dependent upon Scripture. This should be most obvious because without it, we are deprived of the revelatory Word from God. Without Scripture we are wanting and lacking counsel from God concerning “all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life.” (Murray, 20) The finality of Scripture demands that those who profess commitment to Christ and the church in its collective capacity “direct all thought, activity, objective by this Word as the revelation to us of God’s mind and will.” (20) (more…)

The Finality and Sufficiency of Scripture Part 1 of 2

image70Part 2 is here

Reading through John Murray and his collected writings I have come across an interesting chapter in volume 1, “The Finality and Sufficiency of Scripture”. I found it a helpful reminder for us in a time when such a position may seem out-dated or irrelevant. We are at a pivotal point in our society. Now, more than ever, we must affirm our position of the finality and sufficiency of Scripture. This doctrine, cannot be  taken for granted. It is still worth our time and careful examination. (more…)