What Calvinism SHOULD Produce: Introduction
by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
Scripture: Isaiah Chapter 6
B. B. Warfield describes Calvinism as “that sight of the majesty of God that pervades all of life and all of experience.” Or, to put it bluntly, “God saves sinners.” Whenever doctrinal statements in Scripture are presented God wants us to understand them but He also wants us to know the effects of them on our personal lives. For instance, the profound doctrines found within chapters 1 -3 of the book of Ephesians are directly followed by how to apply those doctrines to life and experience in chapters 4 - 6. Not only are we to gain knowledge from Scripture, but our lives should be transformed by them as well.
So, what are the personal results, or implications, of Calvinism both in our personal lives and in our ministries? How is our personal life impacted as separate from our ministry, and in addition, how is our ministry impacted as separate from our personal lives.
Of course there is no way these can be totally and completely separated. One cannot fully isolate who you are from what you do. My goal here in separating them is simply to bring these principles into sharp focus. Let me also state that I have no intention of implying these two areas are set apart in fixed categories.
In defining Calvinism the renown B. B. Warfield used words strong in an experimental nature. He used “apprehension” and “realisation” which primarily relate to understanding, but they reach beyond that as well. When he uses words like “seen God,” “filled on the one hand with a sense of his own unworthiness,” “adoring wonder,” “thinking, feeling and willing,” he is using words related to experience.* What Warfield is really getting at is that no one is really a Calvinist, no one is truly biblical in their thinking of God, no one really lives the Doctrines of Grace , no one is truly evangelical until these concepts have been etched into every aspect of their experience.** “In other words, Warfield would say that an academic Calvinist is a misnomer, as much as to speak of ‘a living corpse’ is a misnomer. When the soul and the body are separate death has taken place, and Warfield would teach us that when the soul of Calvinistic thought is dead or absent, all that remains is a carcase, a stench in the nostrils of God, and so often a stench in the church when found in a minister.”***
Now, keeping all of this in mind, let's turn to Isaiah 6 and read it together.
Okay, so here we have a record showing how God created a true Calvinist, how God brought an individual to a real vision of the depth of the majesty of God so as to affect him in a way that his life would never be the same again. What was the first thing in this vision that kind of slapped Isaiah across the face? It was the sight of God as the high and lofty One, seated upon a magnificent throne, so that whatever else might be brought forth in the vision — the holiness of God, the grace of God, the forgiveness of God —it is radiating outward from a position of rulership and enthronement: “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.” This incredible display of the Lord as King produced several notable results in the life of Isaiah.
*Inspired by, and adapted from, Warfield, B.B., “Calvinism as Theologian and Calvinism Today.”
**Inspired by, and adapted from, Martin, Albert N., “The Practical Implications of Calvinism.”
***Quoted from Martin, “The Practical Implications...”