What Calvinism SHOULD Produce: Salvation
by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
Scripture: Isaiah 6
The Doctrine of Salvation:
According to the Calvinist, sinful man is in need of not just some kind of assistance to save himself, but the absolute need for God to do the saving. The Calvinist believes that Jesus Christ has come not to nudge, suggest, hint at, or even help a person save themselves. Instead, Jesus has come to do the saving, to do so through the Holy Spirit prevailing in the act. This is at the root of the Calvinistic doctrine of salvation, also known in theological terms as “soteriology.” Now, if this is true, it should lead to at least two things in the life of the individual. Those two things are:
First, it should lead to an authentic and honest examination of oneself through Scripture.
Note that I did not say some kind of unbalanced or neurotic introspection. What I said was “authentic” and “honest” by way of “Scripture.” By this kind of self-examination I simply mean obedience to passages like 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” I'm referring to obedience regarding 2 Peter 1:10, “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure” and other similar New Testament instruction, “Let no man deceive himself”; “let no man deceive you”; “be not deceived;” etc. All I'm saying is we have a duty to Scripture.
The question to be asked at this point is, “Has God done a work in me?” The question is not, “Have I accepted Christ?” instead it is, “Has He accepted me?” The concern is not, “Have I found the Lord?” but, “Has the Lord found me?”
The life of one adopted by God, one who God did do a work in, one who Christ did accept, one who the Lord has found, will show evidence of this incredible relationship. They will produce the fruit of a Christian life. They will indeed perform “good works,” not because they save or keep us saved, but because Ephesians 4:1 tells us to live holy and without blemish. They will continue to produce fruit because Titus 2:14 tells us Christ gave himself for us and as a result we will be “zealous of good works.”
I am not presenting the above, nor the following, to illicit guilt, I just believe living obediently, striving for holiness, as Calvin taught it, has been put on a shelf and left there to gather dust as far as our current culture reflects. A common term among Calvinists is predestination. But to what end exactly have we been predestined? Romans 8:29 says, “Whom he foreknew he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.”So then, we must ask ourselves: “is God’s electing purpose being realized in me?”
“He chose me in Christ that, being purchased in time and called in time, I might begin to be holy in time, and have that work perfected in eternity. The only assurance I have that I was purchased to be holy, and will be perfected in holiness, is that I am pursuing holiness here and now. Essentially holiness is conformity to the revealed will of God in thought, word and deed, through the power of the Holy Spirit and through union with Jesus Christ. Holiness, godliness, this is the evidence that his electing purpose has come to life and fruition and it finds its expression in obedience.”*
Second, these doctrines will lead to the SANE biblical striving of practical godliness. I have come up with three things this should bring about:
1. A healthy distrust of oneself. If I realize and remember that the corruption that is still in me is like a pile of dried firewood soaked in lighter fluid and that each temptation I face is like a lit match , it's going to go a long way in helping prevent me from even toying with sin. Personally I came out of a bit of a legalistic, narrow minded background. It came complete with a checklist of do's and do not's, but then I discovered the truth of the freedom I have in Christ. But I dare not use my new found liberty as a license to sin. I recognize that I am free in Christ, but I also know I have a terrible propensity to evil within me, so I remain on guard and in prayer.
2. An attitude of prayer. Salvation belongs to the Lord. It his His work from the beginning to end? Since this is true he must help us, and his help is given to those who pray for it. He must “work in me to will and to do of his good pleasure,” and I need to ask him to do it. Scripture shows the incredible connection of those two things: “God’s covenant promise to do something sovereignly and powerfully, joined with his command to his people to ask him for the very thing he has pledged to do.”**
3. Faithful dependence on God to fulfill all things. When I sin, does God toss me aside? Of course not. Proverbs 24:16 tells us, “A just man falleth seven times and riseth up again.” My obedience is not the basis for my justification. I repeatedly need to come to the throne of Christ because of my lack of obedience. One does not “come to Christ” as some kind of final step. I fail to obey and therefore need to repeatedly “come to Christ,” not for salvation but for confession and strength.
So what should Calvinism produce in one's life? What are the results in the life of a Calvinist? If they see God, it will break them; and if they understand that God saves sinners, it will make them a trusting, prayerful, alert person striving for a life of practical holiness. I am completely convinced that Calvinism best represents the systematic teaching of all of God's Word. May God reveal that truth to those who have yet to discover it, and may we live out our lives in a way that makes us eager to one day hear our Lord say to us, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”
*Quoted from Martin, “The Practical Implications.....” (see part one).