Saturday, October 2, 2010

Division in the ranks

My heart has been grieved as of late with the news that a very well known evangelist came out in severe opposition of the doctrines of grace. I'm not talking about taking a strong position in what he believes, but saying that anyone who falls into the reformed camp believes in another god. I read blogs by some of my friends calling for peace among street evangelists who have a mutual passion, to proclaim forgiveness of sins through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. And I have seen some really angry street preachers. I suppose that whenever you have people together there is going to be some conflict along the way.

My own personal journey goes like this. God saved me 7 years ago while watching a program called "They sold their souls for Rock and Roll" which was put together by an organization called "Cross TV" which is anything but Arminian. Afterwards I began to attend a local Nazarene church where some friends of mine attended. I sat under some good teaching, and some bad. I must say that I dearly love those people whom invested in my life over those four years. But love and friendship aside, I mostly learned how to work myself into the ground thinking that God was pleased with me because of it.

One day I was looking for some music to listen to while I cleaned and I ran across a video that someone put together called "The revival Hymn". On this particular video was a preacher named Paris Reidhead. He began to talk about his first trip to Africa and the motivation behind it. He said that when he got there to tell these poor people how to get to heaven he found out that they had way more knowledge of God then he had ever dreamed. They loved their sin and wanted to stay in it. Mr Reidhead goes on to explain that he became angry with God and felt as if the whole thing was a mockery and a sham. Then one night he was alone in prayer and God revealed to him that he wasn't sent over there for those people. He wasn't sent over there for himself. But he was there for Christ's sake.

I stood at my kitchen sink with the water running and i'm sure a really dumb look on my face. I began to realize that I had been serving in the church to make up for the sin that was still in my life. I was working hard so that God would be pleased with me. It was a burden that I wouldn't carry much longer because God began to send more solid teaching my way. I began to understand that the ONLY reason that I was acceptable to God was because of Christ and anything more than that was based on my performance and works. Once I started to see myself for who I really was I understood that if my salvation depended on anything except Christ alone I was in trouble. And if I could lose my salvation, I would have lost it long ago.

I will end with this. I believe in the doctrines of grace. I wouldn't trade them for anything because it is by grace that I was saved, not of myself. I believe that no one can come to the Father unless they come through the Son. And I believe that no one can come to the Son unless the Father draws them. I stand firm on these things and I disagree with my brothers and sisters from the Arminian camp. But what I will not do is hate them or slander them! I will stand side by side with them to proclaim the gospel and even give my life to defend them. I can only hope that they would do the same for me.

Whenever I start a discussion with someone of an opposite view I will tell them up front that there are basically two types of people. Those who want to discuss issues with the hope of winning someone to their side. And those who just want to prove others wrong. Then I ask them which one they are and inevitably 100% of the time they will agree to the former. I believe with all my heart that there is room for that type of discussion. Minus all the name calling and bashing that is usually associated with a frustrated position. I put that type of thing right up there with burning books. In one of his blog posts Michael Horton of the White Horse Inn makes this comment about book burning. He says this "There is a long history of burning books when you don’t want to actually deal with the ideas that they promote. When the medieval church sponsored public bonfires of the Reformers’ writings, raw power seemed more convenient than reasoned argument. It’s an act of desperation." I realize that this is not in the same context in which Mr. Horton intended it, but I think that the truth transcends the subject at hand.

So on that note I will be using the title "Reformed" when I am asked where I stand. I will do it respectfully and with a smile on my face because I am humbled that A Holy God would save a vile sinner like me.

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