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December 13, 2010

NOTES FROM DENNIS FISCHER: A hearty, warm welcome to all!

Most of what we learn in life we learn from others. This realization is the inherent capstone and philosophy of continuing education. Consequently, I highly value reading and sharing gems that one can truly believe in—notably quotes from respected Christian authors. It is my plan to share a wide variety of gems for your consideration in the weeks, months, and years ahead. I will begin by sharing some snackbars for the soul from the sermon archives of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the renowned "Prince of Preachers" as follows:  "The Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else he would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards."

Moreover, Spurgeon aptly declared that "The doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works...There is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified; unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism, Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else." It is actually unfortunate that Calvinism (being more specific than Augustinianism) bears a person's name. In spite of some key differences, Augustine and Calvin basically taught the same soteriological view that the Apostles and Jesus upheld as well (notably on Christology, free will, human depravity, saving grace, justification, sanctification, glorification, nature of man, adoption, divine election, and predestination). Interestingly, Martin Luther wrote more about predestination (foreordination) than John Calvin did.

Charles Spurgeon further adds, "If it was Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorable has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake of fire which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. He has punished Christ, why should He punish twice for one offense? Christ has died for all His people's sins, and if thou art in the covenant, thou are one of Christ's people. Damned thou canst not be. Suffer for thy sins thou canst not. Until God can be unjust, and demand two payments for one debt, He cannot destroy the soul for whom He died." George Whitefield declared, "We are all born Arminians. It is grace that turns us into Calvinists."

The Apostle Paul concludes: "So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy...So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills" (Romans 9:16,18 ESV). These Pauline passages are the coup de grace to Arminianism and Semi-Pelagianism. This is the Word of God that requires all Christians to cease and desist from views of predestination that make the ultimate decision for salvation to rest in the fallen will of man. Salvation is a gift to be received, not a goal to be achieved. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. It's all about Him! Unfortunately, Francis Bacon was right when he wrote that "Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true."

When you look at Romans 8:29-30, you don't have to be a grammarian or a linguist to see who does everything.  God foreknew; God predestined; God called; God justified; God glorified.  God is the subject of all these verbs.  God is the one who does it all. Jesus told His disciples, "You did not choose me, but I chose you" (John 15:16). This doesn't make us robots who don't make a choice. The truth is that every Christian really does choose Jesus, but any choice we make for the Lord flows out of God's choice of us. "For my salvation comes from the Lord alone" (Jonah 2:9 NLT).

If you know Jesus as your Savior, rejoice that God chose you.  It's exciting--but it's also humbling.  We might like to think that we choose God, but God's choice comes first.  And God doesn't base His choice on anything He sees in us.  If God has chosen to save you, it's not because He saw something impressive in you but only because of His love. The call in Romans 8 refers not only to that general call (common grace) but also to the inner, individual call (saving grace) by which God opens a person's stony heart so that each believer knows that God is calling personally. Jesus said that a shepherd "calls his own sheep by name and leads them out...his sheep follow him because they know his voice" (John 10:3-4 NIV).

When God calls you, eternity touches time. You realize God is calling you by name. You repent of your sin.  You trust in Jesus. And as you trust in Him, you discover that you have been loved with an everlasting love, that you were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world was laid. That's why those who are called can preach with such unshakable confidence. It's not your grip on God that keeps you safe but rather it's God's grip on you.  And no one can "snatch" you out of His firm hand (John 10:28-29).

Sound doctrine is taught here daily.  Stop by often!

His grace still amazes me,

Dennis Fischer
Web Chaplain
E-mail: dfministries@gmail.com
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