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Predestination - Election and the non-reformed

Discussion in 'Semper Reformanda' started by AndOne, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. AndOne

    AndOne Formerly known as Behe's Boy

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    Is it possible for someone who believes in salvation through faith and the perseverence of the saints but does not hold to predestination (as our good friend Van over on the Soretology forum) to be truly saved. In other words - they believe that on the basis of their own "will" they chose to believe in Christ and are thus saved. Also - what about those who believe its possible to loose your salvation? Are they really saved?

    The reason I ask this question is because I have recently learned that the church that I go to (which is Reformed Baptist) is considering aligning with the "Soverign Grace Ministries" out of Gaithersburgh, MD. What I have read about them on their website is very encouraging - however two things about them have me concerned.

    1) They are Charismatic - and do believe in the effectual working of the gifts in this day and age. Though I don't necessarily disagree with this per se - I have yet to find a church that practices the gifts that doesn't abuse them or misuse them....

    2) Although they specifically reference TULIP as core to their doctrinal beliefs and display a comprehensive understanding and acceptance of election - I came across a statement in which they basically said it is very possible to be saved and not believe in predestination or in the perseverence of the saints. For some reason the fact that they made this statement bothers me. I'm not sure why. Perhaps its because it leaves the impression that you can have membership in one of their churches even if you don't buy into election. I am also torn in that I have to ask the question how much a person really knows what salvation is if they think they can loose it?

    Anyway back to my origonal question - I would appreciate some your thoughts and insight on it.
     
  2. theseed

    theseed Contributor

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    Salvation is not based on works, but comes by God's choice. Having the right theology does not save you. I'm sure there are Calvinists in hell just as there are Arminianists.
     
  3. James1979

    James1979 Regular Member

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    I agree with theseed but no one is in hell yet because there has not been a trial yet(standing before the throne of Judgment i.e. Last Day)
     
  4. CoffeeSwirls

    CoffeeSwirls snaps back wash after wash...

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    This does bring up a good point. Calvin doesn't save anyone. You can believe that the Lord saves and not be granted faith and repentance. It is unlikely that you would accept this doctrine if the Lord hasn't elected you, but I suppose it could happen.

    About the merge you mentioned, I'd discuss this with your pastor and ask him if your church would be including charasmatic practices into the service. If someone stands up and begins speaking in tongues, would this bear the same weight as the scriptures, for example.

    Question: do you mean that your denomination is considering such an alliance or is it your church itself? Also, how much freedom does your local church have to govern its own affairs? Some denominations send a listing to the churches regarding what is to be preached and sung each week, and I would be cautious if that is the case.
     
  5. AndOne

    AndOne Formerly known as Behe's Boy

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    Good points - thanks guys!

    In answer to your question Coffee Swirls - it is just the church (not denomination) that is seeking the alliance.
     
  6. hooverbranch

    hooverbranch New Member

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    I would agree mostly because God does save and to understand the Five Points and except them is not what gets you to heaven.
     
  7. CoffeeSwirls

    CoffeeSwirls snaps back wash after wash...

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    I believe that there are gifts of the spirit in use today, but not all gifts are still used. Before the Bible was complete, there were certain miracles used to help those who didn't believe see that the church was of God. Healings, tongues, prophesy and other gifts were granted, but only until the Word was complete. Teaching, encouragement and other gifts go on today. I would ask for a more comprehensive list of what they mean by "spiritual gifts" to see if they are truly charasmatic in the sense that a spoken word could be as valid in the service as scripture.

    Revelelation 22:18-19
    I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

    Also, though the doctrines of grace do not save, I am concerned that they don't believe in predestination in any sense. The Bible seems pretty clear in this.

    Romans 8:28-30
    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    And no belief in the perseverence of the saints? Where is the blessed hope? If you can be chosen by God, as they do preach the 5 (or 4) points, why would they doubt that one? Limited Atonement is usually the one that people are more likely to stumble on, not perseverence! I'd let the decision makers of the church know that you are concerned about this proposed alliance. Why do they think such a merge is necessary for a church that teaches something different than this group?

     
  8. AndOne

    AndOne Formerly known as Behe's Boy

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    Hi Coffee Swirls -

    I think you misunderstood me. The "Soverign Grace ministries" definately believe in all the five points of Calvanism and aggressively teach them - at least from what I see on their web site. But they did make the statement that they would accept and attempt to find common ground with those who do not accept all the five points of Calvansim. In other words - they wouldn't shun someone just because they disagreed on the five points. I suppose that is not a bad thing - but it causes me some concern since I believe they are integral to a clear understanding of grace/salvation.
     
  9. theseed

    theseed Contributor

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    Hades*
     
  10. CoffeeSwirls

    CoffeeSwirls snaps back wash after wash...

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    I'd be more concerned about extra-biblical instruction than about the five points. Do you know if they will be seeking "new" ways to worship God? Is this a way to get the emergent church movement ideals included in your worship? What does your pastor plan to teach and how involved with this organization be in your ministry? I can handle a < 5-pointer, though I will debate him. I wouldn't allow my family to be subjected to extra-biblical worship, though.
     
  11. HGFireStarter2k3

    HGFireStarter2k3 Member

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    Hello Behe's Boy,

    I have several friends whom attend Covenant Life Church (Joshua Harris is presently the senior pastor), which is the leading church in Sovereign Grace Ministries (which is more a family or network of churches, not a denomination). I have been to several of their services, as well as to two conferences sponsored by them, so I have had a good deal of exposure to them.

    As it concerns their doctrine, they definitely hold to Reformed essentials, and their manner of expositional Bible preaching reflects it. To hear Joshua Harris, C.J. Mahaney, or any of their pastors preach and teach is to hear them preach meaty messages with biblical and doctrinal substance. You will not hear self-help, feel-good messages there. The teaching coming through Sovereign Grace Ministries is firmly anchored in the Gospel, in Christ's work on the cross.

    Regarding the manifestation of charismatic gifts, from the gatherings I've attended, spiritual gifts are administrated in such a way as to contribute to the life and flow of what God is doing in the meeting. In the corporate celebration, when individuals feel they have a word of scripture or prophetic utterance, they will first share it with an elder, who will evaluate the word, then decide whether it is appropriate to share that moment. Prophecies, which may sometimes be given in first-person language, are not delivered in a dogmatic, authoritative manner. That which is for edification, exhortation, and comfort is what is spoken. The understanding is that congregational prophecy is subject to the authority of Scripture, and must be tested by that standard. Sometimes Bob Kauflin, the worship pastor at CLC, will sing a spontaneous prophetic song, and the times I've witnessed this, it has been of great blessing and assurance to those present. Regarding tongues, though they believe in speaking/praying in tongues, they do not make it a necessary manifestation for all, like the A/G "initial evidence" of Spirit baptism. Neither have I heard any public out-loud speaking in tongues in any of their gatherings. From what I've witnessed regarding these things, Sovereign Grace people are very orderly in these things, so I don't think you'll be witnessing any Toronto-style manifestations anytime soon.

    On the matter of worship, it is very biblically grounded. Many songwriters in the Sovereign Grace Ministries family of churches have penned songs which are profoundly biblical and doctrinally sound. If you didn't know any better, if you read the lyrics of some of their songs, you'd think they were old hymns. The nature of worship there is also very vertical, God-focused, and Cross-centered, with the work of Christ being the main thing. As for expressive worship like lifting hands, clapping, kneeling, bowing, etc., those are biblical expressions of worship. Are we not commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Worship engages the whole of man, not just segments or parts. Even we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, and we offer the sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of our lips giving thanks unto Him. Those are physical actions with spiritual significance.

    Anyways, just thought I'd post my thoughts, since I've got contact with friends that are part of this movement. I highly recommend them.

    Peace,

    Jose
     
  12. AndOne

    AndOne Formerly known as Behe's Boy

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    Jose -

    Thanks for the insight - its good to hear from someone that has actually attended one of their services. I'm not sure how close we are to aligning with the Soverign Grace Ministries - but my pastor (who is also a good friend) is seriously and prayerfully considering it. I also know that at least one of our elders is very high on them. After looking at their website - I am quite impressed with their pastors college and the ways in which they plant churches around the world - but - read on....

    Like Coffee Swirls I also have concerns with the employment of the gifts - though for different reasons I think. It sounds like they are very orderly but the fact that the pastor seems to be the primary mode of prophetic utterances really causes me concern. Of course they will say that they are subject to the authority of scripture - but when you are the head pastor and making all of the prophecies and having all others filtered through the elders - well who is going to question you - the potential for abuse or at the least misuse seems to be high. I'm not saying that this is the case with these churches - but what happens when someone does question a prophecy uttered by the pastor? If it can be support by scripture - great! But what if it can't be? See where I am going with this?

    Like I've said in other posts - I've spent too much time and witnessed too much rediculousness from the Word of Faith type churches as well as the AOG - so even though they are Reformed and solid in doctrine (from what I've seen) - my past experience from charasmatic involvement has me a little on edge - especially after reading your post, Jose! It is something I am going to have really discuss with my pastor - and also very prayerfully consider should they decide to go this route.

    Thanks again though for your post - its nice to see that someone other than myself knows about them!
     
  13. HGFireStarter2k3

    HGFireStarter2k3 Member

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    Hello again ^_^

    Regarding prophetic activity in public worship, from what I have witnessed at Covenant Life Church Sunday celebrations, the times I've heard a prophetic word, to my knowledge, it was not anybody on the pastoral team. That is not to say that the pastors don't ever prophesy, but it seems prophetic utterances are not limited to those on staff. As for elders screening or filtering words to see whether they are appropriate for sharing in a Sunday service, take this into account: Covenant Life Church has over 3,000 people attending Sunday morning worship gatherings. In such a gathering, there may be many prophetically sensitive individuals whom are receiving a sense of the same thing God is doing. Some might be receiving portions that together make the whole picture of what the Holy Spirit is ministering. Though one may want to "launch out" from their seat and speak forth what they have (which is more suitable for a smaller church or home group), it would be impractical in a larger meeting, as the word may not be heard by all, as well as there being the risk of some oddball spouting off something totally off-the-wall, which quenches the Spirit's work. By having a system set up whereby an elder is in charge of the prophetic microphone, testing and filtering words, there can be avoidance of repetitiveness (sometimes called by some "confirmation"), complementary words are enabled, and the meeting continues to flow in the proper direction.

    About the the situations you've mentioned of pastors prophesying, and the potential for abuse and misuse increasing, that is where the people need to be well-versed in biblical doctrine, and be encouraged by their pastors to test prophetic utterances according to the Word. The pastors also need to be humble enough to admit when they messed up, and apologize. I can see where you're going with this, but it is important to make room for the gifts and use them correctly, cuz they can be of great blessing.

    If you want to get a clearer understanding of where Sovereign Grace Ministries stands regarding the exercise of charismatic gifts, feel free to check out the following series:

    The Giver and The Gifts: A Charismatic Perspective(taught by C.J. Mahaney, Dave Harvey, and Jeff Purswell).

    Here is also the link to a sermon outline by Dave Harvey (senior pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA), entitled Pondering the Prophetic in the Shadow of Antioch.

    Blessings to you, I pray you will follow God's Word and will in these matters.

    Peace,

    Jose
     
  14. AndOne

    AndOne Formerly known as Behe's Boy

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    Jose -

    Thanks for the insight brother - and the links - I'll be sure to check them out!

    Dave
     
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