Why Calvinism Matters

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There is always debate surrounding Calvinism and Arminianism. Some wonder if the labels matter, if we should take strong stands on either side, if we should just let it go and pretend they aren’t there.

They do matter.

Often, the debate between these two surrounds salvation.

Calvinism holds that “if saved, always saved.” Arminianism tends to hold that one can lose their salvation.

Calvinism holds that God took the first step to rescue sinners, while Arminianism holds that we choose to follow Jesus and Jesus is excited when we pick his team.

For Revolution, we are on the Calvinist side of this discussion, but also believe (as most Calvinist do) that there is a choice we make. The Bible is clear that God chooses, elects, whatever word you want to use and takes the first step towards sinners (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 1:3 – 10), but there is also a choice we make (1 John 1:9).

What I think many miss in this discussion is this: Your view of God is affected by your view of salvation. 

For a Calvinist, God takes the first step. God loves you, chose you, rescued you from your sin before you knew you were a sinner. God was working behind the scenes of your life to draw to himself. God is sovereign, in control, nothing happens without his direction or permission.

This belief affects more than just salvation.

This affects how we view suffering, injustice, the hurt we experience and the graciousness of God in all things. It also shows the power of God to not only rescue us, but keep us in his hand so that we cannot lose our salvation.

To me, Calvinism is bigger than “did we choose God or did God choose us” and affects so much more.

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God Will Let You Have Your Sin

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I was reading Romans 1 the other day and while this passage is often used as to why homosexuality is a sin, I was struck by something else. There is a phrase in vs. 24 and 26 where Paul says, “God gave them up to their dishonorable passions.”

When we choose to sin, and yes, every time we sin we are choosing to sin.

God will allow us to make that choice and experience what comes from that choice. That wording, “gave them up” is a handing over.

Often, when we experience the ramifications of sin, we get angry at God. Why didn’t he intervene? He did, He allowed us to move forward.

The truth of the gospel is that God does and will rescue us from our sin. He does give us a way out of temptation. He also will allow us to have our sin.

Often we complain about the consequences of our sin. Why does God allow our sin to hurt ourselves, others? Why do we bear consequences for what we do wrong? Why are relationships broken because of words? Why do our actions lead to bankruptcy, broken trust? This falls into the area of what God allows.

His will is not for this to happen, but is what He allows.

There is grace found in our consequences. 

When we feel the consequences of our sin, we learn that God is indeed good. In our sin, we learn that God is better than our sin and the temptations we face.

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The Slowness of God’s Timing

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In the spiritual life God chooses to try our patience first of all by His slowness. He is slow; we are swift and precipitate. It is because we are but for a time, and He has been for eternity…There is something greatly overawing in the extreme slowness of God. Let it overshadow our souls, but let it not disquiet them. We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and the lightning, in the cold and the dark. Wait, and He will come. He never comes to those who do not wait. He does not go their road. When He comes, go with Him, but go slowly, fall a little behind; when He quickens His pace, be sure of it, before you quicken yours. But when He slackens, slacken at once: and do not slow only, but silent, very silent, for He is God. -Frederick Faber

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Heaven is for Real

With the movie Heaven is for Real coming out this week, I’ve gotten questions on whether I think this book and movie is worth seeing and reading and if it is true. This is the best thing I’ve found on it.

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Is Christianity Hard or Easy?

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The ordinary idea which we all have is that…we have a natural self with various desires and interests…and we know something called “morality” or “decent behavior” has a claim on the self…. We are all hoping that when all the demands of morality and society have been met, the poor natural self will still have some chance, some time, to get on with its own life and do what it likes. In fact, we are very like an honest man paying his taxes. He pays them, but he does hope that there will be enough left over for him to live on. The Christian way is different—both harder and easier. Christ says, “Give me ALL. I don’t want just this much of your time and this much of your money and this much of your work—so that your natural self can have the rest. I want you. Not your things. I have come not to torture your natural self…I will give you a new self instead. Hand over the whole natural self—ALL the desires, not just the ones you think wicked but the ones you think innocent—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. The almost impossibly hard thing is to hand over your whole self to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is remain what we call “ourselves”—our personal happiness centered on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, despite this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you cannot do. If I am a grass field—all the cutting will keep the grass less but won’t produce wheat. If I want wheat…I must be plowed up and re-sown. -C.S. Lewis, Quoted in The Reason for God

Comfort, Peace and Finding Something Greater

Made for Glory

Have you ever wondered what God is doing right now?

People often debate if God is real, why he allows things to happen that we deem not okay. But what is God doing this moment?

When your life is hard or uncomfortable, is he there? When a child rebels, a spouse walks out, finances run low or you fail a class, is he there?

This question has enormous implications on our daily lives. This gets to the heart of who God is, his love and care for us and our world, how we interact with Him today and how He interacts with us.

This Sunday, we’ll continue our series Made for Glory as we look at John 14:7 – 31. Particularly at verse 12 where Jesus says His followers will do greater works than He did. How is that possible?

If you have ever struggled with feeling the closeness of God, seeing the Holy Spirit move in your life or have wondered how to interact with God or how He interacts with you to bring you peace, comfort and wisdom into your life. This is going to be a great Sunday to be at Revolution.

To go with the day, here’s a new song that Paul is teaching that perfectly sums up this message. Listen and come ready to sing!

We will also be celebrating baptism. If you haven’t signed up yet, email Ciara Hull to get details.

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

“I Don’t Feel God’s Love”

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In talking with many people, I’m convinced one of the biggest roadblocks to faith, to living the life God created you to live (John 10:10) has to do with God’s love and accepting God as Father.

For many, this comes from their relationship with their earthly father. It is hard to see God as a good, gracious and loving Father if you experienced a father who always broke his promises, abused you, hurt you, was emotionally absent or walked out and abandoned you. Yet, in John 10, Jesus tells us a lot about God as a Father.

He tells us that he knows us (vs. 27), that his children follow him (vs. 27), that God gives his children life and that they will never perish (vs. 28), and that his children sit in the hand of God and no one or nothing will be able to snatch them out (vs. 29).

The image of sitting in the hand of God is so important. It gives us a picture of how close we as followers of Jesus are to God the Father. It shows his great care for us. It shows his protection of us. It also shows us that everything that comes our way must pass through the hand of God. 

Whether sin, temptation, suffering, pain, etc. All of this must pass through the hand of God to get to us. Not all of that comes from the hand of God, but it does not catch God by surprise.

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How the New Testament Came Together

Because the topic of today’s sermon brought up the question of “how we got the New Testament” and “Why can we trust the Canon.” I thought I would take this opportunity to pass along some great resources about the question.

It is an enormously important question and one all Christians should know the answer to and have confidence in. As a church, Revolution believes that all Scripture is inspired by God and authoritative to our lives (2 Timothy 3:16 – 17).

If you had some questions after today’s sermon on how the New Testament came together and why we can trust the New Testament, here are some things worth checking out:

Here’s a short video of D.A. Carson explaining how the New Testament came together:


Two respected scholars discuss why we can rely on the Scripture:

The 2 Kinds of People Who Like to Talk Theology

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On a Sunday, when someone walks up to a pastor and says, “Could we grab coffee this week, I would like to talk theology with you.”

There are 2 kinds of people who do this:

  1. Those who want to show the pastor how smart they are and let him know they disagree with him. 
  2. Those who want to learn and grow.

When a pastor has this question posed to them, rightly or wrongly, their defenses go up and they assume the person asking the question falls into category 1. The person in category 1 has no desire to grow. They will say they do, but the heart of their meeting is to disagree. They will interrupt the pastor while he talks at the meeting. This can happen verbally, but they definitely be getting their response ready in their head while he talks, meaning they aren’t listening. They will say things like, “I just wanted you to know.”

This person has no desire to be challenged, to hear they could be wrong. They don’t want to be humble. They want to disagree with the pastor or church and they want someone to know about it.

Now, the person in category 2 is different. I love meeting with the person in category 2. This person can be a new Christian or someone who has been following Jesus for 25 years. The heart of this person says, “I don’t know it all. I have genuine questions and I want to grow so that I can follow Jesus more fully.” I love meeting with this person. Their questions challenge me to follow Jesus more fully. Their questions make me think and the conversation is a genuine joy for me as a pastor. They want to know more because they know they don’t know it all and they know they could be wrong. They are willing to be challenged.

So, the next time you ask for some time with a pastor to talk theology. Ask, which category am I in? Which one do I want to be in? Which would serve the kingdom and the world better?

How we Should Approach Suffering

I’m very excited to read the new book from Tullian Tchividjian,Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free. Check it out…

In this world, one thing is certain: Everybody hurts. Suffering may take the form of tragedy, heartbreak, or addiction. Or it could be something more mundane (but no less real) like resentment, loneliness, or disappointment. But there’s unfortunately no such thing as a painless life. In Glorious Ruin, Tullian Tchividjian takes an honest and refreshing look at the reality of suffering, the ways we tie ourselves in knots trying to deal with it, and the comfort that the gospel brings for those who can’t seem to fix themselves—or others.

This is not so much a book about Why God allows suffering or even How we should approach suffering—it is a book about the tremendously liberating and gloriously counterintuitive truth of a God who suffers with you and for you. It is a book, in other words, about the kind of hope that takes the shape of a cross.

This looks great. Go grab it!

HT: Steve McCoy