Wednesday, March 31, 2010

God's Work in My Heart

A friend offered two critiques to my previous post that I wanted to post for everyone else to see. I think that these critiques are helpful in thinking about these things and they also led into what I wanted to say next, more as a note of personal application. So here are the two critiques:

1. You mentioned that there are Arminian passages and Calvinist passages. I think I have to disagree in the sense that I think a Biblical framework such as the one laid out by Calvin can explain said 'Arminian passages' and therefore they shouldn't be called 'Arminian passages'. (I do understand why you used the term.)

2. I am of the opinion (not fact, but opinion) that strong believers who are Arminian might not have fully thought out their theology and may very well be functional Calvinists. I think Calvinism just sounds unsavory to minds that have not been trained to see their God as more than merely a loving Friend and that have not thought deeply about the character (and purpose) of God. That's just what I think, though.

So I was thinking about all of these things the other day, actually in response to reading a blog on the love of Christ for God. In that post he stated that "We show that we remain in the love of Christ when we obey [the Father], but this obedience is not legalistic or offered up in a mercenary spirit of selfish gain, it is obedience motivated by pure love and given for the end of the glorification of the Father to whom it is offered." Recently I found myself in a place where I believed that my salvation was completely the work of God, by His grace, through His faith, because of His love, but I found that my life was being lived as if the faith was my own, as if it was by what I was doing that I could/would draw near to God.

As I inspected my heart through the Holy Spirit I found that the reason I was in this place was because I didn't know why God calls some but not others, and this caused uncertainty in my heart. I didn't want to humbly rely on God to work in my heart, I wanted control of my own heart, so that I could come to God in my way and my time. But God says that He draws us, and that if we are His we will not be lost. That it is not in our control, but it is God who works in our heart through the Holy Spirit. This is the hard teaching of John 6 that caused many of Jesus followers to turn away from him. I found that I was in this place where I believed that it was only by the work of the Spirit in my life that I can follow God, but at the same time I was living in a certain way just in case it had something to do with my will. Just in case my actions mattered, then I was good, because I was seeking God. But I was seeking out of a selfish fear of what would happen if I didn't seek rather than out of the love coming from a heart transformed by the Gospel. What legalism!

Here's what I realized though. By doing this I was walking in the flesh. By doing this I was loving myself rather than God. By doing this I was exalting and glorifying myself because I was seeing my actions as my own rather than God's work. By professing monergism with my mouth but living a synergistic lifestyle I was glorifying God and drawing near to Him with my lips, but my heart was far from Him. Now, lest you think I am not a Christian, the Spirit was still moving in my heart, indeed it was by him that I realized any of this, and he was gently calling me back to himself. But I share this with you because I believe that if you examine your heart you may find some of these same roots there. You may find yourself walking in the flesh, out of a love for yourself, rather than out of the love that God has placed in your heart. You may find yourself a professing Calvanist but a functional Arminian. Or worse, you may find yourself a professing sinner redeemed by the blood of Christ only to find that you are a sinner relying on the works of the flesh to bring you before a holy God. God called me to return to Him. God reminded me that to love him is to say, "Though you slay me still I'll follow." To have such a love in my heart for Him that I will seek to glorify Him with my life even if when I die He casts me into the pit of Hell. This is what I want my life to be, and I believe that this is what He wants as well.

May you walk on your knees, crying out to God your Father to give you the strength. May you always walk full of confidence and grace, knowing that the price was paid in full and there is nothing more for you to add to it. May you not trust in yourself, but be freed by the truth that it is through Christ alone, and the working of the Spirit in your heart, that you can do any good. May you be filled with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding, in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully give thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

***I realize that I am assuming in this that my reader's hold to a monergistic Scriptural interpretation. This is somewhat because I think that most of my reader's do, but it is also because I was relaying a personal encounter with the Spirit, so it obviously was tainted by my own interpretations of Scripture. If you hold to a synergistic view of the work of the Holy Spirit then you can either disregard what I have said above or post a comment stating your thoughts.***


  1. I like your comment at the bottom. But I think for the most part only monergistic folk actually use those terms...haha.

    Thought it was only fair to read your blog if you're reading mine. Maybe we can swap thoughts and help each other out. I have a big post coming up this week...three parts on the question 'Is the Christian Life enviable?'

  2. I have fallen behind recently in my regular posting and reading, but I am going to work on getting back into it. I have 48 unread posts in my google reader, but I'll start with yours :)