Know Your Bible

VOL. 5                           April 30, 2006                           NO. 15

 Is The Word Of God Insufficient For

Our Spiritual Needs?

    Many in the religious world believe so, though they may not state it in those terms. In the book, The Five Points of Calvinism-Defined, Defended, Documented, by David Steele and Curtis Thomas, we find the following under their explanation of "The Efficacious call of the Spirit or Irresistible Grace:" "The gospel invitation extends a call to salvation to every one who hears its message. It invites all men without distinction to drink freely of the water of life and live. It promises salvation to all who repent and believe. BUT THIS OUTWARD GENERAL CALL, EXTENDED TO THE ELECT AND NON-ELECT ALIKE, WILL NOT BRING SINNERS TO CHRIST. (Emphasis is mine. Keep this sentence in mind--p.a.o.). Why? Because men are by nature dead in sin and are under its power. They are of themselves unable and unwilling to forsake their evil ways and to turn to Christ for mercy. Consequent-ly, the unregenerate will not respond to the gospel call to repentance and faith...

"Therefore, the Holy Spirit, in order to bring God's elect to salvation, extends to them a special inward call in addition to the outward call contained in the gospel message. Through this special call the Holy Spirit performs a work of grace within the sinner which inevitably brings him to faith in Christ...The Spirit creates within him a new heart or a new nature. This is accomplished through regeneration or the new birth by which the sinner is made a child of God and is given spiritual life...Thus the once dead sinner is drawn to Christ by the inward supernatural call of the Spirit who through regeneration makes him alive and creates within him faith and repentance.

"Although the general outward call of the gospel can be, and often is, rejected, the special inward call of the Spirit never fails to result in the conversion of those to whom it is made." (pgs. 48,49.)

    In essence, men and women can hear the gospel message all they want, but it can never save them. Only the "inward call of the Spirit" results "in the conversion of those to whom it is made."

    Of course this is the very opposite to what the Lord said the Spirit would do and to what He did! Jesus told the apostles that when the Holy Spirit came upon them, He would "convict the world in respect of sin, righteousness, and judgment." (Jn. 16:7,8) This is exactly what the Spirit did on Pentecost. But He did not do it through some "inward call of the Spirit." Rather, He did it through the preaching of the gospel message, what Calvinists say "will not bring sinners to Christ."

    When Peter preached on Pentecost he said, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words." (Acts 2:22). If the "general outward call of the gospel" "will not bring sinners to Christ," why preach it? As Peter continued his preaching, Luke recorded that "when they HEARD THIS (the gospel message Peter preached--p.a.o), they were pricked in their heart." (Acts 2:37) But according to Calvinists (which includes many Baptists) it is only the Spirit's "inward call" that "makes him alive and creates within him faith and repentance." The events on Pentecost prove that the Spirit works through the word He revealed through the apostles, not some "inward super-natural call" separate from the word of the gospel!

    Further, Acts 2:41 states, "Then they that received his word (not some "inward supernatural call" --p.a.o) were baptized". Those who "received the word" and "were baptized" were the same who were being "saved" (vs. 47), something Calvinists say is not supposed to happen! Therefore, Calvinism strips the power from the word the Spirit gave it to convict and convert sinners.

    I would just as soon rob God the Father of His all-sufficient wisdom by saying His plan and purpose to save men and women in Christ was insufficient (see Eph. 3:8-11) as to say, "but this outward general call, extended to the elect and non-elect alike, will not bring sinners to Christ." The first strips God of His all-sufficient and infinite wisdom; the second strips the Holy Spirit of His all-sufficient work in revealing "all truth."

    Concerning Jesus' sacrificial death Paul said, "Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost (completely--p.a.o.) them that draw near unto God through him." (Heb. 7:25). I would just as soon rob Jesus Christ of His all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins and say He needs to re-sacrifice Himself for every individual today as to say about the Spirit's work that "this outward general call, extended to the elect and non-elect alike, will not bring sinners to Christ."

    Let us worship the God who authorized the plan by which we can be saved, be thankful for the Christ who executed it by giving His life, and revere the Spirit's work in revealing the plan by studying it carefully, conforming our lives to its precepts.

---Phillip A. Owens

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SPIRITUAL APPETITE

    Most churches have classes on Lord's day and some through the week. It has been my experience that not more than two-thirds of the members attend. If admonished to attend, the one who does not attend has an excuse. As a rule, these excuses can be exposed as worthless alibis, trumped up AFTER the fact of not planning to attend the classes. Such a one is trying to quiet an uneasy conscience. He cannot let himself be truthful and say, "I simply do not care to attend these classes." This fellow may not know it, but he is on his way back to the beggarly elements of the world. A person need not tell me, with a straight face, that he loves the Lord and desires to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth," when he spends more time reading the sports page than he spends reading the Bible.

    David said of the righteous man in the first Psalm, "But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night." He does not read the Bible day and night, but he thinks of what he has read frequently. The law of the Lord is uppermost in his mind. I came, one day, upon brother J. Early Arceneaux hoeing in his garden. When we had exchanged greetings, the next thing he said was, "I was just thinking of a new argument on Mark 16:16." Arceneaux has forgotten more than some ever learn about the Bible, but he still has a voracious appetite for the knowledge of the truth. Let us examine ourselves for lack of spiritual appetite.

---Luther Blackmon

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Trends . . .

Just 17% of American adults say they make moral decisions based on the Bible, according to a new study. Other common means of making moral choices include doing what feels right or comfortable, 24%; doing whatever makes the most people happy or causes the least conflict, 9%; and pursuing whatever produces the most positive outcomes for the person, 7%.

- via The Barna Group

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