Saturday, October 06, 2007

John Newton's Calvinism

I was meditating on James 3:13-18 today. It speaks of recognizing Godly wisdom versus worldly wisdom with a particular application to teachers (see context ie James 3:1.) Check it out:

"Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. "

James 3:13-18 (ESV)

As I thought of the qualities of Godly wisdom versus worldly wisdom in this passage I thought of John Newton, the 18th Century pastor, theologian and hymn writer who displayed the meekness and purity of Godly wisdom James talks especially in how he held his "Calvinism"1.

Check out this quote:
“I believe a too hasty assent to Calvinistic principles, before a person is duly acquainted with the plague of his own heart, is one principal cause of that lightness of profession which so lamentably abounds in this day, a chief reason why many professors are rash, heady, high-minded, contentious about words, and sadly remiss as to the means of Divine appointment [they deny means of grace]. For this reason, I suppose, though I never preach a sermon in which the tincture of Calvinism man not be easily discerned by a judicious hearer, yet I very seldom insist expressly upon those points, unless they fairly and necessarily lie in my way.” 2

I want to hold and live out truth with the same humility, sober self-examination and gracious God-centered intent! Oh God, help me to avoid arrogance masquerading as doctrinal discernment and measure my orthodoxy by gentle and gracious Christlikeness according to James 3:13-18.

1. Calvinism, simply put, is the conviction, derived from the bible, that God is the ultimate source and final reason for our salvation in Christ.
2. John Newton as quoted by Josiah Bull in BUT NOW I SEE, Josiah Bull, Banner of Truth Trust, 1868 & 1998, p. 212-213.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Grieving the Holy Spirit and GameCube

I was reviewing my notes from Communion with God and came across this quote:
“We can also grieve the Holy Spirit in his work as Comforter. As Comforter, the Spirit seals us, anoints us, establishes us and gives us peace and joy. We grieve the Holy Spirit, firstly by placing our comforts and joys in other things and not being filled with joy in the Holy Spirit.” John Owen1

I was challenged to consider how I recreate and relax and whether some of my pursuits may grieve the Spirit, not because they are high-handed sin, but because I pursue them apart from fellowship with the Spirit. The extra time on GameCube last night didn't seem to be fellowship with God but trying to get to the next level in the game. Oh God, help me to always walk close to you in all things - even GameCube!

May you know joyful fellowship with the Holy Spirit in all your pursuits today!

God Bless,

1. John Owen, Communion with God, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991, p. 114