Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wiersbe on Calvinism

This miracle [the new birth] all began with God: we were chosen by the Father (Eph. 1:3-4).  This took place in the deep counsels of eternity, and we knew nothing about it until it was revealed to us in the Word of God.  This election was not based on anything we had done, because we were not even on the scene.  Nor was it based on anything God saw that we would be or do.  God's election was based wholly on His grace and love.  We cannot explain it (Rom. 11:33-36), but we can rejoice in it.

'Foreknowledge' does not suggest that God merely knew ahead of time that we would believe, and therefore He chose us.  This would raise the question.'Who or what made us decide for Christ?'  and would take our salvation completely out of God's hands.  In the Bible, 'to foreknow' means 'to set on's love upon a person pr persons in a personal way.'  It is used this way in Amos 3:2: 'You only have I known of all the families of the earth.'  God set His electing love on the nation of Israel.  Other verses that use 'know' in this special sense are 1 Corinthians 8:3, John 10:14, 27; Matthew 7:23; and Psalm 1:6.

But the plan of salvation includes more than the Father's electing love; it also includes the work of the Spirit in convicting the sinner and bringing him to faith in Christ.  The best commentary on this is 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.  Also, the Son of God had to die on the cross for our sins, or there could be no salvation.  We have been chosen by the Father, purchased by the Son, and set apart by the Spirit.  It takes all three if there is to be a true experience of salvation.

I don't want to put words into his mouth, but I rather suspect that Dr Wiersbe (incidentally one of the most gracious men I have ever met) would not want the label 'Calvinist'.  And there's no reason why he should; we don't contend for labels but for truth.  Nonetheless, this extract from his little commentary on 1 Peter ('Be hopeful') shows his commitment to unconditional election, does more than hint at effectual calling and is consistent with definite redemption.  Good on 'im!


Anonymous said...

I've often wondered about Wiersbe's position on these matters. He doesn't often spell it out as clearly as he has here. It's on the subject of regeneration that I would be intrigued to know what he believes. We believe that theologically the new birth precedes faith, even if chronologically it takes place at the same time. Here is Wierbsbe's predecessor's take on the subject Theodore Epp of the Back to the Bible broadcast: "As the heart closes around the Word by faith, God the Spirit quickens it and gives the fruit.." Doesn't Warfield say that effectual calling lies at the heart of the reformed faith? The initiative must be the Lord's.

Philip Collinson

xlpharmacy said...

This is a great article, indeed we need to pray in these last days.

Gary Benfold said...

Dear Anonymous,

Anonymous comments aren't allowed. If you want to repost your comment with a name, I'll respond to it.

edandeb said...

I think any serious follower of Christ would not want the label 'calvanist', as Christ is quite clear about the carnal Christian who says, "I am of _____fill in the blanks, and I am of Paul... As God in His Word says, was Paul crucified for you? I am so grieved at the backwards march of Christianity as they fight over whether they are followers of a bunch of dead guys. Do we or do we not serve the Living God? And is He not the One that died that we might be saved? Perhaps if as much time were spent on the Bible listening to the Lord as reading the Institutes, growing in wisdom, we would have a changed world instead of a bunch of baby Christians arguing over who is going to be king of the hill. Meanwhile the ship is sinking!