PRESENTING THE DOCTRINES OF SOVEREIGN GRACE TO BABES IN CHRIST
With regards to our family and friends accepting the Doctrines of Grace, I truly understand how frustrating it can be at times. But we must bear in mind that if anyone is truly regenerated (saved) they will by and by be led into ALL TRUTH. ‘The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day’. [Prov 4:18].
“The doctrine of Predestination is a doctrine for genuine Christians. Considerable caution should be exercised in preaching it to the unconverted. It is almost impossible to convince a non-Christian of its truthfulness, and in fact the heart of the unregenerate man usually revolts against it. If it is stressed before the SIMPLER TRUTHS of the Christian system are mastered, it will likely be misunderstood and in that case it may only drive the person into deeper despair. In preaching to the unconverted or to those who are just beginning the Christian life, our part consists mainly in presenting and stressing MAN’S PART in the work of salvation, faith, repentance, moral reform, etc. These are the ELEMENTARY STEPS so far as man’s consciousness extends. At that early stage little need be said about the deeper truths which relate to GOD’S PART.
As in the study of Mathematics we do not begin with algebra and calculus but with the simple problems of arithmetic, so here the better way is to first present the more elementary truths. Then after the Person is saved and has traveled some distance in the Christian way he comes to see that in his salvation God’s work was primary and his was only secondary, that he was saved through grace and not by his own works. As Calvin himself put it, the doctrine of Predestination is “not a matter for children to think much about”; and Strong says, “This doctrine is one of those advanced teachings of Scripture which requires for its understanding A MATURE MIND AND A DEEP EXPERIENCE. The beginner in the Christian life may not see its value or even its truth, but with INCREASING YEARS it will become a staff to lean upon.” [Systematic Theology, p. 368.] But while it is true that this doctrine cannot be adequately appreciated by the unconverted nor by those who are just beginning the Christian life, IT SHOULD BE THE COMMON PROPERTY OF ALL THOSE WHO HAVE TRAVELED SOME DISTANCE IN THAT WAY”. [Loraine Boettner]
It is worthy of notice that in developing his “Institutes” Calvin DID NOT treat the doctrine of Predestination in the early chapters. He first developed the other doctrines of the Christian system and DELIBERATELY passed over this even in several cases where we might naturally have expected to find it. Then in the LAST PART of his theological discussion it is developed fully and is made the crown and glory of the entire system.
And this is in line with the teaching method that our Lord exhibited. “And with many such parables spake He the word unto them, AS THEY WERE ABLE TO HEAR IT [Mark 4:33]. Now here’s something for us ‘Calvinists’ to consider – “as they were able to hear it!” He didn’t try to shove the whole truth down somebody’s throat thinking that that was WHAT WAS REQUIRED TO ‘SAVE’ THEM! And again on another occasion He said – “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them NOW! [Jn 16:12].
Milk for babes and strong meat to those who are of full age! [Hebrews 5:13,14] “And the servant of the Lord must not STRIVE; but be GENTLE unto all men, apt to teach, PATIENT . . . “ [2Tim 2:24]. WE CANNOT convince anyone of these ‘hard sayings’! IT HAS TO BE GIVEN FROM ABOVE! Like with Lydia, it is THE LORD who opens the heart OF His sheep to receive the Doctrines of Sovereign grace and rejoice in them! [Acts 16:14]
We should not make the mistake that many of us are often prone to make in our zeal for the truth, i.e. cram all the Five Points of Calvinism in one-sitting. As we said above we must imitate the Lord’s way in teaching – “I have yet MANY THINGS to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them NOW”. And again, “with many such parables spake He the word unto them, AS THEY WERE ABLE TO HEAR IT” [Mk4:33]. But no matter how long it takes we must make sure that the one we are teaching fully receives and understands what Jonah understood in the belly of the whale. i.e. “SALVATION IS OF THE LORD![Jonah 2:9].
So let us be patient brethren, and trust me if men are truly saved they will sooner or later see the truths of Sovereign Grace, and receive our testimony concerning this. “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error! [1John 4:6]