Points from the President
Posted by donna on April 4, 2017
For centuries, church theologians, both scholarly and novice, have been in a bitter struggle about the moment and manner of conversion. This doctrine of salvation has divided serious students and orthodox believers into two camps.
Arminians, following the teachings of Jacobus Arminius, believe that every person, having been made in the image of God, can apply faith in their life. Arminians know that salvation is the gracious gift of God to people, but each person must apply their faith, as small as it is, to receive and activate the salvation freely offered and made known through the Holy Spirit. In short, faith precedes regeneration. Followers of John Wesley and all the denominations that come from that camp would hold to this belief. This would include our friends in the Salvation Army, as well as many brands of the more charismatic or Pentecostal denominations.
Calvinists, following the teachings of John Calvin, hold that God in His grace, supplies believing faith to a person. Faith then, is the demonstration of that regeneration. The first activity of the Holy Spirit is effectually calling a person into salvation. Calvin, as did many reformers, taught that regeneration, or being made alive in spirit, precedes believing faith. A person hears the words of Christ to no effect, unless God makes them alive (regeneration), receiving the faith from God to believe, and then receiving the benefits of salvation freely given in Christ.
This giving of regeneration prior to faith and conversion is due to the bondage of the will (the readers are encouraged to get Luther’s Bondage of the Will) to sin and depravity. Being dead in sin and trespasses, a person needs to be made alive (given faith) before they can receive and accept salvation. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2: 1-5). Man, left to himself will always resist the grace of God, even when grace is demonstrated. What makes grace irresistible, is God’s determinative action of regeneration, otherwise known as effectual Call.
This doctrine is known as irresistible grace. Irresistible, because once applied to a person, they are brought to repentance and regeneration because it is an act of God, who cannot be resisted once He has willed to act. This doctrine is also known as operative grace or, from the Greek, Monergistic - regeneration. This simply means that regeneration is an act of God, solely by God, without the co-operation or “synergy” of a person.
In the words of R.C. Sproul,” Effectual calling (see Westminster Confession of Faith 10-1) is effectual because in it and by it God effects exactly what He intends in the operation: the quickening of spiritually dead souls to spiritual life. Calling refers to the Holy Spirit’s inward or secret operation on the soul.” (What is Reformed Theology? Baker Books, 1997; pg. 190)
Augustine observed that the Spirit of God, never works outside or without the Word of God in the operation of the effectual calling of men and women to Himself, which we are in agreement with.
As we pray for people to come to Christ, we have the privilege and responsibility to ask God to open blind eyes, soften hearts, break rebellious spirits and bring saving grace to act upon their souls. This then, is solely the work of the Spirit, in which we can partner by faith, prayer and love, presenting a clear gospel witness to the world.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Posted by donna on March 1, 2017
When speaking with Nicodemus, Jesus compared the Holy Spirit to the wind, which cannot be seen, but whose effect is evident. Perhaps the clearest evidence of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit is seeing unregenerate people continually coming to Christ and receiving salvation … becoming “born again.”
The Scriptures have one central theme from Genesis to Revelation and that is the redemption, reconciliation and restoration of all things back to God the Father through the work of Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:1-10 captures this theme perfectly. This theme is only made known through the process of revelation.
Posted by donna on February 1, 2017
The Apostle Paul reveals the secret of Holy Spirit renewal in Romans 12:1-12 - “I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)
Paul took 11 chapters to outline what God’s grace means to us, His children. It is all the work of God for His elect. It is Paul’s manner to begin with doctrine and move to practice, and he does so here. Paul makes it clear that we have a vital role to play in living out this grace, and it is to our spiritual benefit to obey God’s injunctions to us.
Posted by donna on January 3, 2017
This year, from January 18-25th, believers in Christ around the world will observe the Week of Prayer. The theme for this year is “Christian Unity.” This is also a time when the Protestant Church celebrates the 500th Anniversary of The Reformation. At the heart of The Reformation is the reality of reconciliation to God through faith, apart from works.
As we contemplate this year’s theme, I want to direct our attention to the role the Holy Spirit plays in bringing about unity and reconciliation.
Posted by donna on December 1, 2016
Christmas is my favourite time of year. Ever since early childhood, the anticipation of Christmas has been somewhat overwhelming. The thought of gifts and presents had something to do with the anticipation, but it was much more than that. It was the sounds, sights and smell of the season. It was my keenness to be with extended family. It was Christmas concerts, with the memory of bags of candies being placed in my eager hand as I made my way out the door. It was simply a joyous feeling and it remains that way to this day.
Yet, above all else, it was the story of the birth of Jesus that impacted me the greatest. Even when I wasn’t faithful as a teen, the message of Jesus was truly overwhelming to me. God in the flesh. The incarnation. The walking, talking Jesus. The very image of God and Man without sin. Such a glorious truth.
Posted by donna on November 2, 2016
A key tenet of the Christian life is a clear understanding of our identity in Christ. In Christ, we are positionally and experientially in right relationship with God. We are, through Christ, justified in God’s sight, and in a very personal and practical way, we have an intimate relationship with the Father’s heart and love for us.
Posted by donna on October 5, 2016
“People do not care how much you know, till they know how much you care.”
Last month, I began a two-part message on the Gospel. In particular, I shared that the Gospel is the ‘Power of God unto Salvation’ (Romans 1:16) and the Gospel is the ‘Righteousness of God revealed.’ (Romans 1:17)
Yet, the Gospel is also something that we need to live out. In 2 Peter 1:3, Peter declares that “His (God’s) divine power has given to us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” He continues by saying, “for this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith (Gospel) goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self control; and to self control, perseverance, and to perseverance, godliness and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7.) Peter reminds us “to be eager to make our calling and election sure.” (2 Peter 1:10)
Posted by donna on September 7, 2016
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes … For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.” Romans 1:16-17
In our current culture the word ‘Gospel’ is used for anything that denotes truthfulness or meaning. Often, it is used “tongue in cheek” to give a sense of religious fervor, which is not necessarily appreciated.
The Bible never uses the word Gospel in the way that our culture does. The word Gospel in Scripture is used as a noun that conveys the GOOD NEWS about who God is and what God has done on our behalf.
In the book of Romans, ‘Gospel’ is a single word to proclaim ALL that God has done for us in Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul calls it the ‘power of God’ and the ‘righteousness of God.’
Posted by donna on August 2, 2016
How has your summer been unfolding? Were you able to get away? Are you taking time to refresh, refocus and relax or are you just fooling yourself by thinking you don’t need it?
I struggled with this issue when Lois and I were overseas. I remember a saying that was around back then that went something like this … “we need to come a-part before we come apart!” Kind of cheesy you might think, but there’s a lot of truth imbedded in it.
Posted by donna on June 30, 2016
Many of us in the AGC family are still basking in the memories of our wonderful "Run the Race" Conference in beautiful Banff, Alberta. A record number of delegates, pastors and their spouses came to our AGC National Conference. The challenge to run the Christian race reached home through the inspiring messages of our theme speaker, Tim Schroeder. You can find all of Tim's messages in video and audio form at this link.