1 Reason for Fasting from Facebook

Inspired by my cousins successful Facebook fast during lent last year, I have decided to do the same. Actually, I’m going to try to one up him by going without any social media for lent. That means no Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or blog reading (except for maybe the Desiring God blog, ’cause that doesn’t really count…).

As justification for this fast (because it is obviously imperative that one have a justification for every fast one partakes in) I offer up one simple word: time. In a recent study pollsters determined that I spend somewhere between 15-90 minutes per day using social media. Now, all of that time is not wasted – I’ve certainly had redeeming interactions via social media; but most of it is spent simply re-reading over the 297 new posts in my Facebook news feed, which is not a good use of time.

In fasting from social media I should gain approximately 10 to 60 additional hours to apply to things like reading good books, or doing a productive physical activity (like shoveling the driveway) or, heaven forbid (!), interacting with my family members in real life.

Hopefully I haven’t ruined the spiritual significance of my fast before I’ve even begun it (Matthew 6:17-18) – but, to prevent anyone (of my 2 readers) from thinking that the silence in all of my social media outlets was due to my death, I figured that might be a risk worth taking.

Enjoy anticipating the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection! And I’ll see (or twee) you in 40 days.

photo: the collective contents of my tweets conglomerated at wordle.net

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A Biblical Basis for Calvinism – vii: Conclusion – For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.

In conclusion I want to offer one of the main consequences of believing that God sovereignty determines who will be saved, namely, joy! I know that I am naturally God’s enemy, without Him stepping in and choosing to save me I would have never chosen Him. Knowing that I did nothing to cause Him to love me, I am confident that He will continue to love me. His love for me is rooted in His unchanging nature, not on my ability to love Him. In view of how small my love for God is I can rejoice in this truth.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord… Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. – Romans 8:31-39, 11:33-36

A Biblical Basis for Calvinism – vi: Affirmations of Belief

In view of what has been said in the previous posts, I do still believe that every individual is responsible for trusting in Jesus to save them. We do make real choices and we are responsible for those choices – the Bible clearly teaches that. While I do not understand the interplay between Divine sovereignty and human responsibility in matters of choice I do believe that God sovereignly determines everything that happens and that we will be justly held responsible for our actions (see Romans 9).

I also believe that we must evangelize, we must preach the gospel or else people will not be saved (Romans 10:13-15). Believing that God has chosen to save certain people encourages me to evangelize. Why? Because I know that I am totally incapable of persuading someone of the truth of the gospel, I simply cannot do that. But I can go out and preach the gospel in confidence, knowing that it is God who brings about the salvation of the hearers. Furthermore, knowing that God has other people all throughout the world that He has chosen to save who are not yet saved encourages me to go out to preach the gospel to those people so that they will be saved. God has chosen to use the preaching of the gospel as the means by which He saves people, so I gladly join in His work of saving lost people by preaching the gospel.

A Biblical Basis for Calvinism – v: TULIP

Up to this point I have not presented you with my understanding of the 5 points of Calvinism. The reason I have yet to do so is because I wanted to demonstrate that I desire to follow the teaching of the Bible. I like John Calvin – he was a brilliant guy who spent a lot of time in the Bible (as is evidenced by his 22 volume (!) commentary on the entire Bible); and I’ll agree with him insofar as his teaching lines up with my understanding of Scripture. That being said, I think that the teachings of this passage can be systematized into the 5 points of Calvinism (well, actually, I only see this passage as demonstrating 4 of those points, so we’ll leave the 5th alone).

The 5 points of Calvinism form the acronym TULIP (my favorite flower!).

T

We can summarize Ephesians 2:1-3 by saying that all people are born with an evil and corrupt nature which causes them to hate God and love sin. This is the first point of Calvinism “T,” Total Depravity.

U

Ephesians 1:5 says that God has “predestined us for adoption in Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” Ephesians 2:4 says that God made us alive in Christ “because of the great love with which he loved us,” and this He did while we were “dead in our trespasses” and following Satan. From that, I gather that God saved us because He wanted to, not because of anything we have done. He did not save us based on His foreseeing our faith in Him; His choosing of us caused us to have faith in Him. This is the “U,” which stands for Unconditional Election.

L

In the 5 points of Calvinism “L” stands for Limited Atonement, which means that Jesus’ death is sufficient to cover the sins of the whole world; but even more than that, that His death effectively purchased the salvation of those who God had chosen to save. I don’t see this passage teaching this (okay, well, I might, I’m not sure yet, I’m still thinking through the implications of the word “with” in 2:5 and its relation to 1:15-22. But that could take a while!), and so I’m not going to argue for the truth of this point, since the verses we looked at don’t explicitly mention this.

[Also, as somewhat of a tangent, the term “limited” really turns me off. Furthermore, it is important to note that you are always in some way going to be “limiting” the extent of Jesus’ atonement. Arminians will generally say that Jesus died for everyone, but that His death did not effectively save anyone (and thus His atonement is “limited” in the sense that it does not effectively save anyone). Calvinists will generally say that Jesus died for everyone and that His death effectively saved those whom God wanted to save (and thus, His atonement is “limited” in that it does not effectively save everyone). For more on this point of Calvinism, John Piper has a lecture that was really helpful in explaining both sides of the issue, you can watch, read or listen to that lecture here: http://bit.ly/4UYhaP.]

I

Ephesians 1:5 says that God “predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ,” that He determined our destiny before we existed (that’s what the word “predestined” means) and God always accomplishes His will (see Job 42:2; Psalm 33:8-11, 115:3, and 135:6; Daniel 4:34-35…) so, if God wants to save someone, He can and will overcome that persons resistance (because we frequently resist God’s work, see Acts 7:51). From that I gather that, when He wants it to be, God’s grace is irresistible, that’s what the “I” stands for, Irresistible Grace.

P

Ephesians 1:13-14 says that we have been “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” and that the Holy Spirit is the “guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.” Ephesians 2:4-7 says that God “made us alive together with Christ… and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places,” note that Paul talks about our being seated with Christ in the heavenly places in the past tense, as if it had already happened. I believe Paul does that because he is sure that God will keep us saved. Furthermore, in this passage, the whole purpose of God making us alive together with Christ is so that “in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus” (emphasis mine). God always accomplishes his purposes (see references in the first sentence of the paragraph on Ephesians 1:5). In view of this, I believe that once God has saved someone, God will make sure that that person will not fall away from Christ (in the ultimate sense, they may fall away for a time, but God will then bring them back). We are responsible for continuing to trust in Christ’s death to make us right with God and God will ensure that we continue in our faith. This is what the “P” stands for, Perseverance of the Saints (or Preservation of the Saints).