Calvinism and Arminianism – how many of you have actually gotten into one of these debates on Calvinism and Arminianism, right?
Well, we’ve been doing our topical series on the atonement. Paul says that the death of Jesus Christ – that’s the theological word – atonement. For the death of Jesus Christ is for some foolishness, for others a great offense – I can assure you, checking my e-mail box, that that is still, in fact, the case – and that for some, though, who believe in it, it is the best news we’ve ever heard, that God has loved us in Jesus and taken away our sin and dealt with our sin problem.
And we have looked so far in this great study of Jesus, the most important person who has ever lived, and the most important event in human history, his death on the cross. We have looked at varying aspects of what Jesus did on the cross. We’ve called it the great jewel of our faith, we’ve looked after different sides of this jewel. We looked at penal substitution – how Jesus took our place and died for our sin. We look at Christus Victor, where he conquered Satan and demons for us. We looked at redemption, where he takes us out of slavery to sin and death and gives us a new life. We’ve looked at new covenant sacrifice, where Jesus fulfills all the Old Testament sacrificial system by himself, living and dying in our place. We have looked at imputed righteousness, where Jesus takes our sin, gives us his righteousness. We have looked at justification by faith, which is the issue that divides the Catholic and Protestant ends of Christianity. We have looked at propitiation last week, which is how Jesus Christ diverts the wrath of God from us through his death on the cross. And this week we will get into Calvinism and Arminianism. Thus far, I’ve alienated almost everyone and today should round that all out and make it official. (Laughter)
And Calvinism and Arminianism – how many of you have actually gotten into one of these debates on Calvinism and Arminianism, right? This is what all new Christians do. They sit in their dorm and they just argue – or their frat and they argue – or you go to Mars Hill, and how many of you, actually, in your community group here have just driven around the theological cul-de-sac a few times talking about Calvinism and Arminianism? “No, we pick God.” “No, God picks us. You can’t pick God, you’re wicked.” “Well, then, God’s mean!” Just around and around we go! There’s no off-ramp, we’re not going anywhere, we’re just driving around the cul-de-sac again. (Laughter)
And so we’re gonna deal tonight with these issues of Calvinism and Arminianism. If you’ve never heard of them, that’s okay. We’ll catch you all up to speed. It is basically an attempt to answer this question – with so much at stake: forgiveness of sins, new life, relationship with God, you know, destiny of heaven by God’s good grace. With so much at stake through what Jesus did on the cross, then we have to ask this question: Who did Jesus die for? With so much at stake, we’ve gotta figure out who does this benefit? That leads to the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism.
So tonight what we’re gonna do – we’re actually gonna look at five positions on this issue. Two are wrong. Two are okey-dokey. And I’m gonna try and sell you on my position, which is the fifth – so we’ll save the best for last….