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I’m a Calvinist. By that, I don’t mean I subscribe to everything the Reformer taught or thought. Rather – in the main, I subscribe to many of the same underlying Biblical emphases which were evident in his writings. And in the writings of all those who take a strong view of God’s sovereignty in all things. Both long before Calvin and long after. Calvinism – at least for many, is simply shorthand for that reality. But when shorthand displaces the full picture, distortions are inevitable. And this is true no matter what doctrinal system one subscribes to. We’ll look at 3 common errors in this regard on Through the Word in 2020 – in Revelation 6, John 12:20-36 and Hosea 3-8.
I’m Reid Ferguson.
Any way you look at it, Revelation is a challenging book. Especially from Ch. 6 on. The opening of the seals of the scroll mentioned in Ch. 5 has led to nearly endless speculation. So before we go off looking to make all kinds of associations which may not even be in the text, we need to make sure we don’t lose the big picture. Putting all speculations on timing, what is contained in each seal, etc – don’t miss this: God is going to judge all sin and wickedness of humankind. He has a systematic plan for doing do so. It will come to pass. No one will escape. And no amount of inquiry into the details of these various pictures alters that. The bottom line is, each of us needs to be reconciled to God through faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ on Calvary – or we will be subject to the judgments so graphically displayed.
Don’t be so curious about deciphering the details, that your heart and soul are not in the right place before God. The Devil probably knows these details better than any human being.
2nd is the very commonly quoted “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” among those in certain branches of Charismatic Christianity. By it, they most often mean you need some sort of new or extra revelation which only they can purvey, so that you have have the most pleasant, powerful and prosperous life you could desire. The problem is, the passage isn’t referring to anything secret at all. The verse goes on to explain that the reason God’s people were under God’s judgment at that time was because they had rejected knowledge. Which knowledge the verse then denominates as “the law of your God.” Lack of what knowledge brings people under God’s judgment – lack of knowing Him in His Word. Living outside of faithfulness and steadfast love toward God (vs. 1) – evidenced by a lifestyle of swearing, lying, murder, stealing and committing adultery.
The problem isn’t a lack of secret knowledge, but of living in the light of the truth already revealed in His Word.
And then there is the place where our Calvinist shorthand fails us. For in failing to read the whole council of God, we can take a passage like Romans 3:11 “No one understands, no one seeks for God,” and absolutize it in a way that contradicts our reading in John 12 where some come explicitly seeking Christ. As Paul quotes Pss. 14 & 53 in that passage, he is not at the same time forgetting that the work of the Spirit in our age is specifically to draw men to Christ and to seek Him out. Left to ourselves, indeed, no one would seek after God. But by the enormity of His goodness and grace – He has poured out His Spirit to “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”
It is only in reading the whole Word as a whole, that we come to avoid forming such misconceptions on our own, and being led astray by those of others.
Keep reading His Word Beloved.
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.