Categories
Life

Day 17: The Fall and Rising of Many

“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel,
and for a sign that is opposed…so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (
Luke 2:34-35)

Put yourself in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. At Jesus’ dedication in the temple, a sweet old man says, “Your Son will light up the dark world and show people what God is like and why they need him and he will be their Savior. And yet, some people will oppose him. So much so that this is going to be like a sword thrust through your gut, Mary. And, oh yeah, your heart is going to break, too.”

Ouch. Not what you expected, huh? But it’s true. Jesus brings some down and raises others up. He is a light that divides. When God comes to town in the person of Jesus, the truth about you and me and everyone else will be exposed. That’s what light does. It reveals what’s there. Some people hate this and it causes them to stumble over Jesus.

How do you know if you are rising or falling because of Jesus? If you sense how low you are and that you are nothing, be comforted, God delights in those who are low. If you run to the light of Christ not mainly because of all the darkness in the world around you—and there is darkness—but because of the darkness in you, be comforted. These are the ones who rise. God in his grace is drawing you to himself and humbling you.

On the other hand, if you are impressed with your morality or religious accomplishments or your occupational ambitions, God is opposed to you. If you think that you are “generally good” and not in need of God’s gracious intervention, the gospel will be a stumbling block to you. Who Jesus is and what he came to do will mean nothing to you.

How do you move from falling to rising? Like Simeon, humbly take your eyes off yourself and fix your eyes on Jesus. Then you will sing Simeon’s song with him: “Now you are letting your servant depart in peace…for my eyes have seen your salvation!”

Scripture and Reflection Questions
Read Luke 2:22-35

  1. Have your eyes seen Jesus as your salvation? If not, why not? If so, are you increasingly seeing his majesty and beauty?
  2. Read. v. 32. Jesus is a light to the Gentiles—the nations. In what ways can you engage in shining his light to the nations?
  3. Read. v. 35 and Hebrews 4:12-13. What has God been revealing about your heart? What areas of your life are you trying to keep from being exposed to other people?
  4. Throughout the Gospels, it’s actually the religious people who stumble over Jesus. What religious activities or personal morality have actually kept you from  Jesus?

From We Look for Light: Readings and Reflections for Advent

Categories
Theology

Conversation Between a Calvinist and an Arminian

This is from John Piper’s post earlier this week about how Charles Simeon, a Calvinist, tried to reason with John Wesley, an Arminian, about the supremacy of God in the salvation and perseverance of Christians.  I have adapted it to contemporary language.

So you call yourself an Arminian. People call me a Calvinist; and therefore we are supposed to argue about finer points of theology. But before we start fighting, may I ask you a few questions? Do you think that you are a depraved person, so depraved, in fact, that you would have never turned to God if God had not put it in your heart first?

Yes, I do indeed

And do you reject your coming to God with your works as the source of your righteousness, and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

And since you were at first saved by Christ, do you try to continue to be saved by something other than him?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Since then you were first saved by the grace of God, do you need to keep yourself saved by your own power?

No.

Are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, just like a baby in his mother’s arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you so that you will be able enter into his kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, let me say, my friend, that this is what Calvinism is. This is election and justification by faith, and perseverance. This is really all there is to it and nothing else. Therefore, instead of searching for differences in language and definitions and having that be a source of contention between us, can we please be united in these things that we agree on?

Obviously, there is a lot more in Reformed theology than just this, but I think Simeon’s point is to show that “Arminians” and “Calvinists” have more in common than they think.  Furthermore, I think that Simeon may have tried to show the inconsistencies in Arminian thought.

How do you think the conversation would have gone if Wesley had asked the questions?

Yes, I do indeed.

And do you utterly despair of coming to God with your works as the source of your righteousness, and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

And supposing you were at first saved by Christ, do you try to continue to be saved by something other than him?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Since then you were first saved by the grace of God, do you need to keep yourself saved by your own power?

No.

Are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, just like a baby in his mother’s arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you so that you can enter into his kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, let me say, my friend, that this is what Calvinism is to me.  This is election and justification by faith, and perseverance.  This is really all there is to it and nothing else.  Therefore, if you please, instead of fighting about language and having it be a source of contention between us, can we please be united in these things that we agree on?