My Life as a Calvinist Christian (With the Struggles of Faith)

Discussion in 'The Pilgrims Progress' started by Christian Teegardin, Jun 18, 2017.

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  1. Christian Teegardin

    Christian Teegardin Puritan Board Freshman

    There was a time when I was 'holier than thou.' I used to think that I was so Godly. I used to think that knowing the truth of the Gospel (which Calvinism entails) and all the fine details about the Gospel were all I needed for salvation.

    I would always be obsessed with a girl. Always. If it was one, it was the other, or if it wasn't the other, it was someone over there. I was in a constant train of relationships ranging from 2 days in length to about a month, depending on their faith.

    Alternating with my crazes for women, I had brief crazes with showboat religion. I would flaunt my 'pristine' soteriology and my accuracy in Biblical matters.

    Yet all of this was just an idolatrous show. I praised self and things in both settings. I held theology to be my god and I literally felt 'assurance' when I got all my theology right, regardless of my behaviors when I wasn't doing that. (And believe me, I wasn't consistent.)

    I originally thought that my Calvinistic beliefs were the problem. The reaction was typical. I was used to blaming everyone else for my problems, going as far as to blame theological positions too, thinking that Calvinism was 'too elitist' or something. I actually believe that other theologies have a lack of integrity that Calvinism does. I am still a Calvinist, but don't look to Calvin for my hope, but to the Sovereign Christ.

    The problem was me. The problem was the utter depravity of my wicked soul. My soul attached itself to anything tangible that it could ascribe worship to. In the most religiously desperate times, I would ascribe godhood to John Calvin himself and consider his work to be inspired Scripture. (Absolutely not. His works are very Biblically solid but are not perfect. I do not believe in infant baptism, e.g.)

    In all honesty, I used to wear the TULIP as a 'badge of honor,' saying 'Total depravity,' etc. to 'Perseverance of the Saints...' I would hold onto that as my rule of faith. Just today, my understanding of the TULIP has been quite revolutionized thanks to the Lord opening my eyes to my shortcomings and weaknesses as a human being, being 'totally depraved' after all.

    My journey of reading the Scriptures is in its infancy, hence me not quoting Scripture... I also strongly struggle with an undiagnosed attention disorder which makes Scripture reading very trying on my patience, not because I am disinterested, but because my mind wanders so fast and so strongly. Pray that my focus becomes clearer and more determined.

    My understanding of the TULIP has been personalized today, as a result of my eyes being opened to certain sins in my life.

    Total depravity: We are unable to come to God of our own accord. In our lost state, we are predisposed to the most heinous of sins. Idolatry, immorality, love of money, Godlessness... It's all too real to ignore.

    Even among most Christian congregations, these heinous sins run rampant within. It is truly saddening to see. I am not saying I am any better. I am just thankful of the awareness that God has blessed me with. I was aware before but in a more spectator-like manner, not really caring about the spiritual state of such congregations. Now I feel a heaviness... a spiritual burden upon me. Even in my own house, I feel burdened. God is not worshiped as He ought to be, and if He is, it's subtly twisted in a way that renders it idolatrous. Comfort theology is idolatry. Charismatic theology is idolatrous. A whole flock of goats with tiny enclaves of sheep interspersed within... Is it a Christian church? I don't believe so.

    Unconditional election: God saves us by His own divine decree. We do not choose to be saved of our own accord. God handpicked the Body of Christ out of His good will. For Christ is God, and Christ chooses His own.

    I feel uncomfortable when churches ask people to come up to the altar. In my youth, I did that at least a few times, asking Jesus to come into my heart repeatedly as if it was some mantra that I rehearsed every single time. Nothing changed, except for a temporal 'spiritual' elation that lasted about a week at most. One time when I was at a pitiful low in my life, fretting about trivial things like one ear hearing a tad bit less than the other, I repeatedly 'asked Jesus into my heart,' crying in complete emotional agony. Again, I had a 'one week Christianity' spurt and then it died away again. (I was Arminian then, obviously.)

    Limited atonement: Christ died for the sins of the His body of believers. He passed over those who were destined for damnation.

    This doctrine was the ultimate slow-burner. Sometimes I really struggle with this one. I've heard that it is normal to struggle with it, so I don't feel bad about struggling with it. I used to be a true Amyraldist and held to a hypothetical universal atonement where Christ died for all but only the elect were affected by the atonement. I believe that Amyraldism is fairly robust, still, and I will fully accept brethren who believe in such minor disagreements. I do not believe it to be heretical by any means. It is within Christian orthodoxy.

    Yet as time went on, I began to understand the implications of the limited atonement. As I would describe it, an unlimited atonement only applied to the believers is a case of 'spilled blood,' or 'blood wasted.' And knowing that Christ is absolutely perfect in every single way, He would not spill blood or waste it. His atonement is completely effectively, without a single ounce of His blood wasted on the reprobate. Christ never made a single accident. He is God.

    Irresistible grace: God's grace cannot be resisted, for God changes the very will of those who are elected to salvation.

    I used to believe in prevenient grace. The idea originated from Arminius himself. I believed that God led people to the Cross and they could choose for or against it. I was very wrong, I realized pretty soon after.

    I remember a picture of a door having no knob on the outside. Jesus would knock on it and the man would choose to enter or not. It is very appealing and seeker-sensitive. Yet I have come to know that Christ is far from the guy who knocks on the door. Grace isn't a petition. Grace is a decree. It is not invasive either. It is not like God is knocking down the door and dragging you to Heaven.

    It is like this: God reveals our depravity and we repent of such depravity. He changes our will and our ways by giving us the Holy Spirit to guide our life.

    Perseverance of the Saints: Once a man/woman is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, they will never fall away, for God's grace is eternal.

    This was the one belief I held that wasn't Arminian, while I was still Arminian. I used to believe in the 'once saved, nothing you can do can exclude you from salvation.' That is technically correct, but if you're doing all sorts of heinous things, you aren't saved to begin with.

    True Christians persevere. Their love for God makes their life revolve around Him. When their lives revolve around Him, they want to do things for Him. When they do things for Him, their faith is enriched further, and it goes on and on...

    I ask that anyone who reads this prays that:
    1. The LORD will show me my sins and help me to confess them individually.
    2. The LORD will rid me of the anxiety that is paralyzing my life.
    3. The LORD will help me get more focused in life.
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