God places on us the responsibility to guard our hearts from hardening. Deut. 15:7, Prov.4:23, Prov. 28: 14 We are warned NOT to harden our hearts.
So what about the passages where God hardens peoples hearts? The main confusion people encounter in this regard has to do with Calvinist’s teachings that say passages which speak of God hardening human hearts prove God’s selective election & determinism from the foundation of the world. That God hardens the hearts of people not elected for heaven so they won’t receive salvation.
But God is not saying one thing and doing another. God is Just! Deut. 32:4, Jeremiah 17:10, Job 34:12 , etc.
i. Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.
II. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. – Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 6 (Calvinist Catechism).
John Calvin regarding the lost : “it was his good pleasure to doom to destruction” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, III:xxi,7.)
But the Word of God says:
“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Eze. 18:32,– Ezekiel 33:11
Romans 9:12-13: “It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.“
Calvinists teach that Romans 9:13 proves that Jacob was predestined by God, to heaven and Esau was predestined by God, to hell even before they were born. But this isn’t true!
This a more complex chapter (needs more biblical historical background for the proper context) & could be a difficult passage for some to understand it well. Unfortunately Calvinists use this chapter 9 to convert people to Calvinism, to convince them of their view on predetermined election, & even use it on the unsaved people or babes in Christ who still don’t understand Bible doctrine properly, causing confusion to many.
We understand Calvinism is a divisive and controversial issue, but we believe it must be faced because it is growing, and affects the Gospel of Salvation and the very Person of God. Brushing it under the carpet has made the problem worst with time. And as some Reformed have recognized ‘What could be more relevant to the Gospel than how sinners are saved? ‘
What makes things more difficult, is that we know there are many nice, God loving & sincere people involved in this religious system, a lot of them get in it by default, thinking they need to choose between Calvinism or Arminianism. But they don’t have to follow any men’s doctrine, just Jesus Christ & His Word. Many that follow this doctrine don’t even know who was John Calvin, or haven’t read his writings.
The primary requirement of a teacher of the Word, is to be steadfast in the doctrine taught initially by Jesus & the apostles.
Acts 2:42 “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. “,
“But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” Titus 2:1
I had left off with a new understanding that worship in the Bible literally meant to bow down, as well as with the teaser of some expanded insight from 2 New Testament chapters. The chapters in question are John 4 and Phillipians 3, which helped me turn the answer of “what is worship” into a much more concrete and applicable action in my life.
A while back I came across an article where the writer elaborated on his distaste for the “worship” industry, and how it muddies what “true Christian worship” is for him. Now, despite some of the more Catholic-y bits scattered about, the author’s main points felt pretty spot on, and more importantly it got me to revisit a topic that has troubled me for most of my Christian life: “what is worship”?
The foundation of our Christian faith is Jesus Christ the son of God. He is the author & finisher of our faith :
looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
There are foundational doctrines in the Word of God that one must believe in as a Christian. You will find them in most Statements of Faith of Christian churches or Christian web pages. The Bible states:
” Whosoever transgresseth (G3845 = depart, leave, be turned from), and abideth (G3306 = remain, stay, continue) not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 2 John 1:9-11 .
The ‘Doctrine of Christ’ –doctrine means teachings, instructions. For this reason many consider the foundational doctrines to be all the teachings & instructions of Jesus, found in the New Testament. The book of Hebrews points out six foundational teachings (called doctrine of Christ) that every Christian should know & are considered milk. See Hebrews 6:1-2. However some Christians only consider the ‘Doctrine of Christ’ to be the teachings about the person, nature & works of Christ (Christology), which includes the Gospel of Salvation.
There can be no Gospel message or preaching without the story of the sacrifice of Christ as the Redeemer of mankind. But something has happened to the integrity of the Gospel of Christ over time, it has become diluted, twisted, contaminated, etc.
We will find the true gospel in the Scriptures. The following verse is called the ‘Gospel in a nutshell’:
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
We see today a constant attack against Christ’s doctrine. A growing number of people, especially among proponents of the ecumenical movement & emergent church movement, are now saying: “Doctrine divides, experience unites” or “Doctrine is not important. Let’s lay aside our doctrinal differences and let’s unite.” It sounds nice but sadly is not biblical.
Is sound doctrine important? Is truth important? Of course it is!
Sound doctrine is teaching that agrees with the Bible. When the Bible speaks of sound doctrine, it speaks of absolute truth as laid down by God in His Word.
The word doctrine means instruction, teaching. Noah Webster’s Dictionary defines doctrine as: “That which is laid down as true by an instructor or master.”