I do not think that I have seen a more reverent and worshipful handling of the doctrines of grace by anyone. John Piper’s dedication to magnifying God and maintaining fidelity with the Scripture is a wonderful example to each of us, and God has used the ministry of John Piper to lead a multitude of people to love and honor God as He deserves.
Calvinism has never been about Calvin, and those who would claim a Calvinist understanding are not disciples of Calvin. On the contrary, the doctrines of grace are first and foremost about glorifying the Almighty Creator of the universe, serving Him and understanding Him rightly. Using the term “Calvinism” gives the impression that Calvin forced his own external philosophy upon the Scripture, raping the character of God in the process (which many people wrongly suggest Calvin’s idea of God does). Rather, John Calvin dedicated himself to see Who God is said to be in the perfect revelation of His word and found a glorious God Who is above all things, working everything out according to the perfect counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11), saving the people He predestined (John 6:65; John 10:27-30) to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29), keeping them from falling away from Him (Jude 1:24), all to the praise of the glory of His grace (Eph. 1:3-6)–the God Who is revealed throughout all of the Old Testament and, most clearly, in the Person of Jesus Christ. This is the God we must know and love and serve, rightly understanding His character. To not do so would be to miss an incredible dimension of Who God is that can bring the most remarkable confidence and assurance in even the darkest times of suffering.
As J.I. Packer says rightly:
“Biblically, the difference between these two conceptions of how God in love relates to fallen human beings may be pinpointed thus. Arminianism treats our Lord’s parable of the Supper to which further guests were invited in place of those who never came (Luke 14:16-24; cf. Matt. 22:1-10) as picturing the whole truth about the love of God in the gospel. On this view, when you have compared God’s relation to fallen men with that of a dignitary who invites all needy folk around to come and enjoy his bounty, you have said it all. Calvinism, however, does not stop here, but links with the picture of the Supper that of the Shepherd (John 10:11-18, 24-29) who has his sheep given him to care for (vv. 14, 16, 27; cf. 6:37-40; 17:6, 11f.), who lays down his life for them (10:15), who guarantees that all of them will in due course hear his voice (vv. 16, 27) and follow him (v. 27), and be kept from perishing forever (v. 28). In other words, Calvinism holds that divine love does not stop short at graciously inviting, but that the triune God takes gracious action to ensure that the elect respond. On this view, both the Christ who saves and the faith which receives him as Savior are God’s gifts, and the latter is as much a foreordained reality as is the former. Arminians praise God for providing a Savior to whom all may come for life; Calvinists do that too, and then go on to praise God for actually bringing them to the Savior’s feet.
So the basic difference between the two positions is not, as is sometimes thought, that Arminianism follows Scripture while Calvinism follows logic, nor that Arminianism knows the love of God while Calvinism knows only his power, nor that Arminianism affirms a connection between believing and obeying as a means and eternal life as an end which Calvinism denies, nor that Arminianism discerns a bona fide ”free offer” of Christ in the gospel which Calvinism does not discern, nor that Arminianism acknowledges human responsibility before God and requires holy endeavor in the Christian life while Calvinism does not. No; the difference is that Calvinism recognizes a dimension of the saving love of God which Arminianism misses, namely God’s sovereignty in bringing to faith and keeping in faith all who are actually saved. Arminianism gives Christians much to thank God for, and Calvinism gives them more. (Arminianisms by J.I. Packer)
Our salvation and position before God is not about our decision, our faith, or our ability, but about God: “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:4-5). And what God purposes to have occur, nothing can stop from happening: “ For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Isa. 14:27 NIV).
Our God is not small! He is the Creator of all that is seen and unseen and upholds everything in all of existence all the time by the power of His word! By His power! That fact that I can breathe is because God has decided in this moment that my lungs should be able to take air into them! This computer, this table, this house, this state, this planet–everything in all creation–exists in this moment because He has decided in this moment to allow this existence to continue! Take heart, beloved brothers and sisters! This very same God has promised to cause all things to work together for the good of YOU who He PREDESTINED to be adopted as HIS CHILDREN before the foundations of the world were laid! And He has committed Himself to presenting YOU before Himself as a people who are HOLY and BLAMELESS because of what Jesus did for us! Take heart! This is our God, and He is worthy to be praised!
The original of the above video can be found here: TULIP, Part 1: Introduction
- TULIP, Part 2: Assumptions – Irresistible Grace
- TULIP, Part 3: Irresistible Grace – Total Depravity
- TULIP, Part 4: Total Depravity – Unconditional Election
- TULIP, Part 5: Unconditional Election
- TULIP, Part 6: Unconditional Election
- TULIP, Part 7: Limited Atonement
- TULIP, Part 8: Perseverance of the Saints
- TULIP, Part 9: Ten Effects of Believing the Five Points of Calvinism