Responding to Leighton Flowers Assurance Claims

25. June 2015 21:42 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
The Assurance of Salvation: And why a consistent Calvinist can’t have it.
Responding to Leighton Flowers
 
I recently listen to a YouTube video produce by Leighton Flowers called “The Assurance of Salvation: And why a consistent Calvinist can’t have it.” Leighton Flowers is a former Calvinist who is passionate about warning others from the errors of Calvinism and even seeking to help others come out of what he believes is a bad systematic theology. 
 
After listening to the video and trying to give it a honest chance at understanding why Leighton Flowers believes that a Calvinist can’t have a assurance of their salvation I was honestly baffled. I even commented on his Facebook page seeking clarity. Leighton replied and we talked back and forth yet I still was confused. 
 
My confusion came because I believe I have a fair understanding of what a Calvinist believe about salvation and having a assurance of that very salvation. Today, June 25, 2015, Leighton actually did a brief podcast and blog post trying to explain himself even further because it was a bit confusing. In this post Leighton says:
 
We must understand that our assurance ultimately rests on three main factors:
 
1.The Sincerity of your Commitment
2.The Genuineness of your Experiences
3.The Trustworthiness of God
 
These three main factors is what he uses to make the claim that Calvinist can’t have real assurance. He explains very thoroughly through his personal experience, testimony, and some insightful analogies. He drills his theory home by saying, “This finally point is why I believe Calvinism cannot logically bring assurance to those who are consistent within it’s systematic…It is a purely logical argument based upon the reality inherent within the deterministic framework.” 
 
This is where I have come to understand where Leighton is coming from. At first I didn’t make the connection because I was focused on what Calvinist acutally teach and preach on the Assurance of Salvation when Leighton was really attacking, as he calls it, the deterministic framework of Calvinism. If one does not know what that means it basically means that a Calvinist believes that God causes all things good or bad. Leighton actually explains it this way, “Calvinists affirm that there are people who sincerely believe they will be saved, but in reality are self-deceived.” See Leighton mixes together determinism, salvation, and the self-deceived and then gives a quote from well known Calvinist John Piper that said, “You can embrace a system of theology and not even be born again”.  He goes on to explain that Calvinist have “a worldview where God determines whatsoever comes to pass, as the Calvinistic scholars affirm, it must be said that those who are self-deceived are such ultimately because God has so determined it. If you happen to be one of the individuals who God has destined to remain in self-deception, falsely believing that you are saved when in actuality you are not, then you could not know this fact until after you were condemned.”
 
So see IF God determines all things in the Calvinist system of theology and God can also cause the self-deceiving of a person then therefore a Calvinist can have a self-deceived salvation with no real assurance of their faith. 
 
Leighton concludes with what what I think is a remarkable view of Calvinism. He says, “the Calvinistic system affirms that God is willing to unchangeably decree and use self-deceived individuals to be objects of divine wrath in order to bring Himself more glory, it is impossible for any consistent Calvinist to be certain that he or she is not one chosen for this ignoble purposes. Believing that you have committed yourself to Christ and have had experiences with him in relationship means nothing if He is not trustworthy toward humanity in general. And because He is proven to be able and willing to decree for others to sincerely believe they are saved, when they really are not, there can be no assurance He is not doing the same with you. There is no way for a consistent Calvinist to know if he has been chosen for self-deception or true salvation.”
 
I say WOW!!! What I believe he does here is really take a bunch of Calvinistic ideas and makes a Mash Potato Theology with it. I personally disagree and believe that Leighton is dead wrong. Here’s my reasons why:
 
First, I believe if the idea is to say that Calvinist systematic theology can’t give assurance why not prove it based on what Calvinist actually teach concerning salvation and assurance of salvation.
 
Secondly, Calvinism is all about Creeds and Confession. Why not quote from the Westminister Catechism, Heidelberg Catechism, or even the 1689 London Baptist and prove from their sources that they cannot have a real assurance. 
 
Thirdly, Calvinism is all about the Scriptures (one thing Leighton’s view leaves out) i.e. Sola Scriputra. In explaining this view Leighton doesn’t actually use any Scripture to make his point. This in my opinion is a wee bit dishonest.
 
Leighton Flowers really wasn’t focusing on assurance but really focusing on his Mash Potato view of Calvinistic determinationism. 
 
I want to try to give a brief response and answer.
 
In the Calvinist system of theology only the elect will go to heaven according to Scripture. In Scripture are there any examples where God in His sovereignty calls a person to self-deception? Is there in Scripture any historical narrative where God deceives period? No, No, No there isn’t. I honestly don’t know or understand where Leighton Flowers gets his Calvinism from. I just simply must say that Leighton’s view is just all wrong. I won’t try to counter what he has said because how do you counter that which is just simply wrong from the beginning. Remember the video isn’t about assurance it’s really about determinism. Leighton seems to be a person who actually doesn’t like verses such as “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). That implies that God determines, God saves who He wants, and God does what He wants because He is God.
 
Lastly, Leighton Flowers view of Calvinism is only logical in the vacuum that he creates. I was taught that if a person has to misrepresent your view in order to prove you wrong it’s because they actually have no real defence to your position. Honestly, that really sums up Leighton Flowers. Leighton is so bent on “exposing” Calvinism for what he believes it is that only in his mind is it what he says it is. 
 
Here's my challenge to Leighton Flowers; if you believe that there is no real assurance of salvation in the Calvinistic system of theology then point that out in Calvinistic theology on salvation and assurance the way they actually teach it. If you can’t then don’t falsify Calvinism just so you have something to tear down. 
 
 
Blessing SDG

Keeping the Lord's Commandments

16. June 2015 20:47 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Keeping the Lord's Commandments

 Image result for god's law

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

John 14:15

 

  

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

1 John 5: 2 & 3

I was ask what does it mean to keep God’s commandments. I must admit that as a follower of Jesus Christ I don’t focus on “keeping” God’s commandments because I focus on following Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God born of a virgin that He might be sinless, that He might be born under the law, to keep the very law that you and I broke. The perfect, sinless, Son of God has perfectly met ALL the requirements of God’s law, and is ready to give His righteousness to us that we would have a perfect standing before God. He went to a cross; there He was lifted up to die. There upon that cross, the sins of everyone who would believe in Him were transferred to Him. And Him who knew no sin God made to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. That great exchange of the cross—the worst about me laid upon Him, the best about Him now to be laid upon me as He shed His blood upon that cross.

He reconciled sinful me to holy God so why would I focus on seeking to keep commandments that I couldn't keep from the beginning.

Yet I still want to explore what it means to Keep the Lord’s Commandments. 

One day Jesus was ask a question by a lawyer, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" (Matthew 22:36). Jesus responded by saying, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. (37-40)"

Jesus sums up the entirety of the law in two commandments and while that technically makes keeping God’s commandments easier because I just have two to focus on, lets be honest, I still couldn't keep them two. 

So let’s first understand the law of God and then I’ll explain how a follower of Jesus Christ keep’s the Law. 

 

What is the Law of God?

Being confessional let’s look at what the London Baptist Confession says about: What is the the Law of God?

1. God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience written in his heart, and a particular precept of not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it. ( Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:10, 12 )

2. The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the fall, and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables, the four first containing our duty towards God, and the other six, our duty to man. ( Romans 2:14, 15; Deuteronomy 10:4 )

3. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties, all which ceremonial laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are, by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only law-giver, who was furnished with power from the Father for that end abrogated and taken away. ( Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:17; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Colossians 2:14, 16, 17; Ephesians 2:14, 16 )

4. To them also he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of moral use. ( 1 Corinthians 9:8-10 )

5. The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it; neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation. ( Romans 13:8-10; James 2:8, 10-12; James 2:10, 11; Matthew 5:17-19; Romans 3:31 ) 

Notice the LBC breaks God’s law down into three categories. 

1) Ceremonial laws 

2) Sundry judicial laws 

3) Moral laws

Categories 1 & 2, according to the LBC, are done away with because Israel is no longer a theocratic nation and because Jesus has fullfilled all the ceremonial types and shadows that prefigured Him. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4).

Thirdly however the moral law of God is forever binding for all those who believe. The LBC goes on to say about keeping the moral law of God. 

6. Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against, sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unallayed rigour thereof. The promises of it likewise shew them God's approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works; so as man's doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace. ( Romans 6:14; Galatians 2:16; Romans 8:1; Romans 10:4; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7, etc; Romans 6:12-14; 1 Peter 3:8-13)

I love how the LBC conculdes it’s teaching of God’s Law. (7). Neither are the aforementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it, the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done. ( Galatians 3:21; Ezekiel 36:27).

 

How Does a Follower of Jesus Christ Keep’s the Law

A follower of Jesus Christ needs only ot focus on two key things. 1) Jesus is the end of the Law and 2) Jesus kept the law perfectly. If I follow Jesus then what aspect of God’s law am I not keeping? That’s what most people don’t understand and over complicate the believers walk. I said earlier that I don’t focus on keeping God’s law because I focus on following the One who kept it perfectly. 

There are many who wants to get into the very details and literally put the shackles of the law on believers. So what about the dietary food laws? The purpose of the food laws was to make the Israelites distinct from all other nations. After this purpose had ended, Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19). God gave the apostle Peter a vision in which He declared that formerly unclean animals could be eaten: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15). When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4;Galatians 3:24-26;Ephesians 2:15). This includes the laws regarding clean and unclean foods. This would also apply ceremonial feast days and Sabbath Days. As the confession states they are fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

You have a choice to either try following a law you can't keep or follow or follow the law giver. Will you follow the Law giver who kept the law perfectly? If so then you likewise are in fact Keeping the Lord’s Commandments. 

I leave you with these words from our Savior. 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

John 15: 4 – 10 

 

Blessings SDG

About Edward L. Smith

My ministry philosophy would consist of these essentials—a High View of God, the absolute authority of Scripture, Expository Preaching, Sound Doctrine, Personal Holiness, and a Biblical view of spiritual authority. All ministries must be God-Honoring, Christ-Centered, & Gospel Saturated. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

 

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