Conrad Mbewe at the True Church Conference made a very succinct comment concerning the subtle forms of hyper-Calvinism when it comes to us loving sinners.
Conrad Mbewe make the point that one way to spot hyper-Calvinism in the church is to look at it’s PRAYER MEETING. He pointed out that any church which claims to be evangelistic but has a dead prayer meeting is hyper-Calvinistic. Likewise he said that any preacher who claims to have evangelistic preaching who’s prayer closet is empty is a hyper-Calvinist.
From Julius at Constrained By Grace
The eighth session of the True Church Conference 2010 was given by Dr. Michael Haykin, discussing Andrew Fuller. Andrew Fuller was a missionary pioneer and a critic of hyper-Calvinism. Andrew Fuller was a Baptist in England. Haykin’s text was Psalm 2:1-12. How did Andrew Fuller counter the hyper-Calvinism that was present in the Baptist churches of his day?
William Carey in India received help from those who were in England, in America, and in India. Fuller “held the ropes” for Carey. Fuller tied the Baptist theological heritage of the 18th century with the Baptist evangelical movement of the 19th century. Fuller was early on exposed to hyper-Calvinism by his first pastor. He had not seen a baptism by the age of 16 even though he was a Baptist. But then he was exposed to the writings of John Bunyan and realized that he was lost and undone. He had spiritual experiences (such as an experience with Romans 6:14), but was not converted. This went on for almost three years. Fuller cast his soul on Jesus Christ in 1769 just like Esther – “If I perish, I perish.”
Fuller was called into the pastorate six years later. He read Gill and he read the Puritans. He saw the Puritans preach on evangelism, but he did not see this in Gill. He decided Gill was right and the Puritans were wrong. But then he was convicted by the scriptures and the calls to believe found therein. He came to believe that the gospel was to be preached to all men within hearing.
Fuller moved on to Kettering, which was the home church of John Gill. Here he published a book which emphasized the command for unconverted sinners to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ – The Gospel of Christ is Worthy of All Acceptation. In this he took on the beliefs of John Gill. Jesus indiscriminately called the lost to believe in Him.
The preaching of the gospel must passionately exhort unbelievers to believe in Jesus Christ. Baptist churches were lethargic at best in proclaiming the gospel message. He was instrumental in the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society. He added a mark of the Baptist church – a Baptist church is a church which is mission-minded.
Fuller was a man of theological balance. He was a missionary theologian. He was an upholder of the doctrines of grace. He had the ability to sustain long-lasting friendships. Even though he was forthright in telling people his thoughts, he took censure without offense and he gave censure without offense. Fuller built his life upon the word of God.
The sixth session of the True Church 2010 was lead by Barry King. He is a pastor from Wood Green in London, England. Barry’s topic was the Sin of Unbelief. His text was Isaiah 45:22 (KJV). This is the same text that was used in the conversion of Charles Spurgeon. Would to God that this text would raise up a Charles Spurgeon in our generation also.
Isaiah 45:22 (KJV) sets forth the duty of all men to believe the gospel. It is a sin to fail to obey it.
1. First, there is the simplicity of the command – Look. The text looks back to Numbers 21 and the record of the poisonous snakes. The people were called to look onto the brass serpent and live. God calls for all men to look unto Him. The text also looks forward to John chapter 3. The Son of Man must be lifted up and all men are commanded to look upon Christ.
a. A form of hyper-Calvinism is to confound the simplicity of the gospel. Some are given to morbid introspection. The gospel command is to look, not lament. Some are given to intellectualism. The gospel command is to look, not learn.
2. Second, there is the exclusivity of the command – Look unto me, there is none else.
3. Third, there is the universality of the command – all the ends of the earth. God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel.
Moving to two items implicit in the meaning of the text:
4. Fourth, there is the impossibility of the command. Isaiah was to preach to those who, having eyes, could not see and look, who had ears, but could not hear, who had a heart, but could not understand.
a. How can God command someone to do something that they are unable to do? This does not address the ability of man but the authority of God. God asks men to do things they are unable to do (see Mark chapter 2 – stretch forth your hand or John chapter 11 – Lazarus come forth).
5. Fifth, there is the responsibility of the command. It is our duty, our responsibility, to preach the gospel to all men.
a. We give the people who call us hyper-Calvinist the weapon that they use to shoot at us because we do not fulfill our responsibility to do this. It is more than a general concern for the lost.
The fifth session of True Church Conference 2010 was presented by Conrad Mbewe of Zambia, Africa. Mbewe is known as the “African Spurgeon.” Mbewe’s sermon was on Loving Sinners. His text was Luke 19:41-44.
An argument of hyper-Calvinism in regards to evangelistic preaching is that preaching should be directed only to the regenerated person. The book of Acts shows this is not the case. Sermons in the book of Acts were directed to unbelievers. Hyper-Calvinism locks you away from loving sinners the way Jesus did.
The context of the text is following Palm Sunday and the excitement that that entailed. The people were praising God. It was the triumphal entry of Jesus. But instead of being joyful, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. Why? Because Jesus saw the destruction that lay in the future of the city.
Points from the passage:
1. If you love sinners the way God loves them then it will move you into evangelism because they are ignorant of what it takes to bring peace with God (verse 42a).
a. This was the season when the Son of God was on earth, but the people did not realize it. They were chasing after things which could not satisfy.
b. The people were busy practicing the externals of religion with no change of heart.
c. Jesus spent His time with sinners. We concentrate on inward programs but have lost sight of those on the outside who need Christ’s love.
2. If you love sinners the way God loves them, then it will move you to pray for them that God will open their eyes because only God is able to do so (verse 42b).
a. Unless God speaks life into us we will remain dead. Jesus knew this, but He still wept. His heart was broken by their blindness.
b. See Romans chapters 9-10. Paul wept over the spiritual blindness of his brother Israelites.
3. If you love sinners the way God loves them it will move you to preach to them of the judgment to come (verses 43-44).
a. The judgment to come broke Jesus heart. And also for the reason for the judgment – because they had rejected the day of their visitation by God.
b. And how much greater the condemnation will be for those who reject the resurrected Savior.
c. This should move us to action.
d. See Luke chapter 16.
e. If you are rescuing people from a sinking ship, you don’t spend time looking into God’s eternal plan to see who He wills to save and who He wills to die. You put everything you have into rescuing everyone you can.
Jesus’ love for sinners held Him to the cross. What is your love for sinners causing you to do?
The second sesson of the True Church Conference 2010 “The Quagmire of Hyper-Calvinism” was led by Dr. Michael Haykin.
The text Dr. Haykin used was Titus 3:1-8. Dr. Haykin began with the story of William Carey. The question in Carey’s mind was if the great commission was binding to all ministers to the end of time? Was baptism for believers only? Was it our job to make disciples today? He was called an “enthusiast” for asking these questions. Translate that as the word “fanatic” today. Carey’s colleagues and superiors ridiculed him for thinking he could preach to those in foreign nations. And yet Carey did just this. Carey had his friends, Carey had his supports (John Rylands, Jr.), and Carey had his detractors.
Dr. Haykin moved into a discussion of John Gill and his views of the matter of spreading the gospel. Some time was spent going over the biography of John Gill and also discussing the state of the church (Anglican and Baptist) during Gill’s time. Then Haykin began his discussion of Gill’s positions that have lead to claims of him being a hyper-Calvinist. Gill was a defender of the five points of Calvinism.
There were three points to this presentation.
1. The everlasting counsel (or Covenant of Peace) among the Trinity to save sinners
Gill had a problem with previous theologians because they had the eternal counsel only between the Father and Son. Gill argued that the Holy Spirit was just as involved. Because it is the Spirit who performs the work of regeneration. Without including the Spirit, it is possible to claim that man has something to do with his own salvation. Gill also saw this as important because there were people who wanted to deny the existence of the Trinity.
2. God’s justification before the foundation of the earth
Justification comes from eternity past. Faith of the person does not have any impact on a person’s justification. This would say that a person who is not saved but will be saved is already justified and not under the wrath of God. Gill did not separate election from justification. This would lead to claims that Gill was an antinomian. Therefore, the question for Gill was “Am I among the elect?” This leads to introspection and not focus on evangelism. The Second London Confession rejects eternal justification.
3. The free offer of the gospel
Gill rejected the idea of the free universal offer of the gospel to all men. How did the ideas of John Gill affect the church in his day? Gill is responding to the ideas of the Enlightenment and the moralism of the Anglican church. The ejection of the Puritans from the Church of England 1662 resulted in the loss of the gospel in the Anglican Church. England needed revival, but revival did not come from the Baptists. Revival eventually came from the Church of England, through the evangelistic efforts of the Methodists (Whitefield, Howell Harris). The Baptists were in their warm meeting houses while Whitefield was in the fields preaching to the multitudes. Baptist churches were stagnant while the revival in England flourished.
Berean Husband is reporting live from the True Church Conference at Grace Life Church in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, This is an annual four day conference that Grace Life hosts. I believe this is the fourth year for the conference. We came here together last year. But I’m here alone this year, except for our Sunday Night Pastor is here. My wife is home with the kids.
The topic for the conference this year is “The Quagmire of Hyper-Calvinism.” I wonder, is Hyper-Calvinism a real problem in the church today, or is it just a small number of churches that are off in the “quagmire of hyper-Calvinism”? Is it important enough to talk about for four days?
Last year there were (I heard) 900 people registered for this conference, and one night there were 1,200 people here when some of the regular Grace Life congregation joined in. I heard that there are only 450 people registered this year. Could it be because of the topic or because of the economy?
One of the highlights of the conference is the bookstore. There is no wasted room in the bookstore. Every book is either a book you have read or a book you want to read. I spent $25 in a couple of minutes. I bought Dallimore’s biography of Charles Spurgeon and a collection of George Whitefield’s sermons compiled by J.C. Ryle. Not your typical Christian bookstore fare.
I think Jeff Noblit described in one sentence why the topic of hyper-Calvinism was selected for the conference: How can we know the truth and not share it with others?
The worship music is another highlight of the True Church conference. The conference is worth coming to for the music alone. There’s nothing like singing great hymns with hundreds of people who really want to be gathered together in church. I would say there are probably 600 or 700 people here tonight.