Monday, September 24, 2012

Becoming a Student Again

     Presently, I am reading an excellent book by Dr. Joel R. Beeke, author of fifty books, president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, pastor of Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation and editor of Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  His book is entitled, "Living for God's Glory, An Introduction to Calvinism".
     Although I have been a Christian for 41 years and was raised in a Presbyterian Church, there are many things which I have not delved into concerning the Reformed faith.  Dr. Beeke begins his book with a history of the Reformation and the confessions of faith that came out of this time in the church.  I never knew there were seven confessions of faith for example.  I knew about the Westminster Confession, but there are six others as well summarizing the faith of the various reformed people of that time.  These confessions set forth the basic beliefs and scriptural proofs upon which these believers stood.  Of course, the confessions never replace the Bible as the foundation of belief, but merely put forth the basic tenets of the faith.
     Most people have an inaccurate view of Calvinism (Reformed faith) and I liked what Dr. Beeke said in his book:  "Of course, most evangelical Christians and, sadly, even some Calvinists, lack a proper understanding of the real heartbeat of Calvinism.  'There is nothing upon which men need to be more instructed than upon the question of what Calvinism really is,' Charles H. Spurgeon once said.  Whether you are a Calvinist, a non-Calvinist, or an anti-Calvinist, you need to give this question a fair hearing:  What really is the marrow of Calvinism?" (pg. 38, Living for God's Glory").  I have to agree with this assessment.  We need to know what we believe and why we believe it.  To merely mouth that we agree with what our church teaches is inadequate.  We need to understand the faith that has been handed down to us.
     Of course, the first source for all life and godliness is found in the pages of the Bible.  This is our authority.  With this in mind, as I read books by various authors, I compare what they say with the Word of God.  As believers, we are encouraged to do this very thing checking to see if what is being put forth lines up with the Word.  Certainly Dr. Beeke and the eight other contributors who collaborated on this book have done their homework thoroughly as they cover the basic principles of the Reformed faith.
     Perhaps for me, the greatest satisfaction is in reading a book that is easy to understand (without heavy theological terms) and has increased my understanding of what Calvinism is all about.  The more I give myself to study of God's Word, listening to sound biblical preaching and reading solid resource materials (such as this book), the more inward joy I find at what God has done in my life.
     Becoming a life long learner is what I tried to teach our children as we home educated them.  The same holds true for us as adults and perhaps more so, as believers in Jesus Christ.  It is so easy to become passive in our faith waiting for others to dish out the wisdom to us.  But God challenges us to be students of the Bible.  In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul writes:  "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth."  This charge to Timothy also applied to all of us as Christians.  The Word of God is likened to a sword, and no one in their right mind would care to do battle without knowing how to use the sword.
     To this end, we need to study the Bible, learn about our faith from solid sources and pray over what we have studied.  I commend the reading of this book to each of you as it has helped me have a greater understanding of the Reformed faith.  Even if you personally do not embrace Calvinism, it will help you understand the tenets and erase the misconceptions.  My prayer is that we all become avid students to the end that we glorify God in our lives and witness.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts.  Thank you for visiting the blog...may you be blessed this day.

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