© 2016 Christ Revealed Bible Institute
There is a practice among all humans, but amplified greatly among Christians, of proving everyone else wrong out from the overriding base assumption that “I am right.” Inside the great boasting, the idea that “I” might be, not only wrong, but inside of complete falseness, that “I” might be one of the deceivers the Bible warns against, never enters the mind.
Sadly, I find myself little different, that is, that, in seeking to know God, I am always finding it necessary to position Father as He is against all the stuff that is not. Thus, some could legitimately say that this Yordy fellow thinks he’s right and everyone else is wrong. It’s not “right” that I want to be, but inside of Father’s heart.
It Makes No Sense
And so I read or listen to great Christian argument, with constant Bible verses woven together and clear truths of God all laid out, yet, as I continue page after page, I cannot find anywhere the Lord Jesus in me, carrying me, and I especially cannot find myself being enveloped inside the love of my Father’s heart, and I do get very confused. I get confused, because all this brilliant and anointed argument, all these significant verses woven together in this way, all these proclamations of “This is the truth of God, deal with it sinner,” all this makes no sense to me, to my own heart.
And when such strong pronouncements about my Father make no sense to me, I am deeply bothered, and I must wrestle and wrestle until I understand – by the Word.
Knowing God by Scripture
Over the last few weeks, I have been writing a text book titled, Knowing God by Scripture, for a Hermeneutics course for my Bible Studies program. In the course, the students will read Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul alongside my text, thus mine is an extension and a rebuttal of Sproul’s interpretation of the Bible.
The most striking thing I find in Sproul’s text is the complete absence of Jesus inside of me, my only life. Not one word in Sproul’s text births life inside of me; if his approach to the Bible were God’s approach, I could never read the Bible, I could never know my Father. But Sproul is a Calvinist; indeed, almost all Protestant churches in America are Calvinist to some degree.
Why Can They Not Hear?
I had no thought, until the last little while, that this topic would fit itself here. But we have seen that the vanity of not knowing God is never static, but always becomes filled immediately with the profound KNOWING of things that are not. And how can creation know God if the church of Jesus Christ does not know Him?
But something else also really bothers me, something that also makes no sense. How is it that the wonderful proclamation of us IN Jesus and Jesus IN us, of being carried by our Savior, just as we are, all the way through death and into life, how is it that only a handful of precious saints can hear this word? How is it that most of God’s people glance at this word and hurry on by?
What Are the Reasons?
I can understand perfectly why someone would choose to “hurry on” from me, but it’s not me; the deep problem is an inability to hear and see Christ as He is. The deep problem is an inability to know God among those who have been given the ability to know God.
God made me as the kind of person who cannot rest until I understand the reasons for something so very important. And those reasons must come out from my Father’s heart; they must come from His Word; and they must come by His precious Holy Spirit.
And so I did the deed; I downloaded John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and began to study.
Hitting Right at Home
I am very angry. I am angry as Jesus was angry as He drove those out of His Father’s house who misrepresented Father to their own advantage.
You see, by the end of the first page, Calvin’s great and brilliant argument became very personal to me. I was, in fact, reading Buddy Cobb, the primary leader and teacher in the fellowship of communities that had been birthed by Sam Fife and to which I had committed my life. Buddy Cobb and John Calvin were the same, equal in argument, in underlying assumptions, in definition of “God,” in weaving verses together, in leaving Jesus in me out in the cold.
The Wax of John Calvin
But my concern here is not with Buddy Cobb. The church of Christ does not have the wax of Buddy Cobb in her ears (only those whom I know closely), but the wax of John Calvin.
God placed me under Buddy Cobb so that I would despair of “Christian argument,” so that I would lose all hope in myself, and thus flee into the Lord Jesus, my only life. Yet all of my careful explanation of Christ out from the ten most important verses in the Bible and all the rest of the Bible flowing in to support, comes also as a contradiction against, not just Buddy Cobb’s teaching, but against John Calvin.
We are not concerned, at present, with the vanity of not knowing God found in the world, but rather, among our brethren. We must know why and how.
Most Christians Are Calvinist in Some Way
We know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 5:20). God gives an ability to know Him to everyone who is born again. Yet almost all have a solid plug of wax inserted into their knowing, a wax that allows them to hear what God speaks in only one very rigid way.
I know of few Protestant groups that are not Calvinist in some way; even the Arminians are Calvinists, differing only on a point. When we say “Calvinist,” we are NOT speaking of “once saved always saved,” but an entire definition of God and truth. Indeed, no Calvinist can see or tell you what Calvinism is; only one living in the tree of life can tell you.
Burned at the Stake
There is full evidence that John Calvin was born again. He wrote his first version of The Institutes in his mid-twenties. His grasp of the breadth of Scripture shows that the Bible went into his brain in total right from the start.
Then I see that one of John Calvin’s opponents, Michael Severus, understood Jesus and the Father as Origen understood them and as I understand them, in joy and devotion. The Catholic church decreed Origen a heretic for his knowledge of Jesus; Calvin ordered Severus burned at the stake. I know that if I were significant enough on Buddy Cobb’s radar, he would definitely teach a powerful word on how hearing what I teach will lead anyone to destruction.
Calvin “Can” Convince You
I have laid all this out in this way because I cannot show you anything until I can first show you where it fits, including where it becomes personal to me. Christ is always personal.
And I can assure you that Calvin can convince you that his declaration of “the truth” is the correct manner in which to see and to approach God. Indeed, much that he says IS true, completely true, and all the verses he weaves together are also the truth. Yet I teach a completely different way of seeing both God and those same verses. I feel a great responsibility resting on Jesus on me, to present you with an accurate knowledge of the base assumptions undergirding all that Calvin and most of our brethren teach.
I Must See Deeper
You can read Calvin’s The Institutes of the Christian Religion online. There is no need for you to accept my word.
As I read, I looked for the underlying assumptions out from which Calvin was seeing God and organizing verses. As I began to find those assumptions, I realized that I was still looking at the surface. And so, as I paced back and forth, grieving over the absence of Jesus, crying into the presence of Jesus in me, I KNEW I had to see deeper. I had to see the real essence of all this so familiar and so powerful Biblical argument, full of so much truth. And so I asked myself, what is the fundamental base of all this convincing “Christianity?”
The Absence of Jesus
The fundamental base of all Calvinism is the absence of the Person of Jesus immediately involved with us as Savior and Salvation. That is, John 14:20 does not presently exist. Calvinism is an entire Bible and an entire God absent Christ in us and we in Him. At one point through my pacing, I said, “Jesus, I am so very glad that You are here, Personal and real, inside of me, carrying me in all ways through all things.” What joy I knew, what a lifting of all concern!
But I saw something deeper underneath that fundamental base. I saw a profound dishonesty, a dishonesty that penetrated everything, the dishonesty of John Calvin towards himself.
And I see this same profound dishonesty underneath all who teach Calvinism as the guiding force of all their knowing of God and the Bible. It is the dishonesty of Adam, manipulating the face of Eve. It is the dishonesty of those who proclaim “OBEY,” while they themselves DO NOT. They speak and are not silent.
And out of that profound dishonesty comes a powerful and overwhelming forehead, a forehead that dominates all. In my text, Knowing God by Scripture, I made this claim: “Your definition of ‘God’ comes entirely out from your initial definition of, ‘man,’ that is, of yourself.” One word describes Calvin’s God, ARROGANCE.
Calvin does present all the Biblical attributes of God, but he does not tell you his real adjective describing the “God” behind all of those attributes of holiness, grace, and love. Calvin’s “God” is first arrogant.
And here is the clearest description of an arrogant God from the words of Jonathan Edwards, a strong Calvinist. “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.”
Fitting Verses Together
Buddy Cobb preached powerful messages, out from strong Bible passages and out from truths we had embraced as a group, how much God hates us.
The “God” of Calvinism is first arrogant, and in that arrogance is no place for a God who is meek and lowly of heart, a God who carries us through all things, a God who stumbles under the weight of a cross He cannot carry, a God who thinks more highly of us than He does of Himself.
A final deep underlying assumption that must be placed here before we look at immediate underlying assumptions is Calvin’s organization of Bible verses, how he fit different verses together into a working whole. Calvin’s organization was the reasoning of good and evil based loosely on the Nicene Creed.
The Grace of Asperger’s
Buddy Cobb was similar. He taught his rendition of “the gospel” in a series of teachings he called, “The Plan of God.” This layout of “truth” was convoluted, based partly on a series of dispensations, but mostly on the reasoning of good and evil. Throughout his teachings and in an oblique manner, Buddy Cobb refuted Sam Fife and his teaching of Christ in us and the revelation of Christ through us.
As I think, now, of my own self, I think, “Okay, am I different? And if I am, what makes me different?” My first thought is of the wondrous GRACE of Asperger's and its crippling honesty. I FAIL at everything God requires, yet I KNOW that without Him, I would perish.
God’s Own Patterns
By his mid-twenties, Calvin had the entire Bible stored in his brain; by my mid-twenties, God had put His bony finger against my forehead, sternly telling me to stop messing with His word, to stop all effort to “figure it out.” And so, it seemed to me at the time, that the thing to do was to store the entire Bible in my heart.
And I can tell you, with all sincerity, that although all the Bible verses you see flowing into my letters do pass through my brain, they do not come from there. Rather, every one of them arises first from within my heart. But then, I also saw that I organize and fit together every Bible verse the same way Sam Fife did, by God’s own patterns, by God’s own arrangements of order.
Every Verse Fits
You see, I use God’s metaphors and patterns of the reproduction of life, of the feasts of the Lord, of the tabernacle of Moses, of the journey of Israel, and all the other patterns of God to organize every verse in the Bible. As I do that, I look more and more carefully at God’s actual specifics in those patterns. As I look, then, more closely at the patterns, the verses mean even more and fit together so perfectly that we are seeing a perfect tapestry of our Father.
This is why writing these letters is so incredibly easy for me, for the verses of God flow up from my heart and find their own way, it seems, into God’s clear and wonderful patterns. All I do is type. I just love it. You see, I did not “force” Agar’s “not enough’s” into God’s pattern; they simply leaped into it!
Knowing God and Man
Calvin begins his argument of theology with these words. “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone” (44).
And I think, “Wow, Amen!” – As we know God, so we know ourselves, and as we know ourselves, so we know God.
Sin and Outward Performance
Except Calvin is NOT thinking what I am thinking at all. Rather, Calvin states that as we see “God,” we see how wicked and low we ourselves are. Calvin thus begins his theology on this first close-in (as opposed to deep) underlying assumption.
- Seeing God causes us to see iniquity in ourselves; that is, by the knowledge of God is the knowledge of sin and evil.
- Since we cannot know God by His essence, we must know Him only by His outward performance. God shows Himself by His outward perfections (from 64).
Right from the start, I find full evidence for the intuitive claim I have made, that the foundational belief of “Christian theology” is that the serpent spoke the truth in the garden.
Here is the difficulty. Our brethren are clearly talking about God, and they are using thousands of Bible verses to talk about God, the same verses we use (mostly) and the same God of which we speak. Yet they are seeing God and the Bible THROUGH a very specific lens, and that lens is NOT the human Jesus, the MAN who walked this earth. That lens through which they look is the lens of the highest of heavenly beings who insists that he, and he alone, is the likeness of God, the lens through which all humans must see “God.”
An Incredible Twist
And that image of God claims that “God” knows good and evil, and that this “God” who knows good and evil demonstrates by an outward heavenly performance of lights and perfections what He expects all created persons to copy.
Here is the incredible twist. When I say that I see God, and in seeing God, I acknowledge all the good things of Christ inside of me, the Calvinists say that I am seeing God through the devil, because only the devil would talk about good things inside of us in the presence of “God.”
Yet God says that He thinks no evil, that He knows nothing about evil, that even when He tries to think about our “sins,” He cannot find any remembrance of them at all – our former sinful actions were never in His mind.
The Real Focus
Now, just as in the garden, the real focus of the serpent is not to get us looking at sin and not-sin, at how God hates sin and how we must deal with sin. (How can God hate something He knows nothing about? It is not sin God hates, but the consequences of sin, all the hurt and death that living separately from Jesus must bring.)
The real determination of the serpent is and has always been to keep us away from the tree of life, away from Jesus in us, away from YOU IN ME and I IN YOU! And so, getting the Christian upset over sin and over how evil and fallen he or she is, something God knows nothing about, is only the smokescreen from the real intention of the Calvinist – which is driving Jesus far away from us.
With one side of his mouth, Calvin “honors” Jesus, His salvation, and the grace and goodness of God, and with the other side of his mouth, Calvin drives this same Jesus far, far away from us. NOT on this earth. NOT in human flesh.
Calvin’s dishonesty is not just his conviction that he is “right.” It’s not just his arrogance and illogic viciously expressed against all others who read something a bit different in the Bible. And Calvin’s dishonesty is not just that he assumes that he has lined himself up with God, even though he fails God at every point, nor his assumption that he has figured God out.
Calvin’s dishonesty is that he does not care.
An Arrogant Jesus
And so this banished Jesus, this isolated, tiny, and limited form “up there somewhere,” also takes on the outward appearance of the highest of heavenly beings with a “heart” also rooted in arrogance. It was a Calvinist who sent me that email that sparked my search for God as He is, an email in which an arrogant Christ stood above my human weakness and ordered me to come out of it before He would deign to regard me.
We investigated the “deification” of Jesus, the church turning Him into an idol of heaven, driven far away from us in Symmorphy II: Essence. “Deifying” Jesus is casting Him as the same lens as the serpent, a lens too “lofty” for us lowly worms – that is, arrogance.
Now, I am going longer than my limit in this lesson because I must draw this topic to its conclusion. Our focus is entirely on the vanity of not knowing God in a world where the serpent places himself as the lens through which “God” must be seen and known.
Yet how can the world see and know God when the church of Jesus Christ, our brethren, also see God through the image of the serpent and not through the human Jesus. When we describe a God seen through a very Human Jesus, the One who lives in our hearts as the only life we are, all here now and personal, they do not know that we are seeing God through a different lens.
I’m done with Calvin; I hate his use of the Bible. I don’t want to know any more or to discover any further dark underlying assumptions. The serpent is as much the image of God to most Christians as he is to non-Christians.
Our task, then, is to shatter that false lens. This is the heart, I am convinced, of what God means when He says that He intends to shatter heaven (Hebrews 12). The shattering of heaven, the breaking of this false image, is the entrance of the Kingdom of God, the knowledge of Father as He is, able, now, to enter the knowing of our brethren.
It is making straight the highway for our God.