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Why I Am a Calvinist: Calling

This is part 5 of a series.
Part 1 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Introduction
Part 2 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Depravity
Part 3 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Election
Part 4 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Atonement

I was raised, as I believe I have stated before, on a strange mixture of evangelical Lutheranism and Arminian revivalism.The Lutheranism was of the best kind, but the revivalism, while certainly nowhere near the worst, was confusing enough. In Sunday School and Confirmation, we learned sola fide, and at evangelistic meetingswhich were certainly not called revival meetings, we were plied with the fiction of gospel songs like the one that follows:

Almost Persuaded
by Phillip P. Bliss

Almost persuaded now to believe;
Almost persuaded Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee Ill call.

Almost persuaded, come, come today;
Almost persuaded, turn not away;
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near
Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
O wanderer, come!

Almost persuaded, harvest is past!
Almost persuaded, doom comes at last!
Almost cannot avail;
Almost is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail
Almost, but lost!

Have you ever read anything so calculated to manipulate? Couple those pathetic lyrics with the mournful melody, which, if you can stand it, you can listen to at, and you are guaranteed to get some poor, emotionally assaulted sinner to walkor crawldown the aisle to make a decision for Christ.

He who is al?most per?suad?ed is al?most saved, and to be al?most saved is to be en?tire?ly lost, were the words with which the Rev. Mr. Brun?dage end?ed one of his ser?mons. P. P. Bliss, who was in the au?di?ence, was much im?pressed with the thought, and im?me?di?ate?ly set about the com?po?si?tion of what proved to be one of his most pop?u?lar songs.

One of the most im?press?ive oc?ca?sions on which this hymn was sung was in the Ag?ri?cul?tur?al Hall in Lon?don, in 1874, when Mr. Glad?stone was pre?sent. At the close of his ser?mon Mr. Moody asked the con?gre?ga?tion? to bow their heads, while I sang Al?most Per?suad?ed. The still?ness of death pre?vailed through?out the au?di?ence of over fif?teen thou?sand, as souls were mak?ing their de?ci?sions for Christ.

Sankey, Ira Da?vid. My Life and the Sto?ry of the Gos?pel Hymns (Har?per & Bro?thers, 1906) 112.

Did I really use the word fiction to describe Almost Persuaded? Yes, as the scenario described in Blisss gospel songfrom which the Gospel is mysteriously absenthas never occured. Certainly, sinners sit and listen to preachers call them to repentance and faith in Christ and walk away untouched. I almost dare say that happens every time the Gospel is preached. But the call of the preacher, which has no guarantee of any specific result, is not the supernatural call of God. Scripture assures us that this call always results in saving faith in the hearer.

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)

With that verse, I could almost end this series. Really, what more needs to be said? But, though I do aim for brevity, I have more to say.

Next :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Perseverance

Posted 2008·04·30 by David Kjos
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#1 || 08·04·30··11:24 || Bob House

I've enjoyed reading your articles. I agree completely with the effectual calling (as a 5-pointer myself), but I don't know that I completely agree with your perception of the song.

You will remember that Paul preached to King Agrippa in Acts 26, and Agrippa's response was "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." We also find in Acts 24:25, regarding Felix, "Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you. (NKJV)"

Both of these men would be able to say from their perspective that they were "almost persuaded." We all know that the gospel call goes out to all men. In other words, are not all invited in some sense?

My point is that I believe there is some truth to the idea of being "almost persuaded," but that's not enough without the effectual inward drawing of the Holy Spirit.

That being said, I am aware that the song was not written from the perspective of the general/effectual calling, and that it is designed as an emotional manipulation, so I don't use it. But it's not exactly in total errorit does use Bible language!

BTW, you can send me some of that lefse you talked about in your "commenting rules". If you don't, I just may never visit your site again. ;->

For the faith,

#2 || 08·04·30··11:58 || David

Sorry, but the lefse is too precious to part with. We don't get it made often enough.

The song does use some Bible language, but the message is pure Arminian, or maybe even more semi-Pelagian or Pelagian.

Remember, Agrippa said You (Paul) almost persuade me . . . , but he was not persuaded. He only received the general call of the preacher, not the supernatural, effectual call of God.

This is the error of Arminian revivalism: the preacher must persuade, and then the sinner must decide to become a Christian.

I imagine you know all that. I think my perception of the song is right, because I think that is the intent, and certainly the effect, of it.

#3 || 08·05·01··07:28 || Lance M. Roberts

Thanks for the articles! I'm currently studying Romans and it is great to see the rich truths therein!

I like your new blog design! Really cool!

#4 || 08·05·01··15:49 || donsands

Nice post.
The Lord calls us by name. He is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep by name, all 99 of them in the pasture of His grace and forgiveness, and even His lost one He is seeking, and shall call home.

The huge question is why he would quicken a dead rebel? He loves us rebels. Why love us? Don't know, but I'm grateful He did, and does.

Comments on this post are closed. If you have a question or comment concerning this post, feel free to email me.