Does Calvinism stunt evangelistic zeal?

Who did God use to pull the church out of the Satanic grip of the Roman Catholic Church?

Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli. All “Calvinists”.

Who went to Scotland and set the nation on fire with his zeal for preaching God’s truth?

John Knox, a man profoundly influenced by Calvin himself.

Who is known for their evangelism to the American natives, their compendium of lasting classic Christian literature, and their zeal to serve the Lord in all of life?

The Puritans– who were all-out Calvinists.

Which American preacher was used of God to spark the first Great Awakening?

Jonathan Edwards– who perhaps was more Calvinistic than Calvin.

Which other English preacher ignited the Great Awakening?

George Whitefield, a devoted believer to the doctrines of grace.

Who did Jonathan Edwards influence to take to the fronteir and minister among the native Americans?

David Brainerd. Calvinist.

Which famous missionary read David Brainerd’s biography and was so impacted that he went to the mission field and ignited the modern missionary movement?

William Carey. Calvinist.

The list is endless– Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones; not to mention our contemporaries John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and many others.

History attests to the fact that Calvinism does not stunt evangelistic zeal, but rather it ignites it. As Steven Lawson has said, “Arminian evangelists are not playing with a full deck.” When Calvinism meets evangelism it’s like gas and fire– an explosion of power results.

All true Christians are good and faithful soldiers of Jesus Christ

All true Christians are good and faithful soldiers of Jesus Christ, and “fight the good fight of faith;” for none but those who do so, “ever lay hold on eternal life.” Those who “fight as those who beat the air,” never win the crown of victory. “They that run in a race, run all, but one wins the prize,” and they that are slack and negligent in their course do not “so run as that they may obtain.” The kingdom of heaven is not to be taken but by violence. Without earnestness there is no getting along in that narrow way that leads to life; and so no arriving at that state of glorious life and happiness which it leads to. Without earnest labour there is no ascending the steep and high hill of Zion, and so no arriving at the heavenly city on the top of it. Without a constant laboriousness there is no stemming the swift stream in which we swim, so as ever to come to that fountain of water of life that is at the head of it. There is need that we should “watch and pray always, in order to our escaping those dreadful things that are coming on the ungodly, and our being counted worthy to stand before the Son of man.” There is need of our “putting on the whole armour of God, and doing all, to stand,” in order to our avoiding a total overthrown, and being utterly destroyed by “the fiery darts of the devil.” There is need that we should “forget the things that are behind, and be reaching forth to the things that are before, and pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high caling of God in Christ Jesus,” in order to our obtaining that prize. Slothfulness in the service of God in His professed servants is as damning as open rebellion; for the slothful servant is a wicked servant, and shall be cast into outer darkness among God’s open enemies (Matt. XXV. 26, 30).

Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, pg. 311

Did Piper’s Desiring God change your life?

I’m curious.

In the wake of For the Fame of God’s Name: Essay’s in Honor of John Piper, I’ve been hearing a lot about how Piper’s magnum opus, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, has been marked as the single most important book in the lives of countless individuals. I don’t know about you, but it was exactly that for me.

And apparently, there are many more like me. I didn’t realize that so many others have the same exact story as I do. The story seems to go like this: an older friend recommends the book to you (in my case, it was my college pastor Jordan Bakker). You start to read the book, and it both liberates you and rattles you. The idea that God demands that you find your joy in him frees you to pursue joy like you’ve always wanted to. You struggle against the whole issue of God’s absolute sovereignty for a while, and then, in a climactic moment, you cave under the weight of God’s glory manifested in it.

And then you have this sort of Edwardsian revelation:

From childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God’s sovereignty…It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me. But I remember the time very well, when I seemed to be convinced, and fully satisfied, as to this sovereignty of God, and his justice in thus eternally disposing of [dealing with] men, according to his sovereign pleasure. But never could give an account, how, or by what means, I was, thus convinced, not in the least imagining at the time, nor a long time after, that there was any extraordinary influence of God’s Spirit in it but only that now I saw further, and my reason apprehended the justice and reasonableness of it. However, my mind rested in it; and it put an end to all those cavils and objections. And there has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, from that day to this; so that I scarce ever have found so much as the rising of an objection against it, in the most absolute sense, in God’s shewing mercy to whom he will show mercy, and hardening whom he will. God’s absolute sovereignty and justice, with respect to salvation and damnation, is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of any thing that I see with my eyes, at least it is so at times. The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God.

And once that happens, you’re changed forever.

That’s how the story goes.

There’s a whole movement of us young, restless, reformed guys who point to Desiring God as the spark that ignited our passion for the glory of God.

Are you one of them? What’s your story?

Longing to Long

The more grace we receive from God, the deeper our longing for grace is.

The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love Him, and the more uneasy is he at his want of love to Him; the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remaining love to it; the more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to mourn for sin; the more his heart is broke, the more he desires it should be broke: the more he thirsts and longs after God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe out his very soul in longings after God. The kindling and raising of gracious affections is like kindling a flame; the higher it is raised, the more ardent it is; and the more it burns, the more vehemently does it tend and seek to burn. So that the spiritual appetite after holiness and an increase of holy affections, is much more lively and keen in those that are eminent in holiness, than in others; and more when grace and holy affections are in their most lively exercise than at other times.

Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections.