Why I’m a Calvinist, and Not a Jerk!

We welcome a guest blogger to Defending Contending. George Alvarado may be known to some of you as the author of the book Apocity. I hope that we can learn from the attitude he portrays on what is often a sensitive issue and one that is not always found with a great degree of humility.


Imagine someone drowning and gasping for air as they are gargling water trying to cry for help. Just before they black out, their lungs fill with water, preventing them to give a final cry, and their body sinks to the depths. As they black out, they feel nothing but the cold water surrounding them, and hear nothing but a deafening silence that welcomes them to their watery grave. Then, they wake up and find themselves underneath the pressure of someone administering CPR. As their chest is compressed and their lungs fill with air from their rescuer, they begin to regain consciousness and the breath of life is once again restored to their own control. When they take their first, deep breath, the adjoining exhale is filled with overwhelming gratitude towards the person that resuscitated them from certain death. Now, imagine a local journalist reporting on this incident asking this person their thoughts on this event, and they say, “I am really glad I chose to come back to life. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I didn’t take my first breath.”


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The Holy Spirit and Reformed Theology

Some books are a chore to read – because of content and/or style and/or the author’s competence as an author. Some books are a joy to read – the content is excellent, the style is engaging and the book is well written and Holy Spiritorganized. This book is such a book – joy unspeakable! Yet about this book, I will speak.

I received this book from a friend who manages a library at a Christian Seminary and wanted someone to read and review it. He got first peek at the review, ya’ll get it as a close “second”.

The Holy Spirit and Reformed Theology

edited by Joel Beeke and Derek Thomas

One area many reformed theologians tend to ignore is the person and work of the Holy Spirit. There is a legitimate concern by most preachers about exalting the Lord Jesus and being faithful to His gospel, but no preaching or evangelism or Bible study would be worthwhile if the Spirit of the living God did not faithfully attend each of these. This book – a compilation of articles on various works of the Holy Spirit, written by 9 Baptists and 9 Paedobaptists – is a wonderful examination of the biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It was written in tribute to the work He has done in the life Geoff Thomas, a faithful gospel minister who has served half a century in the local church our Lord called him to. I have personally benefited greatly from Geoff Thomas’ commentary on Daniel and was most eager to read this book.

The Holy Spirit and Reformed Theology is divided into four sections – Geoff Thomas: Faithful Instrument of the Spirit in part I; Salvation and the Spirit of Christ in part II; Growth and the Spirit of Holiness in part III; and Ministry and the Spirit of Counsel and Might in part IV. As you can see from the section titles, the authors recognize and highlight myriad functions and characteristics of the Holy Spirit. The reader will come away from this book with a heightened sense of the power and majesty of the third person of the Holy Trinity.

I will highlight one chapter to give you a taste of the quality and penetrating theology the authors provide. Fred Malone’s chapter, #6, is titled The Holy Spirit and Human Responsibility – a topic I think many Christians fail to properly comprehend. Malone opens with an observation from Geoff Thomas’ book, The Holy Spirit: Man is fully responsible for his behavior and God is fully sovereign in His work to conform man to the image of His dear Son. In stark contrast to the “higher life” movements which advocate a theology of “let go and let God” and the self-improvement psychology, a biblical view of sanctification acknowledges the tension Thomas proclaimed.

Infamously promoted by the Roman Catholic Church is the conflation of justification and sanctification, leading to confusion about both doctrines. Justification is completely monergistic – by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Sanctification involves man’s effort, so it is not the monergistic work of God alone – yet neither is it rightly called synergistic. This term conveys a process which depends on both elements – in the case of sanctification those are God and man. The truth of biblical sanctification is this: man cannot sanctify himself apart from the indwelling work and power of the Spirit of God; but the Holy Spirit can and does sanctify man without the man’s cooperation, though this should not be our aim. Our responsibility before God is to work with the Holy Spirit, not grieve Him.

In outlining this concept, Malone tells us, “Man does not regenerate himself; God does not repent and believe for man.” Sinners are made able and willing to repent and believe by the Spirit’s work of regeneration. Our nature is changed and we then “choose Christ” – because He first chose us. Our author points to Philippians 2:12-13, saying it “presents the earthly pursuit of Christlikeness as one hundred percent a sovereign work of God the Holy Spirit who works with us and also one hundred percent the work of man with his new God-given ability. If this two hundred percent sum sounds illogical, then we must bow to God’s Word, not man’s logic.” Let all the saints say, Amen!

Malone gives the reader a couple of wonderful paragraphs on the individual’s role in sanctification, with many Scripture passages (pages 76 and 77) and follows up with a short warning: “We cannot blame God for our lack of conformity to Christ.” He explains, “Every step we take forward in Christlikeness brings one hundred percent glory to God alone. However, if we are lacking in that conformity, we must take one hundred percent of the responsibility for that failure and press on by faith.” If this exhortation does not convict as it encourages us to trust all the more in the Lord, then “let a man examine himself to see if he be in the faith.”

This chapter ends by proclaiming the critical nature God’s Word plays in the justification and sanctification of God’s saints. As is pointed out elsewhere in this book, the Holy Spirit inspired the Scripture, equipped the men who put the Word into print, accompanies the reading and preaching of the Word to do His unique work in each predestined child who awaits (unknowingly) his redemption. “So Christians must give full attention to learning the Word of God to grow thereby (1 Peter 2:1-2).” Christian, do you value the Word of God? By this, I ask, do you read it with a humble heart seeking to meet with your maker and judge and Savior? I leave you with one more quote from Malone – “to the degree we live believing the indicatives of grace revealed in the Word – the love of God for us in Christ’s salvation, the unfailing faithfulness of God to His promises to work in us – so we grow in obeying the imperatives of the Word unto further sanctification and Christlikeness.”

Dear reader, the Holy Spirit is God and He works in and through His Word, to raise spiritually dead men to new life, to give them a new nature that loves rather than hates God, to cause us to want what is good and hate what is evil. This book provides a most valuable look at the depth and breadth of His work, highlighting what He does mostly in secret because His role is to bring honor and glory to the Father and the Son. Praise Him!

Sermon of the week: “Audacious Grace” by Akash Sant Singh.

Does God’s lavish, unexplainable grace offend you? Does it bother you that His grace can be extended to a wretch such as a serial killer, or is it only good for you?

I am happy to present another powerful and convicting message by Akash Sant Singh as your sermon of the week: God’s Audacious Grace.

Sermon of the week: “Biblical Nonconformity” by Robert Briggs.

Your sermon of the week is the three-part message, Biblical Nonconformity, by Robert Briggs. 

Biblical Nonconformity Part 1 (Introduction)

Biblical Nonconformity Part 2

Biblical Nonconformity Part 3 (Source of our Strength)

Sermon of the week: “The Gospel Revolution in Work” by Akash Sant Singh.

As a follow-up to last week’s two-part message on Christian work ethic by Brian Borgman (found here), DefCon is pleased to present another two-part message on this same subject by Akash Sant Singh entitled The Gospel Revolution in Work. This is a great message that every Christian should listen to whether they work in the home or outside of the home.

The Gospel Revolution in Work (Part 1)

The Gospel Revolution in Work (Part 2)

Sermon of the week: “The Christian Work Ethic” by Brian Borgman.

For the next two weeks DefCon will be bringing you sermons on the subject of Christian work ethic and how the gospel plays out in our vocations.Whether you work outside the home, from home, are a homemaker, a boss, an employee, a student, a husband, a wife, or a child, the next two weeks are for you.

This week we present Brian Borgman’s message entitled The Christian Work Ethic, and next week we’ll present a different message from a different pastor dealing with the same topic.

I trust that the convicting admonishments of the next two weeks will ultimately be an encouragement to you in whatever vocation God currently has you.

(See also the follow-up to Borgman’s message: The Gospel Revolution in Work by Akash Sant Singh.)

Sermon of the week: “Dangers of Calvinism – The Danger of Pride” by John Scheffer.

Someone was finally bold enough to address one of the greatest causes for people to reject the Doctrines of Grace: proud, combative, and caustic Calvinists. John Scheffer boldly goes where few will dare in his candid message Dangers of Calvinism: The Danger of Pride.

Sermon of the week: “A Final Word” by Angelo Sanchez.

What message would you deliver to your congregation if it was your final sermon after twenty years as their pastor?

Find out what candid words of exhortation and warning Pastor Sanchez has for not only his congregation but also for the pastor taking his place in the message A Final Word.

This message delivered to his congregation after two decades of service is very revealing and should be heard by all pastors and their congregations, especially new pastors entering into ministry.

Sermon of the week: “Fine Sounding Arguments” by Thabiti Anyyabwile.

Your sermon of the week is a fine message by Thabiti Anyabwile entitled Fine Sounding Arguments. The subtitle of this message is How Wrongly ‘Engaging the Culture’ Adjusts the Gospel.

Anyabwile deals with the propensity of so many Christians to “engage the culture” in ways that are not biblical, and he examines not only what “engaging the culture” should be, but he shows how current culture-engaging methods may actually be counter-productive to the message of the cross.

A very well formulated and delivered sermon; it will make you rethink what you’ve been conditioned to believe about our role as believers in relation to how we are to engage the culture.

Sermon of the week: “The Doctrine of Salvation – Justification” by Brian Borgman.

Brian Borgman Your sermon of the week is a great message on justification by Brian Borgman. This sermon also contains the Are You a Roman Catholic or Christian quiz that was featured on DefCon two days ago.

I recommend that before you download/stream this two-part sermon, that you take the quiz first. For those who took the quiz and had some questions about it, this sermon should help answer them.

Additionally, this sermon should bring clarity to the differences between the falsehoods of Roman Catholicism’s view of justification versus the truths of justification contained in holy Scripture.

The Doctrine of Salvation: Justification (Part One)

The Doctrine of Salvation: Justification (Part Two)

Sermon of the week:”The Authentic Christian” by Angelo Sanchez.

Your sermon of the week is The Authentic Christian by Angelo Sanchez of Community Bible Church (CBCReno.net). In this sermon, Pastor Sanchez covers a subject most pastors won’t touch, and says things most pastors aren’t willing to say, yet is so vitally important to hear.

Sermon of the week: Semper Reformanda – “Children in Worship” by Brian Borgman.

Brian Borgman Your sermon of the week is Semper Reformanda: Children in Worship by Brian Borgman. This message is from a 1996 church service when the church decided that they would no longer dismiss the children and separate them from their parents during the main worship service. This is a very enlightening sermon as Borgman makes the case for why children and their parents should worship together in church. I highly recommend this message; it will challenge you to change the way you’ve always done things.

A DefCon milestone: Our one millionth visitor.

It was two years ago that DefCon entered the blogoshphere and today we’re celebrating our one millionth visitor. We’re marking the occasion with a whole new look, and I’ll be tweaking it over the week to come till it’s perfect.

We’ve seen a lot, been through a lot, learned a lot, and grown a lot. What keeps us going is the myriad of comments and e-mails from those whose lives have been changed, strengthened, and encouraged by this blog. We truly appreciate our readers and would not be where we’re at today if it weren’t for you.

We also know that this will not last forever. Like many things in life, there is a season for everything, and seasons come and go. The handwriting is already on the wall, and sites like this will be labeled “illegal” and “subversive” in the near future as attacks and persecution continue to increase worldwide against Christians who preach and hold to the exclusivity of Christ.

We appreciate your continued support as we work while there’s still light, for the darkness is fast approaching when we will no longer be able to labor for the Kingdom. Again, thank you all for your readership and encouragement.

Sermon of the week: “The Grace of God’s Law – God’s Law in the Life of the Saints” by Brian Borgman.

Brian Borgman We have finally reached the end of Brian Borgman’s thirteen-part series  entitled Introduction to the Reformed Faith. The Grace of God’s Law – God’s Law in the Life of the Saints is the concluding installment of this great series on the Doctrines of Grace that we began in October 2009.

I hope it has been a blessing to you all. For those who want to download the entire series, you can find it here.

Sermon of the week: “The Assurance of Grace – Assurance in the Life of the Saints” by Brian Borgman.

Brian Borgman Another fantastic sermon! Your sermon of the week is The Assurance of Grace – Assurance in the Life of the Saints by Brian Borgman. This is one that will not sit well with Roman Catholics and anyone else who rejects the idea of assurance.

This is part twelve of a thirteen-part series on the Doctrines of Grace entitled Introduction to the Reformed Faith by Pastor Brian Borgman. Be sure to check out the final installment next week.

10 Things.

The following top ten list (plus one, which really makes it eleven) comes from a piece entitled 10 Things That Make a Lay Person Want To Spit which can be found on this post from the Bororean.


After seeing the Hoodlum Pastors short list of things that make a pastor want to cuss, I thought I would make a list of my own that truly makes me want to spit!

10 Things that make a lay person want to spit!

01. Preachers who insist on exalting themselves instead of magnifying Christ, they draw men’s attention to them or their church instead of pointing to Christ and His cross.

02. Preachers who fail to rightly divide the Word of Truth and attempt to pass off some self-esteem psycho-babble as biblical preaching.

03. Preachers who talk about being a biblical man but have very little warmth in their speech or actions! They are not sensitive nor tender to the flock of God and are callous in their dealings with growing saints and say hateful things on their blog or facebook for the shock effect.

04. Preachers who think they actually need to promote sex within the church.

05. Preachers who are preoccupied with their image and physical appearance and make a point to boast about their Harley Davidson, you know; the cool dude.

06. Preachers who have a disdain for the word “DOCTRINE”.

07. Preachers who start every sentence with “I believe”, vs “thus saith the Lord” and always makes a point to use the buzz words. (un-churched, Christ-follower you know the words that don’t offend lost sinners)

08. Preachers who proudly flaunt how different their church is from what has gone before and treat Christians from the past (and their hymns) with scorn.

09. Preachers who’s hero is Rick Warren or Joel Osteen.

10. Preachers who are always promoting some new thing or novelty that will change my life forever.


I guess I got one more in me! Oh feel free to add your own list in the comments.

11. Preachers who want to cuss because of weak and shallow Christians who sit under weak and shallow preaching, now that really makes me want to spit!!!

Sermon of the week: “Grace Triumphant – Perseverance of the Saints” by Brian Borgman.

Brian Borgman Your sermon of the week is Grace Triumphant – Perseverance of the Saints by Brian Borgman. This is part eleven of a thirteen-part series on the Doctrines of Grace entitled Introduction to the Reformed Faith by Pastor Brian Borgman. Look for the next installment every other week.

Sermon of the week: “Grace Applied – Irresistible Grace” by Brian Borgman.

Brian Borgman

Your sermon of the week is Grace Applied – Irresistible Grace by Brian Borgman from his thirteen-part series on the Doctrines of Grace entitled Introduction to the Reformed Faith.  Look for the remaining three parts over the next few weeks.