While looking for some sermon audio on Monergism.com I came across an article by Tom Nettles that really peaked my interest. The article attempts to answer the questions: Why do my Christian friends have such an aversion to the Doctrines of Grace? How can I keep the channels of communication open and still make progress in helping them to understand? I will share it with you here and provide some highlights in an outline form. I will provide the link to the article at the bottom.
Difficulties and Priorities
He starts off by encouraging us not to get too obsessed with this personal dilemma. The highest priority is to share the gospel with folks. But he also shares 3 John 3 & 4:
3 For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
“Only rarely does something compare with the spiritual delight of seeing a friend, fellow Christian, or fellow minister embrace and enjoy this truth.”
Principles to Encourage Patience
Having a high view of God flies in the face of our natural tendency for pride, self-sufficiency, and independence.
Principle of growth
Maybe the reason they can’t understand is that they are in fact unregenerate.
In Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul provides a “clear and moving affirmation of the glory of God in His sovereign bestowal of salvation”, and then in 1:17-23 he prays for their understanding. So pray for your brother or sisters’ understanding as well.
Prayer, patience, and self-sacrifice are fundamental in discussing these truths.
Principle of common ground
Start by re-establishing the common ground of the gospel and common evangelical creeds.
Principles For Proceeding
Principle of progressive consistency
Introduce them to Habakkuk 1:12-2:1. This prophet had to deal with what he felt were contradictions in his understanding of God.
“In the final analysis all revelation is preparation for further revelation and consistent with previous revelation. The Bible is filled with this progressive revelation of truth on truth.”
Luke 11:52 points out that the Jewish leaders took away the key of knowledge (understanding God’s revelation) by refusing to advance in understanding.
“What could be more consistent with salvation by pure unmerited favor than unconditional election?”
Principle of Grace
“Unconditional election, effectual calling, definite (or if someone prefers, limited) atonement, and preserving grace are all gracious, purely unmerited, and explanatory of how God does finally save undeserving, resistant, justly condemned sinners.”
In conclusion be patient, loving and gentle. Be prepared to give an answer for any objection.
We all know someone who continues to hold their “free will” teaching in highest regard. Hopefully this article will encourage you to be longsuffering in your dialog with them.