Are We Only Here For God's Glory? What About God's Love?

(This is taken from the end of "Letter To Our Elders Regarding Calvinism Growing In Our Church."  

Update about the letter we sent: So far, nothing has happened about it, except that he is no longer allowing comments on his blog posts.  And he is basically adding Calvinist ideas to nearly every sermon these past weeks or so.  Just as I guessed ... he sounds like he's doubling-down on his predestination teaching!  Oh, well.  We did our parts - my husband and I.  Now it's up to the elders and leadership to decide what kind of church they want.  

Anyway, I wanted to make this little part of that post into its own post, altered just a bit, because it addresses an important facet of our relationship with God.)



My Calvinist pastor loves to remind us about how everything is all about - and basically only about - God's glory.  Even mankind.  The only reason why God does anything - even creating people - is for His glory.  It's also why He predetermines that people will be in hell (according to Calvinists), because it brings Him glory somehow. 

Did you hear that?  God has predetermined that most people will go right to hell, with no chance of being saved - He causes them to be unbelievers and then punishes them in hell for being unbelievers - because it brings Him glory somehow!?!  

Say what!?!

But if we are told it's "for His glory," who is going to disagree or argue with it?  That would make us look like we are arguing with the idea of God getting glory.  And since we don't want to do that, we all just shut up and accept it as truth.

(Well played, Calvinists.  Well played!  Manipulation at its finest!)



Anyway, one of the reasons why I don't care for our pastor's preaching (besides the Calvinism!) is that all his sermons are basically just about information for the head, theological academic stuff.  There's no preaching for the heart, for the hurting heart, for life.  There's no practical "how to live by faith" stuff.  No encouragement.  No "God loves you and you matter to Him."  No "let's figure out how to get through these hard trials of life together."   No help for life's struggles, for faltering faith.  Etc.  

It's always just more theological and academic information for the mind.  (Twisted theological stuff, which is what I believe Calvinism is.)   

Calvinist teaching is always loaded with how depraved we are ... how insignificant we should feel before God ... how virtually worthless we are apart from the glory God gets through us ... how God has predetermined everything and so we have no real effect on our lives ... how our choices are not really our choices because we are just acting out the parts God's already written for us ... how our eternity has already been decided for us and we can't change it ... how God causes everything, even sin and unbelief and every tragedy, for His pleasure, plans, and glory, but we are still accountable for our sins and unbelief, even though He caused it, and that's why He can punish us for it ... and how we don't have to understand how that all works, we just have to accept it, like a good, little Calvinist!  Because if we don't accept it - if we doubt or question what Calvinism says - we'll be dishonoring God.  (Which is kinda ironic because if we bring God dishonor, it would have to be because He made us bring Him dishonor.  Because according to Calvinism, God causes everything.)



But sometimes ... sometimes we just need to be reminded of how much God loves us, how valuable we are to Him, how He can and will help us through this hard life.  But when the sermons are all about God being so far above us, about how low in the dirt we should view ourselves, about God only being concerned with His own glory and how we should only be concerned with that too ... well, it's really hard to connect with a God like that, to want a relationship with a God like that, to feel like He wants a relationship with us.

Sometimes we don't need another theological beating.  Sometimes we just need a heavenly hug.



And it's interesting because in this link, the writer tells us that a Calvinist pastor usually avoids messages about how God loves you and how Jesus died for you.  They have to avoid these because they don't know, according to their Calvinism, if God loves everyone in the audience or if Jesus died for everyone in the audience.  Because, according to Calvinists, God only loves the elect and Jesus only died for the elect.  So you won't hear those general "God loves you" kinds of messages from them.

And Calvinists are not about God's love.  They're all about God's glory, our insignificance, His ultimate control, our complete inability to do anything.  And I kinda see that it's true.  Calvinists like to remind us regularly about how we are only here for God's glory, so that He can glorify Himself through us.  


If an author or your pastor always talks about God's glory being the highest goal of all - the only goal of all - they are probably Calvinists.  Now, of course, I don't have a problem with God's glory being a top goal.  God is God, the highest, most glorious Being there is.  He is tops simply because He is at the top.  It's a matter of fact.  



But the problem is that Calvinists, in order to elevate God and His glory, go the extreme of reducing all else, lower than God values it.  They act like God can only be honored and glorified for the Supreme Being He is if humans - along with everything else - are reduced to insignificant puddles of mush around His glorious feet.  

That's what I have a problem with - that they reduce everything else so much lower than it should be, than God sees it, just so they can look like they are elevating God's glory as high as they can.  



But I think this is too extreme.  I don't think God needs our piousness and false humility in order to appear more glorious.  I don't think it honors God like they think it does.  In fact, I think it does damage to our relationship with the Lord.  Because who's going to want to get close to a God who's only using us for the glory He can get through us and who doesn't really care about us but only cares about Himself?  




My pastor wrote a post recently, addressing the question of who God loves more: Himself or people?  And the answer he gives is "Himself, of course."  He makes it sound like it's for a good reason and all, but it's still a "He loves Himself more, so deal with it" post.


And all I could think was "What purpose does a post like this serve?  Claiming that God loves Himself more than He loves people?  What a weird post to write!" 


And the only thing I could think is that it helps support his Calvinism.  It's a way to elevate God even more and to reduce us even more, so that we feel so "humble" before God, so low before Him, that we become willing to accept the Calvinist idea that God alone has all the controlling power, that everything He does is for Himself.  And so if, as Calvinists say, He chooses to predestine people to hell or to bring some tragedy into our lives, then it has to be good with us because God makes His decisions for Himself, for His own glory, out of love for Himself.  And who are we anyway to question what God does for Himself?  For His own glory?  


What a weird post!





I think Calvinists, in an effort to elevate God, do damage to God's character, to His love for us, to His plans, to His sacrifice for us, to our relationship with Him, to Gospel Truth, etc.


I have no problem with God being glorified and with bringing Himself glory in what He does (that's only appropriate), but sometimes it's nice to hear that He made us because He loves us, because He wants a relationship with us, not just because He is looking for another way to bring Himself glory.

But Calvinists are not about a relationship with God.  They are only about people being here for God to get more glory for Himself, for God to do what He wants with us for His own pleasure and plans.  


Calvinism hurts my heart.  And I think it hurts God's heart too.  Because it hurts our faith in Him, our trust of Him.  It hurts the relationship He wants to have with us.  Because He does indeed love and value people, simply because He does.  Because He wants to. 

I don't think God made us just for His glory.  I think He also made us for His enjoyment.  Because He wants people to love, and He wants people to love Him.  Because it brings Him joy.  

I found a verse - 2 Corinthians 5:4-5 - about one of the reasons why God made us, and this passage doesn't say it's only all about His glory:  "... we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now it is God who made us for this very purpose ..."  

To me, this sounds like the very reason God made us was so that we could have eternal life in heaven with Him.  He wants us in heaven with Him.  And that is the reason He made us.  Even though He is glorified through everything, I think one reason He made us is because He wanted us, not just because He needed to glorify Himself more by creating us.  

And that's a God I want to get close to and to love.  One who wants to get close to me because He loves me, because I matter to Him.  Just because.



What is it that Paul prayed about for the Ephesians?

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  (Ephesians 3:17-19)

God is not just about using us to get more glory.  God was completely complete in Himself before we ever came along.  He needs nothing from us.

But He does want us!  He wants us to know His love fully, deeply.  Knowing His love is what will fill us completely with the fullness of God ... not reducing ourselves to tiny, insignificant worms that are only here because God wanted more glory.

God made us out of love!  God wants us to come to Him, to spend eternity with Him, because of love!


"For God so wanted to glorify Himself more loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life..."  (John 3:16)

And Jesus said, "As my Father has loved me, so have I loved you... I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that you would bring God more glory your joy may be complete."  (John 15:9-11)

"And we know that in all things God works for His own glory the good of those who love him..."  (Romans 8:28)

"But God demonstrates his own glory love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  (Romans 5:8)

"But because he wanted more glory of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved."  (Ephesians 2:4-5)

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to glorify Myself prosper you and not to harm you, plans to glorify Myself give you hope and a future.'"  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Yes, God's glory is tops!  Because God is tops!  But there's so much more to Him than His pursuit of glory or His love for Himself.  Calvinism might seem like it elevates God, but I think it reduces God.  It shrinks His desires, His goals, His love, His sacrifice, His plans, etc.  It makes Him a flat, one-dimensional God, putting Him in a tiny box labelled "How God has to be and has to act, in order to be considered 'God'."    


My heart is aching for some good, godly encouragement about God's love.  For some practical messages about how He'll carry us through the hard times and how His love for us spurs us on to love Him more, etc.  I don't need more academic information, especially when it's loaded with Calvinism.  My soul is drying up there.  Ugh!  But that's my own personal thoughts about this.  And yet, I know I'm not the only one thinking it.  Ugh!  Ugh!  Ugh!

It makes me sad.  I've always liked attending church.  My church was always a good place that I was eager to invite others to.  

And then came the new Calvinist pastor. 

And now I cannot invite people to my church.  And I haven't for years.  I would feel partly responsible for them getting a damaging picture of God - one who doesn't extend grace and forgiveness to everyone, who causes people to not believe in Him and then punishes them in hell for not believing, who somehow finds it glorifying to put people in hell, etc.  Ugh!  It makes me sick.  And heartbroken.


I didn't want to send that letter to the elders.  I am a people-pleaser by nature, a "make people feel good, don't rock the boat, don't offend others" kind of a person.  It distresses me when I have to confront others.  And it takes me a long, long time to do it.  And I'm usually stressed for days after it, replaying it all in my head, wondering if I did the right thing.

But after writing and sending the letter to the elders, January 2, I went to bed in complete peace.  I felt not one shred of anxiety or distress.  We had done what we needed to do, what I know the Lord was asking us to do.

I didn't write this letter so that the pastor would start preaching what I want to hear.  Because I am done listening.  I can't even listen to his good sermons anymore - the ones where he talks about our "responsibility" to respond to the Gospel - because I know his underlying view is that we don't get a choice anyway, that no one can even want God or seek God unless God makes them do it.

I didn't write this letter for me.  I wrote this letter for the people in the congregation who are struggling with his teaching, but who think they're alone in disagreeing with him.  I wrote it for those who aren't aware they are being manipulated and shamed into Calvinism.  I wrote it for those who are also discouraged and who have been wanting to slip out quietly, too.  If we all slipped out quietly, if no one voiced any disagreement, then we would simply be handing this church over to dogmatic Calvinism, where no one disagrees and no one is "allowed" to disagree.  And the people wouldn't even know it's happening.  And that wouldn't be fair to the people.

And I wrote it for the Lord, because I think it's wrong to teach that His death wasn't for everyone, that He chose most people to go right to hell and gave them no chance to be saved, that He causes people to sin but then holds them accountable for it, that you should simply trust Him anyway and not question Him, etc.  I think it destroys the Gospel message and Truth and God's character, that it hurts people's faith and their view of God, and that it makes a mess of the Bible.

Honestly, that's one reason I took this issue so seriously and researched it so thoroughly.  I have put my faith in and staked my soul, my eternity, on the God of the Bible.  And I needed to know that the Bible is reliable.  That it tells one cohesive, understandable, reasonable, rational story from beginning to end.  That it makes sense.  But predestination makes a mess of Scripture and God's character.  It creates far more questions - unanswerable questions - than it answers.  And then it tells you, "Oh, but you don't have to understand it.  So be a good, humble Christian and just accept it, even if it's too confusing and makes God look bad."

But no!  I staked my eternal soul on this Bible, on the Gospel, on Jesus.  And I needed to know that I had good, valid reasons to.  That it makes sense.  That God is who I believe He is - good, loving, just, righteous.  That He really does love us, all of us.  That we all matter to Him.  That Jesus died for everyone and so forgiveness is available to everyone, no matter where you've been, what you've done, or how broken you are.  That God is a God worth trusting, worth loving, worth risking your soul on.  

And so I researched and researched and researched.  And now I can honestly say that, yes, the Bible really does make sense.  And it tells one cohesive story, presenting God's character in a cohesive way, from beginning to end.  And it's full of hope and life and grace and love.  And it makes sense.  

After you get rid of the predestination and Calvinism nonsense!



You know, I was watching Bohemian Rhapsody last night (3/19/19).  I still have to watch the last 20 minutes or so, but I've got to say that what I've seen so far has got to be one of the saddest movies I've seen in a long time.  To watch this broken, hurting, empty man try to fill the hole in his heart with all sorts of temporary pleasures.  To see him ache for true acceptance.  For a family.  For some place to belong.  Dying to know that he matters to someone.  

My goodness, it breaks my heart.  I wanted to reach through the screen, through time, and wrap my arms around him and tell him he is loved and that he matters and that there is hope.  That God made him and loves him and wants a relationship with him.  That there's a place for everyone in God's family.    

I think most of us can relate a bit to how Freddie Mercury feels.  And most of us are desperate for someone to reach out to us and tell us we are loved and we matter and there's hope and there's a place for us.  

But what would a Calvinist say about someone like that?  "Well, he was predestined to be an unbeliever, to go to hell.  God brought that pain, those trials, that emptiness into his life for a reason.  Because God would be glorified by it somehow."

But you know what I say about that?

"Bullcrap!!!"

Yeah, you heard me right.  And I'll say it again: BULL-CRAPPITY-CRAP-CRAPOLA!!!

That man - every person - is dearly loved by God.  Jesus died for all of us so that we could be saved, so that we could find true purpose, genuine joy, healing hope, eternal life!  None of us are beyond the reach of God's saving grace!  Salvation is available to us all, and God calls out to us all, pleading with us to take His hand.  But it's up to us to turn to Him, to reach out for His outstretched hand, to accept the free gifts of salvation and forgiveness and grace and mercy that Jesus made possible through His death on the cross.

No one is predestined to hell!  No one is hopeless!  No one is beyond the reach of God's grace and love!  

You are loved!  You matter!  There is hope!  Reach out and grab God's hand.  Accept the forgiveness, the healing, the love that He offers, that He wants you to take!  You don't have to do anything to earn it.  It's already there, already available.  Your sins have already been paid for.  There's a place for you in God's family.  

You just have to accept it!

(For more on this, click here.  But if you want to start now, simply start by saying something like this out loud: "God, I need You.  I choose You.  I believe that Jesus died for me, and I accept His sacrifice for me.  And I want to live for You from now on.  Help me."  It doesn't need to be fancy; it just needs to be real.) 
 


I strongly believe Calvinism is basically heresy.  That it totally alters God's Word and damages God's character.  That it hurts our relationship with Him, our faith, His grace, Jesus's sacrifice, our hope, our trust in Him, our eternities, etc.  

This is why I speak out about it so strongly!

Calvinists act like they are all about God's glory.  But how can it be glorifying to God to change His truth the way they do?  To misrepresent Jesus's sacrifice and God's love the way they do?  To say that most people are beyond God's saving grace?

If God says He loves all people and that Jesus died for all people and that He wants no one to go to hell, how can it be glorifying to Him if you say the opposite?

You can't be "all about God's glory" if you are not all about God's Truth!  





I will continue to post and repost these songs.  They are just so powerful!  So hopeful and truth-filled, neatly summing up why I love the Lord!

Oh, What Love! by The City Harmonic

Sweetly Broken by Jeremy Riddle

I AM! by Crowder

My Jesus by Todd Agnew

Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North

Confession (Agnus Dei) by The City Harmonic

By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North

Fell Apart by The City Harmonic

Love, Heal Me by The City Harmonic




And just for fun - my own fun - some of my favorite Anti-Calvinist memes, from my post, "Anti-Calvinism Memes and Links":

I told you ...

Early Christians ...

Absolutely sure...

Only if you're elected ...

Tell me again...

Jesus Loves Me...

A Calvinist's John 3:16



That feeling you get...



Where Calvinism is in the Bible...

Me, waiting ...

So, what drew you to Calvinism?

So you say ...

But I don't wanna ...

If you want people ...

Another Predestination Sermon

God "In Control"



"I love being a Calvinist"

How you feel when ...

Yep, makes perfect sense!




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