I am a five-point Calvinist and Presbyterian who goes to a church of the RCUS denomination (Reformed Church of the United States) who speaks in the tongues of angels in his private prayers to the Lord. From that, I also believe that the gifts of the Spirit talked about in (1 Corinthians 12) are for today.
Here are the distinctions of my faith.
What I once believed growing up in the Assembly of God Church:
- The Sinner’s Prayer: This means asking for the forgiveness of your sins and for Jesus to come into your heart. Think of altar calls similar to Billy Graham revival meetings. I was saved at the age of 5 with this prayer.
- Salvation Can Easily Be Lost: I would confess my sins constantly to the Lord. I feared dying and going to hell because I hadn’t confessed my sins.
- Credobaptism of Water with Full Immersion: I was baptized in water soon after my acceptance of Jesus in my heart.
- The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit with the Evidence of Speaking in Other Tongues: I received the gift of tongues at a Kid’s Camp tabernacle meeting. I was seven.
- The Rapture: This would be, the middle-coming of Christ, between his 1st and 2nd coming, where he calls his believers to heaven before enacting the tribulation as explained in Revelation. Then there is Jesus Second Coming followed by the thousand year reign of Christ and after this, Satan is released for a final battle. Satan loses. The new Heaven and Earth are made where we live forever with God. Nice and neat.
- God is Omnipotent and Omnipresent: As a Calvinist, of course, I still believe this. I just have a better understanding as to what that means.
- Drinking is Wrong: I eventually took the approach that it isn’t biblically wrong (as long as it isn’t to excess) but I choose not to partake.
What I now believe today as a Calvinist:
- Salvation Is Not Always Decided By One Prayer: It is not necessary to have one alar-call moment which says, “I am thus saved from this point onward”, however, at the age of five I did get an innate feeling of change inside of me. Something was different and changed by the Spirit. Was I truly saved then? I believe I was. God can use the altar call to save just as He can use a subtle changing of the heart over time. But there is a problem I have with the sinner’s prayer. If salvation can be so easily obtained, can it just as easily be lost?
- Once Gained, You Cannot Lose Your Salvation: God sees all things past, present, and future. If you are truly saved, then from His perspective, you can never lose it at all. From our perspective we have a freewill which means a choice of doubts and sins to creep in. But God sees our timeline in a linear way with no branching paths. All of our choices are foreknown by Him. In this I have eternal security. By His grace, I am forever saved.
But what is the evidence of salvation? Obedience to God.
Paul says in Romans 6 15-19:
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
So in that, our eternal security is evident by the obedience of righteousness. What is righteousness? In short: the law of God and the fruit of the Spirit.
- Paedobaptism: The second chapter in Colossians compares baptism with circumcision. A baby who is circumcised is not aware of what is being done to him. He does not need to understand a creed of belief. In the same way, a baby that is baptized in water does not need to be aware of what is going on. Both baptism and circumcision are signs of the covenant. Covenant theology is a deep recurring theme with Calvinism.
We do not believe the child is saved or made a Christian through this, but it is a sign that he is under the covenant. It is a hope that he will not grow up and stray from this. Assemblies of God and other denominations do something similar through baby dedications, but for Presbyterian churches, the baptism takes on a deeper connection and meaning. It symbolizes Christ’s work in us that happens upon our own salvation, a work that we are not fully aware of.
Colossians 2: 10-12
and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
- The Holy Spirit Dwells Within Us Once We Are Saved: You do not need to have the gift of tongues as a sign of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The sign of His indwelling is actually His fruit (Galatians 5: 22-23).
I do still see a use for the gift of tongues today. Many times in my heart-felt prayers I have called out to God in a tongue like that of angels. But Paul is very clear in 1 Corinthians 12-14 that such a thing is sounding brass or clanging cymbal without interpretation. He does not forbid its use in private prayer. He does encourage it to be accompanied with love. This is why he doesn’t see its use in the congregation as useful, unless there is the gift of interpretation at work.
Most Calvinists would disagree with me on this point. Justin Peters is well-known for stating that Paul isn’t talking about “the tongues of angels” here, but instead the gift that was manifested in Acts 2 where Jesus’ followers preached the gospel in many different human tongues. I agree with him that Acts 2 or “the Day of Pentecost” was not an example of the tongues of angels Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians. I will go in greater detail of the verses at a later post.
Acts 2 is NOT a demonstration of the speaking in tongues that I do in my private prayer life. Pentecostals are wrong to use this chapter which is clearly the tongues of men being spoken.
1 Corinthians 12-14 is a better explanation. He warns however, that without the gift of interpretation, it should not be used in a church service (1 Corinthians 14: 13-19).
Paul does not, however, forbid the use of tongues for private prayer (1 Corinthians 14: 4). He describes it to building up one’s self in the Lord. He also says in 14:2 that “he speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries to God”.
Before joining a Presbyterian church. I was once a part of some services where almost everyone was speaking in tongues all at once. This is a perfect example of what Paul warned against.
1 Corinthians 14:26 says,
“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”
- Jesus will Come to Earth Two Times… Not Three: There is no rapture. Jesus came to earth two thousand years ago. The first time. He will come a second time in wrath to bring judgment and war (Revelation 19:11-21). This is His second coming. There is no in-between coming mentioned in the bible. The verses used to explain the rapture are speaking of this second coming.
- God is Omnipotent and Omnipresent: God sees it all as linear. In that, he foreknew and chose us to be His. Why is there evil in the world? God has a use for it at this time. He tolerates it for a season, but Jesus is returning to ultimately defeat evil (Revelation 19:11-21). I still believe that He is everywhere.
Anyone who believes that God knows the future should be a Calvinist.
- Drinking in Moderation is Fine: I love the occasional craft beer.