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Calvinism Exalts God
L. R. Shelton, Sr.

An audio file of this sermon is available at

Calvinism puts God on the throne. Now I am discussing these great truths from the standpoint of doctrine, I know that, but that does not mean that I am not exalting the Lord Jesus Christ. I have had letters this week saying, "Brother Shelton, why are you preaching doctrine and not exalting the Lord Jesus Christ?" You must not be listening, my friend. I beg to differ with you. I am exalting the Lord Jesus Christ through the great teachings of God's Word. Now, you order my book on "Doctrinitis" and sit down and read it – read it closely. Let me say this: Doctrine without Christ is just a bone without meat, but Christ without doctrine is imitation food that does not satisfy the human heart. You cannot have one without the other and have salvation. You can't.

Let me say in the very beginning of our study today that everyone who claims to be a Calvinist is not saved. You don't have a through ticket to Heaven just because you wear the name, Calvinist. Being a Calvinist from the doctrinal viewpoint is not salvation. Many an Arminian, or free-will professor, has gotten his eyes opened intellectually, yet has never experienced Christ in his own heart as his Lord and Saviour. Last spring I met an individual who was one of the most Calvinistic Bible students I had ever met: he was a Calvinist to the core, clear on every one of these great truths. He was a middle-aged man but he did not know Christ. One night he came out and told me, "Brother Shelton, I know the doctrines intellectually, but I do not know Christ." You can know all the doctrines, be a Calvinist, be as clear as a bell doctrinally, and yet go to Hell, because you have never experienced Christ in your heart as Lord and Saviour.

Now you get this great fact. You may change from and Arminian to a Calvinist and go to Hell – you may change from a Baptist to a Catholic or from a Methodist to a Baptist, or from a Catholic to a Baptist viewpoint doctrinally, and yet go to Hell. That's true. Someone has put it like this, "He is afflicted with doctrinitis, but has never come to know Christ experimentally." A lot of Calvinist's in belief are afflicted with doctrinitis; they have contracted the doctrine but do not know Christ. They have the doctrine, but they don't have Christ. They have knowledge, but they don't have Christ. They have a conversion, but not regeneration, or the new birth. Therefore, the only thing they can talk about is doctrines, and very seldom, if ever, do you hear them magnify the Lord Jesus Christ. A person can talk about only what he knows. Now, that's a settled fact isn't it?. Just before the service today, an individual and I were talking about a given subject, and someone listening in said, "I don't know a thing in the world about it, so I don't know anything about what you are saying." That's so.

There are five great teachings of God's Word that stand out as the heart of Calvinism. The first is the Sovereignty of God; second, Total Depravity of Natural Man; third, salvation by Grace, or Blood Redemption in Christ; fourth, the Bible teaching of the Holy Spirit and His work in redemption; fifth, the imminent Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ back to earth. In salvation every individual who gets saved experiences these five great Bible truths in their own heart. That's so. There is where you learn them in embryo. Now you may learn these great doctrines intellectually to a certain extent, and teach them and preach them, but it is only the work of the Holy Spirit in a sinner's heart as He brings him to Christ that makes these truths experimental in the heart of the individual. Then they are just like ABC's to him; he has learned them. Where did he learn them? He did not learn them in a Bible school; he learned them in the School of Holy Spirit Conviction, in the Classroom of Repentance. Now, where did you learn what you are teaching? Did you learned from reading books, or did you learn it in the Classroom of Repentance with the Holy Spirit as your Teacher?

In our last study, we noticed the first evil of Calvinism as viewed by the unsaved individual – and that is, Calvinism abases man, or puts man in his rightful place as a totally-depraved individual, which is a doctrine the unsaved religionist or the wicked world hates. Our present subject is the second evil of Calvinism in the eyes of wicked man, and the Arminians, and that is, "Calvinism Exalts God and Magnifies Jesus Christ as Lord." The Lordship of Christ is one of the most neglected subjects today, one of the most neglected teachings of God's Word. Calvinism puts God on the throne in His rightful place. When the Lord Jesus Christ had finished the work of redemption on the cross as the Substitute for sinners, had been buried as our Scapegoat, and was raised as our Justifier (Rom. 4:25), God's Word says He then ascended back to Heaven and is seated on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on His throne. God is on the throne; Christ sits on the throne with the Father as Lord of lord's and as Priest-King. So God is sovereign, and according to Psa. 115:3, "Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased." Then in John 5:21 we see the Lordship of Christ, "Even so the Son quickeneth (maketh alive) whom he will."

Arminianism (that is, Freewillism or Believingism) teaches that a sinner can come trotting down the aisle, and trust Christ at his own will, regardless of what Christ says about it. It doesn't matter when a person wants to (so Arminianism says), when he gets ready to be saved, at his own will he can turn to Christ trusting Him, and Christ saves him right there. Now, brother, there is no such scripture or doctrine taught in God's Word. "Well," you say, "doesn't the Bible say, 'Whosoever will'?" Who makes that will want to? Who releases that will? I will read you another Scripture found in II Tim. 2:26, "Taken captive by him (Satan) at his will." all right then, whose will is it? Satan holds your will, for and it is only by the power of God's Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Triune God, that the power of Satan is broken over your will and you are given a desire and the will to choose the truth, to decide on the side of truth – the will to turn to Christ. You put that down and hold it.

The Arminian takes the attitude that Christ is so glad to have the sinner come until he would not turn down the opportunity of saving him. Brother, there is no such Scripture taught in God's Word. Now let me make this statement again, and let me make it plainly. You listen. Christ never stands before a sinner to be accepted or rejected by that sinner! No! Every sinner stands before Christ to be accepted or rejected by Him, and before God ever offers you Christ (you get this now – it is not a contradictory statement either), you will come to want Christ more than you will want anything else under the sun. You will want Christ more than you will want your life, or anything in the world that pertains to you before God will ever reveal Christ to your heart. If you turn anything down, you turn down the truth as the Holy Spirit reveals it to your heart about yourself. If you won't have the truth about yourself as a totally-depraved sinner, God never offers Christ to you as your Lord and your Saviour. He never does!

All right, take this illustration – here is a young man and a young woman courting. One day he asks this young woman to be his wife. Now, she can never except him or reject him until he first excepts her. When he accepts her as his bride in his own heart and mind, then he asks her to become his bride and she can except him. Until the Lord God of Heaven brings you as a poor, lost, doomed, damned sinner at the feet of a Sovereign God, at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, and accepts you and puts in your heart a desire to except Christ, a longing to know Him, and then breaks the power of Satan over your will, and releases your depraved will, you can never receive Christ as your Lord and your Saviour. There is no such expression in God's Word as "accept Christ." There is the phrase "receive Christ," which is vastly different. Then and when God offers Him as a gift to your heart, you come to the place where you want Him more than anything in the world, and you receive Him. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12). Now, you think that thing through, and you think seriously.

In this way our churches have become filled with unsaved material. The slogan is "Hit the Trail for Christ." Calvinism teaches what God's Word teaches, that God is on the throne, the Lord Jesus Christ is on the throne. God is sovereign, Christ is Lord and therefore He is sovereign, and according to John 5:21, "The Son quickeneth (or makes alive) whom he will." Now, that puts you at the disposal of God, doesn't it? You see, my friend, every sinner is dead in trespasses and sins, and before that sinner ever gets saved, he has to be quickened, made alive by the Lord Jesus Christ. No preacher can make him alive – I don't care how much you preach to him and persuade him and get him to crying; I don't care how many decisions you get him to make, it is the work of Christ through the Holy Spirit that quickens that dead sinner, and the Scripture says "The Son quickeneth whom he will." You can't make Christ save you; you are not saved by running out and making a decision for Christ. Arminianism, or freewillism, preaches human works for salvation, holds up a defeated God, a disappointed Christ, and the Holy Spirit as a weakling, because they teach that Christ died for the whole world and that the Triune God is standing on the sideline watching sinners with the hope that they will come to Him, and then when one comes to Him He is so glad that He just saves him without a question. Brother, no such salvation is taught in God's Word! I challenge any man to show me such salvation taught in God's Word without twisting the Scriptures.

I heard a noted evangelist say one day that election is on this order – God votes for a sinner, the devil votes for a sinner, and then the sinner casts the deciding vote. If that were so, that would make God a defeated God and put Him on an equal with Satan. That takes God off the throne and as the all-powerful, omnipotent, eternal God, and makes Him a helpless being, as helpless as Satan is. That makes the Lord Jesus Christ a mere lad with no power, then the Holy Spirit an errand boy. Now, brother, that's the heart of Arminianism, or freewillism. It makes man supreme; it puts man in the place of authority and makes him sovereign, and makes God the beggar while the sinner rears back on his almighty dignity and tells God where to head in. That's exactly what we have today in the religious and the political world. Now you let that soak in. Man today has put himself on the throne and has all but taken the universe away from God (in his own mind) and said to God, "You go fishing – we'll run this thing; I'm sovereign." Now that's man's attitude everywhere you turn today.

Listen to God's Word, "For I am the LORD, I change not" (Mal. 3:6). Did you get that? "I am JEHOVAH, I change not." Listen to Dan. 4:35, "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" Listen again to God's Word, "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth...Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" (Rom. 9:18). What are you going to do with those scriptures? You don't like them, do you? There is not a Freewiller who likes them. You will champ your bits because I read them to you. Eph. 1:11 says, "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." Freewillism or Arminianism exalts man and places man's will on the throne as supreme. Calvinism exalts God, the sovereignty of God, and the Lordship of Christ, and places man at the feet of God begging Him to accept him for Christ's sake. In other words, Calvinism places man as a beggar at the feet of Christ.

Now, everyone of you saints know what I'm talking about; you finally saw yourself as a "beggar from the dunghill" (I Sam. 2:8). Brother, you were begging God to save you; you were using every plea under the sun that the Lord have mercy upon you, and there you lay as a "beggar from the dunghill." You did not deserve mercy, and you came to the place that you knew you didn't deserve mercy, but you were begging God to save you. You would call yourself every name under the sun knowing you were not worthy, pleading one thing, the blood of Christ, the blood of the Son of God. Listen, friend, Calvinism puts man before the bar of God's justice to be saved or damned. Arminianism puts Christ before a sinner to be accepted or rejected.

Now let me sum it up in these words – God does not stand before you for you to accept or reject Him; you stand before God's justice to be saved or damned, according to the will of God. Now that's God's Word, whether you like it or whether anybody likes it, whether you believe it or whether anyone believes it. I know in your unsaved mind you can't see it. It is all confusing. You say, "If that is so, why preach, or why do this and why do that, and why do something else?" Well, you listen to me through these messages.

The God of the Bible is sovereign on the throne, and no man commands or even suggests to God what to do. No saint would even dare suggest to God what to do. Every sinner who ever gets saved bows in the dust of repentance at the feet of a Sovereign God, surrendered completely for God to save him or damn him as God pleases. Let me tell you something: Every sinner who ever gets saved, and as old Bunyan put it in his book, "The Holy War," comes as it were with a rope around his neck and falls at the feet of Christ begging for mercy, realizing that God could hang him – God could damn him, God could send him to Hell – because he deserves to go to Hell, and he comes throwing himself completely upon the mercy of a Sovereign God in Christ. Now that is the position every sinner comes to before he ever gets saved. Have you ever been there? Do you know what I'm talking about? You know that you rested one day at the feet of a Sovereign God with a rope around your neck. I mean by that, you came before God realizing that He did not have to save you, He did not have to show mercy upon you. But you came there imploring the mercy of God for Christ's sake because Christ died for sinners. Christ is your Pardoner and you presented yourself as a poor old lost, doomed, damned, guilty sinner at the feet of a Sovereign God, knowing that Christ died for sinners. Then you wanted salvation in Christ, and you would not let Him go. Now, there is where you came, and there is where God for Christ's sake pardoned you. Grace is free, but grace is in the hands of a Sovereign God, and God gives it to whom He will and when He will. Did you know that? That's God's Word, because it says that Christ "quickeneth whom he will."

I had a letter the other day from an individual who said, "Brother Shelton, you are standing on dangerous ground in these messages." No, I am not; I am standing on solid ground – it's not shaky, it's not trembly. I am standing on the Rock of Ages; I am standing on the Word of God that cannot be broken, and I am standing right there, four-footed as it were, upon the Eternal, Unbroken, Verbally-Inspired Word of God, which is a foundation to everyone who comes to know Christ. God is Sovereign, and I praise God He is. That's God's Word, because it says, Christ "quickeneth whom he will."

Sinner, you can run out and make a decision ten thousand times; God won't save you until He gets ready. That's right. Do you know when He gets ready? When He has broken you completely at the feet of Christ, and you lie in the dust of repentance with a rope around your neck, having signed your own condemnation, and you are at the disposal of a Sovereign God to give you His free grace or not to give it to you as it pleases Him. Now, you let that soak in!

You say, "Trailblazer, that discourages sinners." Well, if it does it will just have to discourage them, as Spurgeon said. They said, "Mr. Spurgeon, that discourages sinners." He said, "All right, if that discourages sinners, let it discourage them. It is God's eternal Word." So let it discourage them. "Preacher, such doctrine hinders sinners from coming to Christ." Brother, if it does let it hinder them. The preaching of God's Word will either draw sinners to Christ, or damn him – one of the two. Now, let me tell you something, awakened sinner, this is the greatest foundation you can rest on. You who are awakened to the fact that you are lost and on the road to Hell and you know it, your hope lies in the Sovereign God, and the All-powerful God, the Eternal God, and you can rest there and look to Him and trust Him with the faith that He gives you to trust Him.

Listen. Every sinner, before he gets saved, realizes that God doesn't have to save him, and that if He ever does save him, it will be by His sovereign, eternal, free grace. I will forever and ever praise, honor, magnify, worship, and adore the Lord Jesus Christ for saving me. I stood there one day. Brother, I know what it means. I know what I am talking about; I am not going off at a tangent. I stood before Him knowing He could save me or damn me. He saved me, and I praise Him for it. Are you saved? I will give you this thought. It is my deep conviction that God never brings a sinner there and leaves him, because that is the place of salvation, and a sinner cannot come there without the work of the Holy Spirit.

All these fellows running around here magnifying something else, something other than salvation in Christ have never gotten to Christ; they do not know Him. They always express a "holier-than-thou" spirit, and their own dignity, and there own decision. But the individual who has gotten to Christ, who has been drawn there by God's Holy Spirit, will forever magnify the Son of God, the One who died for him, who was buried, and rose again, and who lives for him at the right hand of a Sovereign God. I praise God for such salvation in Christ!

Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ? If you know Him, you will understand what I am talking about, because you have been there. The Holy Spirit has brought you to lie in the dust of repentance at the feet of a Sovereign God in Christ. There is where God found you; there is where God brought you; there is where God saved you; there is where God delivered you. There is where Christ became precious to your heart, because you were hopeless, helpless, hapless, doomed and damned forever; and there is where He lifted you up and made you His own in Christ. How marvelous and gracious that is! I praise God for that today. I know there are times when I am so discouraged because I see the power of Satan and evil working around, and they begin to close in, but I praise God He has never left me. He has not left me, and He will never leave me. He said He wouldn't (Heb. 13:5), and I know He won't. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him (Job 13:15).




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