Monday, March 22, 2010

Your Journey To Sovereign Grace

Over a third of those that I polled recently came from a combination of Seeker-Sensitive or Southern Baptist Church backgrounds before embracing the Doctrines of Grace.

My own church background was from those same two, first growing up in a Southern Baptist Church and then later in my early twenties going to a more Seeker-Sensitive type of Mega Church.

After that I got a job as a delivery driver that led to me to be able to listen to a lot of Christian radio throughout the work day. My favorite channel was a Calvary Chapel channel which featured mostly Calvary Chapel preachers, but also aired Truth For Life with Alistair Begg and The Way of the Master Radio (WOTM).

After sensing the shallowness of the Mega Church environment, I almost began the search for a Calvary Chapel Church in my area... but one day I was listening to WOTM and heard Paul Washer's "Shocking Youth Message" and my world sort of turned upside down.

This phrase stuck in my mind,

"Salvation is not merely a human decision but a supernatural work of God."


I could no longer argue against this strange Calvinism teaching on the discussion boards as I had been doing. I began to compile a small library of books from Reformed authors and bypassed the Calvary Chapel Church search altogether to look for a Reformed Baptist Church.

That's sort of my short story of my journey into Sovereign Grace, which happened in the Summer of '07. So, what's your story? Did you come from a Calvary Chapel or Pentecostal Church, or somewhere else? Did you stay there?

Was it a book, a certain sermon, a debate, or just reading the Word that opened your eyes to God's Sovereignty in salvation?

Click on "comments" below and tell us about it.


Big Al H said...

Phillip, my journey is very similar to yours. I got saved during a revival at a baptist church, then over the years went from baptist, to Christian missionary alliance, then evangelical free, where the pastor was following the madness of the willow creek association.

To make a long story short, I had no idea what reformed doctrine was, and was plagued with guilt and doubt. God was an angry god who rewarded you if you did good, punished you if you didn't. The gospel was for the unsaved, not the christian. Eventually this led me to alcohol and depression, thinking that I had sinned too much as a christian to make it. I couldn't run the works rat wheel any longer. The best life now sermons did not feed my starving soul.

In november of 08 my wife gave me an ipod and I started listening to Truth for life and Fighting for the faith. I heard about something called the doctrines of grace, went to Jim Mcclarty's site (thanks to you Phillip) and downloaded his mp3's on the doctrines of grace. God used those teachings to show me the glorious gospel, and I saw a God who loved me, chose me, and saved me. I did nothing, He did it all. Now I look outside myself to Christ, and the more I learn of reformed doctrine, the greater my desire to teach others what God has shown me.

Since that day I serve a great God, a mighty God, and as Charles Wesley said, long my imprisoned spirit lay, the light shown in, my chains fell off, I rose up and followed Him. Soli Deo Gloria!!

Brother, thanks for the great site!!!

Mona Leiter said...

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, but I do not ever remember hearing the gospel. I became more and more religious (even attending Bible College) until I was within months of leaving the USA to go to Papua New Guinea as a missionary. There was only one problem....I was lost! Around that time God led me to a Bible-believing church that truly preached the gospel and I began to see for the first time that I could never be saved by my own goodness. I needed a Saviour to save me from my sins. As I began to really read the Word of God I saw that God sovereignly worked in lives throughout history,and I began to see His divine providence in my own life.
M. Leiter

Andy said...

I came from a Pentecostal background. I was "taught!" to speak in tongues as a young boy. During high school I began to develop an interest in Church History. Rather than read histories, I went to the sources. I read the Church Fathers, the Reformers and the Puritans. I was surprised to NOT find in their writings most of what I had been taught in church. My development into a full-blown Calvinist was slow but steady. Augustine and John Owen were very instrumental in my transition. Owen's "A Display of Arminianism" blew me away. He has charts where Scripture is pitted against the actual words of Arminian theologians. I couldn't argue against the sheer volume of Scripture. The lights just came on and all my questions, doubts and objections to the 5 points vanished.
Now that I look back on my early years, God's sovereignty is SO obvious. Soli Deo Gloria

Steve said...

You might find the following blogs of interest about C.J. Mahaney and the group he leads, Sovereign Grace Ministries:

They tell another side.
Hope this helps.

Philip@ReformedVoices said...

Hi Steve, while the allegations on those sites appear to be legitimate, your concerns may be misapplied to this post.

When I refer to Sovereign Grace I am not referring to C.J. Mahaney's group. Instead I am referring to monergistic salvation, or the 5 points of Calvinism.

Thanks for stopping by.


Scott Autry said...

"Was it a book, a certain sermon, a debate, or just reading the Word that opened your eyes to God's Sovereignty in salvation?"

I didn't grow up in church. I was a God-hater. God saved me and pointed me to the book of Romans (first book I read in the Bible). I learned about Arminianism after the fact. That's my story.

Paul said...

Phillip, my family and I recently left the Calvary Chapel movement after attending and serving in the ministry for close to 16 years. It has been difficult to part ways from the brethren. However, we feel that Gods sovereignty must be defended at all cost. I did not need to read a Calvinistic book or listen to a message to come to the doctrines of grace. It was God alone by His Word alone that struck my loose thinking concerning the true Gospel. After a couple of years of hard core study, I could no longer sit under Arminian teaching. I have been officially "kicked out". Praise God! We have been set free from the traditions of men. We are currently looking for a reformed bible teaching church in our area. We are excited about what God is going to do as we begin this new journey with Him. Paul (

George R. Krahn said...

I'm from a Mexican Mennonite background. God saved me at the age of 16 in an Arminian Mennonite Church. We were taught you could lose your salvation and as a result we had no assurance that we would make it. My wife and I were sitting around the kitchen table one day after supper reading from the Gospel according to John. John 3:16 told us that we had eternal life and so we started discussing the implications of "eternal" life. We came to the conclusion that eternal life is forever! Since then we have moved from Arminianism to 5 point Calvinism through the writings of A. W. Pink, C. H. Spurgeon, John Piper, and a host of other great Reformers. Monergism is the only God glorifying way to save wretched sinners.

Dr. James Willingham said...

I was raised in a Southern Baptist church in the 40s. The pastor preached Sovereign Grace, but I did not know it. The only thing I remember from those days was his saying in a quavery old voice, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me." Moving to St. Louis, Mo in the mid-fifties, I had become an atheist and began to practice such idiocy in last three years of high school. Then in my last year I was converted by a vision/hallucination (how does one tell?) of Jesus standing at a door knocking. He was actually standing about 8 pews in front of me, facing me, looking at me, with his hand raised, like he was knocking at door. This was at a Youth for Christ meeting, Dec.7,1957. I went with a girl, the only reason I was there. My response: let me out of here. I went home, determined to tell no one as it was too embarrassing for a professing atheist. Two blocks from home, something changed my mind, and I decided to tell my mother which I did. Her advice was, "Pray nd ask the Lord to forgive you of your sins," which I did. I felt a burden lifted off of my heart, and I cried tears of joy for the first time in my life. In the Fall of '58, my first year of college, I was introduced to the doctrines of grace which I promptly rejected as I had seen Jesus knocking at my heart's door and had let him, forgetting at the time that I had fled the place, determined to tell no one, and that something or someone had changed my mind before I got home. About 1961, I read Pink's Sovereignty of God. The decisive work, however, was an old Puritan's sermon on Original Sin. I had found a 3 vol. set of David Clarkson's Works, a part of the series known as Nichol's Standard Divines. In the sermon on Original Sin, he had the Heb. words wrong according to th editor of the set, but he had all the illustrative materials right, like, dead in trespasses and sin, a slave of sin, a child of the devil, disabled or inability (the meaning of "can"), etc. with that information from the Bible, I had to recognize that it would take a sovereign irresistible work of grace to get a sinner saved. By the time I accepted man's total depravity and man's total inability, and hence irresistible grace or supernatural power to save he sinner, I was pastoring my first church.

Across the years since, I have found that all of the doctrines of grace or the tulip outline along with predestination and reprobation are actually invitations, the most intense invitations, the most wonderfully winsome truths, attractive beyoond words to describe, magnetic, griping, compelling, dramatic, enticing,awakening doctrines one could desire. I also found out that people could profess these truths who were not faithful to them, who would betray them. We cannot escape the fact that we still have Judas, Demas, Simon the Sorcerer, and many whose conversions are like that of the stony ground believers. For 37 years I have been praying for a Third Great Awaekning, the result of years of research in church history, of pastoring in the Sandy Creek Baptist Association which was founded by ministers converted in the First Great Awakening and which experienced the Second Great Awakening and which helped launch the Great Century of Missions. O yes, and I pastored a church founded by a minister who had been converted in the Second Great Awakening. There is more, but I feel like the Third Great Awakening is just about upon us as there are beginning to be so many Sovereign Grace Believers appearing in divers places, and the enemy is sendin in his forces to try and grab the leadership of it. But this time we must pray for him to be thwarted, and that the awakening shall take the whole earth for this generation and then for a thousand more in order to literally fulfill the promises to Abraham that his seed would be as numerous as the stars of heaven, the sand by the seashore, and the dust of the earth.