One of my family’s favorite Christmas movies is “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town!” Last night, we faithfully watched with delight, again. But for several years I’ve pondered whether Winter Warlock was a balanced Calvinist; I think that he probably was (sorry, my brain loves to do this – and yes I need to chill out:), but . . .
As Kris Kringle gives the Warlock a choo-choo present, the icy, wicked countenance of the white wizard changes. Kris asks what is happening and the Warlock responds, “My icy heart – it’s melting.”
“For God, who said, “let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” – 2 Cor. 4:6
And, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” – James 1:18.
Winter got saved because something more powerful than his icy heart overcame it – Sovereign, Hell-Busting, Electing Love. This is what explains why your heart melted at the offer of the most wonderful gift – Salvation in Christ, and did not remain frozen in unrepentant sin (2 Tim. 2:25).
Then Winter says to Kris Kringle, “Suddenly, my whole outlook is changed from bad to good. But will it last? I really am a mean and despicable creature at heart, you know.”
I too have this assesment of my own heart (Jer. 17:9) and I too have wondered if my change will last. I love Winter’s honesty. Truth is, our salvation in Christ will not last through this day if God were not preserving our faith (Phil. 1:6). Our change will not last another minute if God has not determined our complete change as part of his salvation plan (Rom. 8:29-30). We all wonder if our faith, our change will hold. Praise God it will, because God has Ordained it! And though we are new creations in Christ we are still wretched and long to be finally released from this mixture of sin and holiness (Rom. 7:24-25).
Now this is where it gets slippery:-) Kris advises, “Changing from bad to good is as easy as taking your first step.”
As long as we understand that obedience, change, and walking in the Spirit is the duty and delight of the Christian Life, then the entire book of James is sustained: “Faith without works is dead.” In other words, if you are not changing, if you are not obeying, if you are not “making your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:5-11), by making every effort to supplement your faith with good works, then your faith is useless for saving you from your sins. Works does not save – but they do prove that you are saved. And even then, those works are a work of God in your life (1 Cor. 15:9-11).
As Kris, the penguin, and the fawn show Winter how to walk across the floor, it’s time for the changed, yet mean and despicable heart to obey. Winter looks into the icy mirror, and like a good student of the book of James, rhetorically asks,
“If I want to change the reflection I see in the mirror each morn, You mean that it’s just my election, to vote for a chance to be reformed?”
(very practical presbyterianism I might say)
James says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (1:22-25).
A balanced Calvinist is one who believes that his salvation was completely and totally a work of grace from the very beginning – even accounting for the reason why you have faith in the first place. This love from God was not simply offered, for you and I would still be rejecting it. Rather, it was a kind of love that was set on you for no other reason than it was God’s free choice to do so (Deut. 7:7-8; Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:26-27; Eph. 1:4-5; Rom. 8:29-39). But this does not mean that we are passive in our election – we are actively persevering in our faith, in our holiness, in our “walking across the floor” of this life. And soon, we’ll be on the other side.
Ok – now go ahead and sing that great song and put one foot in front of the other and get on with godly living! Keep walking and singing Christian – you’re almost home.
And yes, I know that Winter asks the Lord a little later for one last opportunity to do some magic. But I love to see reindeer fly – so I’m ok with it.