Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

13 May 2014

A Graduation Observation


Last week I received one of those Tweets that had been forwarded about a half dozen times before it landed in my inbox. It purported to offer an idea for a “Calvinist Graduation Card”:

“Happy graduation. You did nothing. You are nothing. So just march.”

It was funny and I laughed. Of course, it really doesn’t capture Calvinism very accurately, and I suspect that the original Tweeter (or is it a Tweetist?) knows this: it was a joke and I “got it.” But the reason the Tweet is funny is because some Christians actually think this way. Since “God did it all,” they reason, then we are nothing and can do nothing.

But that’s not true. It is true, of course, that we contribute nothing to our justification because we are nothing and have nothing (in terms of merit, in fact, we have less than nothing). But by God’s grace, when he justified us he also made us new creatures in Christ, regenerate persons capable of pleasing God, commanded to please God, and even anticipating a reward for pleasing God. If we do little, the reward will be small. If we do much, the reward will be large. It’s a fairly straightforward and prominent theme in the New Testament.

By God’s grace and for his glory, the DBTS students that will receive diplomas this Thursday night for their efforts over the past several years have done something: They have “worked hard so they can present themselves to God and receive his approval.” And they are and are becoming something: “Good workers who do not need to be ashamed and who correctly explain the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15, NLT). So don’t worry if you can’t find one of those elusive “Calvinist Graduation Cards” for these men. Find a card that commends them for a job well done.

Thank you, graduates, for your efforts, and congratulations one and all.

1 Response

  1. Darren

    Hi Mark,

    Good short post and challenge. Interestingly, Kevin DeYoung had a post regarding a similar and related issue today as well. I am sure you already saw it.

    Hopefully you can get a relaxing summer break.

    Take care,