Is Calvinism Important?, by Pastor Reid Ferguson:
“John Flavel has a wonderful saying about the nature of our comprehension of some spiritual truths when we are still new in Christ. He remarks that a child looking up from the crib is no less a true child because he does not yet have clear conceptions of his parents. As he grows, he will learn of them, but at first he knows precious little about the parents who gave him physical life. We come into saving faith very much the same. To hear some talk, you aren’t really a viable Christian until you reach puberty, or get your driver’s license, or reach drinking or voting age. But the truth is, we grow. We grow because He has given us spiritual life. We do not come into the world fully grown. That would be contrary to all the Bible testifies.
“An understanding of Calvinism becomes even more important as one grows in Christ. Without a good handle on the doctrines of grace, a number of things usually ensue: (1) One is more susceptible to error. (2) One can make little true progress in sanctification. (3) The Bible will be very confusing. (4) The experience of the Christian life will tend to be less constant and more prone to ups and downs. There are others, but these are the principle ones, in my judgment. The doctrines of grace are foundational to building a solid, consistent, spiritual life. They must not, however, be confused with life itself, which is given by God alone.
“One may ask, “Are these doctrines optional then?” In reply, one must also ask, “In what sense?” I do not need them in order to be made alive, but I do need them to live well. I do not need them to know some truth, even basic converting truth (i.e. the Gospel), but I do need to know them to know the whole truth. They are essential in their place. All truth is essential, but how much truth we know, and when we come to know it, varies. When I was very little, I assumed that the streetlights went off and the whole world went to bed when I did. As I grew, I learned that older kids stayed up later; then I learned that my parents stayed up very late. When I learned about time zones—whammo—my whole worldview changed.”