Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Stanford E. Murrell

 

 

 

“Unto you therefore which believe He is precious.”

~*~

1 Peter 2:7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special note. I am indebted to Bro. Fred G. Zaspel, former pastor of the Word of Life Baptist Church in Pottsville, Pa for the outline and general content of the following information. An 8-volume set of tapes The Five Points of Calvinism can be obtained from Word of Life Baptist Church, 302 North Centre St. Pottsville, Pa 17901 (Cost $15.00)

 

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Table of Contents

 

Chapter 1       Introduction and Historical Overview

·       Charles Haddon Spurgeon and the Doctrine of Grace

·       Opinions about Calvinism

·       A Word about the Controversy

·       Historical Development

·       New Testament Principles

·       Pre-Reformation Period

·       Augustine vs. Pelagius

·       Semi-Pelagianism vs. Gottschalk

·       Reformation Period

·       Luther vs. Erasmus

·       Reformation Themes

·       Arminus and the Remonstrance

·       The “Five Points” of Calvinism: A Mnemonic Device

·       A Brief Summary of the Various Historical Systems

·       A Brief Summary of Calvinism and its Major Emphases

·       Common Denominator and Controlling Theme

·       Salient Features

·       The Depravity of Man

·       The Sovereignty of God

·       The Graciousness of Salvation

·       A Simple Outline of the Eternal Purpose of God

·       Scriptural Statements

·       Essential Features

·       The work of God the Father in salvation

·       The work of God the Son in salvation

·       The work of God the Holy Spirit in salvation

·       Later History: The Reformation to the Present

·       The Importance of the Study of Calvinism

·       Doctrinal Clarity

·       The Ministry of the Gospel

·       The Glory of God

·       Authoritative Standards

·       God’s Word is True

·       God’s Word is Binding

·       God’s Word is Profitable

 

Chapter 2       Total Depravity

·       Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

·       The Basis of Authority

·       The Importance of the Doctrine of Man’s Sinfulness

·       Foundational to the Doctrine of Salvation

·       Essential to True Worship

·       The Origin of Sin in Humanity

·       Adam’s Original Righteousness

·       Adam’s Fall from Grace

·       The Consequences of the Fall of Adam

·       On himself

·       On others

·       The Nature of Fallen Man

·       Denials

·       Man has not lost God’s image altogether

·       All men are not always as sinful as they could possibly be

·       Men are not incapable of relative goodness

·       Affirmations

·       Judicially

·       Personally

·       The Senses

·       The Intellect

·       The Affections

·       The Will

·       The Question of Responsibility

·       The Bondage of the Will

·       The Implications of the Doctrine of Total Depravity

·       For the Lost

·       On Evangelism

·       In Worship

·       Summary

 

Chapter 3       Who Made the First Move?

·       Review

·       History

·       Total Depravity

·       Dr. T.T. Shields and the Doctrine of Depravity

·       Unconditional Election: Points of Dispute

·       Exegetical Considerations: Overview of Biblical Statements

·       Pauline theology and the doctrine of unconditional election

Romans 8:28-30

Romans 9:7-23

·       Christ and the doctrine of unconditional election

John 10:16

John 10:24-29

John 15:16

·       Other selected passages teaching the doctrine of unconditional election

Acts 13:48

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Ephesians 1:3-14

2 Thessalonians 2:12-13

1 Timothy 1:16

2 Timothy 1:9

2 Timothy 2:10

Titus 1:2

1 John 4:10

·       Theological Considerations: Correlation with Related Biblical Concepts

·       Sin is Enslaving

·       Salvation is Undeserved

·       Election is of God

·       Election is of Grace

·       Practical Implications

·       Election and Assurance

·       Election and Evangelism

·       Election and Sanctification

·       Election and Worship

·       Conclusion: The Issues at State

 

Chapter 4-Limited Atonement

·       Voices from the Past

·       Review

·       The Concept of Particularism

·       Scriptural Evidence of Particularism

·       The Prayers of Particularism

·       The Nature of Christ’s Death

·       Substitutional

·       Sacrificial

·       Limited Atonement: The Area of Controversy

·       Clarification of Terminology

·       Sufficiency / Value vs. Efficacy / Design

·       Preferred Terminology

·       Limited vs. Unlimited

·       Definition vs. Indefinite

·       Particular vs. General

·       The Limits of the Atonement

·       The Universal Benefits of the Death of Christ

·       Theological Considerations—Biblical Doctrines

·       Christ’s Death as the Fulfillment of a Mission

·       Christ’s Death as Substitutional

·       Christ’s Death as Efficacious

·       Selected Biblical Statements on Particular Redemption

·       Practical Implications

·       Worship and devotion

·       Evangelism

 

Chapter 5       Irresistible Grace or Effectual Calling

·       Voices from the Past

·       Review

·       Irresistible Grace: The Issue Clarified

·       A Simple Definition

·       Misunderstandings

·       The Biblical meaning of “Calling”

·       General usage

·       Special usage

            1 Corinthians 1:9

            1 Corinthians 1:18

            1 Corinthians 1:24

            1 Corinthians 1:26-28

            1 Corinthians 1:30

·       The Consistent Teaching of Scripture

John 10:3

Romans 8:28-30

Romans 9:23-4

Galatians 1:6

1 Thessalonians 2:12

1 Peter 2:9

1 Peter 5:10

2 Peter 1:3

Jude 1:1

·       “The called” as a title for Christians

·       Related Biblical Statements

Psalm 110:3

Matthew 11:25

John 10:6:44,45

John 17:2

Acts 16:14

Romans 9:16

1 Corinthians 2:4

1 Corinthians 2:9,10

1 Corinthians 4:7

Philippians 2:13

·       Theological Considerations

·       Human Depravity as Binding and Blinding

·       The Unity of the Plan of Redemption

·       Salvation as a Work of God

·       The Conditions of Salvation as a Gift of God

·       Faith

·       Repentance

·       Regeneration

·       Practical Considerations

·       Worship

·       Evangelism

·       Deterrent to Discouragement in Ministry

·       Deterrent to Both Pride and Jealousy in Ministry

 

Chapter 6       The Final Perseverance of the Saints

·       A Review of the Regeneration of the Righteous

·       Three Systems of Salvation

·       The Perseverance of the Saints: Definitions

·       Two Main Ideas: Preservation and Perseverance

·       Clarifications

·       Biblical Statements

John 6:37

John 10:27-29

Romans 8:28-30,32

Philippians 1:6

1 Thessalonians 5:23,24

2 Timothy 1:12

1 Peter 1:3-5

Jude 24,25

·       Biblical Explanations

·       God’s Eternal Purpose

·       Union with Christ

·       The Nature of Christ’s Atonement

·       The Nature of Reconciliation

·       The Intercession of Christ

·       The Indwelling Holy Spirit

·       Practical Implications

·       Obedience

·       Worship

·       Assurance and Comfort

 

 

 

Chapter 7       Biblical Universalism

·       Jewish Priority and First Century Bigotry

·       Christ the Savior of the World

John 12:20-32

Genesis 12:1-3

Isaiah 52:13

John 3:16-18

John 4:42

John 11:52

John 1:29

1 John 2:2

1 John 4:14

1 Timothy 2:6 cf. Romans 11:5,26

·       Common Objects

2 Peter 3:9

2 Peter 2:1

·       Christ Offered to Every Man

·       Biblical Statements

Isaiah 45:22

Isaiah 55:1-7

Matthew 23:37

Luke 19:41

Romans 10:21

Matthew 22:1-13

Matthew 28:19

Luke 24:47

·       Is there a harmony between Particularism and Universalism?

·       Biblical Characterizations

·       Unrestricted: Revelation 22:17

·       Unconditional: Matthew 11:28-30

·       Summary

 

Chapter 8       A Review and Correlation of the Doctrines of Grace

·       The Issue of Praise: Who Gets the Glory?

·       The Doctrines of Grace and Practical Theology

·       The Ramifications of Total Depravity

q      Counseling

q      Political Systems

q      Church Discipline

q      Criminal Law

q      International Affairs

q      Politics and Domestic Issues

q      Child Discipline

q      Statements of the Religious Establishment

q      Public Schools and Values Clarification

q      The Value of Majority Opinion

·       The Doctrines of Grace and Evangelism

·       The Message

·       The Method

·       The Motive

·       Life under a Sovereign God

·       Conclusion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Who gets the credit for the salvation of the soul?

 

The Question of Man’s Will

We all have sufficient power to come to Christ by a choice of our own free will.

or

“No man can come to me except the Father, which sent me, draw him.”

John 6:44

~*~

The Question of Election

God chose me because He foresaw that we would choose Him.

or

“You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.”

John 15:16

~*~

The Question of Atonement

Christ died to render all men savable.

or

“I lay down my life for the sheep.”

John 10:15

~*~

The Question of Determining Causes

God draws all men equally; the ultimate decision is ours

or

“All that the Father gives me shall come to me.

Unto them which are the called [the gospel is] the power of God.”

John 6:37; Romans 1:16

~*~

The Question of Final Results

We may keep ourselves in salvation by holy living.

or

“We are kept by the power of God through faith.

No man can puck them out of my hand.”

1 Peter 1:5; John 10:28

~*~

“For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise man after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, that God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

~*~

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Introduction and Historical Overview

 

 

I.                Introduction: Charles Haddon Spurgeon and the Doctrine of Grace

A.     Opinions about Calvinism

B.    A Word about the Controversy

 

II.              Historical Development

A.    New Testament Principles

B.    Pre-Reformation Period

1.     Augustine vs. Pelagius

2.     Semi-Pelagianism vs. Gottschalk

C.    Reformation Period

1.     Luther vs. Erasmus

2.     Reformation Themes

3.     Arminus and the Remonstrance

4.     The “Five Points” of Calvinism: A Mnemonic Device

 

                  T = Total Depravity                      The Necessity of Grace           Salvation Required

                  U = Unconditional Election           The Foundation of Grace         Salvation Planned

                  L = Limited Atonement                 The Provision of Grace           Salvation Purchased

                  I = Irresistible Grace                    The Revelation of Grace         Salvation Applied

                  P = Perseverance of the Saints      The Victory of Grace              Salvation Perfected

 

III.            A Brief Summary of the Various Historical Systems

1.     Pelagianism teaches that man is naturally good and has no need of grace

2.     Semi-Pelagianism teaches that man is good but not good enough so that grace is needed to complete what man begins

3.     Arminianism argues that man is not good but all are given equal and sufficient grace to exercise free will

4.     Augustinianism/Calvinism contends that all men are sinful and are therefore incapable of contributing anything to the process of personal salvation

 

IV.            A Brief Summary of Calvinism and its Major Emphases

A.    Common Denominator and Controlling Theme

B.    Salient Features

1.     The Depravity of Man

2.     The Sovereignty of God

3.     The Graciousness of Salvation

 

 

C.    A Simple Outline of the Eternal Purpose of God

1.     Scriptural Statements

2.     Essential Features

a.      The work of God the Father in salvation

b.     The work of God the Son in salvation

c.      The work of God the Holy Spirit in salvation

D.    Later History: The Reformation to the Present

 

V.              The Importance of the Study of Calvinism

A.     Doctrinal Clarity

B.    The Ministry of the Gospel

C.    The Glory of God

 

VI.            Authoritative Standards

A.    God’s Word is True

B.    God’s Word is Binding

C.    God’s Word is Profitable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Chapter 1

 

Introduction and Historical Overview

 

Introduction: Charles Haddon Spurgeon and the Doctrines of Grace

"I have my own opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified unless we preach what is nowadays called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism. Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel . . . unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; not unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel unless we base it on the special, particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and allows the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor."

 

~*~

 

With these words the “Prince of Preachers” sated very simply that the Christian gospel offers salvation freely in Jesus Christ and that salvation is a work of God from beginning to end. God is the Active Giver in the whole process of redemption: He chooses, He draws, He saves, and He keeps. Redemption is all His doing according to the principle of grace. Anything less is not the gospel. This idea lies on the surface of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

The apostle Paul contended that God saves in such a way that there is no room for men to congratulate themselves. The glorious Plan of Redemption is such, “That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:29-31) Every Christian should come to understand that salvation is by grace apart from human merit or effort. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) The ultimate purpose of God in human salvation is to display His own glorious grace. “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph.2: 7). Therefore, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1Cor.1: 31) It cannot be stated enough times that salvation is a work of God designed to bring glory to Himself. And this is precisely why the gospel is "good news." All who look to Christ alone for their salvation shall live!

 

See the Lord of glory dying!

See Him gasping air! Hear Him crying!

See His burdened bosom heave!

Look, ye sinners, ye that hung Him;

Look how deep your sins have stung Him;

Dying sinners, look and live!

 

 

It would not be very good news to hear that God would save men if . . . anything. The heart should shudder to think of any condition laid upon a person as a prerequisite for salvation. If God does not save freely, there would be no real hope of being saved at all. But hearing that God has promised to save souls without condition, that He will take sinners just as they are, is precisely what gives hope and confidence. God the Son in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ has done for those who are to be the heirs of salvation everything that God has required by way of gospel obedience. By trusting in Him Who has accomplished in the place of the elect a perfect righteousness, by believing in Him Who has paid the penalty for sin by His substitutional sacrifice on the cross, souls an have peace with God. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom.5: 1). This is the wonderful truth of the gospel. Salvation is free, in Jesus Christ, by faith.

 

My faith would lay her hand

On that dear head of Thine;

While like a penitent I stand,

And there confess my sin.

 

Sadly, however, well-intentioned individuals have complicated the simplicity of the gospel with a system of theology historically known as Pelagianism and or Arminianism, named respectively after popular advocates. [Pelagius, c. AD 354-after 418; Jacobus Arminius, 1559-1609] Confusion about the terms of salvation has caused considerable debate within the Christian community. Many religious leaders now teach that man, not God, is the determining party in salvation. It is taught that the natural condition of man is one of sin, but the sinfulness is not such that man is rendered incapable of choosing God. As a result, what determines a man's salvation is his movement towards God! If man will but turn to God, then God will choose to save him, but not until then. Moreover, whatever previous "drawing" of souls unto Himself that God may do, He does equally for all men, leaving the final choice to yield or resist unto damnation to the individual himself.

There is something else. According to Arminianism (which is widely embraced), the atonement of Christ was intended to do the very same thing for all men everywhere and without exception. Christ on the cross did "His part" to save everyone. However, it is man who makes the final decision whether or not he will come to saving faith. But then, even if a person choose to believe in God and becomes a Christian, he may again choose not to be a Christian and so may eventually fall away into a fearful condemnation. Permeating the theology of Arminianism is one central tenet: man is the controlling party in salvation. His will is free to make the determinative choice concerning salvation. God leaves the whole matter of personal salvation to the individual.

As the earlier quote by C.H. Spurgeon indicates, this is not at all the case. God has not left the matter of personal salvation with individuals for then no one would ever come to faith. It is God and not man who makes the difference in this most important matter. God makes the choice as to who will or who will not be saved, not man. Indeed, man is so ruined by sin that he is unable to choose God. Therefore, it is God who does the drawing. It is God who goes before the soul and brings it to the Savior. And the purpose of Christ's death is established—to save those whom the Father has chosen. Having saved them, God will then keep them and will never allow them to stray so far as to fall into ultimate condemnation. Salvation, from beginning to end, is of the Lord. From the belly of the whale the ancient prophet declared, “I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” (Jonah 2:9)

 

Opinions about the Calvinism

Without being unduly defensive, it is accurate to say that there are many unworthy things being taught about those who embrace the doctrines of sovereign grace commonly called Calvinism [a system of theology was named after the French theologian John Calvin, 1509-1564.]  The following extract from a letter received indicates how brutal the verbal assault can be. Nothing has been changed in the wording of the quote or its emphasis.

 

~*~

 

“According to Calvinism or “Reformed” theology, it is God’s will and His sovereign choosing that certain people continue to sin (i.e. rape, murder, lie, steal, blaspheme, assault, get drunk, etc. etc.) It’s His will that they do not repent and believe, as He has chosen from eternity past, in His sovereign love, not to give them “grace.” Because of God’s sovereign choice not to give certain people, whom He lovingly created, this “irresistible grace” He made it impossible for them to repent and believe. God sovereignly and lovingly chose to do this, even though in His Holy Word (the Bible) He “commands all people everywhere to repent[Acts 17:30] and said that He “did not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” [2 Pet. 3:9] This is a “mystery.” Also, because God chose to withhold this special “grace” from certain people, they are doomed and damned to suffer excruciating pain forever in hell, by this all-loving and perfectly just and fair heavenly Father. This is God’s sovereign choice according to His good purpose and pleasure and to His honor, glory, and praise.

            However, it was very kind of God, concerning certain other people that He chose them and gave them “irresistible grace.” This means that it would have been impossible for them not to believe and repent. He thus sovereignly chooses to give them eternal happiness in heaven, whereas He sovereignly chooses to doom all others to eternal suffering in hell. Again, this is the case, even though God says in His Word that Christ Jesus “came into the world to save sinners (and all have sinned)” [1 Tim. 1:15 and Rom. 3:23]; “gave Himself as a ransom for all men” [1 Tim. 2:6]; and “came from the Father full of grace and truth” [Jn 1:14]. God is certainly good! And He is definitely loving, just, upright, impartial, reasonable, honorable, fair, gracious, faithful, and true! Is He not?”

~*~

 

            There was much more in the correspondence but what has been recorded is sufficient to reflect that people have strong feelings against those who embrace a high view of God and a low view of man. As a result, it is not unusual for “straw-man” arguments to be set forth in an attempt to discredit believers in sovereign grace.

 

·       It is said that believers in the doctrines of sovereign grace are people who believe Christians do not have to witness because individuals will be saved whether they hear the gospel or not.

 

·       It is said that advocates of the doctrines of sovereign grace believe that God is a tyrant and that He causes people to sin in order to send them to hell.

·       It is said that the proponents of the doctrines of sovereign grace believe that the gospel is not to be given to everyone. Some people cannot be saved whether they wanted to be saved or not.

 

·       It is said that those who love the doctrines of sovereign grace teach that people are saved against their wills—thereby missing the point that God changes the will of sinners so that they desire salvation.

 

These are terrible charges against God’s people and all are totally without foundation. Those who embrace the doctrines of God’s grace want to witness and they do witness with great confidence believing that God will bring souls to the Savior because individuals have been chosen. The heart of the apostle Paul was encouraged one night to stay and preach in Corinth because the Lord told him in a vision that souls would be saved according to sovereign grace. “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace. For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” (Acts 18:10,11)

            Those who believe in the doctrines of grace teach that the gospel is to be presented to every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth without exception as the Lord gives opportunity and for good reason. From the surging sea of humanity God will rescue or save many precious souls who are perishing in their own sins. God is not a tyrant. He does not cause people to sin in order to send them to hell. People sin of their own volition in accordance to the own nature. Salvation, not sin, is the Divine design and the focus of redemptive history. The real problem is that people do not want to be saved. When the truth is told men are wedded to their lusts. The plight of man is desperate. “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Rom. 1:29-32)

 

A Word about the Controversy

Because men are so depraved that they have pleasure in sin and care nothing for their own souls, if anyone is to be saved, then God must work in a sovereign manner to rescue souls from themselves and the just judgment they have invited upon themselves. It is because religious teachers do not appreciate the wretched plight of man and the necessity of the absolute power of God in the process of salvation that a historical debate has raged over the centuries.

 

Historical Development

            As the debate unfolds those on both sides of the issue make their appeal to the Scriptures. Believing that all men can come to Christ according to their will, and believing that the intent of Christ was to save all men, those who combat the doctrines of sovereign grace quote the following Scripture for support.

 

¨     1 Timothy 2:3-4 “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

¨     Titus 2:11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

 

¨     1 Timothy 4:9-10This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe.”

 

¨     Romans 5:18Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

 

¨     Hebrews 2:9 “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”

 

¨     1 John 2:2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

 

¨     Isaiah 53:6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

 

¨      Matthew 11:28Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

¨      Matthew 23:37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

 

¨      Luke 7:48-50 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said unto the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

 

¨      John 3:14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up:”

 

¨      John 12:32And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

 

From these passages several propositions are often contented for:

 

·       God wants all men to be saved.

·       The grace of God has been given freely and equally to all men.

·       Christ is the Savior of all men reflected in the fact that He has tasted death for all and has born the iniquity of all.

·       Men can reject the gospel despite all that Christ has done on their behalf.

·       Christ has promised to draw all men unto Himself.

 

 

New Testament Principles

            In order to understand the verses appealed to and the conclusions drawn, a different context must be considered.  Also appealing to the Scriptures those who believe in the doctrines of sovereign grace emphasize the total helpless of man. The Bible reveals the extreme and desperate condition of man. He is in a terrible state of bondage to sin.

 

·       By nature men are dead in trespasses and sin. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Eph. 2:1)

 

·       The eyes of the natural man are blinded to the truth so that he cannot “see” spiritual truth.What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” (Rom. 11:7)

 

·       The will of the natural man is enslaved to a harsh taskmaster. Satan takes men captive at his will. (2 Tim. 2:26) Therefore, Jesus was right when he looked at a group of religious leaders one-day and pronounced judgment upon them saying, And you will not come to me that ye might have life. (John 5:40) Those who do come to Christ realize that they did not come because of their will but because of Sovereign grace. John speaks of those who are born, “Not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13)

 

·       The heart of the unregenerate is as hard as stone. “Yea, they have made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets; therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.” (Zech 7:12)

 

·       The thoughts of the ungodly are evil continually. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5 cp. Rom. 1:21)

 

·       The emotions are depraved. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” (Rom. 1:26,27)

 

·       Every inclination of the un-righteous is away from God. “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Rom. 3:11)

 

·       By himself a man can do nothing to contribute to his own salvation.Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Jer. 13:23)

 

 

·       The natural man is saved only when God does something for him. “But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.” (Psa. 37:39 cp. Ex. 14:13; 2 Chron. 20:17; Lam. 3:26)

 

So the great questions remain. “Who is to be credited with man’s salvation? God? Man? Both? Who is it that will get the glory?” In considering these important questions, those who embrace the doctrines of sovereign grace believe that the following gospel principles should be affirmed.

 

·       No one can come to Christ except the Lord draws him. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)

 

·       Christ has come to call the helpless to salvation. “I came not to all the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) And sinners do come to Christ, by faith. They come saying:

 

Lo! I come; and Thou, blest Lamb,

O take me to Thee as I am;

Nothing but sin I Thee can give;

Nothing but love may I receive.

 

·       The issue in salvation is not religious zeal but a salvation according to true knowledge. Paul writes of the Israelites that they had a zeal for God “but not according to knowledge.” (Rom. 10:2)

 

·       Salvation is according to the principle of grace. If it is mixed with works (including the will of man) then it ceases to be grace. “And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.  (Rom 11:6)

 

Because of these gospel principles, there are some challenging questions for those who oppose the doctrines of sovereign grace.

 

·       Question. “If God wants all men to be saved, then why are not all men saved for who can withstand the hand of God?” (study Gen. 17:1; 18:14; Job 42:2; Isa. 26:4; Matt. 19:26; Luke 1:37; Acts 26:8; Rev. 9:6; 21:22)

 

·       Question. “If the grace of God has been given freely and equally to all men then why are missionaries sent out? And why it is that men still perish in their sins?” (Luke 16:19-23 cp. Matt. 5:29)

 

·       Question. “If Christ is the Savior of all men, if Christ has tasted death for all, and has born the iniquity of all then why does anyone go to hell? On what basis does the Father condemn anyone? If Christ has actually done all that is alleged for all men then logically, universalism must be true. God has no basis on which to judge anyone.”

·       Question. “What does it matter if men reject Christ even after He has done so much for them? Is not the sin of rejecting Christ atoned for like all other heinous sins?”

 

·       Question. “Will Christ draw men unto Himself only to let them fall away to eternal destruction? Will Christ draw men unto Himself only to get a better view of a bleeding Savior—a Savior who will not save them?

 

Those who oppose the doctrines of sovereign grace cannot easily dismiss these questions—nor can they adequately answer them.

 

Pre-Reformation Period: Augustine vs. Pelagius

            Prior to the Reformation period the issues of human depravity, the freedom of the will of man, and the sovereignty of God were crystallized in the debate between Pelagius and Augustine. Pelagius was a British monk (c. AD 354 - after 418) who arose to deny the doctrine of original sin (that the human race had fallen in Adam). He argued that man was not born corrupt, nor was man totally depraved. Moreover, he was not predestined to heaven or hell. Babies, he said, are innocent. They become bad when they grow up and are influenced by others. Each person has a free will that determines his eternal destiny. At the core of the theology of Pelagius was the concept that man must be able to do whatever God requires him to do. For Pelagius, responsibility necessitated ability.

            In contrast, Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430), a town on the North African coast, taught that every man is conceived and born in sin and can be saved only through the grace of God according to His divine pleasure. Augustine was convinced that the Scriptures taught the bondage of the will, not its freedom, in order that salvation might be of grace. The commandments of Christ to be “perfect”, along with the Law, were designed to show man how helpless and hopeless his condition was. Man needs the grace of God if he will be saved. He needs a Savior. He needs a Divine Remedy from the power, pollution, and penalty of sin. In the Person of Jesus Christ all that man needs for salvation is provided.

In AD 416 two African councils condemned the teachings of Pelagius. Pope Innocent I, who in 417 excommunicated the monk, upheld this decision. The General Council of Ephesus in 431 again officially condemned the teachings of Pelagius. In 529 the Synod of condemned the teachings of semi-Pelagianism, which holds that it is up to the individual to accept or refuse the gift of God’s grace. The Church contended for God’s sovereign act of free grace, not man’s free will to choose.

 

Semi-Pelagianism vs. Gottschalk

            Though the Church councils had officially condemned the thinking of Pelagius, it would not go away. Another champion was needed to combat its implications. Such a champion was found in the ninth century. His name was Gottschalk (c. 803-869). Born into a noble family, Gottschalk was committed by his parents to the care of the Benedictine abbey at Fulda (part of Germany). He was to be a child oblate (ward and pupil) of the Church. As the years passed and Gottschalk reached maturity, he resented his confinement and sought his freedom. Despite opposition from the abbot, Rabanus Maurus, a legislature of Mainz (829) allowed him to go free. His freedom was short lived for the abbot appealed the decision to the Frankish emperor Louis. Gottschalk was to return to the monastery as a priest. The following years brought much hardship as Gottschalk embraced the doctrines of grace and exalted the sovereignty of God. His preaching in Rome and in the Balkans was condemned. He was deprived of the priesthood, physically beaten, denied communion, and was imprisoned at Hautvillers. Despite almost twenty years of suffering he was able to write a number of poems with spiritual themes.

 

The Reformation Period

            Around noontime on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther (1483-1546) nailed his 95 theses to the old wooden door of the Castle Church at Wittenburg, Germany. Little did Luther realize that the simple act of publishing his concerns about the abuses within the established church was to launch what is now known to history as the Reformation Era. An exciting and heroic epoch in the life of the Church had begun. The essential issue around which the Reformation would be fought was the will of man. The age-old questions still persisted: “Is the will of man free, or is it in bondage? Does man have any part in his own salvation? Or is salvation of the Lord?”

            Martin Luther concluded, like so many before him, that salvation was the free gift of free grace bestowed upon poor sinners by a sovereign God. Works have no part in the salvation of the soul. “The just shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4 cp. Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38), and that faith is apart from human merit for it too is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:8,9) Such thinking was contrary to the official teaching of the Church of Rome, which insisted that faith, plus good works, merited the grace resulting in the salvation of the soul. The church was not about to abolish a system of salvation that was financially profitable reflected in the sale of indulgences and the contributions received from acts of penance and vows of poverty taken by the nuns and priests.

 

Luther vs. Erasmus

            To challenge Luther’s thinking, Rome found a champion in the person of Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1466-1536), a Dutch scholar, a humanist, and first editor of the Greek New Testament. Reluctant to become involved in the controversy between Luther and the papacy, Erasmus finally succumbed to ecclesiastical pressure and attacked Luther in Diatribe on Free Will. Luther responded with Bondage of the Will (1526). For Luther, the will was not something that was neutral. Man’s will is like a beast driven by a master, either Satan or the Righteous God. Since the Fall man was no longer master of himself. He was enslaved either to the Devil (John 8:44) or to Christ. (Rom. 1:1)

            The advocates of free will, such as Erasmus, argued that If a man improves his naturals, God is bound to give him spirituals. Yet, what is this but turning grace into debt? The advocates of free will make man the cause of his own salvation. They put grace into man’s power, not man’s will under the power of grace. They rob God of the honor of making one to differ from another (1 Cor. 4:7) and ascribe that work to man.

 

·       Free will allows man the liberty of boasting to God, saying, “God, I thank Thee that Thou gavest me power to will (yet Thou gavest that to Judas as well as me), but I thank myself for the act of willingness, since I receive from Thee no more than Judas did.”

 

·       Free will exempts the creature from the power of God, as if man, spider-like, could spin a thread out of his own bowels whereon to climb to Heaven.

 

·       Free will makes man the cause why God willeth this or that; so God must attend on the will of man, and not be infallible in His decrees, nor working all things according to the counsel of His own will. (Eph. 1:11 cp. Psa. 115:3) [From the writings of Christopher Ness]

A true believer is one who has been well taught his unworthiness and his sinfulness and his weakness. A true believer is one, who, as a sinner has to cast his all upon Christ and cries out,

 

Nothing in my hand I bring;

Simply to Thy cross I cling.

 

~*~

A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,

On Thy kind arms I fall,

Be Thou my strength and righteousness,

My Jesus, and my all.

~*~

Reformation Themes

            The general distinguishing principles of the Reformation may be identified.

 

·       A Fundamental Respect for the Scriptures. For centuries the Catholic Church had diminished the importance of Scripture. The Bible was not believed to be sufficient for life, and so the writings of men, and the authority of Church councils were given equal, or superior, weight to the Word of God. The Scriptures were virtually withheld from the people, for it was not allowed to be translated into the vernacular of the common man. Very few people had even seen a copy of the Bible, let alone held one in their hands. The Reformers restored the Scriptures to its rightful position. It was the Bible, which was to determine the Church's doctrine, regulate its practice, and guide the daily conduct of the believer.

 

·       A Religion based upon Reason. The Church of Rome had introduced, and advanced, many illogical doctrines. They had forced people to embrace them upon penalty of temporal punishment or eternal pain. There was the mystical doctrine of transubstantiation. There was the preposterous, pompous, pretensions of papal indulgences. There was the supercilious supply of images in the hour of worship. The Reformers placed before the people of God a creed, a code of conduct, and a way of worship, which did not outrage the rational nature of the mind.

 

·       A Religion of Personal Piety. Catholicism did not encourage individuals to go directly and personally to God the Father. Between the heart of man and the heart of the God of heaven, both popes and councils had interjected their own authority. Before a soul burdened with sin could find divine forgiveness, the priest had to intervene to hear one's confession and then render absolution. No longer could a saint come boldly before the throne of grace. The Virgin Mary and departed saints were interjected, demanding needless mediation. With the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, the Reformers swept away all false barriers. They declared the right of private judgment. They proclaimed a universal priesthood of the believer, and emphasized personal responsibility. Each soul had the privilege of speaking directly to the Savior, the true source of salvation.

 

 

 

·       A Spiritual Religion. Because a multitude of outward ordinances and ceremonies had been imposed upon the people, the true, spiritual nature of the faith had become obscured. The Reformers arose to emphasize an inward religious experience over external ecclesiastical rituals without reality. The Reformers replaced penance with penitence, works with faith, asceticism with self-denial, celibacy with chastity, and the mass with spiritual communion. 

 

·       The Rise of Nationalism. Desiring to subjugate the world to itself, Rome made each nation subservient to an ecclesiastical hierarchy over which it presided. The Reformers protested against papal intervention into the internal affairs of individual countries, thereby denying religious independence. At the Diet of Spires in 1526, it was decreed that in regard to religion "each state should live, govern, and behave itself as it should answer to God and the Emperor." From time to time, when he was not fighting perpetual wars outside his domain, Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, attempted to reverse the decree and bring everyone back to the Catholic faith, but national freedom of religion was reaffirmed at the Augsburg Diet in 1555. The rise of nationalism, encouraged by the Reformers, established the principle that Rome had no right to impose its ecclesiastical discipline, ritual, or creed upon other Christians outside its sphere of influence. (A Glorious Institution: The Church in History, Mt. Zion Publications, Pensacola, Fl)

 

Arminus and the Remonstrance

One person that changed the historic beliefs of many, within the Protestant Church, was James (Jacobus) Arminius. Arminius was born in the Netherlands at Oudewater, near Utrecht (1560). His father died around the time of his birth. Then, in the early years of childhood, the Spaniards came and destroyed his hometown. His family perished. Discovering he was destitute of a nuclear family, kind Dutch neighbors took Arminius into their home and provided for his needs.

Recognized as a capable student, Arminius was enrolled as the twelfth student at the new University of Leyden (1576). Here, for the first time on public record, he used his Latinized name, Jacobus Arminius, instead of his given name at birth, Jacob Harmenszoon. As expected, Arminius enjoyed academic excellence.

After completing his studies at Leyden, Arminius continued his education at the Geneva Academy (1582), which was headed by Theodore Beza, the successor to John Calvin. In 1588, Arminius was ordained a minister of the gospel. He became a pastor of the Reformed Church in Amsterdam. In 1590 Arminius married a prosperous merchant's daughter, which gave him contact with the prominent members of society. As a minister, Jacobus was eloquent, educated, and enlightened. His sermons attracted large audiences, not only for their clear content, but for the controversy they created.

According to Arminius, High Calvinism was wrong. God did not extend His saving grace only to those whom He predestinates to salvation. Nor is the will of man so bound in sin that there is no freedom of thought or ability to act for God has elected those whom He has foreseen will believe. Man is not totally enabled by sin to merit favor with God, nor is he fully depraved.

 

 

 

 

By 1592 Arminius had been formally accused of Pelagianism (a fifth century controversy which emphasized the freedom of the will), and departure from the two Calvinist creeds, the Beglic Confession, and the Heidelberg Catechism. Accusations of departing from the faith would continue to follow him until his death in 1609.  During his life, Arminius had asked for a Church council to be called to discuss afresh the concept of predestination, election, and reprobation. Nine years after his death, such a council was held.

 

The Synod of Dort

When the Synod of Dort met, from November 13, 1618 to May 9, 1619, delegates from the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, England, Germany, and Switzerland attended. The teachings of Arminius were considered and then unanimously rejected and condemned. The Reform doctrine was reaffirmed in the Canons of Dort.

Those who try to defend Jacobus Arminius from the condemnation of the Synod of Dort, make a distinction between the man and the message his followers manifested. It is a valid point. The views of Arminius were never systematically set forth until the year following his death, when his disciples issued a declaration called The Remonstrance (1610).

It is doubtful that Arminius himself would have openly endorsed all of the positions that have become associated with his name. His thinking was more subtle. His language was more cautious. The writings of Arminius himself are so carefully worded that Moses Stuart (1831) found it possible to argue that Arminius was not an Arminian. However, in the end, the charge is valid that Arminius had an indirect way of denying accepted Protestant biblical truths such as the depravity of man, the bondage of the will, and the election of souls to salvation or judgment.

If Arminius was by nature a gentle man in presenting his views, if he was cautious in his comments, the implications of his thinking inflamed—with combative religious zeal—the young ministers whom he had trained for the minister. Though only forty-five signed the Remonstrance the whole church was soon caught up with theological controversy. Arminius is not without historical accountability. He did plant the seed that has proven to be a great challenge to the church for the souls of men. A brief summary of the direct challenge of Arminianism to Calvinism may be stated as follows.

 

                        CALVINISM                                                  ARMINIANISM

 

1. Election is unconditional.                            1. Election and condemnation are conditioned upon

                                                                        the foreseen faith or unbelief of man, not upon the sovereign choice of Almighty God.

 

2. The atonement is limited to the elect.          2. The atonement was made for all but believers enjoy its benefits

 

3. Man is depraved as far as any ability          3. Man unaided by the Spirit is unable to come

to come to God and to merit the merits            However, the will of man is involved in

the merits of Christ.                                         salvation.

 

4. Grace is irresistible.                                   4. Grace can be resisted.

 

 

 

 

5. The saints will persevere in the faith,         5. The doctrine of the final persevere of all the

being kept by the power of God.                     converted is still open to discussion. At least,

Christians can backslide into not only occasional sin, but even lifestyles of habitual sin—and still be saved on the basis of their decision to receive Christ.

 

Though Arminian theology was officially condemned at the Synod of Dort, its influence did not go away. It was accepted by multitudes in the Anglican Church, by many in the dissenting denominations, including the Baptist, and the Methodist. Arminian theology continues to be widely accepted in much of Christendom. (A Glorious Institution: The Church in History, Mt. Zion Publications, Pensacola, FL) Oddly enough, although this matter of salvation as a work of God alone is a rather minority opinion today, it is a point of repeated emphasis in the Scriptures. We will work it out here in the form that it has been given to us for years: TULIP.

 

The Five Points of Calvinism: A Mnemonic Device

            T = Total Depravity                            The Necessity of Grace           Salvation Required

            U = Unconditional Election                 The Foundation of Grace         Salvation Planned

            L = Limited Atonement                       The Provision of Grace           Salvation Purchased

            I = Irresistible Grace                          The Revelation of Grace         Salvation Applied

            P = Perseverance of the Saints            The Victory of Grace              Salvation Perfected

 

A Brief Summary of the Various Historical Systems

·       Pelagianism teaches that man is naturally good and has no need of grace.

 

·       Semi-Pelagianism teaches that man is good but not good enough so that grace is needed to complete what man begins.

 

·       Arminianism argues that man is not good but all are given equal and sufficient grace to exercise free will.

 

·       The doctrines of sovereign grace (Augustianism / Calvinism) contends that all men are sinful and are therefore incapable of contributing anything to the process of personal salvation. Men need a Savior. Men need a Savior who is Divine and they can find such as Savior in Jesus Christ.

 

Hail, great Immanuel, all divine!

In Thee Thy Father’s glories shine;

Thou brightest, sweetest, fairest One,

That eyes have seen or angels known.

 

A Brief Summary of Calvinism and its Major Emphasis

            Theologically, as a system of thought, Calvinism is identified by the acceptance of the supreme role of Scripture in revelation and its interpretation by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. From the Scriptures flows forth the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God. Armed with these two emphases or presuppositions, Calvinism logically argues for the following.

·       The primary duty of man is to do the will of God.

 

·       This was possible in Adam prior to the Fall.

 

·       In the Fall the power to do good and to please God was lost.

 

·       Since Adam acted as the Federal Representative of the human race he was rightfully judged and all of his posterity are rightfully damned.

 

·       However, for His own good pleasure, God in Christ has decreed to save some but not all members of Adam’s race. Those who are saved by grace through faith alone realize that they too were worthy of eternal judgment.

 

And there should I have gone,

But Thou dost all things well;

Thy love was great, Thy mercy free,

Which from the pit delivered me.

 

·       That God saves some is a tribute to His mercy and grace. That He does not save all redounds to His justice.

 

·       God in Christ redeems whom He wills, which are known by various names including the elect of God. (Col. 3:12)

 

·       By faith, all of the elect receive eternal life and will joyously dwell with Christ forever according to the workings of grace. In heaven,

 

We’ll sing the vast unmeasured grace,

Which, from the days of old,

Did all His Son’s elect embrace;

As sheep within His fold.

~*~

John Kent

 

·       Those who have been chosen to be the heirs of eternal life are given a new heart, a new will, and a new mind in order to have the renewed ability to do the will of God.

 

·       As history unfolds, God works out His great plan of redemption in the lives of His people who honor Him within the sphere of the Church, the ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) and the Civil Government for Jesus has said, If ye love me, keep my commandments. And the heart of the responds and asks,

 

Do not I love Thee, dearest Lord?

Behold my heart and see.

Common Denominator and Controlling Theme

            Permeating the system of theology setting forth the doctrines of sovereign grace is an emphasis upon the glory of God. What the system tries to do is to give all the glory to God that is due Him as specific questions are considered. Who is to be credited with human salvation? Does man get any credit at all? Those who embrace the doctrines of grace cry out, “Sola Deo Gloria!” “To God alone be the glory!” Salvation cannot be ascribed in any way to human activity. The salvation of a soul is only explainable in terms of divine activity. Yes, man must believe but the ability to express positive faith to receive God, that capacity is the gift of God.

 

Not all the outward forms on earth,

Nor rites that God hath given,

Not will of man, nor blood, nor birth,

Can raise a soul to Heaven.

 

The sovereign will of God alone,

Creates us heirs of grace:

Both in the image of His Son,

A new peculiar race.

 

Thus quicken’d souls awake and rise

From the long sleep of death;

On Heavenly things they fix their eyes,

And praise employs their breath.

 

Salient Features or Distinguishing Marks of Calvinism

·       The depravity or sinfulness of man. Man is sinful in every facet of his being. Man is not as wicked as he could be at any given moment because there is a form of relative righteousness. Some people are better than others. But overall every man is totally depraved in the sense that every facet of the soul is stained by sin. Therefore, man, by nature, is unable to respond to God in faith. Man is unable to do what God requires of him.

 

·       The sovereignty of God. God is free and able to do whatsoever He wants, when He want to do it, how He wants to do it, with whomsoever He wants to do it. God is absolutely free to do as He chooses. He is accountable to no-one and nothing except His own perfect essence. God is sovereign in every detail of the universe including the salvation of every lost human soul.

 

Sovereign grace o’er sin abounding,

Ransom’d souls the tidings swell;

‘Tis a deep that knows no sounding,

Who its breadth or length can tell?

On its glories

Let my soul forever dwell.

 

·       The graciousness of salvation. Salvation in every detail is explained in terms of grace. While grace does comes to relieve the heart of unlawful fears, it was grace which taught the heart to fear God in the first place.

An Outline of the Eternal Purpose of God

 

Tis done! The great transaction’s done;

I am the Lord’s, and He is mine.

 

~*~

            In 1859, preaching in the Surrey Music Hall in London, England, with wisdom and eloquence C. H. Spurgeon set forth the scriptural position and the essential features of the purpose of God in the covenant of grace. The great work of salvation involves all the members of the triune Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

            Now, in this covenant of grace, we must first of all observe the high contracting parties between whom it was made. The covenant of grace was made before the foundation of the world between God the Father, and God the Son; or to put it in a yet more scriptural light, it was made mutually between the three divine persons of the adorable Trinity. This covenant was not made directly between God and man. Man did not at that time exist; but Christ stood in the covenant as man’s representative. In that sense we will allow that it was a covenant between God and man, but not a covenant between God and any man personally and individually. It was a covenant between God and Christ, and through Christ indirectly with all the blood-bought seed who were loved of Christ from the foundation of the world. It is a noble and glorious thought, the very poetry of that old Calvinistic doctrine which we teach, that long ere the day star knew its place, before God had spoken existence out of nothing, before angel’s wing had stirred the unnavigated ether, before a solitary song had disturbed the solemnity of the silence in which God reigned supreme, He had entered into solemn counsel with Himself, with His Son, and with His Spirit, and had in that council decreed, determined, purposed and predestinated the salvation of His people. My soul flies back now, winged by imagination and by faith, and looks into that mysterious council chamber, and by faith I behold the Father pledging Himself to the Son, and the Son pledging Himself to the Father, while the Spirit gives His pledge to both, and thus that divine compact, long to be hidden in darkness, is completed and settled—the covenant which in these latter days has been read in the light of heaven, and has become the joy and hope and boast of all the saints.

            And now what were the stipulations of this covenant? They were somewhat in this wise. God had foreseen that man after creation would break the covenant of works; that however mild and gentle the tenure upon which Adam had possession of Paradise, yet that tenure would be too severe for him, and he would be sure to kick against it, and ruin himself. God had also foreseen that His elect ones, whom He had chosen out of the rest of mankind, would fall by the sin of Adam, since they, as well as the rest of mankind, were represented in Adam. The covenant therefore had for its end the restoration of the chosen people. And new we may readily understand what were the stipulations. On the Father’s part, thus runs the covenant. I cannot tell you it in the glorious celestial tongue in which it was written: I am fain to bring it down to the speech, which suiteth to the ear of the flesh, and to the heart of a mortal. Thus, I say, runs the covenant, in lines like these:

 

‘I, the Most High Jehovah, do hereby give unto my only begotten and well beloved Son, a people, countless beyond the number of the stars, who shall be by him washed from sin, by Him preserved and kept and led, and by Him, at last, presented before my throne, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. I covenant by oath, and swear by Myself, because I can swear by no greater, that these whom I now give to Christ shall be forever the objects of My eternal love. Them will I forgive through the merit of the blood. To these will I give a perfect righteousness; these will I adopt and make my sons and daughters, and these shall reign with me through Christ eternally.’

Thus runs that glorious side of the covenant. The Holy Spirit also, as one of the high contracting parties on this side of the covenant, gave His declaration:

            ‘I hereby covenant,” saith He, “that all whom the Father giveth to the Son, I will in due time quicken. I will show them their need of redemption; I will cut off from them all groundless hope, and destroy their refuges of lies. I will bring them to the blood of sprinkling I will give them faith whereby this blood shall be applied to them; I will work in them every grace; I will keep their faith alive; I will cleanse them and drive out all depravity from them, and they shall be presented at last spotless and faultless.’

            This was the one of the covenant, which is at this very day being fulfilled and scrupulously kept. As for the other side of the covenant this was part of it, engaged and covenanted by Christ. He thus declared and covenanted with His Father:

            ‘My Father, on my part I covenant that in the fullness of time I will become man. I will take upon Myself the form and nature of the fallen race. I will live in their wretched world, and for My people will I keep the law perfectly. I will work out a spotless righteousness, which shall be acceptable to the demands of Thy just and holy law. In due time I will bear the sins of all My people. Thou shalt exact their debts on Me; the chastisement of their peace I will endure, and by My stripes they shall be healed. My Father, I covenant and promise that I will be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. I will magnify Thy law and make it honourable. I will suffer all they ought to have suffered. I will endure the curse of thy law, and all the vials of Thy wrath shall be emptied and spent upon My head. I will then rise again; I will ascend into heaven; I will intercede for them at Thy right hand; and I will make myself responsible for every one of them, that not one of them Thou has given Me shall ever be lost, but I will bring all My sheep of whom, by My blood, Thou has constituted Me the Shepherd—I will bring every one safe to Thee at last.’”

~*~

 

            By these words the eternal purpose of God in the salvation of souls is set forth. The Father has a peculiar people for His Son. They are chosen, redeemed, sanctified, and glorified to show forth His glory and to praise Him for all eternity.

 

Later History: The Reformation to the Present Time

            It would not be wrong to say, speaking in broad, general terms, that the doctrines of sovereign grace dominated Christian theology for many years following the Reformation. Luther spoke about the sovereignty of God and against free will in favor of free grace, as did John Calvin who forcefully advocated the Presbyterian form of church government. The Church of England was initially Calvinistic reflected in the Thirty-nine Articles of Faith. Congregationalist and the Puritans were Calvinistic as well as most Baptist. (study The London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689)

            Always present, of course, during this long period of time was Pelagianism/Arminianism. George Whitefield along with John and Charles Wesley established the Methodist structure. Though Whitefield was a strong Calvinist, John and Charles Wesley were zealous for Arminianism. They overshadowed Whitefield as leaders of the Methodist movement and so the Methodist were from the first Arminians.

The Baptist eventually divided into two camps. There were the General Baptist (who advocated free will) and the Regular or Particular Baptist who insisted on free grace. The General Baptist were Arminian which led to heretical theological positions advanced by Unitarians and the universalist.

            Today, most of the major religious denominations have moved away from their historical roots and confessions of faith. Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and or Arminianism now prevails in Lutheran churches, many Baptist denominations, liberal Presbyterian churches and even the Church of England. In a recent news article reported that the current Archbishop of Canterbury (August 1999) said that the resurrection of Christ was not important! Most of the newer denominations, such as the Pentecostal churches, are strong Arminians.

The central doctrine that prevails in the present Church—allowing the ecumenical movement to thrive—is the lie of free will. The scriptural truth of the bondage of the will is being denied. And so a generation has arisen that does not understand its desperate need for a Savior. (Rom. 1:25 cp. 2 Thess. 2:11) The unspoken question is this: What would Christ save people from? We can help ourselves—thank you very much!

Long ago Martin Luther anticipated all this would happen once the concept of the bondage of the will was surrendered. In a letter to Erasmus, Luther stated that when all was said and done, the only difference between Roman theology and the Protestant position was the issue of the will. In other words, if the will is free as most Protestants now believe, and man is able to move toward God and be saved at any time of his own choosing, then there is no reason not to unite with the Roman Catholic Church for Rome has consistently said that the will of man plus the grace of God equals salvation. The distinctive doctrine of the bondage of the will, which launched the Reformation and exalted the glory of God in the salvation of souls, has been abandoned. There is no logical or compelling reason for most Protestants to stay away from Mass and the Church of Rome. Their system of theology is the same—salvation by grace through faith plus works, the work of the free will choosing God as Savior when and where self pleases.

 

The Importance of the Study of Calvinism

·       Doctrinal Clarity.  The doctrines of sovereign grace are to be studied afresh because doctrine is the foundation on which the church is built. The foundation must be dug deep if the superstructure is to stand. To use another analogy, the Christian is to be deeply rooted in doctrine for it is the will of God. (Eph. 3:17; Col. 2:7) Though doctrine is played down today the church has no right to be lax in doctrinal clarity. The church has no right to think that it can be unclear on certain doctrines because they are unpopular. Doctrinal clarity is very, very important. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim. 3:16,17) Therefore Christian, Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” (1 Tim. 4:15)

 

 

 

·       The Ministry of the Gospel. The doctrines of sovereign grace are to be studied afresh because it is important that the message be accurate concerning the plight of man and the remedy of God. So, precisely, what is man’s problem? Is man merely sick or is he dead in trespasses and sins? The difference between the two is grave for if the church comes up with a misdiagnoses of the problem it will also give an improper remedy. Then there is the question as to how the remedy is to be administered. Is it to be made more palatable? Is it to be presented in selfish, attractive terms? Many people think so with the result being an endless array of silly religious slogans void of doctrine content and gospel truth.

 

v    Smile! God Loves You And So Do I.

v    God Loves You And Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life

v    Try Jesus!

v    Jesus Is My Co-pilot

 

            Do these slogans reflect New Testament sentiments? No. But they do reveal the poverty of thinking by the present generation. They reveal the fact that the modern church has a wrong view of the problem of man and a wrong remedy for it.

 

·       The Glory of God. The doctrines of sovereign grace are to be studied afresh because at stake is the glory of God. Pelagianism/Arminianism as a system of theology gives a real measure of respectability to man and so robs God of His essential glory that rightly belongs to Him. Those who believe in the doctrines of grace say again, “Sola Deo Gloria!” “To God alone be the glory.”

 

Authoritative Standards

            The objective standard by which any system of theology is to be tested is the Bible as per 2 Timothy 3:16 which declares that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” Since the Bible is “God-breathed” it must be true. God cannot lie nor can He make a mistake. Therefore, observe three things.

 

·       God’s Word is True. God determines what is truth and what is a lie and what is false and not public opinion—or anything else. The Scriptures are to be approached with the attitude of a humble learner. Men are to come to the Bible looking for truth. They are not to come to the Bible trying to justify some popular pre-suppositional thinking.

 

·       God’s Word is Binding. The Scriptures are to be submitted to. The church has no right to pick and choose what it will or will not teach. The whole counsel of God is to be proclaimed. (Acts 20:27) When truth is denied, it is sin. The obligation placed upon the church is to discover what the Bible says, believe it. and teach it.

 

·       God’s Word is Profitable. More than one person has suggested openly that since the doctrines of grace are so controversial they should not be openly proclaimed. But the Bibles say every doctrine in the Bible is useful and good to a holy purpose. (2 Tim. 3:16,17) The church has no right to stand above scripture and to pick and choose, which doctrines are useful and which are not. The doctrines of grace are given for the church to learn and by learning increase in knowledge of Christ.

            To employ another imagery, the church is a steward in God’s employment. (Titus 1:7) The Lord has given the church His Word to preach. And the church and the world is not served well until that is done. By understanding the doctrines of grace, the Christian will come to a greater appreciation of salvation. Practically, one’s devotional life will be revolutionized, as an attitude of gratitude is cultivated for what God has done on behalf of those whom He has given to the Son. Witnessing will change from a man-centered presentation of the gospel to a God-centered message. The whole Christian walk will take on a new perspective as the glory of God is magnified. There will be more purpose and meaning in life. There will be greater love for Christ. The discovery will be made that the doctrines of sovereign grace are not only necessary, they are wonderful.

 

~*~

 

“It is no novelty, then, that I am preaching; no new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, that are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus. By this truth I make a pilgrimage into [the] past, and as I go, I see father after father, confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr, standing up to shake hands with me…taking these things to be the standard of my faith, I see the land of the ancients peopled with my brethren; I behold multitudes who confess the same as I do, and acknowledge that this is the religion of God’s own church.”  (C.H. Spurgeon) While the church must always and only look to Christ for her truths, the spiritual wisdom of those who have gone before should not be dismissed too quickly.  It is a matter of record that the faith which is contended for today was embraced by the greatest saints of old: Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, Robert M. M’Chenny, John Gill, Charles H. Spurgeon, William Carey and a host too innumerable to mention. We have a great cloud of witness gone before us in the heavenly that the doctrines of sovereign grace are true. Those who proclaim them please the Father to whom all glory and honor is do. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Chapter 2

 

Total Depravity

 

Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright;

but they have sought out many inventions.

~*~

Ecclesiastes 7:29

 

I.                Introduction

A.    “Five Points” of Divine Grace

B.    The Basis of Authority

C.    The Importance of the Doctrine of Man’s Sinfulness

1. Foundational to the Doctrine of Salvation

2. Essential to True Worship

 

II.              The Origin of Sin in Humanity

A.    Adam’s Original Righteousness

B.    Adam’s Fall from Grace and Conscience Sin

C.    The Consequences of the Fall of Adam

1.     On himself

2.     On others

 

III.            The Nature of Fallen Man

A.    Denials

1.     Man has not lost God’s image altogether

2.     All men are not always as sinful as they could possibly be

3.     Men are not incapable of relative goodness

 

B.    Affirmations

1.     Judicially

2.     Personally

a.      The Senses

b.     The Intellect

c.      The Affections

d.     The Will

 

IV.            The Question of Responsibility

V.              The Bondage of the Will

VI.            The Implications of the Doctrine of Total Depravity

A.    For the Lost

B.    On Evangelism

C.    In Worship

VII.         Summary

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Chapter 2

 

Total Depravity

 

Introduction

            As the doctrines of sovereign grace exalts the glory of God it debases the pride of man. In a day and age given to pop psychology and self-esteem theology it is widely assumed that one of the greatest problem of modern man is that he does not think well of himself. Whenever something goes drastically wrong in society, such as the rash of school shootings in various states in recent years, it is assumed that the root problem is lack of self-esteem. One prominent pastor in California has gleefully written that Self-esteem Theology will be the foundation for the next reformation within the church. However, the problem with self-esteem theology is not that man thinks too little of himself but that he thinks too highly of himself! The essence of sin is not lack of pride but too much pride. (Luke 18:9-14) The gospel comes not to call the righteous—or those who are pleased with their spirituality and morality—but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)

 

The Importance of the Doctrine of Man’s Sinfulness

Because of pride and arrogance of the natural man (Mark 7:22), who feels he is in need of no-one and nothing, (Psa. 14:1) it is important to study the doctrine of depravity for two reasons: (1) it is foundational to the doctrine of salvation and (2) it is essential to true worship.

The Christian says he believes in the doctrine of election. But why is election necessary? The answer is found in the doctrine of total depravity. The Christian says he believes in the divine calling. “Why is that necessary? Why is it necessary that God must draw a person to Himself? Why is irresistible grace necessary?” The answer is found in the subject of total depravity. The Christian says he believes in justification and regeneration or that a man must brought to spiritual life before he can believe. “Why is regeneration necessary? What makes regeneration so important?” The Christian believes in sanctification, which is the doctrine that a man must continue to work at removing the effects of sin. “But what makes sanctification necessary?” The answer is found in the subject of total depravity. Salvation will never be understood apart from a clear view of the sinfulness of the state of the natural man.

            Nor will there be proper worship apart from an understanding of the doctrine of total depravity. If the believer is to worship God aright and if a person is to gain the necessary appreciation of salvation, then the heart look to the rock from which it was hewn and to the hole from which it was dug. (Isa. 51:1) Then, when the question arises, From what did God save? the backward look will reveal the depths of human depravity from which the heart was drawn and there will be a true incentive to worship and to say,

 

Thank you Lord, for saving my soul,

Thank you Lord, for making me whole.

Thank you Lord for giving to me

Thy great salvation so rich and free.

 

 

The Origin of Sin in Humanity

            According to the Bible (Eccl. 7:29) God made man “upright” (lit. straight) but he began to seek to do all forms of evil on his own. Man was created perfect—morally, religiously, and spiritually. He was created in accordance with God’s perfect moral standards. But man was also created mutable or with the capacity to change. And change Adam did. Though he knew what it was like to have sweet and intimate fellowship with the Lord, though he knew what it was like to walk with God (Gen.3: 8), Adam changed by a sinful act of disobedience. (Rom. 5:12)

How Adam was able to move from a state of grace to a state of disgrace is a great mystery for he was not created morally neutral. Adam’s original righteousness was that of positive inclination towards God. He was created in such a way that he wanted to obey the Lord. But he sinned and became conscious of that fact.

In the act of sinning Adam was different from Eve. The apostle Paul told Timothy that Eve was deceived when she ate of the forbidden fruit, but not Adam which makes the nature of his transgression one of apostasy. Adam’s in was the action of a willful, deliberate decision and the question arises as to why. Adam, why did you eat the forbidden fruit? Several possibilities come to mind.

 

·       It may be that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit our of love for Eve. When Adam realized that Eve was under a sentence of death, it is possible that he made a decision to desire the creature more than the Creator.  Adam joined Eve in death out of love. The problem with this view is that it makes the disobedience of Adam to appear somewhat noble, or at least romantic. But his action was not noble, it was treacherous.

 

·       It may be that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit because he was simply curious about sin having no regard for the known consequences. Many a person has been brought up in a religious manner only to become curious about evil and engaged in wicked behavior out of simple intrigue.

 

·       It may be that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit because he believed the words of Satan as well as the words of God. There is a sense in which the things Satan said were true. The devil said that the eyes of Adam and Eve would be “opened” and they were. (Gen. 3:13 cp. 3:17) The devil said that they would both know “good and evil” and they did—but not like God. That was the deceptive part of the truth. But it did not matter for a half-truth is a whole lie. Instead of Adam and Eve knowing “good and evil” objectively, like God, they would know it subjectively, like the devil who would now become their “father” and the “father” of their offspring. (cp. John 8:44)

 

In the final analysis, the Bible is content to say that Adam sinned willfully and knowingly. He consciously violated the terms of the covenant imposed upon him. God had given Adam all that he would need in order to obey the gracious terms of life, God had given to Adam clear warning of the consequences of disobedience—and Adam disobeyed. He turned on God and defied Him and broke the terms of fellowship and the covenant.

 

 

 

 

The consequences of the Fall of Adam were severe and immediate as the effects were felt on himself and on others. With the sin of Adam several thing happened.

 

·       Death. The Lord had warned Adam that the day in which he ate he would die and die Adam did. There was an immediate spiritual separation or death from God and the process of physical death began. (Rom. 6:23) The evidence for a state of spiritual death is reflected in Adam’s awareness of evil which is why he had to get the fig leaves to cover himself, and it is evidenced by his broken fellowship with God.

 

·       A new vocabulary was created to define new emotions and behavior: sin, shame, guilt, transgression, hatred, evil, remorse, and desperation.

 

·       The descendants of Adam would be affected. The stain of sin would be passed on from one generation to the next in the process of procreation. Since the birth of Cain, every person is born into the world physically alive but spiritually dead. (Rom. 5:14 cp. Eph. 2:1) Adam acted as a Federal Representative of the human race. When he sinned, all sinned. The proof of this spiritual truth is that all die, even those who had no law. (study Rom. 5:12-14) Because of Adam, all men are born “depraved.” (Isa. 48:8; Psa. 51:5; 58:3; Eph. 2:1) We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. And sin is pandemic. It is universal (Gen. 6:5) Sin forms and transforms every thought and action of the heart of man so that it is evil and only evil. Man’s ambitions, intentions, and desires is evil. Socially, personally, professionally man is evil—continually! There is never a moment when the thoughts and intentions of natural man is evil, according to the divine indictment. This natural depravity or evil is not something that man has learned. It is there by birth. (Gen. 8:21)

 

·       Adam and Eve tried to atone for what they had done. They tried to cover-up what they had lost—their innocence.

 

·       Adam and Eve fled from the face of God. (Gen.3:8 cp. Psa. 139:7)

 

The Divine response to the situation was that of justice mingled with mercy.

 

·       God came looking for man. (Gen. 3:9)

 

·       God held man accountable for his attitude and actions. (Gen. 3:11,12)

 

·       God listened to the foolish excuses that were offered by way of a defense, and then the Lord rendered a righteous judgment upon all.

 

v    The serpent was to crawl on its belly and be crushed.       Gen. 3:14,15

v    The woman was to know sorrow and submission              Gen. 3:15,16

v    The man was to work by the sweat of his brow                 Gen. 3:17,19

v    The earth would “groan”                                                    Gen. 3:18

v    Both man and woman were to be cast out of the Garden    Gen. 3:23,24

v    Both man and woman were to be re-clothed                      Gen. 3:21

v    Both man and woman were to receive a promise               Gen. 3:15

 

            Though the judgment of God upon the whole situation and all that were involved was severe, there was much grace mixed with the justice of God. There always is whether Divine wrath is manifested in the Garden, in the Flood, or at the Cross-of Calvary.

 

The Nature of Fallen Man

In the discussion of the doctrine of total depravity there are some denials that are worthy of special consideration.

 

·       The doctrine of total depravity does not mean that man has not lost God’s image altogether. The Bible speaks of fallen man still being made in the image of God. Because of sin, the image of God has been effaced in man but not erased. Man still has intelligence and he still has religion reflected by a conscience. No matter how remote a tribe may be in the jungles of the world, no matter how primitive the people may be, no matter how far individuals live from civilization, conscience will be found. A sense of right and wrong will be manifested in the lives of the people. “What is that but the remains of God’s image being worked out?”

 

·       The doctrine of total depravity does not mean that all men are always as sinful as they could possibly be. Not every man is as evil as they can be. There is relative good. There is a difference between extensive depravity and intensive depravity. Nevertheless, every part of man in his being has been corrupted by sin.

 

·       The doctrine of total depravity does not mean that men are not capable of relative goodness. Men can choose their acts of evil. They can choose to do acts of goodness. There are many acts of philanthropy. There have been many people who have given up riches and status in society to go to a place where their services are needed. That is relative good. But as to the fundamental nature of man, that is fixed in sin. The desire to murder, steal, and lust is unchangeable apart from the regenerating grace of God.

 

What the doctrine of total depravity affirms is that that judicially, in the sight of God (Isa. 64: 6), and personally, in the sight of self, the soul of every man has been touched at the core so that every facet of the soul—the intellect, the affections, and the will—are sinful. Man can do nothing to commend Himself to God. (Gen. 6:5) God requires that man love Him with all of his heart and mind and soul. (Matt. 22:37) But man cannot do this. He is too selfish in his motives.

Because of sin, the natural man does not think as he should, love as he should, and make proper moral decisions as he should. Why? Because his nature is such that he cannot. There is nothing in man that moves him psychologically towards God. Sensually man moves away from God. Every part of man intended to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31cp. Eph. 4:19) has been polluted by sin. Therefore, the only hope for any member of Adam’s fallen race is to find a Savior who can deliver him from the penalty, power, and pollution of sin. Man needs a Savior who can create a new heart, a new will, and new emotions within his soul in order for there to be restored fellowship with God and the power to respond in gospel obedience to the will of the Father. But the problem is this. Man does not want to be saved. He does not will to be saved.

 

The Question of Responsibility

            If the mind of man is spiritually darkened (Eph. 4:18), and it is; if the eyes of man are spiritually blinded (Rom. 2:19 cp. 2 Cor. 4:4), and they are; if the natural man is dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1) and he is, then how can he be responsible for his attitude and actions?  Is man responsible for his attitude and actions when he is by nature born depraved? The biblical answer is that every person is indeed responsible for his sin.

           

·       Man is responsible for sin because he loves sin. He loves darkness rather than light. (John 3:19,20) In his fallen nature man wants more of sin. He cannot get enough of sin. He continues in evil because he loves it. (Rom. 3:11; Isa. 53:6) Man has a real dislike for the things of God and a real like for sin in his affections and in his intellect.

 

·       Man is responsible for sin because he gives consent to sin. The will of man cannot be separated from his affections or his intellect, therefore, he is responsible for his attitude and actions.

 

·       Man is responsible for sin because there is no impulse from without to do wrong. The internal impulse is present. Speaking on this topic, Charles Spurgeon said, “People excuse themselves because they have bad hearts. That is the most flimsy excuse in the world. Do no robbery and thievery come from a bad heart? Suppose a thief should say to a judge, ‘I could not help it! I have a bad heart!’ What would the judge say but,  ‘You rascal! Why, if your heart is bad I will make the sentence heavier for you are a villain indeed. Your excuse is nothing.’ We do not preach this doctrine [of Total Depravity] to excuse you but to humble you. The possession of a bad nature is my fault as well as my terrible calamity.”

 

The statements of Scripture set forth the truth that man is helpless and hopelessly lost and that by his own choice. He has defied God and is responsible for that defiance.

 

The Bondage of the Will

Of course, it is not to be forgotten that the will of man is captive to what he is and that is sinful. Since the Fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, the will of man is not free reflected by what he now chooses. (Psa. 14:1ff) The will of man and thus the nature of man is enslaved to sin. (Jer. 13:23) If a leopard could change its spots, then fallen man could change his nature. But the leopard cannot change his spots and the natural man cannot change the bent of his nature—but he is still responsible for that nature because he does not seek relief.

            The bondage of the will is reflected in other ways. “Can a man, on his own, choose God?” Jesus said no. (John 6:44) “Why?”  Paul explains in Romans 8:7. The natural mind of man is not subject to God. His will does not allow it. Man is at war with God.  No man can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Cor. 12:3) No man can embrace the Lord as Savior except by the Spirit of God working a work of grace in his heart. Finally there is 2 Peter 2:14. The Bible speaks of man being unable to cease from sin. (cp. Gen. 6:5) Man has gotten himself in a mess he cannot fix. He has defied God. He has gotten himself into a bondage that he cannot get out of—which is why, in all of this, man is held responsible for sin. God’s estimate of man is found in Isaiah 1:2-6. Man is sinful through and through.

 

 

The Implications of the Doctrine of Total Depravity

·       For the Lost. The grace and mercy of God designed the words of the gospel for helpless sinners. The self-righteous and the self-sufficient have no need of a Savior. But for those who are enslaved to sin and know it, for those who have been hardened by sin and despair of their wickedness, there is hope. For those who have a clear sight of themselves and see all too clearly the natural depravity of the heart, there is a message to receive and the message is this: Christ receives sinful men.

 

Come ye sinners, poor and needy

Week and wounded, sick and sore,

Jesus ready stands to save you,

Full of pity, and love, and power.

 

Come you weary, heavy laden,

bruised and broken by the Fall,

If you tarry till you’re better,

You’ll never come at all.

 

Let not conscience make you linger,

or of fitness fondly dream;

All the fitness He requireth

 is to feel your need of Him.

 

Come ye thirsty, Come and welcome!

God’s free bounty glorify.

True belief, true repentance,

 every grace that brings you nigh,

Without money,

come to Jesus Christ and buy.

 

·       On Evangelism. As the sinner who agrees with his state of total depravity finds hope in a gracious Savior with power to save, so the saint who shares the gospel finds his heart encouraged to evangelize by the truth of total depravity for he realizes just how great a Savior he has to offer. Christ can still make those who are dead in trespasses and sin to live. He can make the blind to see and the lame to walk. Christ is mighty to save.

 

One of the great problems with so much modern evangelism is that people fail to realize that their God is too small. The God of contemporary theology can be resisted by the diminutive will of any person. He is a God that can be told when to operate and when to go away. Such a God has no power to save anyone for He is at the mercy of man. Even if He wanted to help, He can do nothing apart from human will or co-operation.

 

 

 

 

With such a gospel presentation the heart of many a Christian cries out in protest. The true message of the Word of God is to tell people what the Lord has declared is to be preached: man is ruined by the fail, redeemed by the Lamb, and regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit. As an ambassador, the Christian can do no less than to tell men forcefully and plainly they cannot save themselves, nor can they be saved whenever they chose to be converted. Salvation is of the Lord and He will decide the day of Divine deliverance.

 

The will of man, like the goodness of man, has nothing to do with salvation. The house that is built, partly on a rock, and, partly on the sand, will fall. And the sinner, who rests his hope of salvation, partly, on Christ, and partly on his own works, will be damned. You may as well trust in the supposed merits and pretended intercession of the virgin Mary, or other saints departed, as trust in your own good works, prayers, or anything you can do and suffer, either as a compensation to God's justice for your sins, or as conducive toward your acceptance and salvation.

~*~

Augustus Toplady

 

·       In Worship.  When prideful man is humbled, when the gospel is faithfully proclaimed, then—and only then—can proper worship take place. Those who are savingly joined to Christ must look back to the hole of the pit from which they were dug. And then it will be confessed that while “we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) One can wonder if those who have never felt the depths of their depravity can worship properly. “Many of you say you have faith in Christ. Can you tell us anything about Him in whom you say you believe? Were your souls ever ready to sink into hell? Did they ever stick fast in the miry clay of corruption? Locked up in the prison of unbelief? Ice bound by impenitence? Laid lower than the beasts with lusts? Tormented as beset by devils? Did anyone come to rescue you in that state? Who is He? Is He a Savior? Mary saw the Lord: she could tell something about it. And so the two disciples going to Emmaus. Can you this day condescend upon a single incident, even to the extent of the twinkling of an eye? Any condition of body or soul in which you saw the Lord by faith? Can you tell what passed between Him and you?” (Arminianism, Another Gospel, Rev. Jonathan R. Anderson, Glasgow, d. 1859) Those who knows by personal experience the doctrine of total depravity can testify to the mighty saving power of Christ.

 

Summary

            A great appreciation of the sinfulness of sin will result in a greater appreciation for the Savior.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Chapter 3

 

Who Made the First Move?

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

~*~

Genesis 6:8

I.                Introduction

A. Review

1.     History

2.     Total Depravity

3.     Dr. T.T. Shields and the Doctrine of Depravity

B. Unconditional Election: Points of Dispute

 

II.              Exegetical Considerations: Overview of Biblical Statements

A.    Pauline theology and the doctrine of unconditional election

1.     Romans 8:28-30

2.     Romans 9:7-23

B. Christ and the doctrine of unconditional election

          1. John 10:16

          2. John 10:24-29

          3. John 15:16

C. Other selected passages teaching the doctrine of unconditional election

          1. Acts 13:48

          2. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

          3. Ephesians 1:3-14

4.     2 Thessalonians 2:12-13

5.     1 Timothy 1:16

6.     2 Timothy 1:9

7.     2 Timothy 2:10

8.     Titus 1:2

9.     1 John 4:10

III.            Theological Considerations: Correlation with Related Biblical Concepts

A.    Sin is Enslaving

B.    Salvation is Undeserved

C.    Election is of God

D.    Election is of Grace

 

IV.            Practical Implications

A.    Election and Assurance

B.    Election and Evangelism

C.    Election and Sanctification

D.    Election and Worship

Conclusion: The Issues at State

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Chapter 3

 

Who Made the First Move?

 

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

~*~

Genesis 6:8

 

T’s not that I did choose Thee,

For Lord, that could not be;

This heart would still refuse Thee,

Hadst Thou not chosen me.

 

Thou from the sin that stained me,

Hast cleansed and set me free;

Of old Thou hast ordained me,

That I should live to Thee.

 

Introduction

By way of review, it has been noted that the doctrines of sovereign grace are the historic faith of the Church. In particular, during the days of the Reformation in the sixteenth and seventh century three great principles emerged to guide faith and practice of the saints. The first rallying cry of the Reformation was Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 declares that the Scriptures are the Divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life. The Bible says that,

 

All scripture is given by inspiration of God,

and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,

for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly

furnished unto all good works.

 

2 Timothy 3:14-17

 

The second rallying cry of the Reformers was Sola Gratia (grace alone). Martin Luther, like millions of others, had been taught to believe that salvation was not personal but corporate. Salvation came to the individual through the Church structure and sacraments. A person was saved by faith in Christ and good works, with the emphasis being on good works. As we shall see, Luther endeavored to do good works. But no matter how hard he tried he simply could not be perfectly sinless and holy. This alarmed him for he read that without holiness no man shall see the Lord (Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10; 1 John 1:8). Luther wanted to see the Lord. But how?

 

 

Eventually, Luther came to understand the grace of God by studying the book of Romans. (Note: Rom. 1:17) It was only then that his troubled heart found peace with God and the peace of the God (Rom. 4:4-8; 5:1,2). We want you to have peace with God and others as well. If you know someone who needs salvation, invite them to come tomorrow.

            The third rallying cry of the Reformation was Sola Fide (faith alone). This term refers to the doctrine that salvation is by faith alone, apart from any human merit or works (Rom. 3:20-22; Gal. 2:16). It has been observed that God is never impressed with what man can do; but He honors and respects what His Son has done at a place called Calvary. Every soul that would be saved must come to Calvary! At Calvary the heart can see united in One the Judge and the Father, both holiness and utter love, both justice and mercy, both pardon and penalty, both the vindicated Law and the Flood-point of compassion. The Cross-honors the Divine Law equally, as it releases the Divine grace.

 

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ

and thou shalt be saved!

Acts 16:31

History

            The doctrines of grace re-affirms the greatness of God in salvation. They protest the presentation of any system of salvation that exalts the free will of man and his inherent goodness. In the 5th century AD, Pelagius, a well meaning monk, reacting against the teachings of St. Augustine, argued that the Fall of man was not so complete as to render him incapable of obeying God. Following the Reformation his thoughts were brought to fruition by the followers of Jacobus Arminius (1559-1609). An attempt was made in Holland to try and change the Calvinistic theology of the country. In response to five points of concern, summarized in the Remonstrance, the five points of Calvinism were set forth and the anachronism TULIP was created standing for the total depravity of the heart, the unconditional election of those who will be the heirs of salvation, the limited atonement or definite redemption of Christ for those who will be saved, the irresistible grace of God in calling the elect unto Himself, and the perseverance of the Saints in the faith as a sure sign of salvation because of the preserving power of God in keeping His own from ultimate and final failure.

 

Total Depravity

            The debate between Augustine and Pelagius in the 5th century and the Calvinist and Arminians in later centuries raged—and still rages today—because of a central question concerning the will of man and his basic nature. Those who believe in the doctrines of sovereign grace are convinced that the Scriptures teach the absolute helplessness and hopeless of man in his natural state to be saved by one iota of human good or will. It is argued that there is nothing good in man that commends him to God and there is nothing in man that would move him to God. While man does have some relative righteousness in that the image of God in his soul was effaced not erased, the damage done to him spiritual heart was intensive and extensive. As a single drop of deadly poison in a glass of water makes all of it unfit to drink, so the soul of man extensively is unfit for fellowship with God. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:8) If natural man could believe in Christ on his own, then that would be pleasing to God. If man could love the Lord and respond to the gospel based upon his own positive volition to the gospel that would be pleasing to God. But because he is in the flesh he cannot please God which means that he does not have the innate capacity or free will to be saved. Many years ago Dr. T.T. Shields illustrated this truth in a wonderful story that he tells.

 

Dr. T.T. Shields and the Doctrine of Depravity

            I knew a preacher when I was in Hamilton, a very popular preacher. One day we had a discussion in a ministerial association (before Modernism had become as rampant as it is now), and there was one man who read an essay on the divine spark in man, and the development of the best that is in us—of course, entirely repudiating the doctrine of total depravity; and this popular brother took him to task. He did not agree with the speaker at all. The popular preacher was thoroughly orthodox, as I thought. He said that we are a bad lot, as Moody did, and he quoted Scripture to show that every faculty of the mind was biased, and that we were really totally depraved. Somebody suggested, “Perhaps Mr. So-and-So will give us a paper on the other side of this question. At the next meeting I suggest that Mr. So-and-So address us on the subject of Total Depravity.” This was agreed, and the brother accepted the task.

            Now this man who preached the doctrine of total depravity was an Arminian in theology. He shrank from the doctrine of election, and could not agree with it at all. He was great on free will, but not very strong on divine sovereignty.

            The next time the brethren met, there was a good attendance, and this brother read his paper—he went all the way from A to Z. Calvin himself could not have outdone him. We were a bad lot beyond all peradventure. When he had finished his paper he said he hoped the brethren would excuse him, because he had an appointment and would not be able to remain for the discussion. But we had one man there who was as keen as a razor, but who was a Modernist. He would be called a Conservative now, but we thought he was pretty far-gone then. He said, “Just a moment. I should like to ask Mr. So-and-So a question before he leaves.”

            Turning to the brother who had delivered the address he said, “I should like to ask you whether there is anything in man in his natural state, which can respond to the appeal of the Spirit of God from without?” He thought a moment and then said, “Certainly there is.” “Well,” said the Professor, “is that thing that can respond to the Holy Spirit good or is it evil?” He said, “If it responds to the Holy Spirit it cannot be evil.” “I should think not,” said the Professor. “Then it is good?” “I suppose it must be.” “Then your whole argument fails, sir, and we are not totally depraved.”

            You see, that brother had not learned to think relatively. He had not learned that if one certain doctrine be true, another cannot be true. There cannot be an upper without a lower, an east without a west, nor a north without a south. Now if man is totally depraved there is nothing in him that can possibly respond to the Divine Spirit. If he is dead in trespasses and sin, he has no power of himself to deliver himself, or even to assist to deliver himself out of his natural state. If he be altogether evil then he must remain forever altogether evil unless God in sovereign mercy touches him into life. And if that be true, we must have the principle of election. Why? Because those who are in the flesh cannot please God! (Rom. 8:8)

 

Unconditional Election: Points of Dispute

            Turning from the doctrine of total depravity attention can be given to the doctrine of unconditional election. Such a doctrine is needed in order to remind people that if man is to be saved, he needs a Savior. If man is going to be saved he needs God to do something for and in him that he cannot do for or in himself. If man is held captive in his rebellion then it becomes clear that God must do something to break down man’s rebellion and so save him. If man cannot do anything to commend himself to God, then God must do something to make him able and that something is grace. Unconditional election is another way of speaking of divine grace. Unconditional election is God making the first move to give men a new Master.

Unfortunately, like each of the major doctrines of grace, the doctrine of unconditional election is not without controversy. There are some definite points of dispute. There should not be any controversy on this subject for the Bible plainly teaches some sort of election. “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” (2 Thess. 2:13) “Has God chosen all to salvation?” No. “Has He chosen some to salvation?” Yes. “On what basis did God choose those who would be saved?” The debate begins.

 

¨     Liberalism. The Liberal branch of Christian theology teaches that God has chosen everyone for salvation. The mission of the Church is to tell people that God will save everyone.

 

¨     Arminianism. The Arminian teaches that God foresaw something good in man and on the basis of that foreknowledge chose him for salvation. Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Pet. 1:2) The argument is made that man chooses God. When God looked down the halls of time he saw which individuals, based on their own positive volition to the presentation of the gospel would believe in Christ, and on the basis of each persons innate faith, elected or chose them.

 

¨     Calvinism. The doctrines of sovereign grace affirms that for reasons known only to Himself, God, according to His own will and good pleasure marked out or choose those individuals who were to be the heirs of salvation and the recipients of His grace. God set His love on certain people, not because of any response towards him or good in themselves, but for His own good pleasure. Souls are saved according to free grace, not free will. God’s choice of men to salvation is not due to anything in them. Election is unconditional. Souls are chosen to salvation unconditionally for there are no conditions that man could ever meet to satisfy the justice of God. Salvation is according to grace. Illustration: Noah. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (Gen. 6:8) The thought of this passage is that God gave grace to Noah. Why? Because such is the nature of grace. Noah was no better than any other person. He was chosen unconditionally to be the object of redeeming grace.

 

Exegetical Considerations: Overview of Biblical Statements

The theology of Paul clearly teaches the doctrine of unconditional election

 

¨     Romans 8:28-30 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknew, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

 

 

 

Commentary. As this passage is read, a natural question immediately arisen. “What does it mean to be ‘called according to His purpose?’” It seems obvious that there are certain people who are called by God in keeping with a larger plan. The “larger plan” is explained in five words: foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The five words form a golden chain of salvation that stretches from heaven to earth and back again.

 

·       Foreknown. It is God who foreknows who will be saved because He knows whom He will call. God already knows that “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10) God already knows that there are none that seeketh after Him. (Rom. 3:11) God already knows that no man will by nature choose to love and obey Him for the depravity of the heart does not allow righteousness. (Gen. 6:5) If man is to be saved, God must save him. And the divine commentary is that God does foreknow whom He will save. The word “foreknow” is an intimate word. It means to set one’s affection upon. (Amos 3:2 cp. Rom. 11:2; 2 Tim. 2:19)

 

·       Predestinate. This term means to establish the destiny beforehand. And what is the destiny of those who are foreknown? They are destined to be conformed to the image of Christ.

 

·       Called. This word speaks of the external call of the gospel as well as the internal call whereby God effectually brings souls to Himself.

 

·       Justified. To be justified means to be declared righteous before the bar of Divine justice. Because of Christ’s death at Calvary, the penalty of the law has been satisfied. God is now free to justify whom He wills.

 

·       Glorified. The act of glorification refers to the time when all the vestiges of sin are reversed and man is restored to his original state of creation with no more possibility of sin. 

 

Despite this Golden Chain of Redeeming Grace, there is something about God choosing men unconditionally that offends many. There is a belief that unconditional election is somehow unfair and so the doctrines of grace become a source of embarrassment. A frantic effort is then made to ‘rescue’ God from being an ‘arbitrary’ Savior forgetting that a sovereign God can do what He will with His own universe. The teaching is set forth that the real reason why God chose certain people is because He foresaw that they would first chose Him—and that thought is psychologically satisfying. It is also egocentric and results in a form of auto-salvation. Anticipating the foolishness of men, the Holy Spirit had the apostle Paul write Romans 9:7-23

 

¨     Romans 9:7-23 “Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. 10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20 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? 21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,”

 

Commentary

To illustrate the doctrine of unconditional election, the Holy Spirit brings to mind the case of Esau and Jacob. In unmistakable terms the truth is set forth that God determined who would serve whom. God determined who would receive the grace of the covenant. God determined whom He would love. The true difficulty is not that God would hate Esau but that He would love Jacob. There was nothing in Jacob that merited the merits of divine favor. Jacob was a rascal. Jacob was a cheat. Jacob was a natural born swindler and yet he is loved. Jacob is preferred to Esau. According to Divine authority Jacob will be honored and served by Esau. None of these things can be understood apart from unconditional election. The whole point of Romans 9:11 is that the election of God was according to sovereign grace.

 

·       Those who protest sovereign grace and unconditional election argue that the life of Jacob was better than Esau and that is why God choose him. Anyone who thinks Jacob was somehow better than Esau has probably never been deceived in a treacherous manner as Jacob deceived his blinded father who was thought to be dying. The sad story is recorded in Genesis 27. While the sins of Esau were sins of the flesh, the sins of Jacob were sins of the mind and spirit. As his name indicates, Jacob was a ‘supplanter’ or chisler from the moment of birth.

 

·       Then there are those who argue that God simply loved Esau less than He loved Jacob. Such a contention solves nothing for there is the problem of inequity. “Why did God Esau less and Jacob more?” The answer is, “Because He wanted to!”

 

·       Another argument raised in protest again unconditional election is to teach Esau and Jacob represents nations. God loved the descendants of Jacob in the form of the nation of Israel more than He loved the descendants of Esau in the form of the Arabs. But the inequity still remains. Furthermore, what are nations but groups of individuals? So nothing is resolved. Clearly, Paul is speaking of personal individuals. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. (Rom. 9:16)

 

 

“So why did God choose Jacob over Esau?” Because God is God! “Is this fair?” (Rom. 9:14) Paul anticipated that question because he taught unconditional election. [Special Note: Any doctrine of election that does not raise a protest like the one anticipated by Paul is not the same doctrine that the apostle taught. The very fact that Paul had to pause and deal with the issue of unfairness indicates that he was teaching the doctrine of unconditional election]

From Esau and Jacob, the apostle presents Moses and Pharaoh as another test case to illustrate divine sovereignty. ”For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Rom. 9:15) This passage has no meaning whatsoever unless it means that God decides who will be saved. He chooses unconditionally. “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Rom. 9:16) God does not have mercy because men believe in a faith-decision.  The originating cause of salvation is not man’s will. God did not look ahead and say of anyone, “He will’s to believe so I will to elect him.” No! A thousand times, No! God will have mercy on whom HE will have mercy. No man can say, “God chose me because I chose Him. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” (Rom 9:17,18)

Having set forth enough historical examples to make his point that mercy and grace is solely in the hands of the sovereign God, the apostle moves on and anticipates another objection. “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 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? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” (Rom 9:19-23) In these verses and with these words Paul demands a holy hush to fall upon the objectors who dare to tell God what is fair and what is not fair. The creature has no right to speak against the Creator or to challenge Him for the way He does something. The soul is to be subject to the Sovereign in all matters. When the temptation comes to question God, there should be a holy hush lest there be an unholy accusation against the Divine Creator. “God is a law unto Himself. He is not obliged in any way to explain His matters to anyone.”  (A.W. Pink)

There is something else to consider. Why would anyone want God to be “fair” at the expense of mercy and grace? If God had let everyone in the human race go to hell He would be “fair.” He would also be “just.” But there would be no mercy in such a decision. It is far better to call upon the mercy of God and ask, not for “fairness” but for matchless, marvelous grace. Julia H. Johnston wanted grace and then greater grace as she spoke of what God does according to His mercy.

 

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,

Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,

Yonder on Calvary’s mount out poured,

There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

 

 

 

 

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin.

 

“Why would anyone want ‘fairness’ when they can have grace?” Because of grace there shall be a multitude redeemed which no man can number from every tribe and nation in the earth. (Rev. 5:9)

In dealing with the question of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, Paul does not try to find a harmonizing principle. Rather, the apostle argues that the difference between the Creator and the creature is so vast that the Potter has a right to do with the clay whatsoever He pleases—and there the matter rests.

Nor does Paul try to resolve God’s justice with God’s sovereignty. Those who oppose the doctrines of grace does this by attributing free will to man—which only compounds the problem for that is man’s solution to the alleged dilemma. Paul resolves this matter by declaring the free grace of a sovereignty of God and telling man to put a hand over his mouth in a holy hush.

 

Christ and the Doctrine of Unconditional Election

The reason why Paul taught the sovereignty of God in salvation is because Christ taught

the doctrine of unconditional election.

 

¨     John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

 

Commentary. The plain statement here is that there are many people whom Christ shall. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He must—and will—bring many into the fold. This will be done apart from anyone meriting the grace of God or fulfilling an outward task such as keeping the Law, being baptized, or performing a particular act of human good. The elect number from the nation of Israel, in addition to the elect number of Gentile converts, will constitute the one fold or one flock of whom Christ is the Good Shepherd.

 

¨     John 10:24-29Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. 25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.”

 

Commentary. Based upon John 10:26,27 a question arises. “Are believers sheep because they are saved? Or, Are believers saved because they are sheep?” The answer is that those who are saved are saved because they are sheep. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) The difference in men is that some are chosen.

 

 

¨     John 15:16 Jesus said that the reason the disciples were His was not because they made the primary choice, but because He made the choice. “Ye have not chose me, but I have chosen you.”  The disciples responded to the Divine summons which called them to service because of salvation.

 

Other Selected Passages Teaching the Doctrine of Unconditional Election

 

¨     Acts 13:48And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Luke, in speaking of Paul’s missionary journey speaks of those who were ordained to eternal life believed. Who believed? Those, and only those, who were ordained to eternal life.

 

¨     1 Corinthians 1:18-31For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28         And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

 

Commentary. In this extended passage the argument is made that the important people of this world are not the one’s who are wise and powerful but who receive the grace and mercy of God. Most do not receiving saving grace. (1 Cor. 1:26)  Why?” Because God has chosen certain individuals for salvation in order to demonstrate His own sovereignty. The whole idea behind this passage is that of God passing over some and selecting others unconditionally.

 

¨     Ephesians 1:3, 4Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”

 

Commentary. Election is the fountain for all other blessings! And when did this election take place? Before the foundation of the world! Satan did not cast one vote for man and God cast another vote for man and man casts the deciding vote. Besides, as someone has observed with some humor, Satan could not have cast a vote for man for he was not a qualified voter. Nor could man have cast a deciding vote for he was not old enough yet. The election was made before man could have done anything. It was unconditional.

 

¨     2 Thessalonians 2:12-13That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: “

 

Commentary. “What is the difference between the people in verse 12 and the people in verse 13? What does Paul say makes the difference?” God’s divine election! If man is the source of his own salvation, then he does not need to give God as much thanks than if God is the sole source of salvation. “But we are bound to give thanks always to God.” “Why?”Because God hath from the beginning chosen. “

 

¨     1 Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

 

Commentary. This verse does speaks indirectly of election. Apart from God choosing Paul, he would never have chosen the Lord Jesus for Paul hated Christ and everyone that was associated with Christ. It was only when sovereign grace arrested and then slew the Beast that rode the will of Saul of Tarsus that a great transformation took place. In the words of the apostle, “I obtained mercy.” In a sovereign manner, unconditionally, mercy was shown to a sinner in search of souls to execute because of religious madness.

 

¨     2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

 

Commentary. Question: “Why does God save and call souls unto Himself?” Answer. It is not because sinners are smart enough and capable enough to choose Him. No. It is not according to any good works or decisions that God saves and calls. Rather “according to his own purpose and grace” does God save.

 

¨     2 Timothy 2:10Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

 

Commentary. Question: “Why did Paul endure so much suffering and hardships in the ministry?”  Answer: Because the elect who will come to faith as the gospel is preached.

 

¨     Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

 

Commentary. Question. “When did God promise eternal life?” Answer.Before the world began.” God would not have promised life unless there were to be souls to give this gift of grace to. The pre-suppositional thought is in favor of unconditional election.

¨     I John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

Commentary. Question. “Why does anyone love God?” Answer. Because God loves first. God made the first move toward man. He always has and He always will because man, in his natural fallen state, cannot move towards from God. Only when the Lord says, “Live!” is the ability given to rise up and follow Christ.

 

¨     Revelation 17:8 “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.”

 

Commentary. Question: “When were the names of the elect written in the book of life?Answer: Before the foundation of the world—and that is unconditional grace. Those who oppose the doctrines of sovereign grace maintain that unconditional election makes man a robot. It is argued time and again that God did not make man a robot, and that is true. But sin did. On this point the scriptures are plain. Sin and Satan have united to make man a robot to various lust patterns. Fallen man is a real captive to Satan. Souls are “taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Tim. 2:26) Man is Satan’s robot to fulfill his lusts. (John 8:44) But Christ has come to set the captive free. (Luke 4:18) It is free grace, not free will, which abounds to the glory of God’s praise. God made man in His own image; sin remade man in a “robot’s” image. Now unconditional sovereign grace returns to restore the original freedom of creation. It is the devil not the Divine Creator who is to be charged with making man a “robot.”

 

Theological Considerations: Correlation with Related Biblical Concepts

 

·       Sin is enslaving. Depravity is pervasive and binding. Men are by nature the children of wrath. (Eph. 2:3) It is the natural inclination of men to disobey, not obey. (2 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 3:3) Why? Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Rom. 8:7) Man is bound in sin and is hopeless—unless God makes the first move to set the prisoner free. And He does. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

 

·       Salvation is undeserved. No man is better than another. No person is better off than another in the matter of being worthy of salvation. Only in grace does God bring souls to Himself. All through Scriptures the declaration is made that salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8,9) If faith, or any part of salvation, originates with self then a full Savior is not needed. The doctrine of conditional election borders on impiety when considered logically for it challenges God’s plan of redemption by contending that man can do something to merit the merits of Christ. Paul rejected such a concept in the most forceful way by calling it “dung.” (Phil.3: 8, skubalon, that which is thrown to the dogs, refuse.) Salvation is something that is completely undeserved. Those who receive Divine favor receiv it unconditionally.

 

·       Election is of God. Salvation is bestowed upon sinners because of the work of Christ at Calvary. “The heart of Christ became like a reservoir in the midst of the mountains. All the tributary streams of iniquity, and every drop of the sins of His people, ran down and gathered into one vast lake, deep as hell and shoreless as eternity. All these me, as it were, in Christ’s heart, and He endured them all.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

 

·       Election is of grace and mercy. If God chose a soul for salvation on the basis of anything else other than grace, it would no longer be grace. Paul argues this point in Romans 11:6. If one little area of self is added to an ocean of grace, it ceases to be all of grace. The doctrine of election maintains that salvation is by God’s grace, alone.

 

Practical Implications

 

·       Election and assurance. Some people argue that if the doctrine of election is preached it will destroy the ground of assurance. However, just the opposite is true. When a person accepts the truth of God’s unconditional love, there is no trouble at all in believing that the God who saves is the God who will sustain and sanctify. God will preserve His own to the very end. They will be glorified. (Rom. 8:28-30) 

 

·       Election and evangelism. The gospel of election gives freedom to witness without internal pressure or feelings of frustration. The soul winner is responsible for disseminating the gospel, not for its results. In the act of evangelism, the one who witnesses is not obliged to talk or coerce someone into making a “decision.” God is the one who does the saving. God is the one who opens the heart. (Acts 16:14).

 

v    It is argued that the motive for evangelism is lost if the doctrine of election is preached. Paul would disagree. He said that he endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Tim. 2:10) It is because God will save the elect that the effort is made to witness. (Acts 18:10) There is real motivation for evangelism.

 

We have heard the joyful sound:

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Spread the tidings all around:

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Bear the news to every land,

Climb the steeps and cross the waves;

Onward—‘tis our Lord’s command;

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

 

 

 

 

v    It is argued that the doctrine of unconditional election discourages a person from trusting in Christ for they might think they are not one of the elect. The proper answer is this. Let no sinner exclude himself from the benefit of the gospel, by saying either ‘I know not if I be elect,’ or, ‘I know not if I be a believer and so I know not if Christ died for me and gave Himself for me in particular.’ This is to mistake the ground and the object of faith: for as salvation in God’s purpose to the elect is not the ground of faith, and salvation in possession of the believer is not the ground, but salvation in the Word of grace and in the gospel offer: this is the glad news that comes to the sinner’s ears, upon which he may build his faith and hope of salvation. The question then is not, ‘Are you an elect person or not?’ Nor is it, “Are you a believer or not?’ But the question is “Are you a sinner that needs a Savior?’ Is it not Christ in the decree of election that you are to look to, while you know not that you are elected—that is to go too far back; nor is it Christ in the heart or in possession you are to look to while you are not a believer—that it to go too far forward; but it is Christ in the Word. You know that you are a sinner. [Through Isaiah the prophet, 45:22] Christ as Savior is held forth to you saying, ‘Look unto me and be ye saved all ye ends of the earth, for I am God and beside me there is none else.” (Ralph Erskine)

 

v    Election and sanctification. Holiness is measured by love and love is measured by gospel obedience. (Matt. 22:37)

 

v    Election and Worship. The basic premise in worship is that God is King and Lord over everything—including the destiny of every individual. Those who understand the doctrine of unconditional election will find themselves on their knees in adoration and thanksgiving, realizing that had God not chosen them, they would never have chosen Him. The thoughtful heart says to Christ,

 

I love Thee, because Thou hast first loved me,

And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;

I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow:

If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

 

 

There is a lesson of humility to be learned from the doctrine of unconditional election for self must be abandoned in order for there to be salvation and sanctification. “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people; But because the LORD loved you.” (Deut. 7:6-8a) “Why did God choose Israel? Why does God choose anyone?” Because He loves them! And if it is asked, “On what basis does God love?” There is only one answer: sovereign grace. “Who made the first move in the act of salvation?” “Man?” No. “God?” Yes. Sola Deo Gloria. To God alone be the glory for the great things He hath done.

 

 

 

 

The Issues at Stake

            Like all the doctrines of grace, in the matter of unconditional election much is at stake.

 

·       The condition of man’s nature. Either man is enslaved to sin or he is not. Either man has no free will or he does. Either man is totally depraved or he is not. Either salvation begins and ends in the sovereign grace of God, or it begins and ends in the innate ability of fallen man to receive the gospel. “How sinful is man? Is he as sinful as God’s word says he is? Or is there still some residue of the divine spark in his sin-saturated soul apart from regeneration?”

 

·       The sovereignty of God. “Does the Creator have a right to do with His own creation whatsoever He pleases? Is God free to choose whom He wills and to love whom He wills? How sovereign is God? Is God obliged to save man?”

 

·       The salvation of the soul. “Is salvation according to free will or free grace? Is salvation in Christ undeserved? Or is salvation something that is merited because of a wise decision to believe in Christ at the point of gospel hearing? In the salvation of the soul, who will get the glory? Man? or God?” Heaven listens for the hearts acknowledgment of sovereign grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Chapter 4

 

Tulip is my favorite flower.

~*~

Fred Zaspel

 

Limited Atonement: For whom did Christ Die?

 

I.                Introduction

A.    Voices from the Past

B.    Review

C.    The Concept of Particularism

D.    Scriptural Evidence of Particularism

E.     The Prayers of Particularism

F.     The Nature of Christ’s Death

1.     Substitutional

2.     Sacrificial

G.    Limited Atonement: The Area of Controversy

H.    Clarification of Terminology

1.     Sufficiency / Value vs. Efficacy / Design

2.     Preferred Terminology

a.      Limited vs. Unlimited

b.     Definition vs. Indefinite

c.      Particular vs. General

I.       The Limits of the Atonement

J.      The Universal Benefits of the Death of Christ

 

II.              Theological Considerations—Biblical Doctrines

A.    Christ’s Death as the Fulfillment of a Mission

B.    Christ’s Death as Substitutional

C.    Christ’s Death as Efficacious

 

III.            Selected Biblical Statements on Particular Redemption

A.    Isaiah

B.    Matthew

C.    Luke

D.    John

E.     Acts

F.     Romans

G.    2 Corinthians

H.    Galatians

I.       Ephesians

J.      Hebrews

K.    Revelation

IV.            Practical Implications

A.    Worship and devotion

B.    Evangelism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Chapter 4

 

Limited Atonement: For whom did Christ Die?

 

Introduction: Voices from the Past

“Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say, ‘It is beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself,’ they say, ‘to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty.’ I admit there is, but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much, which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died.

If the doctrine be true, that He [Christ] died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriad’s there who had been cast away because of their sins. Once again, if it was Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences, which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption.

To think that my Savior died for me who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seem to conflict with all my idea of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for which Christ had already atones, appears tome to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

~*~

 

“What, I pray is it according to Scripture, for a man to be assured that Christ died for him in particular? Is it not the very highest improvement of faith? Doth it not include a sense of the spiritual love of God shed abroad in our hearts? Is it not the top of the apostle’s consolation, Romans 8:34, and the bottom of all his joyful assurance, Galatians 2:20?”

 

~*~

 

“Christ did not die for any upon condition, if they do believe; but He died for all God’s elect, that they should believe.”

~*~

John Owen

Review

            Throughout history the teaching has been advocated that man has some part in his own salvation by way of a spark of divinity or a free will. The Five Points of Calvinism, drawn up at the Synod of Dort in response to the Remonstrance or the Five Points of Arminianism, content that salvation is entirely of God. From beginning to end, salvation is of the Lord. Anything that is required to redeem the soul, God provides for the elect sinner.

            The reason why God must provide for the sinner is because the Bible teaches the doctrine of total depravity or the fact that man is enslaved to sin which has left him powerless to please the Lord. Man can do nothing to initiate or contribute to salvation in any way. The doctrine of total depravity does not teach that man is as bad as he can possibly be. It simply says that man is as bad off as he can possibly be. Therefore, Jesus said, “No cam can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (John 6:44)

            The truth of total depravity leads to the doctrine of unconditional election. Because there are no divinely imposed conditions, which the natural man would be able to meet in order to be saved, his salvation of necessity must be unconditional.

            The story is told of a godly Methodist woman who was faithfully reading her Bible. She lived next door to a Baptist minister. As the woman read the Scriptures she came across the passages which dealt with election. Not having learned much in this area she thought she might ask her neighbor to help her understand the subject. The Baptist pastor when asked what election meant said, “I think I can help you. Let me ask you three simple questions. First, ‘Are you saved?’” The Methodist women had heard the gospel often and she said, “Yes, I am saved.” “Good,” replied the minister. “Now the second question. ‘Did God save you by Himself or did you help Him?’” The good woman thought for a moment and then said, “Oh, no. God saved me all by Himself.” “He did everything?” inquired the Baptist minister. “He did everything,” responded the woman with confidence. “Then let me ask you the third and final question,” said the minister. “Did God save you on purpose or was it an accident?” And the Methodist lady replied, “Well, I guess God did saved me on purpose.” And the Baptist pastor replied, “That is election.”

            Election is the biblical teaching that God has specifically chosen some that He would save according to the principle of grace. Grace is need for, as Psalm 14 indicates, when “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God, They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”  (Psa. 14:2,3) If none seek after God, then clearly God must make the first move in the salvation of the soul. And God did make the first move in that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) God made the first initiative to keep souls from going to hell. He choose certain people whom He would save, not because they deserved it, but because of grace.

 

The Concept of Particularism

            In all of this there is the idea of “particularism.” God has not set out just to save anybody nor to make all men savable. Rather, God has set out to seek and to save certain people specifically and particularly. The concept should not be difficult to embrace for salvation is a supernatural experience. It requires a work of God in the heart for man to be saved.

 

 

            God must save each soul individually. There is no sacerdotal system where salvation is administered at the hands of a priest. God works on the soul immediately. He works in the hearts of individuals and saves them supernaturally. If God must save, and if he saves men individually, then there is particularism. In His sovereignty God chooses whom He will save. Man’s destiny is in God’s hands and not man’s. Man has already chosen his destiny and that is hell. Man has chosen sin. As a result of his own choosing, man has entered into a state of bondage from which he cannot be set free by his own power. He needs a Savior. If man is to be free, if man is to be saved, then it is God who must take the initiative.

 

Scriptural Evidence of Particularism

            The scriptural evidence for particularism is found in many precious passages.

 

¨     Matthew 1:21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

 

¨     Acts 16:14And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”

 

¨     Romans 8:37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

 

¨     Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:”

 

¨     Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

 

¨     Ephesians 2:4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,”

 

¨     Ephesians 5:2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.”

 

¨     2 Thessalonians 2:16Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,”

 

¨     2 Timothy 1:9Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”

 

¨     1 John 4:10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

 

¨     1 John 4:11Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”

 

¨     1 John 4:19We love him, because he first loved us.”

 

¨     Revelation 1:5And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,”

 

The Prayers of Particularism

            As the scriptures set forth the concept of particularism so does the prayer life of Christ and Christians. In the gospel of John (17:9) the Lord prayed for His own. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them, which thou hast given me; for they are thine. In like manner, when Christians pray they naturally ask God to save a particular brother or sister, mother or father, friend or foe. Particular people are presented before the Lord to be the objects of His redeeming mercy and grace. In the matter of salvation it is pleasing to the Father for those within the Christian community to understand that God has chosen “us,” God has redeemed “us”, God is the One who has drawn “us” to Christ, God has rescued “us” from sin. That is particularism.

 

The Nature of Christ’s Death

            The study of particularism leads to an inquiry into the nature of the death of Christ. A question arises: “How does God save those individuals whom He has chosen to be the heirs of salvation?” The traditional answer is that souls are saved through Jesus Christ. And that is a correct response. “But how does the death of Christ save souls?” The scriptural answer is twofold.

 

·       The death of Christ was a substitutional death. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) The death of Christ was the death of a substitute. Jesus died instead of others. He died in the place of another. All the spiritual obligations that fell upon the elect sinner fell upon Christ. “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” (Ezek. 18: 4) Christ paid the wages of sin, which is death, for His own. (Rom. 6:23)

 

·       The death of Christ was a sacrificial death. As the death of Christ was substitutional, so it was a sacrificial death. In the Old Testament economy there was an animal sacrifice to be made in atonement for sin. The worshipper was to “put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.” (Lev. 1:4) Then the animal was slaughtered. In the New Testament economy Jesus Christ was the Sacrifice to be offered. He was the Lamb of God to be slain. (John 1:29) Jesus was the penal (or legal) Substitute in that by His death the penalty for sins that others committed were paid. Because of the penal sacrificial substitution of Christ, souls are saved by the Life He gave. (Rom. 5:10) The blood of Christ reconciles individuals. (Eph. 2:13)

 

He took my sin and my sorrow

And made them His own;

He bore my burden to Calvary

And suffered and died alone.

 

 

Jesus does not save men by being a Good Example, though He was, nor does the Lord save by being a source of inspiration, though He certain provided that as well. Rather, Christ saves by His death—and the death of Christ was sufficient. There is nothing left for man to do or to contribute in his own salvation. The Lord “hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Tim. 1:9)

 

Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow.

 

Limited Atonement: The Area of Concern

            While most Christians would unite in agreement that any soul saved is saved by the death of Christ, there is a severe disagreement as to what exactly was accomplished by the death of Christ. One particular theological concern is whether or not Christ died for all men without exception. Those who love the doctrines of sovereign grace believe that Christ died for all men without distinction in the sense that Christ died for Jew and Gentile, male and female, rich and poor, educated and non-educated alike. Others say in essence, “No, Christ died for all men without exception. Christ died for Joseph Stalin as well as Augustine. He paid the penalty for the sins of Adolph Hitler as well as the apostle Paul. Peter had no advantage over Judas Iscariot as far as sins being forgiven.”

            Those who uphold the doctrines of sovereign grace contend that the death of Christ was more precise. Christ did not come just to make men savable. There was a definite price paid for a definite people in order for them to be saved. Christ did not die indiscriminately. The death of deaths in the death of Christ accomplished a perfect redemption to be applied to those who will be saved. The real question to be asked is this: “What was the purpose of Christ in dying?”

 

Clarification of Terminology

            In order to answer the proposed question, “What was the purpose of Christ in dying?”, a clarification of terms would be helpful.

 

·       The sufficiency of the death of Christ. Calvinism does not say that the death of Christ was good enough only for His elect. No! No! The value of the death of Chris is immeasurable. Certainly it was sufficient to cover all sins every man woman and child that has been or ever will be born. If a thousand worlds had been created and populated, the one death of Christ would be sufficient for all. The death of Jesus is of infinite value because of who He is. The death of Christ is sufficient to save every one to be saved and anyone to be saved. However, the issue is not the sufficiency of the death of Christ but the efficacy and the design of His death. In its effect, the death of Christ is applied only to the elect because for them it was designed.

Christ’s death was sufficient for all—

but efficacious for the elect.

 

 

·       Preferred Terminology. The terminology that has emerged to crystallize the debate is “limited atonement” vs. an “unlimited atonement”; a “definite redemption” vs. an “indefinite redemption”; and a “particular atonement” vs. a “general atonement.” For the believer in the doctrines of sovereign grace, the limit of the atonement is not in its value but in its application. For this reason, many that hold to the position of sovereign grace are ready to concede that the terminology “limited atonement” is unfortunate and does not represent what is trying to be said. The term “definite atonement” is more accurate. A concession can be made. There is room at the cross for all.

 

The Cross upon which Jesus died

Is a shelter in which we can hide.

His grace, so free is sufficient for me.

Wide as the ocean, deep as the sea.

There is room at the Cross-for you.

 

The Limits of the Atonement

            Having acknowledged the sufficiency of the death of Christ to save any and all that will come to the Cross-there are still limits to the death of Christ to be recognized. If Judas Iscariot went to hell (Acts 1:25) then the atonement did not avail for him. To concede this truth is to grant that either the power of the Cross-is limited or the extent is limited. The Cross-is limited in scope or it is limited in advantage. Rather than deny the power of Christ to save, it must be realized that the purpose of Christ was much more definite—He would save His people from their sins. Psychologically as well as technically, it is much better to speak of a definite atonement than a “limited” atonement for the merits of the Cross-was given definitely to save souls.

 

The Universal Benefits of the Death of Christ

            While contending for a definite redemption there are some universal benefits of the death of Christ that can be acknowledged.

 

·       The redemptive nature of Calvary is not limited to the Jews. There is a universal offer of the gospel. Christ set out to save a large number of people from every nation, kindred and tribe, and He has. (Rev. 5:9) In this sense there are no boundaries to the merits of the Cross-universally. The invitation to come to Christ is extended to the entire world. (Matt. 28:19,20) The good news is to be shared that Jesus has removed every legal obstacle from sinners. He has died to set men free from the power of sin. Christ has come to cleanse all that call upon the name of the Lord.

 

·       The benefits of grace are universal. There is the privilege of hearing the gospel message, and of living in a country that has been blessed by God because of the righteous. (Psa. 33:12)

 

·       There are temporal benefits that accrue from the death of Christ. Because of Christ, God is able to continue to make the sun to shine on the just and the unjust alike. Because of Christ the wrath of God can be delayed. (2 Pet. 3:9)

 

 

Theological Considerations—Biblical Doctrines

            How does the doctrine of a definite redemption harmonize with other scripture? The simple answer is, “Very well!” For example, in John 10 the Lord declares that His death was the fulfillment of a specific mission. “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) The mission of Christ was to protect His sheep not only from the harm that men would do to them, but also from the harm that sin would do to them as well. So Jesus said, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” (John 10:17) In John 6:35 the teaching is again presented that the Lord was on a mission. He had come to redeem all that the Father had given to Him. “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (John 6:39)

            In John 17, just a few hours from the Cross, the Lord spoke one last time of the great mission He was on. The particular mission of the Master was to give eternal life to as many souls as the Father had given to Him. (John 17:2) Eternal life includes not only duration of time but also a quality as will. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3) What is life eternal? To know God and His Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord can give life eternal to all that believe because He lives. And the Lord lives because He pleased the Father and finished the work which [the Father] thou gavest me to do. (John 17:4) The Father had given His Son a people to save and He accomplished the great mission of redemption for His own. (John 17:9, 20) The Covenant of Redemption was complete.

            As the death of Christ occurred because He was the Messiah on a mission (John 10:18b) so His death was a substitute. Over and over the Bible speaks of this aspect of the work of redemption.

 

¨     Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

 

¨     2 Corinthians 5:21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

 

¨     Galatians 3:13Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:”

 

¨     1 Corinthians 15:3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; “

 

It is the repeated and emphatic teaching of Scripture that the death of Christ was in place of all who will be saved. Christ was judged for sin so that those who are saved cannot be judged. If Christ died for all men, Judas as well as Paul, then a new definition of substitution is brought into view. He is condemned and those who sin are condemned—and that is not right. Judgment cannot fall upon both. Therefore, it is not a Son question [as some suggest] but a Sin question. And the sin question is this: “Did Jesus pay for the sins of all men or did He not?” If Christ did bear all the sins of all people then no one should be condemned even for unbelief, for that would be the greatest of all sins. But since men are condemned for rejecting Christ as Savior, then there must be a just basis of condemnation. If Christ died for the sins of all men there is no basis of judicial judgment. However, if Christ did not die for the sins of the non-elect there is a just basis of reproach. It is sinful works of sinners that separates them from God, not the Son. The Son stands and cries, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)

 

Either Christ died for all the sin of all men,

In which case all will be saved,

or

He died for some of the sins of all men,

In which case no one will be saved;

or

He died for all the sins of some men

In which case they will be saved

and that without exception.

 

~*~

John Owen

 

“To think that my Savior died for me who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seem to conflict with all my idea of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for which Christ had already atones, appears tome to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!”

 

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

~*~

 

Finally, the death of Christ was efficacious and so harmonizes with the doctrine of a definite redemption. The death of Christ actually saves men. He does not make men savable or but He is mighty to redeem.

 

¨     Romans 4:25 “Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.”

 

¨     Galatians 3:13 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:”

 

¨     2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

 

¨     Romans 5:10 “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

 

¨     1 John 2:2 “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

¨     Hebrews 9:12 “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

 

            The Bible does not present these things as being potential but actual spiritual transactions. God the Father is satisfied with all that the Son has done. By the death of Christ men are saved and that salvation is secure and eternal. Jesus did not die on the Cross hoping that someone somewhere and somehow be saved. Christ died with full confidence that He was redeeming a people unto Himself. Jesus died knowing that the redemption He accomplished would be applied to others. And while men must believe, his faith, purchased by Christ, is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:8,9) There is no such thing as a non-effective atonement. That would be a contradiction in terms. The work of Christ accomplished salvation so that Paul can rejoice and say, “He gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

 

Who Limits the Atonement?

 

“We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our ready reply to this is, that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say,  ‘No, certainly not.’ We ask them the next question—Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer, ‘No.’ They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, ‘No. Christ has died that any man may be saved if’—and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death; we say, ‘No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.’ We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement, you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.”

Charles H. Spurgeon

~*~

 

Selected Biblical Statements on Particular Redemption

¨     Isaiah 53:4Surely he hath borne our grief’s, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

¨

¨     Isaiah 53:8He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.”

 

¨     Isaiah 53:10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

 

¨     Isaiah 53:11He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

 

¨     Matthew 1:21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

 

¨     Matthew 20:28Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

 

¨     Matthew 26:28For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

 

¨     Luke 1:68Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,”

 

¨     John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Note. The death of Christ is limited to believers. He gave His only begotten Son whosoever believeth shall be saved. And other passages reveal who will believe—the elect.”

 

¨     John 11:51And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;”

 

¨     John 11:52And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Note. Jesus died to secure the salvation of His people.”

 

¨     Acts 20:28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

 

¨     Rom 8:32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

 

¨     2 Corinthians 5:14For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:”

 

¨     2 Corinthians 5:15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

 

¨     Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Practical Implications

·       For worship and devotion. Paul said in Galatians (6:14) that he gloried in the Cross. Paul looked at the Cross and said in effect, “There, Jesus died for me. He bore all of my sin and took them on Himself.” When it is seen that Christ died specifically for souls then there will be a renewed, personal, glory in the Cross.

 

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood

Shall never lose its power

Till all the ransomed Church

Be saved to sin no more.

 

·       For evangelism. Preaching the doctrine of a definite atonement does not hinder evangelism. Just the opposite is true. For those who understand the doctrine of grace there is great incentive to witness for the promise is given that if the gospel is preached there will be souls saved. (Acts 18:10; John 4:35) There is no more glorious message in all the universe than the gospel message that Christ died for sinners and anyone who comes to Him as the Sovereign Savior shall be redeemed by the power of His blood shed at Calvary. All who believe in Christ will be given life eternal. And those who believe, those have been given spiritual mercies of Divine Majesty in this life cannot keep from saying,

 

To Jesus, the crown of my hope,

My soul in hast to be gone;

Oh bear me, ye cherubim, up,

And waft me away to his throne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Chapter 5

 

Irresistible Grace or Effectual Calling

 

I. Introduction

A.    Voices from the Past

B.    Review

C.    Irresistible Grace: The Issue Clarified

1.     A Simple Definition: Effectual calling refers to the means by which we are actually transferred into the fellowship of Christ

2.     Misunderstandings

a.      You are saying that God saves people even if they do not want to be saved!

b.     But is it not obvious that people often resist salvation, even those who are later saved?

 

II.              The Biblical Meaning of “Calling”

A.    General usage

B.    Special usage

¨     1 Corinthians 1:9

¨     1 Corinthians 1:18

¨     1 Corinthians 1:24

¨     1 Corinthians 1:26-28

¨     1 Corinthians 1:30

 

III.            The Consistent Teaching of Scripture

¨     John 10:3

¨     Romans 8:28-30

¨     Romans 9:23-4

¨     Galatians 1:6

¨     1 Thessalonians 2:12

¨     1 Peter 2:9

¨     1 Peter 5:10

¨     2 Peter 1:3

¨     Jude 1:1

 

C.    “The called” as a title for Christians

 

III.       Related Biblical Statements

¨     Psalm 110:3

¨     Matthew 11:25

¨     John 10:6:44,45

¨     John 17:2

¨     Acts 16:14

¨     Romans 9:16

¨     1 Corinthians 2:4

¨     1 Corinthians 2:9,10

¨     1 Corinthians 4:7

¨     Philippians 2:13

 

IV.            Theological Considerations

A.    Human Depravity as Binding and Blinding

B.    The Unity of the Plan of Redemption

C.    Salvation as a Work of God

D.    The Conditions of Salvation as a Gift of God

1.     Faith

2.     Repentance

3.     Regeneration

 

V.              Practical Considerations

A.    Worship

B.    Evangelism

C.    Deterrent to Discouragement in Ministry

D.    Deterrent to Both Pride and Jealousy in Ministry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Chapter 5

 

Irresistible Grace or Effectual Calling

 

Introduction: Voices from the Past

            And if God does require of the sinner—dead in sin—that he should take the first step, then he requireth just that which renders salvation is impossible under the gospel as ever it was under the law, seeing man is as unable to believe as he is to obey, and is just as much without power to come to Christ as he is without power to go to heaven without Christ. The power must be given to him of the Spirit. He lieth dead in sin; the Spirit must quicken him. He is bound hand and foot, fettered by transgression; the Spirit must cut his bonds, and then he will leap to liberty. God must come and dash the iron bars out of their sockets, and then he can escape afterwards, but unless the first thing be done for him, he must perish as surely under the gospel as he would have done under the law. I would cease to preach if I believed that God, in the matter of salvation, required anything whatever of man which He Himself had not also engaged to furnish…I am the messenger, I tell you the master’s message; if you do not like the message quarrel with the Bible, not with me; so long as I have Scripture on my side I will dare and defy you to do anything against me. ‘Salvation is of the Lord.’ The Lord has to apply it, to make the unwilling willing, to make the ungodly godly, and bring the vile rebel to the feet of Jesus, or else salvation will never be accomplished. Leave that one thing undone, and you have broken the link of the chain, the very link which was just necessary to its integrity. Take away the fact that God begins the good work, and that He sends us what the old divines call preventing grace—take that away, and you have spoilt the whole of salvation; you have just taken the key-stone out of the arch, and down it tumbles. There is nothing left then.”

 

~*~

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review

Many times, historically, when there has been an undertaking to re-examine the doctrines of sovereign grace, it is because there has been a movement away from these scriptural truths. In the fourth century Pelagius (c. AD 354-after 418) emerged to speak of man’s ability to co-operate with God in his own salvation. Pelagius rejected the idea that man was in need of internal grace in order to keep the commandments of God. Human nature, he insisted, was created good and was endowed by God from creation with power to live a virtuous and upright life if a man so willed. The grace of creation is sustained by the illumination of the Law and by the life of Christ as a Good Example.

The thoughts of Pelagius were repudiated in Church councils and history moved forward. In the sixteenth century, the old issues came back. Jacobus Arminus and his followers once more emphasized free will instead of free grace. Attention was focused on what man can do to save himself. And there the matter rests. Over the centuries there have been any number of individuals and religious organizations which insist that man has some part to play in his own salvation.

Nevertheless, others contend that salvation is of the Lord. One such person to take this position was John Calvin (1509-1564). His formalized system of theology has come to be commonly called Calvinism. While John Calvin did not originate the doctrines of sovereign grace, he was able to formulate the major biblical concerns into a cohesive system of presentation through the sermons he preached and the books he wrote such as Institutes of the Christian Religion.

            At the heart of sovereign grace theology is the absolute dominion of God and His rule over the affairs of His creation including the will of man. It is argued that, “God, whenever He will to make way for his providence, bends and turns men’s will even in external things; nor are they so free to choose that God’s will does not rule over their freedom.” (Institutes, Book II, Chapter IV, p. 315) By arguing for the sovereignty of God in all matters including salvation, God gets all the glory and the credit due His holy name.

Logically, all other systems of theology removes from God ultimate glory by making man his own savior or his own partial savior. The Bible declares that man contributes nothing to his own salvation. God did it all. And everything that God does require of man, He supplies so that there is no way that man can boast. Otherwise, grace would cease to be grace. (Rom. 11:6) Augustine, in his Confessions, prayed, “Give what Thou commandest—and command what Thou wilt.”

Because God is the One who provides all that is necessary for salvation, it is certain that the souls who are to be the heirs of salvation will come to faith. There will be an effectual calling of the sheep to the Savior. Jesus said, my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) Effectual calling refers to the means by which souls are actually transferred into the fold or fellowship of Christ.

 

God, having chosen the people He would save,

having given them to the Son, and the Son,

having taken them to Himself and accomplishing

their salvation, now receives from the Father the souls 

of sinners so that the work of redemption

may be effectively applied to their hearts.

 

In all of its simplicity, this is the essence of the doctrine of irresistible grace.

 Irresistible Grace: The Issue Clarified

            Unfortunately, those who oppose the doctrines of grace make an issue out of this point. There are two thoughts often repeated which sets forth a basic misunderstanding. Of the doctrines of sovereign grace. The accusation is often made that that God saves people even if they do not want to be saved—despite the obvious fact that people do often resist salvation, even those who are later saved. How can men “resist” if grace is “irresistible”?

What does not seem to be fully comprehended by the opponents of the doctrines of divine sovereignty is that irresistible grace teaches that that ultimately God will infallibly save all those whom He wills to be saved. While there might be some initial resistance to the gospel, none of those whom the Father has given to the Son, and none of those for whom Christ has died will be lost. God effects in the heart all that He requires. For example

 

·       God requires faith for salvation. Man must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved. (Acts 16:31) But where do men get the faith that is required to believe? It is the gift of God. (Eph.2:8,9)

 

·       God requires repentance. But can those who are dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1) properly repent? In themselves, there is no innate ability or desire to repent. God must grant the gift of repentance. (Acts 5:31; 2 Tim. 2:25)

 

·       God requires that men be willing to be saved. The natural man is not willing to be saved for there is none that seeketh after God. (Rom. 3:11) The will of man is in bondage to sin so that he does not will to be saved. (John 1:13; Rom. 9:16) That is, man does not will to be saved until God regenerates Him and makes him willing in the hour of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:2)

 

·       God requires men to draw near the Cross. And God draws men to Calvary and brings them to Christ. (John 12:32)

 

Because God gives men faith for salvation, repentance unto life, a new heart that is willing to be saved, and sight to see the Savior it can be said that His grace is irresistible. God changes the nature of a person so that they want to be saved. No one has ever been saved against his or her will, or apart from repentance, and love for Christ. But because the Creator knows how to change the creature, grace can be given. When the gospel call is then heard, there is an irresistible longing to respond in a positive manner. Even though many that are later saved may initially resist the gospel, Acts 7:51) it does not matter. They will come to faith in due course because of sovereign grace being effectively applied to their hearts. It is secret work of a mercifully God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Biblical meaning of “Calling”

·       General usage. The word “called” is used in reference to the gospel appeal that is given to all men generally. The Bible speaks teaches that many are called (Matt. 22:14) to salvation for God commandeth all men every where to repent. (Acts 17:30). The general call of the gospel is a sincere offer of saving grace to every man, woman, and child who hears it.

 

·       Special usage. However, not everyone who hears the gospel believes its message. Not everyone who receives the call to follow Christ comes to faith—while others do. “Why? Why is it that the gospel is effective in the lives of some?” The divine answer is that there is a special meaning to the word “called”. There is a specific call to salvation that is given to individuals which not only invites souls to the salvation but also actually brings them to the Savior as per 1 Corinthians 1:9:God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Notice that the call is spoken of here as something more than just a call to salvation. It actually effects something. It brings souls in the fellowship of Christ.

 

In 1 Corinthians 1:18 Paul writes that, “the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness.” The gospel is “foolish” to the natural man for he is totally depraved. Because of natural spiritual inability to appreciate the gospel it is of no effect. Sin blinds men without mercy to the gospel so that he calls it foolishness. Nevertheless, “unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24) is made manifest for they are gloriously saved. Souls are saved through the preaching of the gospel (1 Cor. 1:18) because they are called. “Why are only certain souls saved?” 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 explains. God has chosen some to salvation. That is the plain argument of the passage. Therefore, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:31)

 

The Consistent Teaching of Scripture

¨     John 10:3. Speaking of himself as the Great Shepherd, Jesus said, “To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” If this passage does not stress the efficacy of the call, it does stress the object of the called. Question:  Who are called?” Answer: The sheep. The Shepherd, Christ, comes and calls His sheep and they follow Him. Christians are not sheep because they believe; they believe because they are sheep who have been given to the Father.

 

¨     Acts 2:38ff. On the great day of Pentecost when Peter preached the power of the Holy Spirit was present. People cried out and asked what was to be done for salvation. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

 

¨     Romans 8:28-30. This passage teaches that individuals come to faith in keeping with a Divine and eternal plan. God has proposed to do something in accordance with the purpose of His will. God’s will is to foreknow, predestinate, call, justify, and glorify certain souls. This is seen afresh by asking a basic question and then following the links of the Golden Chain of Salvation in reverse. The question is this: “Who shall be glorified?” Answer: Those who are justified. Question: “Who shall be justified? Answer: Those who are called? Question:Who shall be called?” Answer: Those who are predestinated? Question: “Who are predestinated?” Answer: Those whom God has foreknown and foreloved.

 

¨     Romans 9:23,24ff. In context Paul speaks of God as the potter who has power of over the clay. God can make vessels of mercy as well as vessels of wrath. Who are the vessels of mercy? Those whom He has called. (note 9:29)

 

Other particular passages speaking of a calling to Christ include Gal. 1:6; 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Tim.1: 9; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 1:3; and Jude 1:1. The theme of a divine calling is pervasive throughout scriptures.

 

“The called” remains a Title for Christians

            In Jude 1:1 the Scriptures speak of those who are “sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” Notice again, “Who are the called?” Those who are preserved in Christ Jesus having been sanctified or set apart by the Father. Observe carefully that the called are sanctified. One of the great charges often leveled against those who believe in the doctrine of sovereign grace is that God wants men to sin. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because of his fallen nature, the natural man wills to sin, and must sin, for he cannot cease from sinning. However, Christ Jesus “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of God works.” (Tit. 2:14) The true ministers of the gospel have always preached that “Justification and sanctification go always hand in hand. He who is ‘made of God unto us, righteousness,’ is also ‘made sanctification’; we are ‘justified and sanctified to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.’ (Ebenezer Erskine, sermon preached June 4, 1721) While salvation is by grace through faith alone, saving faith is not alone for good works accompanies it.

 

Related Biblical Statements

            Many passages in scriptures teach that God initiates the work of salvation. His grace is manifested in those who will be saved. He does everything for us.

 

¨     Psalms 110:3 “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.

 

¨     Matthew 11:25 “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” God will reveal His truths to whom He wills. Why? Because it seems good in His sight. Every man lies in God’s hands, not their own.

 

¨     John 3:8 “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” God is the one who controls the winds of life and the winds of eternal life as well.

 

¨     John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Not most of them but all whom have given to the Son will be given to Him.

 

¨     John 6:44,45 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” The same word for draw in verse 44 is used in John 18:18 of Peter drawing the sword from its scabbard and in John 21:11 of the fish being drawn into the nets. The same word is used of the mob dragging Paul in Acts 16:19.

 

¨     John 17:2 “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” Eternal life is given to as many as the Father has given to Him.

 

¨     Acts 16:14 “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” Why did Lydia listened to the gospel Paul preached? Because God opened her heart.

 

¨     Romans 9:16 “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” The ultimate cause of salvation is not the will of man but the mercy of God.

 

¨     1 Corinthians 2:4 “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:” The preaching of Paul was premised that God would save souls through His own power, not through the techniques of man.

 

¨     1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

 

¨     1 Corinthians 4:7 “For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” God makes the difference.

 

¨     Philippians 2:13 “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” If you willed to come to Christ, God made you willing according to His good pleasures.

 

Theological Considerations

            There is a general call to salvation and there is special and particular call. While the first might be effectively resisted, the latter will not be resisted for it is the means by which souls are brought to salvation. One clear example of the distinction between the general call of the gospel and the effectual of the gospel being applied is found in Luke 14:15-24. In this narrative the general call goes forth but men begin to make excuses. By nature, people want nothing to do with the gospel. They will not show respect to the Sovereign. However, the gospel goes forth again with divine compulsion and the house of the Lord is filled. Such compulsion is needed for none seek after God. (Rom. 3:11) The gospel is foolishness to the natural man. (1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14) Because the soul of man is bound in sin and blinded to the message of grace, of what value is there in preaching free will? It has no value because it has no power to effectually change the soul so that it can be or will be saved.

            There is a way for the will of man to be different so that in the day of gospel hearing he wants to come to faith. That special way of salvation is called sovereign grace. In grace God causes the light to shine out of the spiritual darkness of the soul. In grace God causes the glorious light of the gospel to shine in particular hearts so that individuals can say, “God hath given to me the light of the knowledge His glory in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6) Grace not only relieves our fears, grace teaches our hearts to fear.

 

The Unity of the Plan of Redemption

            God shows saving grace because it is part of the unity of the plan of redemption. God has not simply “done His part” and now it is “up to the sinner to do his part.” No! No! The Father has not only planned salvation, the Son has not only executed the plan of the Father and paid the price for a people, but now the Holy Spirit effective draws souls to Christ. A redemption which has been accomplished is effectively applied so that it can be said in eternity as well as in time, “Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.” (John 18:9)

 

Salvation as a Work of God

            Despite the best efforts of man to formulate various systems of salvation that are synergistic, the Scriptures consistently reveal that the salvation that effectual redeems is monotheistic. God saves apart from human work, human efforts, human [natural] will, and human ”But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Cor. 1:30) For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” (John 5:21)

 

The Conditions of Salvation are the Gifts of God Grace

·       Faith. God commands men to have faith (Acts 16:31), and gives the faith that is commanded. (Matt. 16:15-17 cp. 1 John 5:1; John 6:29; Eph. 1:19)

 

·       Repentance. God commands men to repent (Acts 2:38; 17:30), and gives the gift of repentance. (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25) Men oppose themselves until God grants them repentance.

 

·       Regeneration. God commands men to be born again (John 3:7), and then regenerates them. (James 1:18; John 1:13; Eph. 2:8,9) Salvation is given to men. God saves sinners. He manifests His sovereignty to whom He will.

 

Practical Considerations

·       Worship. Understanding the particular nature of salvation and effectual calling, the believer should fall down in gratitude before God. Free will leads men to hell. Free grace makes certain souls will go to heaven. When the question is raised, Who is on the Lord’s side? The heart in worship answers,

 

 

 

Jesus, Thou hast bought us,

Not with gold or gem,

But with Thine own life-blood,

For Thy diadem: With Thy blessing filling

Each who comes to Thee,

Thou hast made us willing, Thou hast made us free.

By Thy grand redemption,

By Thy grace divine, We are on the Lord’s side,

Savior, we are Thine.

~*~

Frances R. Havergal

 

·       Evangelism. A heart of worship leads naturally to evangelism. Those who know God, those who love Christ, those who honor the Holy Spirit want others to come to salvation. However, in the act of presenting the gospel it is to be realized that salvation is of the Lord and those who have been called will believe. “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 2:14)

 

·       Deterrent to Discouragement in Ministry. Sometimes in the act of witnessing, discouragement sets in. The temptation comes to use extreme and novel methods in order to get people to make a “decision” for Christ. That is wrong. God will open the hearts when the gospel is faithful given. The responsibility of the Christian is to sow the seed. The harvest belongs to the Lord.

 

·       Deterrent to Both Pride and Jealousy in Ministry. Because God is the one who opens hearts, no person should boast of their spiritual accomplishments. There is no room for pride in evangelism. It is God who gives the increase. Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Chapter 6

 

The Final Perseverance of the Saints

 

I.                Introduction

A.    A Review of the Regeneration of the Righteous

B.    Three Systems of Salvation

C.    The Perseverance of the Saints: Definitions

D.    Two Main Ideas: Preservation and Perseverance

1.     Clarifications

a.      This is not to say that all that profess Christ are secure forever.

b.     This is not to say that if a man believes he is therefore free to abandon himself to unbelief or sin without fear of judgment.

c.      This is not to say those truly regenerate men may not fall into sin, even for a period of time.

2.     This is to say that those who are bought to true faith in Jesus Christ are preserved in salvation forever and that the salvation in which they are preserved guarantees their perseverance in the faith.

 

II.              Biblical Statements

¨     John 6:37

¨     John 10:27-29

¨     Romans 8:28-30,32

¨     Philippians 1:6

¨     1 Thessalonians 5:23,24

¨     2 Timothy 1:12

¨     1 Peter 1:3-5

¨     Jude 1:24,25

 

III.            Biblical Explanations

A.    God’s Eternal Purpose

B.    Union with Christ

C.    The Nature of Christ’s Atonement

D.    The Nature of Reconciliation

E.     The Intercession of Christ

F.     The Indwelling Holy Spirit

 

IV.            Practical Implications

A.    Obedience

B.    Worship

C.    Assurance and Comfort

 

Five Doctrines of Divine Grace

 

Chapter 6

 

The Final Perseverance of the Saints

 

 

Thank you Lord, for saving my soul,

Thank you, Lord for making me whole.

Thank you Lord, for giving to me

Thy great salvation so rich and free.

~*~

Seth Sykes

 

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;

and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

 

~*~

John 6:37

Introduction

 

If ever it should come to pass,

That sheep of Christ might fall away,

My fickle, feeble soul, alas!

Would fail a thousand times a day.

 

            “If one dear saint of God had perished, so might all; if one of the covenant ones be lost, so may all be; and then there is no gospel promise true, but the Bible is a lie, and there is nothing in it worth my acceptance. I will be an infidel at once when I can believe that a saint of God can ever fall finally. If God hath loved me one, then He will love me forever. God has a mastermind; He arranged everything in His gigantic intellect long before He did it; and once having settled it, He never alters it, ‘This shall be done,’ saith He, and the iron hand of destiny marks it down, and it is brought to pass. ‘This is My purpose,’ and it stands, nor can earth or hell alter it. ‘This is My decree,’ saith He, ‘promulgate it, ye holy angels; rend it down from the gate of Heaven, ye devils, if ye can; but ye cannot alter the decree, it shall stand for ever.’ God altereth not His plans; why should He? He is Almighty, and therefore can perform His pleasure. Why should He? He is Almighty, and therefore cannot have planned wrongly Why should He? He is the everlasting God, and therefore cannot die before His plan is accomplished. Why should He change? Ye worthless atoms of earth, ephemera of a day, ye may change your plans, but He shall never, never change His. Has He told me that His plan is to save me? If so, I am forever safe.

 

My name from the palms of His hands

Eternity will not erase;

Impress’d on His heart it remains,

It marks of indelible grace.

 

            I do not know how some people, who believe that a Christian can fall from grace, manage to be happy. It must be a very commendable that in them to be able to get through a day without despair. If I did not believe the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, I think I should be of all men the most miserable, because I should lack any ground of comfort. I could not say, whatever state of heart I came into, that I should be like well-spring of water, whose stream fails not; I should rather have to take the comparison of an intermittent spring, that might stop on a sudden or a reservoir, which I had no reason to expect would always be full. I believe that the happiest of Christians and the truest of Christians are those who never dare to doubt God but who take His Word simply as it stands, and believes it, and ask no questions, just feeling assured that if God has said it, it will be so. I bear my willing testimony that I have no reason, nor even shadow of a reason, to doubt my Lord, and I challenge Heaven and earth, and hell to bring any proof that God is untrue. From the depths of hell I call the friends, and from this earth I call the tried and afflicted believers, and to Heaven I appeal, and challenge the long experience of the blood-washed host, and there is not to be found in the tree realms a single person who can bear witness to one fact which can disprove the faithfulness of God, or weaken His claim to be trusted by His servants. There are many things that may or may not happen, but this I know shall happen—

‘He shall present my soul,

Unblemish’d and complete,

Before the glory of His face,

With joys divinely great.’”

~*~

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 

A Review of the Regeneration of the Righteous

            One of the great ironies among those who oppose the doctrines of sovereign grace is a tendency to preach and write songs that expresses other sentiments. For example, John and Charles Wesley were notorious for defending the major points of the Remonstrance and yet they preached and wrote poems and hymns that express so clearly the very truths which all Christians love to sing. Consider some of the stanzas from the song Arise, My Soul Arise.

 

Arises, my soul, arise; Shake off thy guilty fears;

The bleeding Sacrifice, In my behalf appears.

Before the throne my Surety stands;

My name is written on His hands,

My name is written on His hands.

 

 Five bleeding wounds He bears,

Received on Calvary;

They pour effectual prayers,

They strongly plead for me.

‘Forgive him, O forgive!’ they cry,

‘Nor let that ransomed sinner die,

Nor let that ransomed sinner die.’

 

My God is reconciled. His pard’ning voice I hear;

He owns me for His child, I can no longer fear:

With confidence I now draw nigh,

And ‘Father, Abba, Father!’ cry,

And ‘Father, Abba, Father!’ cry.

 

Three Systems of Salvation

            In considering the way of salvation various systems of belief have been set forth.

 

·       It has been taught that man is basically very good. Man is not completely fallen in Adam. Therefore, he is able to do whatever is necessary to achieve his own salvation.

 

·       It has been taught that man is basically good but not quite good enough. He needs some divine grace to complete in himself a form of salvation that has already begun.

 

·       It has been taught that man is not good. However, because God is good, all men have been given sufficient grace to do whatever is necessary to be saved.

 

In the providence of the Lord, individuals arose over the centuries to challenge these systems of thought—variously described as Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism, and Arminianism. Free grace was exalted over free will. One great battle ground for the debate was Holland. During one period of religious controversy, forty-five ministers, defenders of Arminian views, who signed the Remonstrance in 1610, were deposed from their ministry (1619) after five points affirming the doctrines of grace were issued. They were sentenced to banishment. A few years later, in 1630, they were granted complete liberty to live and work anywhere in Holland. The five points of the doctrines can be remembered by the word T*U*L*I*P.

 

·       T = stands for Total Depravity or better, Total Inability. Man is born in a sinful condition, which leaves him dead in trespasses and sin as per Ephesians 2:1. And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Man is unable to do anything to contribute to his own salvation. (John 6:44)

 

·       U = stands for Unconditional Election. Because of his desperate spiritual state, man needs a Savior who places no prior condition upon him for salvation. The reason for election being unconditional is because no person could ever meet a Divine condition imposed in and of himself.

 

·       L = limited atonement or definite redemption. In the act of securing the salvation of the elect, Christ died for those whom He will save. The extent of the atonement is defined by and limited to the intent of the atonement. Since not all are saved, then it must be that Christ did not intend to save all. Since Christ actually purchased redemption for all of God’s elect and saves them, then it is certain that He died in order to “save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21)

 

 

·       I = irresistible grace. Having chosen some to be saved who were dead in trespasses and sin, having set no prior condition upon them for salvation, having secured their salvation by redemption, it is certain that those whom the Father has chosen and Christ has died for will come to faith by the drawing power of the Holy Spirit. The Creator knows how to sovereignly and surely draw the objects of His affection to Himself. The Lord of glory knows how to change the unchangeable, redeem the unredeemable, love the unlovable, and convert the unregenerate.

 

·       P = perseverance of the saints. Those who do come to will be kept by the power of God as they maintain good works, not in order to be saved, but because they have been saved. In the day of ultimate judgment it will be declared that salvation is of the Lord—from beginning to end. Salvation is all of grace, “to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1:12) All that the Father has given to the Son will be safe and secured at last. None of them shall be lost.

 

The Perseverance of the Saints: Definitions

One of the logical consequences of the theology which opposes the doctrines of sovereign grace is that it teaches a person can leave a state of grace according to their own free will. Since a person is saved by free will, then logically a person can be lost by free will even after being saved! To put it plainly, there is no security for the believer except what the will of man determines that security to be. Some theologians have taught that those who are saved are put on probation, like Adam before his fall in the Garden. Others suggest that only extreme acts of sin will lead to a final fall from grace. However, just what those acts of sin are that will remove salvation from the soul is not clear.

In contrast, the doctrines of grace teach that since souls are saved by free grace, the Sovereign Himself will secure the salvation of the elect. While this position does not provide a license to sin, it does place the ultimate responsibility for an individual’s salvation back upon God so that He gets the glory for what He has done not only for man but also in man. God does not save a person only to leave them in sin. God does not save souls in order to place them back on probation for that would be a contradiction. God saves and keeps those whom He saves forever. All of God’s elect will be preserved in Christ forever. They will persevere in the faith forever.

 

Two Main Ideas: Preservation and Perseverance

            In the final point of the doctrines of grace there are two main ideas: the preservation of the saint by the power of God and the perseverance of the same through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In the preservation, the believer perseveres.

 

Clarifications

·       This not to say that all who profess Christ is secure forever. There are many false professors of faith. Jesus warned, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:22,23)

 

 

·       This not to say that if a man believes he is therefore free to abandon himself to unbelief or sin without fear of judgment. 2 Timothy 2:12 “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us. Jesus taught, 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 10:22) The writer of Hebrews warns the Christian community, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” (Heb. 3:12) Why? “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;” (Heb. 3:14) The test of the genuineness of faith is the continuance in faith. The term salvation itself indicates that those who are saved are spared not only from sin’s judgment, but also from sin itself. In all of this the believer is secure from sin’s dominion.

 

·       This not to say those truly regenerate men may not fall into sin, even for a period of time. They will and they do. So many of those in Scripture presented as being righteous failed at some point in their Christian experience. Noah got drunk, Abraham lied, Lot polluted his righteous soul with filthy living in a homosexual community, Moses became angry, David committed adultery and murder, Paul lashed out at John Mark, Peter cursed and denied Christ, the church at Corinth fell into gross immorality—and that is only the beginning of the sins of the saints. Gossip, greed, pettiness, slander, lust, pride, gluttony, boasting, laziness, and much more are sins with which the saints struggle. Nevertheless, there will always be a sorrow for sin and a longing to turn from sin. There will be a continuing confessing of sins to those who have been hurt and there will be a return to God for grace and mercy.

 

·       This is to say that those who are bought to true faith in Jesus Christ are preserved in salvation forever and that the salvation in which they are preserved guarantees their perseverance in the faith. Salvation is not probation, but neither is it a licensee to sin. The soul that is saved longs to be sanctified.

 

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;

I want Thee forever to live in my soul;

Break down every idol, cast out every foe;

Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than soul.

~*~

James Nicholson

 

Biblical Statements

¨     John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” If there is an initial reception, there will never be an ultimate rejection. Therefore Christian, sing a song of the redeemed and shout,

 

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

 

 

¨     John 10:27-29 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” A form of “life”, which can be lost, is not eternal. A soul that can be “saved” only to be “lost” has not been truly saved. Scriptural words such as “eternal life” and “salvation” become meaningless if the soul that comes to the Savior can be taken out of His hands and the Father’s hand. No, the soul that is saved rests secures in the hands of the Father in perfect submission and delight.

 

Perfect submission, perfect delight,

Visions of rapture now burst on my sight,

Angels, descending, bring from above,

Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

 

¨     Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to the m who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called them he also justified: and whom he justified them he also glorified.” God has set His love upon some according to verse 29. He has destined them to be conformed to the image of Christ. He has decreed it so. “Will the plan of God be frustrated?” No. “Those who are called by a divine summons, will they not come?” They will come. “Those who come to Christ, will they not be justified?” They will be justified. “Those who are justified, will they not be gloried?” So sure is glorification, it is written in past tense as it is an accomplished thing.

 

Perfect submission, all is at rest,

I in my Savior am happy and blest,

Watching and waiting, looking above,

Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

 

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long;

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long.

~*~

Fanny J. Crosby

 

¨     Romans 8:32 “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” The argument is again from the greater to the lesser. Since God has done the most difficult thing in sparing not His Son in order to secure the salvation of souls, surely He will do the lesser things necessary to bring them home. Therefore, let the people of God be assured,

 

 

 

‘Tis done; the great transaction’s done!

I am the Lord’s and He is mine;

He drew me, and I followed on,

Charmed to confess the voice divine.

~*~

Philip Doddridge

 

¨     Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Paul is assured that what God has begun in the soul of the saved will be finished. The completion of the work of salvation includes sanctification, continuance in the faith, and glorification. “How long will this work continue?”  Until the day of Jesus Christ or until it is done.

 

Though Satan should buffet,

tho’ trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well—with my soul

It is well, it is well, with my soul

~*~

H.G. Spafford

 

¨     1 Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The prayer of Paul, like the prayer of Christ, will be answered.

 

Some day the silver cord will break,

And I no more as now shall sing;

But O, the joy when I shall wake

Within the palace of the King!

And I shall see Him face to face,

 

And tell the story—Saved by grace;

And I shall see Him face to face,

And tell the story—Saved by grace.

~*~

Fanny J. Crosby

 

¨     1 Thessalonians 5:24 “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” The character of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is at stake in the matter of salvation. The attribute of divine faithfulness if vindicated in the preservation of the soul.

 

 

 

 

There’s a peace in my heart that the world never gave,

A peace it cannot take away,

Tho’ the trials of life may surround like a cloud,

I’ve a peace that has come there to stay!

Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine;

Constantly abiding, rapture, divine;

He never leaves me lonely, whispers, oh, so kind,

“I will never leave thee,” Jesus is mine.

~*~

Mrs. Will L. Murphy

 

¨     1 Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” There are three basic facts according to verse 5. First, the Christian is kept. Second, the believer is kept through faith. Third, the believer is kept through faith forever. The concepts of preservation and perseverance are brought together. The believer is not kept regardless of faith, but in the sphere of faith. The power of God is such that it keeps the soul in the faith and thus saved, forever.

 

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,

Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,

Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,

There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin.

 

¨     2 Timothy 1:12 “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

 

I know not why God’s wondrous grace

To me He hath made known,

Nor why, unworthy Christ in love

Redeemed for His own.

But “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded

That He is able To keep that which I’ve committed

Unto Him against that day.”

~*~

El Nathan

 

 

¨     Jude 24 “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” God is not only able to keep a soul from falling, He will keep the soul that is relying upon Him for that is the intention of the passage.

 

Rock of Ages cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in Thee;

Let the water and the blood,

From thy wounded side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure,

Save from wrath and make me pure.

~*~

Augustus M. Toplady

 

Biblical Explanations

            From an abundance of scriptural passages it is clear that the doctrine of the final preservation and perseverance of the saints is a great theme of the Word of God. Now, another question arises. “Why are Christians not merely saved but saved forever? What is the purpose of being given everlasting life?”

 

·       God’s Eternal Plan. According to Romans 8:28ff God has an immutable plan, which is to conform men to the image of His Son. That plan will not and cannot change. If a soul whom Christ has saved could be lost then the plan of God, and the promises of God, would be broken. Paul speaks of this truth when writing to Titus. The apostle speaks of the hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; (Tit. 1:2) Before time began God promised eternal life to call that would believe. The gift of life is not given to those who are “worthy” of salvation. Before the world began, God decreed the gifts of grace He would bestow. In John 6, Jesus comforted Himself with the promises of the Father. His death would have value. The sheep would be saved.

 

·       Union with Christ. There is an essential unity between Christ and the believer. In scriptural imagery, the bond that exists between Christ and His own is inseparable.

 

Christ                                      Believers                    Scripture

 

Vine                                         Branches                     John 15:5

Sheep                                      Shepherd                     John 10:11

Chief corner stones                 Building blocks           1 Pet. 2:5

Head                                        Body                            1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:30

Husband                                  Wife                            Eph. 5:32; John 3:29

High Priest                              Kingdom of priest       Ex. 19:6; Heb. 8:1; 1 Pet. 2:9

King                                        A royal nation             1 Pet. 2:9

 

 

 

In light of the vital union between Christ and those who are saved, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:35-39) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them, which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1)

 

·       The Nature of Christ’s Atonement. When Christ died, He paid the penalty for sin. For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. (Heb. 10:14) Because of Christ being punished there is no sin which can be charged to the account of those who are saved.

 

And when, before the throne, I stand in Him complete,

“Jesus died my soul to save,”

My lips shall still repeat.

Jesus, paid it all,

All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow.

~*~

Mrs. H.M. Hall

 

·       The Nature of Reconciliation. If God says that the soul is justified, then what charge can be leveled against the soul to make it lose its salvation?Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Rom. 8:33,34) There is something else. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:10) The argument is from the greater to the lesser. If God saved the soul which was His enemy, how much more will He do for His friend? He will not do less; He will do more.

 

·       The Intercession of Christ. The believer is secure because of the immutable plan of God, because of a vital union with Christ, because of the nature of the atonement, because of the act of justification, and also because of the prayer of Jesus that those for whom He has died will be saved. The Son has never asked anything of the Father that was not granted (John 11:42)—and Christ has asked for the souls that He will save. “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” (John 17:11) Not only has Christ prayed for His own but also the Lord keeps on interceding for those who are the objects of His affection. As a great High Priest, Christ continues to represent souls before the Father thereby securing their salvation. “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:24,25) As Christ as the Great High Priest interceding on behalf of His own, so He is also the Defense Attorney representing His clients so that they will be saved. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1)

 

·       The Indwelling Holy Spirit. The believer is secure because of the sealing of he Holy Spirit. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest [downpayment, earnest money] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:13,14) The sealing of the Holy Spirit is the divine stamp of approval and mark of authenticity. It is the guarantee that the believer belongs to Christ.

 

Practical Implications

·       Obedience. The doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints does not leave people comfortable in their sins for there are the warnings of scripture to take seriously. Those who willfully sin, those who apostatize, those who turn away from the faith, those who show no regard for holiness reveal that the true nature of the soul as being that of a religious hypocrite. While salvation is by grace through faith alone, the faith that saves is not alone for good works and holiness of life always accompany it. For those who are saved, the commands of God are not a burden. The will of the Father is loved and honored.

 

·       Worship. The doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints leads to worship for the great things He has done. There would be no reason to worship a God who saves, only to allow a final destruction of the soul. The Lord does not toy with individuals. He does not save from sin only to condemn individuals for the same. No, no! God graciously provides all that is necessary to secure the salvation of the soul unto the hour of glorification. God has purposed to keep the elect safe from that which would bring them into judgment. Therefore people of God, lift up your voices in worship and say,

 

Praise ye the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!

O my soul, Praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!

All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near;

Join me in glad adoration!

~*~

Joachim Neander

 

·       Assurance and Comfort. The doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints leads to assurance and comfort.

 

 

I know not how this saving faith,

To me He did impart,

Nor how believing in His Word,

Wrought peace within my heart.

But “I know whom I have believed in,