Puritan Gems

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Doctrines of Sovereign Grace

"And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call-- she was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?" (Romans 9:10-24)

"I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God." - Martin Luther


It's that time of year again, October. This month has special significance for those of the Reformed Faith, as we remember October 31, 1517. Thus I will focus this month on a series on some Reformed Distinctives, beginning with the Five Points of Calvinism (yes folks, I am an unashamed, 5-point Calvinist, known in some circles as "Total Theological Depravity"). We will look at the issues that surrounded the Reformation, and examine some of the tough divisions between Romanism and the Reformed Faith. We will close the series with the Ramifications of the Doctrines. Why are they so important? I'll also interact with some of the blogs posted by August on his blog Omnipotent Grace, as he has already delved into a few of the issues. I'll also point out some of what I consider to be essential reading during this series of blogs.

Do I believe that a man must be a Calvinist to enter heaven? Be it far from me to ever suggest such. I know of a number of Godly men of whom the world is not worthy, men who at the same time hold to the erroneous doctrines of “free-will” salvation which I now detest. I can rightly testify that God regenerated my own heart as an Arminian, despite the fact that I gave myself too much glory for such salvation. As George Whitefield proclaimed when someone asked if he thought he would see John Wesley in heaven, "I fear not, for he will be so near the eternal throne and we at such a distance, we shall hardly get sight of him."

The passage of Scripture quoted in Romans is what started me on my road to Geneva, so to speak. (I once was an Arminian, but now I see). Romans Chapter 9 contains all of the "five points", and will be expounded in detail as I deal with those five points. However, before I delve into this, a few words about the so-called "Five Points of Calvinism". (We refer to Calvinism as The Doctrines of Sovereign Grace.)

First of all, John Calvin knew nothing about "five points". The so-called "Five Points of Calvinism" were a biblical response to the "Five Points of Arminianism" presented by the Remonstrance at the Synod of Dort in 1618, 54 years after Calvin's death.

Second, the theology referred to as "Calvinism" did not originate with Calvin. It was the theology of Luther, of the Reformers, of Augustine, and, dare I say, of Paul. As Charles Spurgeon said, "It is a nickname to call it Calvinism. Calvinism is the gospel and nothing else".

Third, the debate is an old one, beginning way before Calvin or Arminius. It began in the 4th Century with the Pelagian Heresy. . (Whenever I debate diehard Catholics in this area, I always refer to St. Augustine of Hippo.) Luther and Erasmus debated the same issue a generation before Calvin.

A good comparison of the "five points" can be found here



T=Total DepravityHuman Ability
U=Unconditional ElectionConditional Election
L=Limited AtonementUniversal Atonement
I=Irresistable GraceResistable Grace
P=Perseverence of the SaintsFalling from Grace

Jonah tells us that “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). This is the clearest, most straightforward, no-nonsense Bible Doctrine of salvation, and I wish to know no other. I have no use for a temporary, man-initiated salvation. Give me the Doctrine of Salvation that Paul and Silas used to overthrow the Roman Empire. Give me the Doctrine of Salvation that Augustine preached that converted all of pagan Europe. Give me the Doctrine of Salvation that the Pilgrims and Puritans used to shake off the bands of tyranny to found this United States of America. Give me the Doctrine of Salvation that once shook the colonies and their European mothers in what was The Great Awakening. May we yet have another revival such as this one.

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