Category Archives: Calvinism

The Doctrines of Sovereign Grace

pink-tulips-2009

Tulips are a major industry in the Netherlands, where a controversy over the doctrines of grace was settled by the Synod of Dort in 1619.

God is sovereign in his gracious salvation of sinners. These doctrines have been summarized by the popular acronym, TULIP.

T– The “Total Depravity” of the Sinner
Sinners are so completely sinful that they are unwilling and unable to do anything good to prepare themselves for salvation, let alone save themselves by good works. They do not always do the most sinful thing they possibly could, but no work of any kind that they perform can merit the righteousness they need to avoid eternal condemnation. This doctrine is also called “Radical Corruption.”

Romans 3:10-18

as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.” (Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3)
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive (Psalm 5:9).”
“The venom of asps is under their lips (Psalm 140:3).”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness (Psalm 10:7).”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known (Proverbs 1:16; Isaiah 59:7-8)”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes (Psalm 36:1).”

Romans 8:7

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

U–The “Unconditional Election” of the Father
Before creation, God graciously chose a remnant of fallen humanity and gave them to his Son as his Bride. No righteous merit of any kind in them serves as the basis of God’s gracious choice of these sinners; only God’s own pleasure and will.

Acts 13:48

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Romans 9:11-13

…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 him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Ephesians1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

L–The “Limited Atonement” of the Son
On the cross Jesus Christ paid the ransom to the Father and effectually redeemed the remnant of fallen sinners which God graciously chose to give to him as his Bride. Sinners whom the Father has not graciously chosen are not redeemed by Christ on the cross. Christ’s atonement is necessarily “limited” in one way or the other: either it is limited in extent (Christ dying for the elect alone), or it is limited in power (only able to redeem sinners who by their own free will decide to receive this redemption). Also called “Particular Redemption.”

John 10:11

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Ephesians 5:25

…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…

John 17:2

…since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him…

I—The “Irresistible Grace” of the Spirit
Those fallen sinners whom the Father has graciously chosen according to his sovereign will and whom the Son has redeemed on the cross will not fail to come to faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit effectually gives spiritual life to the spiritually dead and in this way enables the chosen sinner to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3), and enter it (John 3:5) through faith alone in Christ alone. Also called, “Effectual Calling” (see also 2 Peter 1:10; Romans 11:29)

1 Corinthians 1:9

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 6:44

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws (literally, “drags”) him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Acts 16:14b

The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

P—The “Perseverance” of the Saints
Those whom the Triune God has saved in this effectual way according to his sovereign grace and power he will keep, and they will persevere in faith and repentance until the end, be it his own death or the return of Christ.

James 1:4

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Matthew 24:13

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

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