I. Doctrine Stated:
God created Adam upright and in His own image, with the freedom and
ability to choose that which is good and well-pleasing in His sight.
Being left to the freedom of his own will, Adam fell from this holy
estate into a state of guilt and depravity. He did not act for himself
alone, but being, by God's appointment, the representative head of all
mankind, act in their place. Thus, Adam's guilt and depravity were imputed
to all his offspring. Since all humans are conceived in sin and are
by nature the children of wrath, the entire being of every person has
been so twisted that he is rendered unwilling and, therefore, incapable
of pleasing God or even responding rightly to His overtures of mercy.
WHAT IS THE ISSUE IN
THE DEBATE OVER TOTAL DEPRAVITY?
It is not:
- whether people may do what is "good"
in the sight of others.
- whether people act as sinfully as
they are capable of acting.
- whether or not sinners have a will.
- that sinners are wicked in God's
sight and totally incapable of doing what is good and well-pleasing
to Him (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 14:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20, 29; Job
15:16; Jeremiah 9:3, 17:9; Romans 3:10-18). (Good works in God's
sight are those which are performed for the proper motive -- love
for God, with the proper goal in view-God's glory, and according to
the proper rule or standard -- God's Word.
- that every person, left to himself,
is capable of the most heinous of sins. At heart, every sinful human
being is the same (Proverbs 27:19).The heart is deceitful and
- that although sinners are free
to choose what they please, they are bound by a sinful nature and
therefore totally incapable of choosing spiritual good over evil.
By nature, sinners are:
- spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1).
- spiritually blind (Ephesians 4:17-19).
- deaf (Psalm 58:3-4).
- hardened (Ephesians 4:17-19).
- a rebel (Romans 8:7; Isaiah 53:6).
- polluted (Isaiah 64:6).
- unable to change (Jeremiah 13:23).
- unable to come to Christ (John 6:44).
- unable to receive spiritual truth
(1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:14).
- that people are born sinners and
must be regenerated before they can do anything that is acceptable
to God, including a proper reception of the gospel (John 3:12;
Romans 8:8; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:14).
- that every part (intellect, emotions,
will, conscience -- hence total depravity) of the sinner has been
affected and is controlled by sin.
- The sinner's intellect is controlled
by his sinful nature (Romans 3:11; Ephesians 4:17-18).
- The sinner's emotions are controlled
by his sinful nature (Romans 1:30, 3:18; Ephesians 4:19).
- The sinner's will is controlled by
his sinful nature (John 5:40).
- The sinner's conscience is defiled
by sin (Titus 1:15).
STUDENTS HAVE TAKEN ONE OF THREE POSITIONS CONCERNING THE EFFECTS OF
ADAM'S FIRST SIN ON THE HUMAN RACE AND THE SINNER'S CONDITION AS A RESULT
OF THAT SIN.
Pelagians hold that neither the guilt of Adam's first sin [original
sin], nor his depraved nature has been communicated to his offspring.
According to Pelagianism, the only effect that Adam's sin has had on
the race is that Adam's seed has been affected by his bad example.
Arminians , like Calvinists, believe that Adam's guilt and depravity
have been transmitted to all his posterity. They believe that man in
a state of sinful nature is unable to choose good over evil. But, to
this the Arminian adds the doctrine of precedent or prevenient grace.
According to Arminianism, God grants prevenient grace to all sinners,
freeing their wills to choose either to accept or reject Christ. Though
prevenient grace seems to be similar to the Calvinistic doctrine of
efficacious grace, it differs from it in that prevenient grace, though
granted to all, does not secure the voluntary compliance of any. Articles
III and IV of the Remonstrants state,
III. That man has not saving grace
of himself, nor of the working of his own free-will, inasmuch as in
his state of apostasy and sin he can for himself and by himself think
nothing that is good -- nothing, that is, truly good, such as saving
faith is, above all else. But that it is necessary that by God, in
Christ and through his Holy Spirit he be born again and renewed in
understanding, affections and will and in all his faculties, that
he may be able to understand, think, will and perform what is truly
good, according to the Word of God [John xv. 5].
IV. That this grace of God is the beginning,
the progress and the end of all good; so that even the regenerate
man can neither think, will nor effect any good, nor with stand any
temptation to evil, without grace (precedent or prevenient),
awakening, following and co-operating. So that all good deeds and
all movements towards good that can be conceived in thought must be
ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But with respect to the mode
of operation, grace is not irresistible; for it is written
of many that they resisted the Holy Spirit [Acts vii and elsewhere
passim] (emphases mine).
Calvinism -- Calvinists
hold that every facet of a sinner's being has been detrimentally affected
by sin, so that he cannot choose good over evil or decide on his own
initiative to receive Christ as He is offered in the gospel. Only that
efficacious grace which God grants to His elect can enable sinners to
respond favorably to the gospel offer.
QUESTIONS ON TOTAL DEPRAVITY
- List three common misconceptions concerning
what is at issue in the discussion of the doctrine of total depravity.
- Do those who believe that people are,
by nature, totally depraved believe that sinners are unable to do
those things that are good in the sight of other people?
- What constitutes a "good work"
in God's sight?
- Is there any sin that wicked men,
left to themselves, are unable to commit?
- Why and in what sense is the sinner's
- List nine characteristics of sinners.
By nature sinners are:
- Is the sinner able to come to Christ
in faith apart from a special work of God's grace.
- What do we mean when we say that every
aspect of the sinner's being has been affected and is controlled by
- List Scripture verses that show that
every sinner's mind, will, emotions, and conscience have all been
affected by sin.
- List by name the three major positions
that Bible students take on the question of total depravity.
- What do each of these groups teach
about total depravity?
- According to Pelagianism, in what
way did Adam's sin affect his offspring?
- How does this differ from the views
of both the Calvinist and the Arminian?
- How does Arminianism explain the fact
that some sinners, though born in sin and totally depraved, willingly
receive Christ as Savior and Lord?
- What is the difference between the
Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace and the Calvinistic doctrine
of efficacious grace?
DOCTRINE OF ELECTION
is the eternal, sovereign, unconditional, and immutable decree of God,
whereby, according to the wise counsel of His own will and for His own
glory, He has selected for Himself some individual sinners from among
all mankind, and of every nation, to be redeemed and everlastingly saved
THERE ARE CERTAIN UNDERLYING
BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES THAT WE MUST UNDERSTAND IF WE ARE TO COMPREHEND
AND RECEIVE THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION PROPERLY.
- God is sovereign -- He is free
to do what He will with His own (Daniel 4:35; Matthew 20:1-15).
- God is righteous and always does
what is right (Genesis 18:25; Romans 9:14).
- God is under no obligation to save
anyone (Ephesians 2:8-9). If any are saved, it is by the free
(without cause in man) grace (unmerited favor) of God.
- Every person by nature is a rebel
against God (Romans 8:7). Sinners are not only guilty of sin,
but also unwilling (John 5:40; Acts 7:51) and unable (John 6:44) to
come to God's remedy for sin.
- Sinners, not God, are responsible
if they continue in sin and go to hell (Matthew 11:20-24, 23:37).
- God, not man, is responsible if
a man leaves his sin and goes to heaven (1 Corinthians 1:29-31,
4:7; Romans 9:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9).
not whether or not the Bible says anything about election. No one
who reads the Bible carefully will deny that it says something about
election. Consider the following verses:
John 6:39; Romans 11:5-6;
2 Timothy 1:9; John 10:16; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 2 Timothy 2:10; John
15:16-19; Ephesians 1:4; Titus 1:1; John 17:2; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter
1:2; Acts 13:48; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:9; Romans 8:33; 2 Thessalonians
2:13; Revelation 17:14.
Positively -- What was the
basis of election?
Three answers have been given to this
- It was an arbitrary choice -- at
random and without reason.
- It was based on foreseen faith, works,
- It was based holy and wise reasons
that are known only to God (Romans 11:33).
There are several reasons for accepting
the third answer as the correct one.
The Scripture says
that election was according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians
1:5, 9). His will is holy and wise. God chose some and passed
over others because it was well-pleasing in His sight (Matthew 11:
25-26). It could not have pleased Him had it not been wise and good.
Election cannot be
based on God's foresight. This does not mean that God did not foresee
the faith, works, and perseverance of His people. It simply means
that such foresight was not the basis of God's choice.
There is no biblical
support for the idea that God's choice was based on what he foresaw.
The texts that are
used to support this view say nothing about faith, works, or perseverance
being foreseen (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:2).
The word translated
"foreknow" (Gr. Prõginõskõ) is used of more than prior knowledge
of facts. Ginõskõ -- "I know" is used of:
The expression of
a man's love for his wife (Genesis 4:1 LXX; Matthew 1:25).
Jehovah's love for
Israel (Amos 3:2).
of the righteous man's way (Psalm 1:6).
Christ's lack of
love for or approval of the wicked (Matthew 7:23). See also Romans
3:17, 7:15; 2 Timothy 2:19.
In the NT, it is
usually used with regard to God's knowledge of people, not events
1 Peter 1:20 -- "Who
was foreordained (foreknown)".
Romans 8:29 -- "For whom
He did foreknow ..."
Since the texts say
nothing about whether what God "foresaw" was good or evil,
if foreknowledge means mere foresight of men's actions, then all have
been predestined to be saved (Romans 8:29) since God's foresight extends
not only to those who will be saved but to all His creatures and all
By nature, sinners
have no faith, good works, perseverance for God to foresee (Romans 3:10-12).
God does foresee faith, but it is the faith that He has given those
who have been the objects of His eternal love. Faith cannot be both
the basis of electing grace and the result of it, but see Acts 18:27-"
... those who by grace had believed."
Psalm 14 tells us
what God saw when He looked down on the human race. If God's choice
were based on what He saw, He would not have chosen anyone.
choice of sinful rebels must have been based on His holy, wise, and
THE SCRIPTURE SPEAKS
ABOUT SEVERAL DIFFERENT TYPES OF ELECTION
- National (Deuteronomy 7:6).
- Kings, priests, prophets (1 Samuel
2:28, 10:24; Jeremiah 1:5).
- Apostles (John 6:70).
- Of Good Angels (1 Timothy 5:21).
- Of Christ (Isaiah 42:1).
- Unto Eternal Salvation (Ephesians
1:4; John 15:16).
CHARACTERISTICS OF ELECTION TO ETERNAL
- It is eternal (Ephesians 1:4, 3:11;
2 Timothy 1:9).
- It is sovereign (Matthew 11:25-27;
- It is unconditional, i.e., not conditioned
on anything in the creature (Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Romans 9:11, 11:5-6;
- It is immutable (Isaiah 14:24, 46:10-11;
Romans 8:28-30; Hebrews 6:17).
- It is wise (Romans 11:33).
- It is individual (Romans 16:13).
- It is for God's glory (1 Corinthians
1:31; Ephesians 1:4-6, 12).
THE FOLLOWING OBJECTIONS
HAVE BEEN RAISED TO THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION
God is not fair if He chooses one
and passes by another (Romans 9:14).
- God Himself is the standard of righteousness.
- He would have been righteous had He
left the entire race to perish in sin.
The fact that He
sovereignly chooses to show mercy to sinful rebels does not make
other rebels deserving of mercy.
- God does not save any without full
satisfaction of His justice (Romans 3:25-26).
and human inability destroy human responsibility (Romans 9:19).
The truths of divine
sovereignty and human responsibility are found side by side in Scripture
(Matthew 11:20-30; Acts 13:46-48).
Inability does not
destroy responsibility. Sinners are unable to keep God's commandments,
yet he is responsible to do so.
If God has fixed the
decree of election, why repent and believe? Why preach the gospel? Why
pray? Why send missionaries?
We should do these
things because God commands us to.
We should do these
things because God's work is normally accomplished through the use
of means (Romans 10:13-15).
We should do these
things in order that God might be glorified (1 Peter 4:11). The
glory of God should be our primary goal in all that we do (1 Corinthians
Election will keep people out of heaven.
It destroys "whosoever will".
Election is inclusive,
not exclusive. All sinners would be excluded from the gracious presence
of God apart from electing grace.
All who truly desire
to be saved according to the plan of God, will be saved. Whoever
wishes may come.
No one would desire
to come apart from electing grace.
THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION
Humility -- If rightly
understood, the truth of election will cause us to see that the only
difference between us and the vilest sinner is hell is that God has
shown us free and sovereign mercy (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Reverence -- 1. The
truth of sovereign grace produces a sense of reverence for God in the
heart that nothing else can produce because it enables men to "see
the Lord high and lifted up" 2. The "poor God theology"
evokes pity rather than worship and adoration.
Gratitude -- The person
who believes in free and sovereign grace is grateful because he knows
that all that he is and has is due alone to the unmerited compassion
of the triune God.
A right understanding of Election will affect our evangelistic message,
motives, and methods:
- We will become God-centered,
not man centered in our approach to evangelism.
- We will begin to understand
that the purpose of God's salvation plan is not to make men happy,
but to establish a right relationship between them and Himself.
- We will begin to understand
that the purpose of Christ's redeeming work is to bring men to
worshipful submission to the triune God.
- The prime motive for preaching
the gospel is not love for people but love for God and a desire
that He might be glorified by His creation.
- A belief in "free will"
will drive people to use cheap gimmicks.
- A belief in free grace will
drive sinners to God, since their salvation is in His hands, not
STUDY QUESTIONS ON
List the biblical
principles that form the foundation for a proper understanding of
the doctrine of election.
State the issue (negatively
and positively) in the controversy over election.
Give reasons why
God's choice cannot have been based on what He foresaw.
What is the true
meaning of "foreknow" in the NT? Give examples.
What must the basis
of God's choice have been?
List the different
types of election and different objects of God's choice about which
the Scriptures speak.
List the biblical
characteristics of election.
What objections have
been raised to the biblical doctrine of unconditional election?
How can we answer
What should be the
practical effects of a proper understanding of election?
Should the doctrine
of election have any effect on our evangelism?
How should this teaching
affect the message we preach?
How should this teaching
affect our motives?
Should our belief
concerning the sovereignty of God in salvation have any effect on
the methods that we use in evangelism? If so, what effect should
DOCTRINE OF PARTICULAR REDEMPTION
redemptive work of Christ was definite in design and accomplishment.
It was not intended to make salvation possible for every man but actually
to accomplish salvation for the elect.
Christ, acting as the
representative of all those given to Him by the Father, fully satisfied
the infinite demands of God's law, and accomplished eternal redemption
Even though Christ's
obedience and sufferings were of infinite value and sufficient to expiate
the sins of the entire race, had this been God's purpose, the accomplishments
of His death were, by eternal design, limited to the elect only.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN THE "FREE WILL" AND "FREE GRACE DOCTRINE?"
Both those who believe
in free will and those who believe in free grace understand that the
redemptive work of Christ was limited in some sense. "Free will"
believers think that Christ's work was limited in its effectiveness.
In their view, Christ's redemptive work did not secure salvation for
anyone. It was simply intended to make forgiveness of sins possible,
on the condition of faith.
believers understand that, even though Christ's redemptive work was
of sufficient value to save every person in the world, it was limited
in its design. It was God's intention, in sending His Son, to accomplish
the redemption of those whom He had chosen for salvation. Loraine Boettner
expressed the difference between these two views well when he wrote,
"... for the Calvinist, the atonement is like a narrow bridge which
goes all the way across the stream; for the Arminian, it is like a great
wide bridge that goes only half way across." The real issue in
this controversy is not so much the extent of the redemptive work of
Christ as it is the intent of His work.
WHAT DO THE SCRIPTURES
TEACH CONCERNING THE REDEMPTIVE WORK OF CHRIST?
The Scriptures clearly
define the design and purpose of Christ's redeeming work. Consider the
following texts: Matthew 1:21; John 6:38-39, 10:11, 15-16,
15:13, 17: 2; Acts 20: 28; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Peter 3:18.
According to these and other texts,
Jesus came to save the following:
- His people,
- Those given to Him by the Father,
- His sheep,
- His friends,
- His church,
- Those that are called, and
- Those that are brought to God by Him.
The Scriptures represent
the end results of the work of Christ, not as merely potential or possible,
but as actual. Jesus did not make all sinners redeemable; He redeemed
His people. Consider what the Bible says about the following aspects
of the redeeming work of Christ:
- Propitiation -- an appeasement of
God's wrath -- Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2, 4:10.
- Reconciliation -- the restoration
of sinners to divine favor -- Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians
2:16; Colossians 1:20-21.
- Redemption -- the securing of a release
by the payment of a ransom price-Galatians 3:13, 4:5; Titus 2:14;
Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Revelation 1:5, 5:9.
- Justification -- Romans 5:9, 18-19;
In each case, His work is presented as
The Scripture represents
the work of redemption as a work of the Triune God (1 Peter 1:2).
- The Father chose and gave to the Son,
certain sinners to be redeemed by Him (John 6:38-39, 10:15-18, 29,
17:2, 6, 9, 11, 24; Hebrews 2:13).
- The Son laid down His life for those
given to Him by the Father (John 10:15, 15:13, 17:19; Romans 8:32;
- The Spirit applies the redemptive
work of the Son (John 3:5, 16:7-15; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, 9-12; 1 Thessalonians
1:5; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2, 22; 1 John 4:13).
If the Son intended
to redeem all men or to make all men redeemable, then there is a basic
disunity in the Trinity. It is the purpose of the Father to save the
elect and the elect only. It is the purpose of the Spirit to apply salvation
to the elect only. It is inconceivable that the Son would frame and
pursue a purpose contrary to that of the other members of the Godhead.
This is especially clear since Jesus plainly states that His purpose
was the same as that of the Father (John 4:34, 5:30, 6:38; Hebrews 10:7).
The Scriptures represent
the priestly functions of oblation or sacrifice and intercession as
co-extensive. The high priest appeared in the presence of God with blood
which he sprinkled on the mercy seat. This priestly function answered
to the intercessory work of Christ. He performed this function for
none but those for whom the sacrifice had been offered. The priestly
function of offering sacrifice corresponds to Christ's sacrifice of
Himself on the cross. If we would know for whom Christ offered Himself
as a sacrifice, we need only to answer the question, "For whom
does He make intercession?" The answer is clear: 1. He intercedes
not for the "world" but for those given to Him by the Father
(John 17:9); 2. He intercedes for the elect (Romans 8:34, cf. v.33).
3. He intercedes for those who come to God by Him (Hebrews 7:25); 4.
He intercedes for those who are called according to the terms of the
new covenant (Hebrews 9:24 cf. v.15).
The Scripture depicts
Christ as the representative or federal head of all believers,
not of all men. Just as Adam's one
act of disobedience actually condemned all whom he represented, even
so Christ's one act of life-long obedience, up to and including His
death, actually justifies all whom He represents (Romans 5:18-19).
The Scriptures declare
that all of those for whom Christ died, died "in
Him" and "with Him" to the reigning power of sin
(Romans 6:1-6, cf. 5:6ff.; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
The Bible plainly
teaches that the death of Christ secured for His people all the
accompanying gifts of God's grace (Romans 8:32). If the work of Christ
was intended to accomplish no more for the elect than for the non-elect,
then the elect can find no security or comfort in the redemptive work
of Christ for them (as the apostle does in Romans 8:34). If one for
whom Christ died fails to be glorified, then all may fail to be glorified.
OBJECTIONS TO THE
DOCTRINE OF "PARTICULAR REDEMPTION" ANSWERED
What about those verses
of Scripture that describe the work of Christ in universal terms? These
depict Christ as dying for the "world" (John 1:29), "the
whole world" (1 John 2:2), "all men" (1 Timothy 2:6),
"every man" (Hebrews 2:9), etc.
The words "world,"
"whole world," "all men," and "every man,"
do not always refer to every member of the human race.
- "world" -- John
1:10 cf.1:12, 17:9; Romans 11:11-15.
often refers to Gentiles as opposed to Jews and is intended to combat
Jewish exclusivism. John 11:51-52 shows what is often intended in the
use of the word world. In such verses the biblical writers draw a distinction
between members of the nation of Israel and the elect from among the
Gentiles ,"the people of God that are scattered abroad."
- "whole world" --
1 John 5:19.
- "every man" -- Hebrews
2:9, cf. 2:10ff.
- "all men" -- 1 Corinthians
The context must decide the meaning
- There are times that "all"
designates all of a class (John 1:16, 3:26, 11:48; Romans 5:18;
1 Timothy 5:20).
- There are times that "all"
denotes all without distinction (all sorts) rather than all without
exception (Romans 3:23; 1 Timothy 2:4, 6; Titus 2:11, cf. 2:1-10).
What about 2 Peter
2:1, where Peter writes concerning false teachers who are clearly unbelievers,
"... even denying the Lord that bought them?"
There are many legitimate
answers to this question. For example, it has been pointed out that
the Greek word translated "Lord" is despotes -- one who holds
authority over another. This would indicate that Christ bought them
in order that He might have authority over them. John 17:1 states that
He has "authority over all flesh (men), in order that he might
give eternal life to all that the Father has given Him. " It would
seem that the least complicated explanation would be that Peter was
speaking of them, not in terms of the reality of the case, but in terms
of their profession. These false teachers are those who claim that Christ
died for them. This is precisely what he does in vv. 20-22 of this same
WHAT ARE THE PRACTICAL
EFFECTS OF BELIEVING THIS DOCTRINE?
- It will affect our gospel preaching.
- We will not feel the need to indiscriminately
proclaim to sinners what the apostles never proclaimed, namely,
"Christ died for you." "It is the gospel that Christ
died for the most guilty of sinners who will believe, not that
He died for all men whether they will believe or not."
- We will proclaim the work of Christ
as a victorious accomplishment. It is not the possibility of salvation
that the gospel offers, but salvation itself.
- It will affect our view of justification
- If Christ died equally for all
men, then His work cannot be the sole basis of our justification.
Kenneth Taylor was writing as a consistent Arminian when, in the
Living Bible he paraphrased Romans 3:25, "He [God] uses Christ's
blood and our faith to satisfy God's wrath." The truth
is that when Jesus died, He satisfied God's wrath against His
chosen people all by Himself -- "Jesus paid it all."
- It will affect our assurance of
- If Christ intended to save some
who have already perished in their sins, then we who are relying
for salvation on Christ alone, may also perish. If, on the other
hand, Christ has effectually redeemed all whom He intended to
redeem, then we are forever secure. If He has exhausted God's
wrath that was due to His people, then His people can never experience
that wrath. Augustus Toplady wrote,
If Thou hast my discharge
And freely in my room endured
The whole of wrath divine,
Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding surety's hand,
And then again at mine.
- It will affect our worship.
- It will focus our attention, not
on the sinner's "decision," but on the glory of Christ,
the victorious redeemer of sinners.
QUESTIONS ON PARTICULAR REDEMPTION
What belief do both
'free will' and 'free grace' believers have in common?
In what sense do
Arminians believe that the death of Christ was limited?
In what sense do
Calvinists believe that the death of Christ was limited?
Do Calvinists attribute
any less value to the redemptive work of Christ than do the Arminians?
What is the real
issue in the controversy over the extent of Christ's redeeming work?
Is it concerned with the value or the intention of the death of
According to the
Scriptures, what was the design and purpose of the redeeming work
of Christ (seven descriptions of the same people)?
Do the Scriptures
represent the redemptive work of Christ as a work that made propitiation,
reconciliation, redemption, and justification merely possible, or
as a work that actually accomplished these blessings for those for
whom Christ died?
List four objective
accomplishments of Christ's death.
What does the word
What does the word
What does the word
What is significant
about the fact that the work of redemption is the work of the triune
What is significant
about the fact that the priestly functions of oblation (offering
sacrifice) and intercession are coextensive (are accomplished for
the same people)? Since the Scripture tells us that Christ only
intercedes for those who actually come to God by Him, what should
we deduce concerning the design and extent of His sacrificial offering?
For whom does Christ
act as representative head?
In Romans 5:12-19,
Paul argues that Christ, as the representative of His people, bears
a typical correspondence to Adam. If the one act of Adam actually
condemned all who were in Him as their representative head, should
the redemptive work of Christ be viewed as potential or actual?
If, as God's Word
teaches, all for whom Christ died, died in Him and with Him to the
reigning power of sin, in what way is it significant that all men
do not die with Christ to the reigning power of sin?
According to Romans
8:32, what will all of those for whom God gave up His Son ultimately
What would be the
effect on the security of the true believer of one for whom Christ
died fell short of glorification?
Can the believer
find any comfort or security in the redemptive work of Christ if
Christ accomplished no more for the reprobate in Hell than He did
for His believing people?
Do the words 'world,'
'whole world,' 'all men,' and 'every man' always refer to every
member of the human race without exception?
To what does the
word 'world' often refer in Scripture?
How can it be shown
that the phrase 'whole world' does not necessarily refer to every
person without exception (1 John 5:19)?
What is the significance
of the phrase 'every man' in the context of Hebrews 2:9ff?
Give examples of
texts in which the phrase 'all men' does not refer to all sinners
Give examples of
texts in which 'all' means all of a class.
Give examples of
texts in which 'all' denotes all without distinction.
How can 2 Peter 2:1
be explained in the light of the doctrine of particular redemption?
How will our belief
in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our gospel preaching?
How will our belief
in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our views of justification?
How will our belief
in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our assurance of
How will our belief
in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our worship?
DOCTRINE OF THE EFFECTUAL CALLING
calling is God's gracious work in which He, according to His eternal
purpose and electing grace, powerfully subdues the sinner's rebellion,
causing him to turn to Christ in unfeigned faith and heartfelt repentance.
THIS DOCTRINE IS SOMETIMES
REFERRED TO AS THE DOCTRINE OF "IRRESISTIBLE GRACE." FIRST
CONSIDER WHAT IS NOT MEANT BY THE TERM "IRRESISTIBLE."
- We do not mean that men (even elect
men) never resist the free overtures of God's mercy and grace (Genesis
6:3; Acts 7:51).
- We do not mean that men cannot
resist and finally reject the powerful conviction of the Holy
Spirit Himself (Acts 7:51, 24:25).
- We do not mean that men have no
choice and make no decision in coming to Christ (Deuteronomy 30:19-20;
- We do not mean that God forces
salvation on sinners against their wills.
CONSIDER WHAT WE DO
MEAN BY "EFFECTUAL CALLING":
- We mean that even though sinners
always resist the Holy Spirit, the powerful grace of God cannot be
thwarted by the resistance of the rebellious sinner's will.
- We mean that at God's appointed
time (Galatians 1:15-16), He subdues the sinner's rebellion and makes
him willing to embrace Christ in saving faith (Psalm 110:3).
- We mean that whenever sinners freely
choose to seek the Lord, turn from sin, and receive Christ, they have
been enabled to do so by a prior work of God in their souls (John
- We mean that all who are called
by God will come to Christ (John 6:45).
- We mean that God, not man, is in
control in the realm of salvation (Matthew 11:20-27; Romans 9:16;
1 Corinthians 1:30, 4:7; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:15-16; 2 Timothy
CONSIDER THE BIBLE'S
ANSWER TO THE UNBIBLICAL EXTREMES OF BOTH ARMINIANISM AND HYPER-CALVINISM
Both Arminians and
hyper-calvinists believe that responsibility and ability
must go together:
- The Arminian teaches that since Scripture
teaches that people are responsible to believe and repent,
they must be able to do so.
- The Hyper-Calvinist reasons that since
Scripture teaches that people are unable to believe and repent,
they are not responsible to do so.
that sinners are both responsible to believe and repent and unable
to believe and repent.
Sinners are responsible:
- (Luke 13:24; Acts 13:46; Matthew 23:37;
Sinners are unable:
- to see (John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4),
- to hear and understand (John 8:43;
- to come to Christ (John 6:44),
- to feel proper emotions (Ephesians
- to receive the things of the Spirit
(1 Corinthians 2:14),
- to submit to God's law (Romans 8:7).
- to change (Jeremiah 13:23).
CONSIDER THE DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN THE OUTWARD, UNIVERSAL CALL OF THE GOSPEL AND THE INWARD, EFFECTUAL
CALL OF GOD
- The outward call is issued every time
the gospel is proclaimed.
- It is a sincere, universal, offer
of mercy in Christ.
- It is to be published indiscriminately
to all men and nations (Luke 24:47).
- It is accompanied with the most powerful
motives for its acceptance.
- It is attended by the powerful conviction
of the Holy Spirit.
- It is never obeyed and received by
natural men (1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4). It is
never effectual by itself, apart from the inward call.
- The words "call" and "calling"
are never used in this sense in the NT epistles.
God issues the inward,
effectual call to the elect, in conjunction with the preaching of the
gospel, whenever it pleases Him to do so:
- It is issued by God the Father (John
6:44-45; Romans 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Galatians 1:15-16; 2 Timothy
- It is made effectual by the Holy Spirit
in regeneration (John 3:5-6; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter
- It is this call that makes the difference
between believers and unbelievers (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
- It is this inward call that secures
obedience to the outward call. Everyone who hears this call will believe
(John 6:45; Romans 8:30).
- It is extended to the elect only,
in accordance with the eternal purpose of God (Romans 8:28; 2 Timothy
- It is in this sense that the word
"call" is always used in the epistles of the NT (1 Corinthians
1:26; Ephesians 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1, 9:15; 1 Peter 1:15,
2:9, 21, 5:10; Jude 1; Revelations 17:14).
CONSIDER THE NATURE
OF THIS CALL:
- It is powerful (Ephesians 1:19-2:5).
- It is internal (2 Corinthians
- It is an upward (high) calling
We are called to high privileges.
We are called:
- into fellowship with Christ
(1 Corinthians 1:9),
- suffering with and for Christ
(1 Corinthians 1:9),
- to live in the light (1 Peter
- for justification (Romans 8:30),
- for sanctification (1 Peter
- to the promise of eternal inheritance
- to eternal glory (1 Peter 5:10).
We are called to high duties. We
- to be holy (1 Peter 1:15; 2
- to walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians
- to show forth God's praises (1
- It is immutable (Romans 11:29).
- It is heavenly (Hebrews 3:1).
- It proceeds from heaven. It is
a summons that comes from heaven's throne.
- It calls us to heavenly blessings
CONSIDER THE PRACTICAL
APPLICATIONS OF THIS DOCTRINE:
- If we have heard the good shepherd's
voice, our ears will be closed to the voice of strangers (John
- If we have evidence that we have
been effectually called (faith in Christ, holiness of life), then
we may be absolutely assured of eternal glory (Romans 8:30; 1
Thessalonians 5:23-24). We should also rejoice that our calling
gives evidence of God's everlasting love for us (Jeremiah 31:3;
- We should be humbled when we realize
that the only detail that distinguishes us from the vilest sinner
in hell is the free and sovereign grace of God that has called us
to life in Christ (1 Corinthians 4:7).
- This truth should cause us to depend
totally on God for the conversion of sinners. We must faithfully and
diligently proclaim the gospel and pray earnestly that God will give
the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
- This truth should curb professional
jealously in the ministry (John 3:26-27). It should also reprove
man followers (1 Corinthians 3:4-7).
QUESTIONS ON EFFECTUAL CALLING
What is another name
for the doctrine of effectual calling?
What are some of
the ways in which the word "irresistible" has been misunderstood?
Does God ever force
people to be saved against their wills?
Does God ever make
people willing to be saved in accordance with His eternal purpose?
If people willingly
and freely turn from their sins to Christ in saving faith, what
must have already happened to them?
Will all of those
whom God has called come to faith in Christ?
Who is in control
in the realm of salvation, God or man?
Does God save people
by accident or on purpose?
What do Arminianism
and Hyper-Calvinism have in common?
What is different
about these two views?
What do the Scriptures
teach concerning ability and responsibility?
Are all sinners responsible
to believe and repent?
What are some of
the acts that sinners are unable to perform?
How do the outward
and inward calls of God differ?
Is the outward call
of the gospel ever obeyed apart from the inward, effectual call?
Which person of the
Godhead issues the call?
Which person of the
Godhead makes the call effectual? What is the work called in which
He does so?
Into whose fellowship
are sinners called (1 Corinthians 1:9)?
To whom alone does
the effectual call come?
In what sense is
the word "call (calling, called)" always used in the NT
Which comes first
(theologically and logically, not chronologically), regeneration
List five characteristics
of the effectual call?
What are some of
the privileges to which the elect are called?
List five practical
effects that this doctrine should have on those who believe it.
How can we know that
we have been called effectually? If we have been called, of what
two things (one past, one future) can we be sure?
Why is it impossible
for the person that understands this doctrine to ever be proud
that he has believed the gospel?
Should we be any
less diligent in witnessing the gospel since we know that the results
all depend on God?
What effect should
this truth have on us as we seek to win people to Christ?
In the light of this
truth, how should we react when we observe that another Christian's
gifts and abilities, growth in grace, or accomplishments in evangelism,
are greater than ours?
Why is it wrong for
us to have favorite preachers in the sense of glorifying man for
the success of the gospel (1 Corinthians 3:4-7)?
THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
The Doctrine Defined: All of those who are truly united to Christ in saving
faith will persevere in faith and holiness to the end.
CONSIDER THE PRINCIPLES THAT SHOULD GOVERN OUR THINKING ON THIS
- It is not always possible for us to ever know for certain if another person is truly
converted, (e.g., Judas -- John 13:28-29.)
- It is possible to have very uplifting, ennobling, reforming and exhilarating
experiences of the power and truth of the gospel without a genuine conversion experience (Luke
8:4-15; Matthew 7:24-27; Acts 8:9-23; Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:20-22).
- It is not a mere profession, but a possession of faith in Christ that is certain to
endure to the end (Matthew 7:21-23). The Bible does not teach that everyone who
professes faith in Christ and is accepted into the fellowship of the saints, enjoys the
assurance of eternal salvation.
- There is a difference between "eternal security" (especially as it is
commonly taught) and the perseverance of the saints.
There are two extreme positions on this issue:
- One is that preservation (eternal security) is absolutely certain, but perseverance
is not necessary (Carnal Christian Doctrine).
- The other is that perseverance is necessary but not certain (Wesleyan Arminian view).
God both commands and enables the saints to persevere in faith to the end (see
CONSIDER WHAT THE SCRIPTURES TEACH ON THIS SUBJECT:
The uniform teaching of the Bible is that perseverance is both absolutely necessary
and absolutely certain. If we emphasize either of these truths to the exclusion of
the other, we are no longer on solid biblical ground.
- Perseverance is necessary -- only those who persevere in faith and holiness are
truly saints (Matthew 7:21-3, 10:22, 13:18-23; Luke 8:4-8, 11-15; John 8:31-32, 15:4-6; 1
Corinthians 15:1-2; Colossians 1:22-23; Hebrews 3:6, 14, 6:4-6, 10:35-39; 2 Peter 2:20-22.
- Perseverance is certain -- all of those who are truly saints will surely
persevere in faith and holiness to the end (John 6:37, 39-40, 10:27-30; Romans 8:1, 28-39;
Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 3:3, 5:18).
The purpose, work, and character of God the Father make the saint's perseverance
He has purposed the final salvation (as well as all the steps leading to it) of every
- He has marked out a people to be redeemed by Christ.
- He has foreknown (set His love on) His people from eternity.
- He has predestined all His people to glory.
His purpose is always accomplished (Isaiah 46:9-11; Daniel
4:35; Proverbs 19:21; Psalm 115:3)
There are only two reasons why a person would change his mind or purpose; neither applies
- Inability to foresee obstacles that might hinder the execution of a plan.
- A lack of power or resources needed to overcome obstacles that might arise. God is
able to overcome every conceivable obstacle (2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 7:25; Jude 24; 1
In justification He gives a new legal standing that cannot be taken away (Romans
In adoption He grants an inheritance from which we cannot be disinherited.
His immutability makes it certain. Since God is unchangeable (Malachi 3:6):
His love for His people is unchanging (Psalm 89:30-34; Isaiah 49:14-16;
Jeremiah 31:3; John 13:1; Romans 8:35-39).
His truth (His promises) is unchanging (Isaiah 54:10; Hebrews 6:17).
- His righteous demands do not change. Once His righteous demands have been fully
satisfied, we do not need to concern ourselves with further legal liability.
The work of Christ makes the saint's perseverance certain.
- Since God is righteous, He cannot charge us with those sins for which Christ has already
suffered (1 John 1:9-2:1).
- Not only did Christ's death for His people deliver us from the penalty of sin; it also
delivered us from the reigning power of sin, thus assuring our perseverance.
The work of the Holy Spirit makes the saint's perseverance certain.
- In regeneration, He gives us a new nature insuring our perseverance in faith and
holiness (1 John 3:9).
- In sanctification He causes us to form new habits (Romans 8:13-14).
- He seals us guaranteeing our safe arrival at our final destination (2 Corinthians 1:22;
- He is the earnest (down payment, guarantee) of our full inheritance (2 Corinthians 1:22;
- He causes us to earnestly long for full conformity to Christ (Romans 8:23-29).
ON THE PERSEVERANCE
OF THE SAINTS
How would you define the biblical doctrine of the perseverance of the
What four principles should govern our thinking about this doctrine?
What are two extreme positions that should be avoided with reference to
What does the Bible teach concerning the certainty and necessity of the
Will anyone be saved for eternity who stops believing in the
faithfulness of Christ to save them?
Will anyone who is truly a child of God ever stop believing?
What does the Bible teach about God the Father that assures us that
those who are truly believers will ever be lost?
Why is it important for us to understand that God has purposed the
final salvation of all believers?
Has God ever purposed (planned to do) anything that He failed to
What two factors might force a person to abandon his plans?
Do either of these ever apply to God?
How does the fact that God has justified us relate to our final
How does our adoption relate to our final perseverance?
How does the fact that God cannot change affect our views of the
How does the redemptive work of Christ make the final salvation of
Will believers ever be found guilty for those sins for which Christ
has already suffered?
Why is it impossible for believers to go on living in sin?
What has the Holy Spirit done to secure the final perseverance of the
Does God ever justify anyone (declare anyone righteous) whom He does
not also sanctify (make holy or righteous)?
What is significant about the fact that the Holy Spirit
"seals" believers until the time that they reach their final destination?
What does Paul mean when He says that the Holy Spirit is the
"earnest" of our inheritance?
What kind of desires does the Holy Spirit produce in the hearts of
Bibliography For Further Study
Adams, James, Decisional Regeneration, Allentown: Sword and Trowel Publishers, 1973.
Boettner, Loraine, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Philadelphia: The
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1975.
Chantry, Walter J., Man's Will -- Free, Yet Bound, Christian Center Press,
Martin, A.N., The Practical Implications of Calvinism, Carlisle, PA: The Banner of
Truth Trust, n.d.
Murray, Ian, The Forgotten Spurgeon, Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978.
Murray, John, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's
Publishing Company, 1973.
Packer, James I., Evangelism and The Sovereignty of God, Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter
Varsity Press, 1974.
________. Introductory Essay To John Owen's The Death of Death, London: The Banner of
Truth Trust, 1963.
Petersen, Henry, The Canons of Dort, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968.
Pink, A.W., The Sovereignty of God, London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972.
Reisinger, Ernest J., What Should We Think Of The Carnal Christian? Carlisle, Pa.; The
Banner of Truth Trust, n.d.
Reisinger, John G., The Sovereignty of God in Providence, Southbridge, MA: Crowne
Publications, Inc., 1989.
Spurgeon, Charles H., Free Will -- A Slave, Choteau, Mont.: Gospel Mission Press, 1980.
________. Election, Swengel, Pa.; Reiner Publications, n.d.
Steele, David N., and Thomas, Curtis, The Five Points of Calvinism, Philadelphia;
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1967.
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