Studies in The Doctrines
WHOM DID CHRIST DIE?
imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for,
- All the sins of all men.
- All the sins of some men, or
- Some of the sins of all men.
case it may be said:
- That if the last be true, all men have some
sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
- That if the second be true, then Christ, in
their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect
in the whole
world, and this is the truth.
- But if the first be the case, why are not all
men free from the punishment due unto their sins?
answer, "Because of unbelief."
I ask, Is this unbelief
sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due
or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than
their other sins for which He died?
If He did not, He did not die for
all their sins!"
According to Calvinism:
accomplished by the almighty power of the triune God. The Father chose
a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ's death
effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby
causing them to willingly obey the Gospel. The entire process
(election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace
and papers for our Edification
This system of
theology was reaffirmed by the Synod of Dordt
in 1619 as the doctrine of salvation contained in the Holy Scriptures.
The system was at that time formulated into "five points" in answer to
the unscriptural five points submitted by the Arminians to the Church
of Holland in 1610.
Total Depravity is
probably the most misunderstood tenet of Calvinism.
When Calvinists speak of humans as "totally depraved," they are making
an extensive, rather than an intensive statement. The effect of the
fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of his personality
-- his thinking, his emotions, and his will. Not necessarily that he is
intensely sinful, but that sin has extended to his entire being.
The unregenerate (unsaved) man is dead in his sins (Romans 5:12).
Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf
to the message of the gospel (Mark 4:11f). This is why Total Depravity
has also been called "Total Inability." The man without a knowledge of
God will never come to this knowledge without God's making him alive
through Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5).
Election is the doctrine which states that God chose those whom he was
pleased to bring to a knowledge of himself, not based upon any merit
shown by the object of his grace and not based upon his looking forward
to discover who would "accept" the offer of the gospel. God has
elected, based solely upon the counsel of his own will, some for glory
and others for damnation (Romans 9:15,21). He has done this act before
the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4-8).
This doctrine does not rule out, however, man's responsibility to
believe in the redeeming work of God the Son (John 3:16-18). Scripture
presents a tension between God's sovereignty in salvation, and man's
responsibility to believe which it does not try to resolve. Both are
true -- to deny man's responsibility is to affirm an unbiblical
hyper-calvinism; to deny God's sovereignty is to affirm an unbiblical
The elect are saved unto good works (Ephesians 2:10). Thus, though good
works will never bridge the gulf between man and God that was formed in
the Fall, good works are a result of God's saving grace. This is what
Peter means when he admonishes the Christian reader to make his
"calling" and "election" sure (2 Peter1:10).Bearing the fruit of good
works is an indication that God has sown seeds of grace in fertile
Particular Atonement (Limited Atonement)
Atonement is a doctrine offered in answer to the question, "for whose
sins did Christ atone?" The Bible teaches that Christ died for those
whom God gave him to save (John 17:9). Christ died, indeed, for many
people, but not all (Matthew 26:28). Specifically, Christ died for the
invisible Church -- the sum total of all those who would ever rightly
bear the name "Christian" (Ephesians 5:25).
This doctrine often finds many objections, mostly from those who think
that Limited Atonement does damage to evangelism. We have already seen
that Christ will not lose any that the father has given to him (John
6:37). Christ's death was not a death of potential atonement for all
people. Believing that Jesus' death was a potential, symbolic atonement
for anyone who might possibly, in the future, accept him trivializes
Christ's act of atonement. Christ died to atone for specific sins of
specific sinners. Christ died to make holy the church. He did not atone
for all men, because obviously all men are not saved. Evangelism is
actually lifted up in this doctrine, for the evangelist may tell his
congregation that Christ died for sinners, and that he will not lose
any of those for whom he died!
Effectual Calling (Irrestible
result of God's Irresistible Grace is the certain response by the elect
to the inward call of the Holy Spirit, when the outward call is given
by the evangelist or minister of the Word of God. Christ, himself,
teaches that all whom God has elected will come to a knowledge of him
(John 6:37). Men come to Christ in salvation when the Father calls them
(John 6:44), and the very Spirit of God leads God's beloved to
repentance (Romans 8:14). What a comfort it is to know that the gospel
of Christ will penetrate our hard, sinful hearts and wondrously save us
through the gracious inward call of the Holy Spirit (I Peter 5:10)!
Perseverance of the
Perseverance of the Saints is a doctrine which states that the saints
(those whom God has saved) will remain in God's hand until they are
glorified and brought to abide with him in heaven. Romans 8:28-39 makes
it clear that when a person truly has been regenerated by God, he will
remain in God's stead. The work of sanctification which God has brought
about in his elect will continue until it reaches its fulfillment in
eternal life (Phil. 1:6). Christ assures the elect that he will not
lose them and that they will be glorified at the "last day" (John
6:39). The Calvinist stands upon the Word of God and trusts in Christ's
promise that he will perfectly fulfill the will of the Father in saving
all the elect.
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