11 September 2022 by Published in: Jared Smith, Bible Doctrine No comments yet

A Transcript Of The Video Study

In our previous study, I reminded you that there are two diametrically opposed systems of biblical theology—Arminianism and Calvinism. The Five Points of Calvinism were formulated in response to the Five Points of Arminianism, and they are as follows: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and the Preservation of the Saints. The natural and most common way to approach these teachings is in chronological order, beginning with the first point, moving down the list to the last point. However, the Five Points may also be viewed according to a structural order. The first and last points speaking of the nature of man, and his relationship to and with God; the middle three points speaking of the nature of God, and His relationship with His elect people.

Now, putting the Five Points of Calvinism to one side, I have also emphasized throughout the course of these studies something that I call the Framework of Sovereign Grace. The Framework of Sovereign Grace is a diagram illustrating the masterplan of God for the ages. For this study, I would like to align the Five Points of Calvinism with the Framework of Sovereign Grace. To begin this alignment, allow me to rearrange the points in the order they appear on the Framework of Sovereign Grace. The Framework begins with the Unconditional Election of the Father, then the Total Depravity of man, then the Limited Atonement of Christ, then the Irresistible Grace of the Spirit, and then the Perseverance and Preservation of the Saints. Of course, by rearranging these points, we lose the acronym TULIP, which I suppose for some may be taking things a step too far—“How dare you destroy the sacred order of the Doctrines of Grace,” some might say. Indeed, some people come to cherish these points exactly as they appear in their original order, insomuch that to meddle with the order is considered sacrilege. Well, I do reorder the points, because I believe this new order is the arrangement given to us according to the scriptures. Allow me to explain as I align each of the points with the Framework of Sovereign Grace.

The Framework begins with the Unconditional Election of God the Father. It is from eternity that the Father initiated the Covenant of Grace. This He did by envisioning the human race without any consideration of sin, setting apart some as objects of special love, while setting aside the others as objects of less love. Having made this choice, the Father then determined how He would bring the human race into existence—it would be within a time continuum and a specially designed world. And then, in order that the human race might be given the authority to have a relationship with their Maker, the Father chose to establish a covenant of works with the first man (Adam), appointing him the covenant head for the entire human race. In order for the human race to maintain their relationship with God, it was required that Adam, and every son and daughter of Adam, perfectly obey the law God has inscribed upon their hearts. This is the Unconditional Election of God the Father.

This now brings us to the doctrine of Total Depravity. As Adam was appointed by God to serve as the covenant head for the human race, so when he sinned against the Lord in the garden of Eden, he brought sin, misery and condemnation upon every son and daughter that would come into the world through the natural generation of his seed. Henceforth, when you and I were brought into existence, we were conceived in sin and shaped in iniquity. We were separated from the life of God, and therefore spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. The soul, by natural generation, is desperately wicked and corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. It is with regards to this condition that Martin Luther spoke of the bondage of the will. So long as the soul remains in an unregenerate condition, the freedom of the will is determined by the sinful nature of the soul. That is, the nature of the soul is in bondage to sin, and therefore the freedom of the will is restricted to that nature which governs it. This, my friends, is the doctrine of Total Depravity, and it comes after the doctrine of Unconditional Election.

This then brings us to the Limited Atonement of God the Son. The Father, having already set His love upon a remnant of the human race, devised a twofold plan to save them from their sins. The first part of His plan dealt with the problem of judicial condemnation. How could He be just, yet the Justifier of the ungodly? Well, the Father gave His elect people, now viewing them in sin, to the charge and special care of the Son, appointing Him to serve as their Mediator and Redeemer. The Son of God received them unto Himself, setting His eternal love upon them, agreeing to accomplish the work of redemption for them. To effect this work, it was required the Son assume a human nature, being made subject to the covenant of works, that He might earn for His elect people righteousness and life by His perfect obedience to the Heart Law, and deliver His elect people from sin and death by His sacrificial and atoning blood. It is in this way the Father designed to buy back, or redeem, His people from their sins, thus making them the vessels of mercy. Now please watch this, my friends, the first branch of the good news of glad tidings is the electing love of the Father. The second branch of the good news of glad tidings is the redeeming grace of the Son. And together, these two branches form the first agreement under the terms and promises of the covenant of grace. It pleased the Father to appoint the Son, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, to serve as the covenant head for His elect people, insomuch that as Adam represents the entire human race under the terms and promises of the covenant of works, so the Lord Jesus Christ represents the elect under the terms and promises of the covenant of grace. Henceforth, the redeeming work of Christ is designed only for those chosen by the Father and given to the Son. To be clear, the atoning blood of Christ was shed only for the elect, and that is why the Apostle Peter calls it “the precious blood of Christ”, for not one drop is wasted upon those who are fitted to destruction. Alright, so how does the Father solve the problem of His elect people under judicial condemnation? He justifies them freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins, that He might be just, and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus. This is the Limited Atonement of God the Son, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Of course, when we speak about a belief in Jesus, it brings us to the next point of Calvinism—the Irresistible Grace of God the Spirit. I mentioned a few minutes ago that the Father devised a twofold plan of salvation for His elect people. The first part of His plan deals with the problem of judicial condemnation, which is resolved by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. The second part of His plan deals with the problem of spiritual corruption, which is resolved by the irresistible grace, or sanctifying power, of the Holy Spirit. The Father having chosen a remnant of the human race, and the Son having agreed to redeem them from their sins, it pleased them both to give the elect to the charge and special care of the Holy Spirit, appointing Him to serve as their Sanctifier. The Spirit of God received the elect unto Himself, setting His eternal love upon them, and agreeing to sanctify each and every person given to Him by the Father and the Son. Now, this great work of sanctification begins with what Jesus described as a new birth, otherwise known as the regeneration of the soul. Since the elect are brought into this world, conceived in sin and shaped in iniquity, their souls are dead, or have no union with the life of God, on account of the corruption of their hearts. Neither are they able to exercise the living fruits of spiritual life, for they are not in union with Christ. All that they have is a corrupt nature which has a propensity to do that which is aligned with the deceitfulness of their lusts. Yes, they have the capacity to exercise faith, but it is a natural faith only, completely void of any saving virtue or value. Yes, they have the capacity to repent, but it is a natural repentance only, completely void of any saving virtue or value. So long as the elect sinner remains in an unregenerate condition, he/she cannot exercise saving faith and godly repentance, neither can he/she please God by pure thoughts, wholesome words or good deeds. Now, you see, this is the problem the Father and the Son resolves by appointing the Holy Spirit to serve as the Sanctifier of elect sinners. At the appointed time throughout the course of history, the Holy Spirit conquers the heart of every man and woman given to Him by the Father and the Son. The soul of that person is united with the Lord Jesus Christ, by virtue of which the life of Christ flows into the soul, making his/her soul alive unto God, and the graces of Christ also flow into the soul, among which are saving faith and godly repentance. This union between the soul and the Lord Jesus Christ is what we often call the new nature which is imparted to the soul through the experience of the new birth—a new nature which is created in righteousness and true holiness. And, make no mistake, what I have just explained is the meaning of the new birth—this is the meaning of regeneration. Regeneration, or, the new birth, is that operation of the Spirit of God wherein He unites the soul of a sinner with the Lord Jesus Christ, by virtue of which the life and graces of Christ flow into the soul, making him/her alive unto God and enabling him/her to exercise saving faith. And you see, this is how the Father has resolved the problem of the spiritual corruption and deadness of the soul—He has appointed the Holy Spirit to unite the soul with Christ, thus making the regenerate sinner a vessel of gold and silver. And this is the meaning of the Irresistible Grace of the Holy Spirit—when He unites the soul with Christ through the experience of the new birth, the regenerate sinner is irresistibly drawn to Christ, wherein he/she comes freely to the Savior, finding rest unto his/her soul.

Now, this is only the beginning of the Spirit’s work of sanctification, which brings us then to the last point of Calvinism—the Perseverance and Preservation of the Saints. After the new birth, the regenerate sinner continues a journey of growth in grace, which, I want to be clear, does not involve a progressive sanctification. You see, there is a common error embraced by many Christians who believe they are being progressively sanctified, in the sense that they are becoming increasingly holy and pure, so long as they obey the Ten Commandments and do good works. This is utter nonsense! I say that for two reasons. First, if it be the regenerate sinner who is purifying himself by keeping the law of God, then this usurps the saving virtue of Christ to the soul, which alone is the cause of the new nature having been created in righteousness and true holiness. It is Christ’s righteousness; His holiness; which is imparted to the soul. Not any works of righteousness that I do after experiencing the new birth. In any case, righteousness and holiness, unlike the fruits of the new nature, are not capable of growth or variant measures of purity and rightness. Something is either righteous, or unrighteous—it can’t be somewhere in between. Something is either holy or unholy, it can’t be somewhere in between. The new nature is either entirely righteous and completely holy, or it is entirely unrighteous and completely unholy. The idea that a regenerate sinner is capable of becoming more and more holy is quite simply a contradiction in terms. It is also a contradiction of the scriptures, for the Apostle Paul describes the new nature in Ephesians 4, as created in righteousness and true holiness. The second reason I say the doctrine of progressive sanctification is nonsense is that it also substitutes the Spirit’s work in the new nature, with the sinner’s work in the old nature. You see, if we attempt to make ourselves more righteous or more holy by keeping God’s law, then this is necessarily returning to the covenant of works and subjecting ourselves once again to the Heart Law, or worst, subjecting ourselves to the Mosaic Law, which is not designed for any of us today. My dear friends, as regenerate sinners, we are not under the authority of the covenant of works, and we are no longer responsible to God for the keeping of the Heart Law. Having been born again, we have been brought under the authority of the covenant of grace, and we are now responsible to God for the keeping of the Gospel Law, which is none other than Christ in you, the hope of glory. I hope you understand the point I am driving at here. Progressive sanctification is an insidious doctrine which entangles the regenerate sinner with the yoke of bondage. We must be careful to avoid this doctrine, standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.

“So then,” you will ask, “If the regenerate sinner is not sanctified progressively, then how is he/she sanctified?” Well, we understand the doctrine of sanctification to be that of spiritual growth, or, a growth in grace. There is residing in the soul of every regenerate sinner, this side of heaven, two distinct natures which are diametrically opposed to each other—the old nature, given to us at our first birth, which is corrupt according to our deceitful lusts; and the new nature, given to us at our second birth, which is created in righteousness and true holiness. Neither of these natures are capable of change, for Jesus said that which is born of the old nature is old nature, and that which is born of the new nature is new nature. We cannot make any improvement of the corruption of the old nature, neither can we corrupt or pollute the purity of the new nature. Now, spiritual growth is the maturing process of the new nature, or of our union with Christ. By virtue of our union with Christ, we are partakers of all the graces of Christ, whether it be that of meekness, or patience, or gentleness, or godliness, or a hunger and thirst for righteousness, or faith. However, these graces begin as a seed, and are capable of growth and development. Sometimes Jesus rebuked His disciples as those of little faith, and other times He commended various men and women as those with great faith. All of us know, only too well, the littleness of Christ’s graces which flow through our souls. Oh, for a more fervent love, for a stronger faith, for an increase in patience and a greater measure of thirst and hunger after righteousness. Are these not our desires, my dear brethren? Yes, these are the heart breathings of a soul in union with Christ, and it is the heart beat of our sanctification by the Spirit of God. For as it is He Who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure in Christ, so we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, expressing in thought, word and deed, what the Spirit of God imparts to us by virtue of our union with Christ. This is the meaning of spiritual growth, and that is the meaning of the Spirit’s work of sanctification in the soul.

And of course, what I have just explained is with reference to the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. As for the Preservation of the Saints, well, our fellowship in the gospel is without repentance. The TriUne Jehovah will not disown those He has set apart as an object of His special love; He will not cast out one whom He has justified by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; He will not revoke the work of regeneration in one whose soul has been joined with Christ. King Solomon said “a threefold cord is not quickly broken”, and you see, the elect are eternally secure under the terms and promises of the threefold cord of the gracious covenant—the cord of the Father’s electing love, the cord of the Son’s redeeming grace and the cord of the Spirit’s sanctifying power. We may therefore be confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ! Yes, my dear brethren, this is the meaning of the Preservation of the Saints.

I have attempted to show you in this study how the Five Points of Calvinism align with the Framework of Sovereign Grace. And while I am at it, I might as well summarize the whole alignment by referring you again to the structure of the Five Points. Remember, the first and last points speak of the nature of man, and his relationship to and with God, whereas the middle three points speak of the nature of God, and His relationship with His elect people. We find the first point to be a reference to all elect and non-elect sinners in an unregenerate condition—that is the doctrine of Total Depravity. The last point, on the other hand, is a reference to all elect sinners who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God—that is the doctrine of the Perseverance and the Preservation of the Saints. We then find the three middle points on the left side of the Framework, highlighting the three branches of the gospel—the doctrines of Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace. The structural order of the Five Points of Calvinism are all pieced together within the context of the Framework of Sovereign Grace.

And, as you can see, not only does the Framework include the Five Points of Calvinism, but it stretches far beyond these particular teachings, placing the entire doctrine of God’s grace into the context of His masterplan for the ages. You see, many Christians view the Five Points of Calvinism as an almost perfect outline of Bible truth. And while I certainly agree it sets forth the major doctrines of the gospel of Christ, yet it doesn’t set into context how the gospel of Christ fits into the broader picture of God’s purpose for humanity and the world. This Framework, on the other hand, makes up for that deficiency, and I therefore hope you are beginning to appreciate the value that may be derived from this diagram.

Alright, I will leave with you these thoughts, praying the Lord will continue to bless you and your growth in grace.



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