Jared Smith On Various Issues

A Five Pointer: Calvinism Explained

This article[1] is designed to provide an overview of The Doctrines of Grace. Not only will each point be stated as clearly and concisely as possible, but the points will be interconnected in order to demonstrate the essential teaching of the “system” as a whole. The following sketch is offered as a guide:

I. The Doctrine of Man. The first and last points stand in contrast to each other, highlighting the nature of man and his relationship to God.

1. Total Depravity is the condition of man before he becomes a Christian. He is born the first time with a body and soul (Jn 3:6). However, his soul is dead (Eph 2:1), having been conceived in sin (Ps 51:5). There are serious implications of this precarious condition: (1) Separation from God, for “the understanding [is] darkened, being alienated from the life of God through ignorance…because of the blindness of [the] heart.” (Eph 4:18; Col 1:21); (2) Paralyzation of Spiritual Faculties, for “can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil?” (Jer 13:23; Rom 3:10-18); (3) Condemnation by Divine Judgment, for “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Heb 9:27; 2 Pet 3:3-7; (4) Subjugation to Sin and Satan, for the ungodly walk “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Eph 2:2; 2 Cor 4:4).

2. Perseverance of the Saints refers to the condition of man after he becomes a Christian. He is born a second time, only this is a spiritual birthing (Jn 3:6). His soul is quickened (Col 2:13), having been given life in Christ (Eph 2:5). There are wonderful blessings attached to this gracious salvation: (1) Reconciliation with God, for “if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom 5:10; Col 1:21,22); (2) Functionality of Spiritual Faculties, for we are able to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in [us] both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:12,13; Col 3:1-17); (3) Justification from eternity realised through faith, for we are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3:24; Gal 2:16); (4) Subjugation to Righteousness and the TriUne God, for we are to “reckon [ourselves] to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 6:6-14; 1 Thess 1:9,10).

II. The Doctrine of God. The question is asked, how can a sinner become a saint? The middle three points stand connected to each other, highlighting the work of the TriUne Jehovah under the terms and promises of the covenant of grace.

1. Unconditional Election. God the Father took the lead in this gracious covenant by setting His eternal love upon a remnant of human race. His sovereign will is conditioned upon Himself alone, for the elect are “predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” (Eph 1:11) Indeed, the Father did not choose His people based on a foreknowledge of who might believe on Christ, but rather, His foreknowledge of those that do believe on Christ is based on His eternal decree. (Acts 15:18; Rom 9:11) Forthwith, the Father gave these particular persons to God the Son, who agreed to assume the role of Redeemer, that the elect might be “holy and without blame before [Christ] in love,” and that His sovereign will might be “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” (Eph 1:4-6)

2. Limited Atonement. In the fullness of time, God the Father sent His only begotten Son to assume a human nature, that in the person of Jesus Christ, He might redeem the elect. The law and justice of God requires a satisfaction for the sins of His people, wherefore Jesus Christ as the Covenant Representative, became “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” and “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Phil 2:8; Heb 9:26) Thus, “by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Heb 10:14) His atoning death was designed for the elect alone, for Jesus declared, “I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing.” (Jn 6:35-40)

3. Irresistible Grace. God the Father having chosen, and God the Son having agreed to redeem, it pleased the Father and the Son to place the elect under the special care of God the Holy Spirit. Henceforth, the Spirit of God agreed to assume the role as Sanctifier, whereby at the appointed time, He imparts to the elect a new life in Christ, issuing in a new birth. (Tit 3:4-7) This regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit is conditioned only upon His effectual work in the soul. (Jn 3:1-8) The sinner cannot participate in this operation, neither does he cooperate with God in its accomplishment, for he is “born [again], not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn 1:13) Having been born of the Spirit, the child of God is able to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in him both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Jn 15:1-5; Eph 2:10; Phil 2:12,13)

[1] Having wrote this article many years ago, I am preparing a better explanation so as to more clearly identify and distinguish between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, together with the contrast between the flesh and the spirit. Perhaps a statement will also be added on the reason why a consistent Calvinist must reject duty-faith and the free-offer.