A Transcript Of The Video Study
This is the twenty-third study in the series, and I would like to speak to you on the subject of the Doctrines of Grace. I pointed out in an earlier study that there are two diametrically opposed systems of biblical theology—Arminianism, named after a Dutch Theologian who lived during the 16th century (Jacobus Arminius, 1560-1609); and Calvinism, named after a French Theologian who lived during the same century (John Calvin, 1509-1564). However, neither man formulated the systems of teachings represented by these labels. Rather, the teachings were drawn up by those who lived after both men died. This took place in Holland, between the years 1610 and 1618. The first system of teaching to be formulated was that of Arminianism and there were five points:
First, Natural Ability And The Free Will Of Man. This teaches that man is affected by the Fall, yet he remains inherently capable of exercising saving faith in Christ which alone secures for him/her the blessings of salvation.
Second, Conditional Election. This teaches that God the Father has chosen unto salvation those sinners which He foresaw would exercise saving faith in Christ. In other words, God’s choice of the sinner is based upon the sinner’s choice of Him.
Third, Universal Redemption. This teaches that God the Son, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, made a general provision through His blood for the salvation of the entire human race, but it is made effectual only to those who believe on Him.
Fourth, Resistible Grace. This teaches that God the Spirit cannot grant the sinner new life in Christ, unless the sinner permits Him to do so. Henceforth, the effectual power of the Holy Spirit may be overpowered by the free will of the sinner.
Fifth, Falling From Grace. This teaches that those who have been born again may lose their salvation if they do not remain faithful to Christ.
The second system of teaching was drawn up in direct response to and rejection of the first set of teachings:
First, Total Depravity. This teaches that the unregenerate sinner is under the authority of the covenant of works, dead in trespasses and sin, subject to a sinful nature and void of saving faith.
Second, Unconditional Election. This teaches that God the Father has set apart a remnant of the human race as objects of His special love, without any conditions imposed upon the sinner or virtue foreseen in the sinner.
Third, Particular Redemption, or, Limited Atonement. This teaches that God the Son, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, made a special provision through His blood designed to save those given to Him by the Father (the elect only).
Fourth, Irresistible Grace. This teaches that God the Spirit sovereignly and invincibly regenerates the soul of every elect and redeemed sinner throughout the course of history.
Fifth, Perseverance, or, Preservation Of The Saints. This teaches that the regenerate sinner is under the authority of the covenant of grace, made alive unto God through the Lord Jesus Christ, subject to a new nature in Christ, in possession of saving faith and eternally secure according to the terms and promises of the gracious covenant.
You notice how the first letter of each point forms the word TULIP, which is sometimes used to identify the five points of Calvinism. However, these points are more commonly known as the Doctrines of Grace, or simply as, sovereign grace.
Now, these points, as they have been formulated in response to the five points of Arminianism, actually tie together in a compelling structure. That is what I would like to show you with the time we have remaining.
The first and last points speak of the nature of man, and his relationship to and with God. This would be the teachings of Total Depravity and the Preservation of the Saints. Whereas the middle three points speak of God, and the gracious covenant drawn up by Him on behalf of His elect people. These are the teachings of Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace.
I would like to begin with the first and last points, both of which speak of man’s relationship to and with God. Allow me to highlight these points as I direct your attention to the onscreen notes.
Total Depravity refers to the condition of man in an unregenerate state, being in relationship TO God, whereas the Preservation of the Saints refers to man in a regenerate state, being in relationship WITH God.
According to the doctrine of Total Depravity, the unregenerate sinner enters the kingdom of this world (earthly kingdom) by natural generation, wherein the soul is conceived in sin and shaped in iniquity, by virtue of Adam’s headship, and is consequently spiritually dead, having no life in union with God; whereas according to the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints, the regenerate sinner enters into the kingdom of God (spiritual kingdom) by supernatural regeneration, wherein the soul is quickened by his/her union with the life of Christ, by virtue of Christ’s headship, having a new nature imparted to the soul created in righteousness and true holiness.
According to the doctrine of Total Depravity, the unregenerate sinner is accountable to God under the authority of the covenant of works, and therefore duty-bound to obey the heart law, which is binding upon the elect and non-elect alike; whereas according to the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints, the regenerate sinner is accountable to God under the authority of the covenant of grace, and therefore duty-blessed to obey the gospel law, which is binding upon the elect only, after they have been born again.
According to the doctrine of Total Depravity, the unregenerate sinner is capable of exercising a natural faith and repentance towards God as Creator, but these virtues are void of any spiritual or saving value; whereas according to the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints, the regenerate sinner is capable of exercising a spiritual and saving faith with repentance towards God as Redeemer, as these virtues flow into the believer by virtue of his/her union with Christ.
According to the doctrine of Total Depravity, the unregenerate sinner is governed by a single nature, that of the flesh, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, the works of which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like; whereas according to the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints, the regenerate sinner is governed by a twofold nature, that of the flesh and the spirit, the spirit being that new nature imparted to the soul by virtue of one’s union with Christ, out from which grows the fruit of that spiritual union, such as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance, against which there is no law.
According to the doctrine of Total Depravity, the unregenerate sinner has an entirely corrupt nature, desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, profiting nothing of spiritual value, incapable of pleasing God and is not subject to change or improvement; whereas according to the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints, the regenerate sinner receives an entirely new and uncorrupted nature, created in righteousness and true holiness, profiting all things of spiritual value, always pleasing to God and is not subject to change or decay.
According to the doctrine of Total Depravity, the will and works of the unregenerate sinner are driven exclusively by the sinful nature; whereas according to the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints, the will and works of the regenerate sinner are driven by the twofold nature of the flesh and the spirit, both of which strive against each other, so that the believer cannot do the things that he/she would.
According to the doctrine of Total Depravity, the unregenerate sinner is a recipient of God’s common grace unto creation, enjoying all temporal blessings bestowed upon him/her while on this earth in that condition; whereas according to the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints, the regenerate sinner is a recipient of God’s special grace unto salvation, enjoying all spiritual blessings in Christ bestowed upon him/her while on this earth and in the world to come.
Now, by no means is this an exhaustive list of comparisons and contrasts, but I hope it suffices to demonstrate how the two points come together, declaring the nature of man, and his relationship to God in a state of total depravity and his relationship with God in a state of persevering sainthood.
Let us now turn to the middle three points which speak of God and the gracious covenant drawn up by Him on behalf of His elect people. You immediately notice the three middle points bridge together the first and last points. The question is, How does an unregenerate sinner become a regenerate sinner? The answer—an unregenerate sinner becomes a regenerate sinner according to the gracious covenant of the TriUne Jehovah, namely, the unconditional election of the Father, the limited atonement of the Son and the irresistible grace of the Spirit. My dear friends, this is what the scriptures call the covenant of peace, or, the everlasting covenant, otherwise called by us the covenant of grace. It is the agreement between the three persons of the Godhead, wherein each assumes certain obligations in order to save their people from their sins.
Consider first, the Unconditional Election of God the Father. The Father took the lead in this gracious covenant by setting apart a remnant of the human race as objects of His special love. In making this choice, He did not choose His people based on any conditions imposed upon them or expected of them for the salvation of their souls. That is, the Father did not look into the future to see who would believe on Christ, and based on their faith, He set them apart as objects of His love. You see, the Father’s love for His elect people is not based on their love for Him; rather, their love for Him is based on His love for them. Henceforth, the Apostle John wrote in 1 John 4:9,10: ”In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” This, my friends, is the unconditional election of God the Father, and it is the first branch of the gospel of peace.
Second, let us look at the Limited Atonement of God the Son. Having decreed the human race would come into the world under the headship of Adam, and therefore in sin, it pleased the Father to devise a plan of salvation for His elect people by giving them into the special care and to the charge of His Son, appointing Him to serve as their Redeemer. The Son of God received the elect unto Himself, setting His love upon them, and agreed to redeem them from their sins. To that end, it was required the Son assume a human nature, that in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, He might be qualified as the God-Man to offer Himself a substitute for His elect people by the shedding of His precious blood. You see, 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 [we who] are sanctified.” (Heb 10:14) Henceforth, the atoning death of Christ 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) This, my friends, is the limited atonement of God the Son, and it is the second branch of the gospel of peace.
Third, there is the Irresistible Grace of God the Spirit. The Father having chosen the elect, and the Son having agreed to redeem the elect, it pleased them both to complete the plan of salvation by giving them to the Holy Spirit, appointing Him to serve as their Sanctifier. The Spirit received them unto Himself, setting His love upon them, and agreeing to sanctify them according to His effectual power and irresistible grace. Henceforth, at the appointed time throughout the course of history, the Spirit of God conquers the hearts of all His elect people, uniting their souls with the Lord Jesus Christ, by virtue of which they are made alive unto God and enabled to exercise saving faith in Christ. It is in this way the elect sinner is made willing in the day of the Spirit’s power, not willing to resist the effectual calling of the Spirit, for he/she by this point has been united to Christ and a new nature imparted to the soul. This, my friends, is the irresistible grace of God the Spirit, and it is the third branch of the gospel of peace.
These are the three middle points of the Doctrines of Grace, and as you can clearly see, they speak of God, and the gracious covenant the three persons of the Godhead drew up on behalf of their elect people in order to redeem them from their sins and reconcile them to Himself. And this is the gospel—the gospel of peace—glad tidings of good things! You know, too often preachers identify the good news of glad tidings to be that of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, as set forth in 1 Corinthians 15. However, 1 Corinthians 15 was never intended by Paul to be used as the basis for formulating a definition of the gospel. In that passage of scripture, he mentions the death, burial and resurrection of Christ only as it relates to the broader doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. However, many preachers dismiss the general context of the passage, placing their own emphasis on the text as it suits their end. As they do not understand the breadth or depth of the gospel of peace, they reduce the good news of glad tidings to be only that of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. But as the structure of the doctrines of grace rightly highlight, the gospel of peace has three branches, and therefore the death, burial and resurrection are parts of a much larger message. If it is a definition of the gospel we are looking for, then perhaps a good summary would be that mentioned by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14: “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” All three branches of the gospel are set forth by Paul in this text of scripture—the unconditional election of the Father, the limited atonement of the Son and the irresistible grace of the Holy Spirit.
I hope you see, my dear friends, the Doctrines of Grace are divided into two main sections: The first and last points speak of the nature of man, and his relationship to and with God—Total Depravity and the Perseverance of the Saints; the middle three points speak of God, and the covenant of grace He has drawn up on behalf of His elect people—Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace. But you might ask, before I close this study, “Of what practical value does this knowledge serve in my walk with the Lord?” Well, first, if you are familiar with the structure of the doctrines of grace, then it will ground you in the faith, insomuch that you will not be tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine. Second, it will grow you in grace, for it sets out the parameters of your life in Christ, demonstrating how your justification and sanctification are complete in Him. Third, it will guide you in your daily walk, for the structure of the Doctrines of Grace demonstrate the purpose of God in grace, and if we acquire a clearer and deeper understanding of that, then how He chooses to govern the details of your life today will only affirm that all things work together for good to them that love Him, to them them who are the called according to His purpose. After all, He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for you, how shall He not with Him also freely give you all things? Take the worst that could come against you, and even then you have nothing to fear. Is it tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? My dear brethren, in all these things you are more than conquerors through Him that loves you. Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate you from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus your Lord. That is what this structure of the Doctrines of Grace may do for you on a practical level—it grounds you in the faith, grows you in grace and guides you in your daily walk!
Jared Smith served twenty years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in Kensington (London, England). He now serves as an Evangelist in the Philippines, preaching the gospel, organizing churches and training gospel preachers.