The Doctrine of Sovereign Grace
                                             The Five points T.U.L.I.P ( Known commonly as Calvinism)


Total Inability or Total Depravity.
Unmerited Favour or Unconditional Election.
Limited Atonement.
Irresistible Grace.
Perseverance of the Saints.

Whilst the writer does not accept the whole of John Calvin’s teachings, he does accept that Calvin’s understanding of this doctrine of Election to be based on scriptural truth.

Total Inability
Some would rather use the term Total Depravity, meaning that through the fall of Adam, sin entered the world and from that time on, every man has inherited that sin and is totally separated from God by that sin. Therefore mankind is morally depraved and without hope and without God in the world.

Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

I prefer to use the term Total Inability, which means that man because of his sinful nature is indeed separated from God and therefore totally unable to save himself or prepare himself for salvation.
Man is spiritually dead in trespasses and sin and deserves the punishment for sin which according to the scriptures is death, both physical death and spiritual death.

Ephesians 2:1-6 2 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

2 Wherein in time past ye walked 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:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Romans 8:7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.


Some people argue that man is not dead but just sick, a sin sick sinner and when he hears the Gospel message, he can by his own free will, respond to the Gospel and be saved.
However, the scriptures reveal that man of himself cannot come to God.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.


However it is quite clear in scripture that man is not just sick in sin but he is dead in trespass and sin and is totally unable to respond to the Gospel of himself. He is cut off from a Holy God and destined for eternal punishment.
When Adam and Eve chose by their free will to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit, they did not just become sick, they died.


Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

In that day, they died spiritually and their free will became enslaved to sin, it was no longer free to choose the things of God but only able to choose between a greater or lesser evil.
This is why Martin Luther wrote “The Bondage of the Will” and said that since the fall, "free will is an empty term".

Adam and Eve were created perfect, clothed in righteousness but when they sinned they lost that righteousness and became naked and they knew and so they hid from God.
Adam and Eve did have Free Will before the fall, man could naturally will and freely do what pleased God or choose otherwise. Given the fall, man is hopelessly dead in sin, opposed by a sinful nature and unable to choose any spiritual good. Fallen man can in no way affect his own conversion, but God graciously converts sinners, renewing their disposition (Regeneration) so as to free the will to do what is spiritually good. Because this, fallen nature remains, the believers choice of good is imperfect. Such perfection is reserved for the state of glory.

 

Unmerited Favour or Unconditional Election.

What this means is that before any man or woman is born -- in fact, before the world was made -- God decided who would go to heaven and who would not. Before they did good or bad, God chose some to be His people and leave others unchosen.
God has no obligation to choose to save anyone, because All have sinned and fall short of His glory.
All deserve the punishment of sin, which is eternal death BUT in His infinite mercy and according to His own will and for His own Glory, He chooses to save some.


To understand unconditional election, lets look at conditional election. If God placed a condition on election, then there would be something that we would need to do in order for God to choose us.
However we read in scripture:  
"You have not chosen me, I have chosen you" John 15:16

Speaking of Jacob and Esau, the sons of Isaac. God said " I have chosen one over the other, before they were even born, before they had done anything good". So it is not of mans will or works but totally of God.

Romans 9:11-21  For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;

12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
16 
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
18 
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21 
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

God is the potter and we are the clay. God is in complete control, He is Sovereign and can do whatever He wills.
 

Acts 13:48  And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
God ordains some to life but leaves others in their unbelief.
 

Ephesians 2:1-6 2 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

2 Wherein in time past ye walked 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:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

 

So this is an Unconditional Election.

God chose those who would come to Him by faith before the foundation of the world, before we had done anything good or bad. Just in the same way He chose Jacob and not Esau.

Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow,
he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Romans 8:30  Moreover
whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

It is a done deal, not anything of ourselves but a work of God.

God is the author of our salvation in Jesus Christ, it is not of anything of ourselves.

John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
 

None of the predestined will be lost.

John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

In the fullness of time, all those that God has predestined to eternal life, will be saved.
The Holy Spirit will move on them, regenerate them
and make it possible for them to respond to the Word of the Gospel, which is God means of bringing all those He has chosen to Himself. We respond to God's call but only by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.
For the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.


Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
 

Limited Atonement.

This is the stumbling block to many.
Besides Calvinists, (when I say Calvinists, I refer to those that believe in the doctrine of election), there are those that are called Molinists.
Molinists, generally are those that can accept maybe three of the five points but reject two.
Molinism, named after 16th-century Spanish Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina, is a philosophical doctrine which attempts to reconcile the providence of God with human free will.

They can accept Total Inability, Unmerited Favour and the fifth point Perseverance of the saints but not Limited Atonement or Irresistable Grace.
Many struggle with this point. What they say is:
How can God choose some and reject others? Surely this must mean that God is unfair.

They miss the point. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, no not one. All deserve the wrath of God.
The Bible tells us that in Adam all die.
Earlier we saw that since the fall, all men are dead in sin and separated from God. All men deserve to go to hell.
God chooses to snatch some out of the jaws of eternal damnation and plant their feet on a solid foundation.
Jesus died for
His church, For many, His sheep. This is for His own glory.
 

Acts 20:28  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Matthew 26:28  For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
 

There is a distortion of this biblical truth and that is, that Christ died for all men. Some teach that Christ made it possible for all men to be saved. But the questions that must be asked are: "If Christ died for all men, why are not all men saved?" "Can God not do what He desires to do?" "Is there something defective in Christ's death?" "Must man desire to be saved first?" But a man who is totally depraved cannot will to be saved. He hates God and wants nothing to do with Christ's death. So it must not be said that Christ died for all men.

Who are we to call God unjust?
This is why men struggle with the Sovereignty of God and man’s free will.

 

Romans 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
Romans 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.


The Bible says that Christ laid down His life for His sheep, and only them. 

John 10:11.  I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
 

The atonement is limited to the elect of God. Every sin of every one of Christ's sheep is paid for. Those sins and those alone have been paid for. That is the only gospel because that is what the Bible teaches.

The Bible does not teach a universal Gospel. That eventually all men will be saved. There will be sheep and there will be goats, there will be wheat and there will be chaff, there will be those that believe and those that don’t.

Irresistible Grace. (Efficacious Grace) :

All those that are predestined to eternal life will in the fullness of time will be regenerated and drawn to the Father through the working of the Holy Spirit.

This grace is known as Irresistible or Efficacious Grace. It is the Holy Spirit that appropriates the death of Christ in a person’s life. It is the work of God and not of man.

John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

That means that if God extends grace (mercy) to you, there is nothing in the world that you will or can do to resist it and thwart God's intention to take you to heaven. The certainty of salvation for God's elect is seen in John 6:37 where Jesus says,  "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
There is no doubt that they will be saved. Verse 44 says that those who come to God come because God draws them. Not our will, but God's will is first and powerful.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.


Charles Wesley wrote the words to the this hymn “ And can it be”.
In one verse it says:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

 

Notice the order of events. Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and natures night. Thine eyes diffused a quickening ray. I woke, the dungeon flamed with light.
Bound in sin – Quickened and then what!. My chains fell off, my heart was free.
Only then could, “I rose, went forth and followed Thee”

I could not rise up and follow Thee until I was quickened and my heart was set free.
The work of salvation is nothing of me, it is all of God.

The Holy Spirit is the one who awakens the dead making it possible for us to respond to the Gospel call.
Of ourselves we cannot respond, We are dead.

 

Perseverance of the Saints. ( Once saved always saved)
 

The last of the five points of Calvinism teaches that God preserves His people so they can never be lost. 
Talking about His elect sheep, Jesus said: "And I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand"


John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

John 6:39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

Romans 8:37-39  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:12  For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Philippians 1:6  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:


Here is the proof of a finished work:

Romans 8:30  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
 

First, we must realise that man cannot come to God on his own. Man in the state of sin cannot desire God.

Second, God has revealed himself in creation.

Romans 1:20 teaches, "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."

God has revealed Himself through His creation, providing ample evidence of His existence and the expectation of people to worship Him.

Psalm 19:1-3 also echoes this idea when it states, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard."

Even though God's existence is clearly there to be seen, man in his dead state cannot respond to God. Neither does he want God.
Third, In the fulness of time, God chooses to move in a person’s life and reveal himself openly. The Holy Spirit convicts him of sin and righteousness.


John 16:8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;
11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.


For example, when Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, we read, "Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'" (Acts 2:37).

These people were drawn to salvation through the hearing of the Gospel message and the Spirit of God.
Acts 2:41 As a result, many believed and were saved on that day.

Jesus did this on the road to Damascus when He confronted Saul of Tarsus.

Acts 26:14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
 

The Holy Spirit had begun to convict Saul of his sin. He was thrown to the ground and blinded. Later the scales would fall from his eyes and he would see the truth.
We have to see that any response from someone hearing the Gospel message comes after regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
God raises us up from spiritual death and makes it possible for us to call on His name and be saved.
The initial work is by God.

No one can thwart the purposes of God.


Isaiah 14:27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
Job 42:2 ”I know [Lord] that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted.”


Predestined, Called, Justified and Glorified.

Romans 8:30  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
 

It is a completed work of redemption. From our predestination to our glorification, it cannot be changed because God has decreed it.
If we are Predestined to life, we shall be Glorified.

Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.…

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