Doctrines of Grace
T. Total depravity or total inability.
1. All mankind are in the same predicament.
Genesis 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Psalm 14:1-3 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. 2 The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.
Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned….”
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin”?
Romans 3:10 as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.”
2. All are spiritually dead.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth.
Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
3. All are spiritually helpless.
John 6:44-45 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
Romans 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
4. All are in bondage to Satan and irresistibly drawn to him.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Timothy 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
5. Man, in his sin, is spiritually unteachable.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
U. Unconditional Election or unmerited favor.
1. God acts first.
John 15:16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
Psalm 65:4 How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.
John 6:45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Acts 16:14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.
Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).
2. Election is based upon God’s purpose and will.
Ephesians 1:5, 11 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.
2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.
3. Man’s total dependence upon God acting on his behalf.
John 6:44, 65 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
L. Limited or particular atonement.
This doctrine of grace addresses the issue of whose sins can be forgiven. The wrath those sins deserved was satisfied by Christ’s death on the cross. Did Jesus satisfy the wrath of God against every sin that every human ever committed? Or, did Jesus satisfy the wrath of God against every sin of only those committed by the redeemed?
It is important to note that either scenario leaves the atonement of Christ limited in one sense or another. In the first scenario, the atonement of Christ is unlimited in its scope, but limited in its effect. If His death was meant to satisfy the wrath of God against every sin committed by every human being (totally unlimited in its scope), then His death was not 100% effective (limited in its effect) because there will be a multitude of people who will suffer the wrath of God for eternity in the Lake of Fire. In the second scenario, the atonement of Christ is limited in its scope but unlimited in its effect. If His death was meant to satisfy the wrath of God against every sin committed by the redeemed (limited in its scope) then his death was 100% effective (unlimited in its effect) because none of the redeemed will suffer the wrath of God for eternity in the Lake of Fire.
We believe the Bible clearly teaches the second scenario, that Christ died for only the redeemed. Matthew 1:21 says that Jesus will save His people from their sins. John 10:14–15 teaches that Jesus only laid down His life for His sheep, those who were His own. These would be the ones whom the Father gave to the Son, and who follow the Son and who are kept eternally secure by the Son and the Father (John 10:14–17, 27–29). Mark 10:45 teaches that Jesus came to offer His life as a ransom for “many,” not for everyone.
Romans 3:25 teaches that Jesus satisfied the wrath of God of many who had lived before Him, as well as those who lived after Him. Many of those who died before Christ, died in a state of unbelief. These people would have no hope of being redeemed. An unlimited (in scope) view of the atonement of Christ would have to say that Jesus was satisfying the wrath of God for the sins of the individuals who had already died in their sin and thus had no hope of salvation. We do not believe that this is scriptural. Such a view demonstrates a lack of understanding of the propitiatory death of Christ.
I. Irresistible or effectual grace.
Ephesians 4:23 teaches that this irresistible and effectual grace occurs when God renews the spirit of the mind. The spirit of the mind in this verse is a reference to the faculty of the mind that determines how one responds to the information given. One may hear the gospel message over and over again and yet never respond. This is because the spirit of the mind needs to be renewed in a manner that allows the mind to truly comprehend the message of the gospel. When this occurs, the mind is being taught by God (John 6:45).
The unbeliever is held captive by Satan and can only do the will of Satan, which is to stay in a state of unbelief. When God renews the spirit of the mind He is granting the sinner a repentance that leads to a knowledge of the truth that enables the unbeliever to escape the snare of the devil (2 Timothy 2:25–26). The mind of the unbeliever is blinded by Satan and cannot comprehend the gospel message. When God renews this mind, He is removing the blinders and allowing this mind to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. God is causing the light of the knowledge of God that is seen in the face of Christ on the cross to shine in the heart of the unbeliever (2 Corinthians 4:3–6).
This irresistible and effectual grace of God is accomplished when the Holy Spirit works in tandem with the word of God being preached, in such a manner that the spirit of the mind is renewed to the point that saving faith in Christ is expressed.
P. Perseverance of the saints or the eternal security of believers.
John 6:37–40 teaches that it is God’s will that all whom He gives to His son come to His Son, believe in His Son, gain eternal life in His Son and on the last day are raised up by His Son. This passage also teaches that Jesus has come down from heaven to do His Father’s will. Thus, the true believer in Jesus Christ can be absolutely confident that they will enter heaven because this is the Father’s will and God the Son is determined to accomplish His Father’s will.
In John 10:28–29, Jesus states that He gives eternal life to everyone who genuinely trusts Him for the forgiveness of their sins (those who have genuine faith in Jesus are the sheep of Jesus). He also states that no one can snatch them out of His hand, and if that were not enough, Jesus states that no one can snatch them out of His Father’s hand who is greater than all.
The Apostle Paul was so assured that believers would persevere in their faith that he describes those who have been justified as having already been glorified (Romans 8:29–30). It was this level of assurance that led the Apostle Paul to boldly and confidently state that nothing can separate the true believer from the love of Christ: not tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword (Romans 8:35). He was convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth nor any other created thing, will separate, those who are true believers in Jesus, from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38–39). Perseverance of the saints also teaches that once God has renewed the heart of a sinner through the application of the redemption wrought by Jesus Christ on the cross, he will continue to be saved and show evidence of the fruits of that salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18). The sinner perseveres in the faith because of his union with Christ and will continually show himself as one whose life has been changed by Christ. God has saved the individual and will sanctify him until the end when he is ultimately glorified, and in heaven (Romans 8:30).
This does not mean that man has a license to sin. Those who think they have a license to sin are not changed by the Holy Spirit, that is born again and saved by grace. The Apostle Paul taught that people who put faith in Christ are regenerated and set free from the bondage of sin and death and will overwhelmingly conquer all tribulation through Jesus Christ their Lord (Romans 8:2, 35-39).
The word of God reveals God’s grace in not only saving people from eternal judgment for their sin, but in transforming the redeemed into the image of the Savior, Jesus Christ, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Those who are saved by grace and changed, will desire to live a life of obedience to Christ and show evidence of the fruits of their salvation. God moves the heart of the believer to accomplish good works for the glory of God which are evidences of true saving faith. The people of God are thus assured of an eternal inheritance.
For further study:
Isaiah 54:10; Matthew 18:12-14; John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:35-40, 47; John 10:27-30; Romans 5:8-10; Romans 8:1, 29-30, 35-39; Ephesians 1:5, 13-14; Ephesians 2:4-5 1Thessalonians 5:23-24; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 5:1, 4, 11-13, 20; Jude 24.