from Founders Ministries
In recent years, there has been a recovery of the five points of Calvinism among many evangelicals, but there has not been a concomitant revival of the covenant theology of seventeenth century Puritanism as the rich soil in which Calvinistic soteriology grows. This post will not attempt to thoroughly defend every doctrine mentioned, but to show the connection between Calvinism and the theological covenants of covenant theology. The Synod of Dordt listed the five points of Calvinism, not in their contemporary order of “TULIP,” but in the order of “ULTIP,” which is the order I’ll be using here.
1. Unconditional Election. The eternal decree of unconditional election is the foundation of covenant theology and the doctrine of salvation. God chooses to save sinners not because of any foreseen goodness or conditions in them, but merely because of His good pleasure to redeem a people for Himself to bring Him glory. Speaking of unconditional divine election, Paul writes, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion but on God, who has mercy” (Romans 9:16). There are no conditions in God’s choosing individuals for salvation. God’s choice is based entirely upon His sovereign will: “He has mercy on whomever He wills and He hardens whomever He wills” (Romans 9:18).
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“Calvinism kills missions!” many say. After all, if God has already chosen some to save before the foundation of the world, while leaving others to be damned, then why should we bother preaching the gospel to the nations? The elect are going to be saved and none of the rest will be. But when we pause to take a closer look at Calvinism, we find that it does not kill missions—it is actually fuel for missions! Let us consider the well-known five points of Calvinism to see how they relate to missions.
Total Depravity—The Need for Missions
As Calvinists, we believe that “through Adam sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned (Rom. 5:12). So all of humanity is born as sinners; we are all born in rebellion against God. No one is righteous, no one understands, no one seeks after God (Rom. 3:10-11). We are totally depraved by nature, which does not mean that we are as thoroughly wicked as possible, but that our sinfulness affects all areas of life. No aspect of our lives is free from the corruption of sin.
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Scripture speaks with absolute, unmistakable clarity on these vital issues:
(1) Sinners are utterly helpless to redeem themselves or to contribute anything meritorious toward their own salvation (Rom 8:7-8).
(2) God is sovereign in the exercise of His saving Will (Eph 1:4-5).
(3) Christ died as a substitute who bore the full weight of God’s wrath on behalf of His people, and his atoning work is efficacious for their salvation (Isa. 53:5).
(4) God’s saving purpose cannot be thwarted (John 6:37), meaning none of Christ’s true sheep will ever be lost (John 10:27-29). That is because
(5) God assures the perseverance of His elect (Jude 24; Phil 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5).
Those are the five points of Calvinism. I believe them not because of their historical pedigree, but because that is what Scripture teaches.
John F. MacArthur Jr.
Extracted from The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended and Documented. 2nd Edition : David Steele, Curtis Thomas, and Lance Quinn. Click title to learn more about the book.
from Ligonier Ministries
There are many reasons why we must evangelize. John Calvin offers the following:
1. God commands us to do so. “We should remember that the gospel is preached not only by the command of Christ but at his urging and leading.”
2. We want to glorify God. True Christians yearn to extend God’s truth everywhere so that “God may be glorified.”
3. We want to please God. Calvin writes, “It is a sacrifice well-pleasing to God to advance the spread of the gospel.”
4. We have a duty to God. “It is very just that we should labor… to further the progress of the gospel,” Calvin says. He adds, “It is our duty to proclaim the goodness of God to every nation.”
5. We have a duty to our fellow sinners. Our compassion should be intensified by knowing that “God cannot be sincerely called upon by others than those to whom, through the preaching of the gospel, his kindness and gentle dealings have become known.”
6. We are grateful to God. We owe it to God to strive for the salvation of others; if we do not, we are behaving in a contradictory manner. Calvin says, “Nothing could be more inconsistent concerning the nature of faith than that deadness which would lead a man to disregard his brethren, and to keep the light of knowledge… in his own breast.”
This excerpt is taken from Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism by Joel Beeke.
from Ligonier Ministries
Charles Spurgeon tenaciously held to the doctrine of unconditional election. By necessity, this biblical truth flows from belief in human depravity. Because the will of man is utterly dead and cannot choose God, God must exercise His sovereign will to save. Out of the mass of fallen humanity, God made an eternal, distinguishing choice. Before the foundation of the world, He determined whom He would save. Spurgeon contended that were it not for God’s choice of His elect, none would be saved.
Like all the doctrines that Spurgeon held, he believed this truth because he was convinced it is rooted and grounded in the Bible: “Whatever may be said about the doctrine of election, it is written in the Word of God as with an iron pen, and there is no getting rid of it.” In his sermon titled “Election,” preached on September 2, 1855, Spurgeon read many passages that unmistakably teach this doctrinal truth. Among the texts he cited and explained were Luke 18:7; John 15:16; 17:8–9; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29, 33; 9:11–13; 11:7; 1 Corinthians 1:26–29; Ephesians 1:14; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13–14; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1–2; and 2 John 1. In this exposition, Spurgeon stated:
In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long ere the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long ere the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was any created being—when the ether was not fanned by an angel’s wing, when space itself had not an existence, when there was nothing save God alone—even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His bowels moved with love for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul.
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from Ligonier Ministries
The God-ordained means of evangelism is His own Word. It is through the proclamation of God’s Word that the Holy Spirit effectually works faith in men’s hearts. The specific message of evangelism is the gospel. Paul summarizes this message in 1 Corinthians 15:3–5: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” When those who hear the gospel ask what they must do to be saved, Scripture tells us that the answer is: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).
In the final chapters of his book, Kuiper surveys issues such as zeal for evangelism, the biblical method of evangelism, cooperation in evangelism, resistance to evangelism, and the triumph of evangelism. He reminds us that we can proclaim the gospel with great hope, looking forward to seeing the fruits of our evangelism, a time when “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” will stand before the throne of the Lamb, clothed in white and crying out, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9–10).
For too long, the church has attempted to achieve a worthy goal through worldly means. Let us heed Kuiper’s plea and leave man-centered Madison Avenue methods behind. May we fulfill the Great Commission in a God-glorifying manner.
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“At the end of the previous post, I described how even in my Arminian days, I affirmed an awful lot of truth about the sovereignty of God: I would have affirmed with no reservation whatsoever that God is God; that He does all His good pleasure; that no one can make Him do otherwise; that He is in control and in charge no matter how much noise evildoers try to make; and not only is He in charge, He is working all things out for my good and His glory. As a matter of fact, my confidence in the promise of Romans 8:28 was what motivated my prayer life.
That’s Calvinism. If you believe those things, you have affirmed the heart of Calvinism, even if you call yourself an Arminian. Those are the basic truths of Calvinism, and if you already believe those things, you are functioning with Calvinist presuppositions.
In fact, the truths of Calvinism so much permeate the heart of the gospel message, that even if you think you are a committed and consistent proponent of Arminianism, if you truly affirm the gospel you have already conceded the principle points of Calvinism anyway.”
From the 8-part series by Phil Johnson available in its entirety at http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/A345/Why-I-Am-a-Calvinist-Part-5
This comes from the post Could W. A. Criswell sign A “Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation?” by Dr. Tom Ascol.
For example, in a sermon entitled, “Doctrine of Predestination,” Dr. Criswell quoted Isaiah 46:9-11 and then said,
That’s our God! Now that’s what you call foreordination. That’s what you call predestination! That’s Calvinism! And I am a Calvinist. That’s good old Bible doctrine, and I believe the Bible! These things are in God’s hands, and ultimately and finally, He purposed it and executeth all of it!
He preached a sermon in 1983, in the early days of the conservative resurgence, on Romans 9:15-16. The sermon is entitled, “The Bible Kind of Salvation.” It is a masterful piece of homiletical work and includes a lengthy, favorable quote from Spurgeon near the end. Before that quote, Dr. Criswell made following observations:
There is a general call, but there is also an effective call. In the great general call, most of them did not respond, most of them did not hear, most of them did not believe, most of them did not come; but always some came, some heard, some were saved—the effectual calling of God.
I read in Acts 13, verse 48, “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.” I turn the page again, and I read in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, “Brethren beloved, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, whereunto He called you by our gospel.” There is an effectual call. There are those who listen. God opens their hearts. God speaks to them, and they hear their name called, and they respond; the effectual calling of the elective choosing Spirit of the Lord.