Sunday, January 31, 2010

#11) The 5 Points of Calvinism (Part 1: History / Total Depravity)

Over the new few weeks, we will be covering something very in depth. It isn’t something most people think about on a day to day basis. It isn’t even about how to be saved or how to stay on the straight and narrow. It is about the origin of salvation and the roles of God & man.

Ask congregation who has heard of Calvinism.

Calvinism is a broad subject but is often summarized by 5 points. We will be covering the 5 points in depth. Before we begin dissecting Calvinism, we need to learn the basics.

1) John Calvin (1509 – 1564)
2) Jacobus Arminius (1560 – 1609)

Hand out flyers (summary of Arminianism / Calvinism) to congregation.

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

In 1610, the followers of Arminius drafted 5 points that were based on his teachings. They demanded that the Church of Holland change their doctrines to match the teachings summarized in the 5 points of what we now know as Arminianism. In turn, the Synod of Dort took place in 1618 and brought their own summarized 5 points to the table. Their 5 points were based on the teachings of John Calvin.

Review flyer with congregation.

J.I. Packer really says it all when comparing the 2 doctrines:

J.I. Packer, The Difference
The difference between them is not primarily one of emphasis, but of content. One proclaims a God Who saves; the other speaks of a God Who enables man to save himself. One view presents the three great acts of the Holy Trinity for the recovering of lost mankind – election by the Father, redemption by the Son, calling by the Spirit – as directed towards the same persons, and as securing their salvation infallibly. The other view gives each act a different reference (the objects of redemption being all mankind, of calling, those who hear the gospel, and of election, those hearers who respond), and denies that any man’s salvation is secured by any of them. The two theologies thus conceive the plan on salvation in quite different terms. One makes salvation depend on the work of God, the other on a work of man; one regards faith as a part of God’s gift of salvation, the other as man’s own contribution to salvation; one gives all glory of saving believers to God, the other divides the praise between God, Who, so to speak, built the machinery of salvation, and man, who by believing operated it. Plainly, these differences are important, and the permanent value of the “five points,” as a summary of Calvinism, is that they make clear the points at which, and the extent to which, these two conceptions are at variance.

He continues to go on about how Calvinism is not truly five points but rather, one point. The one true point was only broken into five points to address each of the five points of Arminianism at the Synod of Dort.

J.I. Packer, One Point
The very act of setting out Calvinistic soteriology [the doctrine of salvation] in the form of five distinct points tends to obscure the organic character of Calvinistic thought on this subject. For the five points, though separately stated, are really inseparable. They hang together; you cannot reject one without rejecting them all, at least in the sense in which the Synod meant them. For to Calvinism there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that God saves sinners. God – the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power, and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing. Saves – does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. Sinners – men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners – and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man’s own, or by soft-pedaling the sinner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Savior. This is the one point of Calvinistic soteriology which the “five points” are concerned to establish and Arminianism in all its forms to deny: namely, that sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but that salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present, and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever, Amen.

Total Depravity

The first section I will be teaching on is Total Depravity.

Ask a question: Q: Why do most people who say they are going to Heaven claim it to be so? A: Because they are a good person.

Total Depravity teaches the exact opposite. It teaches that a man has no good within himself. It teaches that man is wicked, wretched, dead in sin, corrupt, and perverse. Total depravity can also be called total inability; within one’s self, there is absolutely zero ability to be saved. Just as man is completely unable to fly, he is also completely unable to perform any act pertaining to salvation.

Westminster Confession of Faith
Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.

Many have bought into the lie that is Arminianism. As we dissect the five points, I am hoping you will all see Scripture for what it really says; that all glory is God’s alone.

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--

Ephesians 2:1
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,

Genesis 8:21b
for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth;

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?

John 3:19
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

As we went over last week, man cannot understand the things of the Spirit without the Spirit first residing in him. In order for the Spirit to reside in him, he must first be regenerated to the point where his body is the temple of God.

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.

1 Corinthians 6:19
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

Titus sums is up quite nicely:

Titus 1:15
To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defile.

We are at war with God and hate Him. Before God calls us to Him, we serve Satan. We have no desire to serve God nor can we possibly desire it.

John 3:20a
For everyone who does evil hates the Light

John 8:44
You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father

Romans 3:9-12
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;
as it is written,

All of the above passages confirm our fallen state. Many will agree with this. The area of contention really stems from the belief of whether or not a man has any power whatsoever to do anything about it.

Job 14:4
Who can make the clean out of the unclean?
No one!

Jeremiah 13:23
Can the Ethiopian change his skin
Or the leopard his spots?
Then you also can do good
Who are accustomed to doing evil.

John 6:44
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

Many claim an active role in their salvation. Instead of giving full glory to God, they try to cling to some sliver of control by saying they made the choice to be saved. While it sounds nice and many claim it is what the Bible teaches based on its many passages of choosing, it is not accurate. The Bible would never teach a doctrine that would steal glory from God and place it in the hands of men. To say we chose God is to effectively say we saved ourselves. It is to say God was not in full control of the situation and that all the above verses are a lie.

1 Corinthians 4:7
For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

2 Corinthians 3:5
Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,

Salvation has nothing to do with anything that came from us. For us to claim that we chose God instead of rejecting God means that we took an active part in our salvation. With such an active part, we would have much to boast about but we are told that we’ve got nothing. We are told that we received salvation and that we have nothing to boast about because it was not of ourselves in any way. Our entire adequacy of salvation is from God alone. We are totally depraved and incapable to seeking God. To Him be the glory!

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