We would indeed be remiss if Calvin’s famous TULIP were not mentioned:
Perseverance of the saints
Our focus will be primarily on “Total Depravity,” since an understanding of this doctrine will usually allow other related teachings to become more clear. There is absolutely no possible way that mankind can choose the right way on his own because of his sinful nature. In my morning devotions I ran across this truth once again: I Thessalonians 1:4 …”Knowing brethren beloved, your election of God.” God’s choices for salvation are according to His perfect, holy, and sovereign will. This is a mystery to man. In regards to my personal salvation, God took the blinders from my eyes (II Corinthians 4:4), and for the first time in my life I could see my depravity at the age of 27, and my need to have my sins covered through the blood of Jesus Christ. This was an act of God Almighty that I had absolutely nothing to do with. The truth be known that due to my depravity, if it were up to me, I would still be running!
The aforementioned theme of today’s entry leads us to Martin Luther’s book: The Bondage Of The Will. Luther is a product of Catholic Europe/Germany during the late middle ages. He tried very hard to be good and to perform his duties to perfection as a Catholic priest and monk. The harder that Martin Luther tried to be good, the more he recognized his own depravity and he felt entirely helpless! These extremely difficult circumstances were used by God in his life to lead him to an excellent understanding of the key docrine of salvation known as “justification by faith.” Martin Luther read Romans 1:17B …”The just shall
live by faith,” and that turned out to be the harbinger of the Protestant Reformation.
Free will was no academic question to Luther; the whole gospel of the grace of God, he believed, was bound up with it and stood or fell according to the way one decided it. Luther affirms our total inability to save ourselves and the sovereignty of divine grace in our salvation. He upholds the doctrine of justification by faith and defends predestination as determined by the foreknowledge of God. This correct teaching from the Bible humbles man, strengthens faith, and glorifies God. Luther states that anything that man does in regards to his salvation, is simply reacting to what God already worked in him. Following are key scriptures that elucidate on this very
Romans 3:10-12 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” vs.23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” As I read this passage alone, I wonder how do people examine the scriptures and come up with names like “Free will Baptist Church?”
Philippians 1:29 “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”
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
Malachi 1:2-3 “I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”
The Potter and the Clay Isaiah 45:9 “Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?” Jeremiah 18:6 “Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in Mine hand.”
Genesis 8:21B “for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…”
Genesis 6:5 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was ever great in the earth, and that EVERY IMAGINATION of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
The impotence of man is described in Jeremiah 10:23 “O Lord, I know that the way of man is NOT IN HIMSELF: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”
John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
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.”
Romans 8:5 “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” We must be in the Spirit in order to understand and follow God. We cannot choose ourselves to be in the Spirit until we are saved and the Holy Spirit reveals Himself to us. The Bible tells us that “the carnal man cannot even understand the things of God for they are foolishness unto him.”
Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In this passage, does Jesus not witness that they were unable to do good? For how can you will that which you do not know? Only a sovereign act of God will allow man to see himself as God sees him—-a depraved creature who has no ability to please the Lord on his own merits. John 3:3 “…ye must be born again…” The new birth is the miraculous act of salvation that is bestowed upon fallen man. It is totally undeserved, unearned and unmerited, and given to some entirely through the grace and mercy of God.
How do we succinctly sum up this study?
Salvation is something that sinful man is totally incapable of choosing on his own, or even understanding. He can escape his depraved condition only through an act of God’s mercy as he cries out to the Lord in repentance. Jonah 2:9B “Salvation is of the Lord.”
In His Service, Pastor Steve