Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Five Points of Calvinism

The Five Points of Calvinism were formulated by the Synod of Dort in 1618 in reaction to Arminianism. Though the teachings of John Calvin agree with all five points, John Calvin did not invent Calvinism; in fact he was dead when the term Calvinism was coined. These doctrines are those held by the majority of theologians prior to the rise of Catholicism.

Total Depravity: At the fall, man fell completely. Every aspect of man is corrupted by sin; his mind (Genesis 6:5), emotions (Jeremiah 17:9) and will (Ephesians 2:3), the non-Christian is a slave to sin (John 8:34). Man’s will is in bondage to his sinful nature which cannot understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14), please God (Romans 8:7-8) or choose God (Romans 3:10-12).

Because no one can choose God, the only way someone can believe is if God draws them (John 6:44). People are born again by the will of God (John 1:12-13), as no one can come to God (John 6:65). God chose man; man did not choose God (John 15:16).

Unconditional Election: God chose whom he would save before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5). This is called election. God’s choice is based solely on His sovereign will (Romans 9:15-16), not on any faith or virtuous quality (Romans 9:11) foreseen in man. Those God sovereignty elected (2 Thessalonians 2:13), He brings through the power of the Holy Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ (Titus 3:5).

Limited Atonement: Christ died for only the elect (John 10:11, 15) - those chosen before the foundation of the world. Christ’s blood is sufficient to save everyone, in that if he wanted to save anyone else he wouldn’t need to die again, but Jesus only died for the elect so his death is only effective for the elect (Acts 20:28, Ephesians 5:25-27). Jesus death is a propitiation (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 4:10) which means ‘a sacrifice that turns God’s wrath into favour’. If Christ died for everyone, His wrath would be satisfied against everyone, so everyone would be saved, contradicting John 3:36.

Irresistible Grace: To the elect, God sends an internal call (2 Corinthians 1:21-22) to believe which cannot be resisted (John 6:37, Romans 9:19-21, Ephesians 2:4-5) because God is omnipotent (Acts 13:48, 1 Corinthians 1: 23-25). This call is by the Holy Spirit who regenerates the elect  bringing them to repentance whereby they come to God  (Ezekiel 36:26, Titus 3:5, Romans 9:16).

Perseverance of the Saints: You cannot lose your salvation (Jeremiah 32:40, Hebrews 6:11). Because salvation is entirely the work of God (Ephesians 2:8-9), those saved are eternally secure in Christ (John 6:37, Revelation 3:5). By the power of God you will preserve in faith from being sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14) to the end (John 10: 27-28. 1 Corinthians 1: 8-9, Philippians 1:6).

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not you own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

(c), J. Williams, 2008.

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