Foundations 6: Man, Sin, and Salvation

Foundations 6: Man, Sin, and Salvation

Overview/Introduction

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. (The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation.) In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God.

Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26- 31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.

Sin, Original and Personal

Sin came into the world through the disobedience of our first parents, and death by sin. We believe that sin is of two kinds: original sin or depravity, and actual or personal sin.

Original sin, or depravity, is that corruption of the nature of all the offspring of Adam by reason of which everyone is very far gone from original righteousness or the pure state of our first

parents at the time of their creation, is averse to God, is without spiritual life, and inclined to evil, and that continually. Our fallen nature continues with us until our glorification by Christ in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Actual, or personal, sin is a voluntary violation of a known law of God by a morally responsible person (There no particular age set forth in Scripture for this moral responsibility. That being said, every individual is, at some point in their life accountable to God for their sins and are faced with the choice to respond or not.) It is therefore not to be confused with involuntary and inescapable shortcomings, infirmities, faults, mistakes, failures, or other deviations from the standard of perfect conduct that are the residual effects of the Fall.

(Original sin: Genesis 3; 6:5; Job 15:14; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 1:18-25; 5:12-14; 7:1-8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Galatians 5:16-25; 1 John 1:7-8

Personal sin: Matthew 22:36-40 {with 1 John 3:4}; John 8:34- 36; 16:8-9; Romans 3:23; 6:15-23; 8:18-24; 14:23; 1 John 1:9- 2:4; 3:7-10)

This Doctrine of Original Sin leads us to discuss Total Depravity…

Let’s start with the obvious question, what is Total Depravity? Total depravity is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the natural spiritual condition of fallen man (By that I mean the spiritual condition we are born in because of Original Sin). It’s the “T” in the acronym TULIP, which is

commonly used to enumerate the five points of Calvinism and the “T” that is used in FACTS to enumerate the 5 points of Classical Evangelical Arminianism.

This isn’t a comfortable topic; it certainly isn’t something that we discuss at parties in “polite society” and it certainly isn’t some niggling little detail that can be overlooked. It entails what may well be the most taboo word in our morally relativistic society, sin. You are a sinner and so am I (yes I really did just go there) and we are all in big trouble because of it.

Total Depravity, though often misunderstood, acknowledges that the Bible teaches that every part of man—the mind, will, emotions, and flesh are corrupted by sin. This is a result of the sin in Genesis 3:6. This is to say that sin affects all of our being—who we are and what we do. Sin has so penetrated us, going to the core of our being, so that everything is polluted by sin. Any good deeds that we do, any righteousness that we bring to God is like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) To give you an idea of how disgusting sin is to God, how utterly repugnant it is, I will share with you what the Hebrew literally says; filthy rags is the cleaned up version for church. Literally, in the Hebrew, it says our righteousness is as a menstrual cloth. I realize that what I just said is shocking and it should be. We don’t take sin seriously enough; you don’t and I don’t and that’s just reality. None of us lives in constant awareness of just how awful our sin really is. Let’s move on…

In the bullet points below, we have summarized the Doctrine of Total Depravity

  • The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah

17:9)

  • We are born dead in our transgressions and sins (Psalm

51:5, Psalm 58:3 and Ephesians 2:1-5)

  • We are held captive to a love for sin (John 3:19 and John

8:34)

  • There is no one who seeks for God (Romans 3:10-11)
  • Man loves the darkness (John 3:19)
  • Men do not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians

2:14)

  • As a result, men suppress the Truth of God in

unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) and continue to live in sin.

  • Because of the totally depraved nature of man, he continues

to live in sin and this sinful life actually seems right to him

(Proverbs 14:12)

  • Depravity is so pervasive that, by nature, we reject the

Message of the Gospel as foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18) and our minds, naturally do not submit to God because it is unable to do so. (Romans 8:7)

Paul summarizes Total Depravity this way (Romans 3:9-18)

  • No one is without sin
  • No one seeks after God
  • There is no one is good
  • Our speech is corrupted by sin
  • Man’s actions are corrupted by sin
  • And above all, man has no fear of God

The summary verse of the Doctrine of Total Depravity is Romans 3:12 which tells us that there is no one who does good, not a single one. Total Depravity does not mean that man is

as sinful or wicked as is possible to be (Utter Depravity) and it also does not mean that we are totally without a sense of right and wrong. It doesn’t even mean we cannot do things that would be considered good by human standards. It does, however, mean that we are incapable, on our own, of pleasing God.

We are not without hope: prior to the cross, God made a way for us to deal with the pollutions of sin through Faith and Obedience combined with the Levitical Sacrifices. After the cross, we are justified by faith and empowered unto holiness by the indwelling Holy Spirit, Himself being God, who is the seal of our redemption and the guarantee of our eternal home in Heaven.

Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

  1. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.

  1. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.
  2. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.
  3. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew
1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14,29; 3:3-21,36; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16- 18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18,29-39; 10:9- 10,13; 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-
25; 6:15; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12- 13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-
28; 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6- 2:11; Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5.

 

God’s Purpose of Grace

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; 1 Samuel 8:4-7,19-22; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Matthew 16:18-19; 21:28-
45; 24:22,31; 25:34; Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44- 48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; 10:27-

29; 15:16; 17:6,12,17-18; Acts 20:32; Romans 5:9-10; 8:28- 39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 15:24-
28; Ephesians 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:10,19; Hebrews 11:39–12:2; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:2-5,13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7- 9; 2:19; 3:2.

Special Note: The words in bold lettering, above, are my own emphasis. The words themselves have not been altered in any way. They are simply emphasized to reinforce the point. }

Chosen For Salvation/Unconditional Sovereign Election

On both sides of the soteriological coin, we see that God chooses some to be saved from wrath and damnation, so that is not debated. What is debated however, are the twin doctrines of election and grace. I would like to look, briefly at these…

 

The Belgic Confession teaches us:
▪ Of Eternal Election
We believe that all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, merciful and just: Merciful, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all, whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel of mere goodness, has elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works: Just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves.

The Scriptures Declare:

  • II Thessalonians 2:13: God chose you from the beginning

unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of

the truth.

  • Matthew 24:24: There shall arise false Christs, and false

prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to

lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

  • Matthew 24:31: And they (the angels) shall gather together

His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to

the other.

  • Mark 13:20: For the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He

shortened those days (at the destruction of Jerusalem).

  • I Thessalonians 1:4: Knowing, brethren, beloved of God,

your election.

  • Romans 11:7: The election obtained it, and the rest were

hardened.

  • I Timothy 5:21: I charge thee in the sight of God, and Jesus

Christ, and the elect angels.

  • Romans 8:33: Who shall lay anything to the charge of

God’s elect?

  • Romans 11:5: (In comparison with Elijah’s time) Even so

at the present time also there is a remnant according to the

election of grace.

  • II Timothy 2:10: I endure all things for the elect’s sake.
  • Titus 1:1: Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus

Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect.

  • I Peter 1:1: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect.
  • I Peter 5:13: She that is in Babylon, elect together with you.
  • I Peter 2:9: But ye are an elect race.
  • I Thessalonians 5:9: For God appointed us not unto wrath,

but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus

Christ.

  • Acts 13:48: And as the Gentiles heard this, they were glad,

and glorified the word of God; and as many as were

ordained to eternal life believed.

  • John 17:9: I (Jesus) pray not for the world, but for those

whom thou hast given me; for they are thine.

  • John 6:37: All that the Father giveth me shall come unto

me.

  • John 6:65: No man can come unto me except it be given

unto him of the Father.

  • John 13:18: I speak not of you all; I know whom I have

chosen.

  • John 15:16: Ye did not choose me, but I chose you.
  • Ps 105:6: Ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones.
  • Rom. 9:23: Vessels of mercy, which He afore prepared

unto glory.

  • Ephesians 1:3-15

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

  • Romans 9:11-14
    11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

I almost feel like commenting further would be to presume upon the Scripture as if I, who am less than the least of the righteous could add anything to the Word of the Lord. On many occasions, I have heard Dr. Sproul say that the question should not be “Is Jesus the only way? or Why is Jesus the only way? but that the question, rather, ought to be, “Why should their be any way of salvation at all?” I would say the same of election. It is no marvel that God should save some and allow others to be damned; it is a marvel that He should save any at all.

We believe and teach that man is totally depraved and unable to choose to do right; in our flesh dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18), there is none who does what is right on his own (Romans 3:10). In Isaiah 64:6 we see that our righteousness is as filthy rags. Now let me be blunt; that is the very cleaned up version that you will see in your Bible. What it actually says is that all our righteousness is like menstrual cloths, not a pretty thing to think about. We are, basically, hopeless and helpless. But…

“God, before the foundation of the world, chose to make certain individuals the objects of His unmerited favor or special grace (Mark 13:20; Ephesians 1:4-5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8). These individuals from every tribe, tongue and nation were chosen by God for adoption, not because of anything they would do but because of His sovereign will (Romans 9:11-13; Romans 9:16; Romans 10:20; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; 2 Timothy 1:9). God could have chosen to save all men (He certainly has

the power and authority to do so), and He could have chosen to save no one (He is under no obligation to save anyone). He instead chose to save some and leave others to the consequences of their sin (Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Romans 9:10- 24; Acts 13:48; 1 Peter 2:8).” {gotquestions.org}

I would be a first rate liar if I said this wasn’t difficult, especially since I am fairly certain that some people, who were very close to me in life, were most probably not elect. Being absolutely 100% honest with you, beloved, I have not a clue why God saves some and not others; neither do I have even the tiniest fraction of a clue how He decided whom He would elect. There are certain things which God keeps only to Himself and, while we may someday get a clue and understand why He allows things to be thus and so, we sometimes must do what is, honestly, difficult sometimes and that is to trust that the Holy God knows exactly what He is doing and will get the glory due Him alone.

Sovereign Election and Definite Atonement

The certainty of Sovereign Election necessarily requires a certain, definite atonement. (It is important to note that, as part of our affirmation of Reformed Soteriology, we affirm and teach the Doctrine of Definite Atonement.) This doctrine, Definite Atonement, is sometimes called Limited Atonement but I think that nomenclature is unnecessarily offensive to some and can be deceptive. Many people who hear the term, Limited Atonement, automatically assume that it means the atoning work of Christ was limited in power, which, if true, would de facto render such atonement useless. Instead the terms Definite Atonement and

Particular Redemption are the more accurate verbiage to use. Definite Atonement implies the certainty of redemption, and we can be sure that since the Father decreed that there would be a redemption, it will most definitely come to pass; Particular Redemption, being the other half of that coin, implies that a particular people will be redeemed and we can see the accuracy of this implication in “Elect Israel” in the Old Testament. God chose them based on the good pleasure of His will which is the same methodology He uses in our election.

Before we discuss why sovereign election demands a definite and particular redemption, we need to understand some terms, which differ from definite atonement:

Universal Salvation claims that Christ obtained salvation for everyone in the world and that the Holy Spirit applies salvation to everyone in the world so that all are saved. By default, we must reject this doctrine as heretical since, if all will be saved, the Gospel is unneeded, hell is rendered non-existent, and the Holiness of God would be rendered utterly pointless. In point of fact, if Universal Salvation is true then the life of holiness and being conformed to the image of Christ required by the Bible becomes a cruel demand.

General Ransom holds that, although Christ obtained salvation for everyone in the world, the Holy Spirit applies salvation only to those who come to faith so that only these are actually saved. On the surface, this sounds really good (and even accurate) but sovereign electing grace poses a significant problem here; if everyone can come to faith and be saved, what is the point of election? We will come back answer that question in a bit.

Definite Atonement holds that Christ obtained salvation only for the elect and that the Holy Spirit applies salvation only to the elect. Another way to say this is, The Atoning Work of the cross is, in fact, sufficient that all might be saved, but it is only effectual for the elect that their redemption might be guaranteed.

For whom, then, did Jesus die?

This is, to borrow from the culture, the $64,000 question. Christ died a substitutionary death on the cross, this much is certain. For whom was He a substitute?

The Scripture tells us that God has chosen a people for Himself, out of all of fallen humanity, and that these are His Elect, whom He has graciously chosen to redeem. How many will be redeemed is a number known only to the Godhead. It is for this purpose of redemption that Christ is come into the world. (John 6:37-40; 10:27-29; 11:51-52; Romans 8:28-39; Ephesians 1:3- 14; 1Peter 1:20).

In Scripture, Christ is regularly said to have died for particular groups or persons. It is clear that the implication is that His death fully secured their salvation. (John 10:15-18,27-
29; Romans 5:8-10; 8:32; Galatians 2:20; 3:13-14; 4:4-5; 1 John 4:9-10; Revelation 1:4-6; 5:9-10). Facing his suffering on the cross, Jesus prayed only for those whom the Father had given him, not for the “world” (i.e., the rest of humanity; John 17:9,20). It is for these that the Penal Substitutionary Atonement is efficacious.

Notwithstanding, it is also important that we affirm the free

offer of Jesus Christ in the gospel alongside the doctrine of definite atonement. (I can say with many of the Reformers, both sovereign election and free will are taught in scripture and it is only my own folly that prevents me from reconciling the two.) It is a certainty that whoever comes to Christ in faith will find mercy (John 6:35,47-51,54-57; Romans 1:16; 10:8-13). Those whom God has chosen hear Christ’s offer, and through hearing it, they are effectually called by the Holy Spirit. Both the invitation and the effectual calling flow from Christ’s sin- bearing death, that is, His substitutionary atonement for His elect. Those who reject the offer of Christ do so because they choose to (Matthew 22:1-7; John 3:18), so their final doom is their own fault; in a sense, they have refused to bow the knee to Christ and say to Him, “Lord, let Thy will be done.” and so, He says to them “Let thine own will be done” and grants them their eternal abode in the place of the damned. We, who “receive” Christ do so with thanksgiving and all praise due Him, knowing that all we contribute to our redemption is the sin that made it necessary and that our own election is for His Glory alone.

But this begs the nagging question: Are People Predestined to Heaven and Hell?

First let’s define the term: predestination is how we translate the Greek word proorizo, which appears six times in the New Testament (Acts 4:28; Romans 8:29-30; 1 Corinthians
2:7; Ephesians 1:5,11). In some instances, it refers to God’s foreordination of all the events of world history (Acts 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7). In others, it refers to God’s decision, made before the world existed, regarding the final destiny of individual sinners. Specifically, it is seen of those chosen for

salvation and eternal life (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5,11), as opposed to those who will ultimately be condemned to eternal judgment. Many have pointed out, however, that Scripture also ascribes to God an advance decision about those who in the final analysis are not saved (Romans 9:6-29; 1 Peter 2:8; Jude 4). By predestining only some to salvation, it would seem that God necessarily consigns the remainder to destruction. In light of this, it has become common in many circles to teach a doctrine known as Double Predestination, which sees God’s predestination as including both his decision to save some from sin (election) and his decision to condemn the rest for their sin (reprobation). In the interest of total honesty, I would be an absolute liar if I claimed to understand God’s Electing Grace including redemption and reprobation.

Election and Predestination is, candidly a difficult doctrine to wrap one’s mind around. A number of denominations speak of predestination (or election) on the basis of God’s foreknowledge of faith in certain individuals. They teach that God knew beforehand that certain people would freely choose Christ as their Savior once they had heard the gospel, and conclude that on this basis God then elects them to salvation. In this sense, foreknowledge is passive foresight on God’s part of what individuals will chose of their own free will without God compelling them. God then predetermines people’s destinies, responding to what he has seen will take place.

This brings up the niggling problem of the word prognosko. The Greek word prognōskō, translated “foreknew” in Romans 8:29 and 11:2 can also mean “foreloved” and “foreacknowledged” (see 1 Peter 1:20, where prognōskō is

rendered “chosen before”). Passages such as the above would seem to make it clear that prognōskō expresses foreknowledge of a person, not foreknowledge of mere facts about the future or a person’s life choices. Assuming the accuracy of that, then the New Testament teaches that God has elected on the basis of his forelove and affection for those to whom he gives eternal life.

Because Adam is our Federal Head and we are all born dead in sin, no one who hears the gospel will ever come to repentance and faith without the inner quickening that only God can impart, which we naturally refer to as Regeneration. (Ephesians 2:4-10). Jesus said, “no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him” (John 6:65; John 6:44; 10:25-28). If God looks into the future to see what choices we will make on our own, then we are all damned because none will, on his own, come to Christ. Absent the intervention of the Holy Spirit imputing the life and righteousness of Christ to us, we would forever be doomed to our sin.

So then, humanity is totally depraved and, having no desire to seek God, will not come to Him. God chooses, based on the counsel of His own will, a people to save from His wrath and their just damnation and it is for this people, in particular, that Christ died.

Of necessity, Definite Atonement requires irresistible grace.

The Doctrine of Irresistible Grace (http://theopedia.com) “Those who obtain the new birth do so, not because they wanted to obtain it, but because of the sovereign discriminating grace of God. That is, men are overcome by grace, not finally because their consciences were more tender or their faith more tenacious than that of other men. Rather, the willingness and ability to do God’s will are evidence of God’s own faithfulness to save men from the power and the penalty of sin, and since man is so corrupt that he will not decide and cannot be wooed to follow after God, sovereign efficacious grace is required to convert him. This is done by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit whereby a fallen man who has heard the gospel is made willing and necessarily turns to Christ in God-given faith.”

Major Scriptures related to the Doctrine of Irresistible Grace:

  • John 6:37, 39 (ESV): “All that the Father gives me willcome to me…. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
  • John 6:44-45 (ESV): “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.”
  • John 6:65 (ESV): “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
  • Romans 8:28, 30 (ESV) “Those whom [God] predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified”.

All that the Father gives will come…what does this mean? It means, as John MacArthur points out, that in eternity past the Father determined to give, to the Son, a redeemed humanity as a love gift and every person that the LORD God has sovereignly elected unto salvation will come to the feet of the Son, the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ. On a certain level, this is a mystery for we are not clearly told, in Scripture, how this comes to pass, yet the Scripture does in fact teach that it will happen.

 

One thing that we want to point out is a particular Greek word in John 6:44 and that word is ἕλκω, helkô and the word, generally has the connotation of dragging (John. 18:10; 21:6; 21:11; Acts 16:19; 21:30; James. 2:6). As a consequence, we can assume that it means that this drawing cannot be resisted. This is not to say that God’s grace can never be resisted under any circumstances. Rather, as Dr. Sproul teaches us, “The idea is that God’s grace is so powerful that it has the capacity to overcome our natural resistance to it. It is not that the Holy Spirit drags people kicking and screaming to Christ against their wills. The Holy Spirit changes the inclination and disposition of our wills, so that whereas we were previously unwilling to embrace Christ, now we are willing, and more than willing.”

We learned, in the section on Total Depravity/Total Inability, that man is, of his own accord, not only unwilling but also unable to come to Christ. Thankfully, on the other side of that coin is the fact that God, the Father, changes the desires of our hearts; He creates a new heart where the old obstinately disinterested one used to be and we are now capable of seeing the beauty of the Glorious Prince of Heaven and and are so desirous of the Redeemer that we willingly come and bow at the Throne of Grace.

Some would object to this doctrine, yet I will answer their objection with the words of Paul, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, “Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20) or, perhaps, the words of Isaiah, “Who hath directed the Spirit of

the LORD, or being his counseller hath taught him?”

I suspect that many of the objections to this doctrine come from those who do not really understand it. Let us turn then, to our friends from Got Questions Ministries for some wise instruction:

“The reason this doctrine is called “irresistible” grace is that it always results in the intended outcome, the salvation of the person it is given to. It is important to realize that the act of being regenerated or “born again” cannot be separated from the act of believing the gospel. Ephesians 2:1-10 makes this clear. There is a connection between the act of being made alive by God (Ephesians 2:1, 5) and the result of being saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:5, 8).

This is because everything pertaining to salvation, including the faith to believe, is an act of God’s grace. The reason God’s grace is irresistible and efficacious (always bringing forth the desired result) is that God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into” His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Or, as Psalm 3:8 puts it, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

To understand the doctrine of “irresistible grace,” it is important to recognize that this is a special grace given only to those God has chosen for salvation (His elect) and is different from what is known as “common grace” which God bestows on both believer and unbeliever. While there are many aspects of common grace, including life and all that is necessary to sustain it, common grace is what is often referred to as the “outward call of God.” This is God’s revelation of Himself given to all men through the light of creation and their consciences. It also includes the

general call of the gospel that goes out anytime the gospel message is preached. This call can be resisted and rejected by those that receive it. (Matthew 22:14; Romans 1:18-32).

However, God also gives an “inward call” which always results in salvation. This is the call of God that Jesus spoke of in John 6:37-47. The certainty of this inward call is seen in John 6:37: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:44 confirms this: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.”

To summarize, Irresistible (or efficacious) Grace is the consequence of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. To borrow from the popular culture, it is, in a sense, when God makes you an offer you can’t refuse; it is that gift of grace which allows us to become the Bride, without spot or wrinkle, who is suitable for the Bridegroom, the Crown Prince of Heaven.

The Security of the Believer

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Ephesians 4:30 tells us that believers are “sealed for the day of

redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16 tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

The most powerful argument for eternal security is Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our eternal security is based on God’s love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

This Doctrine is formally called the Perseverance of the Saints but it is frequently referred to as Eternal Security or Once Saved Always Saved.

Eternal security is the teaching that a Christian cannot lose his salvation because he is “eternally secure” in the work of
Christ. Unfortunately, this teaching is sometimes a source of problems within Christian circles. Some Christians believe that if you hold to eternal security, you are purposely promoting a license to sin. On the other hand, some Christians believe that if you don’t believe in eternal security, you have to keep your salvation by works. Both sides often misrepresent the other, and

instead of being gracious on this debatable issue (as we are commanded to be in Romans 14:1-12), people accuse each other of being unbiblical.

Eternal Security is not a license to sin

Please understand that eternal security is not a license to sin. The Christian is regenerated. He is changed from within and is made a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). Those who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit will war with their sin and not seek to abide in it. Those who declare that they are eternally secure and then go out and sin on purpose in any manner they so choose are probably not saved to begin with since this is contradictory to what Scripture teaches. 1 John 2:4 says, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

This does not, in any way, imply that we will never again sin; we can be certain that we will sin again because we are under the Federal Headship of Adam and will have a fallen nature until we are restored in the Kingdom. I want to give you 3 passages of Scripture regarding the Security of the Believer.

John 6:37-40
“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day,”

 

John 10:27-28
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand,”

1 John 2:19
“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.”

I need to emphasize, with as much vigor as possible, that this does not mean that you can simply live however you like and still go to Heaven when you die. There will always be a struggle with sin and you will fail; so will I. As you mature in your discipleship, you will become more like Christ and so will hate your sin more and more. Some areas will be easier to resist sin and in other areas, it will feel like World War III. The comfort is that we are assured of a final victory.

3 Things the Doctrine of Eternal Security does not teach:

“1) Since we are ‘saved’, we can do what we want. It doesn’t matter what kind of sin we commit. We are still going to go to heaven.” This is a gross perversion of Eternal Security. ALL TRUE BELIEVERS will endure to the end. In Jude’s epistle the Apostle advises that we contend vigorously for the faith and the word he uses is agonizomai. It is from this word that we derive agonize, and it is fitting because “Take up your cross and follow Me” is a death sentence and the flesh will not be overcome easily.

“2) We do not need to worry about helping our brothers and sisters remain faithful. “Hey, if they are saved, they will remain saved. We do not need to be our brother’s keeper”. If this were true, there would be no need for corporate worship or the preaching of the word.

“3) We can ignore all the Scriptures warning us to persevere to the very end. We don’t need to persevere because if we are saved, we will remain saved.” I cannot imagine that anyone seriously thinks that Eternal Security means this but I have heard it from some. Sanctification is both instantaneous and a process. We are admonished to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) for a reason. The Holy Spirit does sanctify us but that does not leave us with no responsibility to work.

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