Psalms 11:3 states; "If the foundations
be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Pastor Al Gormley
of the Bryan Station Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky
preached from this text on the day when Wilmington Baptist
Temple in Wilmington, Ohio was organized as a New Testament
Baptist Church on August 29, 1981. I was privileged to be in
attendance on that day as a charter member of Wilmington Baptist
His sermon consisted of exhortations to "earnestly contend
for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." He
emphasized the importance of standing for the "Doctrines of
Grace" in a day when most Baptists have departed from these
precious truths. Part of the "faith once delivered" is the
teaching of God's sovereign grace in the salvation of unworthy
and helpless sinners.
There has never been a time in my brief Christian life that I
have not believed in the system of belief known as the
"Doctrines of Grace." Therefore, it is with great delight that I
begin this series of studies. My hope and prayer as always is
that the saints might be built up in the most holy faith, and
that the God of all grace would be exalted and glorified.
The Twentieth Century has been marked by a major departure
from the orthodox, biblical teaching of the doctrine of
soteriology or salvation. Many have sold the truth in their
quest for success and recognition among popular evangelical
leaders. The acid test for any belief has never been whether it
is accepted by the majority, but whether it is according to "the
law and the testimony", found in the infallible Word of the
Most of today's preaching consists of storytelling and
psychology aimed at entertaining the flesh of the natural man
with the hope of getting him down the aisle to make a profession
of faith in Christ. The invitation at the end of the sermon has
become the focal point of evangelism rather than the sinner's
need for repentance and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sinners often walk the aisle, repeat a prayer, and then are
enthusiastically assured by the preacher that they are
"eternally secure". Yet, their lives often remain unchanged
while trusting in an empty profession. Churches have become
filled with spiritual Ishmael's, produced out of the energy of
the flesh rather than the power of God.
Whenever there is a departure from a scriptural presentation
of the Gospel as the power of God unto salvation, there will
also be a departure in the methods used to persuade sinners to
trust Christ. For example, Jack Hyles, who is revered in most
Fundamentalist camps made the following statement in his book,
'How to Boost Your Church Attendance':
"Many of us in our preaching will make such statements as,
'Now, in conclusion'; 'Finally, may I say'; "My last point
is...'. These statements are sometimes dangerous. The sinner
knows five minutes before you finish; hence he digs in and
prepares himself for the invitation so that he does not respond.
However, if your closing is abrupt and a lost person does not
suspect that you are about finished, you have crept up on him
and he will not have time to prepare himself for the invitation.
Many people may be reached, using this method. "
The only answer to the shallow teachings of Arminianism and
"easy believism" is a return to the old paths of God's sovereign
grace in the salvation of sinners. As J.I. Packer stated:
"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
the 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."
BACK TO THE TOP
Many excellent books have been written on the doctrines of
grace without simply defining several terms that are frequently
used by theologians. Many people refer to the doctrines of grace
as the "Five Points of Calvinism." I prefer to use the term
"Doctrines of Grace" for two reasons. First, because it is the
language of scripture. Secondly, because I don't believe that
these doctrines originated with John Calvin or any other man for
that matter. They are teachings that originate with God who
inspired the Holy Scriptures. They are teachings that the Lord's
churches have been proclaiming throughout the centuries.
- Total depravity--refers to the
fallen state of the natural man who inherits a sin nature at
conception. Every sinner is spiritually dead, with no
capacity or desire for spiritual things. He is incapable in
and of himself to come to a saving knowledge of Christ apart
from the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Every
faculty of the sinner has been corrupted as a result of the
fall of Adam. In short, man has been completely ruined by
sin without any hope of restoration apart from the
distinguishing grace of God.
- Unconditional Election--refers
to the sovereign choice of some men unto salvation by God
the Father, before the foundation of the world, not
according to any foreseen merit or faith that he saw in the
sinner, but according to his own good pleasure and purpose
- Limited Atonement (Particular
Redemption)--refers to the teaching of the specific intent
and extent of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. He died only
for the elect. He came to redeem and reconcile only those
whom God chose. He acted as substitute and surety only for
those whom the Father had given Him before the world began.
Christ did not shed one drop of blood in vain. He did not
die for the devil, reprobate angels, or for any sinner who
dies in unbelief and goes to Hell.
- Irresistible Grace (Effectual
Calling)--refers to the fact that all whom the Father
elected and the Son died for will assuredly come to
salvation through the power and work of the Holy Spirit and
the Word of God. When the Spirit draws in the effectual call
the sinner most willingly comes to Christ, as it is
impossible to resist the will and power of God.
- Preservation and Perseverance of
the Saints--refers to the fact that all the elect are
preserved from final apostasy in hell by the power of God,
and that all true children of God who have been changed in
regeneration will preserver in holiness. Simply stated, it
is impossible for one of God's elect to be kicked out of His
family, become a child of the devil, lose God's salvation
and go to Hell.
- Man's Free Will--refers to the
popular opinion of many that man's will was not corrupted by
the Fall of Adam. That he has the ability to choose and come
to Christ of his own volition. Arminians teach that man's
supposed free will is one of the moving causes of his
salvation, thus basing salvation upon man's decision making
process rather than the power of God. (Because of the
controversy surrounding free will an entire lesson will be
devoted to its refutation later.)
- Arminianism--refers to the
teachings of James Arminius the Dutch theologian of the
Sixteenth Century. Arminians are in direct opposition to all
of the five points of the doctrines of grace. Most of
professing Christendom ascribe either in part or in whole to
this system of teaching. Most Baptists are what I call
"Whiskey Calvinists" because they believe only one-fifth of
the doctrines of grace, namely eternal security.
There are only two systems of thought that are found in the
world today concerning the salvation of men. One ascribes
salvation partly to God and partly to man in cooperation with
each other which is grace mixed with works. The other ascribes
salvation entirely to God apart from the works of sinful man.
The latter system is what is taught in the scriptures as I shall
endeavor to prove in this study. Romans 11:5-6 states; "Even
so then at this present time also there is a remnant according
to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of
works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works,
then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work..."
verse 36; "For of him, and through him, and to him, are
all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
Just click on the highlighted area to return to your
Jack, How to Boost Your Church Attendance
(Grand Rapids, MI, 1958), pp. 32-35.
N. and Thomas, Curtis C., The Five Points of Calvinism
(Philadelphia, PA: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing
Co.), 1979) p. 14.