The Doctrines of Grace
- Sheldon Clowdus
Calvinism is not a new or unusual idea in the history of the protestant church. What we now know as Calvinism or the Doctrines of Grace was easily the prevailing view of salvation for many of our church fathers. As a matter of fact, the actual 5 points we know today were only listed as 5 points in response to a new doctrine that arose from Jacobus Arminius and his followers in 1610. The Synod of Dort was convened in 1618 to officially combat the new doctrine of Arminianism and it was at Dort that the 5 points we know today were listed and enunciated. Arminianism is probably the prevailing view of salvation in America today, due mainly to the influence of Charles and John Wesley.
The five points of Calvinism, or TULIP are as follows:
- Total Depravity
- Unconditional Election
- Limited Atonement
- Irresistible Grace
- Preservation of the Saints
These verses, and others, lead us to the doctrine of total depravity. Basically man, because of the Fall, is cut off from God. Nothing we do does or can please him ( Isaiah 64:6). We are born objects of His wrath, and without His intervention we will pay the just punishment for our sinful natures. There is nothing in us that merits salvation, and nothing in us that makes it possible for us to achieve salvation on our own. We are completely dead in our own sin (Ephesians 2:1, 2:5, Colossians 2:13) and in desperate need of divine intervention if we are to escape eternal punishment.
Not exactly a cheery doctrine to be sure, but no doubt a necessary one. There can be no Good News, no Gospel if there is no need for good news. If we do not need saving, if we are in any way able to save ourselves, then the gospel and the cross are meaningless to us. Jesus's life, death, and resurrection are good news to us because, in our fallen state of depravity, they are our only hope of salvation.
How sweet then to see God's mercy and grace on us that He would choose to rescue us even when He did not have to. If He chose to punish us for our sin He would be perfectly just and right to do so. But in His mercy, He chooses to rescue us from death and adopt us as His children into eternal life with Himself.