A Thumbnail Sketch of the Doctrines of Grace
Also Known as Reformed Theology
Complete Inability or Utter Depravity
- Because of the Fall, humanity is unable of himself/herself to savingly believe the gospel.
- The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God. His/her heart is deceitful and corrupt.
- His/her will is not free, but is in bondage to his/her sinful nature. Therefore, he/she will not--indeed, cannot--choose good over evil in the spiritual realm.
- Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit's assistance to bring a sinner to Christ--it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him/her a new nature.
- Faith is not something human beings contribute to salvation, but is itself a part of God's gift of salvation.
- Repentance and faith are God's gifts to the sinner, not the sinner's gifts to God.
- See Ps. 51:5, 58:3; Is. 53:6, 64:6; Jer. 17:9; Jn 3:3, 8:44; Rom. 3:10-12, 5:12; Eph. 2:2-3; Eph. 2:8-9; I Cor. 2:14; II Tim. 2:24-26
- God's choice of certain ones unto salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will.
- His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response or obedience on their part, such as repentance, faith, etc.
- On the contrary, God gives repentance and faith to each individual who He has selected.
- These acts are the result, not the cause of God's choice.
- Election, therefore, was not determined by or conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act foreseen in human beings.
- Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Holy Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ.
- Thus, God's choice of the sinner, not the sinner's choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation.
- See Deut. 7:6-7; Is. 55:11; Jn. 6:44, 6:65, 15:16; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:28; 9:11-13; II Tim. 1:9
Particular Redemption or Specific Atonement
- Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect and actually secured salvation for them.
- His death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain sinners.
- In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ's redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including the faith that unites them to Him.
- The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, thereby guaranteeing their salvation.
- See Mt. 1:21, 20:28; Jn. 10:14-18, 17:9; Acts 20:28; Rom. 5:8-9; Titus 2:14; Rev. 5:9
The Efficacious Call of the Spirit or Irresistible Grace
- In addition to the outward general call of salvation that is made to everyone who hears the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation.
- The external call (that is made to all without distinction) can be, and often is, rejected; whereas the internal call cannot be rejected. It always results in conversion.
- By means of this special call the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ.
- He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by the will of the humanity, nor is He dependent upon humanity's cooperation for success.
- The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to repent, to believe, to come freely and willingly to Christ.
- God's grace, therefore, is invincible. It never fails to result in the salvation of those to whom it is extended.
- See Ezk. 11:19-20; Jn 6:37; Rom. 8:30; Col. 2:13; James 1:18; Titus 3:5
Perseverance of the Saints or Perseverance of the Savior
- All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given repentance and faith by the Holy Spirit are eternally saved.
- They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.
- See Is. 43:1-3; Jer. 32:40; Rom. 8:35-39; Eph. 1:13-14; I Thess. 5:23-24; Jude 24-25
According to the Doctrines of Grace or Reformed Theology, salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the Triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, and the Holy Spirit makes Christ's death effective by bringing the elect to repentance and faith, thereby causing them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration, justification, sanctification, glorification) is the work of God and is by grace alone for His glory alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation (John 1:12-13; Romans 9:16).