What Is the Heartbeat of Reformed Theology?

  Jason Helopoulos: What is the heartbeat of Reformed Theology? Some would point to the Doctrines of Grace (Five Points of Calvinism) and others to the Solas of the Reformation. Still others may be inclined to assert that it is the sovereignty of God or union with Christ. All of these are good answers, but if I was pressed to articulate the one thing that drives Reformed Theology, I would reply that it is the glory of God as revealed in the Scriptures: We emphasize reliance upon the Scriptures because observing the rule He has given for faith and practice ascribes glory to God. We emphasize the sovereignty of God because a theology rooted in His supremacy ascribes glory to God. We emphasize the distinction between Creator and creature because a right understanding of His “otherness” ascribes glory to God. We emphasize the sinfulness of man because recognizing His unfathomable grace ascribes glory to God. We emphasize the inability of

read more What Is the Heartbeat of Reformed Theology?

The five phases of grace

Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones: The five facets of grace described in PROOF are a biblical and theological re-framing and re-envisioning of TULIP. TULIP is a nifty mnemonic device but hasn’t proven to be the most helpful tool, in our estimation, in magnifying the glorious gospel of God’s grace: Planned Grace re-envisions limited atonement and we begin here because the story of grace begins with a perfect plan in eternity past. Before time began, God mapped out the plan of salvation from first to last. It’s a loving plan made by the Father for a particular people. It’s a victorious plan achieved by the Son for a definite people. It’s an effective and guaranteed plan sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit. God planned to adopt a particular people as his own children; Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for these people’s sins and as a substitute who satisfied God’s righteous requirements in their place. When God makes

read more The five phases of grace

Piper’s Five Points

Rick Ianniello summarises John Piper on the 5 points: “I have found … that people grasp these points more easily if we go in the order in which we ourselves often experience them when we become Christians.” We experience first our depravity and need of salvation. Then we experience the irresistible grace of God leading us toward faith. Then we trust the sufficiency of the atoning death of Christ for our sins. Then we discover that behind the work of God to atone for our sins and bring us to faith was the unconditional election of God. And finally we rest in his electing grace to give us the strength and will to persevere to the end in faith. In short, here is how he explains each of the points: Total Depravity: Our sinful corruption is so deep and so strong as to make us slaves of sin and morally unable to overcome our own rebellion and blindness. This inability to save

read more Piper’s Five Points

Utterly Saved

Jared Wilson: (35) Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (36) But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. (37) All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never 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 I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” – John 6:35-39 Salvation by Christ’s work is a gift of grace received through faith. This salvation is total (Romans 8:30) and we see its totality in John 6. In Christ, we are: 1. Satisfied (vv.35-36) No more hunger. No more thirst. When we are

read more Utterly Saved

Piper on Calvinism

New Course on Calvinism from John Piper. The Bible gives us a glorious vision of God’s sovereignty in saving sinners. “Calvinism” is a kind of nickname for this Christian body of doctrine on salvation that so appropriately humbles humanity and so magnificently exalts divine grace. In a new eight-hour course on Calvinism, or “the doctrines of grace,” John Piper walks through the historical “five points,” digging into text after text of Scripture and responding to many of the most common questions. “The doctrines of grace,” Piper explains, “give the lowest view of the saved person as utterly depraved and hopeless in himself, and the highest view of the saved person as individually chosen and loved and purchased at infinite cost.” These truths expose our desperate neediness, such that the subtlest form of boasting in ourselves becomes ridiculous. And at the same time, they highlight the grace of God such that we marvel with the apostle Paul, “To him be glory forever”

read more Piper on Calvinism

Definite Atonement

“The Arminians say, ‘Christ died for all men.’ Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, ‘No, certainly not.’ We ask them the next question: Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer ‘No.’ They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, ‘No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if ?’ and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death; we say, ‘No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.’ We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death

read more Definite Atonement

Irresistible Grace

John Piper in Bloodlines: We have seen this in regard to our humanity-wide depravity (point one of Calvinism), and in regard to Christ’s atonement of a people from every race and tribe (point three of Calvinism), and in regard to God’s gracious, unconditional election of a people out of this depravity and through this atonement (point two of Calvinism). And we have seen that the way we participate in that salvation is through justification by faith alone. This faith comes into being through conversion—that is, through being united with Jesus by faith so that we die with him and rise with him to a new life of faith and love. … God overcomes our depravity and our rebellion and grants us the gift of faith and repentance. This is often called irresistible grace. We believe that when Christ died to obtain his church (Eph. 5:25), he obtained for her not only the grace that results from faith (like forgiveness and

read more Irresistible Grace

Whitefield on Election

We should not have so much disputing against the doctrine of election, or hear it condemned (even by good men) as a doctrine of devils. For my own part, I cannot see how true humbleness of mind can be attained without a knowledge of it. And though I will not say, that everyone who denies election is a bad man, yet I will say . . . it is a very bad sign. Such a one, whoever he be, I think cannot truly know himself. For if we deny election we must, partly at least, glory in ourselves. But our redemption is so ordered that no flesh should glory in the Divine presence. And hence it is, that the pride of man opposes this doctrine because according to this doctrine and no other, ‘he that glories, must glory only in the Lord.’ But what shall I say? Election is a mystery that shines with such resplendent brightness that, to make

read more Whitefield on Election

Not just badness but blindness…

“We need to make plain that total depravity is not just badness, but blindness to beauty and deadness to joy; and unconditional election means that the completeness of our joy in Jesus was planned for us before we ever existed; and that limited atonement is the assurance that indestructible joy in God is infallibly secured for us by the blood of the covenant; and irresistible grace is the commitment and power of God’s love to make sure we don’t hold on to suicidal pleasures, and to set us free by the sovereign power of superior delights; and that the perseverance of the saints is the almighty work of God to keep us, through all affliction and suffering, for an inheritance of pleasures at God’s right hand forever.” – John Piper, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, p. 73. (HT: Reformation Theology)

5 Encouragements from the Doctrine of Predestination

By BJ Stackman: Often predestination and election get treated as something meant for controversy and debate or as a mystery to be pretty much left alone and avoided. This is a sad, and, in my opinion, weakens the church because of the tendency to either dodge or debate this glorious aspect of its identity. I’m convinced that if you ignore or just argue about the doctrine of predestination you will miss out on one of God’s ways of blessing you (Eph. 1:3). The first several verses of Ephesians 1 unpack predestination in order to show that it is a part of the multifaceted ways that God has blessed you in Jesus Christ. Therefore predestination should enhance your joy not disturb it. What follows are a few of the many encouragements for Christians to draw from the reality that God predestines: 1. God chose you because he loved you. Ephesians 1:4-5, in the ESV translation, says, “in love God predestined”. Therefore predestination is motivated by

read more 5 Encouragements from the Doctrine of Predestination

The One Point of Calvinistic Soteriology

Tim Brister: J.I. Packer, in his introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, makes the following argument about the “one point of Calvinistic soteriology” – namely the conviction that God saves sinners. “For to Calvinism 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 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

read more The One Point of Calvinistic Soteriology

Being a Calvinist

  John Piper: We are Christians. Radical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. At least that’s our imperfect commitment. In other words, we are Calvinists. But that label is not nearly as useful as telling people what you actually believe! So forget the label, if it helps, and tell them clearly, without evasion or ambiguity, what you believe about salvation. If they say, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .” I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1–4; Romans 8:7). I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7) I believe

read more Being a Calvinist

Christian Hedonist Calvinism

  John Piper asks: What would the doctrines of grace sound like if every limb in that tree were coursing with the sap of Augustinian delight. (that is, Christian Hedonism)? Total depravity is not just badness, but blindness to God’s beauty and deadness to the deepest joy. Unconditional election means that the completeness of our joy in Jesus was planned for us before we ever existed as the overflow of God’s joy in the fellowship of the Trinity. Limited atonement is the assurance that indestructible joy in God is infallibly secured for us by the blood of the covenant. Irresistible grace is the commitment and power of God’s love to make sure we don’t hold on to suicidal pleasures, and to set us free by the sovereign power of superior delights. Perseverance of the saints is the almighty work of God not to let us fall into the final bondage of inferior pleasures, but to keep us, through all affliction and suffering, for an inheritance

read more Christian Hedonist Calvinism

The stability of the covenant

  “When we take the history of a child of God, compressed within the short period of a single day — mark what flaws, what imperfections, what fickleness, what dereliction in principle, what flaws in practice, what errors in judgment and what wanderings of heart make up that brief history — how we are led to thank God for the stability of the covenant, that covenant which provides for the full redemption of all believers, which from eternity secures the effectual calling, the perfect keeping and certain salvation of every chosen vessel of mercy!” Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul (London, 1962), page 169. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

We are all Arminians by nature…

Here’s how George Whitefield opens a sermon on Jeremiah 23:6, entitled ‘The Lord Our Righteousness.’ Whoever is acquainted with the nature of mankind in general, or the propensity of his own heart in particular, must acknowledge, that self-righteousness is the last idol that is rooted out of the heart. . . . [W]e have contracted such devilish pride, by our fall from God, that we would, if not wholly, yet in part at least, glory in being the cause of our own salvation. We cry out against popery, and that very justly; but we are all Papists; at least, I am sure, we are all Arminians by nature; and therefore no wonder so many natural men embrace that scheme. It is true, we disclaim the doctrine of merit, are ashamed directly to say we deserve any good at the hands of God. . . . This is the sorest, though, alas! the most common evil that was ever yet seen under

read more We are all Arminians by nature…

Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist”

From John Piper: We are Christians. Radical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. At least that’s our imperfect commitment. In other words, we are Calvinists. But that label is not nearly as useful as telling people what you actually believe! So forget the label, if it helps, and tell them clearly, without evasion or ambiguity, what you believe about salvation. If they say, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .” I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 3:1–4; Romans 8:7). I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48;Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7) I believe

read more Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist”

Gospel doctrine, gospel culture

Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. The doctrines of grace create a culture of grace, healing, revival, because Jesus himself touches us through his truths. Without the doctrines, the culture alone is fragile. Without the culture, the doctrines alone appear pointless. The doctrine of regeneration creates a culture of humility (Ephesians 2:1-9). The doctrine of justification creates a culture of inclusion (Galatians 2:11-16). The doctrine of reconciliation creates a culture of peace (Ephesians 2:14-16). The doctrine of sanctification creates a culture of life (Romans 6:20-23). The doctrine of glorification creates a culture of hope (Romans 5:2). If we want this culture to thrive, we can’t take doctrinal short cuts. If we want this doctrine to be credible, we can’t disregard the culture. But churches where the doctrine and culture converge bear living witness to the power of Jesus. (HT: Ray Ordlund)