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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
  • Marco Gonzalez

    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « Christian Obedience | Main | Why Reformed? »

    The Christ-Centered Nature of the Doctrines of Grace

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    The TULIP can only be made sense of when we consider Christ and His work at its core ... the core from which all redemptive benefits spring. Four-point Calvinism (which rejects the "L") falls short since it inconsistently views whether or not Christ is the center and cause of all grace or redemptive blessings. It tends, rather, to see the TULIP as an abstraction. Here's why: Consider the TULIP as a chiasm with the "L" at the top of the pyramid. It is Jesus Christ which makes sense of all the doctrines of grace. Four-point Calvinists who reject Limited Atonement but embrace irresistible grace must consider this: Irresistible grace is not some abstract doctrine but must be seen in relation to Jesus Christ, specially in relation to the grace purchased by Christ upon the cross. The Spirit of Christ illuminates, regenerates and effectually brings to faith his elect. And this enabling, effectual grace is, from first to last, Christ-wrought. It does not come out of a void, nor from some hidden source of grace in God the Father. Therefore Christ must have died for the elect so as to purchase that grace in a way – a redemptive way – that he did not die for the non-elect. That is why we often call it particular redemption. Irresistible grace is one of the redemptive benefits purchased by Jesus Christ ... and it was never granted to the non-elect nor intended for them. I believe that until Jesus Christ is seen as central to the TULIP then four-pointers will continue to reject what is plain.

    Posted by John on April 2, 2008 04:22 PM

    Comments

    This is small point but, I think that your design would be better represented by a pentagram instead of a triangle. It is after all five-points.

    Greetings,

    I've found that the 4-pointers I often meet tend to disagree with the Peseverance of the Saints. They point time and again to the "if/then" statements of Paul related to continuing in the faith.

    I've tried to point out to them that Paul is directing them to see that those who don't continue in the faith give evidence that they were never true Christians in the first place and that all those who are truly in Christ WILL continue in the faith and finish their race solely on the basis of Christ empowering them to do so.

    They claim this is a cop-out default position which allows for mean Calvinists to spiritually neener-neener "weaker" brothers and sisters who have backslidden or fallen into error for some unforeseeable amount of time.

    I believe in the Perseverance of the Saints, but I don't think I'm doing a very good job of representing the doctrine to my four-pointer friends. Any, um, pointers?

    Thanks. Coram Deo

    One thing you may consider pointing out to a person who claims that a person can lose their salvation is that such a belief would imply that Christ's work is insufficient to save. That something in addition to Jesus Christ is needed in addition to His grace to save them. This is hugely problematic. Again, the error springs up because Christ is not central.

    PLease see this essay on Hebrews 6
    http://www.reformationtheology.com/2006/02/biblical_reflections_on_hebrew.php

    In the TULIP chiasmic view of calvinism,it is 'preservation' of saints and not 'perseverence'. is it intentionally?It actually makes me more aware that it is His strength, not mine, to 'preserve' me, and it is not my own perseverence. It's God's faithfulness in His elect, not my effort to earn credits but His work is done in Christ and whatever after is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Phils 2:12-13 is always used and many like only verse 12 but ignore 13. (12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to 'work out your salvation' with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.) I need some help on the other points. I encountered strong denial to 'L' and 'I'. My friends said we can say NO to His offer. Another friend said Jesus died for ALL (according to 2corn5:14 and some other scriptures), so ALL, ie, everyone now is in the stand like Adam and have a free choice to choose to believe or not. I think basically, if one denies any point, one is denying all. I don't agree because I think first Paul is writing to 'believers' and the ALL are those who have effectual ears, otherwise, they don't really care. but I don't know where to quote supporting scriptures. Certainly with this view, my friends do not believe in God chooses us as they claim it contradicts He is a loving God. Every time, it's my view against my friends' and I was even named hyper-calvinist. It turns them so off! I truly need His Grace and Wisdom to explain as much as they need to understand.
    Do anyone of you have this problem? and how do you handle it without making people think Calvin saves and not Christ? Thanks!

    Thanks for the link to the exposition of Hebrews 6, it was very insightful and informative.

    I also rejoiced to see that the tenor of the refutation to the rejection of the doctrine of the Perseverence of the Saints was precisely the same argument I've been using; to wit if you don't trust in Christ to maintain your salvation then by default you're trusting in yourself which is a pernicious, self-righteous, prideful, and satanic form of unbelief.

    In Christ,
    CD

    florence

    you asked>>>>and how do you handle it without making people think Calvin saves and not Christ?

    Actually the whole point of the doctrines of grace are to show that it is Christ who saves and not something else, not our good will, not our effort ... but that Christ and Christ alone saves. You don't need to even bring up the topic of Calvin, because that's not relevant. The only thing relevant are what the Scriptures say. Any deviation from the reality we are saved by grace alone in Christ ALONE reveals that someone is embracing synergistic salvation, that is, that it is the grace of Jesus Christ PLUS something else. A good question you might ask your friends is, can a person come to saving faith in Christ apart from the work of the Holy Spirit? Any true Christian will say no. Then ask if two persons both receive Christ's grace, why does one person believe and not the other? Was one wiser, have a will that was more spiritual than the other? No, Jesus answers why (John 6:63-65, 37, Rom 9:16)

    Dear John,
    Thanks for the verses reference. I will remember the mistake I made, I will not behave like carrying the banner "REFORMED" around, making people misunderstood. I was just very eager to tell people reformed theology because it makes so much sense and it was an eye opener.It is the laser while the Holy Spirit is the doctor to fix the blind me. So, like the blind man healed by Christ, I wanted to share my joy. I made the mistake of pointing the laser everywhere without the doctor's approval and that's dangerous.
    My friend who rejects the idea of 'God Choose' and she is surely synergistic from everything she says and believes.
    One question, it may sound stupid...
    can you tell me how you can quote the appropriate references from the Scriptures when being asked?
    thanks!

    Thank you. I am in bondage to a synergistic teaching at my church (PCA). I have tried thoughtfully to disable this teaching with the elders and teachers but am being resisted, I feel the effects in my live. Please pray for me. Diana

    Limited atonement is kind of difficult to see, but it's the very center and cause of all the blessings of God, thanks to the work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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