Saturday, November 13, 2010

God Saves Sinners! One-Point, not Five

The following post is a most excellent and most helpful word-for-word quote from J.I. Packer.
"The very act of setting out Calvinistic soteriology [the doctrine of salvation] in the form of five distinct points (a number due, as we saw, merely to the fact that there were five Arminian points for the Synod of Dort to answer) tends to obscure the organic character of Calvinistic thought on this subject. For the five points, though separately stated, are inseparable. They hang together; you cannot reject one without rejecting them all, at least in the sense in which the Synod meant them. 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 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-pedalling the sinner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Saviour. 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."
J.I. Packer, “Introductory Essage,” in The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, by John Owen (London: Banner of Truth, 1959) 4-5.

Amen!  Well stated (as usual) Dr. Packer!  (No offense intended to all my 4-Point or 3-Point friends)

On a personal note, I prefer the term "Doctrines of Grace", to describe my "Soteriology", which I first read about in Dr. Tom Nettles' excellent book "By His Grace and For His Glory", because I don't follow John Calvin.  Although he was a great Reformer and a great man of Faith, he was a sinner like we are.  I follow my LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. If someone asks me if I'm a Calvinist, I ask them to define their term. I respectfully disagree with some of Calvin's and Reformed Theology's views such as infant baptism, their Eschatology, their position on Israel and the Church, etc., but I do fully agree with "Calvinism" on what is commonly called the 5-Points, or T.U.L.I.P., or the "Doctrines of Grace". However, as Packer said, these 5-Points were actually counter-points in response to the heresy being taught by the Remonstrants (followers of Arminius) at the Synod of Dort, after the deaths of both Calvin and Arminius. The acronym T.U.L.I.P. was coined even later, and could probably be better worded for better understanding of what these Doctrines teach (might be a subject for a whole other blog topic in the future). John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul both recently taught through them with their recommendations for better wording for each, but their acronyms weren't as "catchy" as "TULIP".

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