Drinking Deeply

Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 1:28 AM

Roaming about in Romans

So over the past few weeks, I've had the blessing to be able to read through the book of Romans repeatedly. That's been stupendous. There have been so many things that I've noticed that I never would have seen without being able to read it all in one go. I would suggest it to anyone (o at least suggest the reading any book of the Bible repeatedly).

Some examples of what I've had the blessing to see:

Romans 1 expresses Paul's desire to visit the church at Rome, saying that he wishes he could go to preach the Gospel.

Romans 15 echoes that desire to visit Rome, but no longer includes the part about preaching the Gospel. Coupled with the fact that he launches directly into talking about the Gospel in the second half of ch. 1, we can understand that the book of Romans is Paul's Gospel.

Romans 2 talks about presuming upon God's kindness and patience. I had always assumed that to refer to the "general" kindness like the sun shining, the rain falling. But read right after where repeatedly we see "And God gave them up..." coupled with Paul's condemnation of "those who judge," I've started to see God's kindness in the sense of "you're not as bad as they are, but that's no reason to boast!"

Romans 10 is an interesting interjection in between 9 and 11. Honestly, I have to confess I'm a little befuddled about how it fits into Paul's general discussion on the falling away and ingrafting of Israel. Especially this paragraph -
14But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

18But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for
"Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world."

19But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
"I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry."

20Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
"I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me."

21But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people."

Is Paul "dialogging"? Why does he interject the words about "how will they hear..."? I don't get it! So a good frustration from wrestling with the text.

I'm also more convinced than ever that my reading of Romans 9 is right, so hopefully I'll get around to posting on that in the future... if I ever get back to my TULIP series. Apologies for the delays. Been ... busy/lazy.


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Thursday, November 23, 2006 at 3:38 PM


The Heidelberg Catechism. Question 1

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

(a) Rom.14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. Rom.14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. (b) 1 Cor.6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (c) 1 Cor.3:23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. Tit.2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (d) 1 Pet.1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 1 Pet.1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. (e) Heb.2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. John 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. John 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (f) John 6:39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 2 Thess.3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 1 Pet.1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (g) Matt.10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Matt.10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matt.10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 21:18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish. (h) Rom.8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (i) 2 Cor.1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. 2 Cor.1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 2 Cor.1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 2 Cor.5:5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Eph.1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Eph.1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Rom.8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (j) Rom.8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.


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Wednesday, November 22, 2006 at 11:34 AM

TULIP (6) - Whomsoever Wills?

To sum up what I've attempted to do so far:

I've given a definition of Total Depravity and pointed to Romans 8 and Ephesians 2 as a basic defense of the definition. Through a bit of discussion, I've clarified my definition of Total Depravity to mean that man does not do anything good (rather than there being nothing good of man). I've addressed the possibility (historically by followers of Arminius) that there are no longer people who live in the flesh due to prevenient grace, God's general grace given to all people which removes this deadness and gives people free will. I've also pointed out that free will is a misnomer, as the will flows from the heart, which (as already established) is evil.

Now, in an attempt to further clarify my view, I'm going to raise up an objection I hear a lot. This (general objection) was raised up by Erasmus against Luther a lot.
What about the "whomsoever will" passages and the divine commands to turn to God? John 3:16, Joshua 24:15, Acts 17:30 etc etc. How can you say that there is no ability (and instead, a hostile rebellion) towards God if there are so many passages that say we can choose Him?
My short response to these passages is yes, I agree with them but not with the assumption that "command implies ability". Just because God commands us to do something doesn't imply that we are able to do it. We see this in all other aspects of the law, "Love the Lord will all your heart, mind, soul, and strength." Instead, we see declaring that the law came so that sin may increase, and grace increase all the more (Romans 5:20). Rather than the law demonstrating our ability, it is meant (at least in part) to demonstrate our inability and highlight God's grace.

So yes, choose today. But if you're in the flesh, your choice will invariably be for Baal and not for God.

To sum it up, some biblical metaphors of total depravity.

We are:

Dead, we need to be raised to life (Ephesians 2:1-10)
Heart of stone, we need to be given a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:22-32)
Blind and Deaf, we need to be given eyes that see and ears that hear (Deuteronomy 29:2-9)
Born of the flesh, we need to be born of the spirit (Romans 8:1-8 + John 3:1-8)
Slaves to sin and free from righteousness, we need to be set free from sin and made slaves to righteousness (Roman 6:15-23)
Enemies to God, we need to be reconciled to God (Romans 5:10)

Next up: Irresistible Grace - Heart surgery.


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at 2:23 AM

Amusing, yet thought provoking

Stumbled upon this website. I think it's a joke, but hey, you never know.

Makes you think about all sorts of questions though.

1) Is anything wrong with killing plants?
2) How is that any different from killing animals?
3) How is that any different from killing people?
4) Let's go the other way, what about insects?
5) Bacteria?

A Christian worldview has an answer to this. Does a materialistic/atheistic worldview? What about other theistic ones? Pantheistic?


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Monday, November 20, 2006 at 10:24 AM

Some slight site shifts

I've been tweaking the site a little bit. One thing you'll notice is that I've added a small javascript code that automatically links Scripture references to a pop-up boxes of the ESV Bible.

I got the javascript from Adrian Warnock's page. Search "scripturizer" in his html source if you want it too.

Romans 8 (just typed in)

I'm not entirely happy with it, because it doesn't open it in a new tab, but it opens within the window under my current configuration. ::shrug::

I've also downloaded this very slick extension for Mozilla, the Bible Refalizer. If a firefox uses follows the directions on it, it installs a plugin that automatically links Scripture references to a ESV Bible search. It opens in new tabs, which is nice.

For those of you not on firefox... do some searches or something (or switch to firefox =p)

I think my blog still gets cut off in IE...

**edit** I think it works in IE now... those of you w/ IE, could you double check? It used to cut off the page at the bottom where the sidebar ends.


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Sunday, November 19, 2006 at 10:50 PM

Trivializing God

It's possible to say something true about God in a trivializing manner, one that is demeaning to Him and actually insulting. It's said in a manner, or with a context, to imply that the statement is all there is to say about the issue.

In today's culture, we have many such examples. One of which, (and this prompted my post) is my sweatshirt.

On the front of my sweatshirt is written "Steak is good," and on the back, "but God is better."

Of course it's true! All things created by God are good. And God certainly is better than steak!

Now of course, given a proper context, it's high praise and good reminder. "God, you've given me so much, but I don't treasure the gift, but I treasure you."

Piper argues convincingly that this is how we should see God in God is the Gospel. We certainly cannot say that saying something like "Steak is good, but God is better" is wrong. The creators of the sweatshirts probably had something like that in mind when they came up with the slogan. Perfectly fine and God-centered. Praise be to God for thoughts like that, and would it be that I would always remember that when presented with good gifts!

But, I realized that while it was fine in my mind, what I thought mattered as much as what other people thought when they saw the sweatshirt. And I realized that those in the dorm just thought it was funny. It was funny because steak was good. And it was funny that while it was true that God was better, they didn't see why, but they just saw the sweatshirt comparing the two.

As if we could compare steak and God! A gift and the giver! Something good with our definition of Good! What it seems that I was saying was that "given a choice between steak and God, I'd choose God." But there certainly is no choice between steak and God (except for those foods offered to idols to those whose consciences are bound). But we shouldn't just compare steak and God, but we should compare all the earthly pleasures in this life, and say "compared to God, rubbish!"

Instead of sounding like a man counting all things loss in comparison to God, it sounds just like another one of those, "Hey, God is pretty cool."

No, God isn't just cool. He is Lord. He is King. He is righteous. He is justice. He is merciful. He is powerful. He is loving. He is good. He is the one you never want to get on His bad side. He is the one, whom, even though you were on His bad side, now extends mercy and grace to all His children through Christ Jesus. This is God. He is not cool.

I think I could say the same about the "Jesus is my Homeboy" t-shirts, but I think this t-shirt says it better.


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Friday, November 17, 2006 at 12:20 AM

It's not you, it's me

Sometimes, I like to play the blame game.

When confronted (by loving friends, or even directly through the preached Word) with sin, one of the things I tend to do is to rationalize it away. "Well, I'm not familiar with the culture, I didn't know you would take it that way." "I was under a lot of stress, sorry ok?" "Hey, that's just how I am," and of course, my favorite, "Sanctification is a process." Good old taking truths that God has given to me and using them to excuse my sin.

I see myself echoing the game Adam and Even played back ages ago.

Genesis 3:12-13
12"The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." 13Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
And too often, I forget that the call God makes of me is not just to operate as best as I can "under the circumstances," but actually to be perfect. (Matthew 5:48) That even when I was suffering, tempted, under strain and stress, that God is faithful and will not tempt me beyond what I can bear, and He will provide a way out. (1 Cor. 10:13)

It's not my parents, it's not my genetics, it's not the way I was raised, it's not you, but it's me. Those all have an impact upon me, and if the people around me are sinning and causing me to stumble, they will be held accountable (Matthew 18:5-6), but my sin is still my sin.

Lord, have mercy.


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 8:20 PM

TULIP (5) - Total Depravity (2)

So this came up in the comment thread over on jefe's post. From my understanding (and he is free to correct me if I'm wrong), jefe was disagreeing with the last statement of my definition:
Man is, by nature after the fall, sinful. Not only have they committed sins, but the sinfulness (depravity) is total, extending to every single part of their being. This is not to mean that they are all mass murders, but simply that they cannot, without the grace of God, will anything that is good or pleasing to God. Even those works that look “good” to us, are not done in faith and thus are not pleasing to God. There is nothing good in man after the fall.
Namely, that "there is nothing good in man after the fall" wasn't proven by Romans 8:7-8.

That was my bad. I was not precise enough in my definitions. I understood the last sentence to be a summary of all the rest. Not being able to will good was equivalent to there being nothing good in man for me. But what jefe was disagreeing with was the idea of everything about man is "not good." On that point, I'm willing to agree.

If we're referring to "man" as a whole, then it is true that there is much good in man. He is made in the very image of God, and thus should not be killed without (explicit) divine warrant (Genesis 9:5-6). Man is God's special creation, formed and put together by God (Psalm 139). There is much there that is set apart from the rest of ... well, everything. No animals have the image of God.

Yet, at the same time, I still do stand by my language because all those things, which are good gifts from God, are perverted by sinful man. Instead of using our creativity for worship and the glory of God, we turn around and build towers of Babel, seeking the praise of man and finding our fulfillment in our accomplishments rather than Christ. Instead of acknowledging the gift of life, meant to lead us to repentance, we store up wrath for ourselves with our rebellion. Thus what originally was good, is turned for evil. Leaving nothing untouched, untainted, uncorrupted by our sinful wills. Nothing is good.

The point I was arguing was that all of man, prior to God's electing and saving grace (and I need to define those terms eventually, during the (I) part), are flesh.

Paul writes in Romans 7, verse 18 -
18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.
And my argument about total depravity, simply stated, is that man (in his unregenerate state) is wholly flesh. I argue that Romans 7 speaks of Paul as he stands as a Christian. I also argue that Romans 8 (and the rest of Scripture) sets up a dichotomy between those of the flesh and those of the spirit. And for those who are in the flesh, they have no spirit (of God). Nothing good dwells in them, that is, their flesh... which is all of who they are.


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Saturday, November 11, 2006 at 5:33 PM

Reading Deeply

For those of you who are wondering, I've posted a response to jefe's latest comment and backdated it to preserve the order of the discussion.

I have started enjoying Douglas Wilson more and more. I'm still thinking over his views of baptism and the covenant though. But check out these great posts while you wait.

Douglas Wilson dialogs with Mr. Harris' book "Letter to a Christian Nation." Excellent posts utilizing the presuppositional method.

He also discusses how a Christian acts alongside to those who don't agree doctrinally on some points.

I feel like I've read this before... but I don't remember. Anyways, Triablogue posts on "how to read a book"

Theocentric has finally finished his series of posts on "Desiring the Milk of the Word" in which he discusses what Scripture means when it says "milk" and "meat" and how that applies to ministry. Excellent series of posts. Please take the time to read them all. I've linked to the last post, in which he provides a link to all the rest.

Global Warming?

And Team Pyro just got through a series of 3 guest posts by Gary Johnson discussing latest book which ummm disagrees with Calvinism.

Bookwise, I've picked up and started reading Piper's Justification of God, a treatment of Romans 9 and the topic of election. Hard read with lots of Greek. We'll see how we go through it.


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Friday, November 10, 2006 at 11:43 AM

TULIP (4) - Radical Depravity

Radical - 1 : of, relating to, or proceeding from a root:

Why is it that a person who's mind is set on the flesh cannot please God and cannot do good? Because they are compelled by their inner being (which is opposed to God) into outward actions (which are opposed to God).

Jesus, in rebuking the Pharisees for their words against his casting out of demons said this:

Matthew 12:
33"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
Notice what Jesus says here. Our acts come out of our nature. If a tree is good, it bears good fruit. If a tree is bad, it bears bad fruit. If you have good treasure (heart) then you bear forth good and so on.

What does this mean for our man who lacks the spirit and has his mind set on the flesh of Romans 8? He is unable to please God. Out of his heart, which is set on the flesh, he brings forth evil treasures.

Notice that this amounts to pretty much a complete denial of the popular conception of free will as man having some autonomous choice. Instead of being free, our wills are bound by our nature. We were "dead in our transgressions." We were slaves to sin. Given the choice to serve God or serve Baal, we choose Baal, every time, because that's what our hearts were set upon. Thus we're unable to please God in thought (minds set upon flesh) and in deed.

Some previous posts on this/related topic:

Defining free 1, 2, 3

More on free will


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Thursday, November 09, 2006 at 5:17 PM

TULIP (3) - Prevenient Grace

Having previously given a basic defense of the depravity of man in his natural state and his inability to do anything good or please God (same thing, different terminology), I'm going to answer the objection raised up by classical Arminians like John Wesley. This was touched upon in the 5 points of the Remonstrance (but is a little oblique, look at articles 3 and 4)

Their disagreement on this point was what led to the doctrine today labeled Total Depravity.

Wesley affirmed that the fall has affected all humanity in a complete and comprehensive way, so that man, in his natural state could not will anything that was pleasing to God.

But where prevenient grace parts ways is that it said that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross provided grace for all people who ever lived, live, and will live in the form of "prevenient grace." This grace erased some of the effects of the fall (but not completely, they were still sinners), and one of those effects was the total inability. Though man was in his natural state hostile to God, that was no longer in effect completely, so that man could freely will to choose God.

Basically, man is dead, but God made them alive enough so that they can choose Him.

I think I'll get into this a lot more when I talk on Irresistible Grace (I would agree with it, but that those that God makes alive, do choose Him, due to irresistible grace), but for now I think Romans 8 and Ephesians 2 is sufficient to reject the idea that God's general grace enables all people to will and choose good.

Romans 8
5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Ephesians 2
1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
I really don't know what to add to these texts to unpack them. It is very clear that Romans 8 and Ephesians 2 are talking of two classes of people that are existing now. One has set their mind on the flesh, is following the course of this world, is living in the passions of our flesh. Hostile to God and unable to please Him. The other class has set the Spirit of Christ in them, has set their minds on the Spirit (but is still at war with their sinful nature, as Romans 7 makes clear), is no longer hostile to God, and is able to please Him (but not perfectly, but that requires other verses to prove).


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006 at 5:07 PM

TULIP (2.5) - Who is this double-minded man?(2)

This post is in response to jefe's comment on a previous post. He is blockquoted and my responses are below his.
Those are good points you raise, mxu. But i don't think that i can go along with simply aligning the ch. 7 situation with the "life according to the spirit" in ch. 8. Here are some considerations that i think tell against that reading:

Consider romans 7.5: "For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death." I think this clearly maps up both to being "captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members" (7.22), and also to those who "live according to the flesh" (8.5). That is, it looks like all three of those passages are describing the same situation.
I would say yes and no. 7:5-6 almost exactly parallels 8:5-6 and it is natural to see 8:5-6 as reemphasizing and clarifying 7:5-6, but 7:21-23 is not a general statement, but a personal one. So yes, same issue is being dealt with (law of sin), but not the same situation.
The situation paul describes in ch. 7 is one that requires salvation ("Who will save me from this body of death?").
Yes. But I would say that it's the Romans 8:23 cry rather than "How then can we be saved?" This is driven, of course, by my conclusion that Romans 7 refers to Paul speaking from the position of a believer struggling with indwelling sin.
And then there is the clear contrast between the state of being "captive to the law of sin" (7.23) and being "set free ... from the law of sin" (8.2). Looks to me like paul is saying that the ch. 7 situation is precisely what we are delivered from through christ.
But how does this support your conclusion that Romans 7 does not apply to one type of people but both. If anything, it supports the position I was arguing against (that Romans 7 is written from a non-Christian perspective). Look at v. 4 of Romans 7:

1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

To summarize: No condemnation. Those who are in Christ have been set free from the law of sin and death. We've been set free. How? By God who has sent His Son and condemned sin in the flesh, so the righteous requirement might be fulfilled in us. Righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.

He goes on to describe the characteristics of those who walk in the flesh and those who walk in the spirit. One results in death, other results in life. One is hostile to God and does not submit, nor cannot.

Romans 8:2 is clarified by 8:4, which describes what God has done in fulfilling the law for us, who walk according to the spirit and not the flesh. Thus Romans 8:2 is a Christian experience (those who are in Christ) and not a general humanity one. If Romans 8:2 is describing being set free from 7:23, then 7:23 does not describe both types of people, but just one, those who are in the flesh.

Of course, that raises up the question, isn't Romans 7 then about deliverance as a pre-Christian experience? My conclusion from the previous post is "no." I still stand by it.

This is how I would paraphrase the relevant passages of Romans 7-8 -

7:15-25 "I'm wretched! I'm a sinner! I love God with my mind, but my flesh hates God. Who can save me? But praise be to God, Jesus Christ does!"

8:1-11 "I have been set free from the condemnation of the law, that though I fail with my body, I am secure in Christ, who has set me free from what my fleshly nature previously was like, being hostile to God and completely unable to please Him. I now await the redemption of the physical body, which is promised because the redemption of my mind is a firstfruit of what is to come"
Still, though, as you pointed out the ch. 7 situation doesn't match neatly with "the mind set on the flesh" either.

Here's one thing that i think may help make some sense of this: along with the "double-man" in ch. 7, we also have a "double-torah": "the torah of sin and death" and "the torah of the spirit of life" (8.2). (The first of which, paul insists, is not to say that the law is "producing death in me through what is good".) I'm not sure i can explain what's going on here, but that duality is certainly important.

Really, i don't think the ch. 7 situation describes either "the mind set on the flesh" or "the mind set on the spirit", and similarly i don't think that it's just a simple matter of identifying the first with non-christians and the second with christians. What in ch. 8 is discussed as if it were a contrast between two different kinds of people, in ch. 7 is depicted as a war being waged within the person---the war that began when the law made "sin come alive" (7.9), and which will be finished when "he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you" (8.11). So when paul says "You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit", he is standing between the now and not-yet: the war is won; the war will be won.
I agree, Romans 7 depicts a war within a person. And Paul is standing between the already and not yet of victory. How does that cause us to conclude that this war within a person is one that happens within all people? I don't follow your logic here. And isn't Romans 8 primarily about the victory for Christians? After all, for a non-Christian, this war is not even won yet. There is no aspect of "already" to their lives.
That's all a little sketchy and mixed up, but it's the best sense i can make of the passage as a whole so far.

What does this say about total depravity? Well, first, i think it implies that all of us are unable to please god--except in the forward-looking sense that we will stand approved before god, a promise which is sealed now by god's spirit living in us.
What about the one "who does not have the Spirit of Christ"? Well, they too are unable to please god, and cannot submit to him, just as those who do have the spirit cannot ("For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out." 7.18). But does this entail that there is nothing good in such a person? I don't see any entailment like that. (Indeed, I think the most natural reading is that those people too are in a state of war--a war which involves good as well as evil.)
I think I would use two definitions of the word "cannot." The "cannot" for a Christian is a lack of physical ability. Paul writes, "7:18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out." Their minds delight in the law of God, but their bodies (still cursed by sin) do not obey.

The "cannot" for one set upon the flesh an inability of desire. Not only are their bodies cursed and thus they are unable to please God, but their minds are set on the flesh and thus are hostile to God. Romans 8:7-8. This is the "cannot" that I'm arguing for with my original post. There is no good in them (no sign, or even a flicker of obedience).

I also see no evidence that Romans 7 implies a comprehensive "cannot please God." It does make a good argument that Christians will be unable to please God at times, but to claim that Christians are unable to please God until the last day seems to be stretching it. In fact, Ephesians 2:10 (for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them) states that we aren't to boast in our good works, since it was God prepared them in advance so that we would walk in them. If it were impossible for us to do good works as Christians, his argument would be meaningless, as there is nothing to boast in. I've posted on this previously.
But i'm just trying to work out a hard text with little knowledge; so i submit this for your consideration (all of you) and hope for correction where it's due.
Thank you for your comment. I am very thankful for a dialog between Christians that can be done with grace even though two people may disagree on a major point of doctrine. I do hope that you come around to see things as I do (and I'm sure you hope the same for me).

In summary, I see no indication from Romans 7 that would lead me to conclude that people in the flesh actually have a war between their mind and flesh. I find that reading to be contradictory to the statement that a person in the flesh is hostile to God, his mind is set on the flesh, and cannot please God. I would say that the end of Romans 7 is Paul's personal struggle with indwelling sin as a Christian, transitioning to a proclamation that even though he cannot win the battle there is no condemnation now, because he is in Christ and the Spirit is in him.

As a side note, the way the verse is phrased in Romans 8:7 (For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.) seems to imply that "does not" is a weaker statement than "cannot submit." You treat them as the same. I think that's an additional argument for my point of view.

I'm going to move on (Lord willing). I feel I've said all that's needed to be said and I would just be repeating myself. You are, of course, welcome to have the last word on this post, or disagree on other posts if you like. Please do continue commenting. Other comments from those who agree or disagree are welcome as well! I can't promise I will respond to everything, but I certainly will read it (Lord willing!).


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Tuesday, November 07, 2006 at 11:48 PM

TULIP (2) - Who is this double-minded man?

jefe left a comment on the last post. I'm going to quote it at length and interact with it to help clarify my position.

i think i mostly agree with you here, but i'd like to offer some further clarification. thing is, there are different claims that could go by the name "total depravity": all christians agree to some of them, and only some agree to others. i'm going to lay them out here (and make up some catchy names) in the hope that they'll contribute to the discussion.

Mere Depravity (MD): humanity is sinful.

Global Depravity (GD): all of humanity is sinful. (this is the version that gets the most play in the new testament, especially with respect to the fact that neither jews nor gentiles are exempt. e.g. romans 3)

Universal Depravity (UD): every person is sinful. (note that this is stronger than GD: for instance, if all of a blanket is checkered, that doesn't mean every piece of it is checkered--some pieces are solid. i think some of the passages often invoked to support UD really only support GD.)

Total Depravity (TD): every aspect of every person is sinful. (By "aspect" I have in mind faculties like the will, mind, emotions, body, etc.)

Total Total Depravity (TTD): every aspect of every person is entirely sinful. I.e. there is nothing good in anyone.

Extreme Depravity (XD): every person is as sinful as they possibly could be.

these are in order from weakest to strongest: each one is implied by the ones below it, but not the other way around.

i'm pretty sure all christians agree that Mere Depravity and Global Depravity are true, and just about all of them agree that Universal Depravity is true. similarly, just about everybody will agree that Extreme Depravity is false (we're not all mass murderers, as you say). that leaves Total Depravity and Total Total Depravity in contention.

i think i'd affirm something close to TD, but not TTD.

These distinctions are excellent. I am arguing for TTD and not ED.

if you take romans 8 in context with the end of romans 7, it doesn't look to me like it supports some of the claims you're pulling out of it. when paul describes the situation that god saves him from through christ, he says this:

"When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." (Romans 7.21-23)

he wants to do good--and in fact his "inner man" is a "slave to God's law" (v. 25). but his "inner man" is captured by the flesh (i prefer to stick to this translation, with the qualifications that you pointed out), which works out sin through him. and so, because his mind is "set on the flesh" (8.7) his life is opposed to god, and he is unable to please god.

but this doesn't sound to me like TTD--in fact, it doesn't even sound quite like TD! paul's description isn't that there is no good inclination in him at all: it's that his good inclinations are entirely overridden by the sin at work in him.

it's a tricky passage, and there's room for disagreement on the interpretation, but i think this is a faithful reading. what say you?

I think you're very right that it's a tricky passage, and I will acknowledge that there are people with more education than I that would affirm that Paul is speaking of his former unbelieving life in Romans 7. Fortunately (or un), that doesn't stop me from disagreeing with them here. I think that Paul is speaking of his wrestling with his flesh as a Christian.

Notice Romans 7:22-23, which reads (ESV):

22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Paul is saying that in his inner being he delights in the law of God. Yet in his members there's another law that wages war against the law of his mind. Notice the identification of law of mind here with delighting in the law of God in the “inner being.” To put the concepts together, in his mind he delights in the law of God. (Note, I would also use this text to argue for a dichotomy of man, mind/soul/spirit/intellect and body, against a trichotomy of soul, spirit, and body)

But if we look at Romans 8:5-8

5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

For those who live according to the flesh, their minds are set on the things of the flesh. If we read Paul as saying he was living according to the flesh in Romans 7, then that means his mind was set on the things of the flesh. But if we go and apply that to 7:22-23, it would seem that Paul's mind “delighting in the law of God” was setting the mind on the flesh.

6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Reading on, we see that Paul is saying that the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit. But that's not compatible with Paul claiming:

7:25“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

We simply cannot read Paul saying that he serves the law of God with his mind (7:25), yet his mind does not submit to God's law. (8:7)

So yes, I would affirm a genuine contradiction between those two interpretations. If we affirm that Paul is speaking of his time in the flesh in Romans 7, then at one point he would be serving the law of God with his mind, and at the same point he would be hostile and not submitting to God's law. I submit that a more plausible interpretation is to understand Romans 7 as speaking from the perspective of a regenerate Christian, with Paul in Romans 8:5-9 reflecting upon non-Christians. They are hostile to God, unable to please him.But for the grace of God, there go us.


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at 1:53 AM

TULIP (1) - Total Depravity

Working up a definition here. Feel free to suggest clarifications and changes.

T – Total Depravity

Man is, by nature after the fall, sinful. Not only have they committed sins, but the sinfulness (depravity) is total, extending to every single part of their being. This is not to mean that they are all mass murders, but simply that they cannot, without the grace of God, will anything that is good or pleasing to God. Even those works that look “good” to us, are not done in faith and thus are not pleasing to God. There is nothing good in man after the fall.

It would be far too easy to list off a bunch of passages without supporting explanation (and that's rather unconvincing for people who don't already agree with me), so I am going to focus on one or two passages and then list the rest at the end along with links for those who are interested in future reading.

Romans 8:1-11 (NIV used because of the better translation of the word sarx as "sinful nature", literally flesh, but used by Paul at times not for our physical bodies but rather our sinful nature. Prevents the confusion of seeing physical matter as evil and spiritual matters as good. One place where I like the NIV better than the ESV. It has it's drawbacks though [like, does it mean that humans have two natures just like Jesus?])
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in sinful man,[d] 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Paul, after affirming that all alike are under the condemnation of God in Romans 3, sounds the trumpet call of joy. There is now, no condemnation. When? Now, immediately. No condemnation. Though the intended point was total depravity, we see how closely it attaches itself with other doctrines like limited atonement. We see it attached to preservation of the saints with the promise that God who raised Christ will give life to us (v. 11).

But that's not really the point I wanted to make. Observe specifically -
7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
So what it's saying is that the sinful mind does not and cannot submit to God's law. It is utterly displeasing to God. Notice that in its position, it cannot even set itself on the spirit, as that would be something pleasing to God (an act of submission to God's law). It is stuck and dead. It is hostile to God. Opposed to God.

This is against all conception of people as "in general good" or even "mostly bad, but having sparks of good." This puts humans opposed to God and unable to submit to God's law. They are failures, utterly lacking in all that's needed to please God. They are hostile to God.

In contrast, those who live by the spirit have life. They are "controlled by the spirit." They are promised eternal life, and as the rest of the wondrous chapter describes, obtain all good things through Jesus Christ.

Another verse:

Ephesians 2
1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Paul here describes the former state of people who are now saved (this can be seen by the rest of the text).

How does he describe them?

1) Dead - not weakened or asleep, not mangled or injured, but dead.
2) following Satan (the prince of the power of the air) - We were actively sinning, living in the passions of our flesh, carrying out sinful desires.
3) by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind - This was our natural state. Children deserving of wrath and judgment.
4) Right alongside the "sons of disobedience" enjoying the same disobedience they were. (Note that this also is an explicit denial of the idea that we are all "sons of God." We aren't, if we are to use the Bible's definition of "son.")

So man is dead. Killed, kaput. We were hostile to God, unable to please Him. We were complete and abject failures.

To come:

"I agree with you, but I still don't agree with Calvinism, what about prevenient grace?"

"Why would he make these commands if we couldn't obey Him?"

Related links:
Total Depravity

Other passages I wanted to bring up but decided not to for the sake of space (and because I'm lazy)

Genesis 6:5
Romans 3:9-20
Romans 14:23
1 Cor. 2:14
Hebrews 11:6


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Saturday, November 04, 2006 at 6:37 PM

Government authority

Romans 13
1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
1) We are called to be a member of our community, and part of that is taking part in the democratic voting and electing process.

2) The authorities act as God's representatives as Romans 13 makes clear. We are to obey them and submit to them as to the Lord (except where doing so would cause us to sin).

3) Because they, like all things, are under God's authority, there is a moral ought for what the government should do. It should be a rewarder of good and punisher of evil (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2). What is good and evil? What God commands is good is good and what God commands is evil is evil. (I think I'm leaning towards being a theonomist, but I'm not too sure how all of this works out) There is no ultimate justification for anything else. The members of the government will one day be held accountable for their disbelief and rejection of God's laws and the only path to salvation is through Christ.

4) I see nothing inherently wrong with taking advantage of the means God has provided (voting and so on) to seek to conform the government to God's laws. As long as it's legal there is no moral prohibition against it.

5) Yet, we don't look to the authorities for salvation. Making laws will not transform people. Just as Paul writes, the law comes (he's speaking of God's law), and we sin even worse. The condition of man is not something that can be solved through legislation. The condition of man can, and must be solved through the preaching of the Gospel and the sovereign act of God. I fear that often people, though they may not profess it with their mouths, put their hope and trust in legislation with all the lobbying, get out the vote, and tables in churches and the like.

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Friday, November 03, 2006 at 3:24 PM


Over the last weekend, I had the blessing to join RUF and Grace Presbyterian Church (does anyone else think the fact that in their logo it's "Presbyterian Grace" is amusing?) for a retreat on "Contentment in Christ."

Based roughly upon Philippians 4, the sermons focused upon what contentment means and how it looks. Some notes:

When we speak of contentment, it's not about this state of bliss or "Your Best Life Now" but it's about being content in Christ. There are a lot of people who are non-Christians in this world that would say that they are content with what they have, but what ultimately glorifies God is not that we are content, but we look to God as the source of our contentment. It's not about the money, goods, and things of this world, but it's about God. Contentment is set against anxiety, it's a state of our minds and not our wealth.

It's so ironic that Paul, speaking from jail, persecuted, whipped, shipwrecked, is writing letters to share the secret of contentment. (I couldn't help but see contrast between Paul's life and people like Joel Osteen's)

Contentment doesn't mean that Christians are always "chipper" or "swell." We will suffer a great deal, but contentment is something that we experience when we suffer. Faith is a refusal to panic. Just as God has raised Christ from the dead, He will raise us, who are in Him, from the dead. The Lord is at hand.

Contentment is different from complacency. Complacency is where you're satisfied with where things are and use that as an excuse not to change them. Contentment we are satisfied with God but not necessarily where things are. Still moving forward.

The emphasis of contentment, rejoicing, happiness in Christ is not upon our personal emotions. A lot of people can be happy, content, rejoicing, and so on. But what glorifies God is declaring that God is the root, source, and completion of those emotions. We rejoice in the Lord. Nothing else is worthy of that rejoicing and contentment in. When we look to our accomplishments, our circumstances, or anything else, for contentment and joy, we miss the whole picture. Idolatry.

Nothing new here, just the same old truth preached in that compelling and God-glorifying way. Praise the Lord for times as these.

This was particularly a hard lesson to apply as the very next day I was overwhelmed with anxiety about my upcoming midterm in Greek. Ironies of ironies. But glory to God. He sustains and maintains. My standing before Him does not depend upon a midterm or an exam. And my joy is rooted not in my works but in Christ's. Grace is sufficient.


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Thursday, November 02, 2006 at 11:17 PM

Repost: Problems with TULIP

Reposted from times ago. Worthwhile for this series.

Following up with yesterday about the "issues" with short statements, the acronym TULIP has many of the similar problems.

But first, a short history lesson (basically from the Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible).

The five points of Calvinism, typically referred to by the acronym TULIP were not formulated by John Calvin. Rather, they were formulated by the Synod of Dordt in response to the 5 points of the Remonstrance brought forth by the followers of Jacob Arminius in which they set forth a belief that: Election was based upon foreseen faith, there was a universal atonement, people were partially depraved, grace was resistible, and there was a possibility of a lapse from grace. The Synod of Dordt, after some time of deliberation, formally declared those five points to be inconsistent with Scripture and set forth the five points we now know as TULIP as consistent with Scripture.

This post is not a defense of TULIP, but rather an examination of the terminology in another example of how hard it is to reduce biblical concepts to a few words.

The “T” stands for Total Depravity. Now, this can be easily misunderstood to mean “we are as evil and sinful as we can possibly be,” but that’s really not the case. All it teaches is that man is completely dead in sin and thus cannot turn to God on his own.

The “U” stands for Unconditional Election. This doesn’t mean that salvation does not have conditions! Salvation is conditioned on a lot of things like repentance, faith, showing fruit, and so on. There are a lot of things that the Bible states will keep us from the kingdom of Heaven. What unconditional election states is that those conditions will be completely fulfilled by God’s grace, and not by our doing. If God chooses to save, He does so with no regard towards what we will do. What we end up doing (coming to faith, showing fruit, so on) is as a result of what God has previously chosen. In that sense, our election is unconditional.

The “L” stands for Limited Atonement - Limited Atonement doesn't mean that Christ's death is limited in its power to save, but rather it's limited in its application. A much better term for this would be definite atonement, which would be that Christ knows who He died for and His death purchases their life, completely. He doesn’t die for a general non-specific group of people and then people chose to be part of that group through faith, but rather that he dies for specific people where their faith, repentance, and all of their good fruits are purchased through His death.

The “I” stands for Irresistible Grace – This one is kind of hard to explain as well. In some senses the Holy Spirit is said to be resisted in Scripture. But the point of irresistible grace is that it’s saying that God can choose to completely tear down all barriers between Him and us and thereby regenerate our souls. Addition to this, because of Total Depravity, we need God to woo us with an irresistible grace because anything short of that we would, by our sinful dead nature, reject.

Finally, the “P” stands for Preservation of Saints - This isn’t a “once you walk down the aisle you’re saved no matter what you do” but a “God will preserve His people. If he chooses you, He won’t lose you.” Some people like “perseverance of saints” and it has the same idea: Those that God chooses will persevere, not because of what they are able to do, but because of what God does in them.

Thus each of these 5 simple phrases required at least a paragraph for me to explain. Of course, this would be a lot easier if everyone agreed with me what the terms meant! *laughs* but that is often not the case (and oftentimes I don’t agree with what I myself state and need to go back to restate things!). This also goes back to the whole "be clear" point I brought up earlier. We all bring baggage to the table, and if I think "this" means "that" but you think "this" means "that" then we need to first figure out what "this" really means. (or at least, agree on how we use the terms.)

If TULIP has such issues, why do we still use it?

1) It is fairly comprehensive in distinguishing Calvinism from Arminianism. Though some argue that Calvin did not hold to all 5 points, from what I’ve read of him I’ve seen nothing to convince me of that. Additionally, it doesn’t really matter what Calvin believed so much as “is it in the Bible?” I believe it is, but that’s another post.

2) It provides for a decent starting point. There are times when people have been like “what? You believe that I am totally depraved? Why aren’t I out there on the streets murdering people then?” to which it’s easy (patiently) explain what I mean by the terms.

3) It’s better than “predestination.” If Calvinism has negative connotations, predestination has worse.

All in all, it’s a great way to remember the points, it’s a great way to emphasize the distinctiveness, but it’s necessary to remember that it’s a helping mechanism, and if it doesn’t help, don’t use it. I personally call myself Reformed more often than Calvinist, because that doesn’t really have all the negative connotations of Calvinism (and has many of the benefits of opening it up for questions that TULIP has).


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at 10:53 PM

TULIP intro

All my friends are doing it. So in classic new-Calvinist form, I'm going to go ahead and blog through the five points of Calvinism.

TULIP is an acronym used to summarize the five points of Calvinism. They are laid forth clearly in the Canons of Dordt. They are set down in response to the teachings of Jacob Arminius. After his death, his followers put forth the Remonstrance, putting forth their views on five points of disagreement with the prevailing notions of Christian theology at the time.

With this in mind, we can make a few qualifications. These five points do not summarize all that the Bible teaches upon the sovereignty of God, but rather put forth doctrine on points of disagreement. TULIP is a convenient acronym, but not necessarily the suggested mode of presenting Calvinism. The term Calvinism is misleading in that it is put forth as doctrines that John Calvin taught. While this is true, many (if not all) Calvinists would say they believe in Calvinism because they find it to be biblical, not because of commitment to a person. I presume “Arminians” would say the same.

The points and a quick summary of what they are as follows. I'll tie them together logically at the end.

T – Total Depravity

Man is, by nature after the fall, sinful. Not only have they committed sins, but the sinfulness (depravity) is total, extending to every single part of their being. This is not to mean that they are all mass murders, but simply that they cannot, without the grace of God, will anything that is good or pleasing to God. Even those works that look “good” to us, are not done in faith and thus are not pleasing to God. There is nothing good in man after the fall.

U – Unconditional Election

God's choice to save people is unconditional, based upon His will and His will alone, and not upon anything that they have done, earned, or will do in the future. Notably, His election of people is not based upon his foreknowledge of their decision to choose Him. Their faith is a gift of God as well, and dependent upon His election of them.

L – Limited Atonement

Christ's death secures salvation for the elect (those that God has chosen). Those that He died for have their sins forgiven. The word “Limited” refers to the extent of the atonement (Christ's death). If Christ's death secures salvation, then the fact that someone isn't saved means that Christ didn't die for them. (Limited carries a negative connotation, which is unfortunate)

I – Irresistible Grace

For those that God has chosen, there comes a point where God will save them by the working of His Holy Spirit in their lives, bringing them to repentance and faith. This call, done by God's grace, is thus termed “irresistible” as He overcomes all obstacles to faith and saves people.

P – Preservation of the Saints

For those God has chosen, He will also preserve them to the end, so that they will not fall away (they will remain saints).

These five points (rough summaries), are set in contrast to the five points brought up by the followers of Arminius, which were: Partial depravity, election based on foreseen faith, universal atonement, resistible grace, and the possibility of falling away from faith.

They tie together nicely as follows:

If someone is totally depraved and unwilling to choose good, then, on their own, they cannot and will not choose God. God's choice of saving them cannot then be based upon anything they do (since they do nothing good), but upon His will alone.

If someone is unconditionally chosen by God, then that means God much do the entire work of salvation. Namely, Jesus' death upon the cross must be sufficient to save them. (Total Depravity again). This means His death is the sufficient and necessary condition for salvation, and Christ did not die for everyone (as, if He did, then everyone would be saved).

If Christ's death is sufficient to save someone completely, God has unconditionally chosen them for salvation, and they, on their own, are totally depraved, then that means God must break through their hardness of heart to bring them to faith and repentance. Left to their own devices, they would resist God until the bitter end. The only way they're going to be saved is if God completely transforms their heart, so that His grace is then irresistible.

If God has unconditionally chosen to save the elect and He has provided all things necessary for their salvation in Christ, then as part of the provision in Christ, He has also provided an endurance to the end in Christ.

Notice that if we deny one point, we will eventually deny all points.

As an example:

Grace is resistible -> Man is not totally depraved (for if they were, they'd resist God's grace to the point of death, but some are saved) -> God's election not based completely on self (resisting or not is also a determining factor) -> Those that are saved can fall away (As if they can resist now, what stops them from resisting later?)-> Christ's death isn't sufficient

One point also implies the others.


People are preserved to the end - > Since this must be effected supernaturally, it must be conditioned upon God and not man (U) -> Christ's death is sufficient to save (L) -> Man cannot add to his own salvation (T) -> God, applying Christ's death, cannot be resisted. (I)


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