Or, John Calvin’s thoughts on God’s Sovereignty


Reflections on the thought, by

Tim Arensmeier, © December 2014


            In the 1500’s, John Calvin, a Frenchman, came to believe in the salvation of God from a different perspective than that of the Roman Catholic Church.  Like Martin Luther, in Germany, and affected by Luther’s reformation thinking, Calvin developed an approach to understanding the scriptures and the doctrine of salvation which took an interesting perspective.


            Calvin’s approach (simplistically unfolded), ultimately took the approach known as the TULIP.  Or,


            T otal depravity of mankind.  Not meaning that we are as depraved as we’re capable of being, as much as that sin has affected and infected every area of our lives, such that we’re totally incapable of impressing God so as to be acceptable to Him based on our own merit(s).


            Unmerited grace or unmerited election.  This is fascinating, in that while we are totally incapable of earning God’s acceptance, based on the “T” above, we, nonetheless try to earn God’s acceptance by a series of “religious” behaviors . . . all of which are worthless in God’s estimation.


            Limited Atonement, meaning that Christ did not die for the sin of all mankind, but only for the “elect,” or, those for whom God had chosen before the foundations of the world, that they would be saved.


            I rrestible Grace, meaning that if God, in His sovereignty chose you to be saved from before the foundations of the world, you will be saved, and there’s nothing you can do to avoid or stay God’s hand or choice in your salvation. 


            P – resevervation of the saints, and Perseverance of the saints, meaning a twofold concept:  The saints will be kept by God from Satan’s attempts to steal us away from Him, as well as, the saints are to persevere in the faith, or, we are to keep on keeping on.


Many of these concepts were initially organized by Augustine in the 4th century, and later developed by Calvin.  The alternate view or theological position was that of Pelagius, who held to the position that mankind was not infected by the sin of Adam, but was essentially capable of choosing whether they would follow in their parents sinful footsteps, or, were they to be raised by really good people, who didn’t evidence the nature of sin, could essentially live a life so acceptable by God as to be acceptable to Him. 


Therefore, the Pelagian view, later to be espoused by John Wesley, or the Wesleyan view, had mankind in a position where they could choose to believe or choose not to believe, hence basically earning their salvation or . . . not.


This is fascinatingly similar to various eschatological views, i.e., pre-millennial, post-millennial, a-millennial or, my favorite, pan-millennialism . . . the belief that “it will all pan out in the end.”  After all, our Savior denied knowing when His return would happen, how dare we try to figure it out?


My personal position is that I am a “Three point Calvinist,” not a Five Point Calvinist.  I accept the Total Depravity of man, therefore the Unmeritability of Grace, and, while rejecting the Limited Atonement, based on eleventy-seven scriptural passages, along with the Irritability of Grace, after all, when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, were they not resisting the grace of God?  And, when Kind David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and later murdered Uriah, the Hittite (and several others!) to cover his sin, was he not resisting the grace of God?


I totally accept and value the Preseverance of the Saints by God.  After all, how would we continue in the faith, were it not for God’s holding us in His hand, as our Savior promised? 


Regarding the Perseveration of the Saints, praise God, His promises are sure and secure, as Christ promised, no one will be able to take us out our His hands.  And, regarding the Perseveration of the Saints, we are to work at holding onto the Lord Jesus Christ, and His gospel.  Were we to choose, as did Israel of old, to reject the grace of God and turn away from Him, He will remain faithful, but if we deny Him, He will deny us!


Once again, while these are reflections of a very minor theologian, they are my true understandings as of . . .  today.


Web posted:  December 2, 2014

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