Key Doctrines of Reformed Theology Part II

Last week we glanced at the foundational doctrines of Reformed Theology, the five solas. Today we will see how Reformed Theology stewards the solas to their most necessary and fruitful conclusions in what are commonly called the doctrines of grace. If salvation is really by grace alone, then it is by grace entirely, from start to finish. The doctrines of grace highlight this biblical fact and don't mince words about it. These doctrines are also known as the ever-maligned but often misunderstood five points of Calvinism.

Total depravity

If salvation is by grace and grace alone, to the glory of God alone, then it forbids us from taking any meritorious part in the matter. The doctrine of total depravity goes further and actually bars such a possibility entirely. We are unable to come to God because we are absolutely unwilling to come to God in our fallen state. By nature, we prefer our sin to God 100% of the time. Our choice is decisive: sin we love, God we hate. This horrific condition requires a radical salvation, one that is by grace and grace alone. (Genesis 6:5; John 3:19-20; Romans 3:9-20)

Unconditional Election

If salvation is by grace and grace alone, then we do nothing whatsoever to attract God's grace to ourselves. Every last trace of human merit has been removed from our salvation. God chooses whom he will save for his own purposes, based nothing at all on the performance of the sinner, for good or evil. When did he choose us? In eternity past! If we have chosen Christ in time and space it is proof that he chose us first, long, long ago. (John 15:16; Romans 9:9-13, 11:6; 2 Timothy 1:9)

Limited Atonement

I, for my part, prefer to call this point particular redemption. It teaches that Jesus was victorious, that his death accomplished its goal. All the particular persons for whom Jesus died will come to him because their sins were totally atoned for on the Tree and in due season God will draw them to him. Not a single drop of Christ's blood was spilled in vain. Their salvation is locked. Jesus wins. (Matthew 1:21; John 10:14-15; Revelation 5:9-10)

Irresistible Grace

Grace by its very nature is irresistible; it is somewhat of a redundancy (though it brings out the real meaning) to add the word irresistable to it. Irresistible grace means that God invincibly drew you to Christ in your conversion. When we were born again Jesus became irresistibly precious to us and we were unable, because we were made eternally unwilling, to say No to him. He is altogether lovely to us! (Psalm 110:3; John 6:44)

Perseverance of the Saints

This last one is the cherry on top of the doctrines of grace, the eternally comforting truth that Jesus will never ever cast out anyone who truly comes to him. All who believe will be preserved in their belief by God's power and will be gloried with Christ on the Last Day. Reformed Theology is a most comforting theology, for it rests God's children safe and sound in the strong arms of the living God who set his love upon them from everlasting to everlasting. (John 10:28-29)

Reformed Theology humbles sinners, shutting them up to the grace of God alone as their only hope. It comforts believers, assuring them that their salvation rests on God and not themselves. If you have come to Christ, he will see you through until the end. Any theology less robust than this is unable to hold you steady in the real storms of life. If your salvation depended upon you in the smallest measure, from the reason why God chose you in eternity past to your persererance until the day of glory, you would be robbed of all real peace here and now. There would be room for doubt. But these biblical doctrines unlock treasures of heavenly comfort for our enjoyment and strength as we press forward. Reformed Theology shows us how very big God really is. And that gives him glory.