|"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the priase of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." Ephesians 1:3-6||
The Study of the Gospel of Grace
The following pages are intended to aid one who wishes to inquire into the riches of God's saving grace for his own spiritual peace and understanding. They are at times blunt, as the truth of salvation by grace must be defended, and the error of salvation by works is subtle, common, and twists the scriptures.
As an introductory treatment of the sovereignty of God, the doctrines of grace and Calvinism, the following books are available online:
Our Savior also had a great deal to say about the subject of God's sovereign grace. This is extensively covered in the separate section:
Grace and salvation are also treated in the following online pamphlets and articles:
The five points of Calvinism over against the errors of the Arminians and of Rome were first set forth in the Canons of Dordt though they are also taught in the other Reformed confessions which preceded them. The Canons are found in the Reformed section
The five points of Calvinism are also explained and defended in more detail in the following subsection which specifically addresses the five points of Calvinism, explains them and defends them over against the errors of Arminianism
The truth of particular grace is also treated in a separate subsection over against the errors of false universalism in the atonement, common grace, and salvation conceived of as an offer of grace in the preaching
The truth of God's covenant of grace as a relation of friendship and spiritual sonship in Christ, founded in God's electing love is also intimately connected with this subject. It is treated in the section:
For a systematic treatment of the sovereignty of God and His grace in Christ, see also the online course in the Essentials of Reformed Doctrtine
The truth of Sovereign grace shapes also the true labor in missions. Evangelism and missions are spiritual activites which are to be God-centered and not man-centered in our thinking and labor. See in this connection:
Calvinism and the Sovereign Grace of God
Calvinism is a name taken from the great reformer John Calvin the theologian of the Protestant Reformation and which identifies the system of doctrine teaching salvation by grace alone. The name is used as a shorthand way of identifying the doctrine and not because we would follow men. It could be also called Augustinianism, as the truth of sin and grace was first addressed in the history of Christian doctrine by Augustine in the 400's. It could also be called Luther's Lutheranism in his book the "Bondage of the Will."
At its heart it is the true doctrine of man's sin, that he is truly dead in sin, and the confession that salvation is of sovereign grace in Christ alone from beginning to end. That truth is the doctrine of Christ himself and of all the scriptures. It is simply the gospel of grace.
The truth of the sovereignty of God in salvation, and grace and the sovereignty of God over all things are inherently related. The almighty power by which God created, upholds, and governs all things according to His counsel and purpose and the sovereignty of God in salvation are one and the same almighty power. Deny the one at any point, and the whole of the truth will be destroyed. The sovereignty of God is simply the truth that God is GOD, the Lord, the Almighty in His being and in all His works. To that sovereign work of God belongs also the work of salvation and redemption from sin.
Man, according to the scriptures is dead in sin, Ephesians 2;1. He is spiritually and morally dead, corrupt, and depraved and cannot save himself. Salvation is by grace, a grace that is founded in God's eternal purpose in election and predestination. It is realized according to that purpose and accomplished by Christ on the cross. It is effectually applied by Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Every aspect of salvation is of grace alone. "For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast," Ephesians 2:8. Salvation is not of the works of man, in any aspect, not in the determination of it, not in the accomplishment of it, nor in the application of it. Being born again or regenerated, being called to faith and conversion, repentance, faith, the Christian life, perseverance unto the end, and final salvation are all works of God, bought for us in Christ crucified and wrought in us by His Spirit. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them," Ephesians 2:10. As it is also written, "so then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy,' Romans 9:16.
To teach that man is saved by his works, also of his willing, choice, or decision as if faith was of man, is the doctrine of salvation by works and is contrary to the word of God in Christ. It is a false gospel. Salvation is by sovereign grace alone. Jesus saves, absolutely.
The truth of salvation by grace must also be defended. It is in defense of the truth of grace that the church of Christ also grows in its understanding. This is the history of the church. The battle to develop the truth of salvation by grace was first joined in Augustine's defense of this truth against the humanist errors of Pelagius. It is a battle that continues to this day. The church after Augustine did not adopt the complete truth of salvation by grace, but corrupted itself by a doctrine of grace and good works. This semi-Pelagianism plagued the church until the time of the Reformation; it is the doctrine of Rome.
The Reformation restored the truth of salvation by grace alone. But it too was soon under attack, not only by Rome but from within the Reformed churches themselves. Jacob Arminius began to reintroduce the doctrine of salvation by works in another form. He did so by denying that man is truly dead in sins and teaching that faith and repentance are not works of grace but works of man's free will. This corruption of the gospel was answered by the great Synod of Dordrecht in 1618-1619. It is the only international synod of the Protestant Reformation, and it set forth what are now called the five points of Calvinism in the Canons of Dordt.
The assault on the truth of the gospel continues to this day, not only by Rome but also by the Arminians, their poison permeating most of so-called evangelical Christianity. Sadly, most evangelical are ignorant of the fact that they have more in common today with Rome than the Reformation. Also within the Reformed church world, the heresy of Arminius is rife. To this sad truth is to be added the attempts to introduce, if not open Arminianism, then a hybrid semi-Arminian pseudo-Calvinism, as if it were historic Calvinism or the doctrines of grace. This battle has taken different forms, from assaults on the doctrine of election, to the atonement, to the doctrine of grace in the application of salvation, to corrupting the nature of preaching, and the doctrine of the covenant. This battle invariably takes the form of attempting to introduce some form of false universalism and common grace.
To assist you in studying these issues the material has been organized into introductory material linked to this page. Two subsections have been added: one that addresses the Five Points of Calvinism and the other which deals with Particular grace. The Covenant is also treated in a separate section.