Finding Strength in the Storm

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (ESV)We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV)I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Proverbs 24:10 (ESV)If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Proverbs 3:4-6 (ESV)So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Joshua 1:9 (ESV)Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

James 1:2-4 (ESV)Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

We cannot choose to avoid adversity, but we can choose how we will respond.Through adversity, God is able to accomplish so much in our lives, if we will only trust Him and seek His purposes. Jesus said that storms will come in our lives, but they don’t have to overcome us. Sometimes he calms the storms, but other times he calms His Disciple. One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials. Why would a good and loving God allow us to go through such things as the death of a loved one, disease, injury, financial problems, worry and fear? Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these things away from us. After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable? Well, no, it doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us Romans 8:28(HCSB)28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose.

As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son. This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and storms, is designed to enable us to reach that goal. It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory. The way trials accomplish this is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7(ESV) “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.

Trials develop godly character, and that enables us to Romans 5:3-5(NLT)3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

1. SOMETIMES HE CALMS THE STORMS:

a. Just because you’re in a storm doesn’t mean you’ve sinned, Jesus said we will have difficulties in life. John 16:33(HCSB)33 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.

This story takes place right after an amazing miracle of provision – feeding the 5,000.

“Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away.” (Mark 6:45).

The disciples were obeying Jesus and found themselves in a storm.

Just because you’re in a storm doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t care.

Mark 4:35-41 (ESV)35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

The apostles’ lack of faith reminds us that even those who lived and walked with Jesus, saw His miracles, and heard His message still found it difficult to be 100 percent faith-filled all the time. In that way, the disciples were a lot like us. However, their lack of faith was rebuked—and, by extension, so is ours. If Jesus was able to rescue the apostles from the storm, He is also able to rescue us from the storms of everyday life: sickness, job loss, marriage problems, and even the sting of death.

c. When you’re in the storm, you will encounter Jesus in a new way.

Matthew 14:22 (HCSB)Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. 23 After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone. 24 But the boat was already over a mile from land, battered by the waves, because the wind was against them. 25 Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”28 “Lord, if it’s You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”29 “Come!” He said. And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!”

• Jesus doesn’t always come in the way we would like Him to.

• When Jesus comes, He says, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Even though Jesus seemed absent in the storm, He was watching them.

• In the early morning, Jesus finally came to them.

  • God is never early, but he’s never late. He will come when the time is right.
  • When you’re in a storm, cry out to Jesus for help:

In their first storm, Mark tells us: Mark 4:38(HCSB)So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?”

First Storm Jesus was with them and they asked who was he?

Second Storm Jesus didn’t go with them but met them then they knew who He was!!

When Jesus “gave orders to go over to the other side” (Matthew 8:18), He knew the storm was coming. He is omniscient (John 2:25); even with a storm brewing, He decided to launch out to sea. The Lord never promised we will never see a storm in life (as a matter of fact, He has told us to expect trouble, John 16:33(HCSB)33 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”. Rather, He has promised that He will be with us in the storm. He will never leave His children alone in the midst of trouble; with perseverance we will overcome James 1:12(HCSB)12 A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.

2. SOMETIMES HE CALMS HIS DISCIPLE:

Acts 27:7-8(ESV)7 We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. 8 Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

Acts 27:18-21(ESV)18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. 21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 

• This storm was different than the ones the disciples faced:

o They had several days of rough sailing. The terrible storm raged many days.

o They had to throw out the ship’s cargo and equipment and lost a lot of stuff.

Most of the time its not the strength but the duration of the storm that destroys us.

o Finally, the ship itself was destroyed. “All hope was gone.”

Acts 27:22-26(ESV)22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”

  • Jesus never calmed this storm for Paul, but the Lord gave him peace in the storm.

Remember, peace is not the absence of a storm – it is peace in the middle of your storm. No matter what happens in my life as a Christian, I have the promises of God’s Word for a safe landing on that heavenly shore. The storms of life will come and go but I don’t need to be afraid. Who do I know who may be going through a storm right now and needs my encouragement?

We do not know exactly when the storms will come into our lives. They usually come suddenly and violently, just like the storm at sea came upon Paul and his company.

These storms come when things are going smoothly. Just prior to the storm, Paul and his party were enjoying smooth sailing.

Since we do not know when these storms will come, we must learn to have confidence in the One who is Lord over the storms.

When we are living with in Him, we are braced for the storms that come.

There are five actions to take when you find yourself in one of life’s storms.

  1. Spend some time alone with God; All relationships take time. A relationship with God, while unlike other relationships in many ways, still follows the rules of other relationships.Spending time alone with a loved one provides the opportunity to truly come to know that person. Spending time alone with God is no different. When we’re alone with God, we draw closer to Him and get to know Him in a different way than we do in group settings. Spending time alone with God rids our minds of distraction so that we can focus on Him and hear His Word. Abiding in Him, we enjoy the intimacy to which He calls us and come to truly know Him.
  1. Acknowledge His presence Proverbs 3:5-6(ESV)Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths..

3. Believe His promises (2 Peter 1:3(HCSB) His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.).

4. Count your blessings (Acts 27:35)James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

5. Get rid of excess baggage (Acts 27:38) Here’s some baggage we all need to eradicate from our lives.

Intellectual baggage.  This baggage keeps us from thinking clearly.  Or understanding correctly.  It may be the wisdom of the world that characterized the Greek culture.  Paul warned of those who allowed their own reasoning from seeing the simplicity in Christ.  Intellectual baggage may fill out minds with useless information.  False information. Or preconceived and prejudicial information.  Get rid of intellectual baggage so your mind can think on the things of God.

Emotional baggage.  Emotions are powerful.  They drive us.  Or drain us.  They motivate us. Or demoralize us.  They can take us to exciting highs.  But also to depressing lows.  The Bible often speaks of controlling our emotions, through sobriety and self-discipline.  The sins of anger, wrath, envy, jealously and bitterness have to do with improper emotions.  And they create a burden that is difficult to bear.  Paul admonished the Ephesians and Colossians to “put off” these things.  Get rid of that baggage that is hindering growth and harming your relationships.

Behavioral baggage.  Too often we justify bad behavior by saying things like, “that’s just the way I am.”  Or, “I’m only human.”  God wants us to model our lives after Jesus.  To live as He lived. To walk as He walked.  To talk as He talked.  He gave us a behavioral example.  But when we take on the sins of the flesh, with habits that hurt us, and with addictions that alter our minds, wound our emotions and harm our bodies, we have acquired baggage that we need to unload and leave behind.

Intellectual, emotional and behavioral baggage negatively affects all of our relationships, with our family, Friends, Co-workers, Church Family and

most of all with our Heavenly Father.

Get rid of the excess baggage.  Hebrews 12:1(NLT)Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

GOD WILL COMFORT US SO WE CAN COMFORT OTHERS:

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (ESV)Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.[a] If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

  • When you go through storms, God will comfort you so you can comfort others.

• Is it a storm of addiction – trying to break free from a bondage you have had for years?

• Is it a storm of sickness – praying believing God for healing?

• Is it a storm of financial pressures – trying to get out of debt?

• Is it a storm of relationship challenges – trying to restore a broken relationship?

• Is it a storm of doubt and hopelessness? How can we hope to survive the storm?

In order to face the storms of life successfully, we must be committed to Jesus as well as having confidence in Him. Paul gives us an example of such a commitment. He stood before the frightened group and related to them the vision that he had experienced. He told them that an angel of the God to whom he belonged and whom he served had appeared to him assuring him that there would be no loss of life.The storms of life are going to come. We must learn to face them. How are we going to face them? I pray that we will face them with confidence in Jesus, with commitment to Jesus. If so, we will be able to face the storms victoriously, and we will be able to assure others in their storms of life.

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Only God can make dead men live

We ask ourselves often the question – What does it mean to be saved? What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to be really born again?And there’s a lot of confusion about it. There are a lot of people, as we know, claiming to be born again today that it’s very obvious don’t know the meaning of it. Before we are baptized, we must come to believe that we are sinners in need of salvation Romans 3:23(ESV)23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Hamartia means missing the mark. Now watch, this is the real true biblical definition of sin. Sin is a failure to hit God’s target. Sin is a failure to glorify God, Romans 1:21-25(ESV)21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. When they knew God they…what?…glorified Him not as God.That is sin. Sin is coming short of glorifying God. This is the state of man before salvation: wholly defiled. Our sinful corruption is so deep and so strong as to make us slaves of sin and morally unable to overcome our own rebellion and blindness. This inability to save ourselves from ourselves is total. We are utterly dependent on God’s grace to overcome our rebellion, give us eyes to see, and effectively draw us to the Savior. Apart from the grace of God, there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God.
As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected; all humanity is dead in trespasses and sins. Man is unable to save himself.Genesis 6:5(ESV)5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Romans 3:10-18(ESV)10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14  “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15  “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Because man is dead in sin, he is unable to initiate a response to God; therefore, in eternity past God elected certain people to salvation. Election and predestination are unconditional; they are not based on man’s goodness, works, birthright,nationality, parents,etc. because man is unable to respond, nor does he want to.
Romans 8:29-30(ESV)29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Romans 9:6-19(ESV)6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
Ephesians 1:4-7(ESV)4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
Ephesians 1:11-12(ESV)11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
The doctrine of irresistible grace recognizes that the Bible describes natural man as “dead in his trespasses and sins”
Ephesians 2:1-10(HCSB)1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. This ought to eliminate any doubt and any question. Cause it’s here.
Colossians 2:13(ESV)13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,, and, because man is spiritually dead, he must first be made alive or regenerated in order to understand and respond to the gospel message.

A good illustration of this is seen in Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. In John 11:43, it is recorded that Jesus told Lazarus to “come forth” and that Lazarus came forth out of the tomb. What had to happen before Lazarus—who had been dead for several days—would be able to respond to Jesus’ command? He had to be made alive because a dead man cannot hear or respond. The same is true spiritually. If we are dead in our sins, as the Bible clearly teaches, then before we can respond to the gospel message and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we must first be made alive. As Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, one must be “born again to see the kingdom of God.” John 1:12-13 tells us that being born again is not the result of something we do—“the will of man”—but is a sovereign act of God. Just as Lazarus could not bring himself back to life or respond to Jesus’ command without being brought back to life, neither can sinful man.
You had as much to do with your spiritual birth as you did with your natural one. 

Ephesians 2:1-10 makes it very clear that while we are still dead in our trespasses and sin God makes us alive. The Bible is also clear that the act of being born again or regenerated is a sovereign act of God. It is something He does which enables us to believe the gospel message, not something that comes as a result of our belief.

The reason this doctrine is called “irresistible” grace is that it always results in the intended outcome, the salvation of the person it is given to. The blood of Jesus saves every person it was intended to save not one more not one less. Those whom God elected He draws to Himself through irresistible grace. God makes man willing to come to Him. When God calls, man responds
John 6:36-44(ESV)36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
The reason God’s grace is irresistible and always brings forth the desired result is that God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into” His kingdom. Colossians 1:13(ESV)13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. Or, as Psalm 3:8(ESV) puts it, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

The precise ones God has elected and drawn to Himself through the Holy Spirit will persevere in faith. None whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure. Ephesians 4:30(ESV) tells us that believers are “sealed for the day of redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16(ESV) 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

This tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.John 10:27-29(ESV)27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
We can also call this adoption and it is “from Him”—from God. “In love he predestined us for adoption.”Ephesians 1:4-5(HCSB)For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will,

So adoption was part of a God’s plan. It was his idea, his purpose. It was not an afterthought. He didn’t discover one day that against his plan and foreknowledge humans had sinned and orphaned themselves in the world, and then come up with the idea of adopting them into his family. No, Paul says, he predestined adoption. He planned it. The misguided but popular concept that all people are children of God and can truthfully call Him “Abba Father” is simply not true. Just as children do not choose to be adopted or choose who will adopt them, neither do Christians choose to become children of God. Instead, God chooses them. He predestines them “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”, having been chosen by God from “before the foundation of the world”

And if we ask when this predestination happened, verse 4 makes that plain: “He chose us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless in His sight.” Before the creation of the world, and before we existed, God looked on us in our need, and he looked upon his Son crucified and risen as the all sufficient atonement for our sin, and because of that he chose us to be holy and blameless. And to that end he “predestined us for adoption.” It happened before the creation of the world. Therefore your adoption is not based on your fitness, your worth, or your character. It is rooted in God’s eternal purpose and grace. And that means that your adoption is not fragile or flimsy or uncertain. God will not adopt and then find out that you are not worthy and unadopt you. He knows we are unworthy. And he chose us and predestined us for adoption. This is firm and sure and unshakable. He reached down when we were at our worst to make us sons and daughters.

Before the foundation of the world God saw that we would be sinners and planned the death of his Son so that our sins could be forgiven and God’s wrath removed. God adopted us in our unworthiness to make his grace look great. You were adopted for the praise of the glory of his grace. God’s action in adopting us is radically God-centered and God-exalting.

Free Will

Man has free will in that he is a free moral agent and makes real choices that will have very real consequences, but he is limited by his fallen nature. God desires from man a worship that comes not ultimately from compulsion, but from love and desire. Man’s will is never coerced by God James 1:13-15(HCSB)13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. It always flows from his spiritual nature and the desires of his heart. But in his fallen state man cannot discern spiritual things, please God, or trust in Christ Romans 8:7(HCSB)7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so.,

1 Corinthians 2:14(HCSB)14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. Man is free to will what he most desires, but, until born again, his heart is in bondage to sin. Furthermore, his will is ultimately subordinate to the providence and sovereignty of God. This may be regarded as a “compatibilist” view of free will which sees man’s free choices as compatible with God’s absolute sovereignty. As Augustine put it, “the human will does not obtain grace by freedom, but obtains freedom by grace,”

If “free will” means that God gives humans the opportunity to make choices that genuinely affect their destiny, then yes, human beings do have a free will. The world’s current sinful state is directly linked to choices made by Adam and Eve. God created mankind in His own image, and that included the ability to choose.

However, free will does not mean that mankind can do anything he pleases. Our choices are limited to what is in keeping with our nature. For example, a man may choose to walk across a bridge or not to walk across it; what he may not choose is to fly over the bridge—his nature prevents him from flying. In a similar way, a man cannot choose to make himself righteous—his (sin) nature prevents him from canceling his guilt Romans 3:23(HCSB)23 For all have sinned and fall short of the[a] glory of God. So, free will is limited by nature.

This limitation does not mitigate our accountability. The Bible is clear that we not only have the ability to choose, we also have the responsibility to choose wisely. In the Old Testament, God chose a nation (Israel), but individuals within that nation still bore an obligation to choose obedience to God. And individuals outside of Israel were able to choose to believe and follow God as well (e.g., Ruth and Rahab).

In the New Testament, sinners are commanded over and over to “repent” and “believe” Matthew 3:2(HCSB)2 and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”;
Matthew 4:17(HCSB)17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”;

Acts 3:19(HCSB)19 Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

1 John 3:23(HCSB)23 Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us.

Every call to repent is a call to choose. The command to believe assumes that the hearer can choose to obey the command.

Jesus identified the problem of some unbelievers when He told them,
John 5:40(HCSB)40 And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.. Clearly, they could have come if they wanted to; their problem was they chose not to. Those who are outside of salvation are “without excuse” Romans 1:20-21(HCSB)20 For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened.

But how can man, limited by a sin nature, ever choose what is good? It is only through the grace and power of God that free will truly becomes “free” in the sense of being able to choose salvation John 15:16(HCSB)16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. It is the Holy Spirit who works in and through a person’s will to regenerate that person (John 1:12-13) and give him/her a new nature “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4:24(HCSB)24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.. Salvation is God’s work. At the same time, our motives, desires, and actions are voluntary, and we are rightly held responsible for them.

Free will is the ability to make choices according to your desire. Free will is of two theological viewpoints: Compatibilist and Libertarian. Compatibilism is the position that a person is only as free as his nature permits him to be free and that his sinfulness prevents him from freely choosing God

1 Corinthians 2:14(HCSB)14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.
Romans 3:10-12(HCSB)10 as it is written:There is no one righteous, not even one.11 There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away;all alike have become useless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.,
Romans 6:14-20(HCSB)14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone[a] as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness.

Here is where compatibilism makes the distinction between man having a free will and being a “free agent.” Man is “free” to choose that which is determined by his nature or by the laws of nature. To illustrate, the laws of nature prohibit man from being able to fly, but this does not mean that man is not free. The agent, man, is only free to do that which his nature or the laws of nature allow him to do. Romans 8:7-8(HCSB)For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Theologically speaking, though the natural man is unable to submit himself to the law of God and unable to come to Christ unless the Father draws him to Him freely in respect to his nature, the natural man still acts. John 6:44(HCSB)44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.,
Romans 1:18(HCSB)18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, He freely and actively suppresses the truth in unrighteousness  because his nature renders him unable to do otherwise;

Psalm 14:1-3(HCSB)The fool says in his heart, “God does not exist.” They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good. 2  The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. 3  All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one; Romans 3:10-11(HCSB)10 as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. 11 There is no one who understands;there is no one who seeks God.

Two good examples of Jesus’ confirmation of this concept can be found in Matthew 7:16-27 and Matthew 12:34-37.

With the distinction between free agency and free will defined, compatibilism then addresses the nature of the free agency of man in respect to the theological proposition known as determinism and/or the biblical truth of the omniscient nature of God. The foundational issue is how man can be held accountable for his actions if his actions were always going to occur (i.e., the future is not subject to change) and could not have been anything other than that which occurred. Although there are numerous passages of Scripture that address this issue we will look at one passage of Scripture that speaks of compatibilism is found in Acts 4:23-28(HCSB)23 After they were released, they went to their own people and reported everything the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they all raised their voices to God and said, “Master, You are the One who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You said through the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David Your servant: Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples plot futile things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers assembled together against the Lord and against His Messiah. 27 “For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.

As revealed in Christ’s death on the cross was carried out by the “predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.” Acts 2:23-25(HCSB)23 Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. 24 God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. 25 For David says of Him: I saw the Lord ever before me; because He is at my right hand,I will not be shaken.

Acts 4:27-28(HCSB)27 “For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. This passage further reveals that the actions of Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel had been determined and decreed by God Himself to occur as they “gathered together against” Jesus and did “what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.” Although God had determined that Christ should die, those responsible for His death were still held accountable for their actions. Christ was put to death by wicked men, “yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer” Isaiah 53:10(HCSB)Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely. When You make Him a restitution offering, He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and by His hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished. Once again, the answer to the question “who put Jesus to death?” is both God and the wicked people—two purposes carried out by two entities within a single action.

Another view of Free Will is called Libertarian Free Will.

Libertarian free will is the position that an unsaved sinner is still able to freely choose God in spite of his sinful nature.
John 3:16(HCSB)16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life,

John 3:36(HCSB)36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.

Libertarian free will is basically the concept that, metaphysically and morally, man is an autonomous being, one who operates independently, not controlled by others or by outside forces. The word “autonomous” is key in understanding libertarian free will. The word basically means “self-government.” It is derived from two Greek words, autos and nomos, which mean “a law unto oneself.” This is libertarian free will in a nutshell. We, as free moral agents, can make our own decisions and are not subject to the will or determination of another.

The first thing to take into account regarding the biblical position of libertarian free will is what the Bible says about God. The Bible describes God as sovereign, and sovereignty designates control. But what exactly is the sphere of God’s sovereignty? Psalm 24:1(HCSB) makes it plain: The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord. What is the sphere of God’s sovereignty? Everything. God spoke the universe, and everything in it, into existence. As Creator, He has sovereignty over His creation. This is the image used in the book of Romans  in Chapter 9 when Paul refers to the potter and his clay. Romans 9:14-24 (HCSB)14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 15 For He tells Moses: I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh: I raised you up for this reason so that I may display My power in you and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 18 So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden. 19 You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” 20 But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor? 22 And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? 23 And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory— 24 on us, the ones He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

So we need to ask ourselves how does libertarian free will fit in with God’s sovereignty? Can a human being, a creature, be autonomous if God is sovereign? The obvious conclusion is that libertarian free will is incompatible with the sovereignty of God. Consider this passage from the book of Proverbs: Proverbs 16:9(HCSB)A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps. This does not paint a picture of man as an autonomous being, but rather as man operating within the confines of a sovereign God.

Man is not a “law unto himself.” Man is a creature in the Creator’s universe, and as such is subject to the will of the Creator. To suggest otherwise is to elevate man beyond his station and to bring God down to the level of the creature. Those who advocate libertarian free will may not come out and say this, but logically speaking, this is the conclusion that must be drawn. Consider a popular evangelistic slogan found in Christian gospel tracts: “God casts his vote for you, Satan casts his vote against you, but you have the deciding vote.” Is this how it works in salvation? Is God just one side of a cosmic struggle with Satan for the souls of men, who must resort to ”campaign tactics” to sway voters to heaven? This view of God is an emasculated God who is desperately hoping mankind utilizes his free will to choose Him. Frankly, but this is a somewhat pathetic view of God. If God wills to save someone, that person will be saved because God accomplishes all His purposes.

There are two keys to understanding human will and how it relates to God’s sovereignty. The first is the fall. Prior to the fall, man could be said to have had a “free” will in that he was free to obey God or disobey God. After the fall, man’s will was corrupted by sin to the point where he fully lost the ability to willingly obey God. This doesn’t mean that man can’t outwardly obey God. Rather, man cannot perform any spiritual good that is acceptable to God or has any merit for salvtion. The Bible describes man’s will as “dead in transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1-5(HCSB) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!
We were also “slaves to sin”.
Romans 6:17-18(HCSB)17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.. These phrases describe man as both unable and unwilling to submit to God’s sovereign authority; therefore, when man makes choices according to his desires, we must remember that man’s desires are depraved and corrupted and totally rebellious toward God.

The second key in harmonizing man’s “free” will with God’s sovereignty is how God accomplishes His desires. When God ordains all things that come to pass Psalm 33:11(HCSB)The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Ephesians 1:11(HCSB)11 We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, He not only ordains the ends, but the means as well. God ordains that certain things will happen and He also ordains how they will happen. Human choices are one of the means by which God accomplishes His will. For proof of this point, look no further than the exodus. God tells Moses that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that God’s glory in the deliverance of Israel would be manifest through him

Exodus 4:21(HCSB)21 The Lord instructed Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, make sure you do all the wonders before Pharaoh that I have put within your power. But I will harden his heart so that he won’t let the people go. However, as the narrative continues, we see that Pharaoh hardens his own heart  Exodus 8:15(HCSB)15 But when Pharaoh saw there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. We see God’s will and man’s will come together.

Now, we must be careful not to swing to the (equally) unbiblical view that God is the divine Puppet Master and we are merely His puppets. This is the view of hard determinism in which man is reduced to an automaton making robotic responses to situations. The Bible presents a third option between hard determinism and libertarian free will, and that is the view called compatibilism, or soft determinism. In this view, man makes real choices and will be held responsible by God for those choices. The choices that man makes stem from his desires. God grants the creature a certain amount of freedom, but that freedom always operates within the boundaries of God’s sovereignty.

The Sovereignty of God is the biblical teaching that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission. God works not just some things but all things according to the counsel of His own will Ephesians 1:11(HCSB)11 We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will,. His purposes are all-inclusive and never thwarted nothing takes Him by surprise.
Isaiah 46:11(HCSB)I call a bird of prey from the east, a man for My purpose from a far country. Yes, I have spoken; so I will also bring it about. I have planned it; I will also do it.; The sovereignty of God is not merely that God has the power and right to govern all things, but that He does so, always and without exception. In other words, God is not merely sovereign de jure (in principle), but sovereign de facto (in practice).

God’s sovereignty in salvation means that He saves whom He will, and those whom He saves owe nothing to anything in or of themselves. They are saved because God graciously chose them in eternity and regenerated and called them in history. They cannot even take credit for their faith because it is the gift that He Himself sovereignly bestows.

God’s predestination does not mean that we cannot make free will choices. God predestines in and through our choices because God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He knows what we will do because He knows all things. He cannot not know all things. So, whatever you choose to do out of your own free volition is known. But His knowing doesn’t mean you don’t freely choose.

An illustration would be that I could arrange for my child to choose ice cream over something else and not violate his free will. For instance, I could put a bowl of chocolate ice cream and a bowl of poop in front of my child, and I know exactly which one the child will choose to eat. But my knowing does not violate my child’s free will. He has free will and freedom to act, but I will plan to give him ice cream because I know my son. I do not need to use coercion, I know he will make that choice because I know my son.

It seems to me to be saying that you have complete freedom to act, but God knows all ends. You have freely chosen to walk through the door; but it was always known that you would (because God is God).

Calvinism vs Arminianism & Reformed Theology

Calvinism and Arminianism are two systems of theology that attempt to explain the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in the matter of salvation. Calvinism is named for John Calvin, a French theologian who lived from 1509-1564. Arminianism is named for Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian who lived from 1560-1609.

John Calvin, the famous theologian and pastor of Geneva, died in 1564. Along with Martin Luther in Germany, he was the most influential force of the Protestant Reformation. His commentaries and Institutes of the Christian Religion are still exerting tremendous influence on the Christian church worldwide.

The churches which have inherited the teachings of Calvin are usually called Reformed as opposed to the Lutheran or Anglican/Episcopalian branches of the Reformation. While not all Baptist churches hold to a Reformed theology, there is a significant Baptist tradition which flowed out of that stream and still cherishes the central doctrines inherited from the Reformed branch of the Reformation.

The controversy between Arminianism and Calvinism arose in Holland in the early 1600s. The founder of the Arminian party was Jacob Arminius (1560–1609). He studied in Geneva under Calvin’s successor, Theodore Beza, and became a professor of theology at the University of Leyden in 1603.

Gradually Arminius came to reject certain Calvinist teachings. The controversy spread all over Holland, where the Reformed Church was the overwhelming majority. The Arminians drew up their creed in Five Articles, and laid them before the state authorities of Holland in 1610 under the name Remonstrance, signed by forty-six ministers.

The official Calvinistic response came from the Synod of Dort which was held November 13, 1618, to May 9, 1619, to consider the Five Articles. There were eighty-four members and eighteen secular commissioners. The Synod wrote what has come to be known as the Canons of Dort. These are still part of the church confession of the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church. They state the Five Points of Calvinism in response to the Five Articles of the Arminian Remonstrants.

So the so-called Five Points were not chosen by the Calvinists as a summary of their teaching. They emerged as a response to the Arminians who chose these five points to disagree with.

It is more important to give a positive biblical position on the five points than to know the exact form of the original controversy. These five points are still at the heart of biblical theology. They are not unimportant. Where we stand on these things deeply affects our view of God, man, salvation, the atonement, regeneration, assurance, worship, and missions.

Somewhere along the way (nobody knows for sure when or how), the five points came to be summarized in English under the acronym TULIP.

T – Total depravity

U – Unconditional election

L – Limited atonement

I – Irresistible grace

P – Perseverance of the saint

It starts with man in need of salvation (Total depravity) and then gives, in the order of their occurrence, the steps God takes to save his people. He elects (Unconditional election), then he sends Jesus to atone for the sins of the elect (Limited atonement), then he irresistibly draws his people to faith (Irresistible grace), and finally works to cause them to persevere to the end (Perseverance of the saints).

People grasp these points more easily if we go in the order in which we ourselves often experience them when we become Christians.

1We experience first our depravity and need of salvation.

2Then we experience the irresistible grace of God leading us toward faith.

3Then we trust the sufficiency of the atoning death of Christ for our sins.

4Then we discover that behind the work of God to atone for our sins and bring us to faith was the unconditional election of God.

5And finally we rest in his electing grace to give us the strength and will to persevere to the end in faith.

I. TOTAL DEPRAVITY

A. Arminian Position: Man is spiritually sick. Fallen man was seriously affected by the fall but he still has the ability to choose spiritual good. He determines his eternal destiny by either accepting or rejecting God’s mercies.

B. Reformed Position: Man is spiritually dead. Because of the fall, man has become spiritually dead, blind and deaf to the things of God and is therefore unable of himself to choose spiritual good and determine his own destiny. Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore, he will not — indeed he cannot — choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ — it takes  regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God’s gift of salvation— it is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.Our sinful corruption is so deep and so strong as to make us slaves of sin and morally unable to overcome our own rebellion and blindness. This inability to save ourselves from ourselves is total. We are utterly dependent on God’s grace to overcome our rebellion, give us eyes to see, and effectively draw us to the Savior.

C. Scriptural Support for the Reformed Position
As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected; all humanity is dead in trespasses and sins. Man is unable to save himself (Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9;
Romans 3:10-18(HCSB)10 as it is written:There is no one righteous, not even one.11 There is no one who understands;there is no one who seeks God.12 All have turned away;all alike have become useless. There is no one who does what is good,not even one.13 Their throat is an open grave;they deceive with their tongues. Vipers’ venom is under their lips.14 Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.15 Their feet are swift to shed blood;16 ruin and wretchedness are in their paths,17 and the path of peace they have not known.18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

1. The fall has resulted in spiritual death to all men.

Genesis 2:16-17(HCSB)16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

Romans 5:12(HCSB) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Ephesians 2:1-3(HCSB)And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

Colossians 2:13(HCSB)13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses

Mark 7:21-23(HCSB)21 For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, 22 adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, promiscuity, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”

Jeremiah 17:3(HCSB)The heart is more deceitful than anything else,

and incurable—who can understand it?

II. UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION

A. Arminian Position: God’s election is based on man’s foreseen faith. Before the foundation of the world, God chose certain individuals for salvation based on His foreseeing that they would, of their own free will, choose Christ.

B. Reformed Position: God’s election is unconditional. God’s choice of certain individuals for salvation was not based on any foreseen response of obedience on their part, but was based solely in His good and sovereign will. Because man is dead in sin, he is unable to initiate a response to God; therefore, in eternity past God elected certain people to salvation. Election and predestination are unconditional; they are not based on man’s response because man is unable to respond, nor does he want to.
Romans 8:29-30(HCSB)29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified;

Ephesians 1:4-6(HCSB)For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight.[a] In love[b] He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.
 God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before fore the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response or obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause God’s choice. Election therefore was not determined by or conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ. Thus God’s choice of the sinner, not the sinner’s choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation. God’s election is an unconditional act of free grace that was given through his Son Jesus before the world began. By this act, God chose, before the foundation of the world, those who would be delivered from bondage to sin and brought to repentance and saving faith in Jesus.

If all of us are so depraved that we cannot come to God without being born again by the irresistible grace of God, and if this particular grace is purchased by Christ on the cross, then it is clear that the salvation of any of us is owing to God’s election. He chose those to whom he would show such irresistible grace, and for whom he would purchase it. God has an elect people whom He has chosen to grant salvation.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5(HCSB)4 knowing your election, brothers loved by God. 5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we were among you for your benefit,

Election refers to God’s choosing whom to save. It is unconditional in that there is no condition man must meet before God chooses to save him. Man is dead in trespasses and sins. So there is no condition he can meet before God chooses to save him from his deadness.

III. LIMITED ATONEMENT
A. Arminian Position: Christ’s death was designed to make salvation possible for all people. Christ’s death made salvation possible for everyone, but it did not actually secure or guarantee the salvation of anyone. Fallen man determines whether or not Christ’s work will be effective by his faith.
B. Reformed Position: Christ’s death was designed to actually secure the salvation of all of God’s chosen people. Christ’s death secured and actually accomplished the salvation of all of God’s chosen people. God has determined that all for whom Christ sacrificed Himself will be saved. Because God determined that certain ones should be saved as a result of God’s unconditional election, He determined that Christ should die for the elect alone. All whom God has elected and for whom Christ died will be saved (Matthew 1:21(HCSB)21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”;
John 17:9(HCSB)I pray for them. I am not praying for the world but for those You have given Me, because they are Yours.;
Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ’s redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, therefore guaranteeing their salvation. The atonement of Christ is sufficient for all humans and effective for those who trust him. It is not limited in its worth or sufficiency to save all who believe. But the full, saving effectiveness of the atonement that Jesus accomplished is limited to those for whom that saving effect was prepared. The availability of the total sufficiency of the atonement is for all people. Whosoever will — whoever believes — will be covered by the blood of Christ. And there is a divine design in the death of Christ to accomplish the promises of the new covenant for the chosen bride of Christ. Thus Christ died for all people, but not for all in the same way.

IV. IRRESISTIBLE GRACE

A. Arminian Position: The Holy Spirit cannot regenerate fallen man until he believes. The Holy Spirit does all He can to bring every fallen man to salvation, but until fallen man responds in faith, of his own free will, the Spirit cannot give life. Faith preceded and makes possible the New Birth. Faith gives Life.

B. Reformed Position: The Holy Spirit regenerates every one of God’s chosen people, enabling them to believe. The Holy Spirit graciously regenerates every one of God’s chosen people, creating within them a new heart and enabling them to freely and willingly believe in Christ as Savior and Lord. The New Birth precedes and makes possible Saving Faith. Life gives Faith.Those whom God elected He draws to Himself through irresistible grace. God makes man willing to come to Him. When God calls, man responds John 6:37(HCSB)37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. there can be no salvation without the reality of irresistible grace. If we are dead in our sins, and unable to submit to God because of our rebellious nature, then we will never believe in Christ unless God overcomes our rebellion.

Someone may say, “Yes, the Holy Spirit must draw us to God, but we can use our freedom to resist or accept that drawing.” But that is not what the Bible teaches. Except for the continual exertion of saving grace, we will always use our freedom to resist God. That is what it means to be “unable to submit to God.” “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God”
Romans 8:7–8(HCSB)7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

If a person becomes humble enough to submit to God, it is because God has given that person a new, humble nature. If a person remains too hard-hearted and proud to submit to God, it is because that person has not been given such a willing spirit. But to see this most persuasively, we should look at the Scriptures.

Unless the Father Draws

In John 6:44, Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” This drawing is the sovereign work of grace without which none of us will be saved from our rebellion against God.
John 6:65(HCSB)65 He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted to him by the Father.”

How God works to change our will without coercion against our will is further explained in 2 Corinthians 4:4–6(HCSB)4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Fallen man, left in his dead state, is totally unable to repent, to believe the gospel, or to come to Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:14(HCSB)14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.

John 6:44(HCSB)44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.

V. PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS

A. Arminian Position: All who believe and are truly saved can lose their salvation.Sinners can lose their salvation by failing to keep up their faith, by falling into a state of serious sin, etc.

B. Reformed Position: All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in Faith by the Power of Almighty God and therefore continue to persevere in faith.The precise ones God has elected and drawn to Himself through the Holy Spirit will persevere in faith. None whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure
John 10:27-29(HCSB)27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.;
Romans 8:29-30(HCSB)For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.
All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end. We believe that all who are justified will win the fight of faith. They will persevere in faith and will not surrender finally to the enemy of their souls. This perseverance is the promise of the new covenant, obtained by the blood of Christ, and worked in us by God himself, yet not so as to diminish, but only to empower and encourage, our vigilance; so that we may say in the end, I have fought the good fight, but it was not I, but the grace of God which was with me 2 Timothy 4:7(HCSB)7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
1 Corinthians 15:10(HCSB)10 But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me.

The people of God will persevere to the end and not be lost. The foreknown are predestined, the predestined are called, the called are justified, and the justified are glorified Romans 8:30(HCSB)30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. No one is lost from this group. To belong to this people is to be eternally secure.

According to Calvinism:Salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the Triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy  Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation.REAFFIRMED by the Synod of DortThis system of theology was reaffirmed by the Synod of Dort in 1619 as the doctrine of salvation contained in the Holy Scriptures. The system was at that time formulated into “five points” (in answer to the five points submitted by the Arminians) and has ever since been known as “the five points of Calvinism.”

Now the Five points trying to refute Calvinism by the Arminians

Free Will or Human Ability

Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with man’s freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man’s freedom consists of his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God’s Spirit and be regenerated or resist God’s grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit’s assistance, but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man’s act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.

Conditional Election

God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world was based upon His foreseeing that they would respond to His call. He selected only those whom He knew would of themselves freely believe the gospel. Election therefore was determined by or conditioned upon what man would do. The faith which God foresaw and upon which He based His choice was not given to the sinner by God (it was not created by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit) but resulted solely from man’s will. It was left entirely up to man as to who would believe and therefore as to who would be elected unto salvation. God chose those whom He knew would, of their own free will, choose Christ. Thus the sinner’s choice of Christ, not God’s choice of the sinner, is the ultimate cause of salvation.

Universal Redemption or General Atonement

Christ’s redeeming work made it possible for everyone to be saved but did not actually secure the salvation of anyone. Although Christ died for all men and for every man, only those who believe on Him are saved. His death enabled God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe, but it did not actually put away anyone’s sins. Christ’s redemption becomes effective only if man chooses to accept it.

The Holy Spirit Can Be Effectually Resisted

The Spirit calls inwardly all those who are called outwardly by the gospel invitation; He does all that He can to bring every sinner to salvation. But inasmuch as man is free, he can successfully resist the Spirit’s call. The Spirit cannot regenerate the sinner until he believes; faith (which is man’s contribution) precedes and makes possible the new birth. Thus, man’s free will limits the Spirit in the application of Christ’s saving work. The Holy Spirit can only draw to Christ those who allow Him to have His way with them. Until the sinner responds, the Spirit cannot give life. God’s grace, therefore, is not invincible; it can be, and often is, resisted and thwarted by man.

Falling From Grace

Those who believe and are truly saved can lose their salvation by failing to keep up their faith. etc. All Arminian, have not been agreed on this point; some have held that believers are eternally secure in Christ — that once a sinner is regenerated. he can never be lost.

According to Arminianism:Salvation is accomplished through the combined efforts of God (who takes the initiative) and man(who must respond)—man’s response being the determining factor. God has provided salvation for everyone, but His provision becomes effective only for those who, of their own free will, “choose” to cooperate with Him and accept His offer of grace. At the crucial point, man’s will plays a decisive role; thus man, not God, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation.REJECTED by the Synod of DortThis was the system of thought contained in the “Remonstrance” (though the “five points” were not originally arranged in this order). It was submitted by the Arminians to the Church of Holland in 1610 for adoption but was rejected by the Synod of Dort in 1619 on the ground that it was unscriptural.