Psalms 11:3 states; "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Pastor Al Gormley of the Bryan Station Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky preached from this text on the day when Wilmington Baptist Temple in Wilmington, Ohio was organized as a New Testament Baptist Church on August 29, 1981. I was privileged to be in attendance on that day as a charter member of Wilmington Baptist Temple.
His sermon consisted of exhortations to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." He emphasized the importance of standing for the "Doctrines of Grace" in a day when most Baptists have departed from these precious truths. Part of the "faith once delivered" is the teaching of God's sovereign grace in the salvation of unworthy and helpless sinners.
There has never been a time in my brief Christian life that I have not believed in the system of belief known as the "Doctrines of Grace." Therefore, it is with great delight that I begin this series of studies. My hope and prayer as always is that the saints might be built up in the most holy faith, and that the God of all grace would be exalted and glorified.
The Twentieth Century has been marked by a major departure from the orthodox, biblical teaching of the doctrine of soteriology or salvation. Many have sold the truth in their quest for success and recognition among popular evangelical leaders. The acid test for any belief has never been whether it is accepted by the majority, but whether it is according to "the law and the testimony", found in the infallible Word of the Living God.
Most of today's preaching consists of storytelling and psychology aimed at entertaining the flesh of the natural man with the hope of getting him down the aisle to make a profession of faith in Christ. The invitation at the end of the sermon has become the focal point of evangelism rather than the sinner's need for repentance and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Sinners often walk the aisle, repeat a prayer, and then are enthusiastically assured by the preacher that they are "eternally secure". Yet, their lives often remain unchanged while trusting in an empty profession. Churches have become filled with spiritual Ishmael's, produced out of the energy of the flesh rather than the power of God.
Whenever there is a departure from a scriptural presentation of the Gospel as the power of God unto salvation, there will also be a departure in the methods used to persuade sinners to trust Christ. For example, Jack Hyles, who is revered in most Fundamentalist camps made the following statement in his book, 'How to Boost Your Church Attendance':
"Many of us in our preaching will make such statements as, 'Now, in conclusion'; 'Finally, may I say'; "My last point is...'. These statements are sometimes dangerous. The sinner knows five minutes before you finish; hence he digs in and prepares himself for the invitation so that he does not respond. However, if your closing is abrupt and a lost person does not suspect that you are about finished, you have crept up on him and he will not have time to prepare himself for the invitation. Many people may be reached, using this method. " 1
The only answer to the shallow teachings of Arminianism and "easy believism" is a return to the old paths of God's sovereign grace in the salvation of sinners. As J.I. Packer stated:
"There is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that God saves sinners. GOD--the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father's will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of the Father and Son by renewing. SAVES--does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. SINNERS--men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God's will or better their spiritual lot. GOD SAVES SINNERS--and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man's own, or by soft-pedaling the sinner's inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Savior. This is the one point of Calvinistic soteriology which the 'five points' are concerned to establish and Arminianism in all its forms to deny: namely, that sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but that salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever; amen." 2
Many excellent books have been written on the doctrines of grace without simply defining several terms that are frequently used by theologians. Many people refer to the doctrines of grace as the "Five Points of Calvinism." I prefer to use the term "Doctrines of Grace" for two reasons. First, because it is the language of scripture. Secondly, because I don't believe that these doctrines originated with John Calvin or any other man for that matter. They are teachings that originate with God who inspired the Holy Scriptures. They are teachings that the Lord's churches have been proclaiming throughout the centuries.
There are only two systems of thought that are found in the world today concerning the salvation of men. One ascribes salvation partly to God and partly to man in cooperation with each other which is grace mixed with works. The other ascribes salvation entirely to God apart from the works of sinful man. The latter system is what is taught in the scriptures as I shall endeavor to prove in this study. Romans 11:5-6 states; "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work..." verse 36; "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
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