What We Believe
This humbling doctrine/truth teaches that man by nature is dead to the things of God. The word of God is clear that man by nature is not in a neutral position toward God, but rather is at enmity/hostile toward Him.
This condition in man is the sad result of the impact of the first man’s sin being passed down to all of his family, the entire human race. When Adam fell, his soul and spirit died immediately, and his physical body began to die. The sentence of God was, “. . . in dying thou shalt die.” Sin separated Adam from the presence and fellowship of God. The effects are passed to us by natural generation.
As a result, we lack both the ability and the will to recover ourselves from the ruined and lost condition sin has left us in. Note: Total depravity is two-fold. It strikes at our ability to recover ourselves from the effects of sin. Because apart from the grace of God in us, everything we touch prior to the new birth is completely contaminated by sin. Secondly, tainted by sin we are disqualified from restoring ourselves back to God.
Along with our lack of spiritual ability is the lack of will to do anything about our ruined condition. Because of the effects of sin on our body, soul, and spirit, we desire only the corrupt things of this present evil world. The line under all of this is that on our own we are completely and utterly helpless to save or redeem ourselves.
One of the most comforting doctrines taught in the Bible is the doctrine of election. This doctrine, as well as the next doctrine we discuss (particular redemption), is heavily rooted in the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God is that virtue by which God is free from all external constraint. He does whatsoever seems good in his sight. Since sovereignty is an attribute of God, all of His works from creation to redemption must all go forward punctuated by His sovereignty. God will do what He pleases, when He pleases, and as He pleases.
The scripture is clear that before the foundation of the world God made choice of those individuals that would make up His family in eternity (Eph 1:4). He chose men and women of all races and classes to become His children. His choice of them to be His children was not based on any goodness or merit in them, hence unconditional election (Rom 9:9-23).
Remember God is free and under obligation to no one. The Bible clearly teaches that there are elect and non-elect angels. God made choice of individuals within families; Jacob over Esau, Isaac over Ishmael, and David over his brethren. In the Old Testament He chose a nation over other nations, Israel. God is a God of choice and selection. He is the potter, we are the clay. Paul teaches the church at Rome that God as the potter has the right to shape vessels in a manner that is pleasing to Him and in such a way so as to make a difference between the vessels that He forms (Rom 9:20 -23).
Remember, God was under obligation to none of us. He could have created us and never chose any of us to enjoy the incredible privilege of being a part of His family. He didn’t afford this privilege to any other of His creation. Angels are His servants, not His children. When that portion of Adam’s race that is God’s family fell in sin, He undertook their salvation as a result of His electing love. This leads us to our next Bible doctrine, particular redemption.
Through the sin of Adam, all of mankind fell into sin and the penalty of sin – death. This included the elect family of God, all of which are contained in Adam’s larger family (Rom 5:12). Because of sin, all of mankind became the lawful captives/slaves of sin.
Early in the Old Testament the idea of redemption is put forward. Under the Old Testament law, property and individuals could be redeemed, or bought back again. Sometimes individuals in ancient Israel fell on times of extreme economic hardships and sold their property, themselves, or both. Under Old Testament law they could be bought back, which is exactly what the Apostle Peter was talking about when he said in I Peter 1:18, “ . . . ye were not redeemed (from our sin debt) with such corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ . . .”
Redemption is that act of God by which the Son paid every legal debt that the child of God owed the justice of God. With the debt paid and the elect family of God redeemed today, according to Paul in Rom 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus . . .” The ones who are free from the eternal condemning sentence of God’s law are those who were redeemed, bought back. Those that were redeemed Paul said are those “that are in Christ”. How are we in Christ? Through election we were “. . . chosen in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4). We were placed in Christ by the choice of God.
All of this means that redemption is not a haphazard or arbitrary undertaking by Christ. He came into this world to redeem a people in particular. Who are they? They are those that were made to be his people by God’s choice before the world began (I Pet 1:2). Finally, David points out that redemption is particular to God’s family and no one else (Ps 111:9).
It is clear from this glorious truth that Christ came to redeem His people from their sins. As the believing body of Christ, we rejoice to know that everyone Christ came to represent in redemption is completely free from the penalty, power, and one glorious day the presence of sin. The poet triumphantly wrote, “Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die”.
While the doctrine of total depravity is a very humbling and sobering truth, the truth of irresistible grace brings hope to the most desperate and hopeless of sinners. God’s grace is that attribute of God that renders a lost and ruined sinner beautiful and glorious in the sight of God. Grace provides all of the spiritual blessing necessary to restore relationship and fellowship between God and his children.
As grace is shed abroad in the hearts of sinners dead in trespasses and sin, it brings forward and highlights the unmerited nature of the grace of God. It is heaven’s favors on the hell deserving.
Irresistible is the adjective used to describe grace because of the nature of the sovereign God who dispenses his grace. God’s grace is irresistible on the part of the creature because God cannot be thwarted. He is sovereign and omnipotent. That is, God is free to do as he pleases and will bring all the power in the universe to bear in accomplishing the pleasure of his will. He states again and again in his word that he will act in grace toward those that he loves. His action toward those that he loves is their salvation and redemption. Through irresistible grace he conquers the power of cancelled sin in their life and gives the spiritually dead sinner eternal life in the place of eternal death. The sinner is passive in this process as God accomplishes his will in this matter through the application of life giving grace. (Eph. 2:1-5)
Security, in the midst of our lives, which are being lived out over the ever shifting sands of time, is a comforting and reassuring thought. Any father serious about his responsibility is always sensitive to the fact that his family looks to him for security. How comforting for the child of God to know that we have, through our Heavenly Father, security in time and all eternity.
This truth is one of the clearest taught in the word of God. The Savior taught in very plain terms in John 10:28-29, “. . . I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.” Paul said in Romans 8:28-39 that he was persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love and eternal fellowship of our loving Father. Any obstacle that could stand between God and his family has been removed. Note the following:
1. Satan can’t be successful against us because he has been destroyed in his ability to devour, as stated by Paul in Hebrews 2:14-15.
2. The law of God can’t condemn us because Christ fulfilled it on our behalf, Gal. 4:4-5.
3. The wrath of God has nothing due to us because Christ has already endured the wrath of God against our sins. Our sins were condemned in Him. On Calvary he drank down God’s wrath due your sin, Rom. 8:3-4.
When God looks at us today through the atoning work of Christ we appear as spotless as the dear Son of God. There is simply nothing left to condemn the child of God. Our eternal standing is contained in our Lord’s message to Malachi, “And they shall be mine in that day when I make up my jewels.”