Intro to Reformed Theology
During a period of significant spiritual change in my life while in university, I first heard about ‘Calvinism’. For a long period of time it seemed like a peripheral issue. I watched people debate about what seemed like a fruitless investment of time. There was a point in time, however, when a friend said to me after a discussion on the matter, “Paul, you’re a Calvinist, you just don’t know it yet.” At the time, I didn’t really know what he meant.
The fact is, that the Reformed understanding of the Christian faith (according to R.C. Sproul, ‘Reformed Theology’ is just another name for ‘Biblical Theology’) is much more than just the 5 points of Calvinism. It is founded within the 5 ‘solas’ of the Reformation – all of which stem from an understanding that the inspired scriptures is the only inerrant and all-sufficient voice by which we can understand the Creator and his character.
These are, in my understanding, the key principles of Reformed Theology:
God is sovereign and free to exercise His will
(Psalm 135:6, Acts 4:28, Romans 9:18, Ephesians 1:11)
Man is fallen and spiritually dead by nature and choice
(Romans 8:7-8, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Ephesians 2:1-3, Romans 3:10-12)
God’s love and purposes in salvation are wholly a result of His grace (Link)
(Ephesians 2: 4-9, Ephesians 1:3-5, John 6:44, Romans 9:16)
The atonement of Christ is definite and efficacious for those who will come to Christ (Link) (Hebrews 10:14, Hebrews 7:25, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 3:25)
Those who have been regenerated will come to Christ
(John 6:37-40, Romans 8:29-30)
God has promised to preserve believers for eternity
(Romans 8:33, Psalm 37:28, John 6:39, Romans 8:1, Philippians 1:6, John 10:27-29)
So you can go ahead and call me a 6 point Calvinist if you like.
As discussed previously, this blog is primarily focused upon Christian maturity. For some, delving into such doctrines can be seen as extraneous and unnecessary. But standing behind generations of men who were gripped by these things, I can also testify to experiencing greater love and worship of God for his undeserved grace amongst the countless benefits of having a more accurate understanding of God’s character. That is why I see this topic as pertinent to maturing as a believer. That is the impact it had in my life.
In the words of JI Packer from my favorite book, Knowing God:
“Only when it is seen that what decides each individual’s destiny is whether or not God decides to save him from his sins, and that this is a decision that God need not make in any individual case, can one begin to grasp the biblical view of grace.” (J.I. Packer)
We need an enhanced view of grace. To attain that, we need a more accurate view of ourselves. Sin is no small thing. Each of us has committed crimes against an infinitely good and glorious God. If he is truly good, he must punish sin. The only way that a rebel sinner could ever be changed and made right with God is the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, who perfects his people for eternity (Hebrews 10:14).
Left to ourselves, we will have nothing but death and destruction. We are spiritually dead, unable to please God by the means of works. Our salvation then, is not the result of being pointed to the right path, which we were originally seeking. Rather, our spirit needs to be resurrected from the depths of sin and spiritual death. It is a radical depravity necessitating a radical regeneration and work of God.
These truths from scripture are vitally important to understand because they enhance our understanding of the Gospel, and what takes place when someone is saved. Stay tuned for more modern-day Puritanism, minus the knee-high socks.