Monday, June 16, 2008

Savoring the Doctrines of Grace (part one)

On Wednesday evenings our church meets for Bible study and prayer meeting. The Bible study has recently centered on the church doctrinal statement from our constitution. We are covering these important doctrines one at a time and searching through many Biblical texts to understand why we believe what we claim to believe. One of those doctrines being covered is the doctrine of election. This is a tough doctrine for many people for several reasons:

1. It destroys human pride.
2. It is often ignored (which then breeds misinformation).
3. It requires faith.

I thought it would be helpful here to explain this doctrine in its larger context of God’s redemptive work. It is essential that we understand the practical application of this doctrine as it concerns our Christian mission. The Bible teaches us about the many different aspects of God’s redemptive work. These are often referred to as the “doctrines of grace”. The traditionally held Biblical doctrines are often misunderstood or mislabeled but I would coin them (and understand them) as such:

1. Total Inability… Sin completely corrupts and so man cannot save himself (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-11).
2. Gracious Election… God saves people according to His sovereign grace and not on the basis of any work of man (Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 9:16).
3. Definite Atonement… Christ’s death actually accomplished what God intended to do- provide penal substitutionary atonement for sinners (Revelation 5:9; John 10:14-15).
4. Effectual Grace… The grace of God is effectual at drawing people and saving people- God’s grace never fails (John 6:44; Eph 2:4-5).
5. Preservation of the Saints… By His grace God keeps people saved and their perseverance by faith is testimony to God’s saving grace present in them (John 10:28; Hebrews 6:19-20).

Tomorrow I'll blog on the practical outworking of these doctrines. These Biblical truths might at first be mind-blowing (even frustrating) but I pray as we meditate on these things we will conclude that we are under the sovereign hand of an awesome and gracious God. These doctrines are meant to drive us to a deeper faith and worship.

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