Monday, May 16, 2011

Calvinism and God's eternal purpose: "T" is for treasure

In the introduction to this series I said that I want to write about how my views and my love for the doctrines of grace (aka Calvinism) have been built upon by my new understanding of God's eternal purpose.

In this second post I want to talk about total depravity (it puts the "T" in TULIP) and how God's eternal purpose gives this doctrine some shape in Christ.

Recently I was thinking about God's majesty as it's displayed in Psalm 8. David's question came to mind "who is man that you are mindful of him?" I automatically think of how small and insignificant we are compared to the Creator of the universe when I'm reminded of this verse. This was no exception, only this time I was moved deeper into this meditation.

I thought about our depravity and the utter worthlessness of ourselves outside of Christ. Good for nothing but to be thrown into the fire heap out back with yesterday's dirty diapers. We are utterly unable and unwilling to love God and live for Him. Now usually I would be searching my heart for sin or feeling very sorry for being such a worthless wretch and thanking God for his electing grace just like any good little calvinist should. This time was different.

My mind moved to the answer to David's question. "What?" you say "there is an answer?" Yes, there is and that answer is Christ. Why is God minful of man? Because we were made in his image to be like Him. We were made to be in Christ. He made us to be a visible body to manifest himself with, to be a bride and wife made into one with the Son, a house suitable for Him to dwell in, and a family He can call his own and love for all eternity. In other words, He made us to fulfill His eternal purpose.

So why all the talk about depravity? Because we were made to be like Christ but, we sinned. Rather than take from the tree of life freely we wanted to do things our own way according to our knowledge of good and evil. Rather than accept God's provision for our life in the garden we have to work it out ourselves by the sweat on our brow. Rather than the painless work of God in a mother to bring more children into the Kingdom she must suffer great pain. That was and is our choice. We want to do it ourselves, we love to sin. This is the sum of our depravity and there is nothing we can do about it anymore than we can change the color of our skin. We have to understand that there is absolutely nothing we can do by our own strength to get back on track. The choice between good and evil is what got us into this sinful mess in the first place.

God did not intend for it to be difficult and painful forever. He did not intend to let man go on about our own way without calling us back to His way. He has always had his purpose in perspective and a plan through which to bring us back to His original intent for humanity. That intent is and always has been complete dependance and trust in Him so that we freely receive His love and we return to Him love, praise, worship and adoration. We join into the love and fellowship of the Three-in-one and become one with them.

In Christ the bonds of the curse of sin are broken. We are now a new creation in Christ. No longer are we to think of ourselves as worthless and depraved so much as we are in Christ. No longer are we to regard ourselves according to our sinful flesh. That man is dead, he died two millenia ago with Christ. Now we walk in the spirit, that is, in Christ. As we abide in Christ, our flesh is crucified over and over again as the Holy Spirit transforms us by renewing our mind.

David's question in Psalm 8 has always made me praise the glorious grace of God. Now I see that his amazing grace is much more than just saving a wretch like me but it also brings me into the image of His Son that I meet the desires of His eternal purpose in creation. We weren't saved just to be saved. We weren't saved just to praise Him for saving us. We've been saved in spite of our depravity to fulfill God's original desire and plan for humanity: to be a visible body to manifest himself with, to be a bride and wife made into one with the Son, a house suitable for Him to dwell in, and a family He can call his own and share His love with for all eternity.

Christ in you, the hope of glory. There is nothing at all worthless about that. In fact our value is based on the unsearchable riches that are ours in Christ Jesus not on who we once were outside of Him. He has changed us from totally unable and depraved into the treasure of His inheritance.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, INDEED!!


  1. Hi Bobby, please could you kindly expatiate on this statement in your article: "No longer are we to regard ourselves according to our sinful flesh. That man is dead, he died two millenia ago with Christ".

  2. Pedro

    Thanks for the question.

    My understanding of this is largely shaped by the following verses, beginning in Galatians- I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (2:20)

    As I think on it Romans 6 comes to mind as well where it says, starting in verse 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    ...and again in 2 Corinthians Paul writes: 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

    These scriptures give us solid ground to walk in faith in the finished work of Christ.  Because Christ died, we died.  Because He lives, we live.  When God the Father looks at us He no longer sees our sin, He sees the blood of Christ shed to cover our sin.  We should regard ourselves no different than the Father does.

    Does that help you understand my statement?


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