Doctrines of Grace Outlines

by Randy Seiver

Answers to Arminian Arguments | Doctrines of Grace Outlines |
Burning Straw Dummies

I. Doctrine Stated: God created Adam upright and in His own image, with the freedom and ability to choose that which is good and well-pleasing in His sight. Being left to the freedom of his own will, Adam fell from this holy estate into a state of guilt and depravity. He did not act for himself alone, but being, by God's appointment, the representative head of all mankind, act in their place. Thus, Adam's guilt and depravity were imputed to all his offspring. Since all humans are conceived in sin and are by nature the children of wrath, the entire being of every person has been so twisted that he is rendered unwilling and, therefore, incapable of pleasing God or even responding rightly to His overtures of mercy.


It is not:

  • whether people may do what is "good" in the sight of others.
  • whether people act as sinfully as they are capable of acting.
  • whether or not sinners have a will.

It is:

  • that sinners are wicked in God's sight and totally incapable of doing what is good and well-pleasing to Him (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 14:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20, 29; Job 15:16; Jeremiah 9:3, 17:9; Romans 3:10-18). (Good works in God's sight are those which are performed for the proper motive -- love for God, with the proper goal in view-God's glory, and according to the proper rule or standard -- God's Word.
  • that every person, left to himself, is capable of the most heinous of sins. At heart, every sinful human being is the same (Proverbs 27:19).The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.
  • that although sinners are free to choose what they please, they are bound by a sinful nature and therefore totally incapable of choosing spiritual good over evil. By nature, sinners are:
  1. spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1).
  2. spiritually blind (Ephesians 4:17-19).
  3. deaf (Psalm 58:3-4).
  4. hardened (Ephesians 4:17-19).
  5. a rebel (Romans 8:7; Isaiah 53:6).
  6. polluted (Isaiah 64:6).
  7. unable to change (Jeremiah 13:23).
  8. unable to come to Christ (John 6:44).
  9. unable to receive spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:14).
  • that people are born sinners and must be regenerated before they can do anything that is acceptable to God, including a proper reception of the gospel (John 3:12; Romans 8:8; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:14).
  • that every part (intellect, emotions, will, conscience -- hence total depravity) of the sinner has been affected and is controlled by sin.
  1. The sinner's intellect is controlled by his sinful nature (Romans 3:11; Ephesians 4:17-18).
  2. The sinner's emotions are controlled by his sinful nature (Romans 1:30, 3:18; Ephesians 4:19).
  3. The sinner's will is controlled by his sinful nature (John 5:40).
  4. The sinner's conscience is defiled by sin (Titus 1:15).


Pelagianism -- Pelagians hold that neither the guilt of Adam's first sin [original sin], nor his depraved nature has been communicated to his offspring. According to Pelagianism, the only effect that Adam's sin has had on the race is that Adam's seed has been affected by his bad example.

Arminianism -- Arminians , like Calvinists, believe that Adam's guilt and depravity have been transmitted to all his posterity. They believe that man in a state of sinful nature is unable to choose good over evil. But, to this the Arminian adds the doctrine of precedent or prevenient grace. According to Arminianism, God grants prevenient grace to all sinners, freeing their wills to choose either to accept or reject Christ. Though prevenient grace seems to be similar to the Calvinistic doctrine of efficacious grace, it differs from it in that prevenient grace, though granted to all, does not secure the voluntary compliance of any. Articles III and IV of the Remonstrants state,

III. That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the working of his own free-will, inasmuch as in his state of apostasy and sin he can for himself and by himself think nothing that is good -- nothing, that is, truly good, such as saving faith is, above all else. But that it is necessary that by God, in Christ and through his Holy Spirit he be born again and renewed in understanding, affections and will and in all his faculties, that he may be able to understand, think, will and perform what is truly good, according to the Word of God [John xv. 5].

IV. That this grace of God is the beginning, the progress and the end of all good; so that even the regenerate man can neither think, will nor effect any good, nor with stand any temptation to evil, without grace (precedent or prevenient), awakening, following and co-operating. So that all good deeds and all movements towards good that can be conceived in thought must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But with respect to the mode of operation, grace is not irresistible; for it is written of many that they resisted the Holy Spirit [Acts vii and elsewhere passim] (emphases mine).

Calvinism -- Calvinists hold that every facet of a sinner's being has been detrimentally affected by sin, so that he cannot choose good over evil or decide on his own initiative to receive Christ as He is offered in the gospel. Only that efficacious grace which God grants to His elect can enable sinners to respond favorably to the gospel offer.


  1. List three common misconceptions concerning what is at issue in the discussion of the doctrine of total depravity.
  2. Do those who believe that people are, by nature, totally depraved believe that sinners are unable to do those things that are good in the sight of other people?
  3. What constitutes a "good work" in God's sight?
  4. Is there any sin that wicked men, left to themselves, are unable to commit?
  5. Why and in what sense is the sinner's will bound?
  6. List nine characteristics of sinners. By nature sinners are:
  7. Is the sinner able to come to Christ in faith apart from a special work of God's grace.
  8. What do we mean when we say that every aspect of the sinner's being has been affected and is controlled by sin?
  9. List Scripture verses that show that every sinner's mind, will, emotions, and conscience have all been affected by sin.
  10. List by name the three major positions that Bible students take on the question of total depravity.
  11. What do each of these groups teach about total depravity?
  12. According to Pelagianism, in what way did Adam's sin affect his offspring?
  13. How does this differ from the views of both the Calvinist and the Arminian?
  14. How does Arminianism explain the fact that some sinners, though born in sin and totally depraved, willingly receive Christ as Savior and Lord?
  15. What is the difference between the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace and the Calvinistic doctrine of efficacious grace?


Definition:  Election is the eternal, sovereign, unconditional, and immutable decree of God, whereby, according to the wise counsel of His own will and for His own glory, He has selected for Himself some individual sinners from among all mankind, and of every nation, to be redeemed and everlastingly saved by Christ. 


  • God is sovereign -- He is free to do what He will with His own (Daniel 4:35; Matthew 20:1-15).
  • God is righteous and always does what is right (Genesis 18:25; Romans 9:14).
  • God is under no obligation to save anyone (Ephesians 2:8-9). If any are saved, it is by the free (without cause in man) grace (unmerited favor) of God.
  • Every person by nature is a rebel against God (Romans 8:7). Sinners are not only guilty of sin, but also unwilling (John 5:40; Acts 7:51) and unable (John 6:44) to come to God's remedy for sin.
  • Sinners, not God, are responsible if they continue in sin and go to hell (Matthew 11:20-24, 23:37).
  • God, not man, is responsible if a man leaves his sin and goes to heaven (1 Corinthians 1:29-31, 4:7; Romans 9:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9).


Negatively -- not whether or not the Bible says anything about election. No one who reads the Bible carefully will deny that it says something about election. Consider the following verses:

John 6:39; Romans 11:5-6; 2 Timothy 1:9; John 10:16; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 2 Timothy 2:10; John 15:16-19; Ephesians 1:4; Titus 1:1; John 17:2; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 1:2; Acts 13:48; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:9; Romans 8:33; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Revelation 17:14.

Positively -- What was the basis of election?

Three answers have been given to this question:

  1. It was an arbitrary choice -- at random and without reason.
  2. It was based on foreseen faith, works, or perseverance.
  3. It was based holy and wise reasons that are known only to God (Romans 11:33).

There are several reasons for accepting the third answer as the correct one.

  1. The Scripture says that election was according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:5, 9). His will is holy and wise. God chose some and passed over others because it was well-pleasing in His sight (Matthew 11: 25-26). It could not have pleased Him had it not been wise and good.

  1. Election cannot be based on God's foresight. This does not mean that God did not foresee the faith, works, and perseverance of His people. It simply means that such foresight was not the basis of God's choice.

There is no biblical support for the idea that God's choice was based on what he foresaw.

The texts that are used to support this view say nothing about faith, works, or perseverance being foreseen (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:2).

The word translated "foreknow" (Gr. Prõginõskõ) is used of more than prior knowledge of facts. Ginõskõ -- "I know" is used of:

  1. The expression of a man's love for his wife (Genesis 4:1 LXX; Matthew 1:25).

  2. Jehovah's love for Israel (Amos 3:2).

  3. Jehovah's approval of the righteous man's way (Psalm 1:6).

  4. Christ's lack of love for or approval of the wicked (Matthew 7:23). See also Romans 3:17, 7:15; 2 Timothy 2:19.

  5. In the NT, it is usually used with regard to God's knowledge of people, not events or facts.

  6. 1 Peter 1:20 -- "Who was foreordained (foreknown)".

Romans 8:29 -- "For whom He did foreknow ..."

Since the texts say nothing about whether what God "foresaw" was good or evil, if foreknowledge means mere foresight of men's actions, then all have been predestined to be saved (Romans 8:29) since God's foresight extends not only to those who will be saved but to all His creatures and all their actions.

By nature, sinners have no faith, good works, perseverance for God to foresee (Romans 3:10-12). God does foresee faith, but it is the faith that He has given those who have been the objects of His eternal love. Faith cannot be both the basis of electing grace and the result of it, but see Acts 18:27-" ... those who by grace had believed."

Psalm 14 tells us what God saw when He looked down on the human race. If God's choice were based on what He saw, He would not have chosen anyone.

Conclusion:  God's choice of sinful rebels must have been based on His holy, wise, and sovereign pleasure.  


  • National — (Deuteronomy 7:6).
  • Election to Office:  
  • Kings, priests, prophets (1 Samuel 2:28, 10:24; Jeremiah 1:5).
  • Apostles (John 6:70).
  • Of Good Angels (1 Timothy 5:21).
  • Of Christ (Isaiah 42:1).
  • Unto Eternal Salvation (Ephesians 1:4; John 15:16).


  • It is eternal (Ephesians 1:4, 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9).
  • It is sovereign (Matthew 11:25-27; Romans 9:15-18).
  • It is unconditional, i.e., not conditioned on anything in the creature (Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Romans 9:11, 11:5-6; Ephesians 1:5).
  • It is immutable (Isaiah 14:24, 46:10-11; Romans 8:28-30; Hebrews 6:17).
  • It is wise (Romans 11:33).
  • It is individual (Romans 16:13).
  • It is for God's glory (1 Corinthians 1:31; Ephesians 1:4-6, 12).


God is not fair if He chooses one and passes by another (Romans 9:14).


  1. God Himself is the standard of righteousness.
  2. He would have been righteous had He left the entire race to perish in sin.
  3. The fact that He sovereignly chooses to show mercy to sinful rebels does not make other rebels deserving of mercy.

  4. God does not save any without full satisfaction of His justice (Romans 3:25-26).

God's sovereignty and human inability destroy human responsibility (Romans 9:19).


  1. The truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility are found side by side in Scripture (Matthew 11:20-30; Acts 13:46-48).

  2. Inability does not destroy responsibility. Sinners are unable to keep God's commandments, yet he is responsible to do so.

If God has fixed the decree of election, why repent and believe? Why preach the gospel? Why pray? Why send missionaries?


  1. We should do these things because God commands us to.

  2. We should do these things because God's work is normally accomplished through the use of means (Romans 10:13-15).

  3. We should do these things in order that God might be glorified (1 Peter 4:11). The glory of God should be our primary goal in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Election will keep people out of heaven. It destroys "whosoever will".


  1. Election is inclusive, not exclusive. All sinners would be excluded from the gracious presence of God apart from electing grace.

  2. All who truly desire to be saved according to the plan of God, will be saved. Whoever wishes may come.

  3. No one would desire to come apart from electing grace.  


Humility -- If rightly understood, the truth of election will cause us to see that the only difference between us and the vilest sinner is hell is that God has shown us free and sovereign mercy (1 Corinthians 4:7).

Reverence -- 1. The truth of sovereign grace produces a sense of reverence for God in the heart that nothing else can produce because it enables men to "see the Lord high and lifted up" 2. The "poor God theology" evokes pity rather than worship and adoration.  

Gratitude -- The person who believes in free and sovereign grace is grateful because he knows that all that he is and has is due alone to the unmerited compassion of the triune God.

Evangelism -- A right understanding of Election will affect our evangelistic message, motives, and methods:

  • Message

    • We will become God-centered, not man centered in our approach to evangelism.
    • We will begin to understand that the purpose of God's salvation plan is not to make men happy, but to establish a right relationship between them and Himself.
    • We will begin to understand that the purpose of Christ's redeeming work is to bring men to worshipful submission to the triune God.
  • Motive

    • The prime motive for preaching the gospel is not love for people but love for God and a desire that He might be glorified by His creation.
  • Methods

    • A belief in "free will" will drive people to use cheap gimmicks.
    • A belief in free grace will drive sinners to God, since their salvation is in His hands, not in theirs.


  1. List the biblical principles that form the foundation for a proper understanding of the doctrine of election.

  2. State the issue (negatively and positively) in the controversy over election.

  3. Give reasons why God's choice cannot have been based on what He foresaw.

  4. What is the true meaning of "foreknow" in the NT? Give examples.

  5. What must the basis of God's choice have been?

  6. List the different types of election and different objects of God's choice about which the Scriptures speak.

  7. List the biblical characteristics of election.

  8. What objections have been raised to the biblical doctrine of unconditional election?

  9. How can we answer these objections?

  10. What should be the practical effects of a proper understanding of election?

  11. Should the doctrine of election have any effect on our evangelism?

  12. How should this teaching affect the message we preach?

  13. How should this teaching affect our motives?

  14. Should our belief concerning the sovereignty of God in salvation have any effect on the methods that we use in evangelism? If so, what effect should it have?


Definition:  The redemptive work of Christ was definite in design and accomplishment. It was not intended to make salvation possible for every man but actually to accomplish salvation for the elect.

Christ, acting as the representative of all those given to Him by the Father, fully satisfied the infinite demands of God's law, and accomplished eternal redemption for them.

Even though Christ's obedience and sufferings were of infinite value and sufficient to expiate the sins of the entire race, had this been God's purpose, the accomplishments of His death were, by eternal design, limited to the elect only.


Both those who believe in free will and those who believe in free grace understand that the redemptive work of Christ was limited in some sense. "Free will" believers think that Christ's work was limited in its effectiveness. In their view, Christ's redemptive work did not secure salvation for anyone. It was simply intended to make forgiveness of sins possible, on the condition of faith.

"Free grace" believers understand that, even though Christ's redemptive work was of sufficient value to save every person in the world, it was limited in its design. It was God's intention, in sending His Son, to accomplish the redemption of those whom He had chosen for salvation. Loraine Boettner expressed the difference between these two views well when he wrote, "... for the Calvinist, the atonement is like a narrow bridge which goes all the way across the stream; for the Arminian, it is like a great wide bridge that goes only half way across." The real issue in this controversy is not so much the extent of the redemptive work of Christ as it is the intent of His work.


The Scriptures clearly define the design and purpose of Christ's redeeming work. Consider the following texts:  Matthew 1:21; John 6:38-39, 10:11, 15-16, 15:13, 17: 2; Acts 20: 28; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Peter 3:18.

According to these and other texts, Jesus came to save the following:

  1. His people,
  2. Those given to Him by the Father,
  3. His sheep,
  4. His friends,
  5. His church,
  6. Those that are called, and
  7. Those that are brought to God by Him.

The Scriptures represent the end results of the work of Christ, not as merely potential or possible, but as actual. Jesus did not make all sinners redeemable; He redeemed His people. Consider what the Bible says about the following aspects of the redeeming work of Christ:

  • Propitiation -- an appeasement of God's wrath -- Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2, 4:10.
  • Reconciliation -- the restoration of sinners to divine favor -- Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20-21.
  • Redemption -- the securing of a release by the payment of a ransom price-Galatians 3:13, 4:5; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Revelation 1:5, 5:9.
  • Justification -- Romans 5:9, 18-19; Colossians 2:13-14.

In each case, His work is presented as an accomplishment.

The Scripture represents the work of redemption as a work of the Triune God (1 Peter 1:2).

  • The Father chose and gave to the Son, certain sinners to be redeemed by Him (John 6:38-39, 10:15-18, 29, 17:2, 6, 9, 11, 24; Hebrews 2:13).
  • The Son laid down His life for those given to Him by the Father (John 10:15, 15:13, 17:19; Romans 8:32; Ephesians 1:4-7).
  • The Spirit applies the redemptive work of the Son (John 3:5, 16:7-15; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, 9-12; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2, 22; 1 John 4:13).

If the Son intended to redeem all men or to make all men redeemable, then there is a basic disunity in the Trinity. It is the purpose of the Father to save the elect and the elect only. It is the purpose of the Spirit to apply salvation to the elect only. It is inconceivable that the Son would frame and pursue a purpose contrary to that of the other members of the Godhead. This is especially clear since Jesus plainly states that His purpose was the same as that of the Father (John 4:34, 5:30, 6:38; Hebrews 10:7).

The Scriptures represent the priestly functions of oblation or sacrifice and intercession as co-extensive. The high priest appeared in the presence of God with blood which he sprinkled on the mercy seat. This priestly function answered to the intercessory work of Christ. He performed this function for none but those for whom the sacrifice had been offered. The priestly function of offering sacrifice corresponds to Christ's sacrifice of Himself on the cross. If we would know for whom Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice, we need only to answer the question, "For whom does He make intercession?" The answer is clear: 1. He intercedes not for the "world" but for those given to Him by the Father (John 17:9); 2. He intercedes for the elect (Romans 8:34, cf. v.33). 3. He intercedes for those who come to God by Him (Hebrews 7:25); 4. He intercedes for those who are called according to the terms of the new covenant (Hebrews 9:24 cf. v.15).

The Scripture depicts Christ as the representative or federal head of all believers,  not  of all men. Just as Adam's one act of disobedience actually condemned all whom he represented, even so Christ's one act of life-long obedience, up to and including His death, actually justifies all whom He represents (Romans 5:18-19).

The Scriptures declare that all of those for whom Christ died, died "in Him" and "with Him" to the reigning power of sin (Romans 6:1-6, cf. 5:6ff.; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

The Bible plainly teaches that the death of Christ secured for His people all the accompanying gifts of God's grace (Romans 8:32). If the work of Christ was intended to accomplish no more for the elect than for the non-elect, then the elect can find no security or comfort in the redemptive work of Christ for them (as the apostle does in Romans 8:34). If one for whom Christ died fails to be glorified, then all may fail to be glorified.


What about those verses of Scripture that describe the work of Christ in universal terms? These depict Christ as dying for the "world" (John 1:29), "the whole world" (1 John 2:2), "all men" (1 Timothy 2:6), "every man" (Hebrews 2:9), etc.

The words "world," "whole world," "all men," and "every man," do not always refer to every member of the human race.

  • "world" -- John 1:10 cf.1:12, 17:9; Romans 11:11-15.

"World" often refers to Gentiles as opposed to Jews and is intended to combat Jewish exclusivism. John 11:51-52 shows what is often intended in the use of the word world. In such verses the biblical writers draw a distinction between members of the nation of Israel and the elect from among the Gentiles ,"the people of God that are scattered abroad."

  • "whole world" -- 1 John 5:19.
  • "every man" -- Hebrews 2:9, cf. 2:10ff.
  • "all men" -- 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, 10:33.

The context must decide the meaning of "all":

  • There are times that "all" designates all of a class (John 1:16, 3:26, 11:48; Romans 5:18; 1 Timothy 5:20).
  • There are times that "all" denotes all without distinction (all sorts) rather than all without exception (Romans 3:23; 1 Timothy 2:4, 6; Titus 2:11, cf. 2:1-10).

What about 2 Peter 2:1, where Peter writes concerning false teachers who are clearly unbelievers, "... even denying the Lord that bought them?"

There are many legitimate answers to this question. For example, it has been pointed out that the Greek word translated "Lord" is despotes -- one who holds authority over another. This would indicate that Christ bought them in order that He might have authority over them. John 17:1 states that He has "authority over all flesh (men), in order that he might give eternal life to all that the Father has given Him. " It would seem that the least complicated explanation would be that Peter was speaking of them, not in terms of the reality of the case, but in terms of their profession. These false teachers are those who claim that Christ died for them. This is precisely what he does in vv. 20-22 of this same chapter.  


  • It will affect our gospel preaching.

    • We will not feel the need to indiscriminately proclaim to sinners what the apostles never proclaimed, namely, "Christ died for you." "It is the gospel that Christ died for the most guilty of sinners who will believe, not that He died for all men whether they will believe or not."
    • We will proclaim the work of Christ as a victorious accomplishment. It is not the possibility of salvation that the gospel offers, but salvation itself.  
  • It will affect our view of justification before God.

    • If Christ died equally for all men, then His work cannot be the sole basis of our justification. Kenneth Taylor was writing as a consistent Arminian when, in the Living Bible he paraphrased Romans 3:25, "He [God] uses Christ's blood and our faith to satisfy God's wrath." The truth is that when Jesus died, He satisfied God's wrath against His chosen people all by Himself -- "Jesus paid it all."
  • It will affect our assurance of final glorification.

    • If Christ intended to save some who have already perished in their sins, then we who are relying for salvation on Christ alone, may also perish. If, on the other hand, Christ has effectually redeemed all whom He intended to redeem, then we are forever secure. If He has exhausted God's wrath that was due to His people, then His people can never experience that wrath. Augustus Toplady wrote,  

If Thou hast my discharge procured,
And freely in my room endured
The whole of wrath divine,
Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding surety's hand,
And then again at mine.

  • It will affect our worship.

    • It will focus our attention, not on the sinner's "decision," but on the glory of Christ, the victorious redeemer of sinners.


  1. What belief do both 'free will' and 'free grace' believers have in common?

  2. In what sense do Arminians believe that the death of Christ was limited?

  3. In what sense do Calvinists believe that the death of Christ was limited?

  4. Do Calvinists attribute any less value to the redemptive work of Christ than do the Arminians?

  5. What is the real issue in the controversy over the extent of Christ's redeeming work? Is it concerned with the value or the intention of the death of Christ?

  6. According to the Scriptures, what was the design and purpose of the redeeming work of Christ (seven descriptions of the same people)?

  7. Do the Scriptures represent the redemptive work of Christ as a work that made propitiation, reconciliation, redemption, and justification merely possible, or as a work that actually accomplished these blessings for those for whom Christ died?

  8. List four objective accomplishments of Christ's death.

  9. What does the word 'propitiation' mean?

  10. What does the word 'reconciliation' mean?

  11. What does the word redemption mean?

  12. What is significant about the fact that the work of redemption is the work of the triune God?

  13. What is significant about the fact that the priestly functions of oblation (offering sacrifice) and intercession are coextensive (are accomplished for the same people)? Since the Scripture tells us that Christ only intercedes for those who actually come to God by Him, what should we deduce concerning the design and extent of His sacrificial offering?

  14. For whom does Christ act as representative head?

  15. In Romans 5:12-19, Paul argues that Christ, as the representative of His people, bears a typical correspondence to Adam. If the one act of Adam actually condemned all who were in Him as their representative head, should the redemptive work of Christ be viewed as potential or actual?

  16. If, as God's Word teaches, all for whom Christ died, died in Him and with Him to the reigning power of sin, in what way is it significant that all men do not die with Christ to the reigning power of sin?

  17. According to Romans 8:32, what will all of those for whom God gave up His Son ultimately enjoy?

  18. What would be the effect on the security of the true believer of one for whom Christ died fell short of glorification?

  19. Can the believer find any comfort or security in the redemptive work of Christ if Christ accomplished no more for the reprobate in Hell than He did for His believing people?

  20. Do the words 'world,' 'whole world,' 'all men,' and 'every man' always refer to every member of the human race without exception?

  21. To what does the word 'world' often refer in Scripture?

  22. How can it be shown that the phrase 'whole world' does not necessarily refer to every person without exception (1 John 5:19)?

  23. What is the significance of the phrase 'every man' in the context of Hebrews 2:9ff?

  24. Give examples of texts in which the phrase 'all men' does not refer to all sinners without exception.

  25. Give examples of texts in which 'all' means all of a class.

  26. Give examples of texts in which 'all' denotes all without distinction.

  27. How can 2 Peter 2:1 be explained in the light of the doctrine of particular redemption?

  28. How will our belief in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our gospel preaching?

  29. How will our belief in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our views of justification?

  30. How will our belief in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our assurance of final glorification?

  31. How will our belief in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our worship?


Definition:  Effectual calling is God's gracious work in which He, according to His eternal purpose and electing grace, powerfully subdues the sinner's rebellion, causing him to turn to Christ in unfeigned faith and heartfelt repentance.


  • We do not mean that men (even elect men) never resist the free overtures of God's mercy and grace (Genesis 6:3; Acts 7:51).
  • We do not mean that men cannot resist and finally reject the powerful conviction of the Holy Spirit Himself (Acts 7:51, 24:25).
  • We do not mean that men have no choice and make no decision in coming to Christ (Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Revelation 22:19).
  • We do not mean that God forces salvation on sinners against their wills.


  • We mean that even though sinners always resist the Holy Spirit, the powerful grace of God cannot be thwarted by the resistance of the rebellious sinner's will.
  • We mean that at God's appointed time (Galatians 1:15-16), He subdues the sinner's rebellion and makes him willing to embrace Christ in saving faith (Psalm 110:3).
  • We mean that whenever sinners freely choose to seek the Lord, turn from sin, and receive Christ, they have been enabled to do so by a prior work of God in their souls (John 1:12-13, 6:44-45).
  • We mean that all who are called by God will come to Christ (John 6:45).
  • We mean that God, not man, is in control in the realm of salvation (Matthew 11:20-27; Romans 9:16; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 4:7; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:15-16; 2 Timothy 1:9).


Both Arminians and hyper-calvinists believe that responsibility and ability must go together:

  • The Arminian teaches that since Scripture teaches that people are responsible to believe and repent, they must be able to do so.
  • The Hyper-Calvinist reasons that since Scripture teaches that people are unable to believe and repent, they are not responsible to do so.

Scripture teaches that sinners are both responsible to believe and repent and unable to believe and repent.

Sinners are responsible:

  • (Luke 13:24; Acts 13:46; Matthew 23:37; Romans 2:2-6).

Sinners are unable:

  • to see (John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4),
  • to hear and understand (John 8:43; Psalm 58:4-5),
  • to come to Christ (John 6:44),
  • to feel proper emotions (Ephesians 4:19),
  • to receive the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14),
  • to submit to God's law (Romans 8:7).
  • to change (Jeremiah 13:23).


  • The outward call is issued every time the gospel is proclaimed.
  • It is a sincere, universal, offer of mercy in Christ.
  • It is to be published indiscriminately to all men and nations (Luke 24:47).
  • It is accompanied with the most powerful motives for its acceptance.
  • It is attended by the powerful conviction of the Holy Spirit.
  • It is never obeyed and received by natural men (1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4). It is never effectual by itself, apart from the inward call.
  • The words "call" and "calling" are never used in this sense in the NT epistles.

God issues the inward, effectual call to the elect, in conjunction with the preaching of the gospel, whenever it pleases Him to do so:

  • It is issued by God the Father (John 6:44-45; Romans 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Galatians 1:15-16; 2 Timothy 1:9).
  • It is made effectual by the Holy Spirit in regeneration (John 3:5-6; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2).
  • It is this call that makes the difference between believers and unbelievers (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
  • It is this inward call that secures obedience to the outward call. Everyone who hears this call will believe (John 6:45; Romans 8:30).
  • It is extended to the elect only, in accordance with the eternal purpose of God (Romans 8:28; 2 Timothy 1:9).
  • It is in this sense that the word "call" is always used in the epistles of the NT (1 Corinthians 1:26; Ephesians 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1, 9:15; 1 Peter 1:15, 2:9, 21, 5:10; Jude 1; Revelations 17:14).


  • It is powerful (Ephesians 1:19-2:5).
  • It is internal (2 Corinthians 4:6).
  • It is an upward (high) calling (Philippians 3:14).

We are called to high privileges. We are called:

  • into fellowship with Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9),
  • suffering with and for Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9),
  • to live in the light (1 Peter 2:9),
  • for justification (Romans 8:30),
  • for sanctification (1 Peter 1:15),
  • to the promise of eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15).
  • to eternal glory (1 Peter 5:10).

We are called to high duties. We are called:

  • to be holy (1 Peter 1:15; 2 Timothy 1:9),
  • to walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1).
  • to show forth God's praises (1 Peter 2:9).


  • It is immutable (Romans 11:29).
  • It is heavenly (Hebrews 3:1).
  • It proceeds from heaven. It is a summons that comes from heaven's throne.
  •  It calls us to heavenly blessings and destiny.


  • If we have heard the good shepherd's voice, our ears will be closed to the voice of strangers (John 10:5-8).
  • If we have evidence that we have been effectually called (faith in Christ, holiness of life), then we may be absolutely assured of eternal glory (Romans 8:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). We should also rejoice that our calling gives evidence of God's everlasting love for us (Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 8:29-30).
  • We should be humbled when we realize that the only detail that distinguishes us from the vilest sinner in hell is the free and sovereign grace of God that has called us to life in Christ (1 Corinthians 4:7).
  • This truth should cause us to depend totally on God for the conversion of sinners. We must faithfully and diligently proclaim the gospel and pray earnestly that God will give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
  • This truth should curb professional jealously in the ministry (John 3:26-27). It should also reprove man followers (1 Corinthians 3:4-7).


  1. What is another name for the doctrine of effectual calling?

  2. What are some of the ways in which the word "irresistible" has been misunderstood?

  3. Does God ever force people to be saved against their wills?

  4. Does God ever make people willing to be saved in accordance with His eternal purpose?

  5. If people willingly and freely turn from their sins to Christ in saving faith, what must have already happened to them?

  6. Will all of those whom God has called come to faith in Christ?

  7. Who is in control in the realm of salvation, God or man?

  8. Does God save people by accident or on purpose?

  9. What do Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism have in common?

  10. What is different about these two views?

  11. What do the Scriptures teach concerning ability and responsibility?

  12. Are all sinners responsible to believe and repent?

  13. What are some of the acts that sinners are unable to perform?

  14. How do the outward and inward calls of God differ?

  15. Is the outward call of the gospel ever obeyed apart from the inward, effectual call?

  16. Which person of the Godhead issues the call?

  17. Which person of the Godhead makes the call effectual? What is the work called in which He does so?

  18. Into whose fellowship are sinners called (1 Corinthians 1:9)?

  19. To whom alone does the effectual call come?

  20. In what sense is the word "call (calling, called)" always used in the NT Epistles?

  21. Which comes first (theologically and logically, not chronologically), regeneration or faith?

  22. List five characteristics of the effectual call?

  23. What are some of the privileges to which the elect are called?

  24. List five practical effects that this doctrine should have on those who believe it.

  25. How can we know that we have been called effectually? If we have been called, of what two things (one past, one future) can we be sure?

  26. Why is it impossible for the person that understands this doctrine to ever be proud that he has believed the gospel?

  27. Should we be any less diligent in witnessing the gospel since we know that the results all depend on God?

  28. What effect should this truth have on us as we seek to win people to Christ?

  29. In the light of this truth, how should we react when we observe that another Christian's gifts and abilities, growth in grace, or accomplishments in evangelism, are greater than ours?

  30. Why is it wrong for us to have favorite preachers in the sense of glorifying man for the success of the gospel (1 Corinthians 3:4-7)?


The Doctrine Defined: All of those who are truly united to Christ in saving faith will persevere in faith and holiness to the end.


  • It is not always possible for us to ever know for certain if another person is truly converted, (e.g., Judas -- John 13:28-29.)
  • It is possible to have very uplifting, ennobling, reforming and exhilarating experiences of the power and truth of the gospel without a genuine conversion experience (Luke 8:4-15; Matthew 7:24-27; Acts 8:9-23; Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:20-22).
  • It is not a mere profession, but a possession of faith in Christ that is certain to endure to the end (Matthew 7:21-23). The Bible does not teach that everyone who professes faith in Christ and is accepted into the fellowship of the saints, enjoys the assurance of eternal salvation.
  • There is a difference between "eternal security" (especially as it is commonly taught) and the perseverance of the saints.

There are two extreme positions on this issue:

  • One is that preservation (eternal security) is absolutely certain, but perseverance is not necessary (Carnal Christian Doctrine).
  • The other is that perseverance is necessary but not certain (Wesleyan Arminian view).

God both commands and enables the saints to persevere in faith to the end (see below).


The uniform teaching of the Bible is that perseverance is both absolutely necessary and absolutely certain. If we emphasize either of these truths to the exclusion of the other, we are no longer on solid biblical ground.

  • Perseverance is necessary -- only those who persevere in faith and holiness are truly saints (Matthew 7:21-3, 10:22, 13:18-23; Luke 8:4-8, 11-15; John 8:31-32, 15:4-6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Colossians 1:22-23; Hebrews 3:6, 14, 6:4-6, 10:35-39; 2 Peter 2:20-22.
  • Perseverance is certain -- all of those who are truly saints will surely persevere in faith and holiness to the end (John 6:37, 39-40, 10:27-30; Romans 8:1, 28-39; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 3:3, 5:18).

The purpose, work, and character of God the Father make the saint's perseverance certain.

He has purposed the final salvation (as well as all the steps leading to it) of every genuine believer:

  • He has marked out a people to be redeemed by Christ.
  • He has foreknown (set His love on) His people from eternity.
  • He has predestined all His people to glory.

His purpose is always accomplished (Isaiah 46:9-11; Daniel 4:35; Proverbs 19:21; Psalm 115:3)
There are only two reasons why a person would change his mind or purpose; neither applies to God:

  • Inability to foresee obstacles that might hinder the execution of a plan.
  • A lack of power or resources needed to overcome obstacles that might arise. God is able to overcome every conceivable obstacle (2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 7:25; Jude 24; 1 Peter 1:3-5).

In justification He gives a new legal standing that cannot be taken away (Romans 8:33).

In adoption He grants an inheritance from which we cannot be disinherited.

His immutability makes it certain. Since God is unchangeable (Malachi 3:6):

His love for His people is unchanging (Psalm 89:30-34; Isaiah 49:14-16; Jeremiah 31:3; John 13:1; Romans 8:35-39).

His truth (His promises) is unchanging (Isaiah 54:10; Hebrews 6:17).

  • His righteous demands do not change. Once His righteous demands have been fully satisfied, we do not need to concern ourselves with further legal liability.

The work of Christ makes the saint's perseverance certain.

  • Since God is righteous, He cannot charge us with those sins for which Christ has already suffered (1 John 1:9-2:1).
  • Not only did Christ's death for His people deliver us from the penalty of sin; it also delivered us from the reigning power of sin, thus assuring our perseverance.

The work of the Holy Spirit makes the saint's perseverance certain.

  • In regeneration, He gives us a new nature insuring our perseverance in faith and holiness (1 John 3:9).
  • In sanctification He causes us to form new habits (Romans 8:13-14).
  • He seals us guaranteeing our safe arrival at our final destination (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13).
  • He is the earnest (down payment, guarantee) of our full inheritance (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:14).
  • He causes us to earnestly long for full conformity to Christ (Romans 8:23-29).


  1. How would you define the biblical doctrine of the perseverance of the saints?

  2. What four principles should govern our thinking about this doctrine?

  3. What are two extreme positions that should be avoided with reference to this doctrine?

  4. What does the Bible teach concerning the certainty and necessity of the saints perseverance?

  5. Will anyone be saved for eternity who stops believing in the faithfulness of Christ to save them?

  6. Will anyone who is truly a child of God ever stop believing?

  7. What does the Bible teach about God the Father that assures us that those who are truly believers will ever be lost?

  8. Why is it important for us to understand that God has purposed the final salvation of all believers?

  9. Has God ever purposed (planned to do) anything that He failed to accomplish?

  10. What two factors might force a person to abandon his plans?

  11. Do either of these ever apply to God?

  12. How does the fact that God has justified us relate to our final perseverance?

  13. How does our adoption relate to our final perseverance?

  14. How does the fact that God cannot change affect our views of the saint's perseverance?

  15. How does the redemptive work of Christ make the final salvation of believers certain?

  16. Will believers ever be found guilty for those sins for which Christ has already suffered?

  17. Why is it impossible for believers to go on living in sin?

  18. What has the Holy Spirit done to secure the final perseverance of the saints?

  19. Does God ever justify anyone (declare anyone righteous) whom He does not also sanctify (make holy or righteous)?

  20. What is significant about the fact that the Holy Spirit "seals" believers until the time that they reach their final destination?

  21. What does Paul mean when He says that the Holy Spirit is the "earnest" of our inheritance?

  22. What kind of desires does the Holy Spirit produce in the hearts of believers?

Suggested Bibliography For Further Study

Adams, James, Decisional Regeneration, Allentown: Sword and Trowel Publishers, 1973.

Boettner, Loraine, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1975.

Chantry, Walter J., Man's Will -- Free, Yet Bound, Christian Center Press, n.d.

Martin, A.N., The Practical Implications of Calvinism, Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, n.d.

Murray, Ian, The Forgotten Spurgeon, Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978.

Murray, John, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1973.

Packer, James I., Evangelism and The Sovereignty of God, Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter Varsity Press, 1974.

________. Introductory Essay To John Owen's The Death of Death, London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1963.

Petersen, Henry, The Canons of Dort, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968.

Pink, A.W., The Sovereignty of God, London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972.

Reisinger, Ernest J., What Should We Think Of The Carnal Christian? Carlisle, Pa.; The Banner of Truth Trust, n.d.

Reisinger, John G., The Sovereignty of God in Providence, Southbridge, MA: Crowne Publications, Inc., 1989.

Spurgeon, Charles H., Free Will -- A Slave, Choteau, Mont.: Gospel Mission Press, 1980.

________. Election, Swengel, Pa.; Reiner Publications, n.d.

Steele, David N., and Thomas, Curtis, The Five Points of Calvinism, Philadelphia; Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1967.

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