TOPICS » Doctrine of Salvation

Sermon: Selected Texts: Some Thoughts on the Doctrine of Salvation

Sermon Audio

I do hope that you’ve been encouraged and edified in our study through the gospel of John. 29 sermons have beed devoted to this book so far, and we have just recently completed our consideration of chapter 6. A few weeks ago I had mentioned that, after working through chapter 6 verse by verse, I would devote one sermon to discussing the doctrine of salvation. This is that sermon. My reason for doing this is to, hopefully, bring clarity to some of the difficult things that have been stated in John 6.

It is here in John 6 that Jesus himself reveals that some people have been given to him by the Father. It is those – all whom the Father has given to him – who will come to him and believe in his name (6:37-39). It is here that Jesus reveals that no one can come to faith in Christ unless the Father draws that person – no one is able (John 6:44, 65). It is here that Jesus reveals that the will of the Father for him is that he would loose none of those whom the Father has given to him, but raise them up on the last day (6:39-40).

To state things in a most direct way, a careful consideration of John chapter 6 demands that the Christian come to terms with this truth: that it is God who determines the salvation of sinners. God not only provided the way for salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son, but he is also at work applying the salvation earned by Christ to a particular people – to an elect and chosen people – as he effectively draws them to himself through Christ and by the Holy SpiritRead the rest of Sermon: Selected Texts: Some Thoughts on the Doctrine of Salvation »

Posted in Sermons, Doctrine of Salvation, Calvinism, Doctrine of Salvation, Free Will, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Sermon: Selected Texts: Some Thoughts on the Doctrine of Salvation

Of the Perseverance of the Saints – Emmaus Essentials Episode 24

Episode 24 of Emmaus Essentials is up! This episode covers chapter 17 of the confession – Of the Perseverance of the Saints. The question under consideration is, can a Christian be truly saved, and then loose their salvation due to unbelief or sin? Many have struggled with this question. I believe that the confession summarizes the teaching of scripture beautifully.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Joe

Access on:


Of Saving Faith – Emmaus Essentials Episode 21

Episode 21 of Emmaus Essentials is up and ready for you perusal! This episode covers chapter 14 of the Confession on the topic of saving faith. Three truths are explored: The origin and development of faith, the basis and definition of faith, and the nature of true faith.


Pastor Joe

Access on:


Do you have questions about the doctrine of salvation?

Do you have questions about the doctrine of salvation? If so, I would highly recommend this seminar series from Dr. John Piper that a friend of mine made me aware of today. The teaching is well presented, thorough, clear, and deeply devoted to the Holy Scriptures – also, it’s free! There’s about 8 hours of teaching here in audio or video form with lecture notes available. Perhaps you could find a way to work this in to your schedule in the next month or two. I trust that you will be blessed by it as you grow in your understanding of what it means to be saved by grace alone through faith alone. May your love for Him increase!


TULIP, Part 1: Introduction

TULIP, Part 2: Assumptions – Irresistible Grace

TULIP, Part 3: Irresistible Grace – Total Depravity

TULIP, Part 4: Total Depravity – Unconditional Election

TULIP, Part 5: Unconditional Election

TULIP, Part 6: Unconditional Election

TULIP, Part 7: Limited Atonement

TULIP, Part 8: Perseverance of the Saints

TULIP, Part 9: Ten Effects of Believing the Five Points of Calvinisim



John 3:16 – God’s Immeasurable Love

It was a joy to study and preach on John 3:16 this past Sunday. This text truly does communicate the most glorious of truths to us – that the Almighty has chosen to love the world, the sinful world, by sending his unique Son in order that all who believe will have eternal life.

A frustration in preaching is that there is usually so much more to be said than what can be said in 45 minutes. That is especially true when diving into an isolated text such as this, dealing with it as a stand alone sermon. There is truly so much more that could be said about John 3:16 than what was said last Sunday from the pulpit at Emmaus, and that is why I am writing this post.

Bellow is B.B. Warfield’s exposition of John 3:16. It is the best that I know of, and the one that I agree with. I do believe that he gets off track a bit in the last section as he seems to allow his Postmillenial views to influence his interpretation of the text, but really this is a minor criticism in comparison to the excellence of his sermon. Please read it and allow it to deepen your understanding of the love of the Almighty God towards sinners.


B. B. Warfield

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

To whom we owe this great declaration of the love of God, it is somewhat difficult to determine: whether to our Lord himself, or to that disciple who had lain upon his bosom and had imbibed so much of his spirit that he thenceforth spoke with his Master’s voice and in his Master’s words. Happily, it is a matter of no substantial importance. For what difference does it make to you and me whether the Lord speaks to us through his own lips, or through those of his servant, the apostle, to whom he had promised, and to whom he had given, his Holy Spirit to teach him all the truth (John 16:13)?

What concerns us is not the instrumentality through which the message comes, but the message itself. And what a great message it is—the message of the greatness of the love of God! Let us see to it that, as the words sound in our ears, it is this great revelation that fills our hearts, fills them so full as to flood all their being and wash into all their recesses. The greatness of the love of God, the immeasurable greatness of the love of God!


This exhortation is not altogether superfluous. Strange as it may sound, it is true, that many—perhaps the majority—of those who feed their souls on this great declaration, seem to have trained themselves to think, when it falls upon their ears, in the first instance at least, not so much of how great—how immeasurably great—God’s love is, but rather of how great the world is. It is the world that God loves, they say, the world. And forthwith they fall to thinking how great the world is, and how, nevertheless, God loves it all. Think, they cry, of the multitudes of men who swarm over the face of the earth, and have swarmed over it through all the countless generations from the beginning, and will swarm over it in ever-increasing numbers through perhaps even more countless generations yet to come, until the end. And God loves them all, each and every one of them, from the least to the greatest; so loves them that he has given his only begotten Son to die for them, for each and every one of them. And for each and every one of them with the same intent—the intent, namely, that he may be saved. O, how great the love of God must be to embrace in its compass these uncounted multitudes of men. And so to embrace them that every individual that enters as a constituent unit into the mass of mankind receives his full share of it, or rather is inundated by its undivided and undiminished flood!

Certainly this is a great conception. But it is just as certainly not a great enough conception to meet the requirements of our text. For, look, will you measure the immeasurable greatness of God’s love by the measure of man? All these multitudes of men who have lived, do live, or shall live, from the beginning to the end of the world’s entire span—what is their finite sum to the infinitude of God? Lo, the world, and all that is in the world—and all that has ever been in the world or can ever be in the world—lies as nothing in the sight of the Infinite One, floats as an evanescent particle in his eternal vision. How can we exalt our conception of the greatness of the divine love by thinking of it as great enough to embrace all this? Can we praise the blacksmith’s brawn by declaring him capable of supporting a mustard seed on his outstretched palm? This standard is too small! We cannot compute such masses in terms of it. Conceive the world as vastly as you may, it remains ever incommensurate with the immeasurable love of God.

And what warrant does the text offer for conceiving so greatly of the world, or indeed for thinking of it at all under the category of extension, as if it were its size that was oppressing the imagination of the speaker, and its parts—down to the last analysis—that were engaging his wondering attention? Evidently the text envisages the world, of which it speaks in the concrete, as a whole. This world is made up of parts, no doubt, and the differing destinies that await the individuals which compose it are adverted to. But the emphasis does not fall upon its component elements, as if their number, for example, could form the ground of the divine love, or explain the wonder of its greatness. Distribution of it into its elements and engagement with the individuals which compose it is merely the result of the false start made when the mind falls away from contemplating the immensity of the love of God with which the text is freighted, to absorb itself rather in wonder over the greatness of the world which is loved.

And having begun with this false step, it is not surprising if the wandering mind finds itself shortly lost in admiration not even of the greatness of the world, but rather of the greatness of the individual soul. These souls of men, each and every one of which God loves so deeply that he has given his Son to die for it—what great, what noble, what glorious things they must be! O what value each of us should place upon this precious soul of ours that God so highly esteemed as to give his Son to die for it! A great and inspiring thought, again, beyond all doubt; but, again, obviously not great enough to be the thought of the text. Clearly, what the text invites us to think of is the greatness of the love of God, not the greatness of the human soul.

And how can we fancy that we can measure the love of God by what he has done for each and every human soul? Persist in reading the text thus distributively, making “the world” mean each and every man that lives on the earth, and what, after all, does it declare that the love of God has done for them? Just open a way of salvation before men, give them an opportunity to save themselves. For, what, in that contingency, does the text assert? Just this: that “God so loved the world”—that is, each and every man that has lived, does live, or shall live in this world—”that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” “Whosoever believeth on him”—those only.

Is this, then, the measure of the immeasurable love of God—that he barely opens a pathway to salvation before sinful men, and stops right there; does nothing further for them—leaving it to their own unassisted initiative whether they will walk in it or not? Surely this cannot be the teaching of the text; and that, for many reasons. Primary among them is this: that we all know that the love of God has done much more than this for multitudes of the children of men, namely, has not merely opened a way of salvation before them, but has actually saved them.

Nor is our text silent on this point. It is not in this mere opening of a way of salvation before each and every man that the love of God for the world is declared by it to issue, but in the actual saving of the world. We read the next verse and we discover it asserting that God sent his Son into the world for this specific end—that the world should be “saved by him.” God did not then only so love the world as to give it a bare chance of salvation; he so loved the world that he saved the world. And surely this is something far better. It provides a much higher standard by which to estimate the greatness of God’s love.

We discover, then, that the distribution of the term “world” in our text into “each and every man in the world” not only begins with the obvious misstep of directing our attention at once rather to the greatness of the world than to the greatness of God’s love and only infers the latter from the former. It ends by positively belittling the love of God, as if it could content itself with half-measures—nay, in numerous instances, with what is practically no measure at all. For if it is satisfied with merely opening a way of salvation and leaving men to walk in this way or not as they will, the hard facts of life force us to add that it is satisfied with merely opening a way of salvation for multitudes to whom it should never be made known that a way of salvation lay open before them, although their sole hope is in their walking in it.

And why dwell on special cases? Shall we not recognize frankly that so meager a provision would be operative in no case? For even when it is made known to men that a way of salvation is opened before them, can they—being sinners—walk in it? Let our passage itself tell us. Does it not explicitly declare that every one that doeth ill hateth the light and cometh not to the light? And who of us does not know that he, at least—if not every man—doeth ill? Does the love of God expend itself then in inoperative manifestations?

Surely not so can be measured the love of God, of which the Scriptures tell us that its height and depth and length and breadth pass knowledge; of which Paul declares that nothing can separate us from it—not death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature; of which he openly asserts that if it avails to reconcile us with God, through the death of his Son, much more shall it avail to bring us into the fruition of salvation by his life.


Obviously, then, the distribution of the notion “world” in our text into “each and every man” in the world, does less than justice to the infinitude of the love of God which it is plainly the object of the text to exalt in our thought. Reacting from the ineptitudes of this interpretation, and determined at all costs to take the conception of the love of God at the height of its idea, men of deeper insight have therefore suggested that it is not the world at large that is in question in the text, but God’s people, the chosen of God in the world.

Surely, it is God’s seeking, nay, God’s finding love that is celebrated here, they argue—the love which goes out to its object with a vigor which no obstacle can withstand, and, despite every difficulty, brings it safely into the shelter of its arms. The “world” that God so loved that he gave his Son for it—surely that is not the “world” that he loved so little as to leave it to take or leave the Son so given, as its own wayward heart might dictate; but the “world” that he loved enough, after giving his Son for it, powerfully to move upon with his quickening Spirit and graciously to lead into the offered salvation. This is the “world” of believers, in a word, as they are called in the following clause, or, as they are called elsewhere in Scripture, the “world” of God’s elect. It was these whom God loved before the foundation of the world with a love beyond all expression great and strong, constant and prevailing, a love which was not and could not be defeated, just because it was love, the very characteristic of which, Paul tells us, is that it suffereth long, is not provoked, taketh no account of evil, beareth all things, endureth all things, yea, never faileth: and therefore was not and could not be satisfied until it had brought its objects home.

It is very clear that this interpretation has the inestimable advantage over the one formerly suggested, that it penetrates into the heart of the matter and refuses to evacuate the text of its manifest purport. The text is given to enhance in our hearts the conception of the love of God to sinners: to make us to know somewhat of the height and depth and length and breadth of it, though truly it passes knowledge. It will not do, then, as we read it, to throw limitations around this love, as if it could not accomplish that whereto it is set.

Beyond all question, the love which is celebrated is the saving love of God; and the “world” which is declared to be the object of this love is a “world” that is not merely given an opportunity of salvation, but actually saved. As none but believers—or, if you choose to look at them sub specie aeternitatis, none but the elect—attain salvation, so it seems but an identical proposition to say that it is just the world of believers, or the world of the elect, that is embraced in the love of God here celebrated. When the text declares, therefore, that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son for it, is not what is meant, and what must be meant, just the elect scattered throughout the world?

It may seem strange to us, indeed, to speak of the elect as “the world.” But is not that largely because, in the changed times in which we live, we do not sufficiently poignantly appreciate or deal seriously enough with the universalism of Christianity in contrast with the nationalism of the old dispensation? In this universalistic and new covenant gospel of John, especially, what is more natural than to find the “world” brought into contrast with Jewish exclusivism? In short, is not the meaning of our text just this: that Jesus Christ came to make propitiation for the sins not of Jews only, but of the whole world, that is to say, not of course to reach each and every man who lives in the world, but in any event for men living throughout the world, heirs of the world’s fortunes?

Certainly it is difficult for us to appreciate the greatness of the revolution wrought in the religious consciousness of men like John, bred in the exclusivism of Judaism and accustomed to think of the Messiah as the peculiar property of Israel, when the worldwide mission of Christianity was brought home to their minds and hearts. To John and men like John, its universalism was no doubt well-nigh the most astonishing fact about Christianity. And the declaration that God so loved the world—not Israel exclusively, but the world—that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever—from every nation, not from the Jews merely—should believe on him should have eternal life. This great declaration must have struck upon their hearts with a revelation of the wideness of God’s mercy and the unfathomable profundities of his love such as we can scarcely appreciate in our days of age-long familiarity with the great fact. Is not this, then, the real meaning of the immense declaration of the text: that Jesus Christ is the worldwide Savior, that now the middle wall of partition has been broken down and God has called to himself a people out of all the nations of the earth, and has so loved this his people gathered thus from the whole world, that he has given his only begotten Son to die for them? And is not this a truth big with consequences, worthy of such a record as is given it in our text, and capable of awakening in our hearts a most profound response?

Assuredly no one will doubt the value and inspiration of such suggestions. The truth that lies in them, who can gainsay? But it is difficult to feel that they quite exhaust the meaning of the great words of the text.

In their effort to do justice to the conception of the love of God, do they not do something less than justice to the conception embodied in the term “the world”? In identifying “the world” with believers, do they not neglect, if we may not quite say the contrast of the two things, yet at least the distinction between the two notions which the text seems to institute? “God so loved the world,” we read, “that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Certainly here “the world” and “believers” do not seem to be quite equivalent terms. There seems, surely, something conveyed by the one which is not wholly taken up in the other. How, then, shall we say that “the world” means just “the world of believers,” just those scattered through the world, who, being the elect of God, shall believe in his Son and so have eternal life?

There is obviously much truth in this idea: and the main difficulty which it faces may, no doubt, be avoided by saying that what is taught is that God’s love of the world is shown by his saving so great a multitude as he does save out of the world. The wicked world deserved at his hands only total destruction. But he saves out of it a multitude which no man can number, out of every nation, and of all tribes and peoples and tongues. How much, then, must God love the world! This interpretation, beyond question, reproduces the fundamental meaning of the text. But does it completely satisfy all its suggestions? Does there not lie in the text some more subtle sequence of thought than is explicated by it? Is there not implied in it some profounder and yet more glorious truth than even the worldwide reach of God’s love, manifested in the Great Commission, and issuing in the multitude of the saved, the voice of whose praise ascends to heaven as the voice of many waters and as the voice of mighty thunders?


Neither of the more common interpretations of the text, therefore, appears to bring out quite fully its real significance. The one fails to rise to the height of the conception of the love of God embodied in it. The other appears to do something less than full justice to the conception of the world which God is said to love. The difficulty in both cases seems to arise from a certain unwillingness to go deeply enough. A surface meaning, possible to impose upon the text, seems to be seized upon, while its profundities are left unexplored.

If we would make our own the great revelation of the love of God here given us, we must be more patient. Renouncing the easy imposition upon it of meanings of our own devising, we must just permit the text to speak its own language to our hearts. Its prime intention is to convey some conception of the immeasurable greatness of the love of God. The method it employs to do this is to declare the love of God for the world so great that he gave his Son to save it. The central affirmation obviously, then, is this—and it is a sufficiently great one to absorb our entire attention—that God loved the world. “God,” “loved,” “the world”—we must deal seriously with this great assertion, and with every element of it. We must first of all, then, thoroughly enter into the meaning of the three great terms here brought together: “God,” “loved,” “the world.”

We shall not make the slightest step forward in understanding our text, for instance, so long as we permit ourselves to treat the great term “God” merely as the subject of a sentence. We must endeavor rather to rise as nearly as may be to its fullest significance. When we pronounce the word, we must see to it that our minds are flooded with some wondering sense of God’s infinitude, of his majesty, of his ineffable exaltation, of his holiness, of his righteousness, of his flaming purity and stainless perfection. This is the Lord God Almighty, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, to whom the earth is less than the small dust on the balance. He has no need of anything, nor can his unsullied blessedness be in any way affected—whether by way of increase or decrease—by any act of the creatures of his hands. What we call infinite space is but a speck on the horizon of his contemplation. What we call infinite time is in his sight but as yesterday when it is past. Serene in his unapproachable glory, his will is the irresistible law of all existences to which their every motion conforms. Clothed in majesty and girded with strength, righteousness and judgment are the foundation of his throne. He sits in the heavens and does whatsoever he pleases. It is this God—a God of whom to say that he is the Lord of all the earth is to say so little that it is to say nothing at all—of whom our text speaks. And if we are ever to catch its meaning we must bear this fully in mind.

Now the text tells us of this God—of this God, remember—that he “loves.” In itself, before we proceed a step further, this is a marvelous declaration. The metaphysicians have not yet plumbed it and still protest inability to construe the Absolute in terms of love. We shall not stop to dwell upon this somewhat abstract discussion. It is enough for us that a God without emotional life would be a God without all that lends its highest dignity to personal spirit whose very being is movement, and that is as much as to say no God at all. And it is more than enough for us that our text assures us that God loves, nay, that he is Love.

What it concerns us now to note, however, is not the mere fact that he loves, but what it is that he is declared to love. For therein lies the climax of the great proclamation. This is nothing other than “the world.” For this is the unimaginable declaration of the text: “God so loved the world.” It is just in this that lies the mystery of the greatness of his love.

For what is this “world” which we are so strangely told that God loves? We must not throw the reins on the neck of our fancy and seek a response that will suit our ideas of the right or the fitting. We must just let the Scriptures themselves tell us, and primarily that apostle to whom we owe this great declaration. Nor does he fail to tell us, and that without the slightest ambiguity. The “world,” he tells us, is just the synonym of all that is evil and noisome and disgusting. There is nothing in it that can attract God’s love—nay, that can justify the love of any good man. It is a thing not to be dallied with or acquiesced in. They that are of it are by that very fact not of God. And what the Christian has to do with it is just to overcome it. For everything that is begotten of God manifests that great fact precisely by this: that he overcomes the world. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15a) is John’s insistent exhortation. And the reason for it he states very pungently: because “if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15b).

“God” and the “world,” then, are precise contradictions. “Nothing that is in the world is of the Father,” we are told. Or, as it is put elsewhere in direct positive form, “The whole world lieth in the evil one” (1 John 5:19). “The world, the flesh, and the devil”—this is the pregnant combination in which we have learned from Scripture to express the baleful forces that war against the soul: and the three terms are thus cast together because they are essentially synonyms.

See, then, whither we are brought. When we are told that God loves the world, it is much as if we were told that he loves the flesh and the devil. And we may, indeed, take courage from our text and say it boldly: God does love the world and the flesh and the devil. Therein indeed is the ground of all our comfort and all our hope. For we—you and I—are of the world and of the flesh and of the devil. Only—we must punctually note it—the love wherewith God loves the world, the flesh, and the devil—therefore, us—is not a love of complacency, as if he, the Holy One and the Good, could take pleasure in what is worldly, fleshly, devilish; but that love of benevolence which would fain save us from our worldliness, fleshliness, and devilishness.

That indeed is precisely what the text goes on at once to say: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” The world then was perishing. And it was to save it that God gave his Son. The text is, then, you see, in principle an account of the coming of the Son of God into the world. There were but two things for which he, being what he was as the Son of God, could come into the world, being what it was—to judge the world, or to save the world. It was for the latter that he came. “For,” the next verse runs on, “God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him.” Not wrath, then, though wrath were due, but love was the impelling cause of the coming of the Son of God into this wicked world of ours. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” The intensity of the love is what is emphasized. It is so intense that it was not deterred even by the sinfulness of its objects.

You will perceive that what we have here then is, in effect, but John’s way of saying what Paul says when he tells us that “God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

The marvel, in other words, which the text brings before us is just that marvel above all other marvels in this marvelous world of ours—the marvel of God’s love for sinners. And this is the measure by which we are invited to measure the greatness of the love of God. It is not that it is so great that it is able to extend over the whole of a big world. It is so great that it is able to prevail over the holy God’s hatred and abhorrence of sin! For herein is love, that God could love the world—the world that lies in the evil one: that God, who is all holy and just and good, could so love this world that he gave his only begotten Son for it—that he might not judge it, but that it might be saved.

The key to the passage lies, therefore, you see, in the significance of the term “world.” It is not here a term of extension so much as a term of intensity. Its primary connotation is ethical, and the point of its employment is not to suggest that the world is so big that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it all, but that the world is so bad that it takes a great kind of love to love it at all, and much more to love it as God has loved it when he gave his Son for it.

The whole debate as to whether the love here celebrated distributes itself to each and every man that enters into the composition of the world, or terminates on the elect alone, chosen out of the world, lies thus outside the immediate scope of the passage and does not supply any key to its interpretation. The passage was not intended to teach, and certainly does not teach, that God loves all men alike and visits each and every one alike with the same manifestations of his love. And as little was it intended to teach or does it teach that his love is confined to a few especially chosen individuals selected out of the world. What it is intended to do is to arouse in our hearts a wondering sense of the marvel and the mystery of the love of God for the sinful world—conceived, here, not quantitatively but qualitatively as, in its very distinguishing characteristic, sinful.

And search the universe through and through—in all its recesses and through all its historical development—and you will find no marvel so great, no mystery so unfathomable, as this: that the great and good God, whose perfect righteousness flames in indignation at the sight of every iniquity and whose absolute holiness recoils in abhorrence in the presence of every impurity, yet he loves this sinful world—yes, has so loved it that he has given his only begotten Son to die for it! It is this marvel and this mystery that our text would fain carry home to our hearts, and we would be wise if we would permit them to be absorbed in its contemplation.


At the same time, however, although we cannot permit the passage to be interpreted in the terms of the debate in question, it would not be quite true to say it has no bearing upon that debate.

One thing, for instance, which the passage tells us, and tells us with great emphasis, is that the love which it celebrates is a saving love; not a love which merely tends towards salvation, and may—perhaps easily—be defeated in its aim by, say, the unwillingness of its objects. The very point of the passage lies, on the one side, in the mightiness of the love of God; and, on the other, in the unwillingness not of some but of all its objects.

The love here celebrated is, we must remember, the love of God—of the Lord God Almighty: and it is love for the world—which altogether “lies in the evil one.” It is a love which is great and powerful and all-conquering, which attains its end and will not stand helpless before any obstacle. It is the precise purpose of the passage to teach us this, to raise our hearts to some apprehension of the inconceivable greatness of the love of God, set as it is upon saving the wicked world. It would be possible to believe that such a love as this terminates equally and with the same intent upon each and every man who is in “the world,” only if we may at the same time believe that it works out its end completely and with full effect on each and every man. But this the passage explicitly forbids us to believe, proceeding at once to divide the “world” into two classes, those that perish and those that have eternal life. The almighty, all-conquering love of God, therefore, certainly does not pour itself equally and with the same intent upon each and every man in the world. In the sovereignty that belongs of necessity to his love as to all love, he rather visits with it whom he will.

But neither will the text allow us to suppose that God grants this immeasurable love only to a few, abstracted from the world, while the world itself he permits to fall away to its destruction. The declaration is not that God has loved some out of the world, but that he has loved the world. And we must rise to the height of this divine universalism.

It is the world that God has loved with his deathless love, this sinful world of ours. And it is the world, this sinful world of ours, that he has given his Son to die for. And it is the world that through the sacrifice of his dear Son, he has saved, this very sinful world of ours. “God sent not the Son into the world,” we read, “to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him” (John 3:17). That is to say, God did not send his Son into the world for the purpose of judging the world, but for the purpose of saving the world—a declaration which could not be true if, despite his coming, the world were lost and only a select few saved out of it. The purposes of God do not fail.

You must not fancy, then, that God sits helplessly by while the world, which he has created for himself, hurtles hopelessly to destruction, and he is able only to snatch with difficulty here and there a brand from the universal burning. The world does not govern him in a single one of his acts. He governs it and leads it steadily onward to the end which, from the beginning, or before a beam of it had been laid, he had determined for it. As it was created for his glory, so shall it show forth his praise. And this human race on which he has impressed his image shall reflect that image in the beauty of the holiness which is its supreme trait.

The elect—they are not the residuum of the great conflagration, the ashes, so to speak, of the burnt-up world, gathered sadly together by the Creator, after the catastrophe is over, that he may make a new and perhaps better beginning with them and build from them, perchance, a new structure, to replace that which has been lost. Nay, they are themselves “the world”—not the world as it is in its sin, lying in the evil one, but the world in its promise and potency of renewed life.

Through all the years, one increasing purpose runs, one increasing purpose: the kingdoms of the earth become ever more and more the kingdoms of our God and his Christ. The process may be slow; the progress may appear to our impatient eyes to lag. But it is God who is building! And under his hands the structure rises as steadily as it does slowly, and in due time the capstone shall be set into its place, and to our astonished eyes shall be revealed nothing less than a saved world!

Meanwhile, we who live in the midst of the process see not yet the end. These are days of incompleteness, and it is only by faith that we can perceive the issue. The kingdom of God is as yet only in the making, and the “world” is not yet saved. So, there appear about us two classes—there are those that perish as well as those that have eternal life. With the absoluteness which characterizes the writer of this gospel, these two classes are set before us in the text and in the paragraph of which it forms a part, in their intrinsic antagonism. They are believers and unbelievers in the Son of God. And they are believers and unbelievers in the Son of God, because they are in their essential natures good or bad, lovers of light or lovers of darkness. “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light…. But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light” (John 3:20-21). Throughout the whole process of the world’s development, therefore, the Light that has come into the world draws to himself those who are of the light. He, that is, who through love of the world came into the world to save the world—yea, and who shall save the world—in the meantime attaches to himself in every generation those who in their essential nature belong to him.

How they came to be his, and therefore to be attracted to him, and therefore to enter into the life that is life indeed—to become portions no longer of the world that lies in the evil one, but of the reconstructed world that abides in him—the paragraph in which our text is set leaves us much uninformed. Accordingly, some rash expositors wish to insist that to it the division of men into the essentially good and the essentially bad is an ultimate fact. They speak therefore much of the ineradicable dualism of Jesus’ conception, not staying to consider the confusion thus wrought in the whole paragraph. For in that case how could there be talk of the Son of God coming into the world to save the world? Obviously, to the text, those who belong to the Son themselves require saving. That is to say, no less than the lost themselves, they belong by nature to the “evil one,” in whom the whole world—not a part of it only—we are told explicitly, “lieth.”

And if we will but attend to the context in which our paragraph is set, we will perceive that we are not left without guidance to its proper understanding. For we must remember that this paragraph is not an isolated document standing off to itself and complete in itself, but is a comment upon the discourse of our Lord to Nicodemus. It necessarily receives its color and explanation, therefore, from that discourse of which it is either a substantive part or upon which it is at least a reflection. And what does that discourse teach us except this: that all that is born of flesh is flesh, and only what is reborn of Spirit is Spirit; that no man can enter the kingdom of God, therefore, except he be born again of God; and that this birth is not at the command of men, but is the gift of a Spirit which is like the wind that bloweth where it listeth, the sound whereof we hear though we know not whence it cometh and whither it goeth—but can say of it only, Lo, it is here!

Here then is the explanation of the essential difference in men revealed in the varying reception they give to the Son of God. It is not due to accident of birth or to diversity of experience in the world, least of all to inherent qualities of goodness or badness belonging to each by nature. It is due solely to this—whether or not they have been born again by the Spirit and so are of the light and come spontaneously to the light when it dawns upon their waiting eyes.

The sequence in this great process of salvation, then, according to our passage, when taken in its context, is this: the fight of the Son of God to save the world; the preparation of the hearts of men to receive the Son of God in vital faith; the attraction of these “children of the light” to the Light of the world; and the rebuilding of the fabric of the world along the lines of God’s choosing into that kingdom of light which is thus progressively prepared for its perfect revelation at the last day.

Thus, then, it is that God is saving the world—the world, mind you, and not merely some individuals out of the world—by a process which involves not supplanting but reformation, re-creation. We look for new heavens and a new earth, it is true; but these new heavens and new earth are not another heaven and another earth, but the old heaven and old earth renewed; or, as the Scriptures phrase it, “regenerated.” For not the individual merely, but the fabric of the world itself, is to be regenerated in that “regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory” (Matt. 19:28). During the process, there may be much that is discarded. But when the process is completed, then also shall be completed the task which the Son of Man has taken upon himself, and the “world” shall be saved—this wicked world of sinful men transformed into a world of righteousness.

Surely, we shall not wish to measure the saving work of God by what has been already accomplished in these unripe days in which our lot is cast. The sands of time have not yet run out. And before us stretch, not merely the reaches of the ages, but the infinitely resourceful reaches of the promise of God. Are not the saints to inherit the earth? Is not the re-created earth theirs? Are not the kingdoms of the world to become the kingdom of God? Is not the knowledge of the glory of God to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea? Shall not the day dawn when no man need say to his neighbor, “Know the Lord,” for all shall know him from the least unto the greatest?

O raise your eyes, raise your eyes, I beseech you, to the far horizon. Let them rest nowhere short of the extreme limit of the divine purpose of grace. And tell me what you see there. Is it not the supreme, the glorious, issue of that love of God which loved, not one here and there only in the world, but the world in its organic completeness; and gave his Son, not to judge the world, but that the world through him should be saved?

And he spake with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he … showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God…. And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb. And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day (for there shall be no night there): and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it: and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev. 21:9-11, 23-27)

Only those written in the Lamb’s book of life, and yet all the nations! It is the vision of the saved world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” It is the vision of the consummated purpose of the immeasurable love of God.

The author was professor of didactic and polemic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1887 until his death in 1921. This article was originally a sermon preached in the Princeton chapel, and has been slightly edited. The Bible quotations are from the ASV. Reprinted from New Horizons, April 2003.

Taken from

Perseverance of the Saints & Assurance of Salvation

I just finished writing a sermon on 2 Peter 1:10-11. It was a bit of a chore in that I was fighting to stay true to the text while at the same time wanting to bring some comfort to the church concerning the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and assurance of salvation as found elsewhere in scripture. I opted to leave some of this teaching out of the sermon because I believe that the intent of 2 Peter 1:10-11 is to exhort the church to be sober about their salvation and to not grow slack in their striving after Christ. It is a warning passage that is meant to shake Christians up a bit and to motivate us to growth in Christ. I didn’t want to take away from that by bringing words of comfort to quickly.

But as you can see I couldn’t wait to long. It’s Friday at 2:05pm. I am going to schedule this to post on Sunday at 5:30pm so that the church can read it if they so desire. The warning passages are needed, but I think we also need to be encouraged by the great promises of scripture, that those whose who are truly in Christ will endure to the end, all of this thanks to our Lord and Saviors gracious care.

Below I have posted chapters 17 and 18 from the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. These sections provide a wonderful overview of these precious doctrines.


[Their persistence or steadfast continuance in the state of grace]

1. Those whom God has accepted in the Beloved [the Lord Jesus], and has effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect, can neither totally [completely] nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they will certainly persevere [definitely persist] in that state to the end and be eternally saved. This is because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [He will never change His mind], and therefore He continues to beget [create] and nourish in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit which lead to immortality.(1)
And though many storms and floods arise and beat against the saints, yet these things shall never be able to sweep them off the foundation and rock which they are fastened upon by faith. Even though, through unbelief [including lack of faith] and the temptations of Satan, the sight and feeling of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them,(2) yet God is still the same, and they are sure to be kept by His power until their salvation is complete, when they shall enjoy the purchased possession which is theirs, for they are engraved upon the palm of His hands, and their names have been written in His Book of Life from all eternity.(3)
(1) John 10.28-29; Phil 1.6; 2 Tim 2.19; 1 John 2.19. (2) Psa 89.31-32; 1 Cor 11.32. (3) Mal 3.6.

2. This perseverance of the saints does not depend on them – that is, on their own free will. It rests upon the immutability [unchanging ­character] of the decree of election,(4) which flows from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father. It also rests upon the efficacy [the power and certain success] of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ [those for whom He died cannot fail to be saved], and upon the union which true saints have with Him(5) [He will never let His loved ones go].
– It rests upon the oath [solemn affirmation] of God,(6) and upon the abiding of His Spirit [Who cannot fail].
– It depends upon the seed of God [which cannot die] being within them(7) and upon the very nature of the covenant of grace.(8) [The covenant stipulates that saved souls will never turn away.]
– All these factors give rise to the certainty and infallibility of the security and perseverance of the saints.
(4) Rom 8.30; 9.11-16. (5) Rom 5.9-10; John 14.19. (6) Heb 6.17-18. (7) 1 John 3.9. (8) Jer 32.40.

3. The saints may, through the temptation of Satan and the world, and because their remaining sinful tendencies prevail over them, and through their neglect of the means which God has provided to keep them, fall into grievous sins.
They may continue in this state for some time,(9) so that they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit,(10) suffer the impairment of their graces and comforts,(11) have their hearts hardened and their ­consciences wounded,(12) and hurt and scandalise [offend] others. By this they will bring temporal judgements [present punishment] upon themselves.(13)
Yet [despite all this] they shall [in time] renew their repentance and be preserved, through faith in Christ Jesus, to the end.(14)
(9) Matt 26.70-74. (10) Isa 64.5-9; Eph 4.30. (11) Psa 51.10-12. (12) Psa 32.3-4. (13) 2 Sam 12.14. (14) Luke 22.32 & 61-62.

1. Although temporary believers [Those who falsely profess Christ for a time and then fall away – See section 14.3], and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions [in an unspiritual way they take it for granted] that they are in the ­favour of God and in a state of salvation, such a hope on their part will perish [die away].(1) Yet those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, and who endeavour to walk in all good conscience before Him, may be certainly assured in this life that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.(2) And such a hope shall never make them ashamed.(3) [It will never disappoint them or let them down, for God will bless them, hear their prayers, and finally take them to glory.]
(1) Job 8.13-14; Matt 7.22-23. (2) 1 John 2.3; 3.14-24; 5.13. (3) Rom 5.2-5.

2. This assurance is not merely a conjectural persuasion [something supposed to be true on slender grounds] nor even a probable persuasion based upon a fallible hope. It is an infallible assurance of faith(4) founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel.(5) [It is based on a historical act of the Saviour of the world.] It is also founded upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit [marks or evidences of grace] in connection with definite promises made in the Scriptures,(6) and also on the testimony [evidence] of the Spirit of adoption Who witnesses with our spirits that we are the children of God [a felt, spiritual assurance],(7) and Who uses the experience of assurance to keep our hearts both humble and holy.(8)
(4) Heb 6.11 & 19. (5) Heb 6.17-18. (6) 2 Pet 1.4-11. (7) Rom 8.15-16. 8 1 John 3.1-3

3. This infallible assurance is not so joined to the essence of faith that it is an automatic and inevitable experience. A true believer may wait long and fight with many difficulties before he becomes a partaker of it.(9) Yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given to him by God, he may, without any extraordinary revelation attain this assurance by using the means of grace in the right way.(10)
Therefore it is the duty of every one to give the utmost diligence to make his calling and election sure, so that his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness for carrying out the duties of obedience. These duties are the natural fruits of assurance,(11) for it is far from inclining men to slackness.(12)
(9) Isa 50.10; Psa 88; Psa 77.1-12. (10) 1 John 4.13; Heb 6.11-12. (11) Rom 5.1-5; 14.17; Psa 119.32. (12) Rom 6.1-2; Tit 2.11-14.

4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation in various ways shaken, diminished, or intermitted [suspended for a time]. This may be because of their negligence in preserving it,(13) or by their falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit,(14) or by some sudden or forceful temptation,(15) or by God’s withdrawing the light of His countenance, and causing even those who fear Him to walk in darkness and to have no light.(16)
Yet, [whatever the cause or duration of the impairment of assurance] believers are never left without the seed of God [essential spiritual identity](17) and life of faith [that hold on eternal values],(18) that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and that conscience about their spiritual duty. Out of these things, by the operation of the Spirit, their assurance can in due time be revived,(19) and in the meantime the presence of these graces preserves them from utter despair.(20)
(13) Song 5.2-6. (14) Psa 51.8-14. (15) Psa 116.11; 77.7-8; 31.22. (16) Psa 30.7. (17) 1 John 3.9. (18) Luke 22.32. (19) Psa 42.5-11. 20 Lam 3.26-31.

Does the Bible Teach that God Chooses People?

Last Sunday (June 12, 2011) I made the point that one of the core tenants of the Christian faith is that our God is a God who chooses undeserving sinners like you and me to be His people. This is a predominate theme in scripture, a key to understanding the overarching story of the Bible. If I were to summarize the story of scripture in just a few phrases, it would go something like this: God created all things, and He made them good. Man rebelled against God and brought down all of creation with him. All of mankind, from the time of Adam and Eve, is born and lives in bondage to sin, deserving God’s wrath. God, in His grace and mercy, has chosen to save some and to enter into covenant relationship with His people though He is by no means obligated to do so.

To misunderstand the Bible’s teaching on election is to misunderstand the gospel. To deny that God elects is to, in many ways, misunderstand the one story that the scriptures set out to communicate, namely, that God saves sinners. The gospel is NOT that Jesus did something nice for you by dying on the cross, and now you need to do your part. The gospel IS that God saves people who are completely unable to save themselves as they live in complete rebellion against Him! You and I bring nothing to the table. There is nothing within us, in our natural selves, that would commend us to God. If we have faith in Christ, it is because God has chosen to give us the faith. Faith is, as Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

By no means is this post meant to be a thorough explanation of the doctrine of election, but I would like to ask this simple question: does the Bible teach that God chooses people? In the scriptures that are listed below, it should be noted that, when it comes to divine election, God is always active and man is passive. By this I mean that God is proactive in electing or choosing, and man is always the recipient of God’s favor. I say this because some will try to say that God chooses because He knows (foresees) in His omniscience that those individuals would choose Him. This concept of election demands that man is active and God is passive in election. Never do the scriptures describe election in this way (see the explanation of foreknowledge under the Rom 8:28-29 passage below).

Why does this matter? Because our understanding of the gospel is at stake! Ultimately, the question is, did Christ do it all, or is there something in us, in our natural selves, that commends us to God? At some point we must ask the question, why am I in Christ and others are not? There are two possible answers to that question; either there is something in you that distinguishes you from the nonbeliever, or there is something outside of you that has set you apart. I believe that the scriptures consistently teach that we are in Christ because of the grace of God alone. To me, this is an incredibly humbling reality! I am in Christ, not because of anything good, wise, spiritual, or godly in me, but because God has chosen to show mercy, all to the praise of His glorious grace. Please enjoy the scripture references listed below and be sure to study them in their context.

Election in the Old Testament

Deuteronomy 10:14–15 (ESV) — 14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day.

Psalm 33:12 (ESV) — 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

Psalm 106:5 (ESV) — 5 that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance.

Haggai 2:23 (ESV) — 23 On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.”

Exodus 33:19 (ESV) — 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

Deuteronomy 7:6–7 (ESV) — 6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples,

Election in the New Testament

Matthew 11:27 (ESV) — 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Matthew 22:14 (ESV) — 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Matthew 24:22 (ESV) — 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Matthew 24:24 (ESV) — 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Matthew 24:31 (ESV) — 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Luke 18:7 (ESV) — 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?

Romans 8:28–30 (ESV) — 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

(*Notice that according to this passage, all who are foreknown are eventually glorified. This passage forms an unbreakable chain linking foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification together. This text makes it impossible for foreknowledge to simply mean that God looked down the corridors of time and chose individuals based upon the faith that He saw in some and the lack of faith in others. According to this view of the term foreknowledge, God, in His omniscience, “foresees” everyone and chooses based upon what He sees. The problem with this view is exposed by the words “those whom He” and “He also”. Read the verse carefully and visualize who is being talked about. “Those whom He foreknew” must be referring to a particular group of people. Either it is referring to some people (the elect), or all people. If it is referring to all people we run into a problem with the words “He also”. The verse says, “Those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Certainly this passage is not saying that all people have been predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son! The difficulties continue and perhaps even grow for this view of foreknowledge as this “those whom He… He also” pattern continues all the way to glorification. It makes far more sense to understand foreknowledge as being something that the elect receive, that they have been known in the context of a loving relationship before the foundations of the earth based upon the grace of God and the good pleasure of God’s will.)

Romans 8:33 (ESV) — 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Colossians 3:12 (ESV) — 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

1 Thessalonians 5:9 (ESV) — 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Titus 1:1 (ESV) — 1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,

1 Peter 1:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

1 Peter 2:8–9 (ESV) — 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Revelation 17:14 (ESV) — 14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

Mark 13:20 (ESV) — 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.

Ephesians 1:4–5 (ESV) – 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

Romans 9:11–13 (ESV) — 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Romans 9:16 (ESV) — 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Romans 10:20 (ESV) — 20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

1 Corinthians 1:27–29 (ESV) — 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

2 Timothy 1:9 (ESV) — 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

John 15:16 (ESV) — 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Acts 13:48 (ESV) — 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Philippians 1:29 (ESV) — 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

1 Thessalonians 1:4–5 (ESV) — 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

2 Timothy 2:10 (ESV) — 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Calvinism and Youth

Recently, because of much talk about the biblical truths of Calvinism, there have been questions regarding our approach to these doctrines in the Youth Ministry at both the junior high and high school levels. Our approach is to rightly handle the word of God by teaching the biblical truths revealed in scripture while respecting the age and emotional state of our students. It is not, nor has it ever been, our intention to systematically teach our students the five points of Calvinism. Our junior high and high school ministries are centered on teaching God’s word exegetically, verse by verse, book by book; therefore, these topics arise and have to be addressed, to a certain extent.  When this occurs, we must use wisdom and discernment on how to clearly and honestly present God’s truth while respecting the age and spiritual level of the believer, especially the junior high students.  We believe that the junior high students should be taught the doctrine of totally depravity (sin has made man completely spiritually dead) while graciously and gently handling the other points, should they arise in a passage of study.  With the increase in age and maturity, we believe these doctrines can be handled a little differently for the high school students.  While remaining sensitive and respectful of their age, we believe that students should be exposed to these doctrines as they come up in our weekly study of scripture. Though these truths may be difficult to understand, we believe that respectfully and lovingly discussing these issues is an extremely healthy activity for our high school students. We want to have a youth ministry that spurs students on to thinking, asking questions, and learning how to come to their own conclusions through the combination of personal study of scripture and consideration of insights from other believers. Our desire for our students is that, upon their graduations, they leave our ministry having been thoroughly taught the word of God, having established a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and ready to be ambassadors for Christ at their colleges, in their places of work, and to their friends and families.


"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

© 2011-2022 Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church