Tuesday, July 03, 2007

T.U.L.I.P. vs. R.O.S.E.

Well, it's good to be back! In case you hadn't noticed, I've been away for a while. I have recently returned from a wonderful vacation ( or as they say these days, "vay-kay") with my family. The high point (figuratively and literally) was our visit to
Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. Beautiful country out there and quite a thrill to see the monument up close and personal. For any of my readers in the Black Hills area, "thanks for your hospitality"

Back to cases . . . my pastor, Michael Leach, and I are currently discussing the "Doctrines of Grace" on our radio program "The Glory of the Gospel" ( Sunday mornings @ 9:30 on WNIV-970AM in Atlanta or on the 'net @ www.wniv.com). Of course this is still a heavily debated issue and we certainly cannot fully exhaust the topic on the radio. Over the next couple of posts, however, I would like to take a shot at the two most contested members of the T.U.L.I.P., Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement.

As you may know the chief question concerning the Doctrines of Grace is: how does a person receive salvation. Without going into all the history of how they came about, I will jump ahead to the doctrines themselves ( "TULIP: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture" by Duane Edward Spencer is a good concise history of the meetings that lead to the development of the doctrines). Here are the five points as described by the acronym:

T=total depravity
U=unconditional election
L=limited atonement
I=irresistible grace
P=perseverance of the saints.

As I stated, the most hotly debated members of the T.U.L.I.P. are the "U" and the "L". First the "U". The fact that God elects people to salvation should be rather plain. I can't list all the verses here, but I would challenge you to look up the words "elect" and "election" in a concordance and count for yourself how many times the people of God are referred to in this manner. So the real issue is, on what basis does God elect people to salvation. It is the testimony of Scripture and therefore the Reformed position that God elects individuals to salvation unconditionally and according to His own good pleasure. Opponents of this position generally argue that God foresees something in the individual that prompts Him to elect that individual to salvation. Basically the argument goes that God, with His omniscience, looks into the future and observes that the person will eventually be receptive to the Gospel. Or that God foresees great promise in an individual and on that basis elects the individual. These arguments are really a misinterpretation of Romans chapter 8, where the "golden chain of salvation" is described by the Apostle Paul. The misinterpretation centers on the meaning of the word "foreknew".

Thanks to the "Open Theists" among us, God's omniscience has become doubted by many professing Christians. But for the remaining faithful, God's knowledge of ALL things, past present and future, PERFECTLY is undisputed. However, in the case of Romans 8, it is not God's knowledge of things or events that is described. It is God's intimate knowledge of PERSONS that is extolled. Just as Adam's "knowing" his wife Eve leading to the birth of Cain and Abel, portrays intimate love; God's foreknowledge of those He has elected to salvation portrays intimate love of them. These verses do not describe God as foreseeing any particular action by His elected persons. They describe Him as intimately loving these person long before the foundations of the earth and having purposed to save them even before they have been born. As for any future promise they might have or good they might do, how could that possibly figure into God's decision? What do they have that God has not given them? Any promise they have is given to them by God, so how can that help them get elected? Jonah chapter 2 makes clear, salvation is ALL of God.

The great American ideal of fairness and equality leads many to ask, why doesn't God elect everyone to salvation. "In the interest of fairness; if God elects one, He should elect all". Don't ask God to be fair, you wouldn't want to see God when He's fair. Fairness demands that every human being that has ever walked the earth go to Hell. Don't pass "Go", don't collect 100 dollars, go directly to Hell! We are justly condemned sinners, God owes salvation to NO ONE. That He saves anyone is a testimony to His mercy and grace. Perhaps the following diagram will help illustrate:

Some sinners sent to Hell= JUSTICE/NO MERCY
Some sinners are saved= MERCY/NO JUSTICE
No sinner receives INJUSTICE

Justice requires a good judge to punish sin, God is THE good Judge. God is not embarrassed by His wrath and He is glorified by His perfect justice. He sovereignly chooses those in whom His glorifying, righteous wrath will be displayed. Mercy requires love and forbearance, God is love. God's love is glorified in His perfect mercy by granting pardon to undeserving sinners of His sole choice via the shed blood of His sinless son, Jesus Christ. No man will ever be able to accuse God of injustice. And no man will be able to boast that God chose him because of anything within himself.

I think that the main reason that so many can't come to grips with T.U.L.I.P. these days is that far too many of us subscribe to another acronym: R.O.S.E.

R= restricted sovereignty
O= obnoxious egoism
S= Sick in trespasses
E= extreme equality

As I've said before, most professing Christians will claim that God is sovereign. But for some odd reason, when it comes to our salvation (in their minds) God restricts His sovereignty and hopes and prays that people will "make a decision for Christ". Evidently, there are some people who God desperately wants to save, but He is helpless unless they exert their "free will" to accept Him. Sounds more like Sally Fields to me, "You like me, you really like me"!!!

It can only be Obnoxious Egoism that makes the creature believe that the creator would not overrule their hell bound will in order to save it. The constant refrain that states, "God will not violate your will" is blatantly false. Ask Abimelech, who willed to violate Sarah, but whose will God violated (Genesis 13). Ask Jonah who willed to go to Tarshish, but God violated his will and landed in Nineveh. Have you ever prayed for someone to be saved? What are you asking God to do, but to violate their will?

Contrary to the report of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2, which states that prior to salvation we are "DEAD" in trespasses and sins; R.O.S.E. subscribers must only believe that we are only Sick in trespasses and sins. Because the last time I checked, dead men don't do anything. They can't move , they can't breath, they can't eat and they certainly can't CHOOSE! The Bible, however, reports that God said to Adam and Eve that in the day they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil the would surely DIE. Not that they would get really sick, but still be able to reach out. Not that they'd get really sick, but would improve. No, they would die. And everyone that would come after them would be born spiritually dead. Unresponsive to God, out of fellowship with God, unable to please God. Not choosing the good, not knowing the good, not wanting the good. Therefore, if anything good was going to come from them or be chosen by them, God would have to bring them back to spiritual life FIRST=REGENERATION.

Extreme Equality suggests, once again, that if God offers this wonderful gift of salvation to one of us, He is somehow obligated to offer it to us all. That's as american as hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. God is SOVEREIGN. God would be just to send us all to Hell and start all over. Get over yourself.

God is the author and finisher of our salvation.

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!


Anonymous said...


I have enjoyed your discussion re: T.U.L.I.P vs R.O.S.E. Keep preaching the truth! You would think that God's children would get it when He begins telling HIStory with the words, "In the beginning God created..." Truly He is the Almighty Sovereign of all creation. "He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; none can stay His hand or say to Him what have you done?" (Daniel 4:35). Blessings in Christ!

Keith L. Tolbert said...

Thank you so much for your encouragement, Child of Grace.

The arminian believes that man retained an "island of righteousness" after the Fall. I believe those within the body of Christ who believe they actually had something to do with their salvation, retain a "continent of hubris"!

Think of all the "good" people God really wants to save, but His hands are tied until they make a "decision" for Him. Gee, God must be depressed!