Reformed Doctrine

Scripture emphasizes the importance of truth.

Jesus said both in Matthew 15:9 and Mark 7:7:  ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”

Jesus also stated in John 4:23-24:  “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;  for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Jesus also stated in John 16:13:  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; …”

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.  For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”  Romans 10:1-4.

There are those who “did not receive the love of truth so as to be saved”.  2 Thessalonians 2: 10-13.

Truth is revealed by Scripture, not by our feelings as to what is just and true.

Doctrine summarizes Scripture. 

In recent years, we have witnessed the explosion in growth of nondenominational churches under such labels as community churches, fellowships, and mega-churches. Some of these churches are not only rejecting denominational standards, they are also rejecting or ignoring well-established doctrinal standards as well.  And, even some of the denominational churches are also rejecting or minimizing the importance of doctrinal standards as well.  Some of these churches primarily market themselves to seekers who want to feel good without truth or doctrinal restraints.  Some of these churches portray doctrine as unnecessary, divisive, or worse.

But, doctrine is simply defined as “teachings”.  Therefore, doctrine cannot be avoided unless a preacher or teacher just quotes Scripture without making any summary or other comment which just does not happen.

So, doctrine can not be avoided.  We can only have false doctrine or true doctrine a/k/a sound doctrine. 

Sound doctrine accurately summarizes Scripture.  False doctrine does not accurately summarize Scripture.  

Sound Doctrine

Sound doctrine accurately summarizes Scripture and teaches that salvation is a work of God alone, by grace alone, and that God handles all the points of salvation from “Unconditional Election” through “Limited Atonement” through “Irresistible Grace” through “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.    This true doctrine of salvation is more fully taught in the Reformed Confession called Canons of Dordt.

In addition to the Canons of Dordt, the other major Reformed Creeds forming sound doctrine are Belgic ConfessionHeidelberg Catechism, and Westminster Larger Confession.  They are all organized and easily readable.  In the right margin column, there are links to these major Reformed Creeds and also a link to a web site titled “Daily Confessions” which contains a daily dose of Reformed Creeds.

Exhortation

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15.

“But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”  Titus 2:1. 

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;  but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.  But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  2 Timothy 4:3-5.

Conclusion
In conclusion, Loraine Boettner wrote a very important book written titled The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In Chapter XXVII, there is a section titled “4. ONLY CALVINISM WILL STAND ALL TESTS”.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The following quote in that section expresses some of the importance of Reformed Doctrine a/k/a Calvinism.  “… As a general rule anti-Calvinists so seriously impoverish doctrines such as the atonement, the agency of the Holy Spirit, the guilt and inability of man, regeneration, etc., that these are often little more than empty words; and along with this impoverishment goes the tendency to neglect them entirely.  Anti-Calvinists commonly make little distinction between the objective work of Christ for us, and the subjective work in us;  and for all practical purposes the atonement is reduced to little or nothing else than an exhibition and proof of God’s indiscriminate love to men, through which it is shown that God is ready and willing to forgive.  The tendency of other systems is to the “moral persuasion” theory of the atonement, while Calvinism holds that the suffering of Christ was a full satisfaction made to the justice of God,– that his sufferings were a full equivalent of those which were due to His people for their sin.
                                            

We are living in a day in which we see practically all of the historic Protestant churches attacked by unbelief from within.  Many of them have already succumbed and the line of descent has invariably been from Calvinism to Arminianism, and from Arminianism to Modernism or Unitarianism;  and this latter state has proved to be self-destructive.  We firmly believe that the fortunes of Christianity are bound up with the fortunes of Calvinism.  Certainly the history of Modernism and Unitarianism in this country has proved that they are too weak to maintain themselves.  Where the principles of Calvinism are abandoned, there is a powerful tendency leading downward into the depths of Naturalism. Some have declared– and rightly we believe — that there is no consistent middle ground between Calvinism and Atheism. These distinctions which we have set forth between Calvinism and Arminianism are broad and important;  and until one has made a special study of these truths he does not realize what a large amount of heresy has been incorporated into the Arminian system.  If one system is true, the other is radically false.  As strict Calvinists we believe these doctrines to embody final truth and to be eternally right.  We believe this to be the only system of Christian truth which is taught in the Bible and the only one that can be logically and respectably defended before the world. …”

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Responses

  1. “This true doctrine of salvation is summarized by ‘TULIP'”

    Does this mean that a person needs to believe in TULIP to be saved? In other words, is belief in Five-Point Calvinism essential for salvation?

    Kind regards,
    Matthew

    • Dear Matthew:

      In 2006, I wrote an article on this subject. I have copied and pasted the section of the article that deals most specifically with it in Footnote 1 below. Thank you for visiting my Reformed Doctrine blog and posing this question which, as stated below, is a good one to consider.

      Yours truly,
      Bill

      ———————————-
      Footnote 1

      WILL ARMINIANS BE SAVED?

      I realize that even posing this question may seem arrogant to the reader, but even if this question is not expressed, many churches and leaders think that they are the keeper of the keys to heaven. Each group tends to scoff at another group in front of them who they think are too liberal and let too many people think that they are in the kingdom, and yet they will criticize the group behind them as being too conservative and too strict and too narrow-minded and too not caring. Each group on the spectrum thinks of themselves as moderate and true. So, hopefully the reader will be patient with me. Maybe, I am too conservative and too strict and too narrow-minded and too not caring, but reader, please remember that another group in front of you may be thinking the same thing about you as you try to warn them and bring them into the kingdom.

      So then, will Arminians be saved? As true Calvinists, our simple answer is “Yes, if they are God’s elect.” But, Scripture says more, much more, and warns us of false prophets and misleading claims to be saved. Scripture exhorts us to distinguish the good from the bad “by their fruits”. See Matthew 7: 15-23.

      Because Scripture does not specifically include Arminian doctrine in any of its passages concerning doctrine, I can only give my opinion as to whether or not Arminians are saved. Yet, I do think it is a good question to tackle. As stated in the Introduction, we need to determine how important it is to believe in the doctrine of salvation best summarized by Calvinism. Scripture warns us to not be complacent about our salvation, to “enter by the narrow gate”, so we will tackle this difficult question. “AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS ARE SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?” 1 Peter 4: 18.

      I certainly think some (or maybe even many) Arminians will be saved. There are some “Arminians” who may be taught but do not believe enough of the Arminian doctrine. They may be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine,” as stated in Ephesians 4: 14, but not “fall from the faith”. I think I have been in this class in my travels between various Protestant churches where Arminianism was taught, and even today I struggle to avoid the subtle influences of Arminianism and stay true to Calvinism. I struggle to avoid the temptation of seeking to be perfected by the flesh. I struggle to hear with faith. See Galatians 3:1-5. Thus, I think that there are “Arminians” who believe or teach Arminianism from lack of understanding of Scripture but who will be refuted by knowledge of the truth and who will repent and come to the truth.

      But, I also think that there are some Arminians who stubbornly believe or teach Arminianism in “vain worship of God” and are not truly saved. They cling to “free will” and their own feelings of justice above Scripture and stubbornly hold to their belief that their God would not unconditionally elect certain people to salvation. They cling to their own image of God that fits their own sense of “free will” and justice. To the God revealed in Scripture which is best summarized by the doctrine of Calvinism, they declare: “That is not the God I serve!”

      However, whether we are an Arminian or a Calvinist, Scripture does exhort us to not be complacent about salvation. For one example, we are told to add moral qualities to our lives so that we “make certain His calling and choosing you”. 2 Peter 1: 5-11.

      But, we may claim that we love the Lord! Will having a zeal for God be enough to be saved? Paul states that for the Jews, zeal was not enough – “For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. Romans 10: 2-3.

      Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; …Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord’ did we not prophecy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’” Matthew 7:21-23.

      The point of the foregoing is to show that salvation is not easy. We should not be complacent, certainly not as an Arminian, and not even as a Calvinist. We should seek the truth and the soundest doctrine and follow all of Scripture with all of our mind, heart, and soul.

      Proverbs 2: 4-5 generally exhorts us to seek for wisdom as one would seek for silver or hidden treasure. If we are to so seek for wisdom with all of our heart, how much more should we seek the true doctrine of salvation with all of our heart!!! “If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God.”

      Scripture does not tell us to be casual about our faith or doctrine. Scripture does not use words like “moderation” or “tolerance” or “love and acceptance” for describing how we should handle doctrine. Just the opposite, Scripture pounds the table repeatedly that we should seek God, love and serve Him, “with all of our mind, heart, and soul”. Deuteronomy 4:29: “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Emphasis added.)

      We should seek the soundest doctrine as we would seek hidden treasure.

      Just because some Arminians are saved in spite of their doctrine does not mean that it is wise to follow Arminian doctrine. Just because some students drop out of school and become successful does not mean that it is wise to drop out of school. Just because Christ knocked Paul to the ground on his way to persecuting Christians does not mean that any of us should continue following false doctrine until Christ knocks us to the ground. Just because we are given grace does not mean that we should continue in sin. Romans 6: 1-2.

      There are very stern warnings in Scripture!!!

      “Thus says the LORD, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD.’ ” Jeremiah 17: 5-7.

      Arminians will deny being like this man who trusts in mankind, but the Arminian trusts in his “free will” to be the determining factor as to whether or not he will be saved. He chooses Christ through his “free will”. He keeps his faith through “his free will”. He turns away from the LORD of Scripture who unconditionally elects and declares: “That is not the God I serve!”

      On the other hand, the Calvinist trusts in the LORD alone to handle all the points of salvation. The Calvinist continually seeks the LORD and focuses on the LORD and His works. Salvation is not a joint accomplishment between God and man to the Calvinist. The Calvinist knows that if salvation was dependent even as little as 1% on himself, that he would not be saved. He truly trusts in the LORD alone for his salvation and attributes his salvation to grace alone.

      Scripture also sternly warns us:
      “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said: “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:26-31.

      I think this Scripture applies to Arminians who steadfastly continue to hang on to Arminianism despite receiving knowledge of the truth of Calvinism. They hang on to the false doctrine that Jesus died for everyone (“Universal Atonement” – The Third Point of Arminianism) and they love to speak about the power in Christ’s blood. But, Arminians realize that their doctrine forces them to conclude that Christ’s blood (as they claim, shed for everyone) by itself did not save, “purchase”, or “redeem” anyone, because they admit that most people are not saved. Arminians claim that it is up to man to generate his own faith through his own free will in order to make Christ’s blood effective to save. They claim that the only difference between the saved and the unsaved is not Christ’s blood, because everyone gets the blood, but rather the only difference is whether or not a certain individual will generate his own faith through his own free will to make the blood effective. According to this logic of these Arminians, man’s faith, not Christ’s blood, is the determining factor as to whether or not one will be saved.

      Because Arminians talk about the blood all the time, it is true that in a sense they are trampling it, not in the sense of being hateful to it but in the sense of treating it as ineffective by itself, like the description in Matthew 5: 13: “…if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

      This Hebrews 10:26-31 Scripture does not apply to the person who steadfastly rejects Christ. That person did not receive the knowledge of truth as stated in Hebrews 10:26. That person is not sanctified, so to speak, as is stated in Hebrews 10:29. That person does not talk about the blood of Christ. Rather, this Hebrews 10:26-31 Scripture speaks about those received or were exposed to knowledge of the truth and were sanctified so to speak but nevertheless denied the power of the blood and insulted the Spirit of grace. Rather, this Scripture applies to Arminians who love to talk about Christ’s blood all the time, but who really treat Christ’s blood as ineffective by itself , that it does not actually “save”, “purchase”, nor “redeem” anyone, because they teach that most people are not saved and that it is up to man to generate his own faith through his own free will in order to make Christ’s blood effective to save.

      Likewise, the Arminian can be compared to the one who insults the Spirit of Grace as is mentioned above in Hebrews 10:29. Think of a situation in which your father took you out to a very expensive dinner and even left the tip in addition. However, you did not think that the tip was sufficient so you add your $5 to the tip. Wouldn’t your father be insulted that you thought that what he did was not enough? Likewise, Arminians insult God by their doctrine that believes that the blood of Christ is not enough, they feel that they must add their own tip of faith. The Calvinist thinks of faith as a gift of God; the Arminian thinks that faith is their own gift to God which is necessary to secure salvation.

      Love of Truth

      Other Arminians may not go as far as to cling to the doctrine of Arminianism, but they do not think that doctrine nor even truth is that important. They may seem righteous by claiming and even acting as if only love is important and that they only need the Bible, but they really don’t have a love of the truth. They don’t diligently continue in their search for God with all their heart and soul. They rest on their image of God and show no or little desire to search the Scriptures to learn more about God and His works. In summary, they have not received a love of the truth. I also do not think that this other class of Arminians are saved.

      2 Thessalonians 2: 10-13 may describe these Arminians: “and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness”.

      John 16: 13 describes the work of the Holy Spirit in the saved: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; …” If these certain Arminians steadfastly continue to refuse or ignore the truth, then they demonstrate by their fruit that they do not have the Spirit of truth in them and that they are not saved.

      SPURGEON

      Spurgeon said: “..I will go as far as Martin Luther, in that strong assertion of his, where he says, If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright. It may seem a harsh sentiment; but he who in his soul believes that man does of his own free will turn to God, cannot have been taught of God, for that is one of the first principles taught us when God begins with us, that we have neither will nor power, but that he gives both; that he is `Alpha and Omega’ in the salvation of men.” [Free Will – A Slave, A sermon delivered Sunday morning, December 2, 1855, at New Park Street Chapel, London, England.]

      TOPLADY

      Augustus Toplady (1740-1778) was chiefly known as a writer of hymns including “Rock of Ages”. He ministered in London, England. Although he was originally a follower of John Wesley, in 1758 he adopted strong Calvinist convictions. Some comments by Wesley upon Toplady’s presentation of Calvinism led to a bitter controversy between them. The following is an article by Augustus Toplady that shows his opinion that Arminians are not saved.

      The ‘god’ of Arminianism by Augustus Toplady
      “I dare say, that, in such an auditory as this, a number of Arminians are present. I fear, that all our public assemblies have too many of them. Perhaps, however, even these people, idolaters as they are, may be apt to blame, and, indeed, with justice, the absurdity of those who worship idols of silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. But let me ask: If it be so very absurd, to worship the work of other men’s hands what must it be, to worship the works of our own hands? Perhaps, you may say, ‘God forbid that I should do so.

      Nevertheless, let me tell you, that trust, confidence, reliance, and dependence, for salvation, are all acts and very solemn ones too, of divine worship: and upon whatsoever you depend, whether in whole or in part, for your acceptance with God, and for your justification in his sight, whatsoever, you rely upon, and trust in, for the attainment of grace or glory; if it be any thing short of God in Christ, you are an idolater for all intents and purposes.

      Very different is the idea which Scripture gives us, of the ever-blessed God, from that of those false gods worshipped by the heathens; and from that degrading representation of the true God, which Arminianism would palm upon mankind. Our God (says this Psalm, verse the third) is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he pleased. This is not the Arminian idea of God: for our free-willers and our chance- mongers tell us, that God does not do whatsoever he pleases; that there are a great number of things, which God wishes to do, and rags and strives to do, and yet cannot bring to pass … Is their god the Bible-God? Certainly not. Their god ‘submits’ to difficulties which he ‘cannot help’ himself out of, and endearours to make himself ‘easy’ under millions and millions of inextricable embarrassments, uncomfortable disappointments, and mortifying defeats. …This said scheme ascends, on the ladder of blasphemy, to the mountain top of atheism; and then hurls itself from that precipice, into the gulf of blind, adamantine necessity, in order to prove mankind free agents!

      … One great contest, between the religion of Arminianism, and the religion of Christ, is, who shall stand entitled to the praise and glory of a sinner’s salvation? Conversion decides this point at once; for I think that, without any imputation of uncharitableness, I may venture to say, that every truly awakened person, at least when he is under the shine of God’s countenance upon his soul, will fall down upon his knees, with this hymn of praise ascending from his heart, Not unto me, O Lord, not unto me, but to thy name, give the glory: I am saved not for my righteousness, but for thy mercy and thy truth’s sake.”

      CONCLUSION
      In conclusion, love of truth is essential to salvation and is evidence of salvation. We have seen that zeal is not enough. Claiming Jesus as your Lord is not enough. Doing miracles is not even enough. Scripture keeps coming back to the importance of truth. As the Scripture states, there are those who worship God in vain who teach or believe in doctrines based on the ideas of man. As Scripture states, those who worship God must worship in spirit and in truth. As Scripture states, the Spirit of truth guides the saved into all the truth. On the other hand, there are those who “did not receive the love of truth so as to be saved”.2 Thessalonians 2: 10-13.

      Take warning, you Protestants! Reform back to Calvinism! Truth and doctrine are supremely important; failing to believe the truth can be evidence that one is not saved (“worshiping God in vain”). Truth is revealed by Scripture, not by our feelings as to what is just and true. Scripture reveals that the truth that salvation is a work of God alone, by grace alone, and that God handles all the points of salvation from unconditional election through limited atonement through irresistible grace, including both making us born again and giving us faith, through preservation of the saints. The Five Points of Calvinism is the best doctrine of salvation, because it best summarizes Scripture.

      Believe and teach the Five Points of Calvinism, the truth and doctrine of salvation!!!

      Very truly yours,
      William J. Hornbeck, II “Bill”
      St. Petersburg, Florida 2006

  2. Bill,

    Thankyou for such a comprehensive answer – it’s certainly very helpful and enlightening!

    God bless,
    Matthew


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