As I said in the last blog, the five points cannot be taken apart from each other.
From the very first point (which is what we will be talking about today) the presupposition is laid out for the rest of the four. Calvinism, or otherwise known as the Doctrines of Grace, is simply the theology of salvation. It is the framework for a biblical understanding of salvation and the roles that man and God play. Calvinism is simply the doctrine of salvation. It’s really that simple. It is my belief that the Doctrines of Grace are the most wonderful truths in all of Scripture. They lay out man’s complete and total inability and God’s complete and total grace. I pray that you will only find your love for God strengthened through this series.
So here we go. What we will be focusing on today is the first point of Calvinism, total depravity. Total depravity, or as some have called “radical depravity”, is the doctrine that states humans are infected with evil. It permeates every part of our fabric and nothing is unaffected by it. Man is wholly evil and can only do, think, and be evil in his natural state. This does not mean that he is as evil as he could be (most of us aren’t murdering or raping people), but there is no part of us that is not stained with the curse of Adam. Our very nature is overcome with sin. Ephesians 2:1-2 says,
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
We are dead in our transgressions and sins. The dead cannot reason, choose to live, have a will, or desire anything. They're dead. All the dead do is rot and stink. This is just reality and basic logic. Our condition is also clearly laid out in Romans 3:9-12 when it says,
"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
I mean really, this is pretty irrefutable. The Bible cannot be more clear. No one seeks after God. No one does good. Not one. That is all-encompassing. There are none that are righteous. All are in a state of death and the heart does not naturally desire God. This is laid out plainly in Jeremiah 17:9 when it says,
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
My friends, we are in a state of slavery. Our hearts are bound by sin. Our motives, thoughts, actions, speech and very being are affected by this curse. We do not possess the ability to choose God. Our will is bound by sin, it is not free. We are left alienated from God and without hope in the world we live in. This is reality. This is our reality.
Total Depravity is the reason we need Jesus. We do not possess the ability within ourselves to choose, or even desire good. We are incapable of doing so. There must be an outside source in order for salvation to occur. We did not choose God, He chose us. We love Him because He first loved us. This happened because we were not able to love. It is for this reason Johnathan Edwards said,
“You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”
This is clear and true. Our sin nature inhibits us from desiring and following God. We were dead and rotting at the bottom of the sea and Christ pulled us from the darkness and breathed life into us. This is the doctrine of total depravity.
Without the Gospel, this doctrine would leave us broken and afraid. Yet because of this doctrine, the Gospel shines all the more brighter. We were lost and against God and He gave us life instead of our deserved justice. That is amazing! As you will see in the next couple blogs, Calvinism truly does make the Gospel shine the brightest. It places man in a low state and gives God all the glory. All good and true theology does this.
I hope you will read and interact with these blogs with a mind that has as its desire to honor and love God and give Him the utmost glory. What you will begin to see is that, although this doctrine is dark and full of pain, total depravity makes way for the Gospel to shine in ways you couldn’t imagine. The diamond of the Gospel shines brightest on the black backdrop of our sinful hearts. Believe me when I tell you this: I’m thankful for the doctrine of total depravity. Because of it, I'm able to see Christ in a way that would not be possible if I were somehow inherently good. Total depravity makes salvation so incredibly amazing. Just wait and see...