I hope my 'mini-message' will be a blessing to the seasoned Reformed believers. There will be some speculation, but I hope I don't pander too far into the mysteries of things. I tend to think very deeply about things, like theology. CORRECT ME IF I MESS UP ON ANY THEOLOGICAL POINTS. I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL. I am a young, on my way to being a Reformed Christian, and have already whole-heartedly accepted Reformed soteriology. For a note, I do not fully condone John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, etc. (Although 'The Explicit Gospel' by the last author was what brought me to Calvinism, and ultimately, regeneration itself. Of course God was the one who predestined the whole thing. I think you know what I mean. ) Well, I struggled with TULIP as Reformed Christians would call it. I came to quickly accept all the points except for the Limited Atonement, and practically became an Amyraldist. I was STILL regenerate then, don't get me wrong. My understanding of soteriology was becoming pretty robust by then. Recently, through rational logic, aided by the Holy Spirit, I came to understand Limited Atonement for what it is, and came to the understanding that God is the ultimate decree maker and if He spoke the universe into existence, He could, by all means, speak into existence everything that would come to happen, future and past. For your information, I am a supralapsarian. Total Depravity The Unregenerate Man The unregenerate man can only see two realms. He can see the world around him, and observe it thereof, and he can see himself, and observe it thereof. God is not even a concept in the unregenerate soul. The unregenerate soul might ascribe some heretical ideology, that will surely benefit only the self, to a machination in his mind that he calls 'God.' He might even pray to this false entity, calling it God, so he'll feel assured of his own pitiful and false righteousness. The true God, in the meanwhile, is giving the unregenerate what is called common grace, a mere span of time before His hand of judgment comes upon their souls. Then He shall castigate them eternally in limitless hell-fire. The Regenerate Man (Elect) The elected man, initially, can only understand two realms. He understands the world, and he understands himself. He is unaware of his foreordained election and might even live the first part of his life as an atheist, Buddhist, Jehovah's Witness, etc. At a certain time in this man's life, he will be convicted of his complete inability to save himself, will proclaim to Christ that he believes in Him, and be miraculously transformed by the Holy Spirit into the man that God has called him to be. The man, regenerate, can see three realms. He can see the world around him, and he can see himself. But now, through God's grace alone, he can recognize the spiritual. I am not claiming that he will develop mystical powers. Mysticism is of Satan, and is the false spiritual as I would call it. The regenerate man will see the true spiritual, and will be able to discern against the false spiritual, which includes heretical 'Christian' denominations like the Pentecostal/Charismatic churches that are so widespread these days. May the Elect in Christ be humbled and appreciative of their calling. Unconditional Election Introduction I used to believe in the Arminian position that God chose people because He foresaw their faith. Now I know that is complete bunk and undermines God's foreordination in who will be the elect and who will be the reprobate. Predestination God, out of His good will, decreed into existence all the past, present, and future events. Everything that God had decreed has happened, or will happen. We, as mere humans, do not know nearly one tidbit of God's full, predestined plan for our existence, and the existence of everyone and everything else. Is God the author of sin? I do not want to teach heresy here if I slip up on my understanding of this, so I will quote a famous theologian, who possibly shared my Asperger's syndrome, Jonathan Edwards. He said, “The permitter . . . of sin; and at the same time, a disposer of the state of events, in such a manner, for wise, holy and most excellent ends and purposes, that sin, if it be permitted . . . will most certainly and infallibly follow.” He worded it better than I ever could. Election A subset of predestination, election is God's decree of salvation to His chosen ones, and the damnation of those He did not choose. We, as humans, have no idea who God chose and who God passed over, so it is still fair to preach the gospel indiscriminately. In doing so, the Gospel acts as a divine sifter, where the goats fall away, and the sheep stay. Nice little visual, am I right? I used to struggle with the idea of election, because my mind wasn't prepared for the knowledge that was necessary to live the proper Christian walk. We are not Christian because we 'asked Jesus into our hearts.' Oh please, that is one of the most pathetic 'prayers' ever, in my opinion. That makes Jesus subordinate to our will. Let me lighten up a bit. I understand that it is well-meant, but it is seriously theologically flawed. I know, sorry. Limited Atonement The Atonement is Unlimited in Power Christ's Atonement on the Cross was powerful enough that it could save an infinite amount of people from damnation. That is not the case, but I am just showing how powerful the Atonement really was. People who argue for the Unlimited Atonement do have Scriptural backing, but don't take into account the whole scope of things. I would argue back that if the Atonement was universally unlimited, Universalism would be true Christianity. The Atonement is Limited in Scope The Atonement was definite though, in scope. If Christ died for the reprobate, there would be no such thing as reprobate. It would be considered universal election, and the whole framework of Christianity would fall apart catastrophically. Immorality amongst the 'elect' would run amok because they wouldn't ever need to repent of their sins, etc. Imagine that. It makes you sick. Good. Because it is a lie. We do need to repent, as it is given by the Spirit the ability to do so truly. A Completely Rational Case for the Limited Atonement I will write this out in a diagram so you can understand it better. [Universalism] (Aberrant heresy) 1. Christ died for the sins of every man. 2. Therefore every man is elected to salvation. 3. Therefore the Bible is useless, because everyone is already going to Heaven. 4. Therefore Christianity becomes obsolete. 5. Imagine God playing the Sims and taking pleasure in seeing immoral Sims running around His world. 6. Complete madness. I could make a litany of points about how wrong Universalism is. [Arminianism] (Pretty decently unbiblical) 1. Christ died for the sins of every man. 2. Man has to choose Christ or reject Christ. 3. Man can choose Christ, then reject Christ, forfeiting his salvation. 4. It renders Christ powerless and man sovereign over their destiny. 5. Creates false faith. [Amyraldism] (Pretty fairly biblical) 1. Christ died for the sins of every man. 2. Yet, Christ's atonement ultimately pertains to the elect, because not all are saved. 3. Essentially, hypothetical universalism. 4. Only unbiblical issue is the confusion about the atonement. [Calvinism] (Biblical) 1. Christ died for the sins of the elect. 2. Therefore the elect are saved. 3. The elect have moral boundaries set by the Holy Spirit. 4. Progressive sanctification takes places as their lives go on. 5. They are glorified into perfection as they pass on from this life. Irresistible Grace Grace is a gift from God, and therefore cannot be fought or resisted. God literally changes the will of the regenerate person, so it cannot be said that the regenerate will be kicking and screaming on his way to Heaven. No way. Regeneration happens before any verbal form of confession. Regeneration occurs as the Holy Spirit ignites a fire of faith from the hearing of the uncensored Gospel. Thus the election of the saint is made sure. It is pretty amazing, irresistible grace. It is like a consuming fire of change. I remember feeling completely renewed, despite still having that flesh to contend with, and that flesh proved to be a stinker. Perseverance of the Saints No true Christian will fall away from his faith. If a true Christian falls away from his faith, it demonstrates that God's grace is not all-powerful and not everlasting. It undermines God's sovereignty in election and ultimately in His divine predestination. Yet God is both the electing God and the foreordaining God, therefore the true believer will never truly fall away. He might doubt, and he might briefly reconsider, but the Spirit of Truth will keep him from drifting off the narrow pathway of righteousness. I HOPE I PORTRAYED AN ACCURATE VIEW OF REFORMED THEOLOGY AND CALVINISM. IF NOT, BY ALL MEANS CORRECT ME. GOD BLESS.