Our Distinctives

7. Reformed Theology

 
 
Distinctive 7 – We emphasize Reformed Theology and the sovereignty of God in human salvation
 
 
The Reformers of 16th century Europe countered the prevailing thinking of their day by returning to the Bible. GBF aligns with their conclusions in Scripture concerning salvation. Can an individual choose their own salvation or does God sovereignly elect people who will believe?
Jesus makes it clear that no one can come to the Father unless He draws them to Himself (John 6:44, 65). Thus, our salvation is initiated by God. While we must evangelize with the gospel message, an unbeliever’s faith is dependent upon God opening their eyes to see and opening their minds to believe.
Reformed Theology understands human salvation in five phrases. The acronym associated with these phrases is the word “TULIP.”
 
Total depravity
Unconditional election
Limited atonement
Irresistable grace
Perseverance of the saints
 
 
TOTAL
DEPRAVITY
 
All humans are completely depraved in sin and incapable of comprehending the gospel message and responding to it in faith. Every person is born in sin (Rom 5:12-15) and is both thoroughly affected by their corruption (Gen 6:5) and deceived in it (Jer 17:9). No one seeks for God or is pleasing to Him (Rom 3:10-18). Everyone is rendered dead by their sinfulness so is thus incapable of choosing eternal life (Eph 2:1).
 
 
UNCONDITIONAL
ELECTION
 
God must take initiative to provide life so that a person can choose to believe. He selects or predestines those who would respond to the gospel (Eph 1:4, 11-12). His election is not conditioned by any human works or merit (Rom 9:11). It is by grace we are saved (Eph 2:8-9).
 
 
LIMITED
ATONEMENT
 
Christ came to offer his life as an atonement for the elect who would respond to him (John 10:14-16). He did not die for everyone. He gave his life for those given to him by His Father (John 17:2-3, 6, 8-9; Acts 20:28; Eph 5:25). Thus, God declares them “my people” (Acts 18:11). Jesus would only save “his” people from their sins (Matt 1:21).
 
 
IRRESISTIBLE
GRACE
 
Those God elects He effectually calls (Rom 8:28-30). He regenerates their spirit so that they not only are able to respond to the gospel message, but they inevitably do so (John 6:37, 44). Believers in Christ must respond in faith to the gospel message, but God irresistibly draws them (Acts 13:48; 16:14) and gives them spiritual life (Eph 2:1-5), repentance of sin (Rom 2:4; 2 Tim 2:25), and saving faith in Christ (Phil 1:29).
 
 
PRESERVATION OF THE
SAINTS
 
Since the Father gives to His Son an elect church to redeem, he will not lose them or allow them to fall away (John 10:27-29). Those foreknown by God to be saved, He predestines, calls, justifies, and ultimately glorifies (Rom 8:29-30). No elect soul of God can ever lose their salvation. They persevere to the end.
 
God’s sovereign election does not mean Christians should not evangelize. Some pervert this teaching by fatalistically resigning themselves to God’s will without any effort on their part to be Christ’s witnesses. We do not know who God has chosen for salvation. Therefore, we proclaim the gospel message to the whole world (Matt 24:14; 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Saving faith comes by hearing the word of Christ through obedient disciples (Rom 10:14-17).