Why I Love the Doctrines of Grace by Christina Langella

>If you have not met Christina Langella, you have missed the opportunity of meeting one of the most joyous persons I know. She is a wonderful friend, passionate for the Word of God, and always ready to share God’s love with those around her. It is my privilege to have her sharing with us today.

 

First of all, a very BIG “Thank you!” to Becky for her labor of love in coordinating this special series. I know that I am not alone when I say that I am so grateful to our sister for her sincere love and service to the saints.
In the first post of this series, sister Norma discussed the importance of studying doctrine. Doctrine, she explained, is not just for the seminarian, the professor, the pastor, or the missionary. It is rather, the responsibility of every person who wears the name of Christ.
The title of our series, “Doctrines in the Kitchen” reminds us of the very practical nature of the Word of God. It confirms that our faith encompasses the whole of our being and affects every sphere of our life – both public and private.
A.W. Pink, in his book, Practical Christianity explains it nicely. “Some of us are single, others married; some are children, others parents; some are masters, others servants. Scripture supplies definite precepts and rules, motives and encouragement for each alike. It not only teaches us how we are to behave in the church and in the home, but equally so in the workshop and in the kitchen…”
As someone who embraces Reformed/Calvinistic Theology, I point to the doctrines of grace, also known as the five points of Calvinism, as the system of theology that has put me on the most solid theological footing ever.
Calvinism, in and of itself, is not the Gospel, however when these doctrines come together they provide the theological framework for what is the gospel. In the gospel God saves totally depraved sinners, He chooses them unconditionally, He draws them irresistibly, and He preserves them until the end. If you remove one of these pillars then you will have succeeded in diminishing the gospel.
While the doctrines of grace are rightly associated with John Calvin, and the Reformers, the truth is that these doctrines are woven all throughout the pages of Scripture. We see them in the Psalms, they were taught by Jesus himself, and were further upheld by the apostle Paul in Romans and Ephesians, to name just a couple of books.
I find myself in good company when I concur with the sentiments of Charles Spurgeon who said, “There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer—I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it.”
So, what is a Calvinist? Once again, I will let the Prince of Preachers answer that: “He is one who says,’ Salvation is of the Lord’ ”
My primary purpose in this post is not so much to explain, or even make a defense (although I welcome the opportunity) for these doctrines. My purpose is to share briefly with you why I have come to cherish them so. It is my prayer that you, too, will come to treasure these precious doctrines that not only changed my life, but daily transform me into the image of my Savior.
Although I had been serving the Lord for many years before God opened my eyes to these doctrines I was, in many ways, like the “infant” that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4:14 who is “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine”. Today that is no longer the case. My feet rest on level ground and I stand on the firm and solid rock of God’s Word.
As many of you are already aware, the doctrines of grace are most commonly associated with the acrostic TULIP. Let us briefly touch upon each of these doctrines that, when joined together, form the basic framework or structure for God’s great plan of salvation for sinners!
Total Depravity: I used to think that I was a good Christian with a few problems here and there. The scriptures tell a different story. In fact, not only do they confirm a few problems, they make clear I am the problem! The doctrine of total depravity teaches that as a consequence of “The Fall” every aspect of our being has been infected by sin. Even our seemingly good and honorable actions cannot be understood apart from the context of a will that is bondage to sin. Did you know that even the ability to even respond in faith to the gospel is a gift of grace? It was not until I began to understand my own depravity that I could start apprehending the grace and mercy of God. In this doctrine God has demolished and utterly obliterated any possibility of boasting. Salvation is of the Lord!
Unconditional Election: Many of us think that we found God because we were searching. As lovely as this may sound, this thinking doesn’t square with scripture. If any of us are ever searching for Truth, we can be sure that it is the power of God at work in us and certainly nothing of our own. John Newton, author of Amazing Grace said it best. “Ah! Sir,” he said, “The Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards.” The doctrine of unconditional election teaches that God elected us unto salvation before the foundation of the world. God chose us before we ever did anything good or bad. He did this because He is sovereign and He has declared, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy” (Romans 9:15). Why, in eternity past, He ordained that I should be an object of mercy and not wrath, I will never know. All I know is that it humbles me to the dust. Salvation is of the Lord!
Limited Atonement: Jesus did not die on the cross so that I would merely have the opportunity to one day be saved. He did not die on the cross to make my salvation merely possible. He did far more than that! As C. H. Spurgeon said, “The doctrine of Holy Scripture is this, that inasmuch as man could not keep God’s law, having fallen in Adam, Christ came and fulfilled the law on the behalf of his people; and that inasmuch as man had already broken the divine law and incurred the penalty of the wrath of God, Christ came and suffered in the room, place, and stead of his elect ones, that so by his enduring the full vials of wrath, they might be emptied out and not a drop might ever fall upon the heads of his blood-bought people.” (Sermon 310 – “Christ our Substitute – New Park Street, Southwark). What does that mean? It means that when Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), he meant exactly that. We can add nothing to his finished work. Salvation is of the Lord!
Irresistible Grace: I have heard it said somewhere that the only ones who don’t get what they want are Christians! Oh, how I bless God for that! The doctrine of irresistible grace teaches that all those who have been predestined for eternal life will come freely because they have been made willing by His grace. John Piper says it like this, “What the sovereignty of grace and the sovereignty of the Spirit mean is that when God chooses, he can overcome the rebellion and resistance of our wills. He can make Christ look so compelling that our resistance is broken and we freely come to him and receive him and believe him.” (Online Source). Because it is God’s almighty power at work, and not my own, I can be sure that the grace of God unto salvation in my life will not be without effect. Salvation is of the Lord!
Perseverance of the Saints: Of the five doctrines of grace, this one has proven to be the most stabilizing. This doctrine teaches that if God redeemed us then He will keep us! The great Puritan William Secker said it well, “Though Christians be not kept altogether from falling, yet they are kept from falling altogether.” Yes, various kinds of troubles and temptations will come but this our confidence: “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Our perseverance does not depend on our good works but on God who never changes and who is faithful! Isn’t that good news? Salvation is of the Lord!
Do you see how these doctrines teach that God is sovereign over our salvation? Do you see how they exalt Christ and dethrone man? Pastor John Samson of King’s Church, Phoenix, and writer at reformationtheology.com and of his own blog at effectualgrace.com, captures the simple and elegant glory of these great doctrines. He writes, “Grace at the start, grace to the end, grace in the middle, grace without fail, grace without mixture, grace without addition, grace that allows no boasting, grace that precludes all glorying but in the Lord.” Isn’t that beautiful? It is, in every sense of the word, at all time, in all places, all of grace.
There was a time when embedded deep within my theology, was the proud and lofty notion that there was something inherently good in me that merited salvation. Maybe He saw my “heart” or perhaps He saw me “searching.” Subsequent to salvation there was the sense that if I wanted to maintain His pleasure my efforts and my performance were what mattered most. If that’s not a terrifying thought, I don’t know what is! Not only does such thinking lend to an unstable and schizophrenic kind of Christian experience, but it is an absolute affront to the sovereignty and grace of an almighty God!
Today, I can look back, even upon my darkest days, and see the sovereign hand of God at work. The sovereignty of God encompasses everything that comes to pass — including sin. These precious doctrines assure me that there was never a time when I was outside of the perfect knowledge and will of God for my life. Even if my deliverance from error to truth took longer than I would have liked, I know that even that is of the Lord. If He kept my eyes closed for as long as He did, well, then it was for His sovereign and gracious purposes, and I can say that it is good.
The journey has not always been easy. He has taken every idol in my “Christian” world and smashed it to smithereens. What has been left in the aftermath – what has been left in the wake of all of this ripping and demolishing is nothing but the cross of my crucified Savior.
It is my prayer that you too, will come to know and fall in love with these beautiful doctrines that, when brought together, point to one gracious and glorious truth: Salvation is of the Lord!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. 
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” 
Ephesians 2:8
Christina
_______________________________________________________
1.A.W. Pink, Practical Christianity, (Michigan: Baker House, 1974) 183.
2. C.H. Spurgeon, A Defense of Calvinism, (Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2008) 15.
3. C.H. Spurgeon, A Defense of Calvinism, (Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2008) 23-24.
4. William Secker, The Nonsuch Professor in His Meridian Spledor or, the Singular Actions of Sanctified Christians. (New York: Fleming Revell) 114.

34 thoughts on “Why I Love the Doctrines of Grace by Christina Langella

  1. >My friend Christina! This was a wonderful explanation of the five points in reformed theology. I appreciate your diligent writing here. Thank you for your gentle spirit in which you write as well. Blessings to you!Please put me on the list for the book by James Boice and Ryken. I would love to read it as I love James Boice!

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  2. >Thank you –Thank you for this concise explanation of these great Biblical truths that exalt the character and person of God. Please enter me in the drawing for Boice and Ryken's book—the Doctrines of Grace.missm33atwindstream(dot)net

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  3. >"Though Christians be not kept altogether from falling, yet they are kept from falling altogether." Christina, You really brought it today sister! Great job. I so agree with Vicky that you pulled off condensing 5 truths that can easily take hundreds of pages, into one simple paragraph.And who ever said orthodoxy was cold should read this lovely piece of yours!Much love!

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  4. >Christina, Your article was an absolute joy to read from start to finish. You are such a gifted communicator and there is nothing more wonderful to communicate than the precious doctrines at the heart of our faith. I hope your words are widely read. You are a real blessing to the Body of Christ.

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  5. >Thanking all of you beautiful ladies for sharing the joy of His amazing grace! These doctrines are too often misunderstood and mischaracterized and the truth is nothing can compare to the joy of understanding God's sovereignty in our salvation! Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and for the record, the giveaway is ABSOLUTELY open to internationals! Love and blessings!

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  6. >Thank you Becky and Christina,I so appreciate this post, overwhelming grace brings bounds of thankfulness – so glad for His grace. Please enter me in the giveaway – I would enjoy reading this book.Jo

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  7. >Mmmmmmm. Love this 🙂 I wholeheartedly agree with you that this "system of theology has put me on the most solid theological footing ever." I wholeheartedly agree with you that "Of the five doctrines of grace, the Perseverance of the Saints has proven to be the most stabilizing." And I absolutely 100% agree wholeheartedly with this: "There was a time when embedded deep within my theology, was the proud and lofty notion that there was something inherently good in me that merited salvation. Maybe He saw my “heart” or perhaps He saw me “searching.” Subsequent to salvation there was the sense that if I wanted to maintain His pleasure my efforts and my performance were what mattered most. If that’s not a terrifying thought, I don’t know what is! Not only does such thinking lend to an unstable and schizophrenic kind of Christian experience, but it is an absolute affront to the sovereignty and grace of an almighty God!" And I'd better stop there before I end up quoting your whole piece which I wholedheartedly agree with 🙂 Excellent post Christina, thank you for articulating your thoughts so concisely and clearly! Bless you.

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  8. >Love, love, love it! These doctrines are so precious – and you are right you really cannot remove one of them without demolishing the Gospel. You've done a wonderful job of breaking each down and explaining it simply and beautifully! Soli Deo Gloria!! 🙂 Please enter me for the book. Thank you!

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  9. >"Grace at the start, grace to the end, grace in the middle, grace without fail, grace without mixture, grace without addition, grace that allows no boasting, grace that precludes all glorying but in the Lord." I will learn to recite this by heart! Wonderful to see you in the kitchen. I thank God that He has opened your eyes!! Grace and love!

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  10. >What a well written, thought provoking post. I particularly love The journey has not always been easy. He has taken every idol in my “Christian” world and smashed it to smithereens. What has been left in the aftermath – what has been left in the wake of all of this ripping and demolishing is nothing but the cross of my crucified Savior..Amen and Glory to God!

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  11. >Excellent! Though I grew up in church, I only encountered Reformed Doctrine about six years ago. I remember grappling with it accompanied by Grudem's Systematic Theology. One of the clinchers for me when considering aspects of Reformed Doctrine (such as Irresistible Grace), was asking the question, "What brings God more glory?" If I choose God, I have something about which to boast, but if God chooses me, it is all of grace. To Him alone be all the glory!With that question and passages of Scripture like Romans 9 and John 6, I began to see the truth of the matter, by His grace and for His glory.Thanks for a great post! 🙂

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  12. >Christina what a wonderful post! I have to say that is one of the most concise, easy to understand explanations of TULIP I have seen. Like you I am so thankful that God in His timing brought me to the knowledge of these doctrines, I often say that I cling to them for dear life! So much of what I thought I understood about the Bible makes little sense anymore. These doctrine's are written all over scripture, and obviously on your heart my friend. Love to you, and thank you for the wonderful post. Enter me for the book as well.

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  13. >Thanks for the wonderful post. Doctrine is so important. It shows the greatness of our salavation which gives us a thirst for the word which the word transforms our lives. The book is also a great addition.

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  14. >Wonderful post, Christina! I also love the doctrines of grace because "nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling." God gets and deserves the glory from beginning to end in our salvation.Please enter me for the book. Love you, sister!

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  15. >Thanks so much Christina for such an excellent post! A wonderful explanation of the Doctrines of Grace and why they mean so much to you. It is not easy to take a subject that one could write a hundred pages on and bring it down to a few very understandable paragraphs-but you did it!God bless you, sister!

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  16. >Wow. This is wonderful, Christina. Thank you for writing. What comes through so clearly is that the Doctrines of Grace are not just lofty terms written in ink on paper to which you've given mere intellectual assent, but they've been made experientially real to you.I love this:"He has taken every idol in my “Christian” world and smashed it to smithereens. What has been left in the aftermath – what has been left in the wake of all of this ripping and demolishing is nothing but the cross of my crucified Savior." Your fervor is catching! God bless you.Love,-E

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