Two weeks ago in Moriah (one week ago in Sembawang), I showed, as part of my message, selected results of a Barna Research Groups’ survey on the sharp decline of Christianity and church attendance in America. (The conclusions, I felt were fairly representative of global trends.) One of the key conclusions of the survey is the reason why people join or leave a church – it is the depth of its teaching!
- Thirty nine percent says if the church’s teaching is deep and orthodox they will choose that church. - A whopping 63% says they will leave if they see the church as theologically inaccurate.
This affirms our stance on being “deep and orthodox” and theologically accurate and true to our Reformed Presbyterian heritage and traditions.
Let me, and Pastor Mark Tay, use this column to write a mini-series on T-U-L-I-P, the acronym used to provide a cogent summary of Calvinism. The first letter “T” stands for Total Depravity – but what does it mean?
First, what it is not. Total depravity is not to be confused with corruption, nor to mean that men are as depraved as they can be. What it does mean is, “a total destitution of any principle of conformity to God’s law, which requires supreme love to God, and deportment towards men regulated by a design to please and glorify Him.”
The apostle Paul says, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” (Rom 7:19 NIV)
The origin of this depravity, according to Calvin, is Adam’s sin. As the federal head of all mankind, his sin was imputed to all his descendants. In his “fall”, we all fell – “Consequently … one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people…” (Rom 5:18).
Calvin teaches that “being sinners in character and conduct, none are able to renew their hearts, nor make atonement for their sins . . . without divine influence.” This teaching comes directly from Paul: “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God…” (1 Cor 2:14)
Without divine influence, the sad result for man in his natural condition is: while they will never attempt to glorify God—nothing that they can do can please him; for, "they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom 8:8)
And so, the only way that men can be justified before God is through the righteousness of Christ, graciously imputed to them. That is why we need Christ.
Pastor Robert Chew