SGBC Modesto

Sovereign Grace

February 26, 2024 by

William Heinrich

The great Princeton theologian B.B. Warfield wrote, “The world should realize with increased clearness that Evangelicalism stands or falls with Calvinism.”  As the years have passed, Evangelicalism has expelled Calvinism or, at least, seems to desire to do so.  No longer is the doctrine of the reformation looked upon as evangelical, but viewed as extreme or suspect. 

One of the greatest evangelicals of yesterday was Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  Spurgeon wrote, “I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ, and Him, crucified unless we preach what is now-a-days called Calvinism.  Calvinism is the gospel and nothing else.  I do not believe we can preach the gospel unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His doctrine of grace, nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend the gospel which allows saints to fall away after they are called.”

 We live in a time of weak theology and questionable conduct.  Our worship is based far more on emotion than on truth.  What was once said of liberal churches can now be said of the evangelical church.  They seek the world’s wisdom, believe the world’s theology and adopt the world’s methods.  The Word of God is now insufficient to be used in evangelism, counseling, or spiritual growth. Entertainment, signs and wonders, charismatic preachers, and Hollywood style speakers and programs are the thing of the hour.  The evangelical church is pragmatic and does all this because it “works”, (gets the numbers).  The church is secular, mindless, unholy, and humanistic in an effort to make newcomers feel comfortable.

 We ask, “What happened to sovereign grace?”  It was lost when the minister decided to give the people what they wanted.  Sermons on their felt needs replaced sermons on the doctrines of God and His Sovereign grace.  The book store is stocked with what the people want.  Huge sections on self-help, and home and family, and little on God and His holiness.  The music of our day has changed to a self-centered message as well.  An emphasis upon being positive has removed preaching that brings guilt.  The so called need of a high self-esteem has fed evil pride.  Out of this has come an unholy emphasis on free will and near omission of total depravity.

Sovereign grace, on the other hand, sees God as sovereign in everything, especially in His dispensing of grace.  Sovereign grace reminds man that God is the one who has grace, and grants grace, not man.  Sovereign grace teaches that, because the Fall of Man was so severe, man is unable to help himself out of certain destruction, but God reaches down.  God’s sovereignty, in grace, chooses some as a gift to His son (Eph. 1:4 with John 17), out of all of fallen humanity.  God’s grace extended from His sovereign choice before the worlds were formed to His gracious endowment of glory in the world to come (Rom. 8:30).  In the process of time, He calls all the chosen ones and they hear His voice and follow Him (Jn. 6:44, 10:26-27).  He grants faith, repentance, and new birth (Jn. 3:3; Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 11:18), as a sovereign act of His grace.  God could act in grace because His righteousness was satisfied in the sovereign grace of Christ at Calvary.  For there, Christ died for all the Father chose so that the Father may forgive, to the uttermost, His elect.  This is called the “Gospel of the Grace of Christ” (Gal. 1:6).  So also, election is called the “Election of Grace” (Rom. 11:5).

 Please observe when the subject is the “sovereign grace of God,” we speak of God.  We speak of His sovereignty or right to rule and do as He pleases.  We also speak of His grace or delightful favor He grants His elect as totally unmerited.  This should be contrasted to the evangelical church today that focuses on man, pragmatism, felt needs, and emotional build-up which they interpret as the Holy Spirit.  Perhaps one can see why the words of the late B.B. Warfield and Charles Spurgeon are right.  Evangelicalism stands or falls with Calvinism.  The more Calvinism is maligned or scorned, the greater the fall of Evangelicalism.

 We, with courage and conviction, hold the doctrine of sovereign grace