In this the fourth session of the TULIP seminar, Dr. Piper deals with the concepts of Total Depravity and Unconditional Election, the “T” and the “U” in the acrostic. The two doctrines go together for the simple reason that if someone is spiritually dead (not just sick or even about to breathe their last, but actually dead) then he is in no state to be able to DO anything of a spiritual nature in order to qualify for Divine election. The dead cannot fulfill any conditions or perform any actions, hence election needs to be unconditional for anyone to ultimately be saved.
So many people believe that election is based on God forseeing what man would do – that because He sees certain people saying “yes” to the call of the gospel, He elects them on that basis. However, if we understand the extent of the Fall of man and grasp the fact that all mankind are spiritual dead (necros – dead like a corpse) then if God looked down the corridors of time to see who would respond to the gospel, all He would ever see would be spiritually dead people, doing nothing. That’s all dead people do. Its all they can do. The dead are not able to come to Christ.
Jesus in fact said so explicitly. In John 6:44 He said, “No one can (or “no one is able to”) come to Me unless…” Ahhh thankfully there is an “unless” there… “unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” Yet we should not skip over the first clause in the sentence. These are important words. Jesus explicitly states, “No one can come to Me…” It is also important to note that the verse goes on to say that the one drawn is also raised up to eternal life. That’s a powerful drawing, to be sure. The whole verse says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44 )
Then Paul writes “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom 8:7–8)
What is interesting is that both Jesus and Paul use the exact same language “no one can” and “it cannot” (ou dynatai). The Greek means “inability.” In this context “moral inability.”
How can man be responsible if he is unable to do something? The answer is that this is a moral inability rather than a physical one.
Obviously the main teaching video (TULIP part 4) is further below (at the bottom of this blog post), but before we get to that, here’s a very short video that explains this concept:
Paul also makes this clear in Ephesians 2. Writing to the Christians at Ephesus (and by extension, all Christians everywhere) he states that it was while they were dead that God made them alive. As he describes this resurrection he does not mention any action on the part of man in the process. Like all resurrections, God has to raise the dead without any cooperative effort on the part of man. It is a monergistic act (one power working) rather than a synergistic one (more than one party working). As John Piper stated elsewhere:
“If all of us are so depraved that we cannot come to God without being born again by the irresistible grace of God, then it is clear that the salvation of any of us is owing to God’s election. Election refers to God’s choosing whom to save. It is unconditional in that there is no condition man must meet before God chooses to save him. Man is dead in trespasses and sins. So there is no condition he can meet before God chooses to save him from his deadness. We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life. But faith is not a condition for election. Just the reverse. Election is a condition for faith. It is because God chose us before the foundation of the world that he purchases our redemption at the cross and quickens us with irresistible grace and brings us to faith.” – (in What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism)
George Whitefield, the great 18th century Evangelist said it this way, “Come, ye dead, Christless, unconverted sinner, come and see the place where they laid the body of the deceased Lazarus; behold him laid out, bound hand and foot with graveclothes, locked up and stinking in a dark cave, with a great stone placed on top of it. View him again and again; go nearer to him; be not afraid; smell him, Ah! how he stinketh. Stop there now, pause a while; and whilst thou art gazing upon the corpse of Lazarus, give me leave to tell thee with great plainness, but greater love, that this dead, bound, entombed, stinking carcase, is but a faint representation of thy poor soul in its natural state;…thy spirit which thou bearest about with thee, sepulchered in flesh and blood, is literally dead to God, and as truly dead in trespasses and sins, as the body of Lazarus was in the cave. Was he bound hand and foot with graveclothes? So art thou bound hand and foot with thy corruptions; and as a stone was laid on the sepulchre, so there is a stone of unbelief upon thy stupid heart. Perhaps thou has lain in this estate, not only four days, but many years, stinking in God’s nostrils. And, what is still more effecting, thou art as unable to raise thyself out of this loathsome, dead state, to a life of righteousness and true holiness, as ever Lazarus was to raise himself from the cave in which he lay so long. Thou mayest try the power of thy boasted free will, and the force and energy of moral persuasion and rational arguments (which, without doubt, have their proper place in religion); but all thy efforts, exerted with never so much vigor, will prove quite fruitless and abortive, till that same Jesus, who said ‘take away the stone” and cried “Lazarus, come forth,” also quicken you. This is grace, graciously offered, and grace graciously applied. Or as the Confession originally puts it, “grace offered and conveyed.”
Lasting just over 57 minutes then, here is the 4th installment of this in depth biblical study on the T.U.L.I.P. God bless!
4 – Total Depravity and Unconditional Election (57:38)
Part 5 is now posted here.