John Piper once said that his theology is the foundation to everything he does. It was ten years ago or so that I first heard him say that on a teaching video. I didn’t really know what it meant at the time but I am closer to getting what I think he meant today. He meant that his theology has implications.
Many who are theological will hold to what is called the doctrines of grace. Many will use the word TULIP as an acronym and a new acronym for the doctrines of grace is PROOF although they would fall in a different order. So I’ll give you both. TULIP will be spelled out in the first headings, with the first letter to the first word, and PROOF will be spelled out when you rearrange the first letter of the first word in brackets (it’s actually written ROPOF out of order below). I hope that makes sense.
Total Depravity (Resurrecting Grace) -Our sin runs so deep and it is so powerful that we are born as slaves to sin (Romans 6:17) and spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1,5). We are at the mercy of God for Him to act on us, in His grace, to help us see our need of a Lord and Saviour through the Spirit of God (John 3:8).
Unconditional Election (Outrageous Grace) -God’s election, took place before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). In eternity past He chose some to be a part of His family because of His good pleasure not based upon what He knew that we would do. He has mercy on who He chooses and compassion on whom He chooses (Romans 9:15-16).
Limited Atonement (Planned Grace) – God died for the elect. Jesus Christ gave Himself up for the church (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus Christ laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:15).
Irresistible Grace (Overcoming Grace) -Those who were elected before time began cannot resist God’s desire to save them. His power to save will overcome the elect in their rebellion. When the elect were dead, God made them alive (Ephesians 2:5). No one can come to Christ unless it is granted by the Father (John 6:65).
Perseverance of the Saints (Forever Grace) -God will keep the ones He saves. Those who were justified will also be glorified (Romans 8:30). The ones that He began a good work in, He will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6, Jude :24). A genuine believer will remain saved.
Those things are foundational to biblical theology but everything that the Bible commands flow out of those bedrock convictions and it will likely take our lifetime to connect the dots between the theology and the implications that flow from the theology.
There’s a man who says that his theology is reformed but it will take a lifetime to see that there are many, many practical implications that flow from a strong biblical belief in right doctrine.
He will learn to look to others in the body more for discernment in his decisions. He will desire more and more for others to come to faith. He will share a gospel that is biblical and not watered down in order to get ‘better results’. He will understand his roll better in the congregation that he serves in, according to God’s Word. He will stop looking to all the shiny new ministry tools to build the body instead of rock solid biblical principles. He will be less offended and more receptive to those who see and point out his blind spots. He will become more dependant on God through the Word and prayer. He will not necessarily be impressed by the number of butts in the pews but be more satisfied and longing for a greater depth of the disciples in the pews (not that he doesn’t want both). He will become more open with others about his own sins and failures and be more impressed by the beauty and splendour and preciousness of Jesus.
You see, our theology has a myriad of implications. May God grant us the grace to see some of them in this lifetime.
My thoughts have been spurred on by an article by Tim Challies. Also, as I wrote I was reminded by a poem read in video-form that I’ve posted in the past. This is a challenging video that may bring tears to your eyes and call you to a deeper, more biblical walk with Him. It is truly a thing of beauty.