I wrote a paper for my last class of my undergrad degree on TULIP in the book of John. For the next several weeks I will be posting small sections of this paper. Each day of the week, I will post one portion of each doctrine in their respective order. I hope this sample from the introduction will prove to be true for these blog posts and each and every one of our hearts:
The burden of this paper is to show these doctrines from the Bible. If it cannot be shown, it should not be believed. But o how clear it is! For the purpose of this paper, the focus will be on the Gospel of John. Every page of the Bible testifies to the sovereign grace of God. This narrow focus will allow the reader to see the heavy volume of texts in just one book of the Bible that proves the Reformed tradition. The Reformed tradition should be known as one that loves the Bible. More than that, the Reformed tradition is rich in doxology. The purpose of this paper is far from simple persuasion. The aim is worship. Bad theology dishonors God and hurts people, to quote John Piper. In fact, the theme of this paper is drawn from the book of John itself. Hear the Word of the Lord:
“but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
(John 20:31 ESV)
This paper is written so that you will believe and have life in Christ’s name. God is glorified in the gladness of His people in Him. Man’s satisfaction, indeed His joy will only increase the more he knows the God of His salvation and knows Him as He has revealed Himself. So may we now, together, behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ with an unveiled face (2 Cor 3:18).
Total Depravity (1)
Let us begin in John 3. Nicodemus has come to Jesus by night, a rhetorical device John uses, and is asking him concerning His person and work. The following discourse deals with the nature of seeing the Kingdom of God. This section of the passage will be considered more in the Limited Atonement section. John 3 is most famous for verse 16, the universal call of the gospel. It is this passage many point to as a foil to Reformed theology. But this ignores the next few verses. Truth enough, Jesus did not come into the world to condemn (3:17). But for what reason did he not come to judge the world but to save it?
The answer is given in verses 18-20. Jesus came to save because all who do not believe are condemned already (3:18). Christ did not have to come to condemn because the unbelief of all who do not believe are under the just wrath of God already (3:36). This judgment comes because light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead (3:19). Belief is impossible then because the light of Christ, of the gospel, is not appealing to them. It is foolishness indeed. See here the inability for humans to perceive spiritual things. The light has come into the world, saving people from sin and the wrath to come. And yet, man is unable to come. But not only is a man unable to come, but he is also unwilling.
The problem is not that men are victims of darkness. Darkness is what they love. Here the will is bound, driven by whatever it loves; in this case and in the case of all natural men this is sin. Men love darkness by nature. The larger context of this passage is huge. As mentioned, this passage comes while Jesus is explaining the inability for one to see the Kingdom of Heaven save the sovereign new birth. This new birth is necessary because man cannot and will not come otherwise.