Summary of the Sovereignty of God in Salvation – John Piper

Somehow I fail miserably in my feeble attempts to encourage folks to see the majesty and sovereignty of God in the salvation of men. Part of that might be attributed to today’s generally ‘low view of God’. I won’t go into that, but if you are reading this, at least consider the view you have of God. Much has already been written, preached and/or taught concerning the modern/postmodern and abysmally deficient view of God held by the vast majority of American evangelicalism. Below is an excellent summary, by John Piper, of God’s sovereignty in man’s salvation, which includes truths that uplift, encourage and ‘feel good’, and others that might reflect doctrine that is much hated these days.  

1. God elects, chooses, before the foundation of the world whom he will save and whom he will pass by and leave to unbelief and sin and rebellion. He does this unconditionally, not on the basis of foreseen faith that humans produce by a supposed power of ultimate self-determination (= “free will”).

Acts 13:48, “When the gentiles heard this they were glad and glorified the word of God. And as many as were for ordained to eternal life believed.”

Romans 11:7, “Israel failed to obtain what is sought. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened.”

John 6:37, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.” John 17:6, “I have manifested my name to them whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me.” (John 6:44, 65).

2. The Atonement applies to the elect in a unique, particular way, although the death of Christ is sufficient to propitiate the sins of the whole world. The death of Christ effectually accomplished the salvation for all God’s people.

Eph. 5:25, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Heb. 10:14, “By a single offering he perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

John 10:15, “I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Rom. 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?”

3. Because of the Fall, humans are incapable of any saving good apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. We are helpless and dead in sin. We have a mindset that “cannot submit to God without divine enabling.

Rom. 8:7-8, “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

Eph. 2:1,5, “You were dead through your trespasses and sins.”

4. God’s call to salvation is effectual, and, hence His grace cannot be ultimately thwarted by human resistance. God’s regenerating call can overcome all human resistance.

Acts 16:14, “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul.”

John 6:65, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by my Father.” (Matt. 16:17; Luke 10:21)

1 Cor. 1:23-24, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

5. Those whom God calls and regenerates He also keeps, so that they do not totally and finally fall away from faith and grace.

Rom. 8:30, “Those whom he predestined, he also called and those whom he called he also justified and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me; and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”

Phil. 1:6, “I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 1:8).

1 Thess. 5:23, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”


Romans 11:36, “From him, through him, and to him are all things, to him be glory forever amen!”

38 responses to “Summary of the Sovereignty of God in Salvation – John Piper

  1. How can we argue with scripture? Even if I don’t understand it, so much is beyond my puny mind, how can I argue with it if I understand it to be God’s Word?

    Either I don’t really believe it is the inspired Word of God; therefore, I don’t have to live by it or teach all of it.

    Or I do believe it’s the Word of God, a complete revelation of all He desires us to know; and will live my life accordingly.

    Doesn’t it also say that those who desire to teach will incur a stricter judgment? It’s all very sobering.

    Dan, I don’t really know if I understand all 5 points of Calvinism. I want to understand TULIP but I want it to be in easy nuggets. Can you point me to someplace where it’s easily explained? Have you posted on all 5 points?

    I was raised under the DAISY method…He loves me…He loves me not…He loves me…He loves me not… 😉


  2. Dan: Reading things like this increases my fear of God. I mean that as a good thing. You are right, there is a low view of God in our culture and in our churches, and I am often guilty of it myself.

    I want to love Him more, I want to be more and more submitted to His will and His ways and yet I find myself attracted by the things of this world much too often.

    Thanks for this reminder. These Scriptures enlarge my view of God and help guide my heart back to humble communion with Him again.


  3. If I may,

    Paul Helm’s “The Providence of God” and DA Carson’s “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God,” are very good. Also “Hard to Believe” by MacArthur. On the more demanding side, Carson’s Commentary on John in the Pillar series and John Frame’s “doctrine” series are great. Sam Storms has written some fabulous short books on the subject.

    If you go to Piper’s website and do a search for TULIP, you will find about 9 lectures using the acronym – which are as good as you would think they would be.


  4. Jason, You are a prince! I tried to send this link from work, but it didn’t go through. It’s a pretty good concise comparison between “C” and “A” in layman’s terms.

    PeregrinJoe, Thanks for stopping by! I resemble your remarks! I think that no matter how ‘large’ a concept of God I might attain to, it wouldn’t even come close. And yes, fear of God is a good thing!


  5. haven’t been called that name before. neato!

    The other HEAVY book on the substance of this matter, that is one’s doctrine of God (we all have one) is “The Justification of God” by John Piper.


  6. sorry.

    also “The Death of Death” by John Owen, and Packer’s intro for the Banner of Truth edition is worth buying the book all by itself.


  7. Thanks, Dan. I’m not sure what I think about all five. I’ve never really looked into them, you know I did grow up under Arminianism.

    Hmmm…not ready to discuss it either. Do you agree with all five points?


  8. *sigh* Ok, I understand predestination…really I do. The reason I had to stop communication is because of the delivery. I don’t know if it’s my years of abuse that kicks in or what, but when you and J come accross the way you did on my blog, I shut off..I would love to discuss, God’s WOrd…not other peoples opinions or ideas…scripture. I can’t recieve by being put down or belittled, and you know that I respect and love you guys. But keep the conversation conversation…not accusation. K? I do learn from you guys, but honestly, you ain’t my God and He will show me and change my heart in His time…I hope that makes sense.


  9. Michelle,

    The 5 points are point by point responses to Arminius and his crew by the authors of the Canons of Dort. The earliest variety of bumper sticker theology. Calvin had a lot more to say about it than just that.


  10. Thanks to both of you, Jason and Dan. I have quite a bit of resources now!

    When my husband was in seminary (Nazarene) I heard too many discussions that began, “Wesley says…Calvin states…” I became so tired of it that I began indepth study so I could say, “Yes, but the bible states…” After we left the Nazarene denomination we went to the Evang’l Cov’t because of their defining question: “Where is it written?” They are not considered a church based upon a creed, although they do not reject the Apostle’s Creed.

    Anyway, all of that to say, thanks again. I don’t know how much I’ll read but I do appreciate the information when I’m ready. 😉


  11. Happy to help, Michelle.

    Just a couple of weeks ago I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who can recite the first 4 ecumenical councils nearly by rote, but has a hard time piecing together the biblical undergirding of those blessed councils.

    It grows into a case law sort of exercise, “Well in Casey v. PA, the dissenting opinion clearly states” blah. and as you pointed out (with greater genteelity) who gives a crap what some dead guy said if you can’t explain it from God’s word.

    The other side of that pendulum arc of error is the deconstructionists who are perpetually reinventing the wheel, which is just a cloaked variety of liberal anti-intellectualism, an unwillingness to actually engage ideas that others have had, only saying, “aw, that’s just Calvinism” or “Aw that’s just Arminianism”. A method of changing the subject away from their own lack of Scriptural preparedness.

    Our church has a creed written by the elders so that they themselves could explain the biblical reasoning of each and every idea. If you can’t then the ideas in it have no more leverage in your life than the “I Accept” button when downloading itunes.

    I think that the creeds are worthwhile for a couple of reasons. One, it is an attachment to our past, a reason for where we are today (in both good and bad ways.) The reasons for why these things say what they do and the amount of blood spilt over them needs to be taught. Secondly, it goes to show what those who disagree with it are thinking. I heard a story about Roger Nicole, a student of his was badgering him for his regular use of the word inerrancy. The student said, “Aren’t you just starting a fight by using that word?” Nicole in his Darth Vader-does-Charles deGaulle accent said, “I don’t say ‘inerrancy’ to tell others what I think, I say it to find out why they don’t use it.” Those conversations are rarely fun, but always deeply revealing.


  12. Deb, good to see you and I really ‘work hard’ on my ‘delivery’ – but how ‘touchy-feely’ can a 28 year veteran of Special Forces be? 🙂 The ‘all we need is love’ Beatles thing drives me batty. What we need is ‘the truth in love’. Anyhow, it IS good to see you here!

    Michelle, I think I was dreaming about the doctrines of grace all night long! I prefer those terms instead of Calvinism and I became aquainted with their some of their substance while in Lutheran catechism. I became an Arminiam when I asked someone (I forget who) about the ‘God choosing the elect’ thing and got the ‘God knew who would choose Him’ dissertation. It was very appealing. Much later in life, John 6:44 straightened me out.

    Jason, good morning and thanks for your salient input sprinkled with your usual ‘pith’ – is that a word or do we only have the adjective ‘pithy’ to work with here?

    Anyhow, good morning to you all and it’s time for the morning workout!


  13. It really is not about touchy feely Mr. Airforce man…it’s about compassion and relating to people where they are at…It’s good to be here to, have a nice workout!


  14. PITH:
    Function: noun
    1 a: a usually continuous central strand of spongy tissue in the stems of most vascular plants that probably functions chiefly in storage b: any of various loose spongy plant tissues that resemble true pith c: the soft or spongy interior of a part of the body
    2 a: the essential part :
    CORE b: substantial quality (as of meaning)
    Function: transitive verb
    1 a: to kill (as cattle) by piercing or severing the spinal cord b: to destroy the spinal cord or central nervous system of (as a frog) usually by passing a wire or needle up and down the vertebral canal2: to remove the pith from (a plant stem)

    Function: adjective
    Inflected Form(s): pith•i•er; pith•i•est
    1 : consisting of or abounding in pith 2 : having substance and point : tersely cogent


  15. Oh, and yes, I agree, we do need the truth in love…what I’m saying is I’m not a college genius….or a scholar…so if you’re going to reach me, you need to lower yourself to my level. All I see alot of times is alot of pride, and yes Jason I’m not as scripturally prepared as you are in your sense. But I do know God, and I won’t allow you to undermine what He is doing in my life or make light of how far He has brought me because I am not up to your scholarly standard. You can book learn all ya want, but until you get your hands dirty outside the classroom with the people, and start living it, it really is useless.


  16. Airforce!!!!!!! How dare you!!!!!! 🙂 There are Airforce special operations guys but I was Army – those guys with the green, pie-shaped chapeaus on their heads.


  17. I think the creeds are worthwhile as well. As a Nazarene we had a book called “The Manual and Special Rules of the Church of the Nazarene” It was revised/updated every four years at the General Assembly. We lived by the book…not The Book.

    I didn’t even know what a creed was until we started attending a United Methodist church my senior year. Each week we would recite the Apostle’s Creed. I loved it. Only much later did I realize there were others. I have much respect for the scholarship and struggle of the church fathers.

    The EC declared themselves a non-creedal church as a statement against the state church of Sweden (Lutheran). They started Bible studies in their homes to learn but began to be persecuted by the state, so they immigrated to America for freedom’s sake. They declare themselves a “believer’s” church and claim the Bereans as their model. We’re not EC anymore, but thought it the closest thing to a bible church with denominational authority/structure. Now we attend a Bible church…LOVE IT.

    Don’t know why I shared all of that…just thought you might be interested. 😉

    March along, sing our song,
    With the Army of the free
    Count the brave, count the true,
    Who have fought to victory
    We’re the Army and proud of our name
    We’re the Army and proudly proclaim

    First to fight for the right,
    And to build the Nation’s might,
    And The Army Goes Rolling Along
    Proud of all we have done,
    Fighting till the battle’s done,
    And the Army Goes Rolling Along.

    Then it’s Hi! Hi! Hey!
    The Army’s on its way.
    Count off the cadence loud and strong,
    For where e’er we go,
    You will always know
    That The Army Goes Rolling Along.

    My dad was Army. I’m a bit proud… 😀 Although I kind of like the unofficial version, “Over hill over dale as we hit the dusty trail…”


  18. Michelle,

    The epigenesis of your former denomination is very interesting, thank you.

    Schleiermacher arose in the midst of dead German Lutheranism. He propogated a vague spirituality in which Jesus’ name was said a lot, but one of his main tenets was that the word of God doesn’t become so until we read it and internalize it. This, I think, speaks to the understandable reaction of your denomination against dead, Swedish Lutheranism (is there another kind these days?), but I think that, in many ways it is nearer – perhaps ‘could be’ would be better, I know nothing about your denomination, so just scatting here – the other end of the pendulum, that is,

    All creeds (bible summaries, take our word for it, don’t check up on what we are teaching, just pick up your missalette, follow our navigational signals and shut up)


    no creeds (The spirit – whatever that means to you – will show you the right interpretation, don’t listen to anyone, Foucault styled hermeneutics).

    I know that the simplest form of congregationalism – the church that you attend, and as is the church which we attend – has its share of pitfalls – one lunatic leader can run an outfit off a cliff – but I am absolutely convinced that it is the most biblical. Perpetual vigilance on the part of the body is necessary, not just some dude who knows dead languages…ummm, anyway…and sort of body-wide knowledge, wisdom (Phil 1:9-11) and engagement is, i think, the most biblical model.

    There is a point between using the past as the exclusive ecclesiological and doctrinal umbilical cord and cutting the cord altogether.


  19. Strangely enough, Jason, I understood what you said. Now tell me, please, are you seminary trained? Are you clergy?

    Hey Dan, my dad was just a pretty-boy lietenant. He was tough but I don’t think he could have made into the green berets.

    Although at this point in time, he’s crustier than you…so…who knows…maybe he wasn’t all pretty boy. 😉


  20. Michelle, I knew that! Now when I was in Iraq I inserted Army, Airforce and Marine hymn soundbites into briefings for a mixed group of folks with different backgrouds…lol


  21. Good morning, Debs! I need to come see your post for the Bible study. We can do the love thing to one another, since these men are too into that! Love you, Debs!!!

    Jason, happy studying!! 😉


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