The God Who Saves: Our Need For The Gospel [session 1]

I. Our Need For The Gospel: Total Depravity

Before we dive into the gospel over the next couple of weeks, let’s take a moment and quickly discuss our own need for the gospel. Why did God send Christ to die in such a cruel way to secure our redemption? Why was the cross necessary?

In short, because we are sinners separated from God.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Ro 3:23.

Historically, Christian theologians have described the sinfulness of mankind. One of the most notable terms used to describe this doctrine is Total Depravity.

This term is derived from the reformed acrostic – T.U.L.I.P. – a long-held acrostic that communicates a reformed lens of what are often called the doctrines of grace.

T – Total Depravity

U – Unconditional Election

L – Limited Atonement

I – Irresistible Grace

P – Perseverance of the Saints

Total depravity, if we’re honest, can be somewhat misleading because it suggests a condition of utter depravity. Utter depravity suggests that a person is as evil as they could possibly be.

Total depravity “does not teach that man is as wicked as he could possibly be.”*

Total depravity, properly understood, means that the whole person is affected by sin – our minds, wills, emotions, physical being, etc.

“Depravity means that man fails the test of pleasing God…This failure is total in that (a) it affects all aspects of man’s being, and (b) it affects all people.”***

Sin “is not something passive, such as a weakness, a fault, or an imperfection, for which we cannot be held responsible, but an active opposition to God, and a positive transgression of His law, which constitutes guilt. Sin is the result of a free but evil choice of man.”**

Inherited Sin/Original Sin/Sin Nature – Mankind is born sinful. (Being/Nature) – that sinful state into which all people are born.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Ps 51:5.

“among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were BY NATURE children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Eph 2:3.

Personal Sin – Mankind wilfully chooses to sin. (Action)

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”  Jas 1:14–15.

QUES: In what ways does the Bible describe the effects of sin on mankind?

  • Death – Rom. 6.23; Eph 2.
  • Darkness – John 3.19.
  • Separated – Isa. 59.2
  • Wrath – Eph 5.6; Rom. 1.18
  • etc.

II. God’s Response To Our Need: An Introduction To The Ordo Salutis

What is the ordo salutis?

The order of salvation.

“the process by which the work of salvation, wrought in Christ, is subjectively realized in the hearts and lives of sinners. It aims at describing in their logical order, and also in their interrelations, the various movements of the Holy Spirit in the application of the work of redemption.”****

There is some difficulty in this process because the Bible does not present a complete ordo. It has to be deduced and inferred from various places.

Romans 8.28-30 Is the most obvious treatment of an ordered look at God’s atoning work, yet it is far from complete. Not all the aspects of redemption are mentioned in this pericope.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Ro 8:28-30

Major Tenants of:

A. Election/Predestination

B. The Gospel Call

C. Regeneration

D. Conversion

E. Justification

F. Adoption

G. Sanctification

H. Glorification


* R.C. Sproul. What Is Reformed Theology? p. 117-8.

** Louis Berkhof. Systematic Theology. p. 231.

*** Charles Ryrie. Basic Theology. p. 218-9.

Berkhof. p. 415-6.