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Calvinism Magnifies the Grace of God
L. R. Shelton

An audio file of this sermon is available at

One of the greatest evils of Calvinism in the eyes of the Arminian is that Calvinism magnifies the grace of God as it is taught in the Word of God. Arminianism says it believes in the grace of God for salvation, but Arminians practice salvation by works, because they base their salvation upon the free will of man. Arminianism accuses the Calvinist of preaching salvation by works, when it demands Bible repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Arminians say that to have salvation by grace you must have just faith in Christ, that to be of grace there can be no repentance, that repentance is works. I have been accused of preaching salvation by works because I have preached repentance, but the Bible says that repentance is a gift of grace, because Acts 5:31 and 11:18 tells us that God gave repentance unto the Jews and unto the Gentiles.

Salvation is either wholly of grace or wholly of works. Paul says salvation must be all of grace "That no flesh should glory in his presence" (I Cor. 1:29). You can't mix grace and works. As Paul said in Rom. 11:6, If it is of grace, then it is not of works. That's right. Now you think seriously. What is the foundation of your hope for Heaven? Is it based on your church membership? Is it based upon your water baptism? Is it based upon what you believe? Is it based upon your good works? If so, my friends, it is based upon a sandy foundation, and when the storms of the wrath of God shall come in it will cave out and you will go under. You will have no foundation to rest on. The foundation of my hope today is wholly of Christ by the grace of God.

This whole situation of salvation hinges largely on the persons concept of man's natural condition. The Bible teaches that every sinner in his natural state is totally depraved. You see, it brings us back to the age-old Doctrine of Total Depravity. If a man is totally depraved, then grace has to do all the work in the salvation of that sinner. Old Jonah learned that in one of the strangest schools to which man ever went: he spent three days and nights in that schoolroom – it was in the belly of the fish at the bottom of the sea. There he came to find out, as he cried out from the belly of the fish – "Salvation is of the Lord." A lot of our preachers and teachers have gone to school for years and never found that out. Old Jonah learned it in three days and nights. If man is not totally depraved, then man can have a part in his own salvation, or the evangelist or pastor or so-called personal soul winner can have a part in that sinners salvation. Therefore, you have mixed grace with works, or works with grace, which is contrary to the Word of God.

Why don't our preachers see and understand the Doctrine of Total Depravity? Why do they teach that there is some natural goodness in man? Why do they teach that there is something good in every man, and that it's the preachers business to bring it out? Why do they teach that the salvation of every soul rests in the hands of that individual, and men can come to Christ as they will? Why do they teach that the sinner's will is greater than the will of God, and that the sinner decides his own destiny by his own will? Why do they teach that salvation is a mere profession of faith or a decision for Christ by the sinner's own intellectual power? It is because they have never known Holy Spirit conviction; therefore, they have never seen themselves as totally-depraved sinners, helpless and hopeless and doomed apart from the grace of God. Therefore, they can only preach and teach what they know. They seem so blinded to the great truth that salvation is wholly of the grace of God.

Now, my friends, salvation by grace does not for one moment violate man's responsibility to God. It doesn't! I know blinded men can see it, but I don't fall out with you because you don't see the great truth I am preaching here in God's Word. God had to open my heart and mind to see it. He had to open my darkened heart and enlighten my understanding. That's right – and He has to open yours. If you disagree with me I won't fall out with you – I am going to preach what God has taught me, what God has shown me in His Book. There it is – I am not violating any of God's Word.

You see, the sinner is dead in sin, according to Eph. 2:1. He is buried so deeply in the dungeon of sin until only the resurrection power of God can raise that sinner from death unto life. As I sat here listening to the choir sing a while ago, I was thinking of the thousands in radio land and (many I am preaching to today) who are just as dead – just spiritual corpses, and I have no power to raise you to life. And as I sat thinking of the message, thinking of you, I was praying (as I am praying with every breath in my heart now as I bring this message), "Lord, awakened some sinner, resurrect some sinner. May the sword of depravity, the sword of justice, the sword of truth strike deep in the heart of some individual out their today and he be awakened to his lost condition." If you are ever awakened, that will be the most unexpected thing that has ever happened to you!

The sinner hates God, according to Rom. 8:7, with a hatred that cannot be described, except in the language of Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "The carnal mind (man) is enmity against God." He is not at enmity, but man himself wholly and and completely is enmity against God. Just as God is love, so man is enmity. Don't you see the great gulf between a Holy God and a totally-depraved sinner! How in the world can that dead, depraved sinner who is enmity against God, with a depraved will, ever pierce through to the Divine and lay hold of Christ as his Lord and his Saviour! My friend, he can't it, but God can move with His resurrection power, the same power that raised Christ from the dead, and He can raise that dead sinner to life in Christ. I thank God He can do it, and my heart cries out in praise and thanksgiving unto Him who is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think..." (Eph. 3:20).

Man so hates God until all the human appeal that you can make to that human heart will never break him. You may preach to him the blessings of Calvary, but that will not subdue him; you may preach to him the roarings of an eternal Hell, but that will not faze him. He'll stand there and laugh at you and say, "I don't believe there is a Hell." He'll laugh at it. He may make all the decisions that you might want him to make, but he still hates God in his heart. It is only the grace of God under the power of God's Holy Spirit that can break that sinner's heart at the feet of Christ and make him willing to want to be saved.

No sinner in his natural condition wants to be saved. No, sir, I don't care what you say, he doesn't. Let me repeat: No sinner in his natural condition wants Christ. Therefore, the sinner in his natural condition deserves the wrath of God, according to John 3:36. It is while man is an enemy to God that Christ died for him. It is while man is an enemy of God that the Holy Spirit approaches him in the grace of God and woos that sinner until He brings that sinner at the feet of Christ crying for mercy. To do that thing the Holy Spirit has to put a new nature in him; He has to make him a new creature in Christ Jesus, our blessed Lord.

Now here is a truth – get it! God owes the sinner nothing. He doesn't have to save a single sinner. As we have said, it is not God standing before the sinner begging and pleading with the sinner to accept Him as Lord and Saviour; it is a doomed, damned and Hell-deserving sinner standing before a Holy God to be saved or to be damned at God's will. Now you may make fun of that statement all you want to; you may say, "I don't understand it." Well, brother, I do! Because I was there one day. And every sinner who ever gets saved stands there and bows to a sovereign God. The sinner was elected in grace and then the sinner is called in grace (Rom. 8:30). I should have said in the beginning that the sinner is predestinated in love by the grace of God (Eph. 1:4,5), elected in grace, called in grace, then justified in grace. Then, according to Eph. 1:6, he is accepted by grace, or accepted in grace.

The death of Christ on the cross in dying for sinners, and His burial and resurrection for the justification of sinners, does not mean one thing to the sinner in his unawakened condition. He pays no attention to it; he'll even laugh at it, make fun of it, call it "slaughter-house religion," or say, "Oh, I get tired of hearing that preacher," he even denies the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. Now, why does he do it? Because of the natural condition of the sinner's heart – because of his totally-depraved condition. It was the grace of God that Christ came and died for sinners; then the Holy Spirit has to call that sinner with an effectual call that awakens him, shows him his awful, ruined condition, and then shows him his need of a Saviour. And I want to tell you, my friend, that's all of grace: God does not have to do it. But, oh, how the unsaved religionist, or Arminian, will champ his bits at the great glorious doctrine of God's eternal Word, and especially the doctrine, Salvation by Grace, salvation wholly of grace. "Salvation is of the Lord."

Every awakened sinner who is brought to the place of "no return" knows what I'm talking about. That sinner knows that God didn't have to call him; He knows, first, that God did not have to elect him, that Christ didn't have to die for him; and then He knows that God owes him nothing but Hell. Let me tell you something, if God should choose to send me to Hell now, I could only say "amen" to my own condemnation. I don't deserve anything but Hell – I know that. That is the thing that keeps me humble. He knows it is only by the grace of God that he is out of Hell, and it will be wholly the grace of God if he ever gets to Christ. It will be wholly of the grace of God if he ever gets to Heaven. I am dependent wholly and completely upon my blessed Lord to get me there. Every individual who is ever saved never ceases to praise the Lord for such marvelous grace. He can never understand why God in Christ should die for such a sinner, should call such a sinner, and should save such a sinner as he is.

You see, when the Holy Spirit awakens a sinner and brings him to Christ, there is the most intense cry in that sinner's heart; he is crying after the Lord. It is the Spirit of the Son of God that is leading that sinner to cry after the Father. Strangers do not understand this cry and the nearness of the believer soul to God in Christ Jesus; no, they don't, and because the world cannot understand it, and because Arminians, or unsaved religionist's, cannot understand that cry, usually they will sneer at it and mock that individual, because they don't know what to do with him – he is a peculiar being.

Someone in my office the other night said, "Pastor, I want to ask you one question: does a sinner have to beg God to save him?" I said, "No, he doesn't particularly have to beg him but, brother, he sure will." He said, "Well, I thought salvation was free." "Sure it is," I said, "but it is in the hands of a Sovereign God." Yes, sovereign grace is free, but it is in the hands of a Sovereign God to give to whomsoever He will. "Well, do you have to beg Him to give it?" Not primarily so, but you will. You say, "I don't understand it. No, and you never will until you come there, and when you get there you won't have to ask anybody – you'll know it! A sinner who is dead in trespasses and sins doesn't know that thing and when somebody approaches him to lead him to a decision for Christ intellectually and to a mere assent to Christ, his soul may be stirred a little bit. He'll be crying over his sins, and when he makes a decision that they want him to make, there may be a certain joy, a certain peace, a certain satisfaction. He'll come out and make that decision and join the church, and they will put him to work. Such an individual never can understand the intense cry after the Lord in the awakened sinners heart.

Where does God find a sinner? He finds him on the scrap heap of the world, according to David in Samuel. He finds him on the dunghill of the world. That's the garbage heap of the world. He finds him in an utterly dead state. He finds him as the son of Satan. He finds him bound in sin, and bound by Satan. He finds him a totally-corrupt, vile individual who has no righteousness, no natural goodness, nothing in the world that can commend him to God. When God creates a new nature and raises that individual unto life in Christ Jesus by giving him what we call the effectual call, that sinner wakes up; that is, he is awakened. He is awakened in the dungeon of sin and when he awakes there, he finds himself in that awful condition. "I am a son of Satan. My, my, here I am bound by sin, bound by Satan, a child of Hell. I am corrupt inside-out and outside-in." He finds himself in an awful condition. He has himself in the most confused state, and he doesn't know whether his head is up or down; he is confused from top to bottom.

In the midst of that state that new nature begins to cry unto God the Father, first, for deliverance from his sins, and from his awful state as he sees his guilty distance from a Holy God. He says, "I never will get to God! Who will get me there?" Now he begins to find out that his whole nature is one of unbelief, and he hates God. He finds out that he has no righteousness, no cloak for his sins, no covering for his soul. There he is. The bed is too short, and the blanket is too narrow, according to the old prophet Isaiah (Isa. 28:20). No, brother, you don't have to beg – but you will do it! You'll begin to cry for mercy, you'll beg God to save you, to deliver you. My friend, it is a cry of a beggar who is starving to death. It's the cry of a beggar who has no clothes, and is freezing to death. It is the cry of a condemned criminal who is sinking down to eternal Hell. It is the cry of a captive who is led captive at Satan's will by his power (II Tim. 2:25). It is a cry for the covering of the righteousness of the Son of God, and, brother, that cry is by grace. You have never cried like that before in your life! "Yes," you say, "I have never been over this road before. God help me. God save me lest I perish. I am going to Hell, and I deserve it." The reason you are crying – you have come to see that you have a Partner, who is Christ. You cling to Him – you look to Him – you turn your eyes to Him to intercede for you, and to deliver you and present you unto God the Father in His own righteousness.

That sinner is crying – not after gold, not after fame, not after money, not after position, but that sinner is crying after the Father. That's the reason unsaved religionists hate the Doctrines of grace. Abraham's tenderness to Isaac made Ishmael jealous and caused Ishmael to laugh and sneer and poke fun at Isaac, but Isaac had no cause to be ashamed of being ridiculed, since the mocker could not rob him of the covenant blessing. Awakened sinner, you who are crying after the Lord, after the Father, you have no cause to be discouraged. You haven't, because no man – no devil, not even Satan – can rob you of the covenant blessing; because you are one of God's elect, so cry on, my sinner-friend, cry on! You are crying after the Father. Someone asked me one day, "Will that cry ever cease?" No! Never! When once you are delivered, that cry will continue, "My Lord and my God!"

Yes, beloved, the Spirit of God makes you cry, "Abba, Father." I know the cry is mainly within your heart, and it has become the habit of your soul to cry after the Heavenly Father. It has become just a habit, and you can't help it. It is an every-day cry. Wake up in the morning and the cry is there, and if it is not there, you think something is wrong; all during the day, when you are released from your work, you find that cry in your heart. Go to bed at night, and the cry is there. If it is not, you begin examining yourself and cry, "Lord, search my heart; break up the fallow ground!" You are saying, "My Father, my Father, don't leave me; my Father, help me in this hour." When alone, you are not alone because the Father is with you, and in the midst of the crowd you are not in danger because the Father Himself loves you. Oh, awakened sinner, oh, my beloved saint: give reverence unto Him who put that cry in your heart because it is all of grace. Honor Him by resting at His feet this day, by looking wholly and completely unto Him.

The unsaved religionist doesn't understand what I'm talking about, but you do. I don't feel hard towards you, unsaved sinner-friend. You can say hard things about me all you want to; I don't feel hard toward you, because I was once there myself. I praise God that He opened my heart one day. I'll never forget that time, or that place – it was the most unexpected thing in the world, but I praise God that He opened this old sinner's heart – and put that cry in there. That cry will never cease – it never will! I know it never will until I walk through the Pearly Gates, and then I don't think it will cease there.

I believe the only thing I, or any other saved sinner, will want throughout eternity is to be with my blessed Lord, the One who died for me, the One who loved me so. Don't you like to be with the one you love? Don't you? I said to a young man and a young woman this morning as they came into the choir – they are in love, and I said, "what are you fussing about this morning?" They always sat there so quietly looking at each other in the eyes, holding hands for hours and then go off feeling they had a most wonderful time yet never saying a word. Why? Because they are in love. Oh, when we come to know God loves us and we fall in love with Him, then, my friend, we can spend hours with Him, never say a Word or look up and thank Him and tell Him how much we love Him, and magnify His love to us.

That is one of the evils of Calvinism as seen through the eyes of the unsaved religionist or Arminian, but to them who are called and justified it is the greatest truth found in Christ Jesus our Lord. And because your salvation is wholly of grace you cannot utterly fall – you are kept by the power of God (I Peter 1:5). Isn't it marvelous to think about, that you are kept by the power of God, you are elected by His for knowledge, sanctified by His Spirit, begotten by His grace, and kept by His power (I Pet. 1:2 -5). Yes, "kept by the power of God," and "elected by his foreknowledge," and "sanctified by his Spirit," and "begotten by his abundant mercy," and "kept by the power of God!" Isn't it marvelous to be presented blameless before the throne of His grace, to be presented by the Holy Spirit now as conformed to the image of the Son of God (Rom. 8:29)! "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him" (I John 3:2). Isn't that marvelous?

Go on, sinner; continue to cry after Him; go on, believer; continue to cry after the Heavenly Father. Let the world sneer, mock, laugh, and ridicule all they want to; they can't rob you of your covenant blessing. There isn't any individual or a group of individuals in this world or out of this world, that can rob me of the covenant blessing that is guaranteed by my covenant Head, who is Christ, my Lord and my God. I have nothing to be disturbed about. One of the sure signs that you are in grace is that folks make fun of you and laugh at you – not because of your peculiar ideas and cranky notions, but because of the Grace of God.

Now let me confront you in closing with this one question: Do you know Christ? My boy, my girl, have you been awakened to your lost condition? My man, my woman, has the Holy Spirit ever awakened you? Have you ever been brought down the Way of Grace? Have you ever come to lie at the feet of the Blessed Lord in sackcloth and ashes in the dust of repentance? Have you ever been made to lie there and look up to Him, crying for mercy, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner? I'm gone – I'm sinking! Lord, save me or I perish"? Have you ever come to feel the keen edge of the sword of justice? Have you ever been cleft asunder by the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God? Have you? My friends, do you know what I'm talking about? I commend you unto the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May a great fear of God fall upon the hearts of thousands today.





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