“Salvation is of the LORD”
The reader of Scripture will look in vain for any explanation of God’s beginning, for the eternal God has none. The skeptic may object, “who gave Him the right to create?” The answer is no one, for “God is in heaven, He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). The Triune God made this world for His glory and will remake it for the same purpose, all without consulting the creature. As such, He may do what He wills, with whom He wills, for whatever reason He determines is good.
It is precisely at this point that fallen man, in native hatred for God and His rule, begins to clench a rebellious fist. Thankfully the Lord of Hosts does not derive His power “from the consent of the governed.” The Bible asks those who take exception to the incontestable sovereignty of God, “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” (Rom 9:20-21).
The renowned Charles Spurgeon once said, “There is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.” He proceeded to explain the grand themes of God’s sovereign grace, eternal love, glorious redemption in Jesus Christ, and everlasting assurance for the people of God. One may read this and think, “That sounds like biblical Christianity!” Indeed it is.
“Calvinism is the gospel” is a bold statement. This does not mean one must be a Calvinist to believe the Gospel. Praise God that sinners are not saved by their orthodoxy, but rather by the One who is Truth incarnate (John 1:14). Calvinism rightly understood exalts God’s glory and grace in the gospel. The following will explain and (one hopes) encourage the reader’s soul with the refreshing streams of divine grace.
What is the Gospel?
No question is more important? Simply stated, Jesus Christ is the gospel. Consider first His person and work. The blessed name Jesus means He shall save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). The title Christ demonstrates that He is the elect and anointed One (Is. 42:1), approved by God and set apart by the Spirit for the work of redemption (Matt. 3:16-17). This simple outline expands further.
Concerning His person, Jesus was and is simultaneously God (Rom. 9:5) and man (Jn. 19:5), the incarnate Word (Jn. 1:14), God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16). He is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). Concerning His work, Jesus Christ is the final Prophet (Heb. 1:2), the Great High Priest (Heb. 8:1-2), and the reigning King (Rev. 1:5). Most precious is the title Savior, for He came to save even the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).
What is the Gospel? Jesus Christ, the divine incarnate Son, who lived, suffered, died, was buried, rose again, and is now proclaimed in all the world. Whoever believes in Him will not perish but has eternal life (Jn. 3:16).
God’s grace stands alongside a sober reality. Why did the eternal God freely go to such great lengths to secure an eternal redemption for His elect? Did He make man in need of redemption? Far from it. “Truly, this only I have found: that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (Eccl. 7:29). Everything God made was good, but that good creation became spoiled, sullied, and subject to futility, decay, and death. This was the effect of Adam’s sin. His fall plunged humanity and creation into the darkness of alienation and sorrow (Gen. 3:8-24, cf Rom. 8:20-22). Everything was affected, mankind in particular (Eph. 2:1-3). Yet, dear reader, this did not take God by surprise. He had a plan, the origin of which flows from eternity (Eph. 1:10).
Whence the Gospel?
Every sinner with a sense of Jesus’ glory and the heart’s depravity must ask, “How, Lord? Whence this gospel?” Whence is a good word, meaning “from what place or source?” The Apostle John hints at the answer, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 Jn 3:1). That love comes from another world.
The Origin of the Gospel: The Bible teaches that God’s saving work arose from Himself. Throughout the Gospels Jesus referred to work the Father gave Him to accomplish. His divine assignment was as ancient as the glory He eternally possessed with the Father (John 17:4-5, cf 4:34). From eternity, the Triune God decreed the plan, parts, and persons of salvation. Paul makes this explicit, writing that God “has saved us…according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Tim. 1:9). Why would God do this for creatures who initiated a war against Him? Paul exalts in the threefold answer throughout Ephesians 1: to the praise of His glorious grace! Grace is both the source and grand mystery of the gospel, as Philip Doddridge wrote,
“Grace first contrived a way / to save rebellious man / and all the steps that grace display / which drew the wondrous plan.”
The Initiative of the Redemption: Throughout the story of redemption, the initiative of grace moves in one direction. On that black day when Adam sinned, he did not cry out for mercy. He and Eve covered their shame by the works of their hands, hiding from their all-knowing Creator (Gen. 3:8-10). Just moments after falling they already displayed that tragic state of depravity: “There is none who seeks after God” (Rom. 3:11). At every turn God—not man—takes the initiative of grace. God sought Adam in his fig leaves, Noah in his dark generation (Gen. 6:8), Abram in Ur (Neh. 9:7), Moses in the desert (Ex. 3:2), David in the sheepfold (2 Sam. 7:8). Christ Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost (Lk. 19:10). The witness of gospel preaching continues the great task of divine initiative. Through His pleading ambassadors, God calls sinful man to be reconciled with Him (2 Cor. 5:20).
The Accomplishment of Redemption: God alone is mighty to save (Is. 63:1). The divine Son of God set His face like a flint, endured the cross, despised the shame, secured an eternal redemption, and sat down at the right hand of God (Is. 50:7, Heb. 9:12, 12:1-2). The words that gave Abraham comfort many years ago find their great fulfillment in the One who hung on Calvary’s cross, “God will provide for Himself the lamb” (Gen. 22:8). Jesus the Lamb of God did not exaggerate when He cried out, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). Hallelujah, “His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory” (Ps. 98:1).
What does any of this have to do with Calvinism? That question needs to be turned on its head. Calvinism has everything to do with the glories described above. B.B. Warfield once wrote, “What lies at the heart of [Calvin’s] soteriology is the absolute exclusion of the creaturely element in the initiation of the saving process, that so the pure grace of God may be magnified.” Later he wrote, “He who knows that it is God who has chosen him and not he who has chosen God, and that he owes his entire salvation in all its processes and in every one of its stages to this choice of God, would be an ingrate indeed if he gave not the glory of his salvation solely to the inexplicable elective love of God.” Calvinism, and thus the gospel, understands that at the heart of true biblical religion is the doctrine of pure and sovereign grace. It is not first what man must do, but rather what God has done in Jesus Christ. Salvation in all its parts is only and entirely of the Lord. This is Calvinism.
 Spurgeon, Charles H. Spurgeon’s Sermons–(Vol. 1-2) Vol. XX. Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Books, 1892, 88-89.
 BB. Warfield, Works, Vol 5, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1991, pp. 353-366