The doctrine of total depravity is not the invention of theologians meeting at the Synod of Dort, of John Calvin, nor of any man. It is the teaching of the Bible. It is extremely important that on this and other doctrines we have a good grasp of the passages which instruct us on particular matters. This doctrine of total depravity is taught in the Word of God.
Outline and Proofs from the Bible
The following scriptural proofs for the doctrine of total depravity are outlined under various headings, in general following the basic outline of The Five Points of Calvinism by David Steele and Curtis Thomas (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. Philadelphia, Pa, 1965). I have added to and changed their outline somewhat. The sheer weight of evidence should dispel all doubt.
1. “The wages of sin is death,” not only spiritual, but also physical. This spiritual death took place at the moment that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.
- Gen. 2:16, 17 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
- Gen. 3:10, 11 “So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself. And He said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
- Rom. 5:19 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
- Rom. 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
2. Adam’s sin brought physical and spiritual death on all his descendants as well as on himself.
- Gen. 3:19-24 “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever — therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”
- Rom. 5:1, 12, 17 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
- I Cor. 15:21, 22 “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”
- Eph. 2:1- 3 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
- Col. 2:13 “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”
3. As David confesses his own sin, he acknowledges that he as well as all other men are conceived and born in sin.
- Ps. 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.”
- Ps. 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.”
Blog post content is taken from Rev. Paul Treick’s book, Faith of Our Fathers, Living Still: A Study of the Five Points of Calvinism, available for purchase. It is posted with the gracious permission of the author.
If you’d like to read the blog series from the beginning, start here.