Five Points of Calvinism
Simplified in the acrostic, T.U.L.I.P., the Five Points of Calvinism, though non-exhaustive, provide a good summary of and greater insight into Reformed theology. T.U.L.I.P. stands for:
• T – Total Depravity
• U – Unconditional Election
• L – Limited Atonement
• I – Irresistible Grace
• P – Perseverance of the Saints
Total depravity teaches that because of the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-24), all men have been corrupted and infected by sin which has penetrated the whole person. Thus, every human being enters this world dead (spiritually), at odds with the Holy God, and escape the holy wrath and punishment of God because of his sin (Romans 3:23; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1-10). God Himself alone, out of His sheer love and mercy working through the Holy Spirit is able to bring life to the spiritually dead and create faith in them. The Holy Spirit working through God’s Word convicts them of their sin leading to the conversion of their hearts and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:3; Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:20-21).
Unconditional election teaches that God sovereignly, graciously and in eternity, chose to save a particular group of fallen humanity from every tribe, kindred, nation and tongue. This choice was a sovereign choice in the sense that God was not induced or coerced by any external force(s) to make that choice. His choice is gracious in the sense that it was not dependent on any foreseen actions or obedience on the part of the chosen ones. Rather, He made this choice for the praise of His glorious grace (Acts 11:18; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29-30; Romans 9:10-21; Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14; Ephesians 2:4-10).
Limited atonement teaches that Christ’s redeeming work and substitionary death on the cross was intended to save only those who were chosen by God. Christ’s dead though offered to the whole world and sufficient to save all who call upon Him in repentance and faith, it is only effective for those whom God has chosen to save from eternity. This was the eternal design of God’s plan of redemption for His children. This plan will not and cannot be frustrated by the impenitence and unbelief of those who refuse to partake of the blessings of God’s salvation accomplished and offered to us in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is infallibly and irrevocably given by the Spirit of God to all for whom Christ effectively died, thus securing and sealing their salvation forever (Matthew 1:21; John 10:11-30; John 6:44; John 17:6-12; Romans 3:21-26; Romans 5:12-21, Philippians 1:6; Titus 3:5-6).
Irresistible grace (also called effectual calling) teaches in addition to the external (general) call of God whereby He calls all sinners to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ through the preached Word (the gospel), there is an internal call (which accompanies that Word and is mediated by the Holy Spirit), to all of God’s chosen children and effectively brings them to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This internal call which is only extended to those, whom God is determined to save, cannot be rejected. It necessarily results in the salvation of those to whom it is extended. By means of this internal (special) call, the Holy Spirit irresistibly and monergistically draws sinners to the Lord Jesus Christ. The effectiveness of this call is not limited by man’s will and is not dependent on man’s cooperation. God’s conquering grace working through the Holy Spirit and the Word causes the chosen sinners to willingly and freely turn away from their sins and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith leading to their salvation (Matthew 22:14; Matthew 23:37-39; John 1:12-13; John 3:1-8; John 6:44; Acts 17:29-31; Romans 8:28-30; Romans 8:35-39).
Perseverance of the Saints
Perseverance of the saints (also called eternal security) teaches that those who have been saved by the sovereign and gracious choice of God will not and cannot lose their salvation. They may suffer many setbacks in their journey of faith as pilgrims towards the Celestial City; they may at various times suffer from the attacks of the enemy and show signs of spiritual weakness; and they may even fall into grave sin, but they cannot not fully or finally fall away from grace. Christ, as their Advocate, intercedes before God the Father on behalf of His children. The Lord God Himself preserves them with great patience because of His steadfast (covenantal) love (John 3:16, John 6:35-40, John 6:44, Philippians 1:6, Philippians 2:12-13, Jude 24-25, Ephesians 1:13-14, Romans 8:28-30, Romans 8:35-39; 1 John 2:1-2).