TULIP: The Five Points of Calvinism
Rev. Barry Gritters
Is the faith of our fathers living in your life? In
your church? We sing the song: "Faith of our fathers living still ..."
and no doubt the faith is living. But the question is, "Where
is that faith living and confessed?" And, "What is the faith of
our fathers?" It was expressed over 350 years ago by our church fathers
at the Synod of Dordt (in the Netherlands). We use the familiar
acrostic: TULIP to help us remember what our fathers said the
Dead in Sin?
T - Total Depravity
That means simply MAN is DEAD. The
Bible says that you and I are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph.
2:1-6) unless we are born again. DEAD!!! More than that, the
man or woman who is dead in sin hates God, and his "carnal mind" is
"enmity against God" (Rom.
8:7). His will is stubbornly steeled against God. This Biblical idea
changes a lot of modern talk about salvation.
Consider what that means:
Can a man do good works then, if he is not a
Christian who is born again? No. "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin"
Can a man want to be born again and follow
instructions on "how to do it?" No, for that would be like saying
that a man in a grave can desire to come out of the grave, or follow
instructions on how to be made alive. It would be like trying to
lure him out of the grave. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the
flesh profiteth nothing" (John
Can any man "accept Christ" as his personal
Saviour, so that he becomes saved after that? Of course not.
Accepting Christ is a good work done only by a Christian. Only
God makes a person alive, can he and will he accept Christ. "No man
can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me
draw him" (John
Can you "offer salvation" to anyone? That is
surely impossible. One might as well offer food to a dead man than
salvation to a dead sinner (Eph.
ONLY GOD CAN MAKE US ALIVE. AND GOD DOES THAT
SOVEREIGNLY - WITHOUT OUR AID, WITHOUT OUR ASKING. From beginning to
end, "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah
2:9). This is the faith that we preach, because it is
Biblical, because it is the FAITH of our fathers, which we love,
still living in our hearts, and because it gives God all the glory!
Not My Choice
U - Unconditional Election
This means simply: God chooses to give some
people eternal life, without looking for anything good in them
as a condition for loving and saving them.
Before any man or woman is born—in fact, before the
world was made—God decided who would go to heaven and who would not.
Before they did good or bad, God chose some to be His people and
"CONDITIONAL election" would mean that God chooses to
be His those who first love and choose Him. But the Bible says:
"You have not chosen me, I have chosen you" (John
15:16). (Please also look at
Acts 13:48 says that "as many as were ordained to eternal life
believed." Only, when we speak this language is the horse placed before
the cart. CONDITIONAL election puts the cart before the horse, because
it says that man believes and THEN is ordained to eternal life. Read
John 10:26 for another plain "horse before the cart" passage. Can
one imagine what the denial of this doctrine would mean? If we
remember that before we are saved, we can do nothing good (John
Eph. 2:1-6), the only conclusion is that we could never
choose God. And never would. And never would be saved.
But God is sovereign and chooses whom He will choose.
And after He chooses us, we choose Him daily. All we are and all we have
is given us by God.
Again, this is the faith that we preach, because it
is Biblical, because it is the faith of our fathers, living still in our
hearts, and because it gives God all the glory!!!!
For All Men?
L - Limited Atonement
The great gospel message that so many today are
urgently carrying to distant lands is that Christ made atonement with
His death. But there are two critical points at which this message
is so severely distorted that it no longer carries the gospel message.
THE FIRST DISTORTION concerns what Christ's death
did. The Biblical truth of the Atonement is that His death
paid for sins. Yet so many today teach that Christ's death was only
an example for us to follow, and if one merely follows His example he
will be saved. Or it is taught that Christ's death did not actually pay
for any specific sins, but made it possible for all sins to be
But the Bible says that Christ's death on the cross
actually paid for sins.
Acts 20:28 says that God bought the church with His own blood. See
THE SECOND DISTORTION of this biblical truth is that
Christ died for all men. Some teach that Christ made it possible for all
men to be saved. But the questions that must be asked are: "If Christ
died for all men, why are not all men saved?" "Can not God do what He
desires to do?" "Is there something defective in Christ's death?" "Must
man desire to be saved first?" But a man who is totally depraved can not
will to be saved. He hates God and wants nothing to do with Christ's
death. So it must not be said that Christ died for all men.
The Bible says that Christ laid down His life for His
sheep, and only them (John
10:11). The ATONEMENT is LIMITED to the elect of God.
Every sin of every one of Christ's sheep is paid for. Those sins and
those alone have been paid for. That is the only gospel because that is
Dragged Kicking & Screaming to Heaven?
I - Irresistible Grace
The fourth Biblical truth in the five points of
Calvinism teaches that God's grace to save a person cannot be
resisted. Grace is God's free and unmerited power to save a
person from his sins which would otherwise lead us to hell. Grace brings
him to heaven who naturally would end in eternal hell.
That grace is irresistible. That means that if God
gives grace to you, there is nothing in the world that you can do to
resist it and thwart God's intention to take you to heaven. The
certainty of salvation for God's elect is seen in
John 6:37 where Jesus says: "All that the Father hath given me shall
come to me ..." There is no doubt that they will be saved. Verse 44 says
that those who come to God come because God draws them. Not our
will, but God's will is first and powerful.
Now, some ridicule this truth of the Bible and say
that it makes man go to heaven against his will. "He kicks and screams
all the way to heaven." But that is not how the Bible presents God's
grace. God makes His people "willing in the day of His power" (Ps.
110:3). For a wonderful illustration of that truth, just consider
the converted Apostle Paul. "By the grace of God' he was what he
Cor. 15:10). And immediately after his conversion he said
"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts
9:6). That surely was not against his will.
God's grace is sweet and irresistible. He makes us
love it and want nothing else. He is as irresistible to us as a husband
to his newly-wed bride. Come with us and hear God's wonderful grace
proclaimed in Christ any Lord's Day.
Living Like the Devil?
P - Preservation of the Saints
The last of the five points of Calvinism teaches that
God preserves His people so they can never be lost. To put it
simply, it means this: "Once you are saved, you are always saved."
God's Word is full of proof for this beautiful truth.
And though many deny it, and tell you that you can be lost and saved
many, many times, and therefore can never be sure of your salvation, the
Bible says otherwise. Talking about His elect sheep, Jesus said: "And I
give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither
shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John
John 6:39; 17:2, 11-12;
II Tim. 1:12; 4:18, etc., etc.
Some object to this doctrine because it supposedly
makes men "carnally secure" in their salvation. That is, if I know
nothing can make me go to hell once God has saved me, I will "live like
the devil." There have been some who have used this beautiful truth as
an excuse to live like the devil. But they are not Christians. Nor do
they understand this truth. Because this truth also implies
"PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS." Those who never fall away are saints.
They are holy. And they are given power to live holy lives. They
"continue in well-doing." Anyone who says he can "live like the devil"
has not experienced the saving power of Christ and does not know the
Philippians 1:6, "He that hath begun a good work in you will perform
it until the day of Jesus Christ." God will continue working good works
in us until Christ returns. Don't think otherwise.
Is there any hope for Christians without this
doctrine? We don't need to be "scared to heaven." We need comfort.
Because we know that if it were up to the Christian to remain saved, he
would never be able to do it. You know yourself!!!! There is no power in
me apart from God's grace.