T.U.L.I.P - The Five Points of Calvinism

The following explanation of the "Five Points" is taken from Loraine Boettner's book The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination.

Total Depravity

Because of the fall in Adam, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the Gospel. The sinner is spiritually dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free but is in bondage to his sinful nature. He is as spiritually dead and estranged from God as are the fallen angels. Therefore he will not, indeed cannot, choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently it takes regeneration by which the Spirit brings a sinner to Christ - it takes regeneration by which the Spirit brings a sinner from spiritual death to spiritual life and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God's gift of Salvation - it is God's gift to the sinner, not the sinner's gift to God.

Key Verses: John 6:44; Romans 5:6; 8:7, 8 Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:13

Unconditional Election

God's choice of certain individuals unto salvation, before the foundation of the world, rested solely on His own Sovereign Will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response or obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause, of God's choice. Election therefore was not determined by or conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ. Thus God's choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation.

Key Verses: Romans 9:11; 11:5,7; 11:28; 8:38-39 1 Thessalonians 1:4 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 14:2; 2 Peter 1:10 Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Timothy 1:9, 10

Limited Atonement

Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ's redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, thereby guaranteeing their salvation.

Key Verses: Matt. 1:21; John 6:37-40, 10:14-16, 26-28, 15:13-14; Acts 20:28; Heb. 10:14; Rom. 8:31-34; 1 Cor. 8:11; Eph. 5:25-27; 1 John 4:10-11

Irresistible Grace

In addition to the outward general call to salvation which is made to everyone who hears the Gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation. The external call (which is made to all without distinction) can be, and often is, rejected, whereas the internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion. By means of this special call the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ. He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by man's will, nor is He dependent upon man's cooperation for success. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ. God's grace, therefore, is invincible; it never fails to result in the salvation of those to whom it is extended.

Key Verses: Eph. 1:19, 20; Ezek. 11:19; I Cor. 4:7; John 17:2; John 5:21; Acts 13:48

Perseverance Of The Saints

All who were chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.

Key Verses: John 6:37-39; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 2 Tim. 4:18; 1 Peter 1:23

Arminianism—The Opposite View

Let us take a look at the philosophical basis of Arminianism. J. I. Packer, in analyzing the system of thought embodied in the Remonstrance, observes:

"The theology which it contained (known to history as Arminianism) stemmed from two philosophical principles: first, that divine sovereignty is not compatible with human freedom, nor therefore with human responsibility; second, that ability limits obligation …. From these principles, the Arminians drew two deductions: first, that since the Bible regards faith as a free and responsible act, it cannot be caused by God, but is exercised independently of Him; second, that since the Bible regards faith as obligatory on the part of all who hear the gospel, ability to believe must be universal. Hence, they maintained, Scripture must be interpreted as teaching the following positions:

1. Man is never so completely corrupted by sin that he cannot savingly believe the gospel when it is put before him,
2. nor is he ever so completely controlled by God that he cannot reject it.
3. God's election of those who shall be saved is prompted by His foreseeing that they will of their own accord believe.
4. Christ's death did not ensure the salvation of anyone, for it did not secure the gift of faith to anyone (there is no such gift); what it did was rather to create a possibility of salvation for everyone if they believe.
5. It rests with believers to keep themselves in a state of grace by keeping up their faith; those who fail here fall away and are lost. Thus, arminianism made man's salvation depend ultimately on man himself, saving faith being viewed throughout as man's own work and, because his own, not God's in him."