Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The 5 Points of Calvinism - TULIP

Wezi Muwowo
Introduction to the 5 Points of Calvinism

Calvinism is a system of biblical interpretation taught by John Calvin. Calvin lived in France in the 1500's at the time of Martin Luther who sparked the Reformation. 
The system of Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God’s word. It focuses on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. It also maintains that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation. 

Arminianism, on the other hand, maintains that God predestined, but not in an absolute sense. Rather, He looked into the future to see who would pick him and then He chose them. Jesus died for all peoples' sins that have ever lived and ever will live, not just the Christians. Each person is the one who decides if he wants to be saved or not. And finally, it is possible to lose your salvation (some arminians believe you cannot lose your salvation). 

Basically, Calvinism is known by an acronym: T.U.L.I.P.

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election 
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

These five categories do not comprise Calvinism in totality. They simply represent some of its main points. 

Total Depravity

Marron Chita
Total depravity is the teaching of the bible which seeks to show that the all human race has fallen short of the standard of God and is therefore in sin. God is Pure and in Him there is no evil. His purity cannot be compared to anyone in the heaven above or the earth below or the water beneath. God who is a Holy Being created Adam and eve in such uprightness. Man knew no evil until he gave heed to the ungodly counsel of the devil, who is the father of all lies. Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit and the glory of God left them for the first time and they realized that they were naked. For the first time Adam ran away from God when he heard that Jehovah was coming. This fall was absolute. Adam and Eve died spiritually there and then after eating the fruit, for God had promised that the day man would eat of the forbidden fruit he would die. What God said came to pass in Adam after sinning. All the faculties of man became corrupted by evil. Adam was no longer pure in the sight of God. Adam is the father of the entire human race and was the representative of us all, therefore the sinful nature that first existed in Adam was and is transferred to the all human race. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All in all, the basic summary of this doctrine is that mans fall into sin was an absolute fall that brought spiritual death under which man cannot do anything to please God and appease His wrath.
The doctrine substantiated from the Bible.
In Genesis 2:17, God commanded Adam not to eat of the forbidden fruit for He had promised that the day man would eat he would surely die. Death is not death if some faculties in a dead being are alive. Therefore God meant that the spiritual uprightness of man would all be corrupted and be brought under death if sin was given power to reign. The scriptures therefore contend that when Adam sinned spiritual death was brought about.
Eph 2:1 ¶ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. {desires: Gr. wills} 4 ¶ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) {by...: or, by whose grace} 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

In this text Paul talks about the depravity of man in the reverse sense. He describes to the Christians the type of people they were before they became Christians. And this is true of all Christians. We can note that man is dead in his sins before the spiritual rebirth. Man cannot seek God nor please Him in his fallen state.
Col 1:12 ¶ Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: {his...: Gr. the Son of his love} 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Depravity of man in the above text is described as being under the power and influence of darkness. Man in his fallen state is in darkness.  What may seem to be good in the sight of men is as filthy rugs in the sight of God. Nothing good comes out of darkness.
Ro 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:17 And the way of peace have they not known:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
The bible goes down to describe how different faculties of man have been corrupted by the sin nature that dwells in man s heart. Paul shows us how the heart, hands, mouth and feet of man have been given up to sin. Sin is so much embedded that even man himself does not understand the extent of corruption that dwells him. Who can explain how a child learns how to burn with anger, rage, covetousness, pride, selfishness and many other sins? Are we not born with these sins? Before a child realizes that such acts are sins before God it is a master of these evils. Sin is part of the nature of man in an unregenerated state.
Ro 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: {for that: or, in whom}
This text shows how spiritual death was passed from our forefathers to all human race. To be sinner therefore you ought just to be a man, Christ is nevertheless exempted from this because His birth was through the virgin.
Man has completely fallen from the holiness of God. Nothing in man is good enough to earn him a place in the kingdom of God. The fall in man is so great that nothing in the world can save him apart from God Himself. therefore  the good news is that God so loved the world that He gave the Lord Jesus Christ to come and die in our place as sinners that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

                                                Unconditional Election
Rodrick Phiri
If you are a reformed Baptist or theologian you may probably not be a stranger to this house hold name called TULIP. TULIP is an acrostic, the letters of which stand for the doctrines of grace. Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and the Perseverance of the saints. The acronym is just an easier way to remember them. However these Bible teachings are linked together in response to the theology that developed in Holland in the late sixteenth century. A man called Jacob Arminus and his followers who propounded the free and self determining will of man and many other doctrines, which led them, deny John Calvins teaching that Jesus died only for the elect, those whom God had chosen. The Synod of Dort (1618- 1619) was called to respond to the doctrine of the Arminians and from it came the Canons of the Synod of Dort, containing the five doctrines of grace or five points of Calvinism.
Although these doctrines constitute the expression of Calvinism, Calvin did not invent them, these precious truths are contained in the Old Testament Psalms. They were taught by Jesus. The Apostle Paul confirmed them in his letters to the Romans; the Ephesians etc. suffice to mention these things however the helm of this discourse is to discuss the doctrine on Unconditional election.
Rom 9:10 and not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,
11  though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls--
12  she was told, "The older will serve the younger."
13  As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
14  What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!
15  For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
16  So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
17  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” ESV.
The doctrine of unconditional election is expressed more vividly in the passage Romans 9: 10 - 17.
To help us appreciate and comprehend these biblical truths it is worthwhile to break down the statement unconditional election. To begin with what is unconditional?
Unconditional means with absolute no reasons attached, without any course, without any conditions. It means that man had no play in the work of election; he did nothing to impress or failed to impress God in order to choose him either to eternal bliss or eternal destruction. It is therefore important to note that unconditional leaves man without anything to present before God.
Election is an act of choosing, selecting, isolating, putting aside, separating etc. This therefore means that God in His infinite wisdom and good pleasure chose some people to eternal bliss whilst others he selected for eternal destruction. This is a hard truth to digest but in its truest sense it is a glorious and magnificent grace.
The doctrine of election stresses that the triune God in his infinite wisdom and great mercy had in eternity past chose men and women, boys and girls to be saved from eternal destruction into eternal bliss, this act was planned even before the existence of man, God knew all those he had elected, it is not just enough to indicate this but to also mention that the so purpose of God electing was unconditional. It was absolutely God’s own free will.
We can therefore indicate that if election were based on anything that the sinner might be or do, then ultimately salvation would be dependent on human merits. There is no amount of good works or merit that would determine a man’s salvation apart from being mesmerized by the fact that election is a loving act of God’s sovereign will. Faith in Christ is as a result of election and not the other way round.

Limited Atonement
Obvious Kamanga
The doctrine of Limited Atonement (or Particular Redemption) is probably the most controversial of the doctrines of grace and most difficult to accept by many believers. Limited Atonement states that Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was the 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, therefore guaranteeing their salvation.

The classic Bible passage cited to prove a limited extent to the atonement is John 10 in which Jesus uses shepherding practices as a metaphor for his relationship to his followers. A shepherd of those times would call his sheep from a mix of flocks, and his sheep would hear his voice and follow, while the sheep of other flocks would ignore any but their own shepherd's voice: John 10:5-10. In that context, Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, and I lay down my life for the sheep,” John 10:14-15 and he tells the Pharisees that they "do not believe because [they] are not part of [his] flock.” John 10:26. He continues, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." John 10:27. Since we Calvinists and nearly all Christians believe that not all have eternal life with God, Calvinists conclude that there are only two possibilities: either Jesus was wrong in saying that he would lose none of his sheep (a conclusion they reject), or Jesus must not have laid down his life for everyone, as they understand John 10 to imply. Formally, the Calvinist position can be expressed this way:

1. Jesus lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:14-15
2. Jesus will lose none of his sheep. John 10:28
3. Many people will not receive eternal life. Matthew 7:13-14
Therefore, the Calvinist position is that Jesus did not die for everyone, but only for those whom the Father purposed to save.

Additionally, in the high priestly prayer, Jesus prays for the protection and sanctification of those who believed in him, and he explicitly excludes praying for all: "I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours." John 17:9b. Paul instructs the elders in Ephesus "to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood," Acts 20:28 and he says in his letter to the same church that "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Ephesians 5:25. Likewise, Jesus foreshadows that he will lay down his life "for his friends," John 15:13 and an angel tells Jesus' earthly father Joseph that he "will save His people from their sins". Matthew 1:21. This passage did not say that He would save the whole world, nor did it say that He should try to save His people; but that He would save His people from their sins. If that was the prophecy given concerning the birth of Jesus Christ and the purpose for which He came, we must surely know that which was determined by the Father was fulfilled by His faithful Son. Luke 19:10 supports this point: "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." If that then was His purpose; He accomplished that very thing. We Calvinists believe that these passages demonstrate that Jesus died for the church (that is, the elect) only.

The opposite error is to say that Jesus died in the same sense “for” everyone. This alternative view to Limited Atonement is righly called “Universal Atonement” and of course is intimately linked with Universalism, which argues that all will eventually be saved. This quote from probably the greatest theologican of America, explains it well.

Universal redemption must be denied in the very sense of Calvinists themselves, whether predestination is acknowledged or no, if we acknowledge that Christ knows all things. For if Christ certainly knows all things to come, he certainly knew, when he died, that there were such and such men that would never be the better for his death. And therefore, it was impossible that he should die with an intent to make them (particular persons) happy. For it is a right-down contradiction [to say that] he died with an intent to make them happy, when at the same time he knew they would not be happy-Predestination or no predestination, it is all one for that. This is all that Calvinists mean when they say that Christ did not die for all, that he did not die intending and designing that such and such particular persons should be the better for it; and that is evident to a demonstration. Now Arminians, when [they] say that Christ died for all, cannot mean, with any sense, that he died for all any otherwise than to give all an opportunity to be saved; and that, Calvinists themselves never denied. He did die for all in this sense; ’tis past all contradiction. -Jonathan Edwards [1722], The “Miscellanies”: (Entry Nos. a–z, aa–zz, 1–500) (WJE Online Vol. 13)

The renowned 19th century British preacher and evangelist Charles H. Spurgeon had these words to say about limited atonement (from his sermon, "The Mission of the Son of Man"):

"Now, some people love the doctrine of 'universal atonement' because they say it is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that 'Christ should have died for all men'; it commends itself, they say, to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty.

"I admit there is; but beauty may be often associated with falsehood.

"There is much which I might well admire in the theory of 'universal redemption' but let me just tell you what this supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were damned before He died; because if this doctrine (that He died for all men) is true, He died for some that were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were myriads there that had been cast away.

"Once again, if it were Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed! For we have His own evidence that there is a lake that burns with fire and brimstone, and into that pit must be cast some of the very people, who according to that theory, were bought with His blood!

"To think that my Savior died for men in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to imagine. That He was the substitute for the sons of men, and that God having first punished the substitute, punished these same men again, seems to me to conflict with any idea of justice.

"That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards, some of those very men should be punished for the same sins which Christ had already atoned for, seems to me, to be the most marvelous monstrosity that ever could have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, aye, to the god of the Thugs, or the most diabolical heathen demons!

"God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise."

In conclusion, the death of Christ is the foundation of the Christian's hope. But those believing in a general redemption cannot possibly fully enjoy that blessed hope in Christ. They claim to believe in a redeemer who is not completely successful in redeeming the lost; an atonement that falls short of achieving its purpose; thus believing that the death of Christ must be joined with freewill in order to save. Fortunately, Jesus is a Redeemer who does deliver His people from sin; not just tries to deliver His people with the possibility of losing some of them. His grace is thoroughly efficacious in saving the elect, for whom He died. And one elected by the grace of God is bound to come to Him, for it would be then natural for him to do so.


-Jonathan Edwards [1722]

-Herman Hanko, Homer Hoeksema, and Gise J. Van Baren

-Kevin Dixon Kennedy (2002). Union with Christ and the Extent of the Atonement in Calvin. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
-Paul Hartog (2009).  Schaumburg: Regular Baptist Press.

-John Calvin’s position by Paul Helm

-John Calvin’s view of the Extent of the Atonement by Roger Nicole

                                                      Irresistible Grace

Royd Nonde
‘’Irresistible Grace’’ is one of the five doctrines of Grace representing ‘’I’’ in the acronym TULIP. These all describe the process of salvation. It’s made up of two words, i.e Irresistible which means that when God has chosen some to be saved and when He sends His Spirit to change them from being hateful to being loving, no one can resist Him. And Grace which simply means God’s undeserved favour.

The doctrine therefore means that though the sinner is spiritually blind, God by the Holy Spirit enables him to see the truth about himself, God and salvation; and that though the sinner wants everything except God, God by the Holy Spirit grants him a desire for God and holiness; and that though the sinner is powerless to break with his sin and come to God, God by the Holy Spirit enables him to turn from his sin and come to God by the gift of faith in Christ; and though the sinner is dead, God gives the sinner new life.

The word ‘’irresistible’’ might leave the impression that one is forced to come to Christ and salvation against his desires or his will. However, this is not so as the doctrine must be understood in the light of the preceding three doctrines, that since man is Totally Depraved and can not come to God in his own strength, nor does he possess any desire to come to God; and since God has chosen to save a people and  that choice is based on His own will; and since Christ died as the full payment of the sins of this chosen people; then it is also true that God will save this people, irresistibly calling and regenerating them by His Power. It’s for this reason that some Calvinist refer to this doctrine as ‘’Effectual Calling’’.


They are several passages in the Bible that prove this doctrine. It should be noted here that doctrines must never be imposed on the Bible but Extracted from it.

First we begin with passages that clearly state that salvation includes a regeneration or new birth;

‘’Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.’’ Titus 3:5

‘’And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh: that they may walk in my statutes and keep mine ordinances and do them: and they shall be my people and I will be their God.’’ Ezekiel 11: 19-20 and Ezekiel 36:24-31

‘’It’s the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profits nothing.’’ John 6:65

‘’One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.’’ Acts 16:14

‘’ And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed…’’ Acts 13:48

From the above passages and indeed many others, the following conclusions can be made;

1.    Salvation is a deep work requiring great power to effect it.

-It’s pictured as a resurrection from death to life

-It’s pictured as a new birth of regeneration

2.    Salvation is such a deep work that it can only be accomplished by the power of God.

-Regeneration is by the power of the Holy Spirit

-The Spirit quickens while the flesh profits nothing

-The Lord must open the heart by His power

3.    Salvation as a deep work of God is given according to God’s Will

-The Lord must open the heart

-Those who believe have been ordained to eternal life.


As noted already, a common misunderstanding would be that of thinking that God forces people to become Christians. However, as noted earlier, a sinner by nature cannot desire God, its infact the LORD who by His regenerating power grants sight, desire, power and enablement to the elect sinner in the work of salvation. Neither will their be a case of one of the  non-elect desiring to be saved, because if God does not move upon the heart of man, there will never be spiritual desire, sight, power or enablement to come to Christ. A sinner by nature is dead in sins and trespasses until the LORD quickens or makes alive, (see Ephesians 2:1-5).


All of us who are Christians and have come to test and experience God’s awakening power in our lives know that this was of God and not us. We tried our best to run from God but when the time came, He quietly worked in us, caused us to see our folly, and enabled us to run to Him for refuge. This doctrine therefore is about Gods Marvelous work in a sinner’s life (Ezek 36:24-30), to resurrect him (Eph 2:1-10), give him a new birth (John 3:8), and make him a new creation (2 Cori 5: 17). Glory is to the LORD ALMIGHT through His Son Jesus Christ for His Marvelous efficacious Grace!!!


Journey in Grace by Richard P. Belcher
The Five Points of Calvinism by Edwin H. Palmer

Preservation of the Saints
Mildred Phiri
Is the faith of our fathers living in your life? 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? We use the familiar acrostic: TULIP to help us remember what our fathers said the Bible teaches:

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."

The 1689 confession of faith defines this point as follows;

"They whom God hath accepted in his beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end., and be eternally saved" (1). "This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ; the abiding of the Spirit and of the seed of God within them; and the nature of the covenant of grace, from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof."

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 10:28). See John 6:39, 17:2, 11, 12; Romans 8:37-39; II Tim. 1:12; 4:18.

Negatively, this doctrine 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,” that is living a sinful life.  Some have used this beautiful truth as an excuse to live like the devil. But they are not Christians. Nor do they understand this truth. 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 a sinful life has not experienced the saving power of Christ and does not know the meaning of 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 man apart from God's grace.

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