Doctrines of Grace
The “Doctrines of Grace” is a nice, concise summary of the Bible’s doctrine of salvation, particularly how the doctrine of election is foundational to the doctrine of salvation by grace alone.
TULIP is an acronym used to help define the 5 points of grace. Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. They are described as follows:
“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 [Eph. 2:1]; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt [Jer. 17:9]. His will is not free but is in bondage to his sinful nature [Rom. 3:22] …. Therefore, he will not – indeed cannot – choose good over evil in the spiritual realm [Gen. 6:5; Rom. 8:7-8]. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring 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 [Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29]” (David Steele, The Five Points of Calvinism).
“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…. 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 the sinner, not the sinner’s choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation [John 15:16; Acts 13:48; Eph. 1:4-5]” (Five Points of Calvinism). Those not elected by God are passed by in God’s eternal decree (the decree of reprobation), and are left to continue in their sin unto condemnation (Canons, First Head of Doctrine, Article 15).
“Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was 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 the 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 [Matt. 1:21; John 17:1-2, 9; 10:15]” (Five Points). A few passages speak of Christ dying for the world (John 1:29; 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:6; 1 John 2:2). These passages are intended to show that Christ died for His elect from every tongue, tribe, and nation (Rev. 5:9). But we may not say He died for every person without exception, including Pharaoh, or Judas, or Nero, or anyone else who has died in unbelief.
The external call to salvation, which is made to everyone who hears the gospel, can be, and often is, rejected (Acts 7:51); but the internal call which the Holy Spirit extends 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 [John 6:37; Acts 16:14; Rom. 10:17; 1 Peter 2:9]” (Five Points).
Perseverance of the Saints
True believers cannot lose their salvation; but by God’s grace they persevere in faith and good works (John 10:27-28; Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Peter 1:5). “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 [1 Pet. 1:5] and thus persevere to the end [Psalm 31:23; John 10:28; Rom. 8:38-39; Phil. 1:6]” (Five Points). “As Spurgeon put it, we may fall many times on the deck of the ship of life, but we shall never fall overboard. God doesn’t cast off those whom He has loved. He doesn’t undo the work of grace He began” (Calvin Cummings, Confessing Christ, 70).
“According to Calvinism: Salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the Gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus, GOD, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation” (Five Points). To God alone be the glory!