This upcoming series of posts are for anyone new to the doctrines of God’s Sovereign Grace, or Calvinism, (although I’m not fond of that moniker at all, but it is easier to type). Calvinism (yes, I’m lazy) has been succinctly, but incompletely defined by the TULIP acrostic. Contrary to popular belief, the renowned theologian John Calvin did not formulate TULIP. It was created in response to the Five Points of Arminianism many years after Calvin’s death. I suppose Calvin is associated with TULIP and the belief system it represents because he so clearly articulated the doctrines in his own extensive writings.
TULIP defines the main five points of Calvinistic soteriology but falls short in describing the full scope of it as a theology. The five points are as follows:
- Total Depravity
- Unconditional Election
- Limited Atonement
- Irresistible Grace
- Perseverance of the Saints
I will go into depth about each point in a set of articles, but first I would like to adjust the TULIP acrostic and to briefly expound on the definitions to better express the heart of the doctrines they represent.
Radical Corruption of man. Sin has ruined the heart and soul of all men. In his natural state, man has no desire to obey and serve God. A natural enmity burns in every heart against God, His holiness and His righteousness. Man cannot save himself. He is in bondage to his own sinful nature, which drives him to transgress God’s laws. Man stands condemned before God. An eternity in hell is his lot.
Unconditional Election of God the Father. Before the foundations of the world were laid, God set His eternal love on a great multitude of men from every age, every nation and every race so that He may justify and redeem them freely from the chains of their sin and guilt.
Particular Redemption of Jesus Christ the Son. The cost of forgiveness for God’s elect is not truly free. God’s justice demands consequence for all sins committed. Jesus willingly took upon himself the sins of God’s people, bearing in his body the full wrath of God. By Christ’s sacrifice many are made righteous. By his resurrection from the dead, eternal life is assured for all who trust in him.
Effectual Grace of the Holy Spirit. No one willingly repents of his sins, turns away from them nor bows at the feet of Jesus in whole-hearted submission and unyielding trust apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit brings deep conviction of sin. He produces godly sorrow leading to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior from sins. The Holy Spirit regenerates the hearts of the Father’s elect, effectually bringing them to salvation.
Preservation of the Saints. Simply stated, Saints persevere because God preserves. Those He predestines to salvation he calls. Those he calls he justifies, those he justifies, he glorifies. (See Rom 8:30) Jesus does not fail to keep all the sheep the Father has given him.( See John 10:27-29) God’s grace sustains every believer through the course of his life.
Ok, I’ll admit RUPEP is not as tidy as TULIP, but I believe it more clearly defines the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace and how the helplessness of man’s condition and the loving, merciful actions of the Trinity are all involved in the process of redemption. Now, I realize that some readers may still be hopelessly perplexed even after reading through the brief summaries of each point, so I will endeavor to expound on each and every one of these important doctrines one letter at a time.
Here are the links to the articles in the series that have been posted: