In a previous chapter (What is Selective Salvation?) I described the doctrine of selective salvation. Anyone who is familiar with Calvinism is also familiar with the term TULIP. Although TULIP was not intended to be a central document (or icon) of selective salvation, it has become just that.
The term TULIP is actually an acronym of the five points of selective salvation. The TULIP provides a person a quick understanding of the core beliefs of this doctrine. Listed below are the five parts of the TULIP.
Although many people attribute the TULIP to John Calvin, he wasn’t the one who developed it. About a year after James Arminius died, his followers became concerned about some of the "harsh" doctrines coming from the Churches in Holland. So, on January 14, 1610, they presented their five main concerns to the States-General. This document was first known as the Remonstrance (protest) and later on became known as the Five Articles of Faith. The ideas in this document were not new, of course; they had been around for over a thousand years. The Five Articles of Faith, however, did consolidate these ideas into a format that was concise and understandable.
The Synod examined the articles and rejected them. They didn’t, however, feel that a mere rejection was sufficient. As a result, they wrote a document (first known as the Counter-Remonstrance) that countered each of the five points. The five chapters they wrote embodied the Calvinistic position and later became know as the "Five Points of Calvinism." Later, the word TULIP was coined to quickly identify the Five Points of Calvinism.
The official and final response to the Arminian’s Five Articles of Faith came from the Synod of Dordrecht (1618). The first month was spent on other issues, but the last 180 days were spent addressing the Five Articles of Faith. The Synod wrote what became known as the Canons of Dordrecht, later shortened to Cannons of Dort. (Source: Schaff, Vol 3, pp. 581-596.) Listed below is a more detailed description of the Five Points of Calvinism (TULIP).
When man fell, sin permeated every part of his personality. This includes his thinking, emotions, and will. Total depravity does not mean he is necessarily intensely sinful, it only means that sin has encompassed his entire being.
The unregenerate (unsaved) man is dead in his sins. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel. Man will never seek God on his own; he will never have a desire for God or righteousness. This is why Total Depravity has also been called "Total Inability." Since man is totally incapable of seeking God, he will never find salvation through Jesus Christ on his own. The only time a person seeks this salvation is when God inserts a "desire for God" in his heart.
Unconditional Election is the doctrine that states God has chosen who will get saved and who will be damned for eternity. This selection is not based upon the condition of the person’s heart or any of his merits. A person’s humility, love of God, and desire for righteousness are not part of this selection. This selection is also not based on God looking into the future and seeing who "will accept" the offer of the gospel. God has elected some for glory and others for damnation. This election is based solely upon the counsel of His own will. His selection of the elect was done long before the universe was ever created.
Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption)
God limited His atonement to only those who are the elect. When Jesus died on the cross, He did not die for the sins of the whole world, He died for only those He wanted to go to Heaven. Christ died to atone for the sins of specific sinners. "It is obvious," (the Calvinist says), "that God did not atone for all men, because not all men are saved."
The grace that God offers to the elect cannot be refused. God puts into the hearts of the elect an irresistible desire to turn to Him and accept His salvation. This implanted desire is so overpowering that it cannot be resisted or refused. This irresistible desire insures that everyone who has been elected will go to Heaven. None of the elect will ever go to Hell. The Calvinist says "What a comfort it is to know that the gospel of Christ will penetrate our hard, sinful hearts and wondrously save us through the gracious inward call of the Holy Spirit!" The Calvinist will also say, "This doctrine is a great comfort to the Christian who is witnessing; he knows that he will always be successful. When he is witnessing to a person, he has the assurance that if God wants that person to be saved, he will be saved."
Perseverance of the Saints
Since God has determined who will get saved and they cannot resist His call, they are unconditionally and eternally secure in that election. Therefore, those who have been chosen to be saved will always stay saved. They cannot resist or lose their salvation. There are no exceptions to the rule. As a result, the Christian has "eternal security." Since there was nothing a person could do to get saved in the first place, there is nothing he can do to lose his salvation.
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