Although the word ‘Calvinism’ is never found in Scripture, Calvin found the basis of his teachings in the Bible. Calvinism was formulated/popularized by John Calvin (born 1511). Conceived in the heart of the reformation, it is often referred to as Reformed Theology, Covenant Theology, or the Doctrines of Grace. The simple acrostic, TULIP, was later devised to help people remember the points. Most Calvinists see these doctrines as an interdependent and therefore inseparable. Note: What a person believe about this issue is not a matter of salvation (both sides believe in faith and grace, not works). We should consider this is a second-tier issue and grant plenty of liberty to disagree.
1. Total Depravity (aka: Original Sin / the Inability of the Will)
…by his fall into sin, man (Adam) has altogether lost all ability to choose spiritual good
…the natural man is averse from good, dead in sin, and not able (in his own strength) to convert himself nor to ready himself for conversion
Q: Are men basically good? or incapable of good? or in between?
Q: Is our will and conscience broken? to what extent?
A: Ps. 58:3, Gen. 6:5, 8:21, Job 14:4, Jer. 17:9, Eph. 2:1, 3, Rom. 8:7
2. Unconditional Election (aka: Predestination)
…by the decree of God, for His glory, some men are predestined unto life and others to death
…these beings are unchangeably designed; their number is certain and cannot be changed
…God is pleased to extend to some mercy and to others wrath according to His will, ordaining some to praise and others to dishonor
Q: Is God limited in what He can do?
Q: Does God do everything / anything He desires?
Q: Does God really control everything?
A: Jn. 6:37, 15:16, Rom. 8:29-30, 9:11-18, Eph. 1:4-7, Prov. 16:4, Isa. 45:7, 46:10, Acts 8:48
3. Limited Atonement (aka: Particular Redemption / Selective Reconciliation)
…the work of redemption, although enough for everyone, was intended to save only the elect
…at the cross, Jesus secured everything necessary for the salvation of the elect (even their faith), guaranteeing their salvation
…If God ever intended to save a soul, that soul would be saved or God is not God. His purposes and intents cannot be thwarted.
Q: Did Jesus die for everyone? or for the elect?
Q: Judging by the results (efficacy), was Calvary a failure or a success?
A: Isa. 46:10, 2 Tim. 2:19, Acts 20:28, Jn. 10:27-28, Rom. 5:10-11, Matt. 26:28
4. Irresistible Grace (aka: Effectual Calling / Regeneration)
…in addition to the universal, outward gospel call, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special call, one that cannot be rejected and that will ultimately bring them to salvation
…God is not limited in His work by man’s cooperation nor is He dependent upon free will for success. God’s grace is invincible and never fails to save those for whom it is intended.
Q: If God says ‘Yes,’ can a person say ‘No’ to Him?
Q: Does God / Can God force Himself on man?
A: Jn 1:13, 6:44, Rom. 8:14, Jer. 31:18, Ps. 51:6
5. Perseverance of the Saints (aka: Eternal Security / Once-Saved Always-Saved)
…those whom God has accepted in his beloved, called, and sanctified, can never fall from the state of grace
…the elect are eternally saved and shall certainly persevere until the end
Q: Can a person lose their salvation?
Q: Will God allow true Christians to abuse His grace?
Q: What is the unpardonable sin?
A: Eph. 4:30, 1 Pet. 1:5, 23, Jer. 32:40, Phil. 1:6, 2 Tim. 2:19, Rom. 5:8-10, 8:28-39, Jn. 6:39, 10:27-30