Irresistible Grace

The five points of Calvinism often go under different names.  Sometimes they are called “The Five Points,” others refer to them as “Biblical Christianity” (Spurgeon), and, of course, sometimes they are described as a TULIP.  Equally common, “Doctrines of Grace” is used to refer to them.  Grace is an appropriate way to think of these doctrines for at every point they force us back to the gracious plan of God to effect our redemption.  It is by grace we have been saved (Eph. 2:8) and the grace extends back to election and is present today in perseverance.  The whole of the Christian life is by grace.  When we talk of Irresistible Grace we are thinking specifically of conversion.  The Bible uses a host of metaphors and words to describe this event.  God “opens eyes” and “hearts” and he enlightens “minds.”  … Read More »

TULIP VI – Perseverance of the Saints

What happens to the one who becomes a follower of Jesus and then falls away? If you have spent any amount of time in the church you know that question arises not from the hypothetical but from the actual. Apostasy happens. In the minds of many Christians, there are two answers to that question. Historically, Arminians and Lutherans have taught that a person may be born again and fall away from that state of grace. So it is possible for one who makes profession of faith, is baptized and joins Christ and his church, and then falls away to have truly been regenerate and then lost her salvation. In reaction to this position, many Christians began to advocate a position commonly referred to as “once-saved-always-saved.” According to advocates of this position, a person … Read More »

TULIP V – Irresistible Grace

What happens to the one who becomes a follower of Jesus and then falls away? If you have spent any amount of time in the church you know that question arises not from the hypothetical but from the actual. Apostasy happens. In the minds of many Christian there are two answers to that question. Historically, Arminians and Lutherans have taught that a person may be born again and fall away from that state of grace. So one makes profession of faith, is baptized and joins Christ and his church and then falls away, that one was really regenerate and then lost her salvation. In reaction to this position many Christians began to advocate a position commonly referred to as “once-saved-always-saved.” According to advocates of this position, a person who is truly regenerate … Read More »

TULIP IV- Limited Atonement

The most controversial petal on the TULIP is “L” which stands for “Limited Atonement.” As the second word in the phrase indicates, this relates to the death of Christ. What, if anything, did the death of Christ accomplish? On the one hand, there are those who think that the death of Christ made salvation possible for every person who has ever lived. As the theory goes, Christ died for all the sins of the world and the only thing that keeps people from knowing Jesus as Savior and Lord is unbelief. On the surface there seems to be Biblical warrant for such a view. After all, the Scriptures do say that Christ died for the sins of the world (cf. Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 2:2). As the theory is scrutinized, however, problems arise. … Read More »

TULIP III – Unconditional Election

As we meditate upon the implications of Total Depravity, we inevitably come to the place where we throw up our hands and with the disciples say, “Then who can be saved?” (Lk. 18:26). When that question is raised, you know someone understands this doctrine. The answer is simple: God overcomes our fallenness and depravity by his grace and power according to his meticulous and sovereign plan. To take the words of Jesus on our lips, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (Lk. 18:27).

God overcomes our depravity in two ways, one historical (that is, before creation), and one that unfolds in time. In time, our depravity is overcome when he subdues us, makes us alive, and grants to us faith that we might believe the promises of the gospel. We call … Read More »

TULIP II – Total Depravity

Years ago Loraine Boettner suggested that the five points of Calvinism are “not isolated and independent doctrines but are so inter-related that they form a simple, harmonious, self-consistent system.” Therefore, “Prove any one of them false and the whole system must be abandoned” (Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 59). This is why there is no such thing as a “three-point Calvinist” or a “four-point Calvinist.” Really, even the description “five-point Calvinist” is a misnomer. There are those who embrace the five-points, Calvinists, and those who do not, non-Calvinist (Amyraldians and Arminians). I like how Arminian Roger Olson puts it, “Calvinism can be seen as the middle ground between fatalism and synergism; Arminianism can be seen as the middle ground between semi-Pelagianism and Calvinism. But between Calvinism and Arminianism there is no mutual compatibility” (Arminian Theology, … Read More »

Tulip part I

After about eight months we finished our WWDWWD concerning our worship practice. For more information or to review any of the articles please visit our website and specifically my blog to the archived articles. Since these articles have been received so well I will continue to write on topics that I think will be helpful to you. Today I will start a short series on TULIP and in the near future hope to do a series on Covenant Theology and one on preaching. If you have any suggestions please don’t hesitate to let me know.

James Arminius (1560-1610) (his Dutch name is Jacob van Hermanns or Hermanson, Hermensen), from whom the theological system of Arminianism derives its name, was originally a strict Calvinist and became professor of theology at Leyden (1603). Ironically it was while he … Read More »