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Q. What Are The "Five Points of Calvinism"?


[SUMMARY- The Five Points say that because man has no true love for God he is unable not to sin. He is born this way, having inherited Adam's fall. Being unable to love God, God must put His own love in man's heart before man can love Him. If no man can make himself love God it must be that God has chosen who He is going to enable to love Him. He has eternally chosen the elect, not on the basis of any merit in them but according to the counsel of His will, and His only. If God, then, planned to enable only the chosen, then He sent His Son to suffer justice on the cross only for them. If Christ paid for the sins of those not chosen for salvation then both the damned and Jesus paid for the same sins, which is double justice, which is not justice, but rather injustice. So, Christ only paid for those chosen for salvation. When God finally converts the heart of an elect person He does so with no help from the person, for- again- the person is totally unable to help himself. By evangelists, preachers, and friends God sends forth His Word to lovingly invade their hearts and give them His love at the core of their being. The elect are unable to resist the Spirit of God when He applies the Word of God savingly to them. Finally, God will make His chosen to continue in love for Him all their days, and forever, because God loves them as His dear children. They cannot fall away from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.]

The Five Points of Calvinism refers to five ponts of Biblical doctrine which describe a significant and faithful perspective on how Christians are saved from their sins and hell. The points of doctrine are often taught using the helpful acrostic TULIP:

T- Total Depravity. Total Depravity means that we are born spiritually dead. We are dead on the inside. In other words, we have no true love for God in our hearts and we are unable to stir any love up in our hearts. We can't will it- God must give it.

By "Total" we should not surmise that we are as depraved or bad as we could possibly be. In mercy God restrains us from acting out on our core principle of (usually psychologically suppressed) hatred towards Him. Thus, we still have things like our consciences, the beauty of this world, and even public opinion to help reign in the various expressions of our depraved nature. "I would feel so guilty, therefore I will not do it."

Yet we are still radically sinful and evil: we lack a Spirit-given love for God. Even things which we consider good works are ultimately evil unless we are Christians and we do them with the power and love of God in our hearts. So, only acts done out of supernatural love to God can glorify God. Until then we are spirtitual dead, and like a corpse we are unable to make ourselves live.

"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." (Ephesians 2:1-3, NASB)

"...because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:7-8, NASB)

U- Unconditional Election. God has chosen who He is going to graciously save. He did this not after watching us for awhile, but before He even made the world and universe. In fact, He has eternally predetermined which individuals He was going to save.

This choice of His, this election, is unconditional. That is, it is not based on foreseeing anything we would be or do, or not be or do. There was nothing in the elect people to induce God to choose them. His choice, because He alone is God and Maker of all, was according to the council of His own will, according to His own good pleasure.

Is this fair? Fair means getting what one deserves. Everyone, including the elect, deserves Hell. We have all offended the holy God and King. We have harshly dashed to pieces His beautiful image in us. Hell is fair for everyone. What the elect people get is grace, which means they get better than they deserve to get.

He has the right to do as He wants with His own creations, and has chosen to save some out of the goodness of His heart and for His own infinitely deserved glorification. The rest get what they deserve, and are everlastingly damned, which God has willed for the glorification of His holiness, justice, and power.

"...just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will..." (Ephesians 1:4-5, NASB)

"And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER." Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED." What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION." So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy." (Romans 9:10-16, NASB)

L- Limited Atonement. Evil must be punished, so Jesus humbled Himself to take a legal attribution of the elect's sins to Himself, and then suffer the consequences for their sins. In obedience to His Father, Jesus sacrificed His perfect Self on a Roman cross for those God unconditionally elected.

Jesus did not suffer justice on the cross for those who will eventually suffer justice for the same sins in Hell. Double justice would be injustice: yet God is perfectly just. The Son of God, therefore, never died for the those who will eventually go to Hell. He died on the cross only for the elect. The atonement was limited to the elect only. The "Limited", then, refers to the fact that the purpose and therefore efficacy of Jesus's death was to save the elect, and no one else.

That death was not, however, limited with respect to how fully it atoned for the elect's sins. The sins of the elect were fully and finally paid for, once and for all time, by Jesus giving Himself for them as a substitute.

In sum, He did not die for all people provisionally (providing they eventually believe), but for the elect conclusively. He purchased them only, and thus they will, in God's time, by God's amazing grace, become believers.

"...for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." (Revelations 5:9, NASD)

"I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours..." (John 17:9, NASB)

"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep ...I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me ...and I lay down My life for the sheep. (John 10:11, 14, 15, NASB)

I- Irresistible Calling. When in the course of their lives the elect are finally called by God to turn from their sin and instead embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior, the elect will have no success in thwarting God's call.

Though they are born spiritually dead and their sin nature makes them run from God the Holy One, God nevertheless graciously invades their hearts by His Word and Holy Spirit and they are become spiritually alive. They begin to have their first true affections for Him, whereas previously they had been unable to love Him. They receive, by God's action alone, and not by any cooperation from themselves, a new core nature which disposes them to love God.

God does it all. The elect's belief, trust, and love for Christ is their own, but it was enabled by God first changing their hearts unilaterally, without their cooperation. At that point they can not help but to see the goodness, grace, and beauty of God, and so, they trust in Him with joy.

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:44, NASB)

"When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48, NASB)

P- Perseverance of the Saints. Once called and converted by and to the love of God, Christians will certainly continue to love and follow Him for the rest of their time here, and forever hereafter. While they will come up against countless temptations from the world, their own residual sinfulness, and demonic enemies, it is impossible that they would utterly fall away from God's love. They will persevere because God has promised to preserve them in His Fatherly love.

False individual Christians will give the appearance of falling away, but such ones never had been saved in the first place. One cannot fall away from what one never had. These can only fall away in the sense that they eventually reject the means of grace (the written Word, the church, the sacraments, prayer, fellowship, and worship) that had indluenced them for a time, perhaps years and decades.

But true love never fails. God loves the elect perfectly and powerfully. Such a bond can never be broken.

"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:40, NASB)

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phillipians 1:6, NASB)

"...and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." (Romans 8:30, NASB)

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