You wouldn’t think a “tulip” would have so much of an impact.
John Calvin, 16th Century French reformer, broke with the Catholic Church around 1530 AD. Like Martin Luther, he had become concerned over what he believed to be an emphasis of “salvation by works” in the Roman Church. Rather than recognize the importance of both faith AND works in salvation, however, Calvin constructed a complex system of theology which is largely responsible for today’s “faith only” philosophy… a doctrine widely accepted in the denominational world.
Often referred to as “Calvinism,” most denominations embrace it either in part or as a whole. Proponents of Calvinism often explain this doctrine by dividing it into 5 major points – hence, the “Five Points of Calvinism.” To help people understand and remember its tenets, they use the simple acronym “TULIP” – each letter of this word standing for its corresponding belief:
T – Total Hereditary Depravity (Original Sin)
Every human ever born inherits Adam’s sinful nature through birth and is thereby incapable of choosing good over evil.
U – Unconditional Election (Individual Predestination)
Before the world began, God decided who would be saved, and who would be lost. His decision can’t be reversed no matter the circumstances.
L – Limited Atonement
Because some individuals have been selected for eternal damnation from before the world began, then Jesus must have only died for the “elect.” Thus, “limited atonement.”
I – Irresistible Grace
The only way a person can be saved is for the Holy Spirit to miraculously change a wicked, evil heart to a good one. The Holy Spirit only does this for the elect, and if an individual has been elected to salvation, he/she cannot resist this effort.
P – Perseverance of the Saints (Once Saved, Always Saved)
Once saved, a person cannot be lost no matter the circumstances. God’s will cannot be thwarted. If an individual has been elected by God to salvation, then there is nothing he can do to be lost.
Calvinism is a doctrine that places the eternity of man in serious jeopardy. It’s a doctrine that stands in direct opposition to biblical teaching on God’s love for all of humanity (Jn 3:16) and His invitation to all (Matt 11:28-30; 2 Peter 3:9; Rev 22:17) . By teaching that there is nothing a person can do to be saved if God has predetermined he be condemned to eternal damnation; and by teaching there is nothing a person can do to resist salvation if God has elected him to salvation, this doctrine removes all hope and personal responsibility before God. It causes people to conclude, “If I’m lost, it was God’s will…God’s fault.”
We invite you to visit with us Sunday morning as examine this doctrine in greater detail and consider its alarming consequences during the worship hour.