A TULIP is A TULIP is A TULIP – Program 2
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2012|
|Total Depravity of man, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints (TULIP) are collectively known as the five points of Calvinism. With this article Dr. Figart begins a series on the five points, comparing them with Scripture.|
A TULIP is A TULIP is A TULIP – Conclusions
After all is said and done, therefore, where should we stand? If we reject the Five Points of Calvinism, must we be Arminians? We have already given the answer in the form of a question: “What saith the Scriptures?” This should be true with regard to any and all doctrine. We may not have any term such as TULIP to designate what we believe, but we can summarize each of those five Points, indicating briefly what Scripture says and what it does not say.
Point one: Total Depravity
Calvinism states that the Fall of Adam and Eve brought sin to mankind; man is dead in sin and therefore “without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God.” By regeneration, God “produces in man both the will to believe and the belief itself.”
Scripture states that unsaved man is dead in sin, so that he cannot merit, earn, nor provide salvation for himself. But Scripture does not state that man must be regenerated before he can believe. In fact, all men are commanded to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). Jesus commanded, “Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7) Faith is the only way to obtain regeneration; regeneration does not bring faith!! Total Depravity as explained by the Calvinist cannot be true. Total inability of man to save himself is what Scripture teaches; and all men are condemned because they have not believed, not because they cannot believe! (John 3:16-18).
Point two: Unconditional Election
Calvinism states that God chose a certain group before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) and it was “by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will” and “not on the basis of foreseen faith.”
Scripture: As was pointed out, the Canons of Dordt deliberately leave out Romans 8:29, and do not even mention 1 Peter 1:2-5, both of which begin what the Calvinist calls “the golden chain of salvation” with “For whom He did foreknow, them He also did predestinate.” First Peter actually includes: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” If the “golden chain” is not to be broken, how can the first link be omitted? Thus, election to salvation is conditioned on the foreseen faith of those who would believe in Christ. Only with this Scriptural viewpoint can God be justified in condemning unbelievers to eternal hell.
Point three: Limited Atonement
Calvinism: If the first and second Points of Calvinism are taken as true, then logically, this third point must follow. Christ would provide salvation for the Elect group only. It would be illogical and unnecessary to provide salvation for even one person who will never be saved. Thus, even though Christ’s sacrifice was “more than sufficient for the sins of the whole world” yet, “all those and only those who were chosen from eternity” would be provided with salvation.
Scripture: We showed that the finished work of Christ provided unlimited redemption of sin (2 Pet. 2:1; unlimited reconciliation of man to God (2 Cor. 5:19) and unlimited propitiation or satisfaction of God’s righteousness (1 John 2:1-2).
Point four: Irresistible Grace
Calvinism: The logic carries through: Depraved man cannot believe until he is regenerated; he cannot be regenerated unless he is one of the elect; only the sins of the elect have been atoned for; thus, only the elect will be the recipients of God’s grace, which, when it is given as part of the regeneration process, cannot and will not be resisted. As a result of regeneration, “a ready and sincere obedience of the Spirit begins to prevail where the rebellion and resistance of the flesh were completely dominant.”
Scripture: True, God works in the hearts of unbelievers to persuade them to believe and be born again, but this is always pre-regeneration work.
John 1:12-13 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power (exousia, authority) to become the children of God, even to them who believe on his name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” The sequence is: receiving Him by believing on His name, then the authority to become children of God by being born of God.
John 6:44 “No man can come to me except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him.” This “drawing” is not equivalent to regeneration; it is also pre-regeneration work.
John 16:7-8 The Holy Spirit convicts the world (kosmos, the world of mankind) “of sin, righteousness and judgment.” Note, the conviction of sin is specific, “because they believe not on me” for this is the sin for which man “is condemned already” (John 3:17-18). This also is not regeneration, but is pre-regeneration work. Thus, there is no such doctrine as irresistible grace in Scripture.
Point five: Perseverance of the Saints.
Calvinism: Though Article 8 in this fifth Point of the Canons of Dordt makes a good case for the Preservation of the Saints by God, when it comes to the human aspect of this doctrine, in Article 10, include good works as ground of assurance, “and finally, from a serious and holy pursuit of a clear conscience and good works;” and in Article 14, God “preserves, continues and completes his work by the hearing and reading of the gospel, by meditation on it, by its exhortations, threats and promises, and also by the use of sacraments.”
It was interesting to make the following comparison: Under their First Point of Doctrine, the Canons of Dordt have 18 articles, then 9 paragraphs which they call “Rejection of the Errors. In paragraph 2 of these rejections, they speak of that teaching “which distorts the teaching concerning election and breaks up this golden chain of salvation: Those whom he predestined, he also called; those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:30). As we have noted, they themselves have broken the golden chain of salvation by refusing to include the first link: “For whom he did foreknow” (Romans 8:29).
Now my comparison is this: Some modern day Calvinists break the golden chain of salvation by denying the last link, namely, glorification: R.C. Sproul: “Endurance in faith is a condition for future salvation” John Piper: “Election is unconditional, but glorification is not.” (These two were quoted previously.)
With all the logic involved, somehow, this just does not seem at all logical!
Scripture: We have given many Scripture proofs of those in both Old and New Testaments who were secure in their faith, and who were not living under threats from God, nor were they “straining to endure.” Let me conclude with three very plain and precious promises:
Hebrews 10:22 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith”
Colossian 2:2 “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love and to all riches of the full assurance of understanding”
Hebrews 6:11 “And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.”
We are to draw near, not to cringe in fear, in full assurance of faith (our belief in Christ), and be comforted, not threatened, (as we continue to grow) in full assurance of understanding each day, and keep looking for (that blessed hope) the appearing of Christ in full assurance of hope, until He comes, or until he takes us home to heaven!
A Biblical Presentation of the True “TULIP”
Since these five points have been discussed in the preceding pages, the specific sections are listed at the end of each point, for easier reference.
Total Inability: Though mankind has no ability to save himself, he still has a total personality, which includes intellect, sensibility and will (ability to decide for or against the good or the bad). Regarding salvation, this means that every person has the ability and responsibility to exercise faith in Christ, or to refuse Christ’s offer of salvation.
Universal Provision of Salvation: Christ’s death, resurrection and proof by 40 days of appearances was not only sufficient for all mankind, but it was intended and provided for all mankind.
Limited Election: On the basis of God’s foreknowledge, specifically, the knowledge of those who would believe in Christ, and those who would reject Christ, God elected believers to salvation, and condemned unbelievers to eternity in hell.
Individual Responsibility: This refers to responsibility of the individual to respond to the “Drawing” of the Holy Spirit and believe in Christ as Savior.
Preservation of the Saints: In contrast to perseverance of the saints, which involves works on the part of believers to keep themselves saved, preservation of the saints refers to God’s work involving the sealing of every believer by the Holy Spirit, unto the day of the redemption of their bodies.