WHY DO I LOVE THE TULIP?
BECAUSE TO ME THE ‘TULIP’ IS AN ACRONYM WHICH SETS FORTH MY POSITION IN SOTERIOLOGY
The ‘million dollar question’ before us is – Is salvation the work of God alone or is it the work of man cooperating with God? Is salvation bestowed by God’s grace alone or does man merit it? Is man’s will in bondage or does he have a ‘freewill’? Did Christ save His people or only make everyone savable?
Church history is highlighted by confrontations on this doctrine. Those who preach that salvation involves man’s freewill and works have ever opposed those who preach that salvation is by God’s grace alone. This opposition has come from Pharisees and Judaism (1st century), Pelagians (from 4th century), Romanists (from Dark Ages), Arminians (from 17th century), and Wesleyans (from 18th century), and from every other form of Freewillism in every age.
THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE are the best biblical doctrines you will ever come to know or embrace – Jesus Christ’s Gospel is ALL OF GRACE. These doctrines speak of God’s infinite love and mercy to His people. It is here that God alone draws the sinner in, changes their heart, and gives them a new life as a new creature “in the Beloved,” who is Jesus Christ (See the entire book of Ephesians).
There are ONLY TWO VIEWS concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. First, there is what the church calls CALVINISM, The Reformed Faith or more precisely speaking, the ‘Doctrines of Grace’. Then, the second, we find varying degrees of unbelief.
The essential doctrines of grace concerning salvation, which the Reformers and Puritans (and all good Christians) cling to, are summed up in the acronym T.U.L.I.P.
Perseverance of the Saints
What these Five-Points basically teach –
TOTAL DEPRAVITY: Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore, he will not – indeed he cannot – choose good over evil in the spiritual realm.
UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION: God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response of obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause of God’s choice. Election therefore was not determined by or conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ. Thus God’s choice of the sinner, not the sinner’s choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation.
LIMITED ATONEMENT: Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ’s redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, therefore guaranteeing their salvation.
IRRESISTIBLE GRACE: In addition to the outward general call to salvation which is made to everyone who hears the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation. The internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion. By means of this special call the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ. He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by man’s will, nor is He dependent upon man’s cooperation for success. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ. God’s grace, therefore, is invincible; it never fails to result in the salvation of those to whom it is extended.
PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS: All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.
Now the question we should ask as Christians is, is all this a ‘Calvinist hobby horse’ or are these facts something which Christ Himself taught? The answer might actually surprise some!
Consider the Words of the Master . . . .
TOTAL DEPRAVITY –
“Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of!” [Luke 9:55]
“But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because He knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was IN MAN!” [John 2:14,25]
Men in general have quite a high opinion of themselves and their righteousness. They pacify their consciences with the delusion of the Pharisee who said – “I thank thee Oh God that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers etc” [Luke 18:11]
But as Spurgeon said long ago, “If God were ever to allow the fountains of the great deeps of depravity to break up in the best man that lives, HE WOULD MAKE AS BAD A DEVIL AS THE DEVIL HIMSELF IS. I care nothing for what these boasters say concerning their own perfections; I feel sure that THEY DO NOT KNOW THEMSELVES, OR THEY COULD NOT TALK AS THEY OFTEN DO. There is tinder enough in the saint who is nearest to heaven to kindle another Hell if God should but permit a spark to fall upon it. In the very best of men there is an infernal and well-nigh infinite depth of depravity. Some Christians never seem to find this out. I almost wish that they might not do so, for IT IS A PAINFUL DISCOVERY FOR ANYONE TO MAKE; but it has the beneficial effect of making us cease from trusting in ourselves, and causing us to glory only in the Lord!”
“And He (Jesus) said, That which cometh out of the man, THAT defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man!” [Mark 7:20-23]
Notice that Christ is here not speaking of a ‘certain class of men’ but ALL MEN AND WOMEN IN GENERAL!
“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit!” [Matt 7:17]
Incidentally Adam was the first or original ‘corrupt tree’ and all saplings that come forth from him are basically corrupt – i.e. Totally Depraved just like him! For who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one! [Job 14:4]
“No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the Last Day!” [John 6:44]
“And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father.” [John 6:65]
“And He said unto them (His disciples), Unto YOU it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without (outside), all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” [Mark 4;11,12]
“All things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him!” [Matt 11:27]
“All things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and HE TO WHOMSOEVER THE SON WILL REVEAL HIM.” [John 6:37-39]
Think of that my friend! IF you know the Son of God today as your Lord and Saviour it is because HE hath chosen to reveal Himself to you (while passing by others) and not because YOU chose to believe or ‘accept Him’ or any such rubbish!
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life FOR THE SHEEP!” [John 10:11] (in case you don’t know – there are sheep and there are goats) [see Matt 25:32,33]
And this is in line with what the Father testified concerning Him – “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify MANY (not ALL); for He shall bear THEIR iniquities (not everyone’s)!” [Isaiah 53:11]
“And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him.” [Matt 4:19,20]
“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He saith unto him, Follow Me. And he arose, and followed Him.” [Matt 9:9]
“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” [John 6:37]
“And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father!” [John 6:65]
Incidentally there is a ‘general call’ and a ‘particular call’. The ‘general call’ goes to all men alike – “Unto you, O men, I call; and My voice is to the sons of man.” [Prov 8:4] And then there is the particular call – “I have called THEE BY NAME! Thou art Mine!” [Isaiah 43:1] “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house!” [Luke 19:5] And when that ‘particular call’ comes there is no resisting it! “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: THEREFORE with lovingkindness HAVE I DRAWN THEE!” [Jer 31:3]
PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the Last Day.” [John 6:39,40]
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.
My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” [John 10:27-29]
Praise the Lord!