This is the 4th and final post for a series on salvation from an orthodox Christian standpoint. This one will focus on the five points of Calvinism in the doctrine of grace. I pray that this whole series has been edifying and will continue to bring folks to question their traditional views of God, man, and sin.
The Doctrines of grace: Five points of Calvinism (TULIP).
Total Depravity (total inability) is sometimes referred to as Original Sin. This is the idea, which was developed in the early church, that those who are sons and daughters of Adam in the flesh have inherited the nature that resulted from the Fall of Mankind. That is the curse that was bestowed upon Adam in his disobedience in the garden when he freely chose to take and eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil. This nature of man, which has many side affects of his original perfection, does not permit him to do anything righteous in order that he could stand apart and be able to return to God (Rom. 6:20).
Unconditional Election, also known as Predestination/Adoption, is the sovereign selection of a particular people in eternity by the council of God’s good will (Eph. 1:4-8). All of mankind, being spiritually dead in Adam and without the ability to redeem themselves, are destined to Hell. Yet by God’s grace and mercy He has chosen a people in which He will pluck them out of the fire for His glory alone. Those whom God chooses in salvation is not based on any predetermined or foreknown action or ability of the individual but rather for His purposes alone.
Limited Atonement (Particular Atonement) means to answer the question of those whom Christ died. Did Christ die for specific individuals, or did Christ die for a system that would allow people to choose to be saved. Since man is unable to do anything righteous, such as the commandment to believe in Christ, the atonement is for those who are effectually called unto faith by the Holy Spirit at a predetermined point in time. This work of God rendering certain the salvation of a fallen race of men, limited not by the power or ability of the atonement but rather it’s application (John 10:27).
Irresistible Grace (Effectual Calling) is sometimes referred to as efficacious grace. This is the means of application of the atonement by the Holy Spirit, rendering a change in the nature of man and bringing him from spiritual death into spiritual life. This is the work of the Spirit in the regeneration of man’s heart of stone to a heart of flesh, enlightening the mind and spirit, and where he does surely come to know Him. The event is often referred to as regeneration, conversion or being born again. From that point forward a man longer only prefers the things of the world, but has been made able obey the commands of God to battle the desires of the flesh (John 1:12-13).
Perseverance of the Saints (Preservation of believers) is the idea that the alteration of the nature of man in the application of the atonement by the grace of God is an effective and permanent change. Once an adopted son or daughter of God is in Christ, they have been made new. Nothing anyone can do will keep a person from being in Christ once elected, called and justified by God. Nothing can alter the new condition in which they have been made in regeneration. One’s assurance rests in the work of God Himself that keeps them by the power of the Spirit, despite the trials and struggles that one endures in the flesh, we are preserved in Him (Phil. 1:6).