A lovely tulip provides a good opportunity to summarize the doctrines of sovereign grace that sets forth several great truths about salvation. The acronym T.U.L.I.P. has proven to be helpful to many as a memory aid.
Total Depravity (Total Inability and Original Sin)
Limited Atonement (Particular or Definite Atonement)
Irresistible Grace (Effectual Calling by God)
Perseverance of the Saints
Total Depravity. The Bible teaches that sin has affected every facet of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and bodies are all affected by sin. It is not flattering to admit but the Natural Man is completely sinful. Man is not as sinful as he could be, but he is completely affected by sin. The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from those Scriptures that reveal human character. In its unregenerate state, man’s heart is evil by nature (Mark 7:21-23) and sick (Jer. 17:9). The Natural Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). He is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The question arises, “In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature by birth as being utterly lost and incapable of pleasing God, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God apart from a supernatural, sovereign work of grace that converts the soul?” The answer is, “He cannot. Therefore God must predestine him to salvation and then do everything that is necessary to bring the soul to the Savior.” Because of the fallen nature every person that comes to faith in Christ is born again—not by their own will—but God’s will (John 1:12-13; Acts 13:48; Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23). God grants the ability to believe the gospel (Phil. 1:29) as He provides the gift of faith (John 6:28-29).
Unconditional Election. The Bible teaches that God does not base His election of souls to be saved on anything He sees in the individual. Rather, God chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His own will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would choose Him and on the basis of that foreknowledge choose souls to be saved. No, God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. (Rom. 9:15, 21).
Limited Atonement or Definite Redemption. The Bible teaches that Christ died for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus bore the sins of the elect in His own body. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many’; John 10:11, 15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep, and John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world. In addition, Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 states that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people. Finally, Isaiah 53:12 provides a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where He would bear the sins of many (not all).
Irresistible Grace. When God calls His elect to salvation, they cannot resist effectively—nor do they want to ultimately for the Lord causes them to desire to be saved. God offers to all people the gospel message in a general way. There is external call to salvation that is legitimately offered. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it will not be successfully resisted. This internal call to salvation is wrought by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration. Ever person saved willingly and freely comes to God. Romans 9:16 says that “it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy.” Philippians 2:12-13 states that God is the one working salvation in the individual. In John 6:28-29 faith is declared to be the work of God. In Acts 13:48 God appoints people to believe. John 1:12-13 teaches that a person is born again, not by man’s will, but by God’s.
Perseverance of the Saints. The soul whom Christ saves cannot lose its salvation. Those whom the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation to, are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Philippians 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).