|Vol. 12 No. 11 November 2010||
J.C. Choate (deceased)
A man by the name of John Calvin was born in Noyon, France in 1509, to parents who were Catholic. As he grew into manhood, Calvin was converted from Catholicism and developed his own ideas of salvation in reaction to the doctrines most prevalent in Europe at that time. Though Calvin, himself, did not start a separate religious group, people who accepted his doctrines came to be known as “Calvinists,” and various denominations today include those beliefs in their manuals of faith.
The acronym for Calvin’s basic belief system is TULIP. What do these letters stand for, and how do these doctrines compare to God’s Word?
T — Total Depravity: All humans are totally depraved from birth, inheriting the guilt of Adam’s sin, and it is impossible for anyone to choose God on his own; only God can choose the humans that will be saved.
God’s Word: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20). “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:3-5). “…each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). Psalm 51:5, “… in sin did my mother conceive me…” is wrongly used to teach that a child is born with sin, but the writer is talking about the sin of his adult mother, not his own.
U — Unconditional Election: God chooses who will be saved and who will be lost, and the individual has no choice in the matter; he is predestined to be saved or lost, from the beginning, and his fate cannot be changed.
God’s Word: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah1:18). “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). “…I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). If humans have no choice to respond to the preaching of God’s Word and to His invitation, is not God being deceitful to invite all who hear to come to Him?
L — Limited Grace: Christ died only for those He predetermined would be saved.
God’s Word: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the Truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Repeatedly, in Scripture, God says that the atonement is for all who will come to Him.
I — Irresistible Grace: The “chosen” cannot successfully resist the grace of God, bestowed on them through God’s predetermining that they would be saved.
God’s Word: “But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:21). “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40). God plainly says that He grieves over the ones who will not come to Him to have life.
P — Perseverance of the Saints: Those who are the “chosen” cannot be lost; that if a person leaves the faith, he was not saved in the beginning.
God’s Word: “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20).
Let God’s Word be true, and refuse the doctrines of men. “…let God be true, but every man a liar…” (Romans 3:4). “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).