“TULIP” is the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.

Here is a brief nutshell summary of “TULIP”.  I will present supporting Scripture for each point.  I also strongly recommend that you check out the Canons of Dordt, a Reformed Creed which focuses on these Five Points of Calvinism, but in a different format.  The Canons of Dordt consists of brief articles under headings with each article about a paragraph in length.  You may click on the link Canons of Dordt under “Links” in the right margin.

1.  Here is the “T” in “T U L I P” – “TOTAL DEPRAVITY”:

Reformed Doctrine teaches us that man’s condition corrupted by the fall of Adam (through Adam’s sin) is a condition of “total depravity”, the “T” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism.  We are “dead” in sin.  Ephesians 2:1.    None of us understands, and none of us seeks God.  Romans 3:10-11.  We are hostile to God.  Romans 8:7 and Colossians 1:21.  We are in bondage to sin.  Romans 7:14-15.


The fallen condition of man is not that we are just affected or injured by the presence of sin.  Rather,  “… you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1.

2.  Here is the “U” in “T U L I P” – “UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION”: 

Because of this fallen condition, this total depravity, there is nothing in us that motivates God to choose us for salvation.  His election of those He chooses to save is unconditional, namely that there is no condition supplied by man whether it be works or will that motivates God to elect certain individuals for salvation.

“And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac;  for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”  Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”

What shall we say then?  There is no injustice with God, is there?  May it never be!  For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.”  So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”  On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God?  The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?  Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?”  Romans 9:10-21.


3.  Here is the “L” in “T U L I P” – “LIMITED ATONEMENT”

Christ died only for the elect, not for everyone in the world.

“… Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing;  but that she would be holy and blameless.”  Ephesians 5:25-27.

This is a peculiar love, a special love just for His church. Just as a husband should not love and give himself up for all women, but only his own wife, Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for only His church, not for everyone in the world.

In Christ’s intercessory prayer in John 17:9, we see Christ praying for only those whom God gave Him, not for the world:  “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom Thou hast given Me;  for they are Thine;”

Christ laid down his life for only His sheep.  “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father;  and I lay down My life for the sheep. ”  John 10:14-15.

When we believe that Christ died only for us, His elect, not for the world, His love and substitutionary sacrifice is appreciated more by us.  We appreciate all the more His passion, suffering, and death, because it literally took away our sins, not for the world, not just possibly took away our sins depending on our free will or depending on whether or not we get and keep faith till our death:  “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:5.

Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father;  that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death;  should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing;  and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.   SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE  Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby of Canons of Dordt.


4.  Here is the “I” in “T U L I P” – “IRRESISTIBLE GRACE”: 

God irresistibly draws His elect to Jesus.

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”  John 6:37.

“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”  John 6:39.

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”  John 6:44.

“And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”  John 6:65.

Isn’t it irresistible to cause something that is dead to be made alive?!  God made us alive from the state of being dead in our sins.

Isn’t it irresistible to be “born again”, “born of the Spirit”?!  See John 3: 3-8.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace inkindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith;  and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:1-9.


“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish;  and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29.


In conclusion, these Five Points of Calvinism should not be isolated from each other, but rather the points combine to teach of a God who saves from predestination to glorification.  “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called;  and these whom He called, He also justified;  and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”  Romans 8:29-30.

Throughout Scripture, we see that “Salvation belongs to the Lord”.  Psalm 3:8.

“Yes, truth is lacking;  And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey.  Now the LORD saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.  And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;  Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him.  He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head;  And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.”  Isaiah 59:15-17.

“For the day of vengeance was in My heart, And My year of redemption has come.  “I looked, and there was no one to help, And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold;  So My own arm brought salvation to Me, And My wrath upheld Me.”  Isaiah 63:4-5.

“The LORD has bared His holy arm In the sight of all the nations, That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God.”  Isaiah 52:10.

Because God controls the smallest details of life on earth so that not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from the will of God (Matthew 10:29), God comforts us thereby that He is not giving up any control over what is most important, namely salvation.  God saves according to His purpose, according to His choice, not because of works nor even the will of man.  “For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  Romans 9:15-16.

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