Somewhere along the way of Christianity, someone came up with 5 points about how Christians came to exist and how we are kept in an eternal hug with God. Those 5 points are usually referred to as either plainly the “5 points” or “TULIP”:
- Total Depravity
- Unconditional Election
- Limited Atonement
- Irresistible Grace
- Perseverance of the Saints
Of course, many people have come up with changes in TULIP, making it ROSES(Radical Depravity; Overcoming Grace; Sovereign Election; Eternal Life; Singular Redemption), or even GOSPEL(6 points, being Grace; Obligatory Grace; Sovereign Grace; Provision-making Grace; Effectual Grace; Lasting Grace). Many people have different preferences between these and others, but today I am writing about TULIP.
Total Depravity, number 1 on the list. As “Five Points” puts it as a summary, “Our sinful corruption is so deep and so strong as to make us slaves of sin and morally unable to overcome our own rebellion and blindness. This inability to save ourselves is total. We are utterly dependent on God’s grace to overcome our rebellion, give us eyes to see, and effectively draw us to our savior.” In other, shorter words, Total Depravity explains that we are completely unable to overcome our sin and save ourselves. There are only 2 ways to cover your sin. Either you can accept Jesus’ gift and live in heaven with him, or pay it yourself by being in hell for eternity. No one wants that for you, and I’m sure you don’t want that for yourself. But either way, someone is going to pay for it.
Next in line is Unconditional Election. However, John Piper switches the U and the I on purpose, and so will I. So next is actually Irresistible Grace. Piper gives a summary on this too: “The resistance that all human beings exert against God every day is wonderfully overcome at the proper time by God’s saving grace for undeserving rebels whom he chooses freely to save.” In simpler words, Irresistible Grace means that we, in our rebelling world, have been “wonderfully overcome” by God’s grace. As people, we have an unfortunate tendency to run away. No, not run away from home, although some people have, I’m talking about running from the Lord. And not only do we run away, we also rebel, not wanting to believe there is someone who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving who rules over them, not even if it is for their own good. But, thanks to God’s Grace, he sent his one, perfect, sinless son to die on the cross for us. Not only is this grace, this is Irresistable Grace.
3rd on the list is Limited Atonement. For me, the summary the book gave for this section was rather long and confusing, so I’ll just give you my summary, which is shorter and easier to understand. Limited Atonement basically means that not everyone will be saved in the end. God chose who is going to go to heaven, and it’s unfortunately not going to be everyone.
Unconditional Election is the next one, described by 5 Points like this: “God’s election is an unconditional act of free grace that was given through his son Jesus before the world began. By this act, God chose, before the foundation of the world, those who would be delivered from bondage, to sin and brought to repentance and saving faith of Jesus.” So “election” is referring to the fact that God chose whom he was going to save before the world existed, and “unconditional” means that there is nothing that man has to do to get chosen by God to go to heaven. When I say nothing, I mean nothing, zero things, nada, nil. This is not saying that God will magically send you to heaven. Final salvation is not unconditional. God chooses who is going to go to heaven, but it’s up to you to repent and have faith in Christ.
Last but not least is Perseverance of the Saints. There is not what I would call a summary in 5 Points, but it does explain that those who are “justified will win the fight of faith”. The justified people will persevere and not surrender to the evilness of their/our own souls. This perseverance is a sign of the new covenant, which was obtained by the blood of Jesus, and worked through us by the hands of God. This should encourage us, so that “we may say in the end, ‘I have fought the good fight, but it was not I, but the grace of God which was with me”. The people of God will persevere and not be lost. But our faith absolutely must hold fast to the end if you are ever to be saved.
So that’s TULIP, or TILUP, as the book put it. It’s a good thing we have those, because it certainly helped me learn about the eternal hug with God I mentioned earlier. I hope it helped you too. I thought this book was interesting, I’m sure you found my essay interesting, or at least, I hope so. If you want the e-book or something for 5 Points, by John Piper, you could get it here: