The Five Points of Calvinism all necessarily flow from the sovereignty of God (which is not one of the five points) and the total depravity of man (the first point). These are two of the most important things to understand when communicating the Gospel. Yet most Christians have a deficient view of both.
I recently took a Shakespeare class at Rollins College and had the privilege of having a conversation with a Roman Catholic college professor (also the English Department chairman) who thinks of himself as a conservative. He complained about the fact that evangelicals say that Jews go to hell if they don’t believe in Jesus. We had a conversation about the idea of “merit” and I said the key work on merit was Martin Luther’s Bondage of the Will.
If you believe that man is able to do nothing to save himself and deserves hell, then these debates about the Jews who won’t accept Jesus; those who have had no chance to hear the Gospel; those dying in infancy; the severely mentally handicapped; etc. – all have little meaning. If God chooses to save some or all of them, then it is by grace alone, just as it by grace alone for the believer who has made a conscious creedal assent to Jesus as the Son of God. We can be sure that He has chosen at least some for salvation from every nation in every generation.
In fact, only a Reformed perspective can consistently hold out hope for all Jews to be saved.
In his book, Holiness, J.C. Ryle devotes a first chapter to sin.
I edited a summary of this chapter a few years back. I retitled it: “Whatever Happened to Sin?“
If we don’t understand the depths of sin, it is pointless even to talk about salvation, let alone the second point of Calvinism: God’s Unconditional Election – or the latter three points of Calvinism: Limited Atonement, Irresistable Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints (TULIP).
The other base to cover is the idea of God’s Will. If God is indeed an omnipotent being then His will is all-encompassing. I came to the conclusion a few years ago, that in order to be a consistent Arminian, one must either deny the omnipotence or omniscience of God. If God is all powerful, then He is able to save everyone but chooses (actively) to save some, but not others.
Rather than go through the five points, I would start with those three points:
Do you believe?
1. Man is totally depraved and can merit nothing to save himself
2. God is both omnipotent and omniscient
3. The will of an Omnipotent Being is always active and never
Once you accept Absolute Sovereignty of God and the Total Depravity of Man then the U.L.I.P. follows.
For more on the Five Points of Calvinism:
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Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
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