Tag Archives: Tulip

It's been a while since I looked at the "schedule" for the week (at one time I posted a loose daily routine of what I might post for each day of the week, thinking it might keep me posting).

Sundays were for "Reformed Theology". I know, because it pops up on the planner software.

I think that (depending on who a Reformed-type person is talking to), it might be a toss up between whether "Sola Scriptura" or "Unconditional Election" is the most difficult Reformed doctrine. Today, I'm thinking "election".

The first question: Does God have the RIGHT to decide how salvation "happens"?

That question doesn't necessarily mean that God has elected election - it just asks if He has the right to do so if He wants to.

Most people would say, "Of course.  God is God.  He gets to pick the "how". 

What are the options (and I'm sure I'll miss some)

  • free will (God makes the offer, but a person's salvation depends on them choosing to be saved
  • election (God makes the offer
  • baptismal regeneration (baptism saves the infant, but they may or may not end up "saved" later in life.)
  • works based salvation (generally not Christian denominations, although some Christians believe that a person gets salvation by faith and keeps it by works)

No matter which "method" God uses, do you think that God had the right to choose that one?

Most people (being convinced of their personal belief) would say "yes...God gets to pick the "how" (and I believe the one that He picked."

"All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have you done?" (Daniel 4:35)


The "L" part of TULIP..."Limited Atonenent".

Also known as "definite atonement" or "particular redemption".

Now...I'm going to take this post in an entirely different and political course.

On another blog, I'm hearing about our "Christian" Bible calling Jews "children of the devil" and I'm hearing about the sinful history of the persecution of Jews by Christians.

Yes.  It happened.  Yes.  It was sin.

The popular epitaph is "Christ-killer".

Who took Christ's life?

John 10:17-18 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

My first question:  if Christ had not been crucified, where would we be?  The "religious Jews" were instruments of God, prophecied.   Jesus' death was the necessary sacrifice, ordained by the Father from the beginning of time.  If God had demanded the sacrifice, are the people who brought that sacrifice about to blame?

Now...on to "the L".

From a Reformed perspective, who is responsible for the death of Christ?   When I was an Arminian, my answer would have been "all of us".

But if I buy into the "L", that is not the right answer.

The short definition of "limited atonement" is: Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them.

If Christ's redeeming work was intended to save only those who would believe on Christ the Saviour, His blood in not on the hands of the Jews, it is not on the hands of unbelievers.

The blood of Christ is on my hands.  My hands...the hands of a believer.

Romans 5:8-11  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!  For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

That is the "L".   The "L" lays the blame of Christ's death on me.

When people hear "Reformed", what pops into their head is "TULIP"...well, a lot of times what pops in it "predestination" and that can end the conversation right there.

And it is true that when I first started looking at Reformed theology, TULIP is the first thing that I found and the first thing I looked at.  Who can argue with the "total depravity of man"?

But just beyond "TULIP" are the Solas.  The Solas are the "love of my Reformed life".  They have become much more central to my "state of being" than TULIP ever was.

Soli Deo Gloria...for the Glory of God alone.  The God that I belong to is so great, so vast, so everything that is...is there anything or anybody else that deserves glory?  Is there anything that tries to get into the limelight of glory?  It is this understanding of the Glory and centrality of God that should drive all other theology.

When looking at a theology, ask:  does it glorify God, or does it glorify man, or does it glorify creation?

Solus Christus...Christ alone.   It is only through Christ - and Christ on the cross - that we can be saved.

Here's something I wrote when my tatoo a while ago...

My tattoo is a week old today! I recently took stock of where I am, what I've done and how I've changed and/or grown. And something that might seem out of character underscores the change. This tattoo is a celtic-style cross, only instead of knot work on the crossbar, there are Greek letters, Christos - Christ on the cross. For me, in my Reformation from Arminianism, Christ alone on the cross means that there is no room there for my works, my filthy rags (righteousness). It's all Christ on there. My son designed it (so it's not exactly professional, but I'll probably end up going back to have it shaded later) and the letters are in Greek because Manda and I are taking a Greek class together. So both my kids are "in" the design.

Sola Fide/Sola Gratia...by grace alone, through faith alone.   The gift of grace, by the gift of faith.  The knowledge that there is nothing that I can do that will make me worth being "saved".  There is no despair at not being able to measure up; no pride in the thought that I can do it myself.

That freedom to believe...

Sola Scriptura...The authority of Scripture as the only infallible guide of faith and conduct.   Not SOLO, but Sola...Scripture is the "rule" (measuring stick) by which all other authoriy is examined and either submitted to or rejected.

To me, the "Solas" are the beautiful expression of our attitudes toward God.

TULIP is sotierological.  How God saves.

The Solas are about how God IS.

If we look at our teaching and ask, how does this reflect Christ?  Does it reflect how we (either as the church or as individuals) relate to the Prince of Peace?

Does it point to the glory of Christ?  The glory of God?  Does it pull the rug of self-righteousness out from under us, leaving us with only Christ on the cross for our salvation?

Important questions...

I am Reformed, but not rabidly so.  I believe the Solas and I  am pretty sure about TULIP (really sure about the "T").  I think that you could say that I'm "Calvinistic" in sotierology, but not in ecclesiology.
Since yesterday was 499 and we have a year until #500, it seems like a good idea to put a little bit of focus on Calvin and other Reformers.

Passions run high over religion...they always have and most likely always will.  We can attempt to look at history and theology as best we can.

I grew up Arminian (or at least mostly) and my entire family is in Arminian churches now.  My brother-in-law is a pastor and (on my husband's side) my sister-in-law is an elder.  Most of my adult life has been spent in Arminian churches.  I had been looking at the Calvinism v. Arminian debate for a while...then one day I was talking with my kids and asked them if they remember where and when they were saved.

My son knew.  Where he was, who was with him.

My daughter..."Mom, do you mean the first time, or all the rest of the times?"

That was when I started looking for a "Calvinistic" church.


The "T" matters because all have sinned and there are none that seek the face of the Lord.

If there are none that seek the face of the Lord, how do we find Him? The answer is a hard one - for me it was the most difficult of "TULIP".

If we, in our sin, do not have the ability to seek after God, then it must be God that seeks after us.

That is the "U" - unconditional election. Predestination.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Eph 1:3-6 ESV)

Logic tells us that if we are steeping in the "T", we cannot seek God.  We are chosen in Christ.


Our election is not based on the good that we have done - it is unconditional upon our behavior.

It is the very idea of our salvation NOT being rooted in ourselves that points to the glory of God.  Our salvation is not of ourselves, it is by grace; faith is the vehicle that God has chosen.

It is not of works.  We are chosen.

"Total Depravity" matters.

It matters because if there is some little bit of good in us, then we can somehow try to earn our salvation.

Mormons say, "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we saved, after all we can do." (II Nephi 25:22) - emphasis mine

Total depravity matters, because if we can earn our salvation, there is no need for a savior.

We are not just a little "sick", so that we can get better and so attain salvation.

No - we are DEAD in our sin. We can no more walk toward our own salvation than Lazarus was able to walk out of his tomb before Christ called him.

It is not until we understand the depth of our sin that we can fully understand our need for our Saviour.

It is not until we see how bad we are, that we see how good God is.

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

Words and Music by Stuart Townend
©1995 Kingsway's Thankyou Music

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr's, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

We all have one - a heart that is steeped in rebellion. Reformed theology calls is "the total depravity of man".

We see in in children; for many of them "mine" and "no" are among the first words they use.

We see it in teenagers when they learn that they have wings and start to use them - many times in rebellion instead of freedom.

We see it in adults when we observe the "nine you're fine, ten you're mine" rule of speed limits.

I see it in myself. I sleep with a CPAP and I hate it. Most mornings I wake up with the mask laying next to my pillow and a vague recollection of ripping it off my face in the middle of the night. Why? Because I DON'T LIKE IT!

We see it rebellion against parents, against government, against laws, against doctors, against physical limitations.

And it all stems from a rebellion against God.

John Piper writes: When we speak of man's depravity we mean man's natural condition apart from any grace exerted by God to restrain or transform man.

Total depravity does not mean that all people are as bad as they could be - it means that every part of every person is steeped in original sin. Our minds, our will, our emotions, our body - everything. It is all affected by sin.

Scripture tells us of the nature of man.

The heart is deceitful

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

People are slaves to sin

Romans 6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

There is nobody who is righteous.

Romans 3: 10-12 "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."

We do not accept spiritual things

1 Cor. 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

We are dead in sin

Eph. 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ

and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (v.3)

Why are we all thus?

herefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (Romans 5:12)

From "A Defense of Calvinism" by Charles Spurgeon

Sometimes, when I see some of the worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has never let me act as they have done! I have thought, if God had left me alone, and had not touched me by His grace, what a great sinner I should have been! I should have run to the utmost lengths of sin, dived into the very depths of evil, nor should I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me. I feel that I should have been a very king of sinners, if God had let me alone. I cannot understand the reason why I am saved, except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine grace. If I am not at this moment without Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me, and that will was that I should be with Him where He is, and should share His glory. I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of Him whose mighty grace has saved me from going down into the pit. Looking back on my past life, I can see that the dawning of it all was of God; of God effectively. I took no torch with which to light the sun, but the sun enlightened me. I did not commence my spiritual life—no, I rather kicked, and struggled against the things of the Spirit: when He drew me, for a time I did not run after Him: there was a natural hatred in my soul of everything holy and good.

The "T" of Tulip...

Total depravity of man.

It is not that each person is as utterly evil as they could be, it is that each person is born with a sin nature that touches every part of their being. With totality, it is impossible for them to reach out to God, unless the Spirit touches them first. Unless they are called, nobody seeks God.

  • Romans 7:18 - For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
  • Romans 3:10-11 - as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.
  • Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
  • Psalm 51:5 - Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
  • (from) Genesis 8:21 - for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth...

Westminster Confession of Faith:

Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin,[93] the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually;[94] which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.[95]

I (Ellen) can say that I know that without God speaking to me, I would not run after Him.

For me, debates and controversy spark great amounts of self-examination and study.

Over the last few weeks, I've been studying the "Solas" - I've studied TULIP backward and forward, from an Arminian/Calvinist view, but not the Solas.

The first time I "did" TULIP, I changed religions (from a lifelong Arminian to Reformed). In the last four years I've learned to look deeper...but never at the Solas.

This study is taking me to some very interesting places, SOLA FIDE most of all.

The Reformed answer to Arminius' followers was capsulated in TULIP (and not all of the letters are the best ones they could have used, but the word works, especially coming out of Holland).

The SOLAS were a direct attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church in western Europe, so they actually came first.

I've studied Catholic doctrine before, because of a familial relationship, but not as a direct study of the Reformation, or how Catholic doctrine and the Reformation interacted.

A week ago today I was challenged by a dear friend to examine my reasons for my tatoo - after much time spent in prayer and contemplation, the motives for the design are more firm in my mind. It is Christ/Kristos alone on that cross that delivers.

If I put Christ squarely on that cross, there is no room for my works being involved in my salvation, either getting it, or keeping it.

I watched a movie and a documentary last night that hit home so hard (hint: there's a review coming) that bad doctrine has bad consequences. When you mess around with the finished work of Christ on the cross, when you bring works into the equation - wicked things happen.

For me, I believe that the Solas will be more meaningful than TULIP...