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11/07/2010 / Test All Things

Bible Doctrine Drill – Lesson 8 – TULIP

We have already learned that salvation is by God’s grace. Now we want to learn a little more about how that salvation took place. To do this we are going to learn a little memory helper. This helper word is “TULIP.” Each letter of this word will stand for a particular truth about salvation.

“T” is for Total Depravity. This means that all people are sinners. Sin entered into the world by the first man, Adam. Since that time everyone has been born into the world as a sinner. Even little babies are sinners. Being sinners, people tend to think, act, and speak sinfully. If they are left to themselves, without the salvation in Jesus Christ, they will be sinful in every area of their lives.

Even their so-called “good works” will be sinful. When they do “good’ they will only do this for a selfish, sinful reason. If they are left in their sinful state they cannot please God, but will be forever under His wrath and condemnation. They will go to hell where they deserve to go. Man cannot rescue himself from this condition of Total Depravity.

When we say that a person is “totally” depraved, we mean that each part of him has been affected by sin — his mind, will, and emotions. He thinks sinfully, acts sinfully, and wills sinfully. In this condition he will not come to Christ. He loves sin and hates God.

The Bible says that he is dead — dead in trespasses and in sins. As a person dead towards God, he cannot save himself nor help to save himself.

The “U” in TULIP is for Unconditional Election. We have already seen how all mankind are born dead in trespasses and sins. They cannot get themselves out of this condition. If they were all left in this condition they would die in their sins and spend forever in hell.

But God determined to save some people. He did not determine to save everyone. We don’t know why God chose to save some and to leave others in their sins, but we do know that no one deserves to be saved. The ones that God determined to save He chose (elected, picked out) before the world began. This choice is what we mean by Election. We use the word Unconditional because the choice was entirely God’s and was not based on any conditions that must be met by the sinner.

God did not choose any of His people because they were better than others. He did not choose them because they “accepted Christ,” or “believed on Christ as their personal Savior,” or anything else they did. God chose them because He wanted to, and He did it for His own glory. No one can justifiably say that God is unfair in His election. Those who go to hell just get what they deserve. Those who are elect must praise God for His mercy! Human beings were created by God and He can do what He wants to with His creation.

The “L” in TULIP is for Limited Atonement. We have already seen how all mankind are born dead in trespasses and sins. If left in this condition they will spend eternity in hell. But we have also seen how God the Father chose or elected some people before the world began and determined to save them from their sins. But those sins had to be paid for because God is too holy to allow sins to go unpunished. Those who are not God’s children will suffer for their sins forever. If people are ever to have fellowship with God, their sins have to be removed and paid for.

Limited Atonement means that Jesus Christ, on the cross, paid for all the sins of all the people that God the Father elected before the world began. Jesus did not die for everybody; He died only for the elect. All the elect will be saved with everlasting salvation. Not one of the elect will be lost, because Jesus paid for their sins.

Many people teach that Jesus died for everybody, but that simply is not true. If Jesus had died for everybody then everybody would be saved.

Many people also teach that Jesus just came to make it possible for sinners to be saved — that He just opened up the way for them and it is up to the sinner to do the rest. This is also untrue. Jesus did not come to just make salvation possible. Jesus actually saved His people. If everybody for whom Jesus died went to hell, Jesus would not be getting who He paid for. If anybody for whom Christ died were lost, then Jesus would be a failure. We know that Jesus is not a failure: Isaiah 53:11 and Hebrews 9:14 tell us that when He offered Himself to God, God accepted His sacrifice.

This doctrine is also named the doctrine of Particular Redemption.

The “I” in TULIP is for Irresistible Grace. “Irresistible” means something that you can’t resist. It is too strong for you. That is the way God’s grace is for a child of God. All those who were elected by the Father (before the world began) and redeemed by the Son (on the Cross) shall be drawn to God by the Holy Spirit with an everlasting salvation.

Nothing shall hinder God from carrying out His purpose and plan of saving all His children.

God chose His people before the world began (election). Jesus died for all the elect on the Cross (atonement). But these same elect children are born into this world dead in trespasses and sins (depravity).

God the Holy Spirit takes the salvation that Jesus bought on the Cross and applies it to all the children of God sometime between their conception in their mother’s womb and their death.

When the Holy Spirit brings this salvation to a child of God, we call it the New Birth or being “born again.” Let us use an example of how this works. We will use the example of a man building a house. We will call this the “house of salvation.” Before a man builds a house he gets an architect to draw plans for the house. God the Father was the architect who drew plans for the house of salvation when He planned who He wanted to save (election).

After the plans are drawn the man must get a carpenter to take the plans and actually build the house. Jesus was the carpenter who took the Father’s election plan and built the house of salvation. Jesus did this on the Cross. He built the house of salvation exactly according to the plan of God the Father. He died for only those that God the Father wanted Him to die for.

After a house is built, you must actually get people to live in it. For this you must have a real estate agent. God the Holy Spirit is the real estate agent. He puts the elect into the house of salvation that God the Father planned and God the Son built.

Many people believe that people can resist the Holy Spirit when He wants to put people in the house of salvation — but they are wrong!

When the Holy Spirit wants to put someone in the house of salvation, He just does it. He is that powerful! His grace cannot be resisted. He causes people to love God and to hate their sins. He causes people to want to repent of their sins and to love God.

Many people think that the preacher or some other Christian must help the Holy Spirit — but they are wrong!

The Holy Spirit causes one to be born again all by Himself. He makes man willing to serve God. Man gets no praise for salvation. All praise belongs to God.

How can you know if the Holy Spirit has caused you to be born again?

Do you love God?

Do you hate sin?

Do you, with all your heart, want to serve Jesus Christ, all the days of your life?

If you can truly say “yes” to all these questions you have been “born again” by the Holy Spirit.

The “P” in TULIP is for Preservation of the Saints. We have already shown that all men are by nature dead in sin (Total Depravity), that God chose His people in Christ before the world began (Unconditional Election), that Christ died for the elect and the elect alone (Limited Atonement), and that the Holy Spirit brings eternal life to all those for whom Christ died (Irresistible Grace). Now we must go a little further.

After the Holy Spirit brings salvation to a child of God, God keeps that person saved. We have no more power to keep ourselves saved than we had to get ourselves saved to begin with. If God got us saved and then left the rest up to us, we would fall and be forever lost. This is so because we are still sinners even after we have been saved.

After a child of God is saved he is always saved. He cannot become “unsaved.” He cannot “fall from grace.”


Because he is kept by the power of God.

Some people teach that a person can be saved one day then be unsaved another day because of his disobedience — but they are wrong!

It is true that a child of God can disobey God and lose sweet fellowship with God, but the child of God can never lose his salvation. God may chastise (spank and correct) His children, but He will never cast them into hell. A child of God may for a while be a disobedient child, but he will never stop being a child.

When we look at this doctrine from God’s viewpoint we call it Preservation. When we look at this doctrine from the viewpoint of the child of God we call it Perseverance. Persevere means “to continue doing something in spite of difficulty and opposition.” The child of God perseveres in believing in God, in loving God, in wanting to follow Jesus, and in hating his sins. He keeps doing these things even though Satan tries to get him not to believe in and love God. Satan tries to get him to love sin.

It is true that there are times when the child of God does fall into sin. There are times when his belief in God may grow weak. There are times when he won’t love God or follow Jesus like he ought to. There are times when he will enjoy sinful pleasures for a season. But he will never finally fall away from his God. God will renew him to repentance. He will lift him up when he falls. God will never let his faith die and will finally take him to glory.

The only reason the child of God perseveres is because God preserves him. If a person claims to be a Christian, but falls away from his profession in Christ and dies in his sins, he was not a true Christian to begin with. He did not “fall from grace” because he was never in grace.

Drill Question:

1. What is our helper word? TULIP

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