Though Christians might agree that salvation is by grace alone, they disagree when it comes to
specifically defining the implications of this grace.
The question as to the origin of salvation, specifically
as it relates to election and calling, is among the most controversial questions debated among
conservative Christians today.
While all conservative theological systems recognize the sovereignty of
God in salvation, how and when sovereignty is exercised is a basic area of contention.
Sooner or later,
the debate usually involves what is commonly known as “Calvinism.” Perhaps the best expression of
Calvinism is seen in the acrostic TULIP.
Those who use this rebus express Calvinism in five points and
they apply these to their interpretation of Scripture.
Perseverance of the saints
As such, those who hold this position believe that man is totally depraved, that he cannot even respond to
As a result, God elected him for salvation on an unconditional basis; then Christ died for the elect and
only the elect.
Because God’s sovereignty cannot be thwarted, the elect cannot resist the grace of God when it
is presented, nor can the elect fall away nor lose salvation, but the elect will persevere to the end.
believe in the entire system as identified are “five-point Calvinists.”
Some others claim to believe part of the system of Calvinism, but not all.
As such, a person might call
himself a “four-point Calvinist,” or a “two-point Calvinist,” depending on how many points agree with his
The problem is that Calvinism is a system, and as such is a unity.
Inasmuch as truth is consistent
with itself, one cannot choose part of a system while rejecting other selections and hold to a coherent system.
As such he must modify all aspects, hence creating a new system.
In fairness to John Calvin, it should be noted that there is some question as to whether so-called
“Calvinism” accurately represents his real position.
While the early editions of
emphasize predestination, his later commentaries have a more biblical emphasis.
An example of this is seen
in his comments on 1 John 2:2.
Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and in the goodness of God is offered unto all men
without distinction, His blood being shed, not for a part of the world openly, but for the whole
human race; for although in the world nothing is found worthy of the favor of God, yet He holds out
the propitiation to the whole world, since without exception He summons all to the faith of Christ,
which is nothing else than the door unto hope.