This is dedicated to a dear friend. I intend this as a brief explanation, and not all will agree with how I explained each point. It is designed for people who have never heard of these ideas before and need a place to start.
The scripture lists that are given are just a few choice verses. There are many more. I would dare to say that the whole testimony of scripture, points to this truth, that God saves, by himself, for himself, and from himself.
If you have ever asked the question, why do some believe and some do not believe? Total Depravity is the biblical explanation for why people don’t believe. Total Depravity is the understanding that because every human loves sin, and is a sinner, no one can come to God unless God first changes their heart to be inclined to them to believe. People in their natural sinful state hate God and would rather go to Hell than obey Him. God’s act that brings people to believe is sometimes called Regeneration, New Birth, or Being Born Again.
The next question is, if only God’s regenerating of the heart brings people to believe, who does God regenerate? The answer is in the word election. The elect are those he chose before the beginning of the world. Throughout the New Testament, the word elect is used of believers. God elected every true believer for salvation from before the world was created. Before God created the world, he knew you, loved you, and chose you to believe in him. This is a hard doctrine because it crushes any pride we have in our salvation. Yet many times in the New Testament, the word predestined is used for those that believe. That leads to the question, why did God choose some and not others? That is where the Unconditional comes in. The Bible is very clear that we are all sinners and that not a single one of us deserves to go to heaven. God’s choice is not based on us in any way. He did not choose people because they are better than other people. God’s selection was based on his reasons for his own glory. No person that is a believer can say, God chose me because I am just better. The Bible denies any merit on our part in God’s choices.
2 Peter 1:3–4
1 Corinthians 2:7
This part of the TULIP is often the one people do not agree with the most. I wouldn’t say I liked it when I first learned of the Doctrines of Grace. However, I am convinced that it is what the Bible teaches. Jesus died for his people and only his people. The attornment that Jesus made to God for sin was for the people that God had chosen from the beginning of time. It was not meant to be applied to everyone. We want to be clear here that his blood is so valuable that he can cover every sin ever committed. So, we are not talking about ability here, but rather God’s intent. When Jesus died on the cross, it was not just dying for sin in general. He was dying for your sin. His work was intended for and is only applied to the elect of God. Jesus died for his people.
The question comes up if God elected these people, and Jesus died for these people, are people just being forced to go to heaven or Hell? The answer is no. Some have accused the Doctrines of Grace of teaching that people are robots. No one that genuinely wants God and his heaven will go to Hell, and no one is forced to love God. People are not robots. Just as Total Depravity outline that everyone hates God, no one wants Him. CS Lewis said it this way, “the Gates of Hell are locked from the inside.” (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity) Irresistible Grace explains that when God regenerates a heart, that person comes to God because they genuinely love Him, genuinely want to obey Him, and be with Him. I have often said that for a real Christian, heaven is where their beloved Jesus resides. They do love Jesus because God has pulled the darkness from their eyes and given them new hearts. Grace is Irresistible because the person does not have any desire to resist it.
2 Timothy 1:9–10
Perseverance of the Saints
If you are saved, you will not lose your salvation. If you seem to have lost it, you never had it. Notice, that I used the word will, and not the word cannot. I did not say you cannot lose your salvation, but rather you will not lose it. If it were up to you, you would lose it right now. However, God is not only the one that saves people; he is the one that keeps them. God’s people are not only saved for God; they are kept for God. God chooses them, saves them, and keeps them while they are in the world, then brings them to Him and cloths them in his glory. Salvation is all a work of God, and we call it Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification.
1 John 3:9
1 John 5:4
If you want to see this thread of all these points running through scripture, these passages are an excellent place to start.
Ezekiel 36:16-35 and Ephesians 1-2:10 are my favorites.