The doctrines of grace are another way to describe the fundamental tenets of Calvinism, or Calvinistic Reformed theology. Theologians like to use the acronym TULIP to remember the five points of this theology.
The T stands for Total Depravity and describes the state of spiritual deadness all humans are afflicted by due to the fall and their own sin (Ephesians 2:1, 5). Foundational to Calvinism, Total Depravity means that people are completely spiritually lost and separated from God. Please note this does not mean that people are as bad as they could be.
The U stands for Unconditional Election, meaning that God chose specific people to experience salvation (Ephesians 1:4–6). These elect, or chosen, come from all tribes, tongues, peoples, and nations (Revelation 5:9) and are saved because God ordained them to be saved (Romans 8:29–30; 9:11; Ephesians 1:11–12). People cannot earn salvation, nor do anything to warrant or choose salvation on their own.
The L stands for Limited Atonement and describes Christ's atoning death on the cross as meaningful only for those people God preordained for salvation and redemption (Ephesians 1:4–6; John 17:9). Some replace Limited Atonement with Particular Redemption (TUPIP?) which replaces the bothersome word "limited" as it relates to Jesus, and uses "particular" to relate it to the people He chose to be saved.
The I stands for Irresistible Grace, or the idea that the people chosen, or elected, to receive salvation, are irresistibly drawn to Him and to respond to His message of salvation (John 6:37, 44; 10:16). God changes the hearts of those He elects to desire and respond to Him. Their hearts are changed by God (Ezekiel 36:26) and their regeneration precedes their faith.
The P stands for the Perseverance of the Saints, meaning that those elect chosen by God are not only irresistibly drawn to God, but will continue in the faith. They will not be lost and their salvation is secure (John 10:27–29; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:3–14). Again, some theologians want to replace the word Perseverance with the word Preservation, thus putting the action and work on God instead of believers.
Together these doctrines are called the doctrines of grace, so named because they summarize salvation as the result of God's grace. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8–9).
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