Segment 5 | Scriptural proofs for the TULIP
It’s impossible for us to discuss every nuance of the Doctrines of Grace, as the subject has been debated for four centuries, so the most we can hope to do here is offer their Scriptural basis as a springboard leading to further discussion. Many of the following Scripture passages which we find support Calvinism may be parsed to oblivion by opponents of Calvinism, and in fact, they have been. Yet, when these Scriptures are considered exegetically, that is, in their respective contexts (cf. Nehemiah 8:8, II Peter 1:19-21), as well as systematically, that is, their place in the ordered, rational, coherent account of biblical doctrines (cf. Psalm 119:160, Isaiah 28:13, Matthew 13:51-52, Luke 24:27, 44-48, II Timothy 1:13); the preponderance of biblical evidence indubitably supports the Calvinistic system.
Some opponents of the Reformed understanding of salvation have sometimes said that wherever the New Testament authors have mentioned “God’s elect,” that they really mean everyone alive in God’s creation, subject to their acceptance of the gospel. Others have said that “the elect” refers to the nation or the physical descendants of Israel, especially in the context of Romans. While this is one definition of God’s elect, it isn’t the only one, for the New Testament more broadly refers to Israel as those who are not simply descended from Israel, but those are Israel who are faithful in Christ as heirs of the promise (Romans 9:6, Galatians 3:29).
These opponents would profit to notice that wherever the New Testament mention’s God’s elect, it uses pronouns such as we and you to refer to the people of the church, which broadly can be addressed as “the elect.” God’s promises to Israel are realized in the church, through Christ. A cursory reading of the opening greetings of almost every New Testament epistle shows that the apostles didn’t write letters to non-Christians. They wrote to audiences of Christians, which means that the content of those letters is meant for Christians.
Following are the Scriptural references for each petal of the TULIP that over the years have been most compelling to this author. Before anyone else says it, I’ll confess it first: the passages must be taken in their respective contexts. Anyone who reads them here is not only welcome but encouraged to also examine them in context. By the time we read all the verses in context, we’ll have read virtually all of the New Testament, and we’ll not have been able to escape God’s sovereignty which saturates every page of Holy Writ.
For our purposes, we’ll look at these Scripture excerpts systematically. The proof texts are not chronologically listed; they are listed roughly in order of relevance and grouped somewhat in closest relation to each other. Unlike the summary of the canons in Segment 3 of this article, the following precursors heading each section are in the author’s own words.