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You might be a Calvinist (so the joke goes) if you hear the word “tulip” and automatically think . . . Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints. These “five points of Calvinism” articulated in the Canons of Dort are sometimes dismissed as your grandparents’ dogma that no reasonable person takes seriously anymore. To me, these five points summarize some wonderfully assuring teachings from Scripture. These are the reasons I am a five-point Calvinist:
1. Biblical. The main reason I hold to these doctrines is because I believe Scripture teaches them. Much ink has been spilled on connecting these points to Bible verses. Not enough has been said about the benefits of looking at life through these lenses.
2. Secure. I remember once speaking to a woman who had made many mistakes in her life. She told me how much it meant to her that her salvation was in God’s hands. Because unlike other parts of her life, she said, “I can’t mess it up.” Amen, sister! For those of us plagued by fear of failure, this is one area in which we can have the utmost confidence. Salvation is in God’s hands, not ours. We can’t mess it up.
3. Plan. Jesus did not die for my choice. There was a plan. There is a list of names in the book of life, and Jesus died to save those people. Jesus did not die for a plan that needed to be ratified by fickle mortals. Jesus loved me and gave himself for me. In agony on the cross, he didn’t call the legions of angels because he was thinking of me and everyone else on that list. He loved us enough to finish our salvation.
4. Family. God is not an employer who might fire me over poor performance. God is my Father who has adopted me into his heavenly family. Christ my brother paid the high price for my adoption on the cross. I did not choose this adoptive family. I could not legally sign the adoption papers. God chose to adopt me. As a good Father, God will not let anything take his children away. If we try and run away, he will not abandon us to our dangerous choice. Like any decent human parent, God will seek us like a lost sheep and rejoice when we are returned home safely.
5. Choices. Being part of this heavenly family means my choices matter. Loving my brothers and sisters is of utmost importance to my Father. Christ my brother shows us how it’s done. I will make mistakes, but this is a community of grace. Human parents raise their children by teaching them how to make good choices. God the Father gives me choices every day. Choosing well brings rewards. Choosing poorly brings correction. Every choice brings growth and maturity.
6. Assurance. I don’t have to wonder if my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds. Left to ourselves, we would have little interest in God aside from seeking to leverage the good gifts he gives. If we find in our hearts that we love God for his own sake and love our fellow family members, we have assurance. God has already begun a good work in me and will carry it to completion.
7. Evangelism. God is already working in many others around us also. The coworker who always complains. The annoying cousin who tries to be better than you. The guy next door who has needle marks on his arms. God is already working in their lives. They just haven’t realized it yet. Their hearts are hungry for something more. There’s a story of salvation yet to be played out in their lives. They need to hear the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.
The “five points of Calvinism” are not just dry doctrines for theological ivory towers. These points capture the truths of Scripture. They offer incredible peace and joy. They describe God’s amazing love. They make me whole-heartedly willing and ready to live for him.