The Tulip Test -Tested

Our Subject, THE TULIP TEST :

There has been renewed interest and friction in many churches regarding a theology with the acronym TULIP.  This is a result of a resurgence of John Calvin’s brand of Theology (Theology Published first in 1536, the his book Institutes of the Christian Religion).  If you do not know what TULIP stands for here is a brief description:img_0025Those who follow the theological systematic TULIP are known as Calvinists, although most prefer to be called Reformed these days.  It has been my experience that the typical Calvinist has very little tolerance for any questioning of their Theology.  So fair warning, this post is not for you if you’re a dogmatic Calvinist.  Because  I am sure of my inability to convince Calvinists to leave the “Doctrines of Grace”, I pray that the Holy Spirit to do the convincing wherever correction is needed, even more so if I am in error. In the end, I hope that we would be able to agree to disagree as bothers and sisters in Christ. There are no shortages of unloving and even hostile attitudes from those who debate TULIP theology. IT IS NOT MY GOAL TO WIN AN ARGUMENT, nor is it to debate all 5 points of TULIP here.   Instead it IS my DESIRE to be a help to believers who, having reached the meat of Gods Word, seek to reconcile seemingly contradictory aspects of Gods character.  I will be touching on the idea of Limited Atonement for that is what the Tulip Test, presented on the site is designed to support.

There are strong biblical alternatives and answers to the issues created by Calvinist Theology, as well as Arminian. I contend there is no contradiction in God’s character and His ways are clear as far as what He has, through His Word, told us about Himself.  Most of TULIP Theology simply does not make sense biblically in the light of the revealed character of God.  For believing this I have been accused of being Arminian.  As if a believer must be one or the other,  Calvinist or Arminian.  What a false dichotomy we have created!  

Throughout Christian history every theological system devised has fallen short because mans understanding is fallible.  Both Calvinist and Arminian theologies have missed the mark, confusing and dividing believers over many centuries.  This tug-of-war in theological understanding or lack of, has created MANY divisions in the body of Christ. It is a Christian Cold War whose walls stand strong still today.  A sad testimony of our failure as Christians to be one in Christ.  

All who seek a deeper understanding of the truths of God in the scriptures must do so diligently, with humility, trusting the Spirit to lead and acknowledging that God is faithful even when we fall short.  I seek peace in the brotherhood while doing my best to shed any attitude that divides. My desire is to begin to remove, brick by brick, the wall of Christian division and shame.  

Ultimately, we will be HUMBLED before the throne, when we see most clearly that God was right and we were wrong. THE DEBATE IS ALREADY SETTLED! (Psalms 119:89)

Reform Theology is growing in popularity again.  So in humility, I want to take a close biblical look at the Tulip Test presented on the site What scripture verses are used to support the conclusions being drawn. Is the Tulip Test logical and supported well.

But first…

Tulip Test

Please take the test (linked above) and then come back this post.


Question One

Is the Word of God your ultimate authority?

Options: Yes or No

Explanation given:

One’s ultimate authority is that which they appeal to as the final arbiter in determining what is true and what is false.


God’s Word should be the ultimate authority for anyone who believes that God is the creator of all things and has revealed himself to us through the Bible, his Word. (Psalms 119:89 “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.”) So most Christians would answer YES to this question.  

The following from THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE, an essay by Richard L. Mayhue, Senior Vice President and Dean Professor of Theology and Pastoral Ministries at The Master’s Seminary, is a wonderful proclamation of the importance of the Bible to the believer.


  • This book contains: the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.
  • Its doctrine is holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.
  • Read it to be wise, believe it to be saved, and practice it to be holy.
  • It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.
  • It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.
  • Here heaven is opened, and the gates of hell disclosed.
  • Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end .
  • It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.
  • Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully.
  • It is a mine of wealth, health to the soul, and a river of pleasure.
  • It is given to you here in this life, will be opened at the Judgment, and is
    established forever.
  • It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and
    condemn all who trifle with its contents.

Question Two

Any doctrine which denies Jesus Christ the glory He is due is wicked.

Options: Agree or Disagree


Consider first what Jesus said about His glory recorded in John 8: 48-58: 

“Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

Doctrine that denies Christ glory would be false doctrine, for Christ is the Son of God, who came to earth in the flesh, and now sits at the right hand of the Father.  He is God the Son, of the Triune Godhead.  For a Christian to deny that Christ is as glorious as he is, is to deny the glory ascribed to Christ from God, and that would be a great problem indeed! 

John 1:14 declares: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Question Three

How much glory does Jesus get for your salvation?

Options: All or Not All


What person who, having realized they were a hopeless sinner needing a savior, would in that moment, after humbling themselves before our gracious God and receiving forgiveness of sin and new life, then say,  “to God be SOME of the glory”?!  I think not, Christ gets ALL the glory absolutely.

So far the TULIP test seems reasonable.   However, we are being led by these questions in such a way that will force the test taker to agree with a false assumption, as I will soon show.

Question Four

What makes you different from the damned?

Options: What Jesus Did or What I Did

Explanation given:

The difference cannot be “both”. If that that which makes you different from the damned is that you helped Jesus save you, then select “what I did” as your contribution would be the difference between you and someone who says they did not help Jesus save them.


This is the “trick” question and where the false assumption comes in.  When we accept Christ by believing in His substitutionary death, burial and resurrection for us, Reform Theology teaches that such is a work of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore faith itself is seen by Calvinists as a work.  However, no where in the Bible is faith ever called a work.  It is, in fact, the opposite.  Works are always juxtaposed to faith.   Salvation is of God alone made possible by HIS grace given through Christ as a gift. A gift that is offered to all who believe in Him and in Faith accept His gift.  We do NOTHING.  Did we create the gift? NO.  Do we wrap up the gift?  Do we offer this gift. NO and NO. We receive only, but for God’s amazing grace we would still be dead in our sin.  We are NOT helping Jesus save by receiving salvation, therefore, the answers (options given to choose from) to the question are wrong!   What makes you different from the damned is you believed and received the gift and they did not, period.

But let’s play along and pretend the question merits answering by only one of the options provided.  After all it IS what Jesus did that provides salvation and grants to those who believe on Him eternal life and not eternal damnation.  So lets go with “What Jesus Did”.

Question Five

Did Jesus do the same for everyone?

Options: Yes or No


The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus died for the world, not just the elect.  That His blood is applied only to the elect of God is also clear.  How could Christ’s sacrifice on the cross be limited?  Was He not the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World? When Jesus said “ It is finnished” on the cross the power of sin and death was no more. His infinite life for our eternal torment.  In that moment Christ experienced the utter emptiness of separation from the Father, purchasing the fullness of life with God forevermore for those who by faith are granted His righteousness.

    • John 1:29, “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'”
    • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
    • John 4:42, “and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.'”
    • 1 Tim. 4:10, “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.”
    • 1 John 2:2, “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
    • 1 John 4:14, “And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”

So here the test will go into a loop if the answer is Yes.  It goes back to Question Four with the following admonishment:

If Jesus did the same for everyone, then what makes you different from the damned MUST be what you did. Please try again.”

OK so I’ll choose “What I Did” even though I don’t really believe that.  We are then taken back to Question Three with the following statement:

If what makes you different from the damned is what YOU did, then you share the glory of your salvation with Jesus. If that is the case, then Jesus does not get all the glory for your salvation, you are denying Him of His glory, and, as you admitted, are adhering to a wicked doctrine. Please try again.”

Acts 4:12: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Not only am I wrong, I am now guilty of believing a wicked doctrine that takes glory away from Christ. How absolutely absurd!

Ok, lets answer Question Four once again with ‘What Jesus Did”  This time we are presented with a scenario that is designed to show how you could not chose to believe unto salvation on your own.

“Perhaps this scenario will be helpful. There are those who claim that their salvation is similar to them drowning in a lake. The rescue boat comes and the rescuer throws out a rope. All the person does to be saved is to grab onto the rope. Would they claim that they contribute to their salvation? Of course not, without the boat, the rescuer and the rope they would drown.

Here is the problem with that scenario. Imagine the person drowning in a lake, beside their friend who is also drowning in the lake. Now, the rescuer comes and throws out 2 ropes. The first person grabs on and is rescued, while the friend does not grab on and drowns. The difference between the one who is saved and the one who drowns in that scenario is %100 the person drowning and NONE of the rescuer.

Any reason the person gives for grabbing onto the rope would be boastable, whereas Scripture tells us that faith is “the gift of God,” “so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2: 8-9).

No, our salvation is not similar to being saved from drowning in a lake, more like being dead at the bottom of the lake (Ephesians 2:1), and Jesus brings SOME to life such that we freely get in the boat.

Please try again.”

In the scenario, One took the rope and one did not.  One believed unto salvation the other refused unto damnation.  Seems consistent with what the Bible tells us about salvation.  The issue here is they are misquoting Ephesians 2:8-9. Faith is not the gift of God.  Salvation is the gift and it is stated as such throughout the New Testament. 

At this point in the test you can ether stay in an endless loop or choose “No”  to Question Five.  In which case you have as a result, stated “You believe in limited atonement”. Now they present the scriptural “proof” of the Doctrine of Limited Atonement: – I will briefly answer each proof text in bold after each verse.


Indeed Jesus did not do the same for everyone, which means that His atonement for sins is limited. Here are some Bible verses which further support that position:”

Isaiah 53:12 “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”
~ (He bore the sins of many, not all).

This is prophecy of the people of Isreal as well as the coming Christ…What does the word “many” mean here? He bare the sin of many – רבים rabbim, the multitudes, the many that were made sinners by the offenses of one; i.e., the whole human race; for all have sinned – all have fallen.  

Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” ~ (His people, not all people).

Thou shalt call his name JESUS. That is, Savior. The Hebrew form is Joshua; the full meaning is Jehovah’s salvation.  He shall save his people. Not the Jewish nation,  but all who accept and follow him.  From their sins. Not a temporal salvation, but from the curse of sin, condemnation and banishment from God’s favor and heaven. Of course not ALL people are saved. Only those who believe and and counted with Christ as HIS.

John 6: 37-40  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” ~ (Everyone who believes, not everyone).  

Yes, everyone who believes no matter how many…no limit.

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” ~ (For the sheep, not for the goats).

I am the good shepherd – Whose character is the very reverse of that which had already been described In John 10:7, John 10:9, our Lord had called himself the door of the sheep, as being the sole way to glory, and entrance into eternal life; here he changes the thought, and calls himself the shepherd, because of what he was to do for them that believe in him, in order to provide eternal life.  

The Holy Spirit and the Gospel calls all who will hear, those who come are counted as His sheep.  Jesus never says the people of the world are goats.

John 10:14,15  “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” ~ (For the sheep, not for the goats).

Same as above.

John 10: 26-28  “but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” ~ (Goats do not become sheep, but Jesus sheep hear His voice).

Stop with the goats already.  His sheep are all who hear and follow. And therefore receive eternal life.  There is no limited atonement here.

Romans 8: 29-31  “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? ~ (Those He foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified, not all).

God knows all things before they happen because he is outside of time.  He pre-determined that those who believed would be put IN CHRIST.  This is not limiting those who come at all.  Only if one has a limited view of what God’s foreknowledge means does the verse suggest a limit on who God saves.  

Romans 8: 31-32 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” ~ (US all, not everyone whoever lived).

Us simply means Christians.

2 Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” ~ (WE, not everyone).

We, those who believe and are put in Christ.

Colossians 2: 13-14 “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” ~ (Forgiven US, not everyone).

Again, those who believe, are made alive together with him.

Ephesians 1:4 “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” ~ (Chose US, not everyone).

We are chosen in him, Christ.  Christ was chosen to make us holy and blameless before God.  This is for anyone who believes an so there is no limit.

Ephesians 5: 25-27  “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” ~ (Gave Himself for her (the church), not for everyone).

Consider the verses before and after this…His church just as a bride/wife must submit to her husband and the two become one flesh.  How do we become part of Christ’s church?  We believe on him, submit.  For which we are made one with each other because He is in us.

Hebrews 10:14 “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” ~ (Those who are being sanctified, not everyone).

Those who are being sanctified are those who BELIEVE .  This verse and the ones around it are pointing Jews to Christ as the once and FINAL sacrifice for sin. A sacrifice that was unlimited “for all time” as contrasted by the temporary covering of sin provided from the Jewish Priesthood.  It helps prove the unlimited nature of Christ’s atonement if anything.


If the TULIP test proved to be confusing to you, you are not alone.   Reform Theology is full of confusion and contradictions that are often explained away as the “mysterious” working of God.  Yes, God is mysterious in so many ways and we can never fully understand all He does or is.  Yet, God also has revealed much about Himself in his Word.  There is no contradiction with God, there cannot be. It is man’s limited understanding which creates contradictions. I turn to the following verses when I get stuck on something that seems confusing in the Scriptures.  

1 Corinthians 14:33
For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Mark 10:15
Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

Genesis 1:27
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Ephesians 4:15
but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

God”s Word is truth, we must search it, study it, teach it and preach it  for we are made in God’s image to walk in understanding and love because He first loved us!  The Holy Spirit illuminates His Word and the Spirit in us gives the ability to reason and discern His truths…

Proverbs 2:2-6
2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; 
3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 
4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 
5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God
6 For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
Isaiah 1:18-19
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. 
19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; 
Hebrews 5:13-14
13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 
14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
1 Peter 3:15
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 
May God give us His wisdom as we seek out His truth and turn away from man’s limited understanding! And may Jesus Christ always be our cornerstone. NOT institutes of men.


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