Total Depravity means that as a result of man's sin in the garden every one of us has inherited a sinful nature (Romans 5:12). This sinful nature is such that every facet of our being including our will is affected by sin. Where this reformed doctrine differs from the other views is in it's additional affirmation of our total inability to do anything soteriologically pleasing to God apart from regeneration of the holy spirit due to our spiritual death.
Total inability is clearly demonstrated in the texts that speak of both our ability and inability to accept spiritual truths of salvation, and our being spiritually dead. This is why John 6:44,65, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Romans 8:7-8, and Ephesians 2 are directly relevant. The first three verses use the Greek terms dunatai and oude dunatai which speak of our capacity and ability to accept spiritual truths of salvation. Ephesians 2 is relevant because it speaks of every created person's spiritual death and the necessity of being spiritually reborn by God, and more so that this is true of all men both Jew and Gentile.
In John 6:44 we read clearly that "No man (which is a universal negation) can (Dunatai) come to me unless the father who sent me draws (Helkuso) him". Helkuso here means to drag or compel. Note also that after Christ kept saying this in verse 65 many disciples walked away in verse 66. Do we really want to take the side of the apostates?
Likewise in Romans 8:7-8 we see total inability affirmed once again. Paul says in verse 7 speaking of the natural man's volition that "it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able (Dunatai) to do so;" with the conclusion of mankind's natural condition in verse 8 which says again the natural man cannot (oude dunatai) please God. Is true saving faith and belief in God unto repentant salvation pleasing to God? Most assuredly.
In Ephesians 2:1-3 we are told that when we were dead in sin, we were under the influence of a Godless spirit of lawlessness, and were by nature children of wrath. The Greek word here for nature is "Phoosis" and it means "by birth". The word for wrath here is where we get our English word "orgy" from. The clear meaning is that while we have a will in our unregenerate state we literally only lustfully choose sin and Godlessness. In verse 5 we read explicitly that is God who "Quickens" us from this condition instead of our alleged autonomy. Paul teaches the exact same thing here that Christ does in John 8:34-44 where Christ says to those saying they were free that they are "Slaves to Sin".
Unconditional Election means God does not base his choosing anyone on any condition he sees in man. Instead God chooses persons according to the kind intention of his own will in eternity past (2 Tim 1:9) unto adoption in love in Christ (Eph. 1:4-8;). This is a logical outcome of total inability because granting that we are helpless, we need God to intervene. Some charge this doctrine with being arbitrary. Arbitrary however is defined as a decision or action that is random or unprincipled. God clearly has provided his principal and purpose in Ephesians one, so this is not at all arbitrary. What this doctrine is intended to address is the question "Upon what basis does God choose anyone?"
Jesus answers that question for us once again in John 6. In verse 40 we read "that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life ". So there we solved it right? No my friends because grammatically verses 40 and 51 are predicated on verses 37-39. In those verses Christ tells us that the basis for our being chosen and consequently believing is solely because the father has chosen to give us to the Son. And in verse 29 that even our believing is God's work. This alone should be enough to demolish any simple foreknowledge view. But since foreknowledge is an issue I would like to turn to Romans 8:28-39 and point out that those whom he foreknew he also predestined. The word for foreknow here is proginosko. And in this context it is not a noun. It does not mean simply knowing in the philosophical sense of taking in passive knowledge or having innate knowledge. It is a verb. It is something God DOES! This kind of knowing is intimate and personal like that of the covenant between Adam and his Wife ( i.e. Amos 3:2). Notice also that all these in John 6 and Romans 8 will be raised and nothing in all of creation can separate them from the love of God including supposed human autonomy. Frankly I cannot find any reason to not believe this doctrine because outside of it there is no assurance of salvation. Why would any sinner want to place their assurance in their own fallible ability instead of God's infallibility? Only a fool would (Prov. 28:26). He is faithful when we are faithless and God is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
In Ephesians 2:8-9 we read "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;not as a result of works, that no one should boast." This verse is the ultimate pride crusher because in verse 8b the Greek word for faith (pisteo) being neuter refers to both grace and faith in 8a. In other words all of it is the work of God. Not just faith or Grace. He is indeed the author and finisher of our faith. In light of verse 9 If God does 99% and we contribute the 1% that would leave us room to boast. If God makes that decision instead I can only boast in God !
Limited Atonement means Jesus’ death is sufficient for all but efficient for the elect only. Put simply Jesus did not die to just make salvation possible. Instead he actually redeemed and saved a particular people group by bearing their sins on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).
The questions to ask in order to understand this issue are "Did Christ actually make a substitutionary sacrifice for sins or didn't he? ..and..If he did and it was for every individual in the world then wouldn't the entire world be saved?"
When I was faced with this question I knew from many passages that there will be some who go to Hell so it could not possibly be the case that Universalism is true, because that would be double jeopardy. It was here that I realized everyone limits the atonement in some way. Calvinists limit it in its extent and other views limit it in it's power. Matthew 20:28 alone should be enough to show that Christ himself limited the atonement when he said " the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many". Notice this verse does not say he gave his life a ransom for ALL, which would be the Greek word "pas" but instead it reads MANY "Pol-oos". Again in John 15:13 Christ said he lays his life down for his friends. Are all the friends of Christ? Of course not. Scripture also declares that Christ's atonement actually accomplished it's purpose rather than merely making salvation possible. Christ as our high priest is said in Hebrews 7:25 to "Completely save ". In Hebrews 10:14 it says that "by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.". Once again I submit that if Christ atoned for all then all are saved. Not all are saved. Therefore Christ atoned for some. Which is to say limited atonement.
In John 19:30 we read that Christ exclaimed it is finished. He did not say it is now made possible. In Colossians 2:14 we read that Christ canceled the sin debt on the cross instead of when we believed. If Christ paid the sin debt on the cross and everyone's debt has been paid nobody can be held responsible for a debt that does not exist because that would be double payment. So I ask you all to consider the same question I did many years ago when reading in John 6:44b "that all those who are drawn will be raised". If all individuals are drawn and all persons sins are paid for including unbelief why aren't you a universalist? I submit that it is because you already limit the atonement.
Irresistible Grace does not mean that people cannot resist God's grace. On the contrary people do! But for the chosen God overcomes their resistance and saves them. The difference between this doctrine and other views is simply that on Calvinism regeneration precedes faith in a logical order. God takes out our stony heart and puts in us a new heart so that saving faith flows from that regeneration of the holy spirit. A helpful analogy on logical order is that of electricity and light in a light bulb. It is logically necessary that electricity precedes light, but it is not logically necessary that light precedes electricity. When electricity is present, the light is the necessary result but not the reverse. So while both are chronologically simultaneous, they differ in logical order.
In scripture this change or spiritual rebirth is called regeneration (Titus 3:5). It is said to be the same mighty power which God wrought in Christ in his resurrection (Eph. 1:19, 20), a calling out of darkness into God's light (1 Peter 2:9), a passing out of death into life (John 5:24), a new birth from God (John 3:3), and a making alive (Col 2:13). The subject of the change is said to be a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) who was born not of his own will but of God's will (John 1:12-13) whose very act of believing is said by Christ to be the work of God in John 6:29. Such scriptures utterly refute the idea that regeneration is primarily man's act. If God the Sovereign king of the universe wants you he is getting you. We serve a mighty God not an inept Shampoo model in a nightgown.
Perseverance of the Saints means you cannot lose your salvation because the Father has chosen, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said his sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return. This is the easiest Doctrine to show. In John 6:37-39 we read:
"All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not 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 of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
Could Jesus fail to do the will of the father because of our libertarian freedom? Then Jesus would of sinned against the father or the father was incompetent for sending him. Plain and simple. Christ also affirms this in Matthew 24:13 where he says "the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved. ".