.Total Depravity. Mankind is not basically good. We do not have a natural bent towards good and godly pursuits. Man has been sinful and corrupt since the time of Adam.
.Unconditional Election. God chose from eternity past whom to bring to Himself. His choice was not merited or initiated by us.
.Limited Atonement. It is not the power of God that is limited, but Jesus died for those (and only those) who the Father had chosen before the world began.
.Irresistible Grace. If God has purposed that someone should be saved, that individual will certainly be saved.
.Perseverance of the Saints. Sometimes referred to as "once saved, always saved," (except that apostacy indicates that a person might not have been saved at all).
.Let me say that this extremely brief "working definition" is by no means a good or thorough explanation. It took me a year, from the first time I heard of it, before I was ready to call myself a "Calvinist."
.What won me over was that there seemed to be a better treatment of the Scriptures by the Calvinist apologists. But more than that, as I read through the whole Bible that year, there was so much that I had not noticed before that made me feel like my own salvation was God's sovereign decision, not my own. In other words, I made a "decision for Jesus," because God had ALREADY decided to save me.
.Why does it matter, the order of salvation? Does it make any difference whether God decided first, or my own decision activated the free gift of salvation? It made a huge difference for me. For example, sharing the gospel is an issue of simple obedience. Whether or not a person comes to faith when I proclaim the good news is neither a reason for pride nor shame. It's all God. And I rejoice to be a part of His plan, and always count it a victory because of having obeyed the Great Commission, regardless how the message is received. Besides, just because someone says "no" now, doesn't mean that God hasn't chosen them. He may have predestined that they see the light at a later time.
Spinoff conversation by LL Barkat here.