It stands for Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and the Perseverance of the saints. These Five Points were adopted by the Synod of Dordt (or Dordrecht), each point the subject of a chapter or head of the Canons of Dordt. According to the followers of Calvin, the Five Points "set forth clearly the biblical teaching on the sovereignty and particularity of the grace of God in salvation."1
Total depravity" is often mistaken to mean that humans are all hopelessly, intensely sinful. Actually, it means something quite different: as a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience to God -- the Fall of Man -- sin has extended to all parts of every person's being: "his thinking, his emotions and his will."
Sometimes, this has been called "Total inability." This is the concept that it is impossible for the ordinary "natural" human to understand the Gospel's message. They are spiritually helpless. First, God must first decide to intervene in the form of the third personality within the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, the person is lost forever. 2
This is seen in Romans 5:12: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" and in Mark 4:11: "And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto ...