Category: Calvinism

Irresistible Grace: When God Makes an Offer You Can’t Refuse

Irresistible Grace: When God Makes an Offer You Can’t Refuse

The Doctrine of Irresistible Grace (http://theopedia.com)

“Those who obtain the new birth do so, not because they wanted to obtain it, but because of the sovereign discriminating grace of God. That is, men are overcome by grace, not finally because their consciences were more tender or their faith more tenacious than that of other men. Rather, the willingness and ability to do God’s will are evidence of God’s own faithfulness to save men from the power and the penalty of sin, and since man is so corrupt that he will not decide and cannot be wooed to follow after God, sovereign efficacious grace is required to convert him. This is done by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit whereby a fallen man who has heard the gospel is made willing and necessarily turns to Christ in God-given faith.”

 

Major Scriptures related to the Doctrine of Irresistible Grace:

  • John 6:37, 39 (ESV): “All that the Father gives me will come to 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.”
  • John 6:44-45 (ESV): “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.”
  • John 6:65 (ESV): “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
  • Romans 8:28, 30 (ESV) “Those whom [God] predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified”.

 

All that the Father gives will come…what does this mean? It means, as John MacArthur points out, that in eternity past the Father determined to give, to the Son, a redeemed humanity as a love gift and every person that the LORD God has sovereignly elected unto salvation will come to the feet of the Son, the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ. On a certain level, this is a mystery for we are not clearly told, in Scripture, how this comes to pass, yet the Scripture does in fact teach that it will happen.

 

One thing that we want to point out is a particular Greek word in John 6:44 and that word is ἕλκω, helkô and the word, generally has the connotation of dragging (John. 18:10; 21:6; 21:11; Acts 16:19; 21:30; James. 2:6). As a consequence, we can assume that it means that this drawing cannot be resisted. This is not to say that God’s grace can never be resisted under any circumstances. Rather, as Dr. Sproul teaches us, “The idea is that God’s grace is so powerful that it has the capacity to overcome our natural resistance to it. It is not that the Holy Spirit drags people kicking and screaming to Christ against their wills. The Holy Spirit changes the inclination and disposition of our wills, so that whereas we were previously unwilling to embrace Christ, now we are willing, and more than willing.”

 

We learned, in the lesson on Total Depravity/Total Inability, that man is, of his own accord, not only unwilling but also unable to come to Christ. Thankfully, on the other side of that coin is the fact that God, the Father, changes the desires of our hearts; He creates a new heart where the old obstinately disinterested one used to be and we are now capable of seeing the beauty of the Glorious Prince of Heaven and and are so desirous of the Redeemer that we willingly come and bow at the Throne of Grace.

Some would object to this doctrine, yet I will answer their objection with the words of Paul, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, “Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20) or, perhaps, the words of Isaiah, “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counseller hath taught him?”

I suspect that many of the objections to this doctrine come from those who do not really understand it. Let us turn then, to our friends from Got Questions Ministries for some wise instruction:

“The reason this doctrine is called “irresistible” grace is that it always results in the intended outcome, the salvation of the person it is given to. It is important to realize that the act of being regenerated or “born again” cannot be separated from the act of believing the gospel. Ephesians 2:1-10 makes this clear. There is a connection between the act of being made alive by God (Ephesians 2:1, 5) and the result of being saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:5, 8). This is because everything pertaining to salvation, including the faith to believe, is an act of God’s grace. The reason God’s grace is irresistible and efficacious (always bringing forth the desired result) is that God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into” His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Or, as Psalm 3:8 puts it, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

To understand the doctrine of “irresistible grace,” it is important to recognize that this is a special grace given only to those God has chosen for salvation (His elect) and is different from what is known as “common grace” which God bestows on both believer and unbeliever. While there are many aspects of common grace, including life and all that is necessary to sustain it, common grace is what is often referred to as the “outward call of God.” This is God’s revelation of Himself given to all men through the light of creation and their consciences. It also includes the general call of the gospel that goes out anytime the gospel message is preached. This call can be resisted and rejected by those that receive it. (Matthew 22:14; Romans 1:18-32). However, God also gives an “inward call” which always results in salvation. This is the call of God that Jesus spoke of in John 6:37-47. The certainty of this inward call is seen in John 6:37: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:44 confirms this: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.”

To summarize, Irresistible (or efficacious) Grace is the consequence of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. To borrow from the popular culture, it is, in a sense, when God makes you an offer you can’t refuse; it is that gift of grace which allows us to become the Bride, without spot or wrinkle, who is suitable for the Bridegroom, the Crown Prince of Heaven

A Little Chat About Depravity

A Little Chat About Depravity

The natural state of man is total depravity; that is man’s nature is crippled by sin. So much so that he is incapable of seeking God. This is a topic that is not accepted by many, especially by those who have embraced a works based righteousness and, most especially, those who insist that they will be granted access to Heaven because they are “basically good people” reject it. We are going to discuss what John MacArthur calls the Doctrine of Absolute Inability or more commonly called Total Depravity.

Let’s start with the obvious question, what is Total Depravity? Total depravity is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the natural spiritual condition of fallen man (By that I mean the spiritual condition we are born in because of Original Sin). It’s the “T” in the acronym TULIP, which is commonly used to enumerate the five points of Calvinism and the “T” that is used in FACTS to enumerate the 5 points of Classical Evangelical Arminianism.

This isn’t a comfortable topic; it certainly isn’t something that we discuss at parties in “polite society” and it certainly isn’t some niggling little detail that can be overlooked. It entails what may well be the most taboo word in our morally relativistic society, sin. You are a sinner and so am I (yes I really did just go there) and we are all in big trouble because of it.

Total Depravity, though often misunderstood, acknowledges that the Bible teaches that every part of man—the mind, will, emotions, and flesh are corrupted by sin. This is a result of the sin in Genesis 3:6. This is to say that sin affects all of our being—who we are and what we do. Sin has so penetrated us, going to the core of our being, so that everything is polluted by sin. Any good deeds that we do, any righteousness that we bring to God is like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) To give you an idea of how disgusting sin is to God, how utterly repugnant it is, I will share with you what the Hebrew literally says; filthy rags is the cleaned up version for church. Literally, in the Hebrew, it says our righteousness is as a menstrual cloth. I realize that what I just said is shocking and it should be. We don’t take sin seriously enough; you don’t and I don’t and that’s just reality. None of us lives in constant awareness of just how awful our sin really is. Let’s move on…

In the bullet points below, we have summarized the Doctrine of Total Depravity

  • The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • We are born dead in our transgressions and sins (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3 and Ephesians 2:1-5)
  • We are held captive to a love for sin (John 3:19 and John 8:34)
  • There is no one who seeks for God (Romans 3:10-11)
  • Man loves the darkness (John 3:19)
  • Men do not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14)
  • As a result, men suppress the Truth of God in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) and continue to live in sin.
  • Because of the totally depraved nature of man, he continues to live in sin and this sinful life actually seems right to him (Proverbs 14:12)
  • Depravity is so pervasive that, by nature, we reject the Message of the Gospel as foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18) and our minds, naturally do not submit to God because it is unable to do so. (Romans 8:7)

Paul summarizes Total Depravity this way (Romans 3:9-18)

  • No one is without sin
  • No one seeks after God
  • There is no one is good
  • Our speech is corrupted by sin
  • Man’s actions are corrupted by sin
  • And above all, man has no fear of God

 

The summary verse of the Doctrine of Total Depravity is Romans 3:12 which tells us that there is no one who does good, not a single one.

Totally depravity does not mean that man is as sinful or wicked as is possible to be (Utter Depravity) and it also does not mean that we are totally without a sense of right and wrong. It doesn’t even mean we cannot do things that would be considered good by human standards. It does, however, mean that we are incapable, on our own, of pleasing God.

We are not without hope: prior to the cross, God made a way for us to deal with the pollutions of sin through Faith and Obedience combined with the Levitical Sacrifices. After the cross, we are justified by faith and empowered unto holiness by the indwelling Holy Spirit, Himself being God, who is the seal of our redemption and the guarantee of our eternal home in Heaven.

Until next time, May mercy, grace, and peace be with you.

Chosen for Salvation

Chosen for Salvation

There is a teaching, which I have come to embrace, that may well be the most divisive in the church, that of Unconditional Sovereign Election or as I call it, being chosen for salvation. On both sides of the soteriological coin, we see that God chooses some to be saved from wrath and damnation, so that is not debated. What is debated however, are the twin doctrines of election and grace. I would like to look, briefly at these…

The Belgic Confession teaches us:

  1. Of Eternal Election

We believe that all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, merciful and just: Merciful, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all, whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel of mere goodness, has elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works: Just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves.

The Scriptures Declare:

  • II Thessalonians 2:13: God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
  • Matthew 24:24: There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
  • Matthew 24:31: And they (the angels) shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
  • Mark 13:20: For the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened those days (at the destruction of Jerusalem).
  • I Thessalonians 1:4: Knowing, brethren, beloved of God, your election.
  • Romans 11:7: The elect obtained it, and the rest were hardened.
  • I Timothy 5:21: I charge thee in the sight of God, and Jesus Christ, and the elect angels.
  • Romans 8:33: Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?
  • Romans 11:5: (In comparison with Elijah’s time) Even so at the present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
  • II Timothy 2:10: I endure all things for the elect’s sake.
  • Titus 1:1: Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect.
  • I Peter 1:1: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect.
  • I Peter 5:13: She that is in Babylon, elect together with you.
  • I Peter 2:9: But ye are an elect race.
  • I Thessalonians 5:9: For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Acts 13:48: And as the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of God; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
  • John 17:9: I (Jesus) pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me; for they are thine.
  • John 6:37: All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me.
  • John 6:65: No man can come unto me except it be given unto him of the Father.
  • John 13:18: I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen.
  • John 15:16: Ye did not choose me, but I chose you.
  • Ps 105:6: Ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones.
  • Rom. 9:23: Vessels of mercy, which He afore prepared unto glory.

Further…

Ephesians 1:3-15

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

 

Romans 9:11-14

11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

I almost feel like commenting further would be to presume upon the Scripture as if I, who am less than the least of the righteous, could add anything to the Word of the Lord. On many occasions, I have heard Dr. Sproul say that the question should not be “Is Jesus the only way? or Why is Jesus the only way? but that the question, rather, ought to be, “Why should there be any way of salvation at all?” I would say the same of election. It is no marvel that God should save some and allow others to be damned; it is a marvel that He should save any at all.

We believe and teach that man is totally depraved and unable to choose to do right; in our flesh dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18), there is none who does what is right on his own (Romans 3:10). In Isaiah 64:6 we see that our righteousness is as filthy rags. Now let me be blunt; that is the very cleaned up version that you will see in your Bible. What it actually says is that all our righteousness is like menstrual cloths, not a pretty thing to think about. We are, basically, hopeless and helpless. But…

“God, before the foundation of the world, chose to make certain individuals the objects of His unmerited favor or special grace (Mark 13:20; Ephesians 1:4-5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8). These individuals from every tribe, tongue and nation were chosen by God for adoption, not because of anything they would do but because of His sovereign will (Romans 9:11-13; Romans 9:16; Romans 10:20; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; 2 Timothy 1:9). God could have chosen to save all men (He certainly has the power and authority to do so), and He could have chosen to save no one (He is under no obligation to save anyone). He instead chose to save some and leave others to the consequences of their sin (Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Romans 9:10-24; Acts 13:48; 1 Peter 2:8).” {gotquestions.org}

I would be a first rate liar if I said this wasn’t difficult, especially since I am fairly certain that some people, who were very close to me in life, were most probably not elect. Being absolutely 100% honest with you, beloved, I have not a clue why God saves some and not others; neither do I have even the tiniest fraction of a clue how He decided whom He would elect. There are certain things which God keeps only to Himself and, while we may someday get a clue and understand why He allows things to be thus and so, we sometimes must do what is, honestly, difficult sometimes and that is to trust that the Holy God knows exactly what He is doing and will get the glory due Him alone.