Irresistable Grace

January 1, 2007

Isaiah 46:8-11– “”Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.”

Through this brief study of the doctrines of grace, we have pointed out that man, in his natural state, is not merely ‘sick’, and still able to choose to do good, but is completely dead. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…” (Ephesians 2:1-2) We have also shown that man is elected before the foundations of the world to be given salvation through the work of the Holy Spirit. We have also shown that this election was not given to all men that only some of the sins would be atoned for, but that many are elected, and that all of the elect’s sins are atoned for.

This brings us to our next point. We know that the Holy Spirit must work in a man to cause him to see his condition of death and repent of his sins. We also know that only those whom the Father has elected will be given salvation through the Holy Spirit, but you may ask the question, “How do sinners, who are dead in trespasses and sins, some to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus? It is inevitable that those who were elected by the Father come to faith in Christ?”

This question seems to question the doctrine of man’s being given salvation, but underneath the surface, it truly questions the sovereign Will of God! If salvation is entirely of God, than asking whether it is inevitable is questioning His very nature.
Scripture says “For who can resist his will?” (Romans 9:19)

The idea that the salvation of God given to man is not inevitable implies that we, as humans, still have a say in our own salvation. If we can reject His sovereign will, this makes God to be a mere bystander in the working of our salvation, but as we have already established, He is not! God is always active in His creation, and continually causing all of His decrees to come to pass. The idea of God being a bystander reduces God to the same level that the Deists have made him; he is merely a watchmaker who makes the watch, but winds and lets it run its own course. No, God is an omnipotent God, and is always involved in the working of His creation.

John Newton, in his book More Than a Calvinist, wrote “We zealously contend for the point in our debates with the Arminians; and are ready to wonder that any should be hardy enough to dispute the Creator’s right to do what He wills.” This is exactly what is going on in the Calvinist/Arminians debate today. Is God truly omnipotent, and does He have the right to do what He wills with his Creation? Scripture clearly teaches that yes, He does.

Romans 9:20-23– “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory”

The debate of the Arminians concerning this point goes to the heart of their misunderstanding of the effect, and depths of the Fall; that man is still spiritually conscious, and can still choose to take the medicine which will bring salvation, or, to reject it, thus denying the sovereignty of God.

When it comes to the calling of the Holy Spirit, there are two types. (1) The outward call: the call which all men receive from the reading and preaching of the Word of God, and (2) The inward call: that special call of the Holy Spirit specifically to the elect that they will come to a saving knowledge of Christ and salvation.

First, the outward call of the Holy Spirit is a general call. This call is extended to all men equally. The general call of the Gospel is that call which is to repent and to believe in Christ’s suffering, sacrifice, and atonement for the sins of many on the cross. This call is never to be confused with the inward call of the Holy Spirit.

Dr. D. James Kennedy describes and compares these two calls of the Holy Spirit very simply in Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism:

“The outward call is…always invariably ineffective and ineffectual it never works by itself. It is only when the outward call of the Gospel is accompanied by the inward call of the Holy Spirit that the heart is changed, the mind is opened, the will is transformed, and then the person says, ‘It is the voice of my beloved.’ ”

Jesus even points out that human efforts concerning salvation are worthless, for “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6), and “the flesh is of no avail” (John 6:63a). But “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6), and “It is the Spirit who gives life.” (John 6:63a) The flesh’s efforts in salvation profits nothing, for we are spiritually dead. How can that which is dead chose life? It is the Spirit of God that quickens us, and causes us to repent. We can do nothing by ourselves to attain salvation.

John Gill boldly describes the irresistible grace of God:

“This grace of the Spirit in regeneration, like the wind, is powerful and irresistible; it carries all before it; there is no withstanding it; it throws down Satan’s strongholds, demolishes the fortifications of sin; the whole posse of hell, and the corruption of a man’s heart, are not a match for it; when the Spirit works, who can let?”

John 1:12,13– “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

God has quickened our Spirits, and only by His grace we have been given it. We cannot resist His will, for we is the potter, and we are the clay. We are vessels in His perfect plan. Why then, as sinners who are in rebellion against God, question why He has made us a certain way, or why He has given salvation to some and not others? He is the Creator, we are the creation. We are subject to His sovereign will, and not our own.

In conclusion, I will quote Donald Macleod in his book A Faith to Live By. In it he describes the irresistible grace of God as being invincible:

“That is what God’s electing love means: God is invincibly determined to make us Christ-like. Augustine spoke of irresistible grace – irrisitibilis, meaning invincible. As we struggle with ourselves, our temperaments, our personalities and so on, it is a great thing to be able to grasp this fact that God is invincibly and irreversibly committed to making us like the Lord Jesus Christ.”

God’s grace is invincible. How then can we, as mere creatures who are dead in ours sins claim that we can resist the omnipotence of God? God does what He wills, and what He wills will come to pass. Therefore, if a man is among the elect, he will inevitably come to the knowledge of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Scriptures supporting the Doctrine of Irresistible Grace:

Romans 8:4– “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 6:111- “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Titus 3:5-“he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,”

Galatians 6:15– “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”

John 5:21­– “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.”

Ephesians 2:1, 5– “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins… even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved“

Philippians 1:29– “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,”

Romans 8:30­– “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

John 3:27– “John answered, ‘A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.’ ”

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