Welcome back to my series on the Calvinistic TULIP. My Dad was joking that I should write on the acronym COFFEE, that is Christ Offers Forgiveness For Everyone Everywhere. And I make his coffee almost every morning so why not write about it too? Just kidding. We’re going to stick to discussing Irresistible Grace today, although it may involve that Christ Offers Forgiveness For Everyone Everywhere.
Due to the fact that my last post was not only late as a result of not being completed on time, but was 2,516 words long………this post should be significantly shorter.
As a Christian, just the phrase “Irresistible Grace” makes me want to sing and shout with joy. His grace is so beautiful and to me irresistible. However, the Calvinistic doctrine of Irresistible Grace is a little bit of a different thing. Irresistible Grace often refers to not a gracious drawing to Himself, but an irresistible dragging.
In the Calvinistic systematic, in order for God to get full credit for giving the gift of salvation and grace, it must be accepted and used. Thus the gift must be irresistibly given and the receiver does not have the choice to accept it or not. When you give your brother or sister a present, do they have to use it? Are they forced to unwrap the present in order to receive the gift? It would be rude not to unwrap the gift and use it, but they do not actually have to completely unwrap and use it. When we refuse to accept and believe in God’s great gift, Jesus Christ, then we too are being rude. Here are some verses that talk about God’s grace or salvation being a gift:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” – Romans 3:23-24
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 6:23
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
[Note on this verse: Calvinists often quote this verse to mean that the faith is a gift of God and not of our own doing instead of meaning that the grace is not of our own doing. In the Greek, you find that because of feminine, neuter, and masculine pronouns and nouns the “this is not of your own..” cannot refer to faith because of the feminine/ masculine/ neuter forms. Look this up and study it yourself, but I am not going to dwell on this too long.]
Unfortunately, many do refuse and rebel against God and do not enter into his grace. His grace was irresistible to me. Others do think it irresistible and do resist his wonderful grace. To those who have trusted in the grace of God. his grace is irresistible. However, his grace is not universally irresistible or all would be saved. Calvinists then have to say that God only offers his irresistible grace to those he has unconditionally elected to be saved.
The true definition of Irresistible according to Merriam-Webster is this:
“impossible to resist especially because of strength or attractiveness”
Impossible to resist? Is that how we always define irresistible? The word “irresistible” is often used as a hyperbole to mean something is attractive, but not to mean that it is truly impossible to resist. Technically, every single man and women has the choice to choose His grace and trust in Christ’s salvation. Before we are regenerate, his grace is not irresistible to us. Before we are saved, we are all rebelling against Jesus’ grace and love.
Where the differences come in between my view and the view that Calvinists take is that Calvinists (at least many Calvinists) believe that regeneration precedes faith. You can see John Piper’s message on this and why he believes it here (John Piper is a 5-point Calvinist). Here is Dr. Leighton Flowers response. Here is an article by Dr. David Allen on why he does not believe that regeneration precedes faith.
Thank you for reading this article! Once again I would suggest checking out Dr. Leighton Flowers website Soteriology 101 if you have questions concerning Calvinistic doctrines.
“But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”
-Romans 5:15 (ESV)
All scripture quotations are from the ESV translation