Irresistible Grace – Can Grace be Irresistible?
Posted by Pastor Szekely on December 4, 2006
I think it good to start by asking, “Can the Grace of God really be irresistible”?
Calvinism says: “God’s call to the elect is effectual [meaning that the call of God is powerful] and cannot be resisted…The dead sinner is sovereignly regenerated and granted the “gift of faith”.
The Westminster Confession adds this:“This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all forseen in man who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.”
Did you catch what this Reformed Confession of Faith said? It is saying that a person must “be quickened and renewed” FIRST so that a person can be able to answer the call to salvation! Read it in the above paragraph again…a person is made alive first – regenerated – before he or she can be saved…wow…where do we read that in Scripture? We are regenerated – made alive – quickened – when we are born-again! Ephesians 2:1, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins…(vs5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;)” I’m getting off point, but I just had to “point” that out!
Then this Confession goes on to say, “Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved…” Basically, Calvinism states that the non-elect will not resist the Grace of God, for it is not for them; and that the elect has no choice but to accept God’s Grace, for it is only for them.
Irresistible Grace – God simply forces His Grace upon people [His elect] to be saved…it’s irresistible!
Let’s do some further investigation…Acts 13:44-48 says, “And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”
First of all, Calvinism tells us that this [vs48] is a prime example of the effectual call of God that cannot be resisted…the call wasn’t for those unbelieving Jews anyway. Is this the interpretation of the text? In verse 46 Paul states WHY the Jews did not believe: it wasn’t because they were foreordained to Hell; It wasn’t because they weren’t chosen of God to believe; It was because they themselves put it from them!
Notice that: 1) These Jews were being drawn by Christ for everlasting life…for this is what they put off and judged themselves unworthy of; 2) There had to be conviction upon them…so much so that they contradicted and blasphemed those things which were spoken by Paul. BUT: it was THEY who rejected all of this, and for THAT REASON, they were rejected of God!
And by the way: “…and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” — This is telling us that these Gentiles who believed on Christ were ordained to eternal life. God knows who is set aside for eternal life…and not because He forced them to be saved, but because of His foreknowledge, He knew “the whosoever” that would believe on the Lord…and if a person believes on Christ to be saved, that person is ordained to eternal life!
Again remember, Calvinism says that God simply forces His Grace upon people [the elect] to be saved…it’s irresistible! But have you ever asked yourself the question, “How can Grace be irresistible?” What is Grace? It is the unmerited favor of God. It is that favor we get from God that we do not deserve! Somebody once said that G-R-A-C-E is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense!
How can anything imposed upon someone by a grace that is irresistible be a gift “received”? If something’s imposed upon you without your desire to have it…is that grace??? Grace irresistibly imposed is a deceptive definition of Grace!
Does the Bible say anything on irresistible grace? On the contrary, the Bible shows that man DOES resist and reject the Grace of God! For example:
Proverbs 1:23-25, “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye have refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof”
Acts 7:51, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” Stephen was preaching to a group where some had actually seen and heart the Lord Himself preach; some had heard Peter at Pentecost; and some had listened to Stephen and other Spirit-filled men preach the Word of God…but what had they done? THEY RESISTED THE HOLY GHOST! They resisted the Grace and Gift of God…they and their fathers in time past!
God doesn’t just force men to be saved with a so-called irresistible grace. There is absolutely no such thing as a “I-can’t-help-it” religion.