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December 8, 2013
Last week: Limited Atonement
In this article we will examine the doctrine of Irresistible Grace in light of God's word.
According to the doctrine of Irresistible Grace, God sends the Holy Spirit only to those elected to be saved, which removes their depraved nature inherited from Adam and creates within them a saving faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit thereafter guides them directly to understand and correctly interpret the Bible. Does the doctrine of Irresistible Grace hold up under Biblical scrutiny?
David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas write in The Five Points of Calvinism, Defined, Defended, Documented:
Although the general outward call of the dispel can be, and often is, rejected, the special inward call of the Spirit never fails to result in the conversion of those to whom it is made. This special call is not made to all sinners but is issued to the elect only' The Spirit is in no way dependent upon their help or cooperation for success in His work of bringing them to Christ. It is for this reason that Calvinists speak of the Spirit's call and of God's grace in saving sinners as being 'efficacious,' 'invincible,' or 'irresistible.' For the grace which the Holy Spirit extends to the elect cannot be thwarted or refused, it never fails to bring them to true faith in Christ.*.
One text that Calvinists use to support this doctrine in Acts 16:14. Here, Luke writes of Lydia, "whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul." This is interpreted to mean that Lydia's heart was opened and she believed the word and was saved, by an irresistible operation of the Holy Spirit. But notice that, in the previous verse (Acts 16:13), Paul and Silas had already spoken to Lydia and the other women assembled there. Then, notice in verse 14 that Lydia had heard them. Then, after Lydia heard them speak God's word, Lydia's heart was opened, "that she attended to the things which were spoken by Paul." She obeyed the Word, and was baptized (Acts 16:15). So God used the Word to open Lydia's heart, not an irresistible operation of the Holy Spirit.
Paul writes in Romans 8:7, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Calvinists use this passage to show that there are some who cannot possibly be subjected to the law of God. But when one studies the context, it can be seen that Paul is, in fact, pointing out to his readers that they do have a choice - either to walk in the flesh and be the enemy of God, or to walk in the spirit and please Him. Man, as a free moral agent, can chose to obey God and be saved, or to disobey Him and be lost (See Joshua 24:15). Here, in Romans 8:7, Paul is saying that, as long as one chooses to walk in the flesh, He cannot be obedient to Him. However, Paul says, if one chooses to walk in the Spirit, he will obey Him (Romans 8:7-9).
Jesus says in John 6:44, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." Calvinists believe that Jesus is here saying that one comes to Jesus when God directly draws Him, without any choice on the part of the one drawn. Obviously Jesus is saying that one cannot come to Him unless God draws him, but how does God draw men to Him? Jesus answers in the next verse, (John 6:45), "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." How does God draw men to Him? through the Word! When one hears the Word, learns the Word, and Obeys the word, He becomes a servant Of the Lord!
Please read Romans 10:8-17. In verse 13, Paul writes, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." He does not say, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved unless they have no direct operation of the Spirit upon them!" He says, "Whosoever". He goes on to say, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher" (verse 14). So, Paul says, one is saved by calling on the name of the Lord, but he must believe first. But, Paul says, they cannot believe without hearing, and they cannot hear without a preacher. Paul had written, in Romans 10:9-10, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." So, one is saved by faith. But how does one believe? Paul answers in Romans 10:17, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
How does God draw men to Jesus (John 6:44)? through His Word! Men are saved when they hear, believe, and obey God's word, not when they are drawn to Jesus by an irresistible operation of the Holy Spirit. And, note that Paul says in Romans 10:13, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Salvation is for all who will call on the Lord by faith, not by a select group chosen before by the Lord! (See Unconditional Election).
We are saved by the Grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-10). But we are not saved by an irresistible operation of the Holy Spirit. Every person chooses to disobey God and be lost, or to obey Him and be saved.
Next we will examine the doctrine of "Perseverance Of The Saints."
We in the churches of Christ encourage you to study God's word with us, Contact us at a Contact us.
*David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism, Defined, Defended, Documented: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., © 1975, p.49
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