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Where is the love of God in Calvinism? Part 8

Where is the love of God in Calvinism?  Part 8

Irresistible Grace:  Can the “Elect” Refuse Salvation?

Acceptance of the first three points of Calvinism leads unsurprisingly to the inevitability of accepting the next point, what Calvinists call “irresistible grace.”  The argument goes as follows:

  1. Humanity is totally depraved, meaning man is powerless to hear, understand, and respond to the gospel.
  2. so-how-do-you-know-you-are-electGod has unconditionally elected some people to eternal salvation and all others to eternal damnation. His election is “unconditional,” meaning man has absolutely no say in his salvation. (Therefore, faith is not viewed as a condition of salvation!)
  3. The atonement of Christ is limited to the “elect” only since it would be a waste of Christ’s blood if He died for the whole world when the entire world cannot be saved since they were not unconditionally elected.
  4. God enacts His “irresistible grace” upon the elect—guaranteeing and granting their faith and salvation by forcing their pre-determined response of the elect to the gospel.

Irresistible grace differs from unconditional election in that unconditional election addresses God’s action of electing individuals to salvation, and irresistible grace ensures the saving response of the elect to the gospel.  Unconditional election is from God’s perspective, and irresistible grace is from man’s perspective.

Irresistible grace:  its background and meaning.

  • Once again, this point of Calvinism originated with Augustine:
    • Boettner: “This cardinal truth of Christianity (irresistible grace) was first clearly seen by Augustine. ”
    • B.B. Warfield:  Warfield claims that Augustine “recovered for the church” this cardinal truth.
    • Sproul:  “Augustiniaism is presently called Calvinism or Reformed Theology.”
  • For a Calvinist, salvation is the predetermined result of several events in the life of an elect individual.
    • Having been elected by God unto salvation, God sovereignly regenerates an elect individual—apart from faith or understanding—making it possible for this elect individual to hear and understand the gospel. (This sovereign regeneration may take place at birth, at baptism—infant baptism—or at some other time.  Calvin taught, “God in baptism promises the remission of sins, and will undoubtedly perform what He has promised to all believers.  That promise was offered to us in baptism.”
    • After this “regeneration” (some say simultaneously) the grace to believe on Christ is imposed upon this elect individual.  Note the “elect” individual cannot resist this grace.  It is forced upon him without his knowledge and consent!  (It is, after all, irresistible.)
  • For the Calvinist, experiencing irresistible grace is synonymous with being regenerated or born again. Experiencing this irresistible grace apart from faith and a positive response to the gospel is the prerequisite for salvation.  Boettner:  “If any person believes, it is because God has quickened him; and if any person fails to believe, it is because God has withheld that grace which He was under no obligation to bestow.”
  • John Piper (a leading contemporary Calvinist):
    • “…There can be no salvation without the reality of irresistible grace. If we are dead in our sins, totally unable to submit to God, then we will never believe in Christ unless God overcomes our rebellion.”  (If true, why are all men everywhere commanded to repent and believe the gospel?   Acts 17:30 (KJB) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:)
    • “God is sovereign and can overcome all resistance when He wills…irresistible grace refers to the sovereign work of God to overcome the rebellion of our hearts and bring us to faith in Christ so that we can be   saved.”  (If the Lord is not willing that any should perish ( 2 Peter 3:9 (KJB) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. ) then why not impose irresistible grace upon all, that all might believe and be saved?”)

What about God’s grace?

  • The word “grace” is found some 170 times in 159 verses in the Bible. Not in one instance in scripture is there ever the slightest hint that God’s grace is irresistible.  The word “irresistible” does not appear in the Bible nor does the concept of irresistible grace.!
  • II Corinthians 6:1 indicates that it is possible to “receive…the grace of God in vain.” For God’s grace to be received “in vain” would mean it is not irresistible, but may be resisted by men unwilling to accept.  2 Corinthians 6:1 (KJB) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
  • Paul commanded young Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 2:1), indicating the possibility of his weak reception of God’s grace. 2 Timothy 2:1 (KJB) Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
  • Acts 7:51 indicates that although the Holy Spirit was convicting unbelievers, they were effectively resisting Him. Can men resist God regarding salvation?  Acts 7:51 (KJB) Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Even the passionate Calvinist R. C. Sproul admits that the concept of irresistible grace posters God as unloving.  Note the following (quoted from Chosen but Free, p. 100)—“The sinner in hell must be asking, ‘God, if you really loved me, why didn’t you coerce me to believe?  I would rather had had my free will violated than to be here in this eternal place of torment.;”  He adds, “If we grant that god can save men by violating their wills, why then does He not violate everybody’s will and bring them all to salvation?  The only answer I can give to this question is that I don’t know.  I have no idea why; God saves some but no all.  I don’t doubt for a moment that God has the power to save all.”

Once again we see that rightly dividing God’s Word that the concept of “Irresistible Grace” is simply not scriptural.

Proverbs 16:9 (KJB) A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.


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