TULIP … Irresistible Grace
When I first heard about Irresistible Grace, I didn’t quite understand the point. I had been saved and I knew that God had shed His grace in my life. Without grace, which I understood to be God’s unmerited favor that He bestows on believers because of the merits of Christ, I knew I would be still on that road to destruction ... but irresistible? Well, I certainly do think that the gospel is a pretty awesome offer: my filthy rags traded for the righteousness of Christ. It sure sounded wonderful to me when I heard it. I don’t really understand all the pride and such that keeps people from “getting it” when they hear the message of Christ and His free offer of salvation. They sure seem to be resisting the grace of God that is offered in the gospel. Ah, but my friend that explained TULIP to me told me that it is because the offer of salvation is not really available to them and they are not being drawn, in the irresistible sense of the word.
Irresistible - impossible to resist, or exert oneself so as to counteract or defeat, impossible to withstand the force or effect of, impossible to oppose
Grace - the free favor of God toward humans, (which is necessary for their salvation), by which God makes a person (born sinful because of original sin) capable of enjoying eternal life.
Let's start here
One Calvinist blogger makes this statement: [a widely] believed misconception about this doctrine is that Calvinists believe that everyone that God has chosen will come to faith regardless of whether or not they want to. This is not true. Calvinists believe that no one is willing to believe (Romans 3:10-18) until this special work of the Holy Spirit is performed in them at which point they become willing.
Now, what is the difference between
… everyone that God has chosen will come to faith regardless of whether or not they want to … (which is supposedly not the belief)
… no one is willing to believe until this special work of the Holy Spirit is performed in them at which point they become willing … (which is the belief)
I don’t see the difference. You have the wretched sinner who doesn’t seek God …then God works in his heart and he WILL BELIEVE. So, he will come to faith whether or not He wants to. (I’m scratching my head).
It goes along with the other points of TULIP nicely though, and it completes the understanding of the passage that they call the Golden Chain:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)
So to the Calvinist, there is no room in this process for man to “kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14) or resist the drawing of the Holy Spirit. We were predestined, chosen specifically, called (this must be the calling of the Spirit through the gospel?), justified and glorified. There is not even a mention in the golden chain of faith or belief in the gospel. (It makes me wonder if this passage is even talking about salvation.) It is almost as though faith is just taken out of the equation … if this was the only scripture that we had.
Also, it seems foundational to this doctrine that the Calvinist (or Reformed) believes that faith is granted to us. To their understanding, faith is not ours, it is not from us, God puts it there and then we WILL BELIEVE. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that every breath I take is granted to me by God. I do believe the scripture teaches that it is by grace that I have heard the gospel and that I was issued the invitation to receive Christ. If God wanted to snuff out my life when I was 19, He could’ve done it and I would not have heard the gospel nor had a chance to believe. I believe the Bible teaches that the gospel is accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit drawing all the hearers to Christ, searching their hearts for belief, faith and trust as they hear the good news. However, I don’t see it that He offers some special grace that regenerates a person before they believe, and then this irresistible grace then makes them want to believe. That seems biblically backward to me. I have to quote my Dyspraxic friend again:
… [there is not] convincing Scriptural data to conclude that man is incapable of believing when under the influence of the power of the Holy Spirit, that accompanies the preaching of the Gospel. Otherwise how would the Gospel be the power of God unto salvation? If Regeneration were necessary to believe, then Regeneration would be the power of God unto salvation.
… and we could then say the same about irresistible grace. Why isn’t the Bible flooded with a clear message that it is irresistible grace that brings salvation? On the other hand, I don’t believe that man can regenerate himself, as the Reformed so often like to accuse the questioners of Calvinism of saying. God regenerates when we are born again by the Word of God which we hear, believe and receive. We don't regenerate ourselves.
I do think this doctrine is necessary to TULIP because of the two preceding it in the acrostic. If God unconditionally elected only certain ones, then he would only die for those … and then He would definitely make them believers. However, when one questions the idea that God only chose certain select ones, then it is not necessary to come to these other conclusions unless one is clearly convinced from the Bible itself that those conclusions are right.
I want to remember these scriptures also, when coming to my understanding of how God is dealing with humanity in this and other dispensations:
"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! (Acts 7:51)
But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." (Romans 10:21)
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me. (John 16:8,9)
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)
He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. (John 1:7-9)
But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself. (John 12:32)
Do people perish in hell because they weren’t chosen, died for by Christ, or irresistibly drawn?
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. (John 3:18)