“Hey baby, your name must be Grace because you are irresistible.” Yes, that was a Calvinist pickup line and no, I did not use that to get my girl. I thought about it...but her name is Lauren so it wouldn’t have worked. She also would have hit me if I tried. She would have been right to.
Well, well, well, if you're still reading this I'm assuming either you agree wholeheartedly or are perhaps in a blind rage. Either way, I'm glad you're still reading. As I have said before, it is my hope that this series only opens your eyes further to the power of God and the incredible nature of His love and sovereignty. God is most glorified when we attribute as much power and sovereignty to Him as our minds can fathom. Remember, all good and true theology makes God big and man small. It is my belief that Calvinism and reformed theology as a whole succeed in this endeavor. It is also my hope that as you are reading, you continue to be encouraged and perhaps stretched in your theology. Never be content with the level to which you know God. Always strive to know Him better through His Word and learn how to give Him more glory than you do now. I promise this is a most worthy goal.
Ok, let’s dive into the “I” in TULIP shall we? The fourth point is perhaps just as divisive as the third because it gets to the heart of why many people have a problem with the Calvinistic theology. Irresistible grace, or otherwise known as effectual grace, describes the call to repentance and the result of salvation as something that is impossible to ignore and deny. John 6:44 says,
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
What this verse describes is twofold. First, it describes salvation as something that cannot be attained without the will and drawing of God. We covered this in election. Second, this “drawing” will always result in salvation. God never draws anyone without salvation being the natural result. The effectual call of God never returns void. The grace that is received is not able to be rejected or denied. The obvious reason for this is covered in the first two points of Calvinism. We are totally depraved so we do not have the ability to desire God and because of this, salvation is given to those that God has chosen. No one has the ability to reject a choice that God has made. We are not above Him. When God says it’s time for someone to receive the grace that He has chosen to give them, it will happen.
Perhaps one of the greatest descriptions of this doctrine is found in John 3:5-8.
“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.””
Christ uses the natural occurrence of wind to describe the work of the Spirit. Just as humans are not able to resist or know where the wind comes or goes, so it is with the Spirit. Nothing can control or come against the Spirit. It is free to do what it wants. It cannot be controlled or resisted. Also, the phrase “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” clearly attributes the initiation of salvation as being something the Holy Spirit does. We are born of the Spirit, not our will or decision. Because of our inability to choose salvation, salvation must come from an outside source. This source is the Spirit and I do not know of any Christian that thinks it is possible to come against something God wants and get their way. What kind of a God would He be if He was able to be controlled or denied by His creation? Not a god I would want to worship I can tell you that.
Believe it or not, there are many that are offended by this doctrine. Perhaps a reason this doctrine is so offensive is because it flies in the face of those that claim they played some part in the process of their salvation. They might not say they earned it by works, but some would say they had a part in the decision to follow Christ. If this is true, God and man work together in a coexisting/synergistic relationship. This is just logic. In other words, God needs man’s corroboration in order for His will to occur. God would be, in a small way, dependent on man to do their part. Otherwise He would not be able to give His gift. This is simply not true. If God is dependent on man in even the smallest detail, He is not completely sovereign. If He needs something other than Himself, He is not self-sustaining in all things. Let me be clear. If God is not sovereignly in control of all things, He is not God. Starting to sound familiar?
To be God means to be sovereign. This is how it works in the world and this is how it works in salvation. God does not need permission to work in the life of a sinner. God does not need the sinner to accept Him. God simply breaths life into a dead corpse that has no more will or ability to choose anything than a person in the coffin does. The dead can't will themselves to live. They can’t even have the desire to live. They’re dead. All they can do is rot and stink. We are dead in our sins. It is the same situation spiritually as it would be physically. The dead are unable to choose, desire, accept, deny or do anything.
This grace from God is irresistible because it's based totally upon God’s will and not man’s. It’s irresistible because it’s based upon election. It’s irresistible because man is totally depraved and unable to choose what is good. This is a very gracious truth. We were not able to save ourselves nor do anything to improve our situation before a holy God. He did it for us. His grace is irresistibly wonderful.
"We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19
He gives us His grace because He wants to. This is Calvinism. This is the Gospel.