Tuesday, May 10, 2016

10 Things You Should Know about Irresistible Grace

Here we take up the concept of God’s saving grace as irresistible.

(1) Irresistible grace concerns the process by which God brings the elect to saving faith in Jesus. However, we must be cautious lest we reduce the mystery of salvation and conversion to a mechanical sequence that can be monitored with mathematical precision. We must never forget that just as the wind blows where it wishes and we know not where it comes from or where it goes, “so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). If, then, we cannot reduce conversion to a uniform, predictable process (and we musn’t!), we can at least recognize the principles according to which God generally operates in bringing someone to saving faith.

(2) Perhaps the best definition of irresistible grace is the one provided by Bruce Ware. “When Calvinists refer to irresistible grace,” notes Ware, “they mean to say that the Holy Spirit is able, when he so chooses, to overcome all human resistance and so cause his gracious work to be utterly effective and ultimately irresistible. In soteriology, the doctrine of irresistible grace refers to the Spirit’s work to overcome all sin-induced resistance and rebellion, opening blind eyes and enlivening hardened hearts so that sinners understand and embrace the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ” (“The Place of Effectual Calling and Grace in a Calvinist Soteriology,” in The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will, Volume 2, edited by Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995], 347).

(3) Irresistible grace in the Calvinistic scheme of salvation is not the same as prevenient grace in the Arminian scheme. Most Arminians agree with their Calvinistic brethren that all humans are born depraved and enslaved to sin, unable to save themselves. But they depart from those of the Reformed persuasion by arguing that God graciously and universally neutralizes the debilitating effects of original sin and restores genuine freedom to the human will, enabling all to believe the gospel, if they so choose. Read More

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