Is Irresistible Grace biblical?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
"Irresistible grace" is a phrase that is used to summarize what Calvinism teaches about the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of sinners. It is represented by the "I" in the acr...

July 01 2013 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Photo Anthony Clinton Teacher in China
Irresistible Grace: is it possible to resist the grace of God when approached by God for salvation? If Irresistible grace were true, one would have to believe that God did not love everyone in the world and where the scripture uses the word “whosoever”, it would just be a lie. John 1:10-13 proves that anyone who accepted Christ when He came was given the power to become a child of God. So then if the gift of eternal life was promised to the entire world and all who heard the Gospel, does that mean they can reject this grace? 

Let’s see the truth on this matter let’s look at the Parable of the Great feast. Matt 22:1-10. Firstly God is represented as the King sending out His servants to call those whom had been invited to the wedding of His Son. Note then it was an invitation not an irresistible imposing controlling demand. This invitation was rejected and the hearers made a feeble excuse. Here is a classic case where we see the loving hands of God reaching out with compassion to His own people but they were resisting that grace. This is one of the profound truths that provide proof that the human will is certainly involved before a person can become a child of God. Note the scripture states that those who resisted the grace of God were not worthy to be at the Marriage. Now we know why God blinded their eyes because they resisted the grace of God by refusing to come to the Marriage of the Son. To imply that it was not possible to resist the will of God would also mean that God did not really want them to come in the first place. If that were true why is God portrayed here as one calling those who were invited to the feast? The answer is obvious to all, that it was His intense desire to have them at the great feast (Salvation) but they blatantly resisted that offer and by doing so God was sorely grieved. 

If the decision to receive Christ was driven by God’s imposing His will on unwary people why did Jesus go up the mountain to look over Jerusalem lamenting their refusal to come under His care? 
Luk 13:34.."Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets, you stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me! 
All they had to do to delight the heart of God was to accept His grace but they refused and this grieved the heart of God so much that he sorrowed over their choice. If irresistible grace were true why would Jesus lament at all? He would be Lamenting at the imposed will of God and this would be play acting. But of course Jesus was genuinely grieved because they “WOULD NOT COME”.

Finally we see how certain Jews resisted grace in Acts13:46
Act 13:46 But speaking boldly, Paul and Barnabas said, It was necessary for the Word of God to be spoken to you first. But since indeed you put it far from you and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the nations.

The Scripture is very graphic here in describing these Jews who rejected the Gospel as the ones personally responsible for their willful choice to resist grace. The Scripture also speaks of those who disobey the gospel receiving the fires of hell because they did not obey it. 
2Th 1:8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,
God has commanded all people everywhere to repent not a meager chosen few but everybody (Acts 17:30). If we are commanded to repent and we do not obey, it means we have the ability to make the choice. God is going to condemn people to hell because they refused to obey it. They broke God’s command to repent which means they had the ability to repent before they were saved. John 1:10-13 makes it quite clear that some received Christ before they were to become Children of God.

Irresistible Grace is not a Biblical supported doctrine, and if it were you could never accept that “God so loved the world”!

August 18 2014 16 responses Vote Up Share Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
The theory of irresistible grace can be summarized as God, determined to save some people who He has chosen as His elect, overcomes their resistance to obeying the gospel message to as to bring them to faith in Christ in a way they cannot resist.

Further sub-theories vary on how this is done - in some God so enlightens them with the truth that they see the irrefutable proof; in others the Spirit regenerates their fallen nature so they can have faith and indeed will have faith, and in others God directly gives them faith. For the purposes of this topic, however, I will focus on why the theory itself fails and not the various sub-theories on how it is enacted.

The teaching of irresistible grace does not find support in scripture, and many passages would seem to effectively contradict and refute it.

The theory fails on three main levels:

#1 Irresistible Grace proposes that God chooses some to be His elect people, then moves to ensure they get faith. Scripture, conversely, shows the reverse sequence - God chooses that those with faith will become part His elect people.

There isn't space to cover this in depth here, but these eBible topics cover that God chooses believers, He doesn't choose people to become believers:

#2 Irresistible Grace relies on a version of the theory of total depravity which goes farther than man being unable to achieve righteousness due to his sinful nature, but where man is so depraved he can't respond to the gospel message. Yet scripture shows that God specifically chose salvation to come through 'faith' rather than the law because while depraved man could not be perfectly righteous under the law, fallen man could trust in the perfect righteousness of Christ. Man was in darkness, yes, but God brought the light. Every grace needed for salvation was won at the cross. Our responding in faith is directly contrasted with trying to achieve justification via the law which we could not do.

Some passages that show this: Jn 1:1-13, Jn 6:28-29, Matt 4:16, Gal 3:23-29, Rom 4:5, I Thess 2:13, Rom 10:10-13, Rom 9:20-28, etc.)

See also: https://ebible.com/questions/18144-can-natural-fallen-man-do-anything-that-is-spiritually-good

#3 Irresistible grace is a contradiction in terms. 'Grace' is a gift or unmerited favor, but it loses its status as a gift if forced. Many Greek terms used in scripture such as lambanó, (Gal 3:2, II Cor 11:4, Gal 3:14, etc.) dechomai, (I Thess 2:13,) and katalambanó (Rom 9:30) highlight that to receive grace, the Spirit, act on the gospel message, etc. Man must actively, eagerly, and willingly take the gift. These terms unambiguously hold that man has volition and initiative in taking these gifts - they are not irresistibly forced from the outside.

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" Jn 1:12

Received is not ambiguous here as to whether one is passive (such as unconscious and given medicine, or receiving a beating) vs. Active. The Greek lambánō which literally means to "Accept with initiative" - to actively accept what is offered and available. It emphasises the free and eager volition of the one receiving an offered gift - not a passive receptance without choice.

Also notice that God gave them the right to become children of God because they believed, not prior to it.  He didn't choose them to believe because He had already selected them as His children.

June 28 2018 5 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Billy P Eldred
2 Peter 3:9 says "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness, instead He is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 

I believe the whole Bible is true. I cannot see how this verse could be true if the doctrine of irresistible grace were the only way to salvation. If so, would not all be saved? 

That does not mean to me that there are not those who God chose for a purpose that He placed an irresistible call upon their lives. HE is God and has plans that will come to pass. Some individuals are important in His grand scheme of things. I believe that this why there are two sides to this question. There are verses which support the statement of irresistible grace or call. There are other verses which cannot be true if God's call is always with irresistible grace. 

Because I believe the whole Bible is true, I believe the verse cited by both sides have to be true. To reconcile this I have to ask how can both sides be correct. My answer is they just don't ALWAYS apply to the same individuals. Some according to God's plan are given an irresistible call to grace. All others have the availability of unlimited Grace. 2 Peter then applies to each side.

June 26 2015 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini James Kraft 74 year old retired pipeline worker
God has chosen a few people. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit before He was born. Paul was chosen by God to be a preacher of the gospel (good news) to the Gentiles. 

It is not the Holy Spirit that draws men to be saved, it is Christ who draws men to be saved (Jn 12:32). John 6:40 "And this is the will of him that sent me, that all that seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also AFTER ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. 

We are not given the Holy Spirit until we believe the gospel. If limited atonement was true, then John 3:16, John 6:47, Romans 1:16 and a host of other verses could not be true. Romans 1:16 Salvation is to every one that believeth. 

If Gods grace was not available to all men, then we would have to say God is a liar. First Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 

If we were chosen to be saved regardless of faith, then justification by faith would not be true. Romans 4:5 but to the one that worketh not, but believe on Him who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 

How does anyone know they are saved? We can only go by what the bible says, and we can not know if another person is saved by how they live or what they do. If what we do or do not do had anything to do with salvation, then we would be our own savior. 

How do we come to faith? Faith cometh from hearing, hearing from the word of God. John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God, EVEN TO THEM THAT BELIEVE ON HIS NAME. We have to believe the gospel to be saved. 

First Corinthians 15:1-4 That Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, that He was buried and rose again on the third day, according to the scriptures. When we believe it we are given the Holy Spirit and eternal life. 

Galatians 1:7-9 Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which ye have received, let him be accursed.

Romans 11:6 says, salvation is all grace, not works, if it was by works, it would no longer be grace, and if by grace it is no more works. 

Both preach you have to repent of your sins to be saved. We do not repent of sin to be saved. We believe that Jesus died for our sins to be saved. He paid our sin debt in full. A believer can not possibly to go to hell because all our sins have been paid for. If they were not, no one would be saved because no one can live without sin. We all miss the mark and James 2:10 says, For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and ye offend in one point, he is guilty of all. That means we are no better than the worst sinner that ever lived. That is why Christ had to die for us. There was no other way for us to be saved.

John 5:24 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, HATH EVERLASTING LIFE, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."

January 15 2018 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Image41 Ezekiel Kimosop
My view is that the doctrine of Irresistible Grace is not consistent with the teaching of Scripture regarding God's calling of sinners through the gospel. 

First, the Irresistable Grace doctrine presupposes that the Total Depravity doctrine resonates with Biblical truth. It doesn't. The passage of Ephesians 2:1-10 doesn't support TULIP Calvinism. Paul used no less than four figures of speech to illustrate some truths. These metaphors cannot be interpreted literally without distorting the meaning of the text. One of these phrases popularly used by Calvinism to illustrate Total Depravity is the "dead in sin" (2:1,5). 

Does this text support the doctrine of Irresistible Grace? Absolutely not!

It is inconceivable that the sinner can literally be so dead in sin such that he must first be resuscitated to life by divine decree before he can hear the gospel! Whatever became of the power of the gospel? (cf. Hebrews 4:12). 

My view is that every sinner has the moral capacity to hear the gospel and to decide if or not to respond to its call. The notion that only those sinners that had been preselected or predetermined for salvation would hear God's calling in the gospel is misplaced.

My view is that it is not expressly taught or implied in Scripture that God has predestined that a given number or group of sinners shall be saved to the exclusion of others who will be left in sinful depravity and condemnation.

John 3:16 plainly teaches that the gospel is available to all sinners and that God will accept any sinner who hears and accept the gospel upon conviction of sin. 

My view is that the doctrine of Irresistible Grace, as with other Calvinistic soteriological doctrines, appears to be founded on faulty philosophical reasoning rather than the truths of Scripture when read in context. 

My view is that there's no single Scripture or passage that authoritatively and conclusively affirms the doctrine. No sinner is chosen outside the works of the cross. The same author who purportedly teaches Total Depravity in Ephesians 2, also answered the jailor in Acts 16:31 saying "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." (NKJV). 

Paul also outlines in Romans 10:9-10 "if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (NKJV).

March 09 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Robert Hibbard Retired Christian High School Teacher
I believe St. Paul is an excellent example of "irresistible grace." As Saul he was on his way to Damascus to continue his persecution of Christians, the Lord appears to him, blinds him, and orders him to enter Damascus (with assistance) where he stays for three days at the house of a man named Judas, during which time he neither eats nor sleeps while still blind. God calls a man named Ananias to go to Saul, lay his hands on him, and said "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 9:17) So Saul regains his sight, is baptized, eats, is strengthened, and is later renamed Paul and becomes one of the greatest early Christian missionaries and Scripture writers ever. 

God literally confronts a man who hated Christians, and changes him to be a great servant of Christ. So God can certainly give grace and life change to anyone who would oppose Him when He wills to do so.

September 28 2023 1 response Vote Up Share Report

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