Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tiptoeing through the TULIPs - Part 4: Irresistible Grace

Irresistible Grace
As with just about every other teaching in Calvinist theology, the idea of a grace that cannot be resisted conflicts with our natural, fallen concept of freedom. "God wouldn't force us to love him," some argue. "He didn't create us to be robots. Wouldn't it make more sense to give us the freedom to choose?"

Jesus says in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." This reinforces the fact that there is no one doing good or seeking after God (Psalm 14:1-3). But our depravity goes beyond a mere inability to do anything that is pleasing to our Creator. Not only do we fail to seek God, we are hostile to him (Romans 8:7).

In one sense, we are robots in that sin has programmed us to hate God. Yes, we do what we want, but our unregenerate hearts only want that which is evil. As Martin Luther wrote, "'Free-will' is a mere empty term, and that every thing which we do, is done from necessity under the bondage of sin." The only thing that can set us free is divine grace. As we see in scripture, it is not the sheep who seek the shepherd, but the shepherd who seeks the sheep (Ezekiel 34:11-12, Luke 15:3-7).

Irresistible grace may initially seem at odds with certain passages of scripture. For example, in Acts 7:51, Stephen accuses his listeners of always resisting the Holy Spirit. In Zechariah 7:11-12, we learn that the people "refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets." The list of examples goes on.

As I pointed out earlier, scripture teaches that the unrepentant, unbelieving heart is hostile toward God. We resist him all the time. We are born resisting him. So, what do we mean by "irresistible grace"?

It may help to think of it in terms of an "outward call" and an "inward call." The outward call is the general gospel call for all people, both elect and non-elect, to repent and believe. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). This call is rejected all the time, sometimes violently. Stephen was stoned to death for presenting the truth, and Christians throughout history have been martyred for the sake of the gospel.

The inward call, however, is the irresistible pull of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of those whom God has elected for salvation. Paul tells us that "those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified" (Romans 8:30). Note his use of the past tense, as if these have already been accomplished for every believer. Those who receive the Spirit's call are justified. There is no question about it.

The truth to be learned here is that while it is natural for fallen man to resist God, the power of the Holy Spirit can and does overcome that resistance. The creature is not more powerful than the Creator, therefore we are incapable of disrupting God's plan of salvation.

Part 1: Total Depravity
Part 2: Unconditional Election
Part 3: Limited Atonement
Part 4: Irresistable Grace
Part 5: Perseverance of the Saints


Unknown said...

Scripture Proves John Calvin Taught False Doctrines

John Calvin's doctrine of "Irresistible Grace" is clearly shown to be incorrect by Jesus' clear declaration.

We believe that salvation is by grace through faith based upon the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus took upon Himself the sins of all mankind by His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead provides salvation to all who believe.

All who receive the Lord Jesus Christ through faith are born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby become the children of God.

Calvinism encompasses many of the features which are characteristic of a Christian cult. Calvinists hold John Calvin in such high esteem that his writings and teachings are studied and quoted in preference to Scripture.

His teachings are used by Calvinists to interpret Scripture rather than the sound doctrine of using Scripture to interpret Scripture.

John Calvin defined important doctrinal Bible words differently than the orthodox and historic Christian interpretation. These erroneous definitions are needed to give logical support to Calvin's blasphemous doctrines.

This technique is typical of cults such as Mormons, who hold Joseph Smith in high esteem and base their doctrines on his writings.

Calvinists are so indoctrinated with these false definitions that they cannot understand the opposition to their doctrines.

Naturally Calvinists believe the false doctrines of John Calvin, because they believe the false definitions of major doctrinal words.

The human brain is easily tricked when one does not search diligently for the truth. Calvinists have typically taught from the marginal notes in the Calvinist's Geneva Bible in preference to the Scriptural text.

King James ordered the King James Version translation of the English Bible to be printed in order to rid the church of Calvin's marginal notes.

John Calvin's doctrines are an incomplete and inaccurate gospel which is not in agreement with the Holy Scriptures.

This study of Calvinism will easily prove the doctrines of John Calvin to be unorthodox and contrary to the historic Christian Church.

Lee Shelton said...

Don't you, as a Catholic, hold the Pope, the Magisterium, and church tradition higher than scripture? For example, your belief in the bodily assumption of Mary has no scriptural basis whatsoever.

Unknown said...

Dear Lee,


75 "Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips.

In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline."32

In the apostolic preaching. . .

76 In keeping with the Lord's command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways:

- orally "by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received - whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit";33

- in writing "by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing".34

. . . continued in apostolic succession

77 "In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors.

They gave them their own position of teaching authority."35 Indeed, "the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time."36

78 This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes."37

"The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer."38


Unknown said...

Dear Lee,


Father Clifford Stevens

The Assumption is the oldest feast day of Our Lady, but we don't know how it first came to be celebrated.

Its origin is lost in those days when Jerusalem was restored as a sacred city, at the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337).

By then it had been a pagan city for two centuries, ever since Emperor Hadrian (76-138) had leveled it around the year 135 and rebuilt it as Aelia Capitolina in honor of Jupiter.

For 200 years, every memory of Jesus was obliterated from the city, and the sites made holy by His life, death and Resurrection became pagan temples.

After the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 336, the sacred sites began to be restored and memories of the life of Our Lord began to be celebrated by the people of Jerusalem.

One of the memories about his mother centered around the "Tomb of Mary," close to Mount Zion, where the early Christian community had lived.

On the hill itself was the "Place of Dormition," the spot of Mary's "falling asleep," where she had died.

The "Tomb of Mary" was where she was buried.

At this time, the "Memory of Mary" was being celebrated. Later it was to become our feast of the Assumption.

For a time, the "Memory of Mary" was marked only in Palestine, but then it was extended by the emperor to all the churches of the East.

In the seventh century, it began to be celebrated in Rome under the title of the "Falling Asleep" ("Dormitio") of the Mother of God.

Soon the name was changed to the "Assumption of Mary," since there was more to the feast than her dying. It also proclaimed that she had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven.


Lee Shelton said...

As I said, no basis in scripture. Thanks for proving my point.

Unknown said...

Dear Lee,

"While Protestants study the menu (the Bible), Catholics enjoy the meal."
Dr Scott Hahn...

"Dogmas of the Catholic Church are interconnected. If one is rejected, such as the infallibility of the Pope, then all are rejected."
Fr. Trujillo...

"Here is the shotgun analogy. Fire a Protestant shotgun and a Catholic shotgun at a wall. The pattern will be the opinions of those within, liberal, conservative, etc.

With the Catholic, we always know who is at the center, the Pope and the Magisterium. With the Protestant, how can we determine who is in the center?"

Marcus Grodi, ex Protestant minister, now Catholic...

Unknown said...

Lee Shelton IV said...
....your belief in the bodily assumption of Mary has no scriptural basis whatsoever.

Dear Lee,
Mary, being an important instrument in the salvific work of Christ, and being entirely free from sin, would be assumed into heaven because 1) Nothing of course, couldn't enter into heaven that isn't totally clean of sin (Revelation 21:27).

Thus, she was entirely ready to enter heaven 2) It is fitting that Mary, like other instruments of God's will would be eventually placed in the holiest place.

For example, the ark of the commandments (which had the Ten Commandments in them) were placed in the Dwelling, were they not (Exodus 40:3)?

If you are familiar with your Old Testament you may recall the budding of Aaron's rod (Numbers 17:23) which was a figure of the blessed Virgin conceiving and giving birth to her Son Jesus.

What did they do with that rod? They put that too in the Dwelling before the commandments (Numbers 17:25-26).

The placing of Aaron's rod in the tabernacle of testimony is a figure of the Assumption.

The "Dwelling" is a figure of God's very dwelling, heaven.

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