Calvinism: Irresistible Grace – Part 2

Today I want to conclude looking at the fourth letter letter in the acronym T.U.L.I.P. and the doctrine of Irresistible Grace, also known as Effectual Calling. In Part 1 we defined Irresistible Grace is and looked at 2 common misconceptions and objections. So now let’s look at what the bible says about Irresistible Grace?

#1- John 6:36-40,

“36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

Jesus makes it clear that those he’s speaking to do not have a faith unto salvation. But he immediately tells them, that the one whom the Father’s given Him will come to Him and Christ will never reject them (36-37). Some of you will say “Well the Father gave him every person in the world.” According to the text this is impossible. Since it says “that those whom the Father has given him will be raised on the last day.” So this rules out all unbelievers. This is indisputable that those whom God elects he effectually calls unto salvation. Why is it indisputable? Because Jesus will “raise them up at the last day.”

#2- John 10:25-29

“25 I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

Jesus confronting more people who do not believe. He flat out tells them the reason they do not believe is not because they don’t have enough information, it’s because they are not His sheep. This is where Irresistible grace and Unconditional Election converge. He says in verse 27, that those who are elect before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1) or as Jesus calls them, “My sheep,” when they hear the voice of Jesus, what do they do? They follow Him. You have to do some serious exegetical gymnastics to make this say anything, except that Jesus effectually calls and saves the elect. Because when they hear the voice of the shepherd they follow Him.

“But Irresistible Grace Can’t Be True Because We Can Resist!”

Calvinists absolutely believe you can resist God, but it’s clear from the Scriptures that there comes a point that when God freely chooses to overcome the sinner’s resistance. God proclaims, “No Longer!” and God triumphs in the heart of the rebellious sinner. It’s all God! We weren’t the ones who overcame our spiritual deadness. We didn’t overcome our rebellion. We didn’t overcome our spiritual blindness. No it was God that overcame it all! If you are a follower of Jesus today, praise God that the Holy Spirit drew you to Himself by making Christ and the gospel so compelling to you, that your resistance was destroyed, and you freely came to Him, received Him and placed your faith in Him. The Father took away our spiritual deafness so that we would hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him.

#3- John 6:43-44

“43 But Jesus replied, ‘Stop complaining about what I said. 44 For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.‘” In John 6 the people don’t like hearing this and the start complaining, and what does Jesus say to them? He tells them knock it off and quit complaining and he proclaims to them the same thing again with more detail. Jesus tells them that no one will be saved unless the Father draws them and shows them the beauty of Jesus. Only if this happens will Christ raise them up on the last day.

We learn 3 truths from Jesus’ conversation in John 6.

#1– You will not come to Christ, without the Father drawing you to Him. 

#2– This implies that everyone who has came to Christ did so because of the Father’s drawing them.

#3– All glory for your salvation, belongs to God because He began it in eternity past, and He at point in your past effectually called you to His Son and one day, the work He began in you, He will complete (Phil. 1:6). Soli Deo Gloria!

Calvinism: Irresistible Grace – Part 1

Today I want to begin looking at the fourth letter letter in the acronym T.U.L.I.P. and the doctrine of Irresistible Grace, also known as Effectual Calling. I first want to define what Irresistible Grace actually is and also look at some common objections to this doctrine. Then in Part 2 I’ll end with a look at what the Scriptures say about it.

Contrary to many opponents of the doctrines of grace, Irresistible Grace or Effectual Calling, does not teach that God will drag you to heaven kicking and screaming if He has to. A biblical understanding of Irresistible Grace could be defined in this way: “God effectually calls His elect by bringing them from spiritual death to spiritual life; God is truly overcoming the sinner’s rebellious heart and giving them a new heart, where they respond effectually to the calling of the Spirit.”

Now I want to address two misconceptions and wrong conclusion opponents of Irresistible Grace tend to run to when looking at this issue.

Misconception #1 – Irresistible Grace Means Man Has No Free Will

I won’t go into much detail at all on this one since we’ve already addressed this in detail in our series, in the post entitled, Does Man Have a Free Will? This misconception is wrapped up in the idea that this means God drags sinners kicking and screaming into heaven. No Calvinist would ever affirm that mentality whatsoever. I will say this, Irresistible Grace does nothing to negate free will, but as we dealt with in the previous post, it all depends on what you mean by free will.

Misconception #2 – Irresistible Grace Makes Evangelism Pointless

We’ve also dealt with this one in detail previously as well in Since God is Sovereign, Should We Evangelize the Lost? This misconception centers around “Well, if God does the drawing of men to Himself what’s the point of us preaching the gospel to sinners after all He’s going to save them anyway?” With all due respect to any reading this that struggle with this doctrine and have this objection jump to your mind, this shows a complete lack of overall biblical theology. I dealt with the motivations for Calvinists to evangelize in the previous post, which I think are more freeing and more God-glorifying than a non-Calvinist approach to evangelism. However, one point that that my non-Calvinist brothers & sisters tend to ignore is the fact that the most important words Christ gave to His church is the Great Commission. Regardless of the motivations for evangelism, there is no question that Christ’s words to make disciples of all nations was no mere suggestion, but a command from our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. So regardless of where you stand on this doctrine, if you are a follower of Jesus, He’s commanding you to spread the good news of the gospel and call men to repentance and faith in Him. Brothers & sisters, let us all be found faithful in our calling.

 

Calvinism: Limited Atonement “Mission Accomplished” – Part 6

I want to end our look at limited atonement with an amazing sermon clip from from Elder D.J. Ward who pastored Main Street Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky and is now in the presence of our Savior. This is the heart of limited atonement, that we can proclaim “Jesus Paid it All!” That as Elder Ward opens the video with, “The death of Christ was not an attempt, it was an accomplishment!” Believer rest knowing that your redemption is truly accomplished, that you bring nothing to your salvation…Jesus truly paid it all and accomplished our salvation.

Calvinism: Limited Atonement “5 More Problem Passages” – Part 5

I’m continuing a study of the third letter in the acronym T.U.L.I.P. and the doctrine of Limited Atonement. In Part 1 I gave a defense of Limited Atonement from a more aerial or an overall theological view. In Part 2 I gave a theological defense of Limited Atonement that is grounded in history and logic. In Part 3 I looked at specific texts that provide evidence for a limited atonement. In Part 4 I looked at five so-called “Problem Passages” for Calvinism. In this fifth look at limited atonement I want to look at five more so-called “Problem Passages for Calvinism.

#1- Hebrews 2:9, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

The question levied from this passage by unlimited atonement advocates, is if limited atonement is true why does it say Christ tasted death for everyone? I would say you’re starting at the wrong place. The right question would be who is the “everyone” that the writer of Hebrews is referring to in this verse? To answer this let me keep this verse in it’s context. Because lets be honest whenever we use the words “all”, “every” or “everyone” we don’t always mean every single person in the world. And how do people understand the difference in our meaning of the word we’re using? Context. The writer of Hebrews does exactly that as he answers who the “everyone” is in the verses to follow.

Hebrews, 2:10-11, “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing MANY SONS to glory, should make the founder of THEIR SALVATION perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and THOSE WHO ARE SANCTIFIED all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call THEM BROTHERS. saying, ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.’ And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again, ‘Behold, I and THE CHILDREN GOD HAS GIVEN ME.‘”

Who is “everyone” mentioned in verse 9? The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that it is the elect, it is those who are believers.

#2- John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Usually when someone brings up John 3:16, they think it’s the death nail in Calvinism and they’ve won. I could at this point detail many issues with this, but I’ve already addressed one of the biggest objections to Calvinism previously when discussing John 4:42 & 1 John 2:2. I will remind you yet again, the same author who wrote John 4:42 & 1 John 2:2 wrote John 3:16. His use of the word world remains consistent here. I firmly believe that “the world” mentioned here is speaking of the elect from all people groups. There’s an excellent 3 part youtube series that deals with this in more detail than I have time for here. So I’ll link to them here… Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3.

Even if you reject that the term world is specifically referring to the elect. You have to recognize that even if the assertion that it refers to all people everywhere without exception, the rest of the verse still qualifies the universal term, “world.” It actually points to the fact that Jesus died for those who believe in him. One aspect of this discussion that many try to glance over is the fact that God does not love everyone, He loves His people, He loves His elect. So this helps us conclude further who the world refers to…the elect from all people groups.

To explain further, there are many nations that God declares his wrath on, where he does not love them; the Amalekites (Ex. 17:14); the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites (Deut. 20:16-18), The Ammonites & Moabites (Deut. 23:3). Beyond nations, God through the scriptures also shows he does not love certain individuals; All evildoers are said to be hated by God (Ps. 5:5), He does not love vessels of wrath fitted for destruction (Rom 9:22), and Pharaoh’s heart was specifically hardened by God (Rom. 9:17), and Esau was hated by God (Rom. 9:13). This is one of those things that the atheist and many Christians raised in an Arminian view of salvation have a terrible time reconciling. Now there is common grace that God bestows on all of his creation, which is this common favor where all men, even reprobates, enjoy the blessings of God’s creation until the final judgment. It’s also truth that all men receive common grace as a benefit of the atonement, through the rise of Christian culture that greatly influence the western world. These are mere benefits, they are not the love of God. God blesses his creation with common grace, but the atonement is an actual, definite atonement where God truly pours out His love toward His elect, that provides them with true efficacious grace. These are hard truths to embrace, but ultimately if one is a believer in Christ, we must believe the scriptures rather than the philosophy of man.

#3- 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

The objection here is, “See! God doesn’t wish any should perish! He wants all to come to repentance!” While in a general sense this is true. From a theological standpoint God absolutely does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11). The problem however is the inference by opponents of Limited Atonement, is not the face that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked and would rather have them turn from their ways and live. That’s not what they’re truly seeking to prove. Both the Arminian and Calvinist agree on this truth. What they’re trying to prove is the extent of the atonement being. Since God’s not wishing that any should perish and all should come to repentance then obviously Jesus died for all people who ever lived.

Not so fast my friend! I’m going to remind you again of the most important thing when reading scripture…context. You can’t simply read the end of the verse, without the beginning of the verse. And you can’t read verse without understanding it’s place within the paragraph and chapter it’s in and ultimately you’ve got to understand it’s context within the book of the bible it’s found in.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you…” Well what is this promise? and Who is the “you” that he’s being patient towards? The promise in the context of the chapter is clear that this promise is the Second Coming of Christ. There were believers who worried about why Christ had not returned. They were facing terrible persecution and scoffers. Peter’s reminding the readers of this letter that although some feel like His promise is being fulfilled to slowly, there’s a reason for it. Peter says the reason is because God’s being patient toward you. Well who is the “you”? The “you” refers to the people to whom Peter wrote the letter. 2 Peter 1:1 says, “I am writing to you, who share the same precious faith we have” (NLT). So we find out that Peter’s referring to Christians in 2 Peter 3:9 and we find from his first letter to them (1 Peter), he actually refers to them as elect exiles.

So now that we know who the “you” is it should help us understand the verse more. Permit me to change the wording based on other passages. 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise [to come again for His Church] as some count slowness, but is patient toward [the elect], not wishing that any [of the elect] should perish, but that all [the elect] should reach repentance. Peter’s telling them the very reason that the Second Coming is taking so long in their minds is for the express reason that God will not allow any of His elect to perish and not come to repentance. God loves His redeemed, He loves those for whom He died so much He will not allow even one of them to be lost. This passage has absolutely nothing to do with how God feels about those whom are not His sheep.

#4- 1 Timothy 2:3-6, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

As has been our modus operandi in the “problem passages” part of our look at limited atonement, we must again consider the context. Paul begins the thought of verses 3-6 in the previous two verses. He writes, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

The most important part of understanding this passage is again realizing the usage of the word “all.” There’s no possible way that Paul means that “all” means every single person ever existed in the past, in the present, or in the future, like many want to take this to mean. Are we supposed to pray for millions of people who are dead and burning in hell? Of course not. Are we supposed to pray for millions of Christians who are in heaven? Of course not, unless you hold to the unbiblical, Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory.

Also remember the Apostle John tells us not to pray for those who have committed the sin leading to death (1 John 5:16). Jesus in John 17:9 says that he prays for those who will repent and believe and not for those who reject Him. Paul elsewhere actually says to give thanksgiving for all men. Does that mean you’re to give thanks for murderous tyrants or child molesters? Of course not. As believers we ought to pray for all types, or all kinds of people in every station of life.

Paul is speaking of all kinds of men, throughout this passage. What I also find striking is that the salvation mentioned here is not a mere possibility, or just an offer of salvation, or even an arrangement set up by God where men can save themselves. Paul is speaking of a real, definite and actual salvation provided through Jesus.

So let us revisit the text with the proper context. What does God desire?

This is good, and xit is pleasing in the sight of yGod our Savior, 4 who desires zall people to be saved and ato come to bthe knowledge of the truth. 5 For cthere is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man1 Christ Jesus, 6 dwho gave himself as a ransom for all, which is ethe testimony given fat the proper time.

#5- Romans 10:13, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”

Those who deny limited atonement or even election will often turn to this verse to proclaim, “See! Jesus died for everyone! Every person who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The problem with this, is that it is only half true. It is absolutely true that everyone who calls on the name of Lord will be saved. The Calvinist and advocate of limited atonement would say amen to this. However, this verse does not teach that the atonement is for every person who’s ever lived, or both believer and unbeliever. If anything this verse teaches the opposite. As we have seen already in this series of posts, that only those who are saved, are the ones for whom Christ died. So according to Romans 10:13, Jesus has died for “everyone who calls upon His name,” and in turn has not died for those who have not called upon His name. Those for whom Jesus has shed His blood are only those who call upon Him for salvation. It is those that place their faith in Jesus and His work of redemption that He actually accomplished for the redeemed.

Calvinism: How to Preach in Light of Limited Atonement

Tim Challies new blog post entitled, “Preaching the Gospel with TULIP’s Tricky ‘L’ in Mind” he answers well, the question of how do you preach in light of limited atonement. He begins his post with:

It’s a fair question for the Arminian to ask: How can you preach the free offer of the gospel when you believe in a limited atonement? How can you preach the “whosoever” of John 3:16 if you cannot be certain that Christ’s atonement was for every person? How can you say, “Turn to Christ and be saved all the ends of the earth” if Christ’s atoning sacrifice does not extend to all humanity?”

These are good questions that he answers well. So definitely check out his post here and I hope you find at as helpful as I did.

Calvinism: Limited Atonement “5 Problem Passages” – Part 4

We are taking a look at the third letter in the acronym T.U.L.I.P. and the doctrine of Limited Atonement. In Part 1 I gave a defense of Limited Atonement from a more aerial or an overall theological view. In Part 2 I gave a theological defense of Limited Atonement that is grounded in history and logic.  In Part 3 I looked at specific texts that provide evidence for a limited atonement. Today I want to take a look at five so-called “Problem Passages” for Calvinism. Continue reading “Calvinism: Limited Atonement “5 Problem Passages” – Part 4″

Calvinism: Limited Atonement – Part 3

We are taking a look at the third letter in the acronym T.U.L.I.P. and the doctrine of Limited Atonement. In Part 1 I gave a defense of Limited Atonement from a more aerial or an overall theological view. In Part 2 I gave a theological defense of Limited Atonement that is grounded in history and logic.  In this post I want to take a look at specific texts that provide evidence for a definite atonement.

Continue reading “Calvinism: Limited Atonement – Part 3”

Calvinism: Limited Atonement – Part 2

We are taking a look at the third letter in the acronym T.U.L.I.P. and the doctrine of Limited Atonement. In Part 1 I gave a defense of Limited Atonement from a more aerial or an overall theological view. In this post I want to give one more theological defense, but one that is grounded in history and has stood the test of time.  Continue reading “Calvinism: Limited Atonement – Part 2”

Calvinism: Limited Atonement – Part 1

Now we move to the third and possibly the most controversial of the five points of Calvinism. Many Christians who believe in the doctrine of election would still deny this point. We are taking a look at the third letter in the acronym T.U.L.I.P. and the doctrine of Limited Atonement. I will spend the next few posts giving a defense of the doctrine. In this post I will specifically deal with the overall theological reasons to hold to Limited Atonement. The next few posts I will deal with the exegetical proofs where I’ll detail a number of passages supporting the doctrine. Then I will end with answering some of the objections to it, as well as dealing with so-called “problem passages.” Continue reading “Calvinism: Limited Atonement – Part 1”

Calvinism: Unconditional Election – Part 1

We are continuing our look at the Doctrines of Grace, commonly referred to as Calvinism. Today we are specifically looking at the second letter of the T.U.L.I.P. acronym, U, which stands for Unconditional Election. The first question that we have to ask before we deal with anything else is, “What is Unconditional Election?”

Continue reading “Calvinism: Unconditional Election – Part 1”