DOCTRINES OF GRACE

4. Irresistible Grace

Now we shall turn our attention to Ephesians 2:8, in which we read, ďFor by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.Ē The word ďgraceĒ is one of the most commonly used words among people who claim to be Christians. Unfortunately, many people have wrong ideas about the meaning and power of Godís grace. Therefore it is important to understand Godís perspective of grace.

In order to correctly understand grace from Godís point of view, let us ask the following questions. Why is it that two people who hear the same gospel message from Godís word react so differently, one person embracing the good news and another person bitterly opposing it? Is the answer that one person has more problems than another and so the troubled person is more ripe for the consolation of the Word of God? Is the answer that the evening before one person had more rest or a better meal than the other and therefore is more alert and attentive? Is the answer that one person is distracted by a crying child close by and another person is not? Is the answer that while God works in the hearts of people through His Word as they listen to the gospel, each person may or may not effectively resist the prompting of the Spirit, so that if one man does not resist and the other does, the results of the same gospel presentation will be different? No! All of these are external, human factors. They are not the reason some people are respond positively to the gospel and other people do not.

Godís grace is as strong as God Himself. The grace of God, as it works in the hearts of men, cannot be effectively resisted. It is irresistible grace. For the sake of clarity, it might be better to describe Godís grace as invincible grace. People are not blocks of wood, docile and immobile. Because of their rebellious nature, men do resist the gospel they hear. However, from the point of view of God, while men desire to turn away from the gospel and spurn the offer of grace, the Spirit will effectively work in those whom God wills to save. No matter how strongly a man resists, the Spirit always wins. He never has and never will lose. Godís grace is invincible. Manís resistance is ineffective. Paul himself is an excellent illustration of this. Paul was committed to a life of persecuting Christ and His people. Grace, irresistible invincible grace, captured his heart and transformed him into a champion for the faith.

The power of grace can be compared to the attempt of a farmer to get a stubborn mule into his barn before a great storm begins. He could encourage and entice the mule with a carrot or a pail of grain. But a stubborn mule wonít move for any reason if he is not so inclined to. However, the farmer could also tie one end of a strong rope around the mule and tie the other end of the rope to the back of his tractor. When the tractor begins to pull, we have no doubt of the outcome of the tug of war. The salvation of the Bible is like the power of the tractor over the stubbornness of the mule. Similarly, grace always wins (John 6:37,39). The final decision of who will embrace the gospel is Godís alone and His will is always done. Salvation is Godís work from beginning to end.

Perhaps some one may ask ďDoes God cause us to be saved against our desires? Does He force salvation upon us? Do we go kicking and screaming into the Godís kingdom, not wanting His grace? Is salvation like trying to give a child a bitter medicine? Can a Christian in heaven say, `I didnít really want to be here, but God made me.í?Ē In one sense the answer is ďyes,Ē for no body seeks after God, all are his enemy. That is, outside of grace all men hate God and His salvation (John 3:19,20, Rom. 3:10,11). But in another sense the answer is ďno,Ē for when Godís grace begins to work in a manís heart something wonderful happens. Grace creates a completely new life in a manís heart so that he wants to do Godís will (Ezek. 11:19,20, Rom. 6:17, II Cor. 5:17). When grace comes to a man, his resistance completely disappears and he joyfully, eagerly and earnestly follows the Lord. Grace changes a personís will to want to be Godís child.

Paul, for example, did not finally and reluctantly submit to Christ after God exhaustingly pursued him and wore down his resistance. Rather, Paul continued in his stubborn way until God decided it was time to change his heart by grace. Then Paul gladly responded to God with a new heart. The effect of grace in a personís heart can be compared to a loving parentís attempt to help a small child overcome his fear of the water. Facing the water for the first time, the child is scared. He has no desire to enter the water. But after the parent very gently coaxes and woos the child into the water, assuring the child that he will stay with him at all times, the child begins to love it and eventually cries and complains when he must get out of the water. So is the work of irresistible grace. God gives men, who fear His holy presence, a heart which makes them thankful for His grace (Acts 16:14, Rom. 8:30, 9:16, Gal. 1:15) .

It is amazing that some people agree with Ephesians 6:10-16, that in their own strength they cannot resist the efforts of Satan, yet the same people believe that they can somehow resist and thwart Godís work of grace. That does not make sense, for Satan is not stronger than God.

God always does His good pleasure no matter what anyone else does (Phil. 2:13). According to Ephesians 2:8, salvation is ďnot of yourselves.Ē It is all of grace. That is a sinnerís great comfort and that is a plan for that God gets all the credit and glory, as we read in Ephesians 1:5,6, ďHaving predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.Ē What precious and amazing grace!

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