Someone I love died angry. I’d witnessed to her, very imperfectly, over many years, always fearing that my unchristlike behavior nullified everything I’d told her about Jesus. Admittedly, I don’t really know what happened between her and the Lord during her final moments on earth, but every conversation I had with her showed a rejection of fundamental Biblical truth. So it haunts me to know that she died angry.
Sometimes I struggle with temptation to blame myself. I think I should have told her the Gospel more often and more accurately. I should have acted less hypocritically and demonstrated more of Christ’s love. Well, yes, I did fail in how I represented Christ, and I pray I’ll learn from my sins in witnessing to her.
But my blunders, as serious as they were, did not keep her from turning to Christ. And this very point leads me to resume my discussion on T.U.L.I.P. (or the five points of Calvinism) by introducing the doctrine of Irresistible Grace.
The doctrine of Irresistible Grace teaches that those whom God elects for salvation will not refuse His call. As with the doctrine of Unconditional Election, this teaches that regeneration is accomplished solely by God, adding only the nuance that His call is always effectual. In other words, mere human beings simply don’t have the ability to resist His sovereign decree appointing them to salvation.
I feel a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of explaining this doctrine (and therefore have procrastinated in writing this blog post) because so many Scriptures support it that I can hardly decide which to present. Obviously, I must obey the limitations of time, space and copyright laws when it comes to making a case from the Word of God, leaving me frustrated at the certainty of giving inadequate evidence. And yet, anyone who seriously wants to find Biblical affirmation of Irresistible Grace can easily Google it.
So today I’ll only introduce this doctrine by commenting on Jesus’ own remarks about how people come to Him. In thinking about Irresistible Grace, my mind instantly goes to His statement in John’s gospel:
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. ~~~John 6:44 (ESV)
Well, that little proclamation certainly squashes human pride! I mean, Jesus actually says here that we lack the ability to become Christians without the Father’s direct intervention. We can’t make our own decision whether or not to follow Christ, according to His own words. Yet, if the Father draws someone, Jesus promises to raise that person up.
Jesus strengthens the idea of election without our participation in His last discourse before His crucifixion:
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. ~~John 15:16 (ESV)
We love the part of this verse assuring us that the Father will give us whatever we ask in Jesus’ Name, but we can’t appropriate that promise without also appropriating the pronouncement that we did not choose Him. Again, that concept humbles us, taking away all possibility of congratulating ourselves for “accepting” Him. But it also highlights the implicit idea that, upon His choosing of us, we came.
My loved one, had the Lord elected her to salvation, could never have rejected Him. And perhaps, despite her anger that last day, something transpired between her and the Lord that I don’t know about. If that sweet lady was one of God’s elect, nothing could have prevented her from accepting His call. Not even her own will.