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'Irresistible' and 'Resistible' Grace

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    'Irresistible' and 'Resistible' Grace

    by Herman Bavinck

    The term “irresistible grace” is not really of Reformed origin but was used by Jesuits and Remonstrants to characterize the doctrine of the efficacy of grace as it was advocated by Augustine and those who believed as he did. The Reformed in fact had some objections to the term because it was absolutely not their intent to deny that grace is often and indeed always resisted by the unregenerate person and therefore could be resisted. They therefore preferred to speak of the efficacy or of the insuperability of grace, or interpreted the term “irresistible” in the sense that grace is ultimately irresistible. The point of the disagreement, accordingly, was not whether humans continually resisted and could resist God’s grace, but whether they could ultimately–at the specific moment in which God wanted to regenerate them and work with his efficacious grace in their heart–still reject that grace.

    #2
    Is this similar to the "inward/outward call?"
    Comment>

      #3
      Originally posted by wfredeemed009 View Post
      Is this similar to the "inward/outward call?"
      I believe one can see Grace in any part of Salvation, to answer your question, yes, the outward call goes out to everyone, an invitation to come to Christ in repentance and faith. Jesus himself invites people to come to him in repentance and faith: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).

      While God calls all men externally, He only calls His own internally. Those who truly respond to the external call are those who have been internally called by God and given new birth. Then they respond in faith to the external call.

      In some ways, the external call is common grace which can be resisted. It is a universal call that goes out to everyone. However the internal call (regeneration) is irresistible.

      Here are two opposing sides on the subject. The first by Hoeksema who argues against the Gospel call being an offer or form of grace toward the non elect. The second is a scriptural view of a well meant Gospel call offered in grace. The 1st seemingly does not take the Gospel call seriously, and the second does:
      1. Just to give you a controversial position, here is Herman Hoeksema. According to Hoeksema, the gospel call is never an offer. For if it were an offer, it would imply that all those to whom the gospel comes are able to accept this offer in their own strength.' This, however, is not true. Only the elect (those whom God chose from eternity to be saved) are given the ability to accept the gospel call. This gospel call is therefore not a universal offer of grace and salvation, but it is an odor of life to life and an odor of death to death, in accordance with the express purpose of God.
      2. And here is the the Scriptural basis for the well-meant gospel call. We look first of all at two passages from Ezekiel. Ezekiel 18:23 is in the form of a question: "Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" Ezekiel 33:11 gives the answer to this question: "As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, 0 house of Israel?"

      Taking issue with Hoeksema on this point, the Christian Reformed Church of North America maintains, in agreement with the majority of Reformed theologians, that the preaching of the gospel is a well-meant offer of salvation, not just on the part of the preacher, but on God's part as well, to all who hear it, and that God seriously and earnestly desires the salvation of all to whom the gospel call comes.

      God bless
      William
      Comment>

        #4
        Originally posted by William View Post
        that God seriously and earnestly desires the salvation of all to whom the gospel call comes.
        Am I the only one who stumbles a little on this?
        How can God "seriously and earnestly desires the salvation of all" when the Bible also tells us that without the 'inner call', none can hear or understand the Gospel call, never mind actually respond to it?
        (The paradox just leaves me confused).

        2 Cor 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

        John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

        Comment>

          #5
          Originally posted by atpollard View Post
          Am I the only one who stumbles a little on this?
          How can God "seriously and earnestly desires the salvation of all" when the Bible also tells us that without the 'inner call', none can hear or understand the Gospel call, never mind actually respond to it?
          (The paradox just leaves me confused).

          2 Cor 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

          John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
          Personally, I don't see a paradox. I'm sure you remember that Ezekiel was told to preach the word to a valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. To some, they'd argue against God thinking it foolishness, but it pleased God that Ezekiel had done as he was commanded. And on the receiving end, just because a man thinks the Gospel Call is foolishness and refuses to bend a knee or confess the Lord, doesn't mean that he should not be held accountable. If anything, we should pray for the regeneration of this kind of man, and not only us, but he for himself.

          Some men are the objects of God's affections, and others are not. Though they are not, they shall be held accountable and responsible for their actions. The only way I can see a paradox is if I attempt to shift the accountability and responsibility onto the shoulders of God. Pretty simply put, man's rejection of the Gospel is a litmus test which tells of Election. The Gospel Call or word of God is the instrument as we are, by which, God uses His people to bring people to Faith, as Faith comes by hearing the word of God. Though a man reject the Gospel, the invitation still stands, and he shall be held accountable and responsible for his sins. So to him, the message still remains, believe and repent.The gospel invitation is not one a person may feel free to accept or decline, but it is an order from the sovereign Lord of all creation to come to him for salvation - an order that can be ignored only at the cost of one's eternal perdition. The Gospel Call and promise is, however, conditional: you will receive forgiveness and salvation if you repent and believe. When I call the promise included in the gospel call conditional, I do not mean that this is a condition which human beings can fulfill in their own strength. God alone can enable the hearer of the gospel call to repent and believe. The hearer must therefore pray that God will empower him or her to do so, and must give God the praise when he does so. But the condition must be fulfilled if the blessing is to be received.

          John Calvin wrote on Ezekiel 18:23:
          • Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

          "We hold, then, that God wills not the death of a sinner, since he calls all equally to repentance, and promises himself prepared to receive them if they only seriously repent. If anyone should object-then there is no election of God, by which he has predestinated a fixed number to salvation, the answer is at hand: the Prophet does not here speak of God's secret counsel, but only recalls miserable men from despair, that they may apprehend the hope of pardon, and repent and embrace the offered salvation."
          • Matthew 23:37, "0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing".

          Here Jesus, sobbing out his grief, tells Jerusalem how often he has longed to have her citizens come to him to be saved, and how grieved he is at their refusal to do so. He uses the figure of the lien gathering her chicks under her wings to protect her brood from impending danger. The danger of which Jesus is speaking is that of the coming judgment. In the very next verse Jesus tells Jerusalem that her house will be left desolate-a reference to the coming destruction of the city. But in Jesus' final discourses the destruction of Jerusalem is usually a type of the end of the world. "Those who are not in Christ when he comes again at the end of the world will be eternally lost. So what Jesus here specifically warns against is the unspeakable tragedy of everlasting perdition.

          "But you were not willing!" There is a sharp contrast here between what Jesus wanted and what the inhabitants of Jerusalem wanted: "I longed ... but you were not willing." Most interpreters understand this cry of Jesus as a lament. Christ emphatically declares that though he yearned for the conversion and salvation of the people of Jerusalem, they were not willing to believe on him so that they might be saved.

          Since Jesus speaks here as the Messiah, the God-man, the revealer of the Father, we must understand his words as disclosing the attitude of God the Father toward Jerusalem, as well as that of Christ. For Jesus said on another occasion, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9); he also affirmed, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me" (John 7:16). Surely it would never do to think of Christ as feeling one way about the salvation of the children of Jerusalem, and of the Father as feeling a different way. Surely there can be no diversity of attitude within the Holy Trinity!

          No one would care to contend that every person in Jerusalem was among the number of God's elect. We have, then, in this passage a clear indication that God does seriously and earnestly desire the salvation of all those to whom the gospel comes, including those who do not belong to his elect.

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

            #6
            Originally posted by William

            I believe one can see Grace in any part of Salvation, to answer your question, yes, the outward call goes out to everyone, an invitation to come to Christ in repentance and faith. Jesus himself invites people to come to him in repentance and faith: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).

            While God calls all men externally, He only calls His own internally. Those who truly respond to the external call are those who have been internally called by God and given new birth. Then they respond in faith to the external call.

            In some ways, the external call is common grace which can be resisted. It is a universal call that goes out to everyone. However the internal call (regeneration) is irresistible.

            Here are two opposing sides on the subject. The first by Hoeksema who argues against the Gospel call being an offer or form of grace toward the non elect. The second is a scriptural view of a well meant Gospel call offered in grace. The 1st seemingly does not take the Gospel call seriously, and the second does:
            1. Just to give you a controversial position, here is Herman Hoeksema. According to Hoeksema, the gospel call is never an offer. For if it were an offer, it would imply that all those to whom the gospel comes are able to accept this offer in their own strength.' This, however, is not true. Only the elect (those whom God chose from eternity to be saved) are given the ability to accept the gospel call. This gospel call is therefore not a universal offer of grace and salvation, but it is an odor of life to life and an odor of death to death, in accordance with the express purpose of God.
            2. And here is the the Scriptural basis for the well-meant gospel call. We look first of all at two passages from Ezekiel. Ezekiel 18:23 is in the form of a question: "Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" Ezekiel 33:11 gives the answer to this question: "As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, 0 house of Israel?"

            Taking issue with Hoeksema on this point, the Christian Reformed Church of North America maintains, in agreement with the majority of Reformed theologians, that the preaching of the gospel is a well-meant offer of salvation, not just on the part of the preacher, but on God's part as well, to all who hear it, and that God seriously and earnestly desires the salvation of all to whom the gospel call comes.

            God bless
            William
            Alright thanks for your reply. In asking, I wanted to see if they were pretty much interchangable terms.
            Comment>
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