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Sermon No: 10918-Calvinism and Arminianism - Part 5 - Irresistible Grace



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SERMON TOPIC: Calvinism and Arminianism - Part 5 - Irresistible Grace

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 5 March 2017

Topic Groups: CALVINISM, ARMINIANISM, GRACE

Sermon synopsis: Irresistible grace: the notion that when God extends grace to a person, they cannot reject it. Like unconditional election, the person has no choice over the matter.

Resistible grace: John Wesley in 18th-century language taught that God extends prevenient (preceding in time) grace to all. But while Calvinists hold that grace cannot be resisted, Wesleyan Arminians believe that it enables, but does not ensure, personal acceptance of the gift of salvation.

Contrary to what some Calvinists claim, Arminianism is not the equivalent of Pelagianism or salvation by good works. Prevenient grace precedes human decision, existing prior to and without reference to anything humans may have done. God takes initiative in the salvation process and his grace is available to all people.
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ARMINIANISM

& CALVINISM

PART 5

ATONEMENT

DEFINITION: Atonement refers to the forgiving or pardoning of sin in general and original sin in particular through the death and resurrection of Jesus, enabling the reconciliation between God and his creation.

Previously we looked at the L (Limited Atonement) in TULIP vs the Arminian concept of Unlimited Atonement.

CALVINISM - Limited atonement: Only the sins of the elect were atoned for by Jesus’ death. The sins of the unsaved were never paid for.

ARMINIANISM - Unlimited atonement: The sins of the whole world were atoned for by Jesus’ death, but some refuse to accept the provision for their salvation and thus remain lost.

UNIVERSALISM: The sins of the whole world were atoned for by Jesus’ death, and therefore whether they believe or not, every human being will ultimately be saved.

INTRODUCTION

We saw that not all Calvinists are 5-point Calvinists. Many 4-point Calvinists reject the error of Limited Atonement. In fact this is the single point of TULIP theology that professing Calvinists are most likely to reject – or to redefine or soften.

Calvinism

Arminianism

Total Depravity

Prevenient Grace

Unconditional Election

Conditional Election

Limited Atonement

Unlimited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Resistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

Falling from grace

4-POINT CALVINISM

WHO LIMITS?

5-POINT CALVINISM

THE ELECT

PREDESTINED FOR DAMNATION

GOD

LIMITED ATONEMENT

WHO LIMITS?

THE UNREGENERATE WORLD (KOSMOS)

UNLIMITED ATONEMENT

GOD

UNIVERSALISM

WHO LIMITS?

THE UNBELIEVING WORLD

UNLIMITED ATONEMENT

UNBELIEF

“WHOSOEVER WILL…”

GOD

ARMINIANISM

LIMITED ATONEMENT

UNLIMITED ATONEMENT

UNIVERSALISM

ATONEMENT

LIMITED

UNLIMITED

UNLIMITED

APPLICATION

LIMITED

LIMITED

UNLIMITED

LIMITED BY

GOD

MAN

NO ONE

WHO LIMITS?

Limited atonement says that the atonement is God-limited

Unlimited atonement says that the atonement is unlimited by God but it’s effect is human-limited

This time we will look at the Calvinist doctrine of Irresistible Grace.

Calvinism

Arminianism

Total Depravity

Prevenient Grace

Unconditional Election

Conditional Election

Limited Atonement

Unlimited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Resistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

Falling from grace

IRRESISTIBLE GRACE

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO CALVINISM: For God so loved the Elect that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever was unconditionally elected should not perish but have eternal life, for God sent his Son into the world to condemn the world and to save the Elect through him.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)

GRACE

DEFINITION: It is the love and mercy given to us by God because he desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it.

We continue our look at the I (Irresistible Grace) in TULIP vs the Arminian concept of Resistible Grace.

CALVINISM - Irresistible Grace: when God decides to save someone, they certainly will be saved and the Holy Spirit cannot be resisted.

IRRESISTIBLE GRACE

ARMINIANISM - Resistible Grace: No person is forced against their will to become a Christian. God allows his grace to be resisted by those unwilling to believe.

Irresistible grace: the notion that when God extends grace to a person, they cannot reject it. Like unconditional election, the person has no choice over the matter.

Resistible grace: John Wesley in 18th-century language taught that God extends prevenient (preceding in time) grace to all. While Calvinists hold that grace cannot be resisted, Wesleyan Arminians believe that it enables, but does not ensure, personal acceptance of the gift of salvation.

Contrary to what some Calvinists claim, Arminianism is not the equivalent of Pelagianism or salvation by good works. Prevenient grace precedes human decision, existing prior to and without reference to anything humans may have done. God takes initiative in the salvation process and his grace is available to all people.

PREVENIENT GRACE

As humans are corrupted by the effects of sin, PREVENIENT GRACE allows persons to engage their God-given free will to choose the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ or to reject that offer.

PREVENIENT GRACE

God opens the doors to heaven but a person chooses for themselves to walk through or not. If God did not open the door, the person could not get in, but just because the door is open does not mean the person will walk through it. We still have free will, this grace allows the person to choose God when otherwise the option would not be available.

The offer of salvation through grace does not act irresistibly in a purely cause-effect, deterministic method but rather in an influence-and-response fashion that can be both freely accepted and freely denied. 1

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Arminianism

PREVENIENT GRACE

Jesus said, “I… will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32). “Drawing” people to him, implies a persuasion:

John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw (Greek: helkō) all people to myself.”

So if Jesus draws “all people” then all should be saved, which is clearly not the case – reinforcing the fact that the draw is resistible. The Greek verb helkō does not mean that God irresistibly drags the elect into faith.

PREVENIENT GRACE

PREVENIENT GRACE

YOU CAN TAKE A HORSE TO WATER BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE IT DRINK

Arminians believe that, while God sometimes intervenes in order to bring about some particular plan of mercy or judgment, his providential actions do not determine an individual’s ultimate destiny. God never forces humans into salvation or damnation.

RESISTIBLE GRACE

See NOTE 3

YOU CAN BRING THE TRUTH TO SINNERS BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE THEM BELIEVE

The Scripture plainly teaches that:

The Holy Spirit can be resisted

RESISTIBLE GRACE

Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”

The truth can be rejected

Rom 2:8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

RESISTIBLE GRACE

You can reject God’s purpose for you.

Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law

RESISTIBLE GRACE

rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.

You can reject God’s covenant.

Psalm 78:10 they did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law.

You can refuse to come to Jesus for life, despite reading the Scriptures.

John 5:39-40 You diligently study the Scriptures… These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

RESISTIBLE GRACE

Heb 12:25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?

RESISTIBLE GRACE

You can refuse to respond to or listen to God, choosing to turn away instead.

God’s wisdom can be disregarded.

Prov 1:23-26 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you…

RESISTIBLE GRACE

A great salvation can be ignored.

Heb 2:3a How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?

RESISTIBLE GRACE

You can refuse to believe, despite seeing God’s miracles.

Num 14:11 The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?”

RESISTIBLE GRACE

You can refuse to repent, despite experiencing judgement.

Jer 32:33 They turned their backs to me and not their faces; though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline.

After experiencing God’s bowl judgment they “refused to repent and glorify him” (Rev 16:9) and they “cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done” (Rev 16:11).

RESISTIBLE GRACE

You can walk away even when Jesus loves you.

Jesus instructs the young ruler on what he needs to do “to inherit eternal life”, but he refuses to follow Jesus because he loves his money more than God.

Mark 10:21-23 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

RESISTIBLE GRACE

God’s love can be spurned. You can refuse to repent despite God’s love, despite him calling you and healing you:

Hosea 11:3-7 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.”

RESISTIBLE GRACE

You can refuse to repent despite God’s kindness, despite him nurturing you, feeding you and disciplining you.

Hosea 11:4-5 “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent?”

RESISTIBLE GRACE

You can turn from God by an act of your will.

Hosea 11:7 “My people are determined to turn from me.”

RESISTIBLE GRACE

Jesus’ teaching is inconsistent with the idea of irresistible grace, in particular during his lament over Jerusalem.

He shows that God’s will can be rejected by an act of your will.

Matt 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed (Greek: ēthelēsa) to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing (Greek: ēthelēsate).”

In the Greek:

ēthelēsate is the antonym of ēthelēsa

i.e. Literally Jesus is saying “how often I willed to gather your children… and you willed not”.

JESUS’ TEACHING

Jesus taught that he, as the cornerstone, could be – and indeed was – rejected by some.

Luke 20:17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?”

JESUS’ TEACHING

Jesus taught that you can refuse an invitation.

In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, many are invited who make excuses and refuse the invitation.

Matt 22:3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

Man needs to respond to the call:

Acts 2:40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

JESUS’ TEACHING

We can refuse to obey God due to a change of mind:

Matt 21:28-32 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” 1

1 Notice the criteria for entering the kingdom of God – repentance and belief.

JESUS’ TEACHING

In Matthew 13 Jesus lists 3 reasons why people do not respond to the message (Note that God predestining them to damnation is not one of them).

JESUS’ TEACHING

Satan steals what is sown

“When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.” (v 19)

JESUS’ TEACHING

Trouble or persecution comes

“The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” (v 20-21)

JESUS’ TEACHING

The cares of life and wealth choke what was sown.

“The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (v 22)

JESUS’ TEACHING

Note that the fruitful seed “refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop…” (v23)

JESUS’ TEACHING

The Bible gives some more reasons why some people refuse to believe.

Because others have poisoned their minds.

Acts 14:2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.

WHY DO MEN RESIST?

Because they have hardened their hearts.

Zech 7:12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry.

WHY DO MEN RESIST?

Because they are rebellious.

Ezek 3:27 … ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

WHY DO MEN RESIST?

Because they are stubborn.

Psalm 81:11-13 “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways…”

Jer 13:10 These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless!

WHY DO MEN RESIST?

Because they are arrogant and stiff-necked.

Neh 8:29-30 “You warned them to return to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, by which a man will live if he obeys them. Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighbouring peoples.”

WHY DO MEN RESIST?

Because they are oblivious to God’s working in their lives.

Hosea 11:2-3 “But the more they were called, the more they went away from me… they did not realize it was I who healed them.”

Because they refuse to love the truth.

Paul says that people “perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thess 2:10).

WHY DO MEN RESIST?

Hippolytus argues that it makes no sense for God to have given laws if man has no free will.

Since man has free will, a law has been defined for his guidance by the Deity, not without answering a good purpose. For if man did not possess the power to will and not to will, why should a law be established? For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason, but a bridle and a whip; whereas to man has been given a precept and penalty to perform, or for not carrying into execution what has been enjoined… 1

1 Hippolytus, Against all Heresies, Bk. X, ch. xxix

FREE WILL

C.S. Lewis writes:

“God has made it a rule for Himself that He won’t alter people’s character by force. He can and will alter them – but only if the people will let Him. In that way He has really and truly limited His power. Sometimes we wonder why He has done so, or even wish that He hadn’t. But apparently He thinks it worth doing. He would rather have a world of free beings, with all its risks, than a world of people who did right like machines because they couldn’t do anything else. The more we succeed in imagining what a world of perfect automatic beings would be like, the more, I think, we shall see His wisdom.” 1

1 The Trouble with X

FREE WILL

And from the Screwtape letters (the senior demon refers to God as “the Enemy):

“You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve.” 

FREE WILL

 “He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be.”

FREE WILL

A GIFT

Salvation is a gift:

Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…

Rom 5:15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

Eph 1:6 … his glorious grace, which he has freely given us…

A GIFT CAN BE REJECTED

Arminians believe that while God’s gift of salvation is free and an unmerited gift. But the sinner has the choice to accept it or not. A gift cannot be forced on someone – the recipient has the prerogative to reject it.

It is not enough that the grace of God exists as a potential

solution for sin - it must be claimed personally by the sinner. And when we receive God’s gift of salvation, only then can the atoning death of Christ become an actual solution for one’s sins.

In 1829 George Wilson was convicted of mail robbery in Pennsylvania and imprisoned. Andrew Jackson, the US President issued a pardon for Wilson. Strangely Wilson refused to accept the pardon. No one knew what to do and so Wilson’s case was referred to the US Supreme Court.

The court stated: “A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it is rejected, we have discovered no power in this court to force it upon him.” As such, Wilson was not released from prison early. 1

Why was he not released? Because of his crimes? No. Because he refused the pardon.

1 Wikipedia: List of people pardoned or granted clemency by a US president.

PARDON CAN BE REJECTED

And likewise - many go to hell not because of their sin, but because they refuse the pardon.

Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)

Why is the sinner condemned? Because God didn’t love him? No! Because he is somehow excluded from “the world” that God gave his Son for? No! He is “condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”.

PARDON CAN BE REJECTED

Despite the fact that God is long-suffering his Spirit does not prevail with man indefinitely – he will ultimately withdraw his grace if he continues to be resisted.

Gen 6:3 (NASB) Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever…”

We are warned that God’s patience has a limit:

Prov 29:1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed--without remedy.

Nature of grace:

Calvinists hold that God’s grace to enable salvation is given only to the elect and irresistibly leads to salvation. 1

1 Wikipedia

SUMMARY

Arminians believe that through God’s grace, he restores free will concerning salvation to all humanity, and each individual, therefore, is able either to accept the Gospel call through faith or resist it through unbelief. 1

You can choose to believe in God’s Son or to reject him:

John 20:31, … that by believing you may have life through His name.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36)

YOUR CHOICE

D.L. Moody – “Dear sinners, Jesus is ready and willing to carry you over the mountains of sin and over your mountains of unbelief. Give yourselves to Him; only grant your consent. It lies with your own will, and if you accept His offer, from the clouds of your transgressions you shall be lifted into the Heaven of joy and peace that the world knows not of.”

John 1:12, Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

Deut 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

RESISTIBLE GRACE

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http:// www.Lockman.org)




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