The Doctrines of Grace: Irresistible Grace

Imagine with me a set of twins, they have both grown up in a good home where parents have loved them, they have both grown up with Christian parents who have instructed them in God’s word and taken them to church every Sunday. They are of equal sporting ability and both of average intelligence. However, when the Gospel is preached to them, one of them believes and the other does not, why? What has caused these two brothers to differ? The typical answers to this question would be, ‘it was their upbringing’, but they have both come from good homes. ‘It was their personality types,’ but there are believers amongst all the categories of personality types. ‘One was cleverer than the other,’ one might want to say, but there are very clever people who believe and people of simpler minds who believe as well. ‘One was better than the other and obeyed the call to repent,’ or; ‘God looked into the future and saw that one would choose Him and the other wouldn’t.’ All of these explanation try to root the cause in nature, nurture or human will, but we will see that the Bible teaches that the only reason why someone believes is because God enables their faith and repentance.

Today in our message we will be looking at an important word in the central verses of Romans 8:28-30, the word ‘called’. We are choosing to look at the doctrine of irresistible grace through the lens of effectual calling. Once again we are faced with a name for a doctrine we would not choose. The grace of God can be resisted and is resisted every day of our lives until the day the Lord has appointed that we should believe, so the name irresistible grace is misleading. Acts 13:48, ‘And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.’ It is the nature of sin to resist God’s grace, truth, holiness and love. What is meant by this teaching is that God has appointed a day to save His elect, and on that day, by the means of the Spirit and the Word, they will be saved. The plan that God began in eternity, made provision for by the work of Christ will now be applied by the power of the Spirit. The Trinity works with one mind, what the Father plans, the Son executes and the Spirit applies.

Paul has been assuring the Romans by showing us the eternal scope of God’s love how in eternity past He set His love upon us, and will now do all that is necessary to ensure that we will finally be glorified. Paul has spoken of the unbreakable chain of redemption with its 5 links. We have looked at God’s plan from eternity, now we need to consider the beginning of our salvation in time when God moves to save us. Paul points to this alpha point of our salvation in time in the word ‘called.’ We are wanting to see how Paul explains how God brings His plan to glorify us to pass through calling us. God is the main subject of these verses, He is the one who plans and executes His plan. We are pointed away from self to God for assurance, to the fact that God foreknows, God predestines, God calls, God justifies and God glorifies. As we look at this teaching that God is the author of our salvation by calling us we will think on two points, why God has to be the caller, and how God calls.