What John Calvin formalized in the sixteenth century began with the teachings of Augustine in the fourth century. Since Calvin’s day, scholars have spread the doctrine throughout most of the denominational world. Through the years they simplified their teachings into five principles, the fourth of which is called “Irresistible Grace.”
Calvinists claim that since Adam and Eve disobeyed God, we’re all born sinners and are therefore too depraved to make sound spiritual decisions. As a result, God predestined certain individuals to be saved and others to be lost and that cannot be changed. Subsequently, Christ only died for the elect who are guaranteed heaven.
Calvinism is built on faulty presuppositions and half-truths. Their teachings are taken out of context or misinterpreted with such skill that they can bewilder the inattentive Bible student. In Calvinism, each point is ultimately wrong, but possesses enough truth to be dangerous.
Under Irresistible Grace, the handpicked elect are given a spiritual desire for the Lord so they will come to the Messiah for salvation. Once they are with Christ, they’re so grateful that they will never leave and are gathered into heaven for all eternity.
Since God is completely sovereign, they claim that man doesn’t have freewill and can’t resist God’s power. Basically, no one can choose Christ without divine intervention.
Despite their denial of freewill, conditional statements fill the pages of Scripture (Ex. 19:5; Deut. 11:13-15, 26-28; Is. 1:18-19). God’s Word is clear. We choose a life dominated by sin or one characterized by righteousness (Ezek. 18:19-23; Josh. 24:15).
“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Gen. 4:7, NKJV).
The doctrine of Irresistible Grace largely comes from John 6 and we want to examine that passage. God’s Word is the final authority in doctrine, not men and their ideas (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Jesus fed the multitude with five barley loaves and two small fish (John 6:1-13). The people were so impressed that they tried to find Him the next day to get more food (John 6:22-26). Jesus engaged them in a discussion about spiritual bread, but they only wanted Him to perform tricks for them like a common entertainer (John 6:30).
Jesus directed their minds back to spiritual things and specifically the manna in the wilderness (Ex. 16:3-8). Unlike the bread from Moses, the bread Jesus offered was spiritual and eternal (John 6:35).
Jesus said that he had not lost any of the souls God gave him, and he would not cast them out (John 6:37). Read through the filter of hereditary depravity, this means that man was too evil to choose Jesus so God gave his Son disciples. However we must take the entire Bible, not select passages into account.
Jesus built his church and kingdom (Matt. 16:18-19). Yet, God ultimately gave it to him (1 Cor. 15:24). When we hear the gospel (Rom. 10:17), believe the message (Heb. 11:6), repent of our sins (Luke 13:3-5) and confess Jesus as Lord (Matt. 10:32), we are immersed into Christ (Acts 22:16) and added to the Church (Acts 2:47).
God established Jesus as Lord, delivered a gospel message, presented Him with a kingdom, pronounced Him king and added converts to His Church. As a result, we must be in Christ in order to be saved (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27).
Jesus will not cast his children out of the kingdom (John 6:37). The Greek word for “cast” means “to drive out or expel.” John later used the word for a man who was cast out of the synagogue (John 9:22,34). You can’t be expelled from a building you’ve never entered.
While Jesus will not expel those who are in Christ, we can choose to leave (John 6:66; Heb. 2:1; 6:4-6; 10:26-31). Yet, in Christ, we are eternally secure as long as we choose to remain in holiness (Rom. 8:1).
The lost are drawn to Christ (John 6:44) because He is the Word (John 1:1-2) who offers spiritual life, truth and the way to salvation (John 14:6). As the Messiah, He was lifted up on the cross for all to receive or reject (John 12:32-33).
John believed strongly in human responsibility as evidenced by his demands that we choose between light and darkness (John 3:17-21; 8:12; 1 John 1:6-7).
God predestined a collective group of the elect who would come to Christ by the standards established before time began (Eph. 1:4; Ps. 119:89). We will be transformed by the gospel (Romans 12:1-2) and walk worthy of the calling of Christ (Eph. 4:1), because the Lord blesses us with all that we need to be holy.
We choose to be obedient to Christ (John 14:15), because the Lord allows us to be saved (Acts 2:37-38) by grace, through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Accordingly, we cannot live in such a way where we force God to save us. He will never be in our debt. When we’ve done everything God asks of us, we’ll still need grace to enter into heaven (Luke 17:5-10).
As we walk obediently in the Light (Ps. 119:105), the blood of Christ cleanses us from our sin (1 John 1:7). We stand righteous because Christ’s blood is on our soul. Salvation is hopeless without Him. Adam sinned through disobedience but the obedience of Jesus makes salvation possible (Rom. 5:19).
To deny Calvinism is not to believe in a meritorious salvation. We are helpless without Christ. All spiritual blessings are found in Him (Eph. 1:3). By His strength (Eph. 1:19), we live in the light provided by the Lord and we walk by His hand (Eph. 5:8).
God is greater than man’s failings. Praise the Lord, for His way is blessed.