TULIP or BEERS: Irresistible Grace

Irresistible Grace

The grace that God extends to the elect cannot be refused. God puts into the hearts of the elect an irresistible desire to turn to Him and accept His salvation. This implanted desire is so overpowering that it cannot be resisted or refused. This irresistible desire insures that everyone who has been elected will go to Heaven.
(according to biblehelp.org)

Response to Grace

We are created to know and respond to our Creator. Sin did not remove the inner desire to seek and know God. Yes, we have blindness and deafness that must be overcome, but the Spirit of God relentlessly pursues and reveals God to us. The Spirit is at work drawing all men to the Father. However, because love requires choice and response, we have the ability to respond to or reject the drawing of the Spirit. Rejection of the Spirit’s invitation leaves us in our broken condition, alienated from the love and grace that is readily available to us.

Conclusion

The obvious issue in this point, besides election which we covered in previous points, is the question of choice or free will.

Also, I would like to see the discussion re-framed from attempts at clearly defining who is in or out with the focus on the afterlife, and instead emphasize the idea of process and journey.

People are in a growing journey with and toward God. Eventually there is choice or response, but that choice is about what will God be in my life now, today, rather than a choice of itinerary between heaven or hell.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this.

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24 thoughts on “TULIP or BEERS: Irresistible Grace

  1. No, these few posts are certainly not all-encompassing, just a comparison of ideas on a few points of doctrine, and for me, an exercise in learning to express theological ideas (my understanding of God and His relationship with man) in the realm of those whose ideas seem so contradictory to my own.

    Really, it’s just a blog, just a few posts, not a manifesto. :)

  2. “Eventually there is choice or response, but that choice is about what will God be in my life now, today, rather than a choice of itinerary between heaven or hell.”

    Amen!

    And that choice is private: between an individual and God. Our expressions of real love toward others will do more to draw them to God than soteriological (sp?) arguments.

    This series is really good, Grace. And as a homebrewer, I like the acronym too!

  3. Only God can draw men to Himself – there is no technique called ‘evangelism’ that is involved.It’s a spiritual awakening and an intimate connection that man has very little to do with.We are called to be reflectors of the light within not salesmen.We can’t fix anyone!

  4. Charlie,

    I deeply respect your perspective here, and I believe I get what you are saying. But just to be clear, I would query:

    Why did Jesus command His followers to “Go into all the world and preach the good news (gospel) to all creation” (-Mark 16:15)?

    … or Paul postulate the following; “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” (-Romans 10:14, 15)

    I believe God has united us into Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit – thus we are on mission with and in Christ to reveal the good news to the world through sharing God’s story and exemplifying His character as revealed in Christ. This is evangelism. I agree, there is no technique, but there is a mandate. Man certainly may not have much to do with the intimate connection of another to God, but he can have much to do with the process of getting him there. Agreed?

    1. Charlie and Ken,
      I agree with you both that are we are to reflect the Light and that we partner with God in proclaiming and revealing reconciliation. While only the Spirit can transform a heart, we can still be witnesses of the really good news.

  5. I’m wondering how many people really hold tightly to this TULIP system of beliefs. I understand it is a big part of my evangelical traditions, and I think I’ve heard many references to these points, but I don’t think I’ve heard a sermon really explaining it.

    So do most evangelical leaders hold tightly to this, or have they taken a more moderate position on it.

    If they hold tightly to it, are they avoiding speaking it clearly because it is difficult to defend? What kind of relationship can we have with God if we have no free will?

    I’m curious. I’ll have to do some asking around to see how many of my ‘evangelical’ brothers and sisters even know about TULIP and if so do they accept it as truth.

    God bless!

  6. Jon,

    Most evangelical churches would deny Irresistable grace. At least the ones ive dealt with follow a more Arminian approach rather than a Calvinistic aproach.

    TULIP as an acronym for Calvinist theology, or the five points were developed after Calvin. I would be a 3.5 pointer or something LOL.

    As to Evangelism, we do it because we are commanded. I do not understand it, but it is like prayer. We do it because we are told too. Our prayers dont change Gods mind. I dont understand all of the inner workings there however. The Holy Spirit draws through Christ

    Coming from a Lutheran perspective, I would deny Irresistable Grace as I cant rectify the passages quoted above. However, we cannot deny the passages that tell us we believe because He gave us that belief. We love Him because He first loved us.

    Oh and hi, first time poster LOL. Found ya while looking for a less argumenative blog after being active at a Calvinist run blog for all doctrine or some such thing. Really liked the posters.

  7. Eric,

    Thanks for helping answer that question. In the research I did, I found that my circles are likely split between Calvinists and Armenians too. But I bet most people in the pews don’t know if they are either.

    I think the part I’m having the biggest problem with is that it seems there is little room for free will in each of these points.

    If we say we are saved by grace alone, that it is all God’s doing and not our own…

    Do we also say the wicked are doomed by God’s lack of grace alone, that it is all God’s doing and not their own???

    I’m not expecting to understand it all either – it’s definitely a mystery. I just don’t know if any of these points describe a God who desires a loving relationship with His children, yet allows them to choose to live in His love.

    But for the sake of unity, I’m OK with others believing in TULIP or parts of it… I’m just trying to sort out what language I want to holding firmly to.

    Good discussion,
    God bless!

  8. Ken
    Thanks for your thoughts – I grew up through the evangelical and charismatic tradition so I know the usual arguments regarding evangelism.When one looks into it carefully Jesus taught in parables not to make His message clear but to keep something hidden from his followers/the crowds etc.He often explained His hidden meaning to the close group of disciples if they asked Him after a public session.His announcement of the Kingdom within baffled those who heard Him as they were looking for external resoration of Judaism.

    I believe that Jesus followed the mystical tradition within Judaism that had its origins with the High Priests experiences within the holy of holies.He saw Himself as the anointed High Priest that was to come.

    I think the evangelistic model may be based on very few verses that may or may not have been spoken by Jesus or Paul.It is always dangerous to build a whole paradigm on a few verses.

    No doubt the faith in Yeshua spread rapidly in the pagan world although it may not have been as uniform as we have been told.The Gospel of Thomas has always been looked down on by conservative scholrs and dated in the second century.More recent linguistic analysis shows that it may have been written down in the first century indeed some even claiming that it is the mysterious source Q that fed into Mark and Matthew.Have a read through Thomas – its very interesting with its overlap of verses with the Synoptics.It is quite mystical however and similar to John’s gospel in places.

    The Jesus movement must have spread initially by various means – Messianic hope ( the Jews),signs and wonders ( Acts of the Apostles),declaration ( heralding of Christ’s Lordship) through love and works of mercy and indeed through the work of the Spirit ( mysticism).

    Just some thoughts Ken – I can not fix anyone unless it is revealed from above e.g. are nervous breakdowns not a form of personal revelation???

  9. I too think this series has been interesting. My 2 cents on this latest installment is that from our human perspective “LI” vs “EE” is functionally irrelevant and are perhaps one an the same. That is, from our side we have free will and therefore EE holds, but from God’s omniscient position it may look more like LI in the sense that many people will inevitably not choose, thereby effectively rejecting Jesus’ efforts.

    We may like to think we can take God’s point of view but since we aren’t omniscient we don’t get to know if the guy next to us ultimately turns around or not. That makes living by LI rather difficult

  10. I think that the issue is eternal life.. which begins when you are born anew.. and if you do not have eternal life today you won’t have it tomorrow unless you are born anew tomorrow :)

  11. 2 Cor 8:1-4 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.

    I think GRACE is a realm of functioning beyond our own ability. It’s always there – but we’re so used to building the tower of Babel (the wonderful things we can do when we put our purses and efforts together) – we hardly ever operate in God’s ability.

    When you do step into that realm (of grace) – you know it. It is “over the top”,. it is “above and beyond”. It is “flowing over”. Sometimes the more desparate your situation – the easier it is to operate in this. Sorry for sounding so Charismatic.

  12. Jerry you are spot on.In many religious traditions ( Christian and non Christian) this being caught up is know as ‘the river’ – a type of God consciousness that empowers one – i.e. grace.
    Kansas Bob you are right but what is eternal life???

  13. Thx for asking Charlie :)

    Eternal life is spiritual life.. life that flows from within in the vein of John 7:38.. a new heart reveals a new and eternal life.

  14. Bob In the more eastern traditions this is known as an awakening,enlightenment,awareness etc.I personally believe it’s what Yeshua meant when he talked of being born from above – born of water and spirit – waters above the firmament was a concept in first century Jewish mysticism relating to our idea of the Spirit.The question is what prompts this experience – I don’t believe that we have much part to play in it .The experience is a sovereign act of the Father or source.The wind blows where it will and all that.Yeshua was more of a mystic than we have been led to believe.Some believe the Son of God came down and became an evangelical with a systematic theology – making God in our own image indeed!

  15. You might be right there Bob.In my case He just knocked the umbrella out of my hand and soaked me! I stll don’t really know how I got back into this spirit drinking life!!

  16. From a Trinitarian perspective, universal atonement has happened in and through the Incarnation (the whole process and not just the Crucifixion – Resurrection) as Paul clearly describes in Jesus as the Second Adam. That does not mean “universalism” is the sense that everyone has a get out of hell free card. It simply means what Paul declares that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:19) and what Jesus declares from the cross, “It is finished.”

    So, everyone is “in Christ” and there need be no further action taken to change he mind of God to complete what Christ and the Trinity intended before the creation of the world – namely adoption. The problem is that in our darkened minds we doubt the character of God’s love. We paint an angry, judgmental, self-centered face on God (as did Adam and Eve) and we live as if we are unloved. In that independent, gotta’ do enough to be enough world we grasp, grab and act unloving.

    The ministry of reconciliation is not about facilitating another pending part of a legal transaction (God’s done His part so you can do your part to repent and believe) – which would mean that instead of “finished” it is left undone until we take some appropriate action to accept the work of Christ; God was only starting the process of reconciliation and not completing it. Rather, the ministry of reconciliation is the Really Good News that you don’t have to do anything to be accepted, you are already accepted. It’s not about having to change God’s mind about us but rather helping people change their mind about God’s character of love and choosing to live loved [Repent as in “a radical shift of thinking and acting” vs “be sorry enough to change God’s mind” or “accept your election”].

    Living in hell is about living unloved in the middle of being loved and the results that it creates for ourselves and others. Kind of like the elder brother who did not recognize he had everything but was still slaving away “to be enough.” Interesting too, when the elder brother refused to attend the party after his father’s pleading to come in, the only “punishment” was his own self-inflicted isolation from the reconciliation party.

    One of the interesting objections to the idea of everyone being “in Christ” already is the common conditional translation as in 2 COR 5:17 “if anyone is in Christ.” The translation depends on the translator’s theology of whether the condition is uncompleted or already completed. If the condition is assumed to be completed then the translation would be “Since everyone is in Christ…” Theology does dictate translation.

    Another note, the imperative in Matt 28 is usually used to justify the idea of Jesus issuing a command (which is commonly interpreted as one we could fail to do well enough and risk condemnation ?????). The imperative can also be used as a matter of being emphatic about the importance of the message of reconciliation – as in the coach enthusiastically gathering the football team to take the field and a “Go for it.” So, the ministry of reconciliation is not a duty to fail but an invitation to live loved and attract others to it.

    Enough already. Blessings to all the participants.

    1. “Living in hell is about living unloved in the middle of being loved…”

      Wow, very well put. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate the insight you provide.

      1. I must confess that is a Baxter Kruger phrase that assimilated and find it hard to read Paul’s “all things” references in Col. 1 without seeing the even our “hell’s” are included.

  17. Paul I think I have come to the same conclusions as yourself – this gospel really is good news and worthy of Christ’s incarnation/death and resurrection.The eternal hell fire version does God a great disservice after all that He has done.

  18. What seems to get lost in all of this argument about irresistible grace is a perfect God. We spend much time arguing about whether or not people have a choice about God. The biggest question is do we believe we serve a truly omniscient, all-knowing God?

    If God is truly perfect, He must therefore have know all things that would come to pass. He knew before any of His creative work the actions of all people. God is supreme in all of this. He sent Christ to the cross, not as the beginning of His saving work, nor as the end, but as the Apex. Christ on the cross was the work God was pointing toward throughout history. He knew the sins of all the world and the sins of each individual before He even created.

    If God chose in advance whom He would save based upon His own desires, who on earth has the ability to argue with Him. If He simply called those whom He knew would come to know Him because of His knowledge of complete history, who are we to want something more.

    I am not sure where I stand on the standard of irresistible grace. I do, however, believe this based upon the character and nature of God as revealed in His Word–God does nothing without absolute purpose and He does not waste His efforts. Why would a God who already knows the entirety of human history draw upon those who will not respond positively to His call? That God only calls those who will repent is not only Biblical, but logical.

    As to the question of evangelism, we are commanded to go make disciples. We are to spread the Word to all the nations. This is God’s way of growing us closer to Him. The obedience we show in taking the Gospel to all the nations is our getting on board with His work. He uses us to share His saving grace with others, but He does not need us. If God needed us, He would cease to be perfect.

    I go back to my original premise–all things begin and end with God because He is perfect. Anything that takes away from God’s sovereignty is taking away from His perfection.

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