Is irresistible grace really that important?

My good friend Elliot got some heat because he said on his FB page that being a Christian has NOTHING to do with what you DO or what you DON'T do, but has ONLY to do what what you BELIEVE. After watching some responses I realized that the conversation turned into a Theology discussion, primarily in dealing with Irresistible Grace. Although I am not a hyper-Calvinist, this doctrine is biblical and most true to the gospel. When we move away from this doctrine, we get messed up with faith and works. That is why it is such a big deal to the gospel.

The doctrine of irresistible grace recognizes that the Bible describes natural man as “dead in his trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5; Colossians 2:13) and because man is spiritually dead he must first be made alive or regenerated in order to understand and respond to the Gospel message.

The reason this doctrine is called “irresistible” grace is because it always results in the intended outcome, the salvation of the person it is given to. It is important to realize that the act of being regenerated or “born again” cannot be separated from the act of believing the Gospel. Ephesians 2:1-10 makes this clear. There is a clear connection between the act of being made alive by God (Ephesians 2:1,5) and the result of being saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:5,8). This is because everything pertaining to salvation, including the faith to believe, is an act of God’s grace.

So, that means that when one receives Christ and becomes a Christian it is not the person who is doing anything. Rather it is the person and work of the Holy Spirit who is giving someone grace to receive. Therefore, God gets all the credit and we get none. If we are dead in our sin but yet can make ourselves alive enough to grab hold of Christ, than we get credit. The scriptures give all credit to Christ. Romans 3 is clear that no person ever seeks after God. It is only the Holy Spirit who seeks after man. Therefore, we cannot accept what we are not looking for, but rather Christ, by grace, grants us salvation which makes us a Christian.

Therefore, in scripture you never see some accepting Christ, but rather receiving Christ.

All that said, we are correct to believe that true faith leads to action. However, that was not what Elliot was chatting about, he was saying that no matter how hard you work or what you do, none of that will make you a Christian. I know many good people, most who are more generous than me, love better than me, serve better than me, and may be better husbands and fathers than me......however they are not Christians, because being a Christian has NOTHING to do with what you DO or what you DON'T do, but has ONLY to do what what you BELIEVE. (as put by my friend Elliot which caused me to write this. )


Michael Signorelli said...

Although I hear what you're saying, a greater fear (yes, greater than a FB argument) is in people coming to the place where they remove responsibility for actions under the guise of a "no-works" belief. Not to mention, all of this pseudo-cultural conversation (limited to certain sects) is such a major league time waster. I comment only on this page in hopes that people would know that Arminianism isn't a cuss word and that we have to love even our enemies. Love, by the way, is a "work" we should practice.

SdShomo said...

Michael makes a strong point.
If what we say causes misunderstanding among our brothers and sisters in Christ, should we not leave these comments to "one on one" spiritual direction with seekers or theological debate with believers where we can answer questions and expound on misunderstandings?
FB and other social media can only offer "sound bites." Or perhaps "Text Bites." The depths of the Armenian and Calvinist perspective cannot be treated fairly in sound bites. A better question would be, how many people are getting saved based on the discussion of these divergent theological perspectives?
I understand the push back that Eliot and others get when they read these statements. We ALL want to be careful not to turn "Free Grace" into "Cheap Grace." For a more detailed explanation read what John Wesley says:

Matt Chewning said...

I am in no way leaving room for liscense. Paul makes it clear in Romans 6 that grace does not lead to sin so that grace increases. If it does, than it is evidence that the heart is probably not changed and regeneration has not occured. I would disagree that these conversations are a waste of time though. I think that as a believer understands the vastness of God's grace, it will lead him/her into deeper worship and gratitude.

I agree with you Michael. Arminianism is not a cuss word. I love my Armenian brothers and sisters. We are on the same team and I consistently am fighting for the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4) I was saved at a Nazarene College and am forever grateful for that denomination. Although I do not agree 100% with their theology, I love them to pieces.

Pastor Steve, true, I do not think that my lost friends will be saved from reading a conversation like this. However, as we are called to make disciples, I think that these conversations are intelectually and theologically challanging and by God's grace, can add to deeper disciple making, maturity, knowledge, and worship.

I know you dont think this, but many people think that theology and doctrine is outdated and people are not interested in it. And, as you know, I totally disagree with that.