There are different types of grace that God extends to the human race. The grace in question is saving grace – that is the work of God in bringing a sinner to repentance and a full knowledge of him.
“[God] who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,”
2 Timothy 1 v 9
How is it irresistible?
There is a universal calling within the gospel – the free gift of salvation is offered to all of mankind. At the same time there is an effectual calling where the Holy Spirit works within sinners to bring them to repentance.
This effectual calling is for the elect that God has unconditionally chosen to be saved. These people that God has chosen to be saved will be saved. That is why it is called Irresistible Grace for when God chooses to save someone who could resist such a call? A member of God’s elect cannot end up being anything other than saved. Not only that but as I discussed earlier because of Particular Redemption then Jesus died on the cross specifically for the sins of the elect. How then could they not end up being saved?
We have the work of the Father in choosing who is saved (election). The work of the Son is dying for those who have been elected (atonement) and now we have the work of the Spirit in bringing the elect to an experience of salvation.
That deals with the logically basis for Irresistible Grace but as usual we must check that what can be logically inferred is Biblically present. And Biblically speaking the work of Irresistible Grace is carried out through the Holy Spirit as I’ve mentioned above which means we need to look at the work of the Holy Spirit.
What is the work of the Holy Spirit?
The work is threefold:
1) Conviction – the Holy Spirit convict men that they are sinners.
“When he [The Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
John 16 v 8 - 11
2) Enlightenment – We cannot understand the things of God without the Spirit.
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
1 Corinthians 2 v 14
Here we have Paul telling us that we need the Holy Spirit to understand anything of salvation, anything about God.
3) Enabling – we are spiritually dead and need to be made alive
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh”
Ezekiel 36 v 26
The Holy Spirit enables people to be able to come to Christ in repentance and ask for forgiveness.
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit”
John 3 v 8
It is an invisible work of God’s might hand. Its working is invisible but it effects are clearly visible.
What if God failed?
Let us examine this question: what if God failed? What if God before the creation of the world elected someone to be saved and then they were not? Well, he won’t be God would he? Are you really suggesting that Christ would die for the sins of the elect and then some of the elect would not come to the fullness and glory of salvation? Perish that thought! God is sovereign in everything including salvation.
Are people forced to come to God?
No. People come freely to God convicted of their sin and convinced of their need for the salvation found in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. God’s works in them so that they gladly come to him. The Holy Spirit removes the corrupt thinking, the sinful desires, the pride of man, the blindness to the obvious truths of the gospel and he enables the total unable.
What encouragement does this give us?
All the encouragement in the world. If salvation was down to man then who would be saved? No one! For we all have a total spiritual inability to seek, desire, love or know God.
However, what Irresistible Grace teaches us is that it is God who saves. And he can save anyone. If Richard Dawkins in among the elect then it is only a matter of time before he comes to Christ. The minister to the Nazi war leaders on death row reported that a few of them may have come to repentance and to Christ. The elect, God’s chosen, cannot end up being anything other than saved no matter how vile their sin or how low they have fallen.
So if you are discouraged about an unconverted friend – take heart! The Holy Spirit could be right now working that great miracle of saving grace, of effectual calling, of Irresistible Grace.
Grace - it's irresistable for a reason. And that reason is that if grace could be in any way, shape of form resisted then by nature and choice all of us would resist it and none would ever come to Christ.
So what a wonderful truth! What a glorious testament to the love and mercy of God that he so desires to work in his elect so that they do come to salvation. What a magnificent example of God’s complete and utter power over everything that those who he has decreed will be saved will be saved!
And personally, I can thank God that he worked in me – undeserving though I was, not because of any merit within me, not because of any strength of character but because of his good will and sovereign mercy. The praise I owe the Lord that he should call me and enable me to come.
In the words of that great hymn:
I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.
But I know Whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.
I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.
I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing us of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.
I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.
I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air
Tomorrow I will look at the final doctrine of grace: The Perseverance of the Saints.