TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective Part 4: Irresistible Grace -- By: Anthony B. Badger

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 17:33 (Autumn 2004)
Article: TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective Part 4: Irresistible Grace
Author: Anthony B. Badger


TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective Part 4: Irresistible Grace

Anthony B. Badger

Associate Professor of Bible and Theology
Grace Evangelical School of Theology
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

I. Introduction

Can God’s gift of eternal life be resisted? Does God’s sovereignty require that He force selected people (the elect) to receive His gift of salvation and to enter into a holy union with Him? Is it an affront to God to suggest that the Holy Spirit can be successfully resisted? Calvinist or Reformed Theology, will usually reason that since God is all-powerfully sovereign and since man is completely and totally unable to believe in Christ, it is necessary that God enforce His grace upon those whom He has elected for eternal life. We will now consider the Calvinistic view and the Arminian response to this doctrine.

II. The Reformed View of Irresistible Grace

Hughes concisely says,

Irresistible grace is grace which cannot be rejected. The conception of the irresistibility of special grace is closely bound up with...the efficacious nature of that grace. As the work of God always achieves the effect toward which it is directed, so also it cannot be rejected or thrust aside.1

Steele, Thomas, and Quinn present a slightly longer explanation—the doctrine of “The Efficacious Call of the Spirit or Irresistible Grace” saying,

In addition to the outward general call to salvation which is made to everyone who hears the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation. The external call (which is made to all

without distinction) can be, and often is, rejected; however the internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion. By means of this special call the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ. He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by man’s will, nor is He dependent upon man’s cooperation for success. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ. God’s grace, therefore, is invincible; it never fails to result in the salvation of those to whom it is extended.2

Thus, Reformation Theology distinguishes two separate “calls.” The general, outward call (invitation) of the gospel is to all men. The special, inward call (application) by the Holy Spirit comes only to those who are elect.3 Berkho...

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