Focus 7 – Irresistible Grace. 重点7 - 不可抗拒的恩典
- “Irresistible grace,” also called “efficacious grace”, asserts that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom God has determined to save (that is, the elect) and overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to a saving faith. This means that when God sovereignly purposes to save someone, that individual certainly will be saved. The doctrine holds that this purposeful influence of God’s Holy Spirit cannot be resisted, but that the Holy Spirit, “graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ.”
- In this point Professor Calvin asks the question, “How is the step taken between unbelief and faith.” Many people answer that it is our will which chooses to believe or not. We will speak about this later in this focus. Professor Calvin’s answer is that God’s grace is irresistible so that whoever God elects to faith will be moved from unbelief to faith by the total will of God. They are unable to resist. Their conversion will happen because God’s sovereign will dictates it.
- Again two Biblical teachings influence Professor Calvin’s conclusion:
God has total, sovereign power and
There are those elected by God.
- To those two points Professor Calvin adds his logical assertion that election also includes those who are doomed. Those who are doomed are elected by God’s sovereign power to be doomed. We spoke about that assertion in Focus 6 and this teacher’s answer to Professor Calvin.
- From those three points Professor Calvin concludes, that those elected by God will have faith. They cannot resist the power of the Almighty God. They will come to faith. Those who resist are those on whom God has not applied his power. God has elected them to their own destruction.
- “Irresistible grace” is not a Biblical teaching, but an assertion rising from non-Biblical logic.
- There are no Biblical passages that speak about “irresistible grace.”
- There are no examples in God’s Word that that some are condemned because grace is withheld from them.
- Truly, Pharaoh was hardened by God, but why isn’t Pharaoh an example of “irresistible grace”?
- Why isn’t Judas Iscariot an example of irresistible grace? Focus on how the Lord Jesus spoke to Judas in the upper room and out at Gethsemane.
- What about Saul’s conversion in Acts?
- What does the following passage point out about “irresistible grace”?
1 Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
提摩太前书2:3-4 这是好的，在 神我们救主面前可蒙悦纳。4他愿意万人得救，明白真道。
- If the Lord wants all people to be saved, then the LORD would naturally apply “irresistible grace” to all people. Ultimately the LORD certainly does have the power.
- There are many times in the Scriptures that God’s grace is spoken about. Many of those passages are addressed to Christians about the grace which they have in Christ Jesus. We will examine four passages more closely.
Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
罗马书3:23-24 因为世人都犯了罪，亏缺了 神的荣耀；24如今却蒙 神的恩典，因基督耶稣的救赎，就白白地称义。
- Paul points out that all people are sinners. After stressing that all are sinners, the Holy Spirit says that justification is available to all. God’s justification is provided to all “by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
- From that passage are we taught that grace is limited only to those chosen by God or is grace available to all people?
Romans 5:15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! … 18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
罗马书5:15 只是过犯不如恩赐，若因一人的过犯，众人都死了，何况 神的恩典，与那因耶稣基督一人恩典中的赏赐，岂不更加倍地临到众人吗？……18如此说来，因一次的过犯，众人都被定罪；照样，因一次的义行，众人也就被称义得生命了。
- On the basis of verse 15 we might assert that grace only came “to the many,” not to all. Yet in the context we note that Jesus’ “one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” Life cannot come to all men except through grace. Grace and justification are two different terms with different emphases, but they are inseparable in the actions of God. Justification is for all people and will not come to all people without grace for all people.
- The following passage from Titus shows even more that grace and justification are connected.
Titus 3:5-7 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
提多书3:5-7 他便救了我们；并不是因我们自己所行的义，乃是照他的怜悯，借着重生的洗和圣灵的更新。6圣灵就是 神借着耶稣基督—我们救主厚厚浇灌在我们身上的，7好叫我们因他的恩得称为义，可以凭着永生的盼望成为后嗣。
- A notable point is that the above text would have been an excellent text to speak about the impact that God’s sovereign power has on conversion and God’s grace. We could paraphrase to take into account Professor Calvin’s thoughts - Titus 3:5-7 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his sovereign power active in his mercy. His sovereign power saved us by irresistibly working the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his sovereign power through his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. There are many passages which address our salvation in Christ that could have plainly professed the importance of God’s sovereign power. Yet, there are none because Grace is founded upon our Lord’s love not his sovereign power.
我们注意到以上经文中可能是一个非常好的经文来说明神至高的能力在归正和神的恩典上的影响。我们可以尝试意译这一段来考虑加尔文教授的思想 —— 提多书3:5-7 5他便救了我们；并不是因我们自己所行的义，乃是因祂至高的能力显在祂的恩慈中，祂至高的能力借着不可抗拒的工作：重生的洗和圣灵的更新来拯救了我们。6圣灵就是 神借着耶稣基督—我们救主厚厚浇灌在我们身上的，7好叫我们因祂至高的能力藉着祂的恩典得称为义，可以凭着永生的盼望成为后嗣。还有很多阐述我们在基督里的救恩的经文也可以直接改为表述神至高能力的重要性。然而，没有一处这样做，因为恩典是基于我们主的爱而不是祂至高的能力。
- The next passage points out that some have fallen from grace. If grace is irresistible, no one can fall from grace.
Galatians 5:4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
- There are no other passages which so directly say that a person can fall from Grace. Even so, with all the other Biblical truths we have examined, we must conclude that grace neither comes from God’s sovereign power or is irresistible.
- How might a thought similar to “irresistible grace” have influenced the Pharisaic teaching that Jews are saved by being from the family of Abraham? (Irresistible family?)
- Have you heard of any texts which speak of God’s power moving his grace rather than God’s love?
- How people move from unbelief to faith is an important one and has been addressed through church history. Listed below is a useful summary of those ideas.
- Pelagious (A.D. 390-418) asserted that human kind has the ability and total responsibility to choose to believe. The grace of God has been earned by Jesus. Every person, when approached by the word of God must choose to believe or reject that promise of forgiveness in Christ Jesus. The church did not accept Pelagius’ assertion because his thought made salvation our work not Christ’s grace.
- Some of Pelagius’ contemporaries recognized the truth that Pelagious was making salvation our work and not Jesus’ grace. They proposed what would become known as semi-pelagianism. In the assertion known as semi-pelagianism Jesus sets the person on the right course and then the responsibility for faith or rejection becomes the person’s. He or she can accept or reject what Jesus has placed into them. The semi-pelagian assertion was rejected by the church also because it focused on the person’s strength and works, rather than on Christ’s cross.
- The Roman Catholic system asserted that God infuses grace into every human being and with grace infused it is up to each person by faith and by works to follow the Lord and be his people. Ultimately the person’s works became more important than faith. Martin Luther stood against this assertion because of the emphasis made upon works.
- Martin Luther (A.D. 1483-1546) had grown up a son of the Roman church. He had worked very hard to be forgiven by God. Over time Jesus moved him to realize that we are not saved by works but by faith in Christ. Faith is the gift of God provided by grace. The Lord breaks through the hardness of the heart and moves the person to believe by grace.
- Arminius (1560-1609) had been a devoted student of John Calvin. Over time he began to see the problems with the main teachings of Calvin including “irresistible grace.” Arminius asserted that people could resist grace and that our will was necessary to believe.
- One of Arminius’ students summarized his thinking about grace as follows.
- Grace is resistible: God takes initiative in the salvation process and his grace comes to all people. This grace (often called prevenient or pre-regenerating grace) acts on all people to convince them of the Gospel, draw them strongly towards salvation, and enable the possibility of sincere faith. Picirilli states that “indeed this grace is so close to regeneration that it inevitably leads to regeneration unless finally resisted.” The offer of salvation through grace does not act irresistibly in a purely cause-effect, deterministic method but rather in an influence-and-response fashion that can be both freely accepted and freely denied.
- What Arminius’ states sounds good except for two points. First, he asserts that each Christian must choose faith. We profess that faith is a gift of God. Second, related to the first, Arminius asserted that people have free will so that they can believe or reject.
- We do not agree with Arminius second point stated in the previous paragraph. Scripture asserts that without faith people are dead in sin, they see God’s Word as foolishness, and that the sinful mind is hostile to God.
- While we did discuss this in a previous focus, these verses are informative.
Ephesians 2:1 How is the nature of the person in bondage to unbelief spoken about in this text?
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, …
Romans 8:7 How is the nature of the person in bondage to unbelief spoken about in this text?
7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
7原来体贴肉体的，就是与 神为仇；因为不服 神的律法，也是不能服，
1 Corinthians 2:14 How is the nature of the person in bondage to unbelief spoken about in this text?
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.
- The summary which the LORD expresses after the flood also makes the point that man’s will is against God’s will and on our own, we can’t come to faith in Jesus as Savior.
Genesis 8:21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
- With the qualities of sinful nature mentioned by the above texts, we can only conclude that people cannot come to faith on our own. That is a logical conclusion based on the severe way in which human nature has been marred and warped by sin and Satan.
- Paul clearly states that salvation is a gift of God and not based upon our works.
Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
以弗所书2:8-9 你们得救是本乎恩，也因着信；这并不是出于自己，乃是 神所赐的；9也不是出于行为，免得有人自夸。
- Faith believes God and is credited as righteousness. Paul expresses this truth about Abraham. The same applies to us. Believe the Lord and that is credited as righteousness.
Romans 4:1-5 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
罗马书4:1-5 如此说来，我们的祖宗亚伯拉罕凭着肉体得了什么呢？2倘若亚伯拉罕是因行为称义，就有可夸的；只是在 神面前并无可夸。3经上说什么呢？说：「亚伯拉罕信 神，这就算为他的义。」4做工的得工价，不算恩典，乃是该得的；5惟有不做工的，只信称罪人为义的 神，他的信就算为义。
- The fantastic Biblical truth we are speaking about is “justification.”
Romans 5:17 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.
- The Biblical term translated “justification,” comes from the Greek courtroom. In a crime the judge would listen to the evidence and once the evidence is provided would make a declaration of guilt or innocence on the basis of the evidence. If the defendant was guilty, he or she would be declared guilty. If the defendant was found innocent he or she was justified, declared innocent of any wrong doing. All who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior are declared innocent of sin because of Jesus. God looks at the evidence of sin, which has been paid for by Jesus, and declares those with faith as justified. The Biblical term “justification” is a powerful term of forgiveness in Christ Jesus.
- Without using the term “justified” Paul refers to how Abraham was viewed by God (In Romans 4 Paul refers to Genesis 15:6 and 15:22).
Romans 4:1-3 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
罗马书4:1-3 如此说来，我们的祖宗亚伯拉罕凭着肉体得了什么呢？2倘若亚伯拉罕是因行为称义，就有可夸的；只是在 神面前并无可夸。3经上说什么呢？说：「亚伯拉罕信 神，这就算为他的义。」
- Abraham believed God and so God saw him as righteous, credited him with righteousness even though Abraham’s day to day life did not show perfect righteousness. Abraham is God’s example of justification in the Old Testament.
- Because of Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for sins, all who believe in Jesus are given that same credit as Abraham. All who believe in Jesus are justified by God himself because of Christ Jesus.
- Romans 3:21-22 speaks about this blessing from God. People are provided a righteousness that comes from God through faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:21-22 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
罗马书3:21-22 但如今， 神的义在律法以外已经显明出来，有律法和先知为证：22就是 神的义，因信耶稣基督加给一切相信的人，并没有分别。
- The Holy Spirit and the Word are the tools that God uses to break through hard hearts.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
帖撒罗尼迦后书2:13-14 主所爱的弟兄们哪，我们本该常为你们感谢 神；因为他从起初拣选了你们，叫你们因信真道，又被圣灵感动，成为圣洁，能以得救。14神借我们所传的福音召你们到这地步，好得着我们主耶稣基督的荣光。
1 Corinthians 6:11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
哥林多前书6:11 你们中间也有人从前是这样；但如今你们奉主耶稣基督的名，并借着我们 神的灵，已经洗净，成圣，称义了。
1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
哥林多前书12:3 3所以我告诉你们，被 神的灵感动的，没有说「耶稣是可咒诅」的；若不是被圣灵感动的，也没有能说「耶稣是主」的。
Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
1 Peter 1:23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
彼得前书1:23 你们蒙了重生，不是由于能坏的种子，乃是由于不能坏的种子，是借着 神活泼常存的道。
- From Scripture we need to conclude that God does not use coercive force to bring a person to Christianity. God proclaims his grace, mercy and good news about Jesus and people are moved to believe. Coming to faith is God’s work not our work. And coming to faith is not forced on anyone. Salvation is based upon God’s grace, not force.
- This teacher cannot think of any example in Scripture in which someone with faith is spoken of as forced on a person. What examples might you have heard that we can discuss?
- Does Saul’s conversion to Paul the Apostle fit?
- We can only state what Scripture states that (1) coming to faith is God’s Work not ours – in the chart seen in the appendix, this is call monergistic conversion.
我们只能讲说圣经所说的：（1）就近信心是神的工作不是我们的作为 - 在附录中的表格里这被称为神恩独作的归正。
- About rejection, we can only say what Scripture says, that (2) people reject what God has given in Christ.
- As you can tell from both of the immediately preceding points, we are God’s people and need to speak as the Lord guides in his Word.
- Only when the Christian has faith, then we can apply our will to spiritual matters. Although, many times we do not apply it well. We still sin and give in to temptation.
Ephesians 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
以弗所书4:22-24 就要脱去你们从前行为上的旧人，这旧人是因私欲的迷惑渐渐变坏的；23又要将你们的心志改换一新，24并且穿上新人；这新人是照着 神的形象造的，有真理的仁义和圣洁。
- Yet for the whole of our life, we have a sinful nature that struggles against God will.
Galatians 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
- Our Christian life is one of spiritual growth so that we can apply Christian will better. We grow. We apply. We fight against Satan.
- But, before we become Christians, we do not have a will that can cooperate with God or turn to him.