Friday, July 17, 2009

The Triumph of God's Irresistible Grace

"They shall be My people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of Me in their hearts, that they may not turn from Me."
- Jeremiah 32:38-49

One of the so-called Five Points of Calvinism, represented by the acronym TULIP, is "irresistible grace", represented by the "I". According to this understanding, God chooses to work in the hearts of His elect, creating in them a desire and ability to obey His word, not totally and immediately, but increasingly, through the course of each person's spiritual journey. Of course, this doctrine runs counter to the attitude of our culture and our time, which holds that man is sovereign, not God. Irresistible grace means that God will have His way in my heart, even to doing personal battle against my fallen will.

Paul says in Philippians 2:13, "It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." And the prophet Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, "I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules." So, God is zealous for His own holiness and for the glory of Christ in His church, and declines to give the veto into the hands of rebellious, fallen men.

This should be of great comfort to the believer. Knowing the frailty of our own hearts, and how easily we get led back into our old sinful patterns, we need to know that our faithfulness doesn't rely on our own efforts and withered spiritual power, but rather on the awesome grace of our Father in heaven. But even this comfort really isn't the purpose of God in His grace.

Hebrews 1:13 repeats the promise of the Father to the Son in Psalm 110:1, "Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet." And Romans 8:29 explains, "For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers." In other words, while we are the beneficiaries of God's sovereign, gracious purposes, we are not their object: His intention is the glorification of His Son Jesus Christ, with victory over our hearts and the prize of many brethren. This is referred to as Christ's office as king.

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