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August 12, 2022 12:01 am
Some Christians claim that accepting God's gift of grace is ultimately up to us--we can take it or leave it. The Bible, however, doesn't describe salvation in those terms. Today, R.C. Sproul demonstrates why the grace of God is irresistible.
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Drug drug people kicking and screaming against their will in the heaven.
Dr. RC Sproul answers that question today on Renewing Your Mind. Some Christians claim that accepting God's free gift of salvation is through us. We can take it or leave it is just one of many options that we have in life. The Bible however doesn't describe salvation in those terms were studying the key aspects of reformed theology with Dr. RC Sproul today. He's going to explain why the grace of God is irresistible going to continue with our examination of the acrostic tulip which we have trampled down this full flower in God's garden by changing total depravity to radical corruption relief turn the TV to in our returned unconditional election into sovereign election and then we talked limited atonement into definite atonement and were going to do it again to change another letter here this letter I stands for the idea of irresistible grace, irresistible grace and again I have a little bit of problem with that designation because I don't believe the classical doctrine of irresistible grace, but because it also is misleading to many people when they hear it articulated in these terms, and so were going to talk about the factual grace and unfortunately as you can see there's very little left of our beautiful flower tulip one on done with these modifications were going to have to look for some other acrostic I guess.
But the idea of irresistible grace also provokes a lot of controversy and there is much misunderstanding about it. I remember when I was a seminary student. We had a professor who was teaching New Testament and the man was also the president of this Presbyterian seminary and in class one day one of the students raises an incident do you believe in the doctrine of election and the professor exhibited a little bit of irritation at that question and he said emphatically that he did not because he did not believe that God dragged people kicking and screaming against their will into the kingdom of God. People who didn't want to be there and at the same time prevented others from coming who desperately wanted to be in the kingdom and I was astonished. Not only that this was such a serious distortion and caricature of historic reformed theology, but that it would be uttered by a man who should've known better. A man who had been steeped in the confessional standards of the church, and so on, but I thought if a person of this status in the church and this experience and this education has this misconception about irresistible grace, then how many other people must labor under the same misconception. The idea of irresistible conjures up that one cannot possibly offer any resistance to the grace of God. No beloved. The history of the human race is the history of relentless resistance by human beings to the sweetness of the grace of God and what is meant by irresistible grace is not what the word suggests that it's incapable of being resisted. Indeed, we are capable of resisting God's grace and we do resist God's grace.
But the idea here is that in spite of our natural resistance to the grace of God that God's grace is so powerful that it has the capacity to overcome our natural resistance to it. That's why I prefer the term effectual grace rather than irresistible grace because this grace that is irresistible affects what God intends to effect by it that what were really looking at in this controversy is the relationship between grace God's work and our response to it.
The relationship between faith and regeneration. In fact, if there's any one point that divides reformed theology from other theologies. Historically, it is the question of the relationship of these two ideas in historic Reformation thought the notion is this, that regeneration precedes faith not only take a moment to explain the subtle nuances of this word.
When we use the term pre-see were usually talking about something that comes before something else in time.
That is, if something precedes something else in time. We say it has temporal priority one thing comes in them. After later on. The other thing follows from it. But when theologians talk when this language in a we always have to make excuses for we theologians that are confusing to people what is in view here in this formula. With respect to what's called the order of salvation is what we call logical priority, logical priority in this case, for example, we believe that justification is by faith alone. We don't say that faith is by justification, but rather the justification is by faith. No, we believe that the moment the very instant a person has faith in that very instant. God declares them just in Christ, so that there is no time gap between the presence of faith and the presence of justification in time there simultaneous. But when we say that justification is by faith and not faith by justification. What we mean we mean that justification the reality of justification depends upon a prior condition.
That is the presence of something else for it to be real. In this case justification depends upon faith, not faith. Depending on justification. So when we talk about regeneration preceding faith.
What this means is this that before a person exercises saving faith before they believe in Christ before they exercise their wills to embrace Christ.
God must do something for them and in them so that faith can be exercised now.
It's common in our culture and in our religious circles to say this, that in order for a person to be regenerated or to be reborn that all it takes in order to be reborn is to believe, so that if you have faith, then as a result of your faith. You then become a new creature. You now are regenerated. You are now born again and you are born again precisely because you have exercised faith. Now we talked earlier about the old palladium controversy in that old view of Original Sin that left the little island of righteousness in fallen man whereby fallen man is still deemed to have the moral power to incline himself or herself to respond positively to the good to choose Christ, and so on. But the person is not dead in sin and trespass that that metaphor of Scripture is hyperbolic and that really fallen people are only seriously ill. They been weakened by the fall, but not to such an extent that it requires a renovation, a divine work of re-creation in their souls for them to come to faith that is the semi pledging view is that fallen man still has within his heart the ability to exercise faith. If God moves him entices him or in other ways draws him. John tells us the words of Jesus in the six chapter of John's Gospel were Jesus said nobody can come to me unless the father draws him and the way many Christians interpret the text is to say that the drawing has to do with God's external wooing, persuading, enticing, lowering whatever and that God gives this drawing influence to many, many people, some respond positively to this drawing.
Others say no to the drawing. So God draws everybody presumably with an equal persuasive power and in the final analysis, those who acquiesce to the drawing are saved and those who do not acquiesce are lost. I once had a debate on this subject in an Arminian seminary in the Midwest and had an interesting exchange with the head of the New Testament department there as he cited this verse and I was quick to say to him, he realized that the same Greek word here that is used by John is used frequently elsewhere in the Scriptures, notably in the book of acts where Paul and Silas are dried into prison and I suggested that the idea there in the book of acts was not that the jailer went into the jail cell and tried to woo entice or persuade Paul and Silas to get in there behind bars as of the word has more force than that and then I called attention to the lexicographic.
A study of the Greek word in Kindle's theological dictionary of the New Testament where the preferred rendering of the word draw is the word compel changes everything.
If you read the text and Jesus is saying no one can come to me unless the father compel him.
That's much stronger than to use the weaker word draw which could be left to be interpreted as this wooing type of concept that is a mere external suasion and at that point in our debate. The professor threw me a curve that I wasn't expecting. He said to me, yes, but he realized that the same Greek word is used in one of the Greek poets and he cited a citation from Euripides or somebody. I don't remember where the verb was used for the action of drawing water from a well, and he looked at me and try Anthony seductress boy said you don't compel water to come out of a well do you. I said no sir you don't, you have me there and I confess that I was not aware of that reference in the Greek language said. But how do you get water from a well to stand up top of the well and call down here water water water.
Do try to woo it entices or lowers her to have to go down there with a bucket and pull out.
As I'm perfectly happy with the allusion to getting water out of the well because that's what God does with us. We were married in the water and we need to be drawn out by somebody else's power, not by our own and that's what the debate here is all about. I said at the beginning that all of these controversies really come back and roost on our understanding of the T into a look on our understanding of the doctrine of total depravity and our doctrine of moral inability is our condition of bondage to sin so serious and the fall so severe that we have no more moral desire for God. Unless God plants that desire in our hearts, Jesus put it this way to Nicodemus unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. We hear our Lord saying, in that discussion with Nicodemus where he says that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that the flesh profits nothing that there is a prerequisite, a sine qua non that has to happen to us as a work of God the Holy Spirit by which he raises us from the state of spiritual death, as Paul articulates that in the second chapter of the book of Ephesians. Let's take a moment to look at that were Paul says in Ephesians chapter 2 verse one and you he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the year, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others but God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ and then parenthetically by grace you have been saved and raised up together and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ and then again in verse eight for by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves again. The immediate antecedent of that that is faith.
It is the gift of God. So what Augustine was saying to Pelagius what Luther was saying to a Rasmussen what Calvin was saying to the world what Edwards was saying to Chauncey and what we're saying to our friends today is that faith itself is a gift that is given and it is engendered in us by regeneration. It is not that the Holy Spirit drags people kicking and screaming against their will to come to Christ what the Holy Spirit does do is change the inclination and disposition of our hearts so that when we were previously unwilling to embrace Christ. Now we are willing and more than willing and then we are dragged to Christ, we run the Christ, and we embrace him joyfully because the spirit has changed our hearts and that heart is no longer a heart of stone that is impervious to the commands of God and the invitations of the gospel, but God melts the hardness of our hearts when he makes us new creatures that when we are dead. The Holy Spirit resurrects us from spiritual death so that I come to Christ because I want to come to Christ. But the reason I want to come to Christ is because God has already done a work of grace in my soul. And without that work. I would never have any desire to come to Christ.
That's why we say that regeneration precedes faith we also believe in the Reformation thought that regeneration is monitored just take the letter words a three dollar word monitor just what it means, essentially, is this that in this divine operation called rebirth or regeneration. It is the work of God in the human soul and the work of God alone. Fergie is a unit of labor, a unit of work. The word energy comes from the idea mono means one and so monetarism means one working that the work of regeneration in my heart is something that God does by his power, not by 50%.
His power and 50% my power for 99% his power and 1% my power but by 100% the work of God, he and he alone has the power to change the disposition of the soul and of the human heart to bring us to faith, and when he exercises this grace in the soul he brings about the fact that he intends to bring about by when God creates you in the first place he brought you into existence needn't help them. It was his sovereign work that brought you to life biologically.
When he brings you to spiritual life's salvific life.
It is his work and his alone that brings you into that state of rebirth and of renewed creation and hence we call this factual grace. It's grace that works. It's a practice that brings about what God wants it to bring about. Let me read a passage that is found in the historical introductory essay to the Ravel addition of Luther's perhaps most important work the least. The book that Martin Luther thought was his most important work on the bondage of the will in this historical introduction was written jointly by two men, one of whom was JI Packer and here's just one paragraph from that introduction that I'd like you to hear is our salvation.
Holy of God for does it ultimately depend on something that we do for ourselves.
Those who say the latter as the Arminians later did thereby deny man's utter helplessness and sin, and affirm the form of semi-Pelagianism is true after all it is no wonder then the authors say that later reformed theology condemned Arminianism as being in principle a return to Rome because, in effect, to determine faith into a meritorious work and a betrayal of the Reformation because it denied the sovereignty of God in saving sinners, which was the deepest religious and theological principle of the reformers thought what they're saying here in this introduction is following Luther's work against a Rasmussen that the whole controversy over justification was a surface issue that thinly veiled. The deeper question that engendered the controversy in the first place and that question was the question of whether our salvation is solely of God's grace or isn't it. And that's what Luther was jealous to talk about in his work on the bondage of the will, if indeed we are dead in sin and trespasses if indeed our wills are held captive by the loss of our flesh, and that we need to be liberated from our own flesh in order to be say then obviously in the final analysis, salvation is something God does in us and for us, not something that we in any way do for ourselves.
That's Dr. RC Sproul teaching on irresistible grace and your listing to Renewing Your Mind on this Friday I'm we went. Thank you for being with us that phrases been so misunderstood and maligned over the years.
It was helpful to hear RC's term of factual grace is serious. What is reformed theology is an excellent introduction to the documents, commonly known as Calvinism.
If you have struggled to understand the biblical foundation of these principles. Let me encourage you to contact us today and request this full series will send you the three DVD set when you give a donation of any amount to leader ministries possible at the digital study guide to your online learning library. You can call us to make a request at 800-435-4343 or you can go online to Renewing Your Mind.org Matthew 2213 says for many are called but few are chosen at an ask RC event several years ago someone asked how the word call in that verse fits in with irresistible grace. And here's ours. The answer, the New Testament uses the word to call in more than one way and the distinction that actually we can distinguish among three different ways in which the idea of divine calling actually four different ways in which we speak of divine calling. There is what we would call the idea of a calling that we have that is a vocation where God calls us to a particular task or particular ministry, or again a particular career we call it a vocation, which is simply the word for the call, but also we talk about the distinction between the outward call, or the external call of God and the internal call of God, the outward call the external call is that which is proclaimed indiscriminately to everyone who hears the voice of the preaching of the gospel when we proclaim Christ to the world.
Anybody who's it within earshot in here the outward or the external call to come to repentance and to come to Christ.
Now think that's what Paul talking about in Romans eight in the golden chain when he talks about calling there because in the context of that is you recited in force all of those who are called are justified so that can possibly refer to the external call because not everybody who hears the external call comes to faith and the justification for the glorification. But in addition to the outward call. There is what we call the in word call which is in theological terms called a factual calling that is that internal call by which God calls his elect to himself through the power of the Holy Spirit changing the disposition of their hearts through regeneration than in that inward call that is accomplished by the Holy Ghost is effectual in that it brings about God's desired and agreed consequence that call is irresistible not in the sense that I don't have the power to resist it, but my resistance cannot overcome it. God's effectual call effects what he intends it to do, namely to bring us to saving faith by Dr. Stroh's message today on irresistible grace leads is nicely into next week's topic. Any believe that we are totally free to choose salvation in his series willing to believe Dr. Spruill shows that man's will is not free but in bondage to sin, says that we are doomed unless God has mercy changes our hearts will feature that series all next week so I hope you'll join us. Beginning Monday for Renewing Your Mind