The Doctrine of Irresistible Grace—is it Biblical?


The doctrine of Irresistible Grace is a fundamental tenet of Reformed theology that teaches that the grace of God cannot be resisted by those whom He has chosen to save. This doctrine affirms that God’s sovereign grace is effectual, meaning that it accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is to draw sinners to himself and to save them from their sin (Isaiah 46:10; Prv. 19:21).

Several Scriptures support the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. In John 6:44, Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Similarly, in Romans 8:30, Paul writes, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Other passages that support Irresistible Grace include Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5, Acts 13:48, and 2 Timothy 1:9.

Numerous Protestant theologians throughout history have defended the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. John Calvin, writes, “God enlightens their minds and opens their hearts, so that they may understand and receive his grace” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.2.33). Similarly, John Piper argues that “God’s grace is irresistible because it triumphs over all resistance and accomplishes its intended purpose” (TULIP: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism).

Irresistible Grace is akin to a blacksmith working on a stubborn piece of iron, resistant to change and unwilling to bend. The blacksmith applies heat and pressure, hammering away until the metal yields and takes on a new shape.

In the same way, God’s grace works in the hearts of those who hate him, applying love and gentle pressure until their resistance gives way, and they are transformed into a new creation. Through his grace, God restores their rightful nature and shapes them into the image of his Son, so that they may love him instead of hating him. Just as the blacksmith works tirelessly on the iron until it is transformed, so too God’s grace never gives up on those whom he has chosen to save, until they are fully restored and made new in Christ.

In a defense of this doctrine, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “You cannot look to Christ before he has looked to you. If you are willing to be saved, He gave you that will.” (The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon). Augustine says, “You called, You cried, You shattered my deafness, You sparkled, You blazed, You drove away my blindness, You shed Your fragrance, and I drew in my breath, and I pant for You.” (On the Predestination of the Saints).

Ultimately, Irresistible Grace is a beautiful doctrine by which God’s grace overcomes our love for sin. By His grace, He restores our nature by giving us a new heart that can and will trust in Christ alone as Lord.

For those interested in learning more about Irresistible Grace, there are several resources available. John Piper has written extensively on the topic, including his book, The Five Points of Calvinism, and his website Desiring God has numerous articles and videos related to Irresistible Grace. Sam Storms wrote an excellent article on Irresistible Grace, and R.C. Sproul’s book, Chosen by God, provides a comprehensive defense of the doctrine.

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