Irresistible Grace

Irresistible Grace is the fourth point of Calvinism.

Despite the name, it does not mean that man is unable to resist the will of G-d or the work of the Ruach HaKodesh. We know from both Scripture and from observing human nature that man is very capable of resisting his Creator. Both the believer and unbeliever will have moments when they turn aside from a corrective action or instruction from G-d.

Instead, irresistible grace refers to the calling of the Spirit to regeneration. The quickening of a dead spirit to a live one, or the turning of a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

In basic terms, it is that one of the elect cannot reject the calling of G-d to salvation.

This is also known as effectual calling, referring to the effectiveness of the Spirit in the lives of those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 13.8). Yeshua said that, as the Good Shepherd, He would lose none of His sheep (John 10:27). Those that are His will answer His call at some point in their lives and respond favorably towards Him.

Irresistible grace is only one step in the process of coming to our Messiah. It is the regeneration of our dead spirit into a living spirit that can worship and serve the Creator.

Even after our calling, we are still capable of sinning. Of desiring to go our own way from time to time. Of seemingly turning our back on the One Who gave everything for our salvation.

But it’s never in open rebellion against Him. It’s never unforgivable.

There are two callings of the Spirit mentioned in the Bible.

There is the external calling that is universal. This is nature calling out to the world (Psalm 19) so everyone may know the attributes of G-d; His eternal power and divine nature.

It is the believer explaining the Gospel. Sowing seeds into the field so that some may grow and bear fruit. Some seeds will be harvested while others will be collected for the fire.

The Apostle Paul says this is so that each one may be without excuse (Romans 1:20) when facing judgment by the Almighty.

There is also an internal calling. The Spirit uses this to compel our dead spirits to accept and believe in the Messiah. It pierces our hard hearts and brings into us a faith so that we can believe the words and promises of G-d. This regeneration allows us to to put our faith in Yeshua so that we might be saved.

This salvation is an act of the Grace of G-d and is not dependent on us. We are saved through the grace of G-d, not by our own works (Eph. 2:8-9).

Grace is an unmerited, or unearned, favor given from the strong to the weak according to the need. It is suitable charity handed out willingly and freely.

The irresistible calling is not hyper-grace.

Hyper-grace is a sub-movement that has flown through history since the days of the Apostles. It shuns all manner of obedience to G-d’s Word, seeing it as a “work” of salvation. Nothing is expected from the believer except for an initial confession of faith. Any type of intentional good work is considered an effort to earn your way into heaven.

In effect, they are actually saying, “Let us sin so that more grace may abound.”

Scripture instructs us otherwise. The Word tells us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires. To live sensibly, righteously and godly (Titus 2:11-12). To be active in our pursuit of holiness.

Paul specifically spoke out against the hyper-grace teaching in Romans 6. We have died to our sins he tells us. Our old self has been crucified to sin. We are free from it due to the sacrifice of our Messiah. While we still have a sinful nature that is tempted to break G-d’s commands, we are no longer known as sinners.

Due to our walking with the Messiah, our sins and faults stand out even more to those around us. A moment of anger, an outburst of frustration, or the giving in to a sinful habit can cause us to stumble in front of others. We may even be labelled a hypocrite due to a single, sinful act.

But the attacks of the world prove we are different from them. You don’t attack a friend, only an enemy. Just as hasatan did to Job before the Throne of Adonai, the world accuses us because we don’t walk their path. They don’t understand the forgiveness Yeshua offers us.

This becomes a chance to bear witness to the world. We are forgiven from our sins. We can repent and turn from our wicked ways to honor G-d.

In seeking repentance from our sins, we no longer walk in a manner that brings shame to the Holy One of Israel.

As G-d has called us to His bride, let us also call others to Him. We do not know who will be saved so we need to spread the Word freely. We do this by being a witness to the world both in word and deed.

This is grace working through us. G-d can use us to provide what is desperately needed in the lives of the unbelievers: an act of regeneration by the Ruach HaKodesh.

Blessed are You, O L-rd, Our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who is gracious to wake us from the dead and give us eternal life.

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Limited Atonement

​3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:3-9 (NASB)

I said a few weeks ago that unconditional election was probably the most contentious teaching in the five points of Calvinism. It seemed in my experience that saying not everyone was even eligible for salvation was certainly the most condemning statement that a person could make.

I was wrong.

This week we take a look at limited atonement. This is sure to start a war of words, and maybe even punches, with a lot of people, so make sure you’re armored up and ready for action.

Limited atonement says that Yeshua did not die for all but only for His elect.

I’ll say that again, limited atonement says that the sacrifice of our Savior was only intended for those called from the foundation of the world. It can have no affect on those who are destined for destruction.

It is the one sticking point that most people have with Calvinism. There are a lot of people who call themselves 4-point Calvinists just because they cannot accept this.

2 Peter 3:9 is given as both a basis for this teaching and as the rejection of it. Those opposing the limited atonement quote it often saying that G-d, “is not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

But to say this is to only quote half the verse. And when that happens it’s easy to take Scripture out of context.

In this passage, Peter is writing to believers, possibly in Asia Minor, to encourage them and warn them against false teachings. The gnostics believed the path to G-d lay through a mystical knowledge that Yeshua imparted after His resurrection. They blended Greek, Oriental, Jewish and teachings of The Way to come up with their belief system.

Needless to say it was a convoluted, error-prone mess.

In chapter 3, Peter is explaining that these type of teachers will always be around, even up to the last days. In fact, it will get much worse.

Apathy will take hold and mockers will say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” It doesn’t occur to them, or they purposely ignore, that G-d created the heavens and earth by His Word. And by His Word both heaven and earth are kept for destruction and judgment of ungodly men.

After explaining the outcome of the ungodly, Peter then shifts back to his audience, the followers of The Way, in verse 8.

He first notes that time is nothing to the Almighty. The one who created our timepieces — the sun, moon and stars, and the aging of years in man and nature — is not bound by them. He lives outside the bubble of creation and physics. It’s not really significant how long it takes for the return of the Messiah and it’s nonsense to say it’s been so long that He has forgotten His promises.

Then, in verse 9, Peter explains why the L-rd seems to be waiting so long. “But the L-rd is patient towards you,” the Apostle writes to the ekklesia. “Because Adonai is not willing that any (of you believers) should perish but for all (of you believers) to come to repentance.”

In other words, G-d is patiently waiting and enduring evil for the sake of bringing His elect to Him. He puts up with mockers, false teachers and other ungodly persons because of His love for the ones He’s chosen.

He’s hesitant to bring judgment on the world because He’s waiting for all those who can be saved to come to Him in faith.

We need to turn our thinking around and realize that this is about G-d, not us.

We selfishly insist that God has to put up with whatever we give Him. That G-d can wait until we’re ready to come to Him, and then He must accept us on our terms.

But He’s the one who is giving us our faith to believe and accept Him as L-rd. And this happens at His appointed time of salvation. He’s the one who has chosen us from the foundation of the world. He’s the one who is currently enduring rejection by the majority of His creation so He can save a few more.

Don’t take this lightly. There will come a judgment time. Adonai walked with Israel through the wilderness for 40 years. He endured their complaining and unbelief while patiently forming a holy people.

He does the same today. He faces the humiliation that mankind throws at Him while forming and perfecting a nation He can call His own.

This body of believers includes Jews and Gentiles who are bound together as one family united in their faith in Yeshua. We share the same G-d, the same Scripture, and the same promises.

But didn’t Yeshua come to intercede for the entire world? I believe He did.

The Messiah’s sacrifice for our sins is the turning point in history so how can anyone not be affected by it?

But this doesn’t mean that everyone will accept the forgiveness that is freely offered to all. Only those with the faith to accept it will benefit.

The sacrifice can still cleanse others, but it never will due to their unbelief or lack of faith. 

So, yes, The Son of G-d did come to seek and save the lost and He will save all those who were given to Him by the Father (John 17:6-12).

Isaiah 53:8 also speaks to the sacrifice of Yeshua:

“By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation , who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?” – Isaiah 53:8 (NASB)

This also affirms that the precious blood was spilt for the elect. This passage is plainly speaking of Israel as G-d’s people, but we know that all believers are grafted into Israel by the work of the Messiah.

John the Immerser pointed to Yeshua and called him the Lamb of G-d that takes away the sins of the world. Yeshua did take away sin and will take away all sin eventually. This is not restricted to Israel but is available to all who are grafted into and identify with Israel.

I want to repeat the last line of Isaiah 53:8.

“For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?”

We deserved nothing more than death. It was our place to be nailed to the tree and hanged in shame. It was for our sins that Yeshua was cut off out of the land of the living.

The stroke was due to fall on us.

As we walk with G-d, let us stay humble before Him and remember our place.

G-d redeemed the first born of Israel during Pesach and they lived.  Egypt was not redeemed and paid for their sins with the lives of their firstborns.

We are redeemed by the Lamb who has been slain and may we be eternally grateful for G-d’s grace.

Blessed are you, O L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who purchased us by the sacrifice of Yeshuah, the Son of G-d.

Unconditional Election

Ephesians 1:5-6 (NASB)

5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Yeshua Messiah to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

The concept of unconditional election, or predestination, is the second of the Five Points of Calvinism.

It’s also likely to be the most controversial.

But the idea of predestination shouldn’t cause so much contention. The concept of a select chosen is plainly taught in Scripture and some congregations take a position on it.

I spent a few hours on the internet exploring the different denominations and how they approach this doctrine. 

It’s pretty amazing that I kept coming across the phrase, “many denominations or churches teach this, but we don’t believe it.” That line came up so many times that I began wondering who actually did teach it. It was pretty hard to find anyone who did so despite everyone pointing their finger at the “many churches” that did.

The problem people have is not the idea that G-d elects those to be saved. No, the denial only comes when people realize there is a flip-side. If G-d chooses some, then He doesn’t choose others.

Many people view this teaching as hateful and unloving, They get very emotional about it. “Unjust,” “ungodly,” and even “hellish” were words used by those who disagree.

Some denominations try to accept the positive side but not the other. The Lutherans accept predestination, but not what they call the Calvinistic double-predestination. They believe some are chosen for eternal life but don’t address the other side: that those who aren’t chosen are then condemned. They don’t say what will happen to them, preferring not make that judgement call.

I also went to the Assembly of G-d, Church of G-d (Cleveland, Tenn.), and Foursquare Church websites. These Pentecostal religions all say that man has a free will to choose his own eternal destination. 

Their take is that predestination is based on G-d knowing the choices that we will freely make throughout our life. This is known as conditional election. It depends on us making the choice to move toward G-d when He calls us into His elect.

They (and many others) also believe that we can freely remove ourselves from His calling. There are different views on this. Some believe it’s a process of hardening our heart against G-d until we no longer hear His call to repent. Others believe it’s instantaneous; that as soon as we sin we must repent or we are lost until we do so. 

The Southern Baptists acknowledge an elect of the saints called by G-d but remain silent on predestination in their Statement of Basic Beliefs.

While there is no structured Messianic denomination, the popular belief seems to be the conditional election that the other churches stand for. Salvation is a work of both G-d and man coming into agreement to affect salvation. Man can backslide by sinning and refusing to repent. 

The only mainstream denomination that fully accepts the Calvinistic interpretation of predestination is the Presbyterian Church. They are as close to “5-point Calvinism” as any congregation seems to get. 

So for this being a teaching that “many other churches believe in,” it’s amazing that in the U.S., a denomination of less than 3 million members is it’s largest endorser. 

Why is this so unpopular?

What seems to be an issue for most people is that unconditional election says that man has no free will in the matter. It is the Creator Who determines, plans and executes our redemption. He graciously offers us His faith at His appointed time of salvation. 

The problem comes when it’s called unconditional. This implies to some people that G-d is just randomly picking and choosing some people to save and, even worse, some to send to hell. That goes against our sense of fair-play and a just G-d.

Predestination also counters the teaching that man has a free will. That we’re not in control of our own destiny. How can G-d send anyone to an eternal hell when it’s not even their fault? 

So the idea of a pre-selected, chosen few, which has been taught for centuries, is now becoming ancient history. Instead, man is now free to call on G-d at a time and place of his own choosing. And G-d is not at liberty to deny him for any reason.

But is this what the Bible teaches? 

Scripture tells us that Adonai lays out our path from the time we’re conceived. In the first chapter of Jeremiah, G-d calls Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations. He says that He knew him before He formed him in the womb. That He had already appointed him for this mission. So HaShem appointed Jeremiah to be a prophet from the beginning. 

In Revelation 13:8 we’re told about the Lamb’s Book of Life. This lists the names of all the saints who have faith; those who persevere in their relationship with HaShem throughout their life. And Scripture states that the names have been there since the time of creation. 

In Romans 8:28-30, Paul says that G-d foreknew those He called for His purpose. That He predestined them to a calling to conform to His Son. He works in their lives to bring about a justification and glorification.

So we know that G-d creates some humans destined for life.

In Malachi 1:2-3, we are told that Adonai loved Jacob but hated Esau. In Romans 9:11-13, Paul says that this took place before they were even born. Later in verse 22 he says there are, “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.”

Those who oppose Calvinism say this was an example used to illustrate G-d choosing Israel and setting them apart from the nations. That it doesn’t apply on an individual basis. 

But we’re told in Romans 11:17-24 that we are grafted into the olive tree of Israel. Adonai is still expanding and growing the Chosen People by bringing in the Gentiles. If Israel was predestined from the beginning then wouldn’t those who join with them also be?

If that’s the case, then Paul is speaking about individuals who are not a part of Israel. Esau did form a nation that fought against Israel. But Esau was also an individual that rejected the birthright and promises of Adonai that were given to his father, Abraham. Esau, personally, was rejected by G-d.

And now we also know that the Father prepares some for destruction. 

It goes against our sense of fair play to admit this. It violates our desire to give everyone an equal start in life.

It scares us that our loved ones may not be in the Book of Life.

But is having the freedom to make our own choice any better? 

How do we know we would choose the Almighty if He hadn’t chosen us first? 

Would my parents and siblings still believe if it was left strictly up to them? 

Would my wife and son make the right decision (well, my wife would… she always chooses wisely)?

Where would I be without G-d forcefully bringing me under His care? 

Mans’ condition at the time of Noah was that the earth was corrupt in the sight of God and filled with violence. Thousands of years after hitting the reset button the world is heading back to this evil. It is arrogant to think we could do any better if we were left in charge to decide our own salvation. 

The salvation of G-d is full of grace. If He has predestined some to Him then it’s due to His grace and love for us. If He rejects others, we must also assume that this is due to His love, justice and mercy. 

The promise to Abraham is that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Clearly, G-d’s method of predestination and unconditional election provides for that to be fulfilled. We should not speculate that our way would be better, especially if it’s based on fear.

Another argument against predestination is that it stifles evangelism. That those who believe in it would have no motivation to disciple others into the Way of our Messiah. Since the chosen will be brought into the Kingdom by some means, then why bother with it?

But this goes against the facts. Some of the greatest missionaries have been Calvinists. John Calvin himself built a school for missionaries and sent them around the world. John Eliot was the first missionary to the American Indians. Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, William Tennent, William Carey, David Livingstone, Adoniram Judson and John Stott are all Calvinists who dedicated their lives to the mission field. 

The Presbyterian Church has 3 times more missionaries per capita than the Southern Baptist Convention that has over 7 times their number of members. 

Just as G-d called Jeremiah from the time of his conception, these individuals were given a mission to take the Scriptures to the world. They faithfully followed that calling by the grace of G-d and by their endeavors, millions were brought into the Kingdom. 

Let us follow their example. Let us take the Gospel of our Messiah into the world wherever we can and present the Good News of repentance and reconciliation. G-d does love this world and sent His Son to redeem the chosen. Let us be the ones to carry this message.

Blessed are You, O L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who chose us from among the peoples and gave us Your salvation.