07 November, 2006

Predestination: TULIP - Irresistible Grace

This is the fourth of six posts regarding TULIP. If you are not familar with that acronym, Wikipedia has a number of articles on the subject. This one is probably the most succinct and provides links to the counter positions of Arminians.

4) Irresistible Grace

Calvinists have been embarassed by this term for centuries. "Irresistible Grace" conjures images of a man trying to better himself by arts or sciences suddenly being accosted by God. He protests his innocence, and desire to be free of God, but He has chosen this one, and this one will be saved, whether he likes it or not. All the while, a poor peasant girl standing by and watching, wishing she could only know God, is passed over and damned. Had God wished her to be saved, her wish should surely have been granted, but God wanted to prove His grace's irresistibility, so He left her to die while taking the harder case.

It's a ridiculous picture, but it's a ridiculous term, too.

(Of course, the term could refer to a grace that is irresistible like a beautiful painting, not like a tsunami, but it's a little late to suggest that now. ;-)

The term came about because the 5 TULIP points were an answer to the 5 points of the Remonstrance. The fourth point of the Remonstrance was "Resistible Grace." Nobody could think ahead to how poorly the term, "irresistible," would market, so Calvinists are stuck with it.

Then again, it's a pretty good fit for the way most Calvinists understand it.

Calvinists believe that the Holy Spirit succeeds in attracting every person whom God selected from that great mass of the to-be-born. It is that simple, really. Some Calvinists portray God as a bulldozer, breaking down every wall of opposition in the hearts of the elect, while others portray Him as a velvet-lined bulldozer. Either way, God succeeds in drawing His elect.

Arminians, again, are repulsed by the thought. That God might be thankful for love won with a bulldozer is anathema to them. The human heart is driven by its own will. God ceded this element of His sovereignty in order to make the love of His children worthy to be called love. Hence, the Spirit's call is resistible. Try as any minister might, be the Son's gift ever so beautiful, and may the Spirit woo with all His guile, most men will still reject God.

It is on this point, more than the other four, that Arminians and Calvinists cannot hear one another. As I read the scriptures, it seems pretty clear why. The scriptures are crystal clear that men resist God's will, but not on why they succeed. The scriptures are also crystal clear that no one freely wills to come to God, but not on how God changes that will. And what does God do and not do for those who are never saved?

The upshot of this ambiguity is that Calvinists and Arminians can actually use the same proof texts to support opposite conclusions. For example:

John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Arminian sees all this coming because of God's gracious reaction to man's belief. The Calvinist sees a critical sequence of events. First, a person receives God, and then he believes. They can argue together for pages on this passage, and never really hear each other's reasoning.

But this post is about Codepoke. :-)

Codepoke believes that all men are born empty and dead, and that the deadness is the lesser of the two problems!

The Arminian says that God makes every man alive enough to choose to have faith or reject it by a little gift called "prevenient grace." Prevenient grace is defined as the grace that prompts our first wish to please God. It all sounds rather circular to me, but then I quit being Arminian 25 years ago.

The Calvinist says that God only makes His elect alive, but He stirs up their mind, will and emotions such that they will aways believe. Before God moved, the man was dead. After God moves, the man is alive, and the Spirit continues to work in the man's nature, guiding him toward a saving faith. If a Calvinist believes in a grace that is prevenient, it is only a formality. To a Calvinist, there is grace and there is "not-grace," and nothing in between.

Codepoke says that a piece of the divine nature of God, taken from Christ, is placed within a man according to the purpose of God. Without that piece, a man cannot sense God. With it, He cannot not sense God.

Every man were born without spiritual eyes, unable to see into the invisibles, and unable to see the Son or the Father. Christ came, and they did not know Him, nor comprehend what they saw. Their will is free, but their senses lie to them, and tell them that there is no God. After they receive spiritual eyesight, and after they see Christ, the whole avalanch of experiences necessary to salvation flow from their free will the way eating flows from the hungry.

2Pe 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Gal 6:15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

Ezek 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

This newness is absolutely the core of salvation.

1 Cor 2:14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

The natural man is both dead and empty. The gift of the divine nature, given to him, changes everything.

Only the divine nature is capable of hearing the Word of God, and believing. Only the divine nature is capable of repenting. Only the divine nature can see God, even as He is revealed in the flesh in the first century.

John 10:26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.

Looking right at the God of the universe in human flesh, they see only a competitor for the hearts of the people. And, of course, they are right. He's all that and more. They are just blind to the "more" part, because it is invisible, and they have no spiritual eyes.

So, I have to stand with the theory of the Calvinists, and say that God has to move first, and that God only moves for the ones He knew in His bride before He ever created anything.

Then I have to move over and stand with the practice of the Arminians, because Calvinists are not always very good at telling people they have to believe, repent, and be converted. True, mature Calvinism always does preach the necessity of these things, but too often the message is confused by the overly theological.

Placing the new man, the piece of the divine nature, is God's worry. Man's worry is to believe, repent and be converted! These things must happen to be saved, and they happen when a man can truly see Jesus. Preaching must show Jesus, Himself, in all His passion, beauty and faithfulness. It is when Jesus is presented, and the people see Him, that their hearts are pricked and they cry out to Him. Mature Calvinists get this, but every Arminian does.

2 Tim 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Salvation is not just given, it is obtained, even for the elect. For this reason, Paul must endure hardship, and everyone who would know Christ must endure hardship. Salvation is a thing to be worked out. It is no jigsaw puzzle, ready cut and made to assemble in 2 hours or your money back. Salvation requires that a man sell everything he owns.

The divine nature implanted in man, can see the value of that pearl of great price. The Christian man will do anything to have the pleasure of His Father and Bridegroom.

So, I believe in Transplanted Divinity. Not that God overcomes our will, but that He mingles His Life with ours, thereby allowing us a true sight of Him. Once we can finally see Him, the rest happens naturally. God is irresistible to us once we can finally see Him.

It is no longer fashionable to quote the Song of Solomon when explaining salvation, but...
Song 1:7
Tell me, you whom I love,
where you graze your flock
and where you rest your sheep at midday.
Why should I be like a veiled woman
beside the flocks of your friends?

Had she never seen Him, she would never have sought Him. And now that she has seen Him, nothing less will do. She has no desire to be anywhere but directly with Him at all times.

Song 5:
8 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you—

if you find my beloved,
what will you tell him?
Tell him I am faint with love

When the Lord Transplants His Life into us, our free will does the rest.


1 comment:

Milly said...

I’m still reading this one. I’m moving slow today.
I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far.