No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:44

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Irresistible Grace

By Elder Zack Guess

Lesson Twenty-Five

Lesson Twenty-Six

Lesson Twenty-Seven

Lesson Twenty-Eight

Lesson Twenty-Nine

God's Drawing Power Exercised Towards His People - An Exposition of John 12:32

Lesson Thirty

Lesson Thirty-One

Lesson Thirty-Two

Lesson Thirty-Three

Lesson Thirty-Four

Lesson Thirty-Five

Return to - Undeniable Doctrinal Truths Table of Contents


Lesson Twenty-Five

Irresistible Grace

Having considered the subjects Man Dead in Sins, Unconditional Election, and Particular Redemption, we now come to study the subject of Irresistible Grace.

Long before we reached this point, we parted ways with the Arminians.  They deny that man is totally dead in trespasses and in sins and thereby totally unable to help save himself.  They deny that before the world began God chose His people in Christ entirely unconditionally of works or merit or acts of the will on their part.  They deny that Christ died for the elect and for them alone.

We also part ways with the Arminians on this doctrine.  They teach that the grace of God that brings salvation can be successfully resisted by the sinner.  We deny this.  We teach that God's grace comes with irresistible power to those whom God saves.

But here we must note another point of departure.  Some sovereign grace believers agree with us on the other points thus far studied.  They agree with us on Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, and Particular Redemption.  They also agree that God's grace is irresistible.  But they teach that this irresistible grace comes to the sinner through the preaching of the gospel.  We deny this!  We believe that God brings His grace of salvation which was purchased by Jesus Christ to His elect people exclusively by the Holy Spirit--apart from the preaching of the gospel.  Regeneration, or the new birth is accomplished in the heart of the elect by a direct and immediate act of the Holy Spirit.  This does not mean that God cannot save the sinner while he is hearing the gospel.  But the gospel is not what brought spiritual life to him.

As far as I know, this truth is taught only by the Primitive Baptists, the Protestant Reformed Churches, and a few isolated others.  In following study sheets, we will show what we believe the purpose of the gospel to be.  But, once again, we state that it is NOT to bring spiritual life to the sinner.

The Work Of The Trinity In Salvation

To better understand the work of salvation, and to set the work of irresistible grace in proper perspective, let us consider the following illustration:

Before a house is built, an architect is employed to plan out all the details.  In salvation God the Father was the architect.  The plan of salvation was perfectly conceived in the mind of God in minute detail before the world began (Eph. 1:4; II Tim. 1:9; Rev. 13:8; 17:8).  This was the work of Election and Predestination.

After the plan has been drawn, someone has to take that plan and build according to it.  In salvation God the Son was the contractor.  He took the Father's plan and executed it perfectly.  There was not a detail omitted.  Jesus Christ did this in His Person and Work while on the earth in a body of flesh.  His work culminated in His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary as He offered Himself to the Father on the behalf of His people (John 17:4; 19:30; 6:38,39; Heb. 1:3).  This was the work of Redemption.

After the house has been built, people must be placed into it if it is to do them any good.  In salvation God the Holy Spirit does this work.  He takes the elect sinner and places him in the house of salvation which was planned by the Father and built by the Son.  He does this for each of the elect sometime from their first moment of life on earth (conception) till their death.  This work of irresistible grace is sometimes called being born again or regeneration (John 3:3; Titus 3:5).

Irresistible grace, then, is how the elect become partakers of the wonderful benefits of unconditional election and particular redemption.  It is the way the benefits of redemption are applied to them.

The Effectual Call

The doctrine of Irresistible Grace is also referred to as the doctrine of the Effectual Call.  This means that when God calls a sinner to salvation by the Holy Spirit, the sinner always responds.  This is in great contrast to most preaching today which represents God as calling, begging, and pleading with sinners to accept His offer of salvation.  According to this false teaching, the sinner is free to either accept or reject the offer.

The Nature Of Irresistible Grace

Irresistible Grace is not some sort of blind force which simply drags the struggling, rebellious sinner into heaven against his will--as a policeman might drag a rebellious prisoner to jail.  The grace of God is not such a power that compels those to enter into heaven who would rather not go.

When God's grace enters a sinner's heart, that heart is changed.  The will is changed.  The sinner who hated the Holy God now loves Him, and longs for holiness (Matt. 5:6).  The sinner is now willing to follow God and to please Him.  As the psalmist said, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power..." (Ps. 110:3).  As God said by Paul, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13).

Questions

  1. Where do Primitive Baptists differ with other sovereign Grace believers on the matter of irresistible grace?

  2. Can God save a sinner while he is under the sound of the gospel?

  3. What means are used by God in the regeneration of sinners?

  4.  Who did the work of election and predestination?

  5. Who did the work of redemption?

  6. Who applies salvation to the hearts of the elect?

  7. When does the work of salvation take place in the hearts of the elect?

  8. What is another term used to designate the work of irresistible grace?

  9. Is anyone saved against his will?  Why or why not?

Memory Verse:  Let us memorize Ps. 110:3.


Lesson Twenty-Six

Irresistible Grace

It needs to be pointed out that if the truths that we have previously studied be true, then the truth of irresistible grace must necessarily follow.  For example, one cannot maintain that man is truly dead in sin and yet deny the necessity of irresistible grace in his salvation.  If the sinner is totally depraved, dead in sins, unable to do any good, then he needs far more than mere assistance.  Give a dead man a cane and try to assist him in walking!  You know that such assistance would do no good.  Rather, he must be made alive again or he will never walk.  So it is with the totally depraved sinner.  God's grace must take the dead sinner and must make him alive again.  Total depravity implies that an irresistible, powerful grace of God is the only hope for the dead sinner.

The same can be said of unconditional election--this truth implies necessarily an irresistible grace of God.  God has chosen unto Himself a people from before the foundation of the world.  The execution of the decree of God can not rest now upon the fickle will of man, but rests upon the irresistible grace of God which will bring to pass His eternal purpose.

A Resurrection

When speaking of the truth of the power of God in bringing salvation to the sinner, the Scriptures use three powerful analogies or comparisons.  In all three of these comparisons the recipient of the action is helpless and passive until a higher power acts upon it.  The first of these comparisons is that of resurrection.  In John 5:25, Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God:  and they that hear shall live."  This is not talking about the resurrection of the bodies from the grave.  That is the subject under consideration in verse 28.

Christ says here, that the "hour is coming and NOW is."  The time was right then.  Jesus was speaking of a resurrection from being dead in sin, to being alive in Jesus Christ--a spiritual resurrection.  Just as it took the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ to raise Lazarus from the tomb (John 11:43), so it takes the voice of the Son of God to give spiritual life to one who does not have it.  Jesus said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth (makes alive); the flesh profiteth nothing:  the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63).  This spiritual quickening is what was under consideration in John 5:21 where Jesus said, "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will."  The same thing is spoken of in Eph. 2:5  "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ . . ."

Lazarus was helpless and passive until Jesus raised him.  Jesus called him with irresistible power.  Lazarus could not and did not resist the voice of Christ.  Likewise the one who is dead in trespasses and sins is helpless and passive until Christ by the Holy Spirit calls him from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive.  The one who is dead in sin cannot and will not resist the call of Christ.  This call comes with irresistible power.

The Ephesian epistle, in very powerful and beautiful language shows emphatically that it takes the same mighty, miracle-working power to make one a believer as it took to raise Christ from the dead:  "And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places." (Eph. 1:19,20).

A Birth

The bringing of a person from a state of death in sin to a state of being alive in Christ is also called a birth in the Scriptures.  Jesus told Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."  (John 3:3).  Nicodemus didn't understand so Jesus explained to him,"Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5).

Being "born of water and of the Spirit" simply means being born of the Spirit.  The conjunction "and" is the Greek word KAI which can be translated and, even, or also.  Born of water even of the Spirit would probably be the best translation here in light of the context of John 3:6,8.  Water is used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John as can be seen from John 7:38,39.

Jesus goes on to say in John 3:6, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh (the natural birth); and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (the spiritual birth)."

Then Jesus says, "The wind bloweth where it listeth (that is, where it desires, wishes, or pleases), and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth:  so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8).

Notice that everyone who is born of the Spirit is born the same way.  There is only one way of salvation.  There is not one plan for the intelligent adult, another for the mentally incompetent, and another for the baby who dies in infancy.  All are born the same way with the same irresistible power.

In natural birth, we know that the one who is born does not will to be born--in fact, he has no decision in the matter at all.  He doesn't decide the time, place, or circumstances of his birth.  He has no power to determine the family into which he will be born.  The analogy holds true with regard to the spiritual birth.  God determines the time, place and circumstances.  The sinner can no more resist this than can an infant resist and refuse to be born naturally.  This fact is shown so clearly in John 1:13 where speaking of believers it is said, "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."  This verse kills the doctrine of those who teach that men are saved when they exercise their "free wills" and accept God's "offer" of salvation.

This same truth is taught in I Peter 1:23:  "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever."  The "word" here is not the preached word nor is it the written word.  Rather it is the living truth of God in Jesus Christ which is implanted in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit.  We will study this verse in depth in another study sheet.

A Creation

The impartation of saving grace to individuals is also referred to in the Scriptures as a creation.  "For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (II Cor. 4:6).  Here, of course, Paul is referring back to the Genesis account of the creation of the heaven and the earth.  How was light created?  God commanded it to shine with irresistible power!  "And God said, Let there be light:  and there was light." (Gen. 1:3).  There was no resistance here.  God was the active agent.  The thing created was passive (indeed non-existent) until God called it into being.

So it is in the spiritual creation, says Paul.  How does an individual get to know Jesus Christ with saving knowledge?  God commands it as He speaks life into the heart by the Holy Spirit.  God is just as sovereign in the creation of spiritual life as He was in the creation of the universe.  No one helped Him create the heaven and the earth and no one helps Him give spiritual life to His people.  Look at the following Scriptures which teach this wonderful truth:  "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (or "creation"--Grk. KTISIS):  old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  (II Cor. 5:17).

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Gal. 6:15).

Look at Ephesians 2:10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."  We are HIS workmanship.  An artist forms his work as he wills.  The artist does not ask the clay which he forms, "In what form would you desire to be made?"  But he fashions the clay according to his own will.  So also we are God's workmanship.  The prophet states this too in Isaiah 43:21, "This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise."  That is irresistible grace.  This power of God does not wait for those poor miserable sinners to accept Christ--but it FORMS them to be His people.  They therefore show forth His praise.

Questions

  1. Why, if you hold to the truth of man's being dead in sin, must you logically and consistently hold to the truth of irresistible grace?

  2. What kind of resurrection is under consideration in John 5:25?

  3. Who is the agent in raising one from death in sin to life in Christ?

  4. What does it mean to be "born of water and of the Spirit" in John 3:5?

  5. How does John 3:8 teach that there is only one way of salvation?

  6. Who helps God give spiritual life to His people?

Memory Verse:  We have memorized Ps. 110:3.  Let us memorize II Cor. 4:6.


Lesson Twenty-Seven

Irresistible Grace

The great majority of Christians believe in gospel regeneration.  They believe that a person must hear and believe the gospel (or at least read the Word of God) in order to be born again.  However, they have a problem with what to do with those who die in infancy or with those who are mentally incapable of hearing and understanding the gospel.

Invariably they try to come up with two ways of salvation, because almost no one is willing to admit that all those who die in infancy and all mental incompetents are destined for hell.  So the gospel regenerators say that God uses the gospel to accomplish the new birth in "responsible adults" but that He takes care of all others some other way.  Some even try to say that children are safe and sinless until they reach the "age of accountability."

There is nothing about such an age of accountability in the Scriptures.  There is no such thing as an "innocent" or sinless human being (infant or otherwise) since Adam plunged the entire human family into sin.  That infants are all born with a sinful nature we have seen from such Scriptures as Rom. 5:12; Ps. 51:5; Ps. 58:3; Job 14:4.  The very fact that infants die is proof of their sinful nature.  Sin is what brings death.  See Rom. 5:12; James 1:15.

Furthermore, the Scriptures will not allow us to say that there is more than one way of salvation.  In fact the Scriptures assure us that the way one receives the new birth is the way all receive the new birth.  This is the plain meaning of John 3:8 where it is said by the Savior, "so is every one that is born of the Spirit."  Everyone that is born of the Spirit is regenerated by free and sovereign grace.  This grace can no more be resisted than can the blowing of the wind.  Just as the operations of the wind are somewhat mysterious and only partially understood, so is this true of the workings of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.

We who believe in the direct operation of the Holy Spirit in the new birth have no trouble with these questions.  We know that God regenerates infants and imbeciles the same way He does intelligent adults--with His Holy Spirit.

The Scriptures make plain that God has regenerated individuals before they were able to think in a reasonable manner.  This is very plain in the case of David.  He said, "Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts."  (Ps. 22:9).  This clause is rendered in Bagster's Interlinerary Hebrew And English Psalter, p. 29, "causing me to trust upon the breasts of my mother."  The word for "hope" in Ps. 22:9 is BATACH, which, according to Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon To The Old Testament, p. 112 means, "to confide in anyone, to set one's hope and confidence upon any one."  So it is obvious that David was regenerated while a suckling.  It is just as obvious that this was before the stage of maturity to mentally comprehend either the spoken or written word of God.  The conclusion that must be reached is that regeneration takes place on a level below the consciousness.  Faith and repentance are those exercises which reveal this subconscious change.

Another infant who was regenerated in infancy was John the Baptist.  In fact John was born again while in his mother's womb.  "The babe leaped in her womb" (Luke 1:41)  "The babe leaped in my womb for joy" (Luke 1:44). 

The occasion of the joy was the presence of his Savior who was in the womb of Mary.  This was no ordinary leap of a babe in the womb of its mother.  Elisabeth was enlightened by the Holy Spirit and she said the babe leaped for joy.

How does this square with a Scripture like John 17:3, where it is said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent."  The answer is simple.  One of the basic meanings of know is "to be aware or cognizant of."  When a little baby is born it is well aware that something has happened to it even though it can't put into words what has happened.  Later on, the babe knows its mother long before it has the ability to say, "This is my mother."  The same is true of a child of God who is born again in infancy.  This little one knows that something has happened.  The child feels joy in the presence of its Savior (just as an infant feels pleasure in the presence of its mother).  Later as the child matures, it will give more mature indications of what has happened to it.  This knowledge of Jesus Christ is imprinted into the hearts of God's people by a direct action of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 8:10-12; I John 2:27).

The Lord Jesus Christ very strongly taught that some infants would be regenerated in infancy when He said, "Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou has perfected praise?" (Matt. 21:16).  Another man the Lord very probably touched by His grace while he was in the womb was Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5).

The infant son of David, who died in infancy, evidently was regenerated.  David was sure that he went to heaven at death.  David was a man after God's own heart and God must have revealed this to him.  When the boy died David said, "But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast?  can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." (II Sam. 12:23).

These considerations further prove that "Salvation is of the Lord." (Jonah 2:9).

Questions

  1. What does "gospel regeneration" mean?

  2. Give a verse that plainly teaches that there is only one way of salvation.

  3. Name two individuals in Scripture who were born again at a very early age.

  4. In what sense does a regenerated infant "know" Jesus Christ?

Memory Verse:  We have memorized Ps. 110:3 and II Cor. 4:6.  Let us memorize John 5:25.


Lesson Twenty-Eight

Irresistible Grace

When we speak of irresistible grace, we mean that when God moves in power to bring salvation to a sinner, that this power cannot be resisted--it is always effectual.  Those who don't believe this always turn to Acts 7.  Stephen is preaching here and in verse fifty-one he says, "ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost:  as your fathers did, so do ye."

To properly understand this passage, we must see what Stephen is talking about.  He is speaking to the Jews concerning the words of the prophets which came to the Jews in the past.  In resisting the words of these prophets, the Jews had resisted the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost reveals God's Word to holy men:  prophets and apostles.  The Holy Ghost uses ministers of the Word to proclaim the Word of God throughout all ages:  to the Jew in the Old Testament period, and to every tribe and tongue and language in the New Testament dispensation.  People who hate the Word resist, rebel, and show scorn.  They take those whom the Holy Ghost uses to proclaim the Word and kill them.  That is what Stephen is speaking about here.  He is not telling them that the Spirit of God was given to them all to lead them to repentance--but that many of them resisted.  But the Spirit is resisted in the sense that these holy men whom the Spirit sends are resisted.  The word "resist" is antipipto which means "to oppose."  So they resisted the Spirit as they opposed the men who were led by Him.

They were resisting the Spirit in an external way because He was not working on their hearts, trying to bring salvation to them.

To further prove this, we need only point out that Saul was at this time resisting the Holy Ghost in the same sense that they were.  See Acts 7:58.  But later, when the Holy Spirit moved on the heart of Saul with irresistible power, Saul was instantly brought to salvation.  See Acts 9:5,6.  See also Acts 22:3-16; Acts 26:9-19; Gal. 1:13-17.  Saul persecuted the church of Jesus Christ for a considerable time after the death of Stephen.  But when the Lord moved on his heart in power Saul or Paul immediately began to preach the gospel he once opposed.  This is proof positive that God worked on him on the way to Damascus in a much different way that He did while Stephen was preaching.  And Paul later said that God works on all believers with the same power in which He worked on him.  See I Tim. 1:16.

Behold, I Stand At The Door

Another Scripture that those who oppose the doctrine of Irresistible Grace like to use is Revelation 3:20 where it is said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:  if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."  People misrepresent this Scripture by saying that Jesus is knocking at the door of peoples' hearts and trying to gain entrance.  But this is not the door of anyone's heart.  He knocked at the door of that corrupt church of Laodicea and He calls to separation those who yet love the word of God.  But Christ does not knock at any man's heart.  God opens the hearts of His elect by Irresistible Grace.  See how He works as in the case of Lydia:  "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us:  whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul." (Acts 16:14).

Whosoever Will

Another favorite Scripture of those who deny Irresistible Grace is Rev. 22:17 where it is said, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.  And let him that heareth say, Come.  And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely."

Let us examine the condition of those to whom the invitation is given.  "Let him that is athirst come."  A man has to have life before he can be thirsty.  A true thirst for the things of God is an evidence of life.  A thirsty man is already in a blessed condition.  God's irresistible grace has already operated on him.  "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:  for they shall be filled." (Matt. 5:6).  This man is not in need of life.  He is in need of the things which sustain life (the water of life).

"And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."  Who is this man?  He is the one who has been given a willing heart by irresistible grace.  Not everyone has a will to come.  The Lord Jesus said to some, "And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life." (John 5:40).  What is the difference in those who will and those who won't?  Sovereign, irresistible grace!  As was mentioned before, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power." (Ps. 110:3).  "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13).  To show emphatically that man can't come to God by his so-called "free will" the Scripture plainly says, "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." (Rom. 9:16).

Other invitations in the Scriptures are also given to those who have already experienced a change wrought by the grace of God.  "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters . . ." (Isaiah 55:1).  The one who is not thirsty is not invited.  "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28).  He did not say, "I will give you life."  They already had life or they couldn't have been weary.  What they needed was rest for their souls.

When God determines to save one, His grace cannot be resisted.  "But our God is in the heavens:  He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased." (Ps. 115:3).

Questions

  1. In what sense was the Holy Spirit resisted by the Jews in Acts 7?

  2. Did Paul resist the Holy Spirit when salvation was brought to him?

  3. What door is Christ knocking on in Rev. 3:20?

  4. To whom is the "whosoever will" of Rev. 22:17 addressed?

  5. To whom are the invitations to come to Christ addressed in the Scriptures?

Memory Verse:  We have memorized Ps. 110:3, II Cor. 4:6, and John 5:25.  Let us memorize John 3:8.


Lesson Twenty-Nine

Irresistible Grace

Our assignment this time is to read God's Drawing Power by Zack Guess and to answer the following questions:

  1. Give five examples from the New Testament of the use of the word translated "draw" in John 12:32.  Confine those examples to usages concerning natural phenomena.

  2. List four ways the word translated "draw" in John 12:32 is used in the Classical Greek.

  3. Does God save a sinner against his will?  Explain your answer.

  4. Where else in Scripture besides John 12:32 is this word "draw" used speaking of God's irresistible grace in bringing salvation?

  5. Is the lovingkindness with which God draws His own to Himself inconsistent with irresistible power?  Explain your answer.

  6. Is John 12:32 a statement of fact or a statement of condition?

  7. What are some of the Biblical names of those who are drawn to God?

  8. List at least three evidences whereby one may gain assurance of his salvation.

Memory Verse:  We have memorized Ps. 110:3; II Cor. 4:6; John 5:25, and John 3:8.  Let us memorize John 6:37,44.


God's Drawing Power Exercised Toward His People

An Exposition of John 12:32

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." (John 12:32)

The above words, spoken by our Lord, are among the most often-quoted and yet the most misunderstood and misinterpreted of any of the words in the Bible.  Rightly understood, this Scripture, like all others, is a very God-honoring statement.  Mis­under­stood and misinterpreted, it dishonors Christ by reducing Him from an all-powerful Savior to a poor, weak beggar who is frustrated in the great majority of cases in His efforts to save men from their sins.

In these words our Savior was speaking of His death on the cross, and what would be accomplished as a result of that death.  There are several elements of this short verse that need to be examined in order to gain a proper understanding of these words of Jesus.  First, what did He mean by the word "draw"?  Secondly, who are the "all men" under consideration here?  Thirdly, did Jesus do what He said He would do?  This last question may seem entirely out of place to the reader who loves God and His Word.  But let me assure you that this question is very pertinent to a discussion of the Scripture under consideration.  Today many people, even many sincere lovers of God, are saying, oftentimes without realizing it; that Jesus did not accomplish what He set out to accomplish, but that He was disappointed in perhaps seventy-five percent or higher, of the work that He came to do.

Let us examine each of these points with a prayerful heart that God will, indeed "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of they law." (Psalms 119:18).

The Word "Draw" As Used In Scripture

We must gain a proper understanding of the word "draw" as it is used in the Bible if we are to gain a proper understanding of the passage we are studying.  It is going to be immediately apparent, even on a brief examination of the New Testament, that the word translated "draw" in John 12:32 has a great deal more power in it that is commonly attributed to it today in most books and sermons.

The common but erroneous idea of God's drawing power that is held by many people today goes something like this:  "God is wooing every human being, trying to get them to accept Him as their personal Savior.  God draws them to Him by moral persuasion; He doesn't force them to come.  He tries to influence them to love Him, much as a young man tries to influence a young woman with whom he is in love to become his bride.  God is standing with open arms pleading and begging the sinner to let Him come into his heart.  But this drawing has no force in it; it is possible to reject this drawing power and, in fact, the majority of people do reject this drawing power and, in fact, the majority of people do reject it and spurn the offer of God's mercy and love, leaving Him disappointed and heart-broken."  This common idea of God's drawing is brought out very well in a verse of the very popular song much sung today, "Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is Calling."  The verse reads "Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading, Pleading for you and for me?  Why should we linger and heed not His mercies, Mercies for you and for me?"

But when we turn to the Bible we get a very different idea of the force of the word "draw."  The Biblical use of the word indicates that God exercises great power, indeed irresistible power when He draws men to Himself.  The only way to honestly study the Bible is to study it impartially, with no preconceived ideas of what it teaches, and thus let it speak for itself.  This is, admittedly, a very difficult thing to do, and requires much spiritual labor and prayer; it is much easier to believe something because you have always been taught it, or because some man says it, than it is to go to God in sincere prayer, ask Him for understanding, and then spend some hard mental and spiritual effort searching God's Word.  Most people are not willing to do this, hence much misunderstanding of the teaching of the Scriptures in the day that we live in.

To see for ourselves how the writers of Scripture used the word "draw" we must examine every passage which contains the word under consideration and see what force or power is implied in the word.  Many of these passages deal with purely natural things of the physical world, but, instead of this being a disadvantage, it is a distinct advantage.  God often uses natural examples in the Bible to teach us spiritual lessons.  When He shows us the force of a word in the natural, physical world that we can understand with our physical senses, we can more easily understand the meaning of the word when it speaks of spiritual things that we cannot observe with our physical senses (such as hearing, touching, seeing, etc.).

The word translated "draw" in John 12:32 is a New Testament Greek word HELKUO or HELKO.  If we can see how it is used in other places, we can more readily understand how it is used in John 12:32.

The word is used in John 18:10 where it says that " . . . Simon Peter having a sword drew it . . . "  Peter exercised sovereign, irresistible force on this sword.  The sword didn't cooperate with Peter in the drawing, because it was unable to.  And, likewise, the dead sinner is unable to cooperate with God, because he is spiritually dead (not sick--dead!)  (Eph. 2:1) and must be drawn by a powerful God to Jesus Christ for salvation.

The very same word is used in John 21:11 where "Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes . . . "  Here again, we see the great force of the word "draw" in Scripture.  Peter drew the net in because he had the power to do so, not because the fish were willing to cooperate with him.  If Peter had waited until the fish were willing and ready to draw them in, he would never have drawn that net.

In Acts 16:19 the identical word is used.  Here, some Philippian slave-owners got mad at Paul and Silas and " . . . they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers."  Why were they able to draw Paul and Silas into the marketplace?  Because they had greater power than did Paul and Silas.  The only reason God is able to draw a spiritually dead sinner to Himself (or to Christ) is because He has greater power than the sinner.  Otherwise the sinner would never come.  A similar incident occurred in Acts 21:30 where some Jews were determined to kill Paul " . . . took Paul and drew him out of the temple."  Paul was drawn here because a superior force was operating on him.  Thus, again, we gain insight into the way the word "draw" is used in the New Testament.

In yet another book of the Bible the same word is used with equal force.  In James 2:6 we read:  "Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats."  There is one thing for certain; the poor, oppressed poor men didn't go before the judge because they wanted to, because they were willing to cooperate with their oppressors.  They went because they were drawn by superior force.

These verses that we have considered give an accurate application of the word we are studying, especially as it is used in the physical world.  A further substantiation of the power of this word can be found in the use of this word in the Classical Greek language, from which our New Testament Greek developed.  Liddell and Scott in their Greek-English Lexicon give some of the following meanings to the same word we are studying:  "to draw ships down to the sea; of mules, to draw a chariot; to draw the plough through the field; to draw a bow."  In every one of these examples, as in each of the above Scriptural examples, the idea is that a stronger power, a superior force draws an object.

When we begin to examine the word as it is used in speaking of spiritual things it can immediately be seen that the word retains the same force and power with which it was used in the physical world.  John is the only writer to use this word concerning a purely spiritual subject, and remember that this is the same John who used the very same word, in the very same book, with the very same force, concerning the physical world (John 18:10; John 21:11).  In John 6:44 Jesus Christ says, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him:  and I will raise him up at the last day."  How powerful, how effective is this drawing force?  It is powerful enough and sufficiently effective that it works perfectly in every case in which it is used.  Jesus shows this in John 6:37 where He says, "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."  This drawing power never fails; when it is exerted on an individual he is actually drawn to Christ by an overwhelming force that he can't resist.

Many people misunderstand when this drawing power is spoken of and believe that we are teaching that God saves a man against his own will and just drags him to Jesus, while he is hating to go there.  But this is far from the truth.  God doesn't save a man against his will, but He changes the man's will when He saves him.  David says in Psalm 110:3, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power . . . "  In the day of what power?  In the day of the drawing power of God.  Paul says in Philippians 2:13, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."  This giving of a new will when God draws us to Him is seen dramatically in the case of the Apostle Paul.  He had been persecuting Christ up to the very moment of being drawn to Christ.  But immediately after being drawn to Christ, Paul demonstrated that his will had been radically changed by crying out, " . . . Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6).  Paul wasn't mad because the Lord had drawn him; he now wanted to do the will of God.

Jeremiah 31:3 speaks of this same drawing power in the words of God:  "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."  Many people mistake this lovingkindness as having no power in it, but not so.  Just because this is an act of lovingkindness doesn't mean that it is not an act of irresistible power.  If I see one of my children run into the path of a speeding automobile, I will draw him back out of danger with lovingkindness because I love him. But

I will also draw him with whatever power is necessary to actually rescue him from danger.

Seeing that the Scriptures teach that this drawing power of God is so effective that it always works, now it will be necessary to search the Bible to see who it is that God draws to Himself.

Will Every Human Being Be Saved?

Most people teach today that the "all men" in John 12:32 is referring to every single member of the human race.  But most of them have failed to realize what this interpretation logically leads to.  According to the simple definition of the words used here, if every member of the human race is included, then they will all be saved and there will be no one in hell!  This is called Universalism.  There are some few people in the world who do believe in universal salvation of the entire human race, but no Bible-believer believes this, because there are too many plain, unmistakable passages of Scripture that teach there will be a number of individuals confined in a burning, eternal hell.

But Universalism is just exactly what John 12:32 teaches if the "all men" refer to every member of the human race.  Notice again the language of the verse:  "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."  To anyone that has even an elementary understanding of the English language this is a concise, emphatic statement of fact.  This is not a conditional statement or a statement of possibility.  Jesus did not say He would try to draw all men to Himself, or that He would merely exert a drawing influence.  He simply said that He would draw, that is actually draw "all men" unto Him.  So whoever the "all men" are here, they will all be drawn to Christ.  If the "all men" here are the entire human race then this verse is teaching universal salvation.  But as we have seen, this is Scripturally impossible, so who are the "all men?"

Christ Died For And Will Save All His People

The Scriptures plainly state that Christ came to the earth to accomplish a particular mission, and that He accomplished that mission completely without failure.  Christ speaks plainly of His own mission when He says, "For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.  And this is the Father's will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." (John 6:38,39).  This is a plain statement; God gave some people to Christ, and Christ lost not one of them but they all will be raised up at the last day.  We have already seen that this can't be the entire human race.

Who are they, then?  Scripture calls them by several names:

(1) "His people" -- Matt. 1:21

(2) "My sheep" -- John 10:11,27

(3) "The elect" -- II Tim. 2:10 and many other names.

Concerning our specific text, John 12:32, it would be well to show that many times in Scripture the terms "all", "all men" and the like are restricted to a certain class of people.  The actual meaning of "all" in many places in the Bible is "all who are under consideration."

Let us again turn to the Bible with an open, unprejudiced, unbiased mind and let the Scriptures speak to us themselves concerning this matter.  Who are the "all" in John 6:37?  "All that the Father giveth me . . . "  The Holy Spirit restricted the "all" with the modifying phrase "that the Father giveth me."  He didn't say "all the human race."  In Matt. 3:5,6 we read, "Then went out to Him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of Him in Jordan, confessing their sins."  Does this "all" mean that every single human being from Judea and Jerusalem came and were baptized by John?  Certainly not!  A few verses following plainly state that John refused to baptize many of the Pharisees and Saducees.  The Bible writer was merely using a statement much like we would today if we were to say, for instance, "The whole town has gone to the ball game."  We would not mean by a statement like this that every single person in town has gone to the ball game, but that the great majority have gone.  This is how the Biblical writers often used the word "all."

One more example should be sufficient to show the open-minded reader that the word "all" seldom refers to the whole human race when used in the Bible.  In Luke 2:10, the angel said at the birth of Jesus Christ, "Fear not:  for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."  Did this mean that every single member of the human race would rejoice when Jesus was born?  Of course not!  What about King Herod?  Was he happy?  Matt. 2:3 tells us that he was "troubled."  So who were the "all people" in Luke 2:10?  Simply this -- all the people of God.  Who then are the "all men" in John 12:32?  All the children of God.  Will the Lord lose a one of them?  Not a single one.  Will the Lord be frustrated because He can't save all the ones He desires to?  No.  Why?  He exercises His sovereign drawing power towards them, and lovingly but powerfully draws them to Himself.

Have You Been Drawn To God?

This is a very important question that should deeply concern each of us.  For if God does draw us to Christ we will be eternally blessed.  But if He doesn't draw us to Him we will suffer the terrible wrath of God for ever and ever, without end!  So it should be of supreme interest to us whether we have been drawn by God.

Thankfully, the Bible gives us some evidence whereby we can tell if we have been drawn to Him.  I Thess.1:4,5 tells us we are of the "elect" if the preaching of the gospel comes to us in power and changes our lives.  If the gospel of Christ is just so much foolishness to you and you consider it a waste of time to go to church and hear the gospel preached, you have no right to believe that God has drawn you.

I John 3:14 tells us that "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.  He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."  Do you love God's people?  Really love them, not just from the lips?  Love them enough that you would forgive them even if they wronged you?  Love them enough to defend them if someone is talking about them behind their backs?  Would you be willing to show your love to them in deed (maybe even with your pocketbook) as well as in word?  If we can say, "yes" to these questions then we have been drawn to God.  If we must say, "no" we cannot say that God has drawn us to Him.

Beloved, we need to examine ourselves continually for evidences of God's drawing power in our lives.  John said, "He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (I John 2:4).

Has God drawn you to Him?


Lesson Thirty

Irresistible Grace

There is much misunderstanding in the religious world about "faith" or "belief."  Many preachers will say that salvation is by grace but that a person must "put his trust in Jesus Christ" or "believe in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior" or "have faith in Jesus Christ" before he can be saved.  This act of faith, thus presented, is an act of the sinner's free will.

This conception of faith is not true.  If it were true then the sinner would be playing a part in his own salvation.  He would be doing something in order to be saved.  He would be moving toward God before he had spiritual life in order to obtain spiritual life.  No matter how much a man may talk of "free grace," any act that a man had to perform before salvation, in order to obtain salvation, would render that salvation not free.

Salvation is, however, of grace.  It is wholly of God.  Even though no one is saved without faith, yet even that faith is a free gift of God.  God gives a person faith when He causes him to be born of the Spirit, not before the person is born again.  The born-again one cannot exercise faith before he has it.  When we see a man exercise faith we can be sure that he is already in a "born-again" condition.  To show that salvation is completely of grace, Paul said, "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." (Rom. 9:16).  Speaking of those that believe on Jesus, John said that they "were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13).  These verses make it plain that "saving faith" is not an act of man's so-called "free will" but is a gift of God.

Definition Of The Terms

The Greek word most commonly translated "believe" in the New Testament is PISTEUO.  The meaning is "to believe, be persuaded of, to place confidence in." (W. E. Vine).  Thayer gives the meaning as follows:  "of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of his soul."  When the object of believing is Jesus Christ, Thayer says that it is "a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah."

The Greek word most commonly translated "faith" in the New Testament is PISTIS.  The meaning is "firm persuasion." (W. E. Vine).  Thayer says of this word that "when it relates to God, PISTIS is the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ-Heb. 11:6."  He says that, "in reference to Christ, it denotes a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation."

It should be obvious that PISTEUO and PISTIS are cognate words.  This means that they were derived from a common original form or root.  One is a verb; the other is a noun.  Simply put it means that "to believe" is "to exercise faith."  "Faith" is "the ability to believe."  So, if one believes, he is exercising the faith which he already has.

The Scriptural Record

The Scriptures make plain that faith is a gift of God and not an achievement of man's "free-will."  "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8,9).  These verses tell us that we are saved on the principle of grace (a free unmerited favor); that faith is the instrument used; that salvation is not of works (including a work of faith); and that man cannot take any credit for his salvation.  In short these verses say that God gives the individual faith when He saves him.  Faith, as used here is almost a synonym for spiritual life.

"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." (Phil. 1:29).  This verse makes it plain that the ability to believe on Christ is a gift of God, and not a power exercised by the "free-will" of the sinner.

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." (Heb. 12:2).  Many people say that "if you will just take the first step and move towards Jesus, the He will save you."  But this verse teaches that Jesus makes the first step.  And, He finishes what He started.  Faith is not a work of the creature -- it is a work of the Creator, from beginning to end.

To further show that Jesus finishes what He has begun He said to Peter, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." (Luke 22:32).  Christ prays for all His people as their Intercessor.  Though they lapse into sin from time to time their faith (practically a synonym for spiritual life) will never fail.  The fact that Jesus is both the author and finisher of faith is what is being emphasized in the following verse:  "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world:  and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (I John 5:4).

Another verse that shows that the ability to believe is entirely of God and is not of man is I Peter 1:21:  "Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."  The gift of faith was purchased for the elect on the cross:  "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." (I Peter 3:18).  We are brought to God in vital, living union by faith.  That faith is entirely by Christ is further pointed out in Acts 3:16:  "And His name through faith in His name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know:  yea the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all."

Faith is not the work of man.  Man only exercises that which God has already worked in him.  "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." (John 6:29).  John Gill says of this verse, "This, as a principle, is purely God's work; as it is an act, or as it is exercised under the influence of divine grace it is man's act."  He is saying what I have said above -- man only exercises what God has already worked in him.  The Greek scholar, A. T. Robertson says, "So here Jesus terms belief in Him as the work of God."

It takes the same power to truly believe as it took to raise Christ from the dead.  "And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raise Him from the dead ... " (Eph. 1:19,20).

Peter gave his witness in the following words, "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." (II Peter 1:1).  The word translated "obtained" is LAGCHANO, "to obtain by lot."  Kittel's Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words has this to say about the word:  "The attainment is not by one's own effort or as a result of one's own exertions, but is like ripe fruit falling into one's lap ... In this sentence, the point of LAGCHANO is that faith has come to them from God with no co-operation on their part."

The Lord Jesus sums it up when He says, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing:  the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.  But there are some of you that believe not.  For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.  And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of my Father." (John 6:63-65).

Questions

  1. Can a person exercise faith in order to gain spiritual life?  Why or why not?

  2. Is anyone saved without faith?

  3. When does a person obtain faith?

  4. Faith is the ability to ____________________________.

  5. Faith is almost a synonym for _______________________.

  6. Belief in Jesus is the work of ______________________.

Memory Verse:  We have memorized Ps. 110:3; II Cor. 4:6; John 5:25; John 3:8; John 6:37,44.  Let us memorize Phil. 1:29.


Lesson Thirty-One

Irresistible Grace

In our last study sheet, we considered Scriptures which spoke of "faith," "believe," etc.  In them we saw that faith is a gift of God, given in the new birth, and not a work of the creature to be performed in order to be born again.  Let us now continue to consult the Scriptures.

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life:  and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:36).  This is a statement of description, not a statement of condition.  It doesn't say that "if one believes he will be given everlasting life."  It says that the believer has everlasting life.

What has been said here is true of the following Scriptures:  "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24); "He that believeth on Him is not condemned:  but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18); "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and everyone that loveth Him that begat loveth Him also that is begotten of Him." (I John 5:1).

Mark 16:16 also presents a statement of fact and not a statement of conditions to be met:  "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

Acts 13:48 states that "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."  It does not say that they believed in order to be ordained to eternal life.

Rom. 4:16 states that "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all."  This verse emphasizes that faith itself is a free gift of grace.  The verse also emphasizes that the promise of eternal life is absolutely sure to all the spiritual seed of Abraham (all the children of God).  Abraham is the spiritual father of both Jew and Gentile in the sense that both are saved exactly like he was -- by faith which was freely given to him because of grace.

The pattern of how one becomes a believer is Paul the Apostle.  He wrote, "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting. (I Tim. 1:16).

Paul became a believer on the road to Damascus by a direct operation of the Spirit of God.  He was not under the sound of the gospel when this occurred.  Since this was a "pattern" conversion, all sinners who become believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are born again by the immediate power and grace of God, and not by the ministry of the Word.

In conclusion, we must note that not all men have faith (II Thess. 3:2).  Therefore, not everyone will believe when they hear the gospel.  Why?  "But ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you." (John 10:26).

Questions

  1. "He that believeth on the Son ____________ everlasting life."

  2. The above verse is a statement of _______________.

  3. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ _________ born of God."

  4. Is Acts 13:48 a statement of condition or a statement of fact?

  5. In what sense is Abraham the father of believers?

  6. How did Paul become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ?

Memory Verse:  We have memorized Ps. 110:3; II Cor. 4:6; John 5:25; John 3:8; John 6:37,44; Phil. 1:29.  Let us memorize I Peter 1:21.


Lesson Thirty-Two

Irresistible Grace

In the last few study sheets, we have considered the subject of "saving faith."  In this sheet we will conclude our study of this subject with some very sound comments from the book, Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Hoeksema.

"Faith is not another work on the part of man, by performing which he becomes worthy of salvation.  All the work that makes us worthy of righteousness and eternal life and glory has been performed and completely finished by Christ Himself.  This is true even of faith itself.  Christ merited faith for us by His perfect obedience.  Nor may we say that faith is a condition upon our fulfillment of which God is willing to give us the salvation merited by Christ for us.  There are no conditions whatsoever unto salvation.  It is free and sovereign."

"The bond whereby we are united with Christ is faith.  This faith we do not possess of ourselves.  It is strictly a gift of God, wrought in us by the Spirit of Christ."

"A distinction can be made between the essence and the operation, or between the potential and activity of saving faith.  Faith is, first of all, a spiritual disposition, a power or aptitude to apprehend and appropriate Christ and all His benefits ... It is the fitness to believe in distinction from the act itself.  We may illustrate this by many natural examples.  When a child is born, it has all the faculties and powers and gifts it will ever have, even though they do not as yet actively function ... If later in life the child develops into a great mathematician or skillful musician, this mathematical bent of mind or artistic tendency was not added to the child's talents after it was born; his talents were all given with birth.  The same may be said of saving faith.  As a spiritual ability, it is given with our spiritual birth, that is, in regeneration, while it develops into the conscious activity of believing through contact with the gospel applied to the heart by the Spirit of Christ.  Without this spiritual ability it is impossible for a man to believe in Christ.  If a child is born blind he cannot be taught to see.  If he is born deaf, the activity of hearing will never develop.  The same is true spiritually.  By nature, the sinner is born blind and deaf and dumb with regard to spiritual things."

"This ability of saving faith is, of course, the fruit of the Holy Ghost.  It is true that the power of faith becomes active belief only through the gospel."

"We must also remark here that this ability or potential of faith is wrought in the heart immediately by the Spirit of Christ.  The power of faith may be wrought in the heart of the smallest infant as well as in the heart of the adult."

"This potential of faith can never be lost.  The activity of saving faith may be very weak at times, may seem to have died out and disappeared, so that we seem to have no hold on Christ and the precious promises of Christ.  But the power of faith, the potential of faith, can never be lost -- Once a believer, always a believer."

"Faith cannot be called a condition, a prerequisite, which man must fulfill in order to receive salvation and all the benefits of grace.  Faith certainly is not a condition which man must fulfill in order to receive the gifts of grace.  On the contrary, faith itself is one of the chief gifts of the grace of God to the sinner.  One does not receive grace on condition that he first believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but on the contrary, he receives the gift of faith in order that he may now live from out of Christ.  There are no conditions for salvation, simply because salvation is never dependent on anything in man.  By grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God.--Eph. 2:8."

"The real work of God is that we believe in Jesus Christ Whom God hath sent. (John 6:29) ... Faith is God's own work, the work of His free grace within us, the spiritual means of God, the spiritual dispositions whereby God ingrafts us into Christ through the Holy Spirit, and whereby He causes all the blessings of salvation to flow out of Christ to us-ward.  It is the bond to Christ whereby our soul cleaves unto Him, lives out of Him, and receives and appropriates all His benefits."

"Faith reveals itself as spiritual knowledge.  Here a new knowledge is meant, which you did not possess as a sinner and of which you received the power in regeneration.  The man that has this knowledge discerns spiritual things.  The natural man does not see any of this, but the spiritual man that has the gift of faith discerns all things.  On the other hand, if one is not born again he cannot even see the kingdom of God."

"The knowledge of saving faith is spiritual.  It is experiential.  It is not a theoretical knowledge about God in Christ, but it is the knowledge of Him.  There is a wide difference between knowing that thing or person ... A dietitian may be able to analyze every item on a menu and inform you exactly as to the number and kinds of vitamins each offered dish contains, but if he has cancer of the stomach he cannot taste the food and enjoy it.  On the other hand, the man with the hungry stomach may sit at the table with him, know absolutely nothing about the vitamins; but he will order his meal, relish his food, and appropriate it to himself in such a way that he is refreshed and strengthened."

"So a man may be a keen theologian and though he gives a lecture on the Bread of Life, he does not hunger after it and cannot eat it -- if he has not faith.  On the other hand, a person may be far inferior to this able theologian in intellectual capacity, but if he possess the knowledge of saving faith he will be like the hungry man that relishes and digests his food.  The knowledge of saving faith is the kind of knowledge spoken of in John 17:3:  'And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.'"

Questions

  1. Is it possible for an infant to possess faith?

  2. What effect does the gospel have upon one who has faith?

  3. Explain how one may know a great deal about Christ and yet not know Him.

Memory Verse:  We have memorized Ps. 110:3; II Cor. 4:6; John 5:25; John 3:8; John 6:37,44; I Pet. 1:21.  Let us memorize John 6:29.


Lesson Thirty-Three

Irresistible Grace

We have studied the doctrine of "Irresistible Grace" for several study sheets now.  We have seen that this means that God's grace cannot be resisted when He operates by the Holy Spirit to bring the salvation treasured up in Jesus Christ to a sinner.  There are several Scriptural terms that are used to describe God's operations of grace.  The reason, no doubt, that the Scriptures use several terms to describe this operation is that the work is so great that no one term is sufficient to describe it in all its aspects.  To gain a more complete understanding of this great work of God, we will now consider several of these terms:

Called Of God

When God calls to the one who is dead in the darkness of sin, that one becomes alive in the light of the Lord.  This powerful call raised Lazarus from the dead, will raise the bodies of the dead at the last day, and spoke the worlds into existence.  Peter says, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." (I Pet. 2:9).  John Gill says of this call, "not of an external call by the ministry of the word only; for many are called in this sense, who were not chosen, redeemed, and sanctified; but of an internal, special, powerful, holy, and heavenly calling, by the spirit and grace of God."

Paul shows that the ones who are called are the same ones who are predestinated, justified, and glorified.  Their calling is just as sure as their predestination, justification, and glorification.  He says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, the He might be the firstborn among many brethren, Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called:  and whom He called, them He also justified:  and whom He justified, them He also glorified." (Rom. 8:28-30).

Several verses in I Cor. 1 speak of this heavenly calling:  "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints." (I Cor. 1:2); "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (I Cor. 1:9).  This calling is entirely attributed to God, who is faithful.

The gospel is received with gladness only by those who have been called:  "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." (I Cor. 1:23,24).

The calling of God concerns only the vessels of mercy, that is, the elect, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles:  "And that He might make know the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." (Rom. 9:23,24).

To make it plain that this calling is according to the purpose of God and is not, in any sense a work of man the Scripture says, "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (II Tim. 1:9).

Because this call of God's Holy Spirit is always effective in bringing salvation to the sinner, it is often known among theologians as the Effectual Call.

A Translation

In Colossians 1:13 this being brought to salvation is called a translation or change:  "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son."  Notice that the Lord does the work here.  The ones acted upon are passive.

A New Heart

The Lord through Ezekiel spoke words that many Bible students think are to be taken in a spiritual sense and that refer to regeneration.  I think so myself:  "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you:  and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." (Eze. 36:26).  John Gill says of this passage:  "It cannot be taken out by men of themselves:  nor by ministers of the word; but by the powerful and efficacious grace of God; giving repentance unto life; working faith in the soul to look to a crucified Christ."

Law Written In The Heart

Concerning the Covenant of Grace, of which the Old Testament Covenant was in many ways a type and shadow, God says, "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts:  and I will be to them a God and they shall be to Me a people:  And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord:  for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest.  For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." (Heb. 8:10-12).  Gill has this to say concerning this covenant:  "This is the sum and substance of the covenant which God promised to make with, or to make manifest and known to His chosen people, the true Israelites (God's children), under the gospel dispensation ... not that part of our flesh that is called the heart; ;but the souls of men, such hearts as are regenerated and sanctified by the Spirit of God ... which is done not with the ink of nature's power, but with the Spirit of the living God--II Cor. 3:3."

Washing Of Regeneration

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." (Titus 3:5).

God saves sinners.  They do not save nor help save themselves.  It is done according to His mercy, not for anything deserving found in the sinner.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit.  The washing is not water baptism for this is a righteous work (Matt. 3:15).  Regenerating grace is here meant, or a being born of water and of the Spirit (John 3:5).  "Renewing of the Holy Ghost" is meant in the sense of renewal by the Holy Spirit (a subjective genitive construction in the Greek -- A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament).  We are made new creatures in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

Thus we have studied some of the principal terms that describe how salvation is brought to the sinner.

Questions

  1. Why is God's operation of grace on the heart of a sinner described by several different terms in the Scriptures?

  2. Why is the call of the Holy Spirit to a sinner for salvation sometimes referred to as the Effectual Call?

  3. Who writes God's law in the hearts of elect sinners?

  4. How do we know that the "washing" referred to in Titus 3:5 is not water baptism?

Memory Verse:  We have memorized Ps. 110:3; II Cor. 4:6; John 5:25; John 3:8; John 6:37,44; I Pet. 1:21, and John 6:29.  Let us memorize Titus 3:5.


Lesson Thirty-Four

Irresistible Grace

We will consider now the question of the gospel.  Many people who believe in the irresistible grace of God think this work is accomplished by the preaching of the gospel.  In other words, they teach that the Holy Spirit uses the preached word or the written word to bring spiritual life to the sinner.  This idea is sometimes referred to as "Gospel Regeneration."

The Primitive Baptists and some others do not believe that the Word of God teaches this.  They believe that the Holy Spirit accomplishes the work of regeneration or the new birth directly and apart from means.

At the same time, they believe that the gospel is very important and should be preached to every creature because God commands this. (Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15).  But they don't believe that the Scriptures, preached or written, give spiritual life.  They believe that the Scriptures are not used in regeneration, but they are used in conversion.  I will not take time right now to fully explain the difference in regeneration and conversion, but, essentially, regeneration has to do with obtaining spiritual life, while conversion has to do with being brought to the knowledge of the truth.  Only a regenerated person can be converted.  The gospel will not be received by one who has not already been regenerated.

The Case Of Infants And Incompetent

If the gospel were necessary for regeneration, then all those who die in infancy and all those mentally incompetent to understand the Word of God would be doomed to hell.  People who believe in Gospel Regeneration deny this.  They say that God saves all responsible adults who are saved by the gospel and that He saves the rest of His elect by a direct work of the Holy Spirit.  But this will not stand the test of Scripture.  Peter preached, "Neither is there salvation in any other:  for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).  This verse teaches, first of all, that there is only one way of salvation -- not one way for responsible adults and another way for others.

When Scripture speaks of the "name" of a person, it speaks of that person himself and all that he stands for.  As W. E. Vine gives one of the usages of the word "name":  "For all that a name implies of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, etc., of everything that the name covers."

We are not saved merely by a name but we are saved by the Person and Work of the One represented by the Name of Jesus Christ.  The salvation is in the One Who wears this name.  "Thou shalt call His name Jesus:  for He shall save His people from their sins." (Matt. 1:21).  The name Jesus means "Jehovah is salvation."  The salvation resides in Him.  Here in Acts 4:12, the name is put for the reality.

For an example of this use of the word "name," "the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name" (Heb. 13:15), is equivalent to "the fruit of our lips giving thanks to Him."

Furthermore, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth:  so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8).  This verse also teaches plainly that all the saved -- infant, imbecile, and responsible adult -- are saved one and the same way.

If, then, anyone is saved by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, apart from the preached or written word, then all the elect are saved this way.

John the Baptist was saved this way as we can see from Luke 1:41-44.  John, even though he could not mentally understand, leaped for joy.  Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22).  Regeneration is such a deep work that it takes place beneath the consciousness.  Conversion is that that takes place on the conscious level.

David was also saved this way as he wrote, "But Thou art He that took me out of the womb:  Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts." (Ps. 22:9).  The word "hope" is from the Hebrew BATACH which means "to trust."  David was thus saved while in a state of infancy.

The Apostle Paul

Paul said, "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting." (I Tim. 1:16).

Paul is the pattern of how God saves His people.  Paul was born again not when he was seeking Christ but when he was actively persecuting the church of God.  He was "yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord." (Acts 9:1).  There was no gospel preacher present when Paul was regenerated and he was not reading the word.  The gospel had only made him mad and murderous before this time.  He consented to the death of Stephen as Stephen was wonderfully preaching the word. (Acts 8:1).  Jesus Christ directly appeared to Paul and called him to salvation.  God revealed His Son in Paul (Gal. 1:16).  Since Paul is the pattern, God saves all His elect by the same method.  For the Biblical data concerning Paul's regeneration see Acts 7:58; 8:1-3; 9:1-9; 22:3-10; 26:9-18; Rom. 7:9-13; Gal. 1:13-16; I Tim. 1:12-16.

We will later deal with Scriptures which have to do with the purpose of the gospel.

Questions

  1. The teaching that the preached or written word is used in regeneration is called ______________  ________________.

  2. The Scriptures are not used in ________________ but they are used in ________________.

  3. What do the Scriptures mean when they say that we are saved by the name of Jesus Christ?

  4. ___________________ is that that takes place on the conscious level.

  5. Describe the regeneration of the Apostle Paul.

Memory Verse:  We have memorized Ps. 110:3; II Cor. 4:6; John 5:25; Phil. 1:29; John 3:8; John 6:37,44; I Pet. 1:21; John 6:29; and Titus 3:5.  Let us memorize Rom. 8:28-30.


Lesson Thirty-Five

Irresistible Grace

We have previously studied that regeneration is a direct work of the Holy Spirit while conversion is a work of the gospel (the preached or written word).

Before we examine the Scriptures concerning these points let us note a few quotations from the book Regeneration and Conversion by W. E. Best:

"The mission of the church is not to regenerate people; she is to preach the gospel whereby those whose hearts have already been prepared in regeneration are made ready to embrace Christ through conversion.  Here is a lesson for all of God's servants to heed.  The gospel is good news to those whom the Holy Spirit has regenerated.  Paul says it is foolishness to everyone else." (p. 5).

"The new birth, contrary to what is commonly taught is something done not merely for, but in man, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Some believe that the subject is active in the new birth, and the Spirit employs the Word as God's means of accomplishing regeneration.  But the subject, according to Scriptures, is spiritually dead, blind, deaf, and dumb ... The Holy Spirit, therefore, must quicken the passive spirit of the sinner making him sensitive to the call of the gospel.  Sensitivity to the gospel is the fruit of regeneration." (p. 12).

Keep these wonderful statements in mind as we study the Scriptures which deal with the purpose of the gospel.

Life And Immortality Revealed

God's purpose and grace "is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (II Tim. 1:10).  This verse tells us what the gospel is for.  The gospel brings "life and immortality to light."  What does this mean?  The words translated "hath brought to light" are from PHOTIZO.  The word means "to bring to light." (W. E. Vine).  It means "to render evident." (Thayer).  It means "to reveal something." (Arndt and Gingrich).  So the purpose of the gospel is to reveal life and immortality.  It does not create nor impart life and immortality.  When the Holy Spirit regenerates a person, that work is a hidden work, but the gospel reveals that work.  When the individual responds to the preaching of the gospel, the work of grace which had been wrought in the heart of that individual is now revealed.

Knowledge Of Salvation

John the Baptist was the first gospel preacher.  He preached the same message as did the Lord Jesus Christ.  John's father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied of his son.  He prophesied of John:  "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest:  for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins." (Luke 1:76,77).  John did not come to give salvation.  He came to give "knowledge of salvation."  And this knowledge was to be imparted to "His people" (the people of God).  The word "gospel" means good news.  The Person and Work of Christ is good news to God's people.  It is not good news to the reprobate who will be forever in hell.  But the "knowledge" of salvation which is brought by the gospel is sweet to the one who has eternal life.

Begotten By The Gospel

Paul said to the Corinthians that, "I have begotten you through the gospel." (I Cor. 4:15).  Paul was not saying here that the Corinthians had been born again or regenerated by the gospel.  He was saying that they had been converted to the truth by the gospel.  (For a complete discussion of this verse see the pamphlet, Begotten by the Gospel:  What Does This Mean? by Zack Guess.)

Begotten By The Word Of Truth

Speaking of God, James says, "Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." (James 1:18).  The word translated "begat" is APOKUEO.  It means "to bring forth from the womb, or to give birth to." (Thayer).  James is not talking about the initial giving of life, but about life being brought forth to the level of consciousness.  In the spiritual realm as well as in the natural the conception of life is an instantaneous happening.  But the development and birth of this conceived life is a process.  The conception is done by the Holy Spirit.  The birth (conversion or coming to a realization of one's possession of eternal life) is done by the word of truth.  James here is not talking about regeneration:  he is talking about conversion.  (For an excellent discussion of this and related Scriptures see The Power of the Word by Jimmy Barber).

The Word Of God Revives

David wrote:  "This is my comfort in my affliction:  for Thy word hath quickened me." (Ps. 119:50).

The word translated "quickened" can be translated, "Make alive."  But it can also be translated, "revive."  It is used in the sense of "revive" here.  This seems to be obvious from the way the word is used elsewhere in this psalm.  In Verse 25 and in verse 37, David asked the Lord to quicken him.  It is evident that he already possessed eternal life when he wrote this psalm.  So he did not ask the Lord to give him life; rather he asked the Lord to revive the life which he already had but which had fallen to a low ebb in the exercise of it.  It is equivalent to "restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation." (Ps. 51:12).  He did not say "restore to me salvation," but "restore the joy of salvation" which had been taken away by sin.

The Lord Saves; The Gospel Looses

When Jesus came to the tomb of the dead Lazarus He said, "Lazarus, come forth." (John 11:43).  The same Jesus who spoke physical life into existence by His voice speaks spiritual life into existence by His voice.  "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63).

After Lazarus had been given life Jesus said to those round about, "Loose him, and let him go." (John 11:44).  The people loosed the living Lazarus from the graveclothes which greatly hindered his exercise of the life which he possessed.  This is what the gospel does; it does not give life, but it frees the possessors of life from ignorance, superstition, and error.  Only Christ, speaking through the Holy Spirit, can give life.

Summary

There are many other Scriptures which could be examined on this point but they would not contradict what has been taught.  The Holy Spirit regenerates.  The gospel converts.

Questions

  1. What is the difference in regeneration and conversion?

  2. Is the sinner passive or active in the new birth?

  3. What is the function of the gospel as regards life and immortality?

  4. Is "the knowledge of salvation" the same thing as salvation?

  5. What does "begotten through the gospel" mean? (I Cor. 4:15).

  6. What does "begotten by the word of truth" mean? (James 1:18).

  7. What does "quicken" mean in Ps. 119:50?

Memory Verse:  We have memorized Ps. 110:3; II Cor. 4:6; John 5:25; Phil. 1:29; John 3:8; John 6:37,44; I Pet. 1:21; John 6:29; Titus 3:5; and Rom. 8:28-30.  Let us memorize John 6:63.

 
 

10/1/2006

 

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