considered the subjects Man Dead in Sins, Unconditional
Election, and Particular Redemption, we now come to study
the subject of Irresistible Grace.
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.
Of The Trinity In Salvation
understand the work of salvation, and to set the work of
irresistible grace in proper perspective, let us consider the
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
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
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).
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
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.
Nature Of Irresistible Grace
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.
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).
do Primitive Baptists differ with other sovereign Grace believers on
the matter of irresistible grace?
God save a sinner while he is under the sound of the gospel?
means are used by God in the regeneration of sinners?
did the work of election and predestination?
did the work of redemption?
applies salvation to the hearts of the elect?
does the work of salvation take place in the hearts of the elect?
is another term used to designate the work of irresistible grace?
anyone saved against his will? Why or why not?
Verse: Let us
memorize Ps. 110:3.
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.
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.
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 . . ."
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
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).
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).
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.
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)."
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).
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.
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.
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
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).
Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor
uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Gal. 6:15).
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.
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?
kind of resurrection is under consideration in John 5:25?
is the agent in raising one from death in sin to life in Christ?
does it mean to be "born of water and of the Spirit" in John 3:5?
does John 3:8 teach that there is only one way of salvation?
helps God give spiritual life to His people?
Memory Verse: We have
memorized Ps. 110:3. Let us memorize II Cor. 4:6.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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).
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).
considerations further prove that "Salvation is of the Lord." (Jonah
does "gospel regeneration" mean?
a verse that plainly teaches that there is only one way of
two individuals in Scripture who were born again at a very early
what sense does a regenerated infant "know" Jesus Christ?
Verse: We have
memorized Ps. 110:3 and II Cor. 4:6. Let us memorize John 5:25.
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."
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.
resisting the Spirit in an external way because He was not
working on their hearts, trying to bring salvation to them.
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
I Stand At The Door
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
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
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
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).
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.
determines to save one, His grace cannot be resisted. "But our God
is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased." (Ps.
what sense was the Holy Spirit resisted by the Jews in Acts 7?
Paul resist the Holy Spirit when salvation was brought to him?
door is Christ knocking on in Rev. 3:20?
whom is the "whosoever will" of Rev. 22:17 addressed?
whom are the invitations to come to Christ addressed in the
Verse: We have
memorized Ps. 110:3, II Cor. 4:6, and John 5:25. Let us memorize
assignment this time is to read God's Drawing Power by Zack
Guess and to answer the following questions:
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.
four ways the word translated "draw" in John 12:32 is used in the
God save a sinner against his will? Explain your answer.
else in Scripture besides John 12:32 is this word "draw" used
speaking of God's irresistible grace in bringing salvation?
the lovingkindness with which God draws His own to Himself
inconsistent with irresistible power? Explain your answer.
John 12:32 a statement of fact or a statement of condition?
are some of the Biblical names of those who are drawn to God?
at least three evidences whereby one may gain assurance of his
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
"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.
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.).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Every Human Being Be Saved?
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,
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?"
Died For And Will Save All His People
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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).
drawn you to Him?
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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."
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).
person exercise faith in order to gain spiritual life? Why or why
anyone saved without faith?
does a person obtain faith?
is the ability to ____________________________.
is almost a synonym for _______________________.
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.
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
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
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).
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
that believeth on the Son ____________ everlasting life."
above verse is a statement of _______________.
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ _________ born of
Acts 13:48 a statement of condition or a statement of fact?
what sense is Abraham the father of believers?
did Paul become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ?
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.
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
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
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."
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
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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.'"
possible for an infant to possess faith?
effect does the gospel have upon one who has faith?
Explain how one may know a great deal about Christ and yet not know
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.
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:
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
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).
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.
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
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).
call of God's Holy Spirit is always effective in bringing salvation
to the sinner, it is often known among theologians as the Effectual
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
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."
Written In The Heart
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.
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).
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.
is God's operation of grace on the heart of a sinner described by
several different terms in the Scriptures?
is the call of the Holy Spirit to a sinner for salvation sometimes
referred to as the Effectual Call?
writes God's law in the hearts of elect sinners?
do we know that the "washing" referred to in Titus 3:5 is not water
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.
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
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
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.
Of Infants And Incompetent
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.
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.
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."
"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.
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
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.
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
"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.
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.
later deal with Scriptures which have to do with the purpose of the
teaching that the preached or written word is used in regeneration
is called ______________ ________________.
Scriptures are not used in ________________ but they are used in
do the Scriptures mean when they say that we are saved by the name
of Jesus Christ?
___________________ is that that takes place on the conscious level.
Describe the regeneration of the Apostle Paul.
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.
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).
examine the Scriptures concerning these points let us note a few
quotations from the book Regeneration and Conversion by W. E.
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).
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."
wonderful statements in mind as we study the Scriptures which deal
with the purpose of the gospel.
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
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
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.)
By The Word Of Truth
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
Of God Revives
wrote: "This is my comfort in my affliction: for Thy word hath
quickened me." (Ps. 119:50).
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.
Saves; The Gospel Looses
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).
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.
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.
is the difference in regeneration and conversion?
the sinner passive or active in the new birth?
is the function of the gospel as regards life and immortality?
"the knowledge of salvation" the same thing as salvation?
does "begotten through the gospel" mean? (I Cor. 4:15).
does "begotten by the word of truth" mean? (James 1:18).
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.