Irresistible Grace

The truth of God’s irresistible grace is represented by the fourth letter, “I”, of the word TULIP. That the grace of God is irresistible follows, inexorably, from the truths of God’s sovereign predestination, limited or particular atonement and total and absolute depravity, even as it is just as true that the Armenians must conclude that this grace is resistible. Let us at this time quote the fourth point of the Remonstrance, one of the five points of doctrine drawn up by the Armenians in 1610. We quote: “That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of all good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without prevention or assisting, awakening, following and co-operative grace, can neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptation to evil; so that good deeds or movements, that can be conceived, must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But, as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, in as much as it is written concerning many, that they have resisted the Holy Ghost. Acts 7 and elsewhere in many places.”

How clever and subtle these Arminians were and are! To be sure, they appear to teach that this grace is all of God, is the beginning, continuance and accomplishment of all good; even to this extent that the regenerate man himself, without the prevenient awakening, etc. . .can neither think, will, nor do good, etc. . . . However, then they say that the operation of this grace is not irresistible. Let us understand. It is all grace, but whether that grace will operate in a sinner depends upon that sinner’s free will. The Holy Spirit must regenerate, convert, sanctify, etc., but we must either open or unlock the door of our heart if He is to enter therein. The Holy Spirit must do it all, but we must allow Him to do it. So, the work of salvation depends in the final analysis upon the will of a sinner. Without that sinner’s consent God can do nothing.

The grace of God is either resistible or irresistible. It is either—or. The one follows the other inexorably. If we believe divine, sovereign predestination, that the love of God is exclusively particular, then we must believe in Calvary’s limited or particular atonement. If we believe that all salvation centers in Christ, then we must believe that it never centers in man, and that man is totally, wholly depraved. And then we must believe that we are saved only by God’s irresistible grace, inasmuch as that sinner can never will to be saved. However, if we believe that God’s predestination is conditional, that the love of God is universal, then we must believe that Christ’s atonement is also universal. If God loves all men, would save all men, offers salvation to all men (the first of the Three Points of 1924), then that sinner must also be able to accept that offer, and the Arminian is compelled to deny the total and absolute depravity of the sinner. And if God would save all men, then the grace of God must be resistible; fact is, God would save all men, but He “does not get His way,” is frustrated in that desire, is resisted successfully by the sinner, and the Arminian must believe that the grace of God is resistible. It is well to look at this truth because our salvation is absolutely dependent upon it. If God’s grace is resistible, can be resisted, no sinner can be saved. Why? Because no sinner of himself wills that salvation and will therefore always oppose it.

Is the grace of God resistible or irresistible? The Arminians, as we stated above, claim the grace of God to be resistible. O yes, they quote Scripture, Acts 7:51: “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” However, this scripture does not mean that they resist, oppose the work of the Holy Spirit in their own hearts, successfully thwart the Holy Spirit as He would regenerate and save them. But it means that they always resist the Holy Spirit as He operates in the hearts of others. They always oppose the work of the Holy Spirit as it comes to manifestation in the hearts and lives of others. Them they always hate and persecute. How clear this is in the Scripture that follows, Acts 7:52!

The grace of God is indeed irresistible. I cannot, of course, treat this tremendous subject in detail in one short article. I urge our young people to read for themselves the testimony of our fathers as set forth in our confessions and creeds. Read Art. 24 of our Confession of Faith. However, I refer particularly to our Canons, Head 3 and 4. Read very carefully Articles 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16. It is also very beneficial to read those articles of Heads 3 and 4 which deal with Dordt’s rejection of errors. All these articles are very pertinent and instructive. Our young people should read them carefully, digest them, make them their own. Let us know and love our confessions!

What do the Scriptures say? First of all, I call attention to a cardinal truth of the Reformed persuasion and of the Word of God, namely, that God usually regenerates His people in their infancy. We must never forget this. Imagine: the Lord usually regenerates His people in their earliest infancy! Now an infant surely cannot consciously will to receive the regenerating grace of God. This is obvious. The Holy Spirit simply enters into his or her heart. His work is surely irresistible.

Secondly, we are conceived and born dead in sins and in trespasses. We are born dead and blind and deaf and dumb and lame. We are devoid of all life and light and full of death and darkness. We cannot hear or see the things of the kingdom of heaven and we cannot will to hear and see them. The work of divine grace cannot possibly be desired or willed by us. It is strictly divine and irresistible.

And what do the scriptures say? Of great importance is what Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3. Notice, please, what we read in the verses 3-8. Here the Saviour, speaking of the Holy Spirit, uses the figure of the wind. How important is verse 8! Indeed, the wind bloweth where it listeth, where it pleases. We cannot hear the sound thereof, we cannot tell whence, from where it cometh or goeth. We cannot control it. So, we read, is every one that is born of the Spirit. This surely means that the Holy Spirit operates, not where we will Him to operate, but where He wills to operate. Besides, this work of the Holy Ghost is almighty and irresistible. We are reminded in this connection of the first sign accompanying the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Pentecost: the sound as of a mighty rushing wind. Indeed, the Spirit operates where He wills to operate.

Notice, too, what we read in John 6:44. No man can, is able to come to Me, except the Father which had sent Me draw him. But this also means that when the Father draws, he must come. This word, draw, means literally to draw or pull with almighty, explosive force. Indeed, the Father’s drawing of the sinner is wholly irresistible.

We would also like to call attention to the Word of God in Romans 9:15-16, 18, 19-21; 11:33-36; Indeed, it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. The grace of God is never dependent upon the sinner! He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth. Yes, who hath resisted His will? Does not the divine Potter have power over the clay to make of the same lump one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour? Can it be stated more clearly that the work of salvation is divinely sovereign and irresistible? Is it not true that of Him and through Him and unto Him are all things, and that to Him, therefore, be all the glory forever?

More, much more can be added and quoted. God has sovereignly elected His own. Christ has suffered and died for them, for them alone. God regenerates His own by His almighty, irresistible grace. Salvation is solely of the Lord.

So, the grace of God is irresistible. Is this important? This truth is all-important. It is the sole guarantee of our salvation. Without this truth our salvation would be impossible. How can a sinner be saved if the grace of God were resistible. Yet, the Arminian is compelled to teach this heresy. He believes in a universal love of God. God, according to him, would save all men. He, therefore, offers salvation to all. The Lord does not determine a sinner’s salvation. He would save all. But all men are not saved. The sinner, therefore, determines his own salvation, can resist the universal love of God. However, then no sinner can possibly be saved.  Fact is, no man can

come to Christ except the Father draw him. And if a sinner must will to be saved, can resist and frustrate the universal love of God, then salvation is rendered impossible. But now the grace of God is irresistible. No man is able to resist the will of God. Now our salvation is fully guaranteed. Now we know that He Who hath begun in us His good work will complete it until the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. This alone is comforting. Of God and through Him and unto Him are all things. Now the child of God can be assured of his everlasting and immortal glory. Nothing will ever be able to separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus, his Lord. He is more than conqueror even now, and he will surely obtain the crown of life and glory.


“When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Exodus 12:13.