For the believing child of God who clings to Christ by faith, the truth that he is accounted righteous before God is of the greatest significance. The principle that he whom God declares to be righteous is righteous, is a matter of pure grace to him. The believer knows himself to be a guilty sinner as he is in himself. The truth that God justifies the ungodly in Christ affords him a rich comfort and an unshakeable confidence. It is a confidence which he has, not of himself, but of grace.
The free offer of the gospel is a heresy which teaches that in the preaching of the gospel God expresses His desire, intention, and purpose to save all those who hear the gospel. The gospel tells every man that God on His part wants each to be saved, earnestly desires that he take Christ as his own, eagerly seeks that every one come to Christ, receive Him as his Savior, and enter into the joy of salvation.
The link in the golden chain of Calvinism which is called irresistible grace is as indispensable as the other four links. This link answers the question, “How are the benefits of Christ’s cross applied to the elect?”
To think upon grace is to think upon God. In its deepest meaning, grace is beauty. In Preverbs 1:9, instruction in the law of God is called “an ornament of grace.” According to James 1:11, when the sun burns a flower, the “grace of the fashion of it perisheth.” Spiritually speaking, God is Himself gracious, beautiful. The Scriptures speak frequently of the grace of God as beauty that flows from God Who is the source of beauty.
The word ‘faith’ in Scripture is derived from a Hebrew word that means ‘that which is firm,’ thus, that which is steadfast, trustworthy, infallibly true. From this is derived the subjective idea, the firm unchangeable conviction that God’s Word is true.
God calls from the darkness of sin and death to the glorious light of covenant fellowship with Himself. That call is efficacious (powerfully effective); those called do come and assuredly enjoy the communion God promised in Christ. In speaking of the call according to which God brings His elect people to the consciousness of salvation, we understand that this is the powerful effect of what is called the “irresistible grace” of God. When God calls, His chosen people come; must come.
“Most powerful . . . most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable.” With these words the Canons of Dordt celebrate the wonderful work of God’s grace in regeneration (Canons III, IV, 12). In Canons III, IV the truth of Irresistible Grace is taught in close connection with the truth of Total Depravity. Regeneration is not the only work of grace mentioned there, but it receives the emphasis because it holds first place among all the other works of God’s grace in the heart of the sinner.
The Reformed Faith (the truth of Scripture as set forth in the Reformed Creeds, especially the Heidelberg Catechism, The Belgic Confession, The Canons of Dordrecht) proclaims the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God. God is the sovereign Creator of heaven and earth and all that they contain. In six days, by His almighty and efficacious word God created all things (Gen. 1, 2).
What is meant by it? To understand the meaning of irresistible grace we must go back in history to the time of the Arminian controversy. The very term irresistible cannot be understood, except in that light.
This is the third, and final, special issue of our current volume year. It is the fourth special issue devoted to the so-called Five Points of Calvinism, and it is devoted in its entirety to the subject of Irresistible Grace.