Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Blogging Thru: "I" By Grace Alone

Click here for the intro to this series of Blogging Thru: By Grace Alone T U L I P

The Letter "I"

Irresistible Grace

  So far we've looked at Christ's atonement for the elect, those who have been chosen by God unconditionally, who in there total depravity would have been unable to come to salvation otherwise. Now we face the question of, "How does this saving grace come to be applied to those individuals for whom it has been chosen?"

All men are born into a totally depraved state, the elect included. So then how are we delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son?(Colossians 1:13)

Jesus said you must be born again to even see the kingdom of God.(John 3:3)
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” John 3:4
 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:5-6
  Just as we were all born a child of Adam inheriting his fallen nature, we must now be born again as children of God given a new nature.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1:12-13
As you can see this birth is entirely of God. Jim McClarty explains it this way.
 This new birth into the family and lineage of Christ can only occur if God produces it. Men have no capacity to create it, or decide it. Polluted blood, sinful flesh and the deceitful will of men cannot and will not seek the spiritual awakening. It is up to God who will receive this birth and the world, for all their fleshly efforts, can never produce it. Neither can any flesh, saved or saved, control the spirit’s movement.
“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).

Just as the wind blows where it will, directed only by the hand of  Almighty God, so the Holy Spirit goes where He desires and gives birth to those He chooses, who may hear the sound of His passing, but they never control His coming or going. Despite any apparent dichotomy, this new birth, this spiritual awakening, is an absolute requirement to gain entrance into Heaven. Nonetheless, it is administered by the Sovereign will and good pleasure of God, alone.

“For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickenth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will” (John 5:21).

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)
When the Lord chose to draw a parallel between childbirth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, it was not a random comparison. When a woman gives birth to a child, the child is without choice in the process. When the time comes to deliver, the child is not consulted. Babies do not choose to be born, they do not choose their time of birth, and they do not choose their parents. They are simply the result of the union of two people, who became one flesh (Matthew 19:5). When the man deposited his seed into the woman, it produced an entirely new human being.

These are earthly types of the spiritual birth. Christ labored on the cross to produce spiritual offspring (Acts 17:28). A man is “born again” without choice in the process. When the time comes to be born again, the man is not consulted. We do not choose our time, our place, our circumstances, or even our Father - God Himself. But, when the Heavenly Father deposits the seed of the Holy Spirit in us, we become one flesh with Christ, our new husband, and that union produces an entirely new man - the Christian!

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). ( Page 100-101)

So what about faith? 

So then our faith in Christ is not the cause of our new birth, but the result of it.When we are given a new nature we can then see ourselves as sinful and Jesus as glorious. In this same way repentance is a gift from God as well. The unregenerate cannot truly repent of the sins that he in fact loves. He must first be changed into a new man, in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit, before  he can repent and believe. Both are gifts from God.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Can these gifts be refused? 

Is it possible to resist this work of God? No, that is why this grace is called irresistible. When a man is born again he is given a nature that now loves God and desires Him and His righteousness. This man won't resist because this is now what he wants.
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:19-20

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  Jeremiah 31:33-34

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
 As you can see through out this study, these doctrines flow one to the other. If man is born with a fallen nature unable and unwilling to chose to come to God (total depravity) then God must chose him (unconditional election). The sins of those whom he has chosen must then be atoned for (limited atonement). Conversion necessitates a new birth, regeneration, with a new nature that is now enabled by the Holy Spirit for repentance and faith (irresistible grace). Each of these steps are crucial, each leading to the next.

This is such a short treatment just to get the ball rolling. By Grace Alone covers much more to support this doctrine and even a few of the chief complaints. I encourage you to read it for yourself.

Next up for consideration - Perseverance of the Saints
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