Question: “Irresistible Grace – is it Biblical?”

Answer: Irresistible Grace is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of sinners. It is represented by the “I” in the acronym TULIP that is commonly used to enumerate what are known as the five points of Calvinism or the Doctrines of Grace. The doctrine is also known as “Effectual Calling,” “Efficacious Grace,” “Efficacious Call of the Spirit,” and “Transformed by the Holy Spirit.” Each of these terms reveals some aspect of what the Bible teaches about the doctrine of irresistible grace. However what is important is not the name assigned to the doctrine but how accurately the doctrine summarizes what the Bible teaches about the nature and purpose of the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of sinful, spiritually dead men. No matter which name you use to refer to the doctrine of irresistible grace a through study of the Bible will reveal that when properly understood it is an accurate description of what the Bible teaches on this important subject.

Simply put, the doctrine of irresistible grace refers to the biblical truth that whatever God decrees to happen will inevitably come to pass, even in the salvation of individuals. The Holy Spirit will work in the lives of the elect so that they inevitably will come to faith in Christ. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit never fails to bring to salvation those sinners whom He personally calls to Christ (John 6:37-40). At the heart of this doctrine is the answer to the question: Why does one person believe the Gospel and another does not? Is it because one is smarter, has better reasoning capabilities, or possesses some other characteristic that allows them to realize the importance of the Gospel message? Or is it because God does something unique in the lives of those that He saves? If it is because of what the person who believes does or is, then in a sense they are responsible for their salvation and they have a reason to boast. However, if the difference is solely that God does something unique in the hearts and lives of those who believe in Him and are saved, then there is no ground for boasting and salvation is truly a gift of grace. Of course the biblical answer to these questions is that the Holy Spirit does do something unique in the hearts of those who are saved. The Bible tells us that God saves people “according to His mercy…through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). In other words those who believe the Gospel and are saved do so because they have been transformed by the Holy Spirit.

The doctrine of irresistible grace recognizes that the Bible describes natural man as “dead in his trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5; Colossians 2:13) and because man is spiritually dead he must first be made alive or regenerated in order to understand and respond to the Gospel message. A good illustration of this is seen in Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. In John 11:43 it is recorded that Jesus told Lazarus to “come forth” and that Lazarus came forth out of the tomb. What had to happen before Lazarus—who had been dead for several days—would be able to respond to Jesus’ command? He had to be made alive because a dead man cannot hear or respond. The same is true spiritually. If we are dead in our sins, as the Bible clearly teaches, then before we can respond to the Gospel message and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we must first be made alive. As Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, you must be “born again to see the kingdom of God.” John 1:12-13 tells us that being born again is not the result of something we do—“the will of man”—but is a sovereign act of God. Just as Lazarus could not bring himself back to life or respond to Jesus’ command without being brought back to life, neither can sinful man. Ephesians 2:1-10 makes it very clear that while we are still dead in our trespasses and sin God makes us alive. The Bible is very clear that the act of being born again or regenerated is a sovereign act of God. It is something He does which enables us to believe the Gospel message, not something that comes as a result of our belief.

The reason this doctrine is called “irresistible” grace is because it always results in the intended outcome, the salvation of the person it is given to. It is important to realize that the act of being regenerated or “born again” cannot be separated from the act of believing the Gospel. Ephesians 2:1-10 makes this clear. There is a clear connection between the act of being made alive by God (Ephesians 2:1,5) and the result of being saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:5,8). This is because everything pertaining to salvation, including the faith to believe, is an act of God’s grace. The reason God’s grace is irresistible and efficacious (always bringing forth the desired result) is because God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into” His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Or as Psalm 3:8 puts it, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

To understand the doctrine of “Irresistible grace,” it is important to recognize that this is a special grace given only to those God has chosen for salvation (His elect) and is different from what is known as “common grace” which God bestows on both believer and the unbeliever. While there are many aspects of common grace, including life and all that is necessary to sustain it, common grace is what is often referred to as the “outward call of God.” This is God’s revelation of Himself given to all men through the light of creation and their consciences. It also includes the general call of the Gospel that goes out anytime the Gospel message is preached. This call can be resisted and rejected by those that receive it. (Matthew 22:14; Romans 1:18-32). However, God also gives an “inward call” which always results in salvation. This is the call of God that Jesus spoke of in John 6:37-47. The certainty of this inward call is seen in John 6:37: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:44 confirms this: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Other verses where irresistible grace can be seen include 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, Acts 13:48; Acts 16:14 and Romans 8:30. In 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, after explaining why some people do not believe the Gospel (it is veiled to them and their minds have been blinded towards it) Paul then writes, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). The God who said “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) is the same God who gives the light of salvation to those He chooses, and the result is just as sure. The same truth is seen in a different way in Acts 13:48. Here it is said that “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” God saves those He chooses to save; therefore His saving grace is always effective or efficacious. In Acts 16:14 we have another example of God’s irresistible grace in action. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia “to respond the things spoken of by Paul.” Finally you have what is called the “golden chain of redemption” in Romans 8:29-30. Here we see that everyone God calls to salvation (the inward call) will be saved (justified).

A common misconception about the doctrine of irresistible grace is that it implies men are forced to accept Christ and men are dragged kicking and screaming into heaven. Of course neither of these are accurate descriptions of the doctrine of irresistible grace as revealed in the Bible. In fact the heart of irresistible grace is the transforming power of the Holy Spirit whereby He takes a man dead in his trespasses and sins and gives him spiritual life so that he can recognize the unsurpassing value of God’s offer of salvation. Then having been set free from the bondage of sin, that man willingly comes to Christ.

Another misconception concerning this doctrine is that it teaches the Holy Spirit cannot be resisted at all. Yet again that is not what the doctrine teaches because that is not what the Bible teaches. God’s grace can be resisted and the Holy Spirit’s influence can be resisted even by one of the elect. However what the doctrine does correctly recognize is that the Holy Spirit can overcome all such resistance and that He will draw the elect with an irresistible grace that makes them want to come to God and helps them to understand the Gospel so they can and will believe it.

The doctrine of irresistible grace simply recognizes that the Bible teaches God is sovereign and can overcome all resistance when He wills to. What God decrees or determines will come to pass always does. This truth is seen throughout Scripture. In Daniel 4:35 we see that “He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand!” Psalm 115:3 declares, “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” God’s grace in salvation is irresistible because when God sets out to fulfill His sovereign purpose, no person or thing can successfully resist Him.

The doctrine of irresistible grace accurately summarizes what the Bible teaches about the nature of saving faith as well as what must happen to overcome man’s depraved nature. Since natural man is dead in his trespasses and sins, it stands to reason that he must be regenerated before he can respond to the outward call of the Gospel. Until that happens man will resist the gospel message and the grace of God; however, once he has been “born again” and has a heart that is now inclined toward God, the grace of God will irresistibly draw Him to put his faith in Christ and be saved. These two acts (regeneration and faith) cannot be separated from one another. They are so closely connected that we often cannot distinguish between them.

Recommended Resource: Chosen But Free by Norm Geisler and The Potter’s Freedom by James White.


The above was taken directly from the GotQuestions Web site and is a good summary of the teaching. It is not intended to be judgmental, argumentative, or to persuade anyone of anything. Persuasion of scriptural truth is always a work of the Holy Spirit.

Question: "Limited Atonement – is it Biblical?"

Answer: “Limited atonement” is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the purpose for Christ’s death on the cross and what His life, death and resurrection accomplished. It is the third letter of the acronym TULIP which is commonly used to explain what are known as the five points of Calvinism, also known as the doctrines of grace. The doctrine of limited atonement is clearly the most controversial and maybe even the most misunderstood of all the doctrines of grace. Because the name can confuse people and cause them to have wrong ideas about what is meant, some people prefer to use terms like “Particular Redemption”, “Definite Redemption” “Actual Atonement” or “Intentional Atonement”. These terms correctly focus on the fact that the Bible reveals Jesus’ death on the cross was intentional and had a definite purpose that it succeeded in accomplishing. Yet, like all of the doctrines of grace, what is important is not the name that is assigned to the doctrine but how accurately the doctrine summarizes what the Bible teaches about the nature and purpose of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.

The doctrine of limited atonement affirms that the Bible teaches Christ’s atoning work on the cross was done with a definite purpose in mind—to redeem for God people from every tribe, tongue and nation (Revelation 5:9). Jesus died, according Matthew 1:21, to “save His people from their sins.” This truth is seen in many passages throughout Scripture. In John 10:15 we see that He lays “down His life for the sheep.” Who are the sheep? They are the people chosen by God from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). These are the same ones Jesus said were given to Him by the Father in order that He would fulfill the Father’s will by losing none of them and by raising all of them up in the last day (John 6:37-40). This truth that Jesus came for this specific reason is seen in both the Old and New Testaments. One of the greatest passages on the atonement in the Old Testament is Isaiah 53. In this passage alone we see that He was “stricken for the transgression of God’s people” (Isaiah 53:8); that He would “justify many” because “He shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11); and that He indeed “bore the sin of many” (Isaiah 53:12). These verses and many others talk about an atonement that was specific in who it covered (God’s people) was substitutionary in nature (He actually bore their sins on the cross) and actually accomplished what God intended it to do (justify many). Clearly here is a picture of an intentional, definite atonement. Christ died not simply to make justification a possibility but to actually justify those He died for. He died to save them, not to make them savable.

The doctrine of limited atonement also recognizes that the Bible teaches Jesus’ death on the cross was a substitutionary atonement for sins. Many theologians use the word “vicarious” to describe Christ’s atonement. This word means “acting on behalf of” or “representing another” and is used to describe “something performed or suffered by one person with the results accruing to the benefit or advantage of another.” The vicarious atonement of Christ means He was acting as a representative for a specific group of people (the elect) who would receive a direct benefit (salvation) as the result of His death. This concept is clearly seen in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He (God the Father) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” If Jesus actually stood in my place and bore my sin on the cross as the Bible teaches, then I can never be punished for that sin. In order for Christ’s atonement to truly be a substitutionary or vicarious atonement, then it must actually secure a real salvation for all whom Christ died. If the atonement only makes salvation a possibility. then it cannot be a vicarious atonement. If Christ acted as a real and true substitute for those for whom He died, then all for whom He died will be saved. To say that Christ died a vicarious death in the place of all sinners but that not all sinners will be saved is a contradiction.
Four different words or aspects of the atonement are clearly seen in Scripture, and each one helps us understand the nature and extent of the atonement. These four words are ransom, reconciliation, propitiation and substitute. These four aspects of Christ’s atonement all speak of Christ as having actually accomplished something in His death. A study of these four terms in their biblical context leads to the obvious conclusion that one cannot hold to a true universal atonement without also requiring universal salvation. If one holds to an unlimited atonement while denying universal salvation, one ends up with a redemption that leaves men not totally free or actually redeemed, a reconciliation that leaves men still estranged from God, a propitiation that leaves men still under the wrath of God, and a substitutionary death that still makes the sinner himself help pay the debt of his sin. All of these aspects of the atoning work of Christ then become nothing more than a possibility that relies upon man to make them a reality.

But that is not what the Bible teaches. It teaches that those who are redeemed by Christ are truly free and their debt has been fully paid. It teaches that those that are reconciled to God are actually reconciled and the wall of separation that existed between them and God has been torn down (Colossians 2:14). It teaches that Christ’s death on the cross was a sacrifice that fully satisfied the wrath of God. It also teaches that Christ was indeed a substitute, a kinsmen redeemer, who acted in place of and on behalf of His people. When Jesus died on the cross He said “It is finished” (John 19:30), and the Greek word translated “finished” is teleō which was used to indicate that a debt had been paid in full. And that is exactly what Jesus accomplished on the cross. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).

One common misunderstanding about the doctrine of limited atonement is that this view somehow lessens or limits the value of the atonement of Christ. Yet exactly the opposite is true. Limited atonement correctly recognizes that Christ’s death was of infinite value and lacking in nothing. In fact it is of such value that had God so willed, Christ’s death could have saved every member of the human race. Christ would not have had to suffer any more or do anything different to save every human who ever lived than He did in securing the salvation of the elect. But that was not God’s purpose in sending Christ to the cross. God’s purpose in the atonement was that Jesus would secure forever the salvation of those the Father had given to Him (Hebrews 7:25). Therefore while Christ’s atonement was limited in its intent or purpose, it was unlimited in its power.

Another common misunderstanding about the doctrine of limited of atonement is that it somehow lessens or diminishes the love of God for humanity. Yet again exactly the opposite is true. All of the doctrines of grace the doctrine of limited atonement, when correctly understood, magnifies the love of God, it does not diminish it. Limited atonement reinforces the intensive love of God that is revealed in the Bible. God loves His people with a love that saves them from their sin, as opposed to the love of the unlimited atonement view that sees God’s love as being more general in nature. In the unlimited atonement view, He loves everyone in general but saves no one in particular and in fact leaves the matter of their salvation up to them. Which is more loving, a love that actually saves people or a love that makes salvation “possible” to those who are dead in trespasses and sins and unable to choose God?

One of the main arguments used against limited atonement is that if Christ did not atone for the sins of everybody in the world and if God only intended to save the elect, how do you explain the numerous biblical passages that indicate the free offer of the Gospel to “whosoever will come?” How can God offer salvation to all, including those whom He has not elected or foreordained to be saved? How can we understand the paradox that occurs because the Bible teaches God intends that only the elect will be saved, yet on the other hand the Bible also unequivocally declares that God freely and sincerely offers salvation to everyone who will believe? (Ezekiel 33:11; Isaiah 45:22; 55:1; Matthew 11:28; 23:37; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 22:17) The solution to this paradox is simply an acknowledgment of all that the Bible teaches. 1) The call of the Gospel is universal in the sense that anybody that hears it and believes in it will be saved. 2) Because they are dead in their trespasses and sin, no one will believe the Gospel and respond in faith unless God first makes those who are dead in their trespasses and sins alive (Ephesians 2:1-5). The Bible teaches that “whosoever believes” will have eternal life and then explains why some believe and some don’t.

Another argument against limited atonement are the passages in the Bible that speak of Christ’s atonement in a more general or unlimited sense. For example in 1 John 2:2 it says that Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the “whole world.” Likewise in John 4:42 He is called the “Savior of the world” and in John 1:29 is said to “take way the sin of the world.” Other verses that seem to indicate an unlimited view of the atonement include 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: “He died for all” and 1 Timothy 2:6: “He gave Himself a ransom for all” (although Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45 say Christ came to “give His life a ransom for many”). Those who believe in unlimited atonement use such verses to make the point that if He died for all and takes away the sins of the world then His atonement cannot be limited to only the elect. However, these verses are easily reconciled with the many other verses that support the doctrine of limited atonement simply by recognizing that often the Bible uses the words “world” or “all” in a limited sense. They do not automatically mean “every individual in the entire world.” This is evident when just a few verses are considered. In Luke 2:1 it is recorded that a “decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” and Luke 2:3 says “So all went to be registered everyone to his own city.” But clearly that it is not talking about every individual in the whole world. Caesar’s decree did not apply to the Japanese, Chinese or countless other people throughout the world.

Similarly, the Pharisees, being dismayed at Jesus’ growing popularity said, “Look how the whole world has gone after Him!” Did every single person in the world follow Jesus? Or was the “world” limited to a small area of Palestine in which Jesus preached?

So it should be readily apparent that the phrase “all” or “all the world” does not necessarily mean every individual. Understanding that basic fact allows one to consider each of these seemingly universal passages in their context and when that is done it becomes very apparent that they do not present any conflict with the doctrine of limited atonement.

Yet another argument against limited atonement is that it is a hindrance to the preaching of the Gospel and to evangelism. Those that use this argument will say that if an evangelist cannot say “Christ died for you,” then his effectiveness in presenting the Gospel will be limited. Or they will say that if only the elect will be saved, why should the Gospel be preached at all? Once again, these objections are easily dealt with. The Gospel is to be preached to everyone, because it is the power of God to salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16) and it is the means that God has ordained by which the elect will be saved (Romans 10:14-17). Also, the evangelist does not need to tell the unbeliever that “Christ died for your sins” specifically. All he needs to proclaim is that Christ died to pay the penalty for sin and provide a way for sinners to be reconciled to a holy God. Believe in Him and you will be saved.

The doctrines of grace, and specifically the doctrine of limited atonement, empower evangelism rather than hinder it. Embracing these wonderful biblical truths allows one to boldly and clearly declare the good news of the Gospel, knowing that the power is not in our presentation of it, or in the audience’s ability to understand it or desire to believe it, but instead rests solely upon an all-powerful God who has determined to save people from every tribe, tongue and nation. Belief in an unlimited atonement, on the other hand, presents many logical and biblical problems. First of all, if the atonement was truly unlimited then every person would be saved as all of their sins including the sin of unbelief would have been paid for by Christ on the cross. However, such universalism is clearly unbiblical as the Bible is very clear that not all people are saved or will be saved. Therefore both the Arminian and Calvinist believe in some sort of limited atonement. The Arminian limits the effectiveness of the atonement in saying Christ died for all people but not all people will be saved. Their view of the atonement limits its power as it only makes salvation a possibility and does not actually save anyone. On the other hand the Calvinist limits the intent of the atonement by stating that Christ’s atonement was for specific people (the elect) and that it completely secured the salvation of those whom He died for. So all Christians believe in some sort of limited atonement. The question then is not whether the Bible teaches a limited atonement but how or in what sense is the atonement limited. Is the power of the atonement limited in that it only makes salvation a possibility, or is its power to save unlimited and it actually results in the salvation of those whom God intended to save (the elect, His sheep)? Does God do the limiting or does man? Does God’s sovereign grace and purpose dictate the ultimate success or failure of the redemptive work of Christ, or does the will of man decide whether God’s intentions and purposes will be realized?

A major problem with unlimited atonement is that is makes redemption merely a potential or hypothetical act. An unlimited atonement means that Christ’s sacrifice is not effectual until the sinner does their part in believing. In this view the sinner’s faith is the determining factor as to whether Christ’s atonement actually accomplishes anything. If the doctrine of unlimited atonement is true then it has Christ dying for people the Father knew would not be saved and has Christ paying the penalty for the sins of people who would also have to pay the penalty for the same sin. In effect it makes God unjust. Either God punishes people for the sins that Christ atoned for or Christ’s atonement was somehow lacking in that it does not sufficiently cover all the sins for whom He died. The problem with this view even becomes clearer when one considers that at the time Christ died on the cross there were already sinners that had died who will face the wrath of God in hell for their sin. Logically it makes no sense for God the Father to have Christ atone for the sins of people who were already suffering the wrath of God for their sin. Where is the justice in punishing Christ for the sins of those that were already being punished for their sins? Again this also shows that an unlimited atonement cannot be a vicarious, substitutionary atonement.

Still another problem with an unlimited view of the atonement is that it demeans the righteousness of God and destroys the grounds of a believer’s assurance. An important aspect of a believer’s assurance is that God is righteous and that He will not nor cannot punish sin twice. Therefore the sin that is covered by Christ’s blood can never be charged to the sinners account. Yet that is what a universal atonement leads to. Christ is punished for the sins of those that are not saved and then they are also punished in hell for the same sins.

Unlimited atonement says that while Christ does a great deal to bring salvation to His people, His death on the cross did not actually secure that salvation for anyone. Christ’s death is not sufficient in and of itself to save lost people, and in order for His atoning work to be effective there is a requirement that sinners themselves must meet. That requirement is faith. For man to be saved he must add his faith to Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Therefore the effectiveness of the atonement is limited by man’s faith or lack thereof. On the other hand limited atonement believes that Christ’s death and resurrection actually secures the salvation of His people. While God does require faith of His people, Christ’s death even paid for the sin of our unbelief and therefore His death meets all requirements for our salvation and provides everything necessary to secure the salvation of God’s people including the faith to believe. That is true unconditional love, a salvation that is by grace alone in Christ alone. Christ plus nothing equals salvation—an atonement so sufficient that it secures everything necessary for salvation including the faith that God gives us to believe (Ephesians 2:8).

Limited atonement, like all of the doctrines of grace, upholds and glorifies the unity of the triune Godhead as Father, Son and Holy Spirit all work in unison for the purpose of salvation. These doctrines build upon one another. The doctrine of total depravity establishes what the Bible teaches about the spiritual condition of unregenerate man and leaves one with the question “Who can be saved?” The doctrine of unconditional election then answers the question by declaring God’s sovereign choice in choosing to save people despite their depravity and based solely on God’s sovereign choice to redeem for Himself people from every tribe, tongue and nation. Next the doctrine of limited atonement explains how God can be perfectly just and yet redeem those sinful people and reconcile them to Himself. The only solution to the depravity of man was for God to provide a Redeemer who would act as their substitute and suffer the wrath of God for their sins. He did this in the death of Christ on the cross who having been crucified, completely and totally “canceled out the certificate of debt…having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14). That leads to another question: How can a spiritually dead sinner who is hostile to God have faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross? That question is answered by the doctrine of grace that is known as Irresistible Grace, the “I” in the acronym TULIP.

Recommended Resource: Chosen But Free, revised edition: A Balanced View of God’s Sovereignty and Free Will by Norm Geisler and The Potter’s Freedom by James White.


The above was taken directly from the GotQuestions Web site and is a good summary of the teaching. It is not intended to be judgmental, argumentative, or to persuade anyone of anything. Persuasion of scriptural truth is always a work of the Holy Spirit.

Question: "What is Calvinism and is it Biblical? What are the five points of Calvinism?"

Answer: The five points of Calvinism can be summarized by the acronym TULIP. T stands for total depravity, U for unconditional election, L for limited atonement, I for irresistible grace, and P for perseverance of the saints. Here are the definitions and Scripture references Calvinists use to defend their beliefs:

Total Depravity – As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected; all humanity is dead in trespasses and sins. Man is unable to save himself (Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-18).

Unconditional Election – Because man is dead in sin, he is unable to initiate response to God; therefore, in eternity past God elected certain people to salvation. Election and predestination are unconditional; they are not based on man’s response (Romans 8:29-30; 9:11; Ephesians 1:4-6,11-12) because man is unable to respond, nor does he want to.

Limited Atonement – Because God determined that certain ones should be saved as a result of God’s unconditional election, He determined that Christ should die for the elect alone. All whom God has elected and Christ died for will be saved (Matthew 1:21; John 10:11; 17:9; Acts 20:28; Romans 8:32; Ephesians 5:25).

Irresistible Grace – Those whom God elected and Christ died for, God draws to Himself through irresistible grace. God makes man willing to come to Him. When God calls, man responds (John 6:37,44; 10:16).

Perseverance of the Saints – The precise ones God has elected and drawn to Himself through the Holy Spirit will persevere in faith. None whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:3-14).

While all these doctrines have a biblical basis, many people reject all or some of them. So-called “four-point Calvinists” accept Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints as biblical doctrines. Man is definitely sinful and incapable of believing in God on his own. God elects people based on His will alone – it is not based on any merit in the person chosen. All those whom God has chosen will come to faith. All those who are truly born-again will persevere in their faith. As for Limited Atonement, however, four-point Calvinists believe that atonement in unlimited, arguing that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, not just for the sins of the elect. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Other verses in opposition to limited atonement are John 1:29; 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:6; 2 Peter 2:1.

The five-point Calvinists, however, see problems with four-point Calvinism. First, they argue, if Total Depravity is true, then Unlimited Atonement cannot possibly be true because if Jesus died for the sins of every person, then whether or not His death is applicable to an individual depends on whether or not that person “accepts” Christ. But as we have seen from the above description of Total Depravity, man in his natural state has no capacity whatsoever to choose God, nor does he want to. In addition, if Unlimited Atonement is true, then hell is full of people for whom Christ died and He shed His blood in vain for them. To the five-point Calvinist, this is unthinkable. Please note – this article is only a brief summary of the five points of Calvinism. For a more in in-depth look, please visit the following pages: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints.

Recommended Resource: Chosen But Free, revised edition: A Balanced View of God’s Sovereignty and Free Will by Norm Geisler and The Potter’s Freedom by James White.


The above was taken directly from the GotQuestions Web site and is a good summary of the teaching. It is not intended to be judgmental, argumentative, or to persuade anyone of anything. Persuasion of scriptural truth is always a work of the Holy Spirit.

Grace Triumphant

Excerpted from “Above All Earthly Powers” by David F. Wells

From the time of the Reformation, justification  sola gratia, sola fide, has been considered the central, defining motif in the New Testament gospel. It was upon this doctrine, Luther declared, that the church either stood or fell. Without in any diminishing the importance of this teaching, it should be noted however, that justification is also interwoven with other motifs which together express the gospel. This is evident in the interlacing of language that we find. Paul, for example, associates reconciliation with with justification when he says that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them. . .” (II Cor 5:19). He associates redemption with justification when he says that we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Rom 3:24). Propitiation belongs alongside justification (Rom 3:24-25). And justification is also the way in which the forces of Evil have been routed, for God not only “canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands”, but in doing so, “disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:14-15). It is important to see that for Paul, these doctrines were not simply doctrines; they are each ways of understanding the eternal act of God in Christ, whose significance and consequences endure forever.

Justification is the indispensable center to the gospel but the New Testament authors also ransacked their vocabulary to fine other metaphors and images that capture the enormity, even the complexity , of what happened at the Cross. It is, therefore, quite fallacious to suppose…that because of the presence of these other metaphors of salvation, justification can be marginalized and penal substitution, which is at the heart, should be rejected. The truth is that these images – justification, reconciliation, redemption, conquest, and sacrifice – are not to be seen as unrelated, disparate ways of interpreting the Cross but are several sides of a fully compatible whole. And it is a whole which is fully compatible with justification. In selecting justification, with its framework of the law court, as a way of seeing how God’s future has broken into our spade-time world, therefore, I am not arguing that it is the only interpretive metaphor of the Cross. It is, however, the indispensable center to what we must understand.

I have chosen you out of the world. – Charles Spurgeon

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” – John 15:19 (KJV)

“Here is distinguishing grace and discriminating regard; for some are made the special objects of divine affection. Do not be afraid to dwell upon this high doctrine of election. When your mind is most heavy and depressed, you will find it to be a bottle of richest cordial. Those who doubt the doctrines of grace, or who cast them into the shade, miss the richest clusters of Eshcol; they lose the wines on the lees well refined, the fat things full of marrow. There is no balm in Gilead comparable to it. If the honey in Jonathan’s wood when but touched enlightened the eyes, this is honey which will enlighten your heart to love and learn the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Eat, and fear not a surfeit; live upon this choice dainty, and fear not that it will be too delicate a diet. Meat from the King’s table will hurt none of His courtiers. Desire to have your mind enlarged, that you may comprehend more and more the eternal, everlasting, discriminating love of God. When you have mounted as high as election, tarry on its sister mount, the covenant of grace. Covenant engagements are the munitions of stupendous rock behind which we lie entrenched; covenant engagements with the surety, Christ Jesus, are the quiet resting-places of trembling spirits.

“His oath, His covenant, His blood,

Support me in the raging flood;

When every earthly prop gives way,

This still is all my strength and stay.”

If Jesus undertook to bring me to glory, and if the Father promised that He would give me to the Son to be a part of the infinite reward of the travail of His soul; then, my soul, till God Himself shall be unfaithful, till Jesus shall cease to be the truth, thou art safe. When David danced before the ark, he told Michal that election made him do so (2 Sam 6:21). Come, my soul, exult before the God of grace and leap for joy of heart.”

The God of All Comfort

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Certainly the chief significance of Paul’s description of God, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, is in the context of suffering for the name of Christ whom he preached unceasingly, as well as the similar suffering of the saints in the church at Corinth. There is, in these few verses, a picture of suffering for the name of Christ, the experiencing of the comfort that only God can bestow upon his children, and the sense of God’s sovereignty over even the ‘not so comfortable’ circumstances of suffering saints, in order that they (we) might be able to credibly minister to others in similar circumstances.

The Apostle Paul sees his afflictions and persecutions being for the express purpose of the comfort of other suffering saints, as he experiences the comfort of God and because of that experience, being able to comfort the believers in Corinth.

Can we not extend the cycle of suffering, finding comfort, and comforting others ‘with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God’, to the ordinary ‘stuff of life’ that we endure as believers in a fallen world? Personally, I think that Paul has delivered a serious blow to the thought (and sometimes taught) notion that as believers we somehow deserve ‘special’ treatment in this life.

In these verses, Paul does not specifically describe the impact of our going through all the ‘stuff of life’ on the unbelieving world around us, but it cannot be denied. As believers we are able to, and ought to, go through the adversities of life quite differently than even the most ‘positive’ of unbelievers with whom we live, work, and breathe. ‘How’ we go through the same adverse circumstances of life speaks volumes and is at times one of the greatest ‘wordless’ expressions of the gospel of grace we possess. Those wordless expressions are used of God as He arranges ‘divine appointments’ in which we have the great privilege of adding the ‘words’ of the Gospel, as God draws those for whom the Son died to the foot of the Cross, culminating in much rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents!

So take heart, brothers and sisters, knowing that God is indeed sovereign over the affairs of our lives, both the good and not so good, and that God’s purposes in all of them will stand for eternity!

"All you need is a personal relationship with Jesus!"

Picture this conversation between a couple of guys, perhaps friends at work, or school, during a lunch break. One is a Christian (Eager ‘Evangelist’) looking for an opportunity to share Jesus. The other guy is a known nonbeliever (Lost Soul) who has been going through some tough ‘stuff of life’ – marriage in trouble or girlfriend dumped him, having problems paying bills, maybe he even was on the wrong end of an IRS audit, whatever. The list could go on and on. The poor guy is almost in tears and the moment is ripe for our eager ‘evangelist’

Eager ‘Evangelist’: “All you really need is a  personal relationship with Jesus, and everything work out OK!”

Lost Soul: “Really? I just need a personal relationship with Jesus and all my problems in life can be solved? What do you mean?”

Eager ‘Evangelist’: “Just that God loves YOU, and has a really great plan for YOUR life!”

Lost Soul: “He does? Wow!!!!!!! I love ME too!!!!!!” “I had a plan, but man, it’s totally on the skids! Are you telling me God has a better plan for my life?”

Eager ‘Evangelist’: “You’ve got it!!!!! He wants fix ALL the broken stuff, and for you to live abundantly in every area of your life!”

Lost Soul: “Way Kewl!!!! How do I get this relationship?”

Eager ‘Evangelist’: “Just repeat after me. . .”

Lost Soul: . . .repeating with sincerity the little prayer. . .

Eager ‘Evangelist’: “Congratulations! You’re SAVED!”

Well, I could have reversed the roles there, because that’s a been there done that moment. Is there truth in that? Yes, but not the whole truth of the matter. Something has been left out. I used to leave it out, and it’s left out of countless ‘gospel’ presentations every day. I might have even used the rest of the popular ‘evangelistic tool’, but the central focus was on point #1, paraphrased in the above title.

Perhaps the tool isn’t used as much these days, but the central focus of most evangelism these days is the personal relationship with Jesus that is lacking in everyone outside of Christ. While it’s true that a saving personal relationship  with Jesus is lacking, is it true that everyone outside of Christ has no personal relationship, as we so readily communicate in our witnessing?

Would Jesus agree with that assessment – that those who have not believed in Him have no relationship with Him? Let’s see.

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:18

We love to share a verse a couple of verses before this one, as well as those after, but how we love to omit this one in our presentations! If we know that Jesus is the judge, and I hope we all do, since that’s what the Bible tells us, everyone outside of Christ because of unbelief (everybody who does not believe), has a very personal relationship with Jesus

So much for Jesus’ opinion of personal relationships, what did the great Apostle Paul have to say of the matter?

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” – Eph 2:1-3 (Emphasis mine)

If you missed what Paul told the Ephesian Christians, he told them that before they were the recipients of God’s saving grace through faith in Christ, they were by nature objects of God’s wrath, like the rest of mankind. I don’t think it can be any clearer than that, my friend.

To this old guy, it seems evident that every everyone, absolutely every person of the planet, lives within the framework of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ – we either live under ‘wrath’ or under ‘grace’.

Think about it and evaluate your ‘evangelism’. I’ve had to evaluate mine.

God’s Wrath Against Unrighteousness

God gave them up. . .

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

The wrath of God isn’t reserved solely for the second coming of Christ, or the final judgment when those who rejected The Son will be cast into outer darkness. God’s wrath against sin is also demonstrated right now, right here, on planet earth, in our country, in your city, on your street, perhaps even in your home.

We are told the reason for God’s wrath being revealed right here, right now, is the failure to acknowledge God; the general knowledge of God that is in the heart of every man. This would apply not only to the professed atheist, but all those for whom there is a god, but whose god is not the sovereign God who created the universe and everything in it,

We are then given three ways that those that fail to acknowledge God are ‘given over’. The word translated “gave them over” or “gave them up” is a word that basically means “to give into the hands of another, to give over into one’s power, or to deliver one up to the custody of another.” In other words, God removes His restraining hand, that bit of moral conscience that we all seem to have because of that inner knowledge of God, and men are completely controlled by their own sinful natures, seemingly without any remorse or sense of conscience concerning their deeds.

Men are ‘given over’ to the impurity of their hearts, to dishonorable passions, and to debased minds. And while we tend to focus on sins of homosexuality, Paul also gives us a ‘vice list’ that covers ‘all manner of unrighteousness’ not necessarily specific to sexual sin! Paul is telling us when we at refuse to acknowledge God as He is revealed in His creation, that there exists a very slippery slope that hits bottom with God removing his restraining hand (moral conscience) from our lives and with us being ‘given over, given up, released to our sinful nature, and possibly abandoned by God.

My friend, dear reader, if that’s true, it has to be the worst possible state any living person could be in – abandoned by God, and without hope!

Our prayer this morning is that if you are reading this, God is still speaking to you and you are listening.

If you are reading this and think it nonsense – that God is not angry at your sin and even now He is not revealing His Holy wrath against it – perhaps that God doesn’t even exist, think again. You are in grave danger, and as an earlier passage in the same chapter of Romans tells us – you stand without excuse , without any reasonable defense), before the holy, perfect, and just judge of His entire universe!


“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Saving Grace – Resistible or Irresistible?

There are only two groups of people on the earth, those who have been regenerated – born of the Spirit of God, and those who are still in bondage to their sin – the natural state of every person born.

Those remaining in bondage to their sin ‘naturally’ resist God’s grace, if they are indeed children of wrath, as Paul tells us in Ephesians. Those who have been regenerated – brought to spiritual life, might also resist the gospel message and call of God drawing them to the Cross of Calvary. However, they will not remain resistant if God has issued His call. The very purpose of the call of God is to bring a lost soul to the Cross and eternally save a man, and the purpose of God cannot be thwarted.

What does that mean in terms of the resistibility of God’s grace?  Simply this – that the power of the grace of God can and will overcome the resistance of the one drawn by God to His Son (John 6:44). No one is dragged kicking and screaming to the cross against their will. Those who come, come running; their wills so moved upon by God’s power and love that their former resistance has been totally overcome.

Food for thought – another perspective on a term used in Calvinism.