Why The Title “Irresistible Grace” is a Misnomer that We Should Abandon

Calvinists today have started using the term Effectual Calling in the place of what older Calvinists called Irresistible Grace, this is probably a smart move for this latter term often conveys a false understanding of what is meant.

This is for various reasons, but I think Jonathan Edwards explained it best. In the first few chapters of his Freedom of the Will he defines the terms he will be using later in the book, one of the terms defined was Irresistible. With the words Necessity and Impossibility Edwards separated the colloquial (or proper/general) use of these words from the philosophical (or “arts”) use of the word. [1]

In common speech “irresistible” means that something will come to pass no matter how much one may resist it. It demands the possibility, even the necessity, of resistance in its very meaning. When a Calvinist says that they believe in Irresistible Grace the natural tendency is for one to assume that the person will come to Christ against their will, it is a grace forced upon someone that batters down all resistance and leads inevitably to salvation. While some Calvinists have taught Irresistible Grace in this manner, this is not a good description of what the Bible teaches, nor of how most Calvinists present the Biblical teaching.

Effectual Calling bi-passes this unfortunate misunderstanding by using language that accurately reflects what Calvinists mean when they speak of Irresistible Grace; it is a calling made by God to His elect that will always be effective, it will never fail to bring about the end of saving faith.

Irresistible Grace is useful as part of the mnemonic acronym TULIP, it is useful as a tool for teaching the basics of what Calvinists call the Doctrines of Grace; but this pro is dramatically outweighed by the con of inaccuracy. The Calvinist understanding of Scripture is already misunderstand by many, some within its own camp, and we should do our best to describe it in a way the best conveys the true essence of the doctrine, even if it is less memorable.

Some may still think; if the Effectual Call brings around a certain effectual result, doesn’t this also in its name imply the very issue that Irresistible Grace does; if our response to God’s call is guaranteed then we are not free in expressing faith but are coerced.

As I have studied the Doctrines of Grace I have come to realize that one of the foundational differences between Arminianism and Calvinism is a disagreement between what it means to be free; they both take a different position on what it means for mankind to make meaningful choices for which a man or woman can be held responsible.[2] See the glossary from my paper on Hell here for further definitions, but in a nut-shell; Calvinists conclude from the testimony of Scripture that the outcomes of a choice can be rendered certain (determined any time in the past) and yet we still are rightly held responsible for our choices and they are meaningful choice (some, like Edwards, call this freedom, others, like Luther, reject the word freedom because of its predominate association with Incompatibilism), this position is called Compatibilism (Determinism—the rendering certain of future choices—is compatible with humans making meaningful choices for which they are responsible); Arminians assume[3] from the start that to be free we must have the freedom to choose from alternatives, we must be able to choose option A or Not-A at all times; this is a position called Incompatibilism, which says that determination is incompatible with meaningful human choices—i.e. if the outcome of a choice is rendered certain then that choice was not free. Whereas the term Irresistible Grace implies coercion, which both positions agree negates free choices, the term Effectual Call refers to the end result being guaranteed; this is something that Calvinists understand to be completely compatible with meaningful human choices for which we can be held responsible.


Irresistible Grace is a misnomer not just because of this confusion over terminology, but also because it doesn’t quite capture the essence of the doctrine as well as Effectual Call; what exactly do Calvinist’s mean when they speak of Irresistible Grace or the Effectual Call?

The “I” in TULIP states that God will work a change in the hearts of His elect people so that they will no longer hate Him and reject His reality—which they are suppressing in their unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18-32)—but joyfully and willingly respond to His general call brought through the preaching of the Gospel.[4] The Effectual Call is God’s regenerating work in the hearts of His elect people that overcomes their depraved nature with the creation of a new heart and without fail brings them to saving faith.

In Romans 8:28-30 Paul writes to the Romans about God’s work in His people, he promises that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”[5] The reason Paul confidently writes that we know this is because (οτι, hoti; for, v. 29) everyone whom God foreknew He also predestined for salvation, [6] and this same group—that is everyone whom He first foreknew and then predestined to become conformed to Chris—He will call, and everyone in who is called in this sense will respond (30). This call is cannot be the general call delivered to all mankind through the preaching of the Gospel (cf. Matt. 22:14), for we know that not everyone responds in saving faith; this is  different call which ensures a salvific response, what Calvinist’s call the effectual call.

One of the many verses (cf. John 3 for another example) Calvinists use to defend this doctrine and to suggest that this call is regeneration is John 6:44-46. Here Jesus responds to grumbling of the Jews about what He has been teaching (that He is the bread of life), He responds; “44“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.45“It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.””[7] In this text Jesus says that it is necessary for God to draw someone if they are to come to Him, he then goes on to explain what exactly this “draw” entails. First He says that all who are drawn will be resurrected on the last day, the context implies not just a general resurrection to either Heaven or Hell but a salvific resurrection; they will be glorified. This indicates that not all are being drawn, especially since Jesus gives this explanation to explain why some Jews do not believe, and that everyone who is drawn will effectually respond in saving faith (which is the only way anyone will be glorified, for we are saved by faith) (v. 44c). Jesus then goes on to explain what this drawing is from an Old Testament text, the verse in question is Isaiah 54:13. This is a promise of the New Covenant, specifically a promise of the new hearts given to those under the New Covenant. Under the Old Covenant Israel had an issue, they were a mixed community; within the Covenant community there was a remnant that was regenerate, that is they obeyed God, but the majority of Israel was made up of covenant breakers, that is; those who did not keep God’s covenant with them. As early as Deuteronomy we see the need for a change, the need for what will later be called the Covenant of Peace or the New Covenant. In Deuteronomy 29:5 we read that the Lord had not yet given the people a heart to believe and follow Him, in 30:6 Moses speaks of a time when God will circumcise the hearts of the Israelites in order that they may obey Him; they needed this circumcision of their hearts because they were unable on their own to be obedient, they were depraved. Throughout the rest of the New Testament we see various promises of a New Covenant in which every member of the Covenant would be enabled to obey God by the gift of a new heart; they all would be taught by God, God’s law would be written on their hearts and minds, they would have new and circumcised hearts (Jeremiah 31:33-34, Ezekiel 36:22-38, and Isaiah 54; cf. Hebrews 8); these prophecies all find their culmination in the regeneration experienced by all New Testament believers. On the cross Jesus ushered in this New Covenant (Luke 22:20). Jesus hear in John 6:45 is saying that the drawing of the Father is this New Covenant promise of regeneration and that everyone who has received this drawing, that is all that have “heard and learned from the Father,” will come to Him. This calling is effectual and it ensures a willing response of faith to the Gospel; in this text (including its greater context starting at v.22) God’s sovereignty in salvation, both Unconditional Election and the Effectual Call, are held up side-by-side with a willing response of faith to the Gospel; they are held up side-by-side but Jesus nor John sees a contradiction.


This is what Calvinists mean when they speak of Irresistible Grace, but it is much better represented by the term The Effectual Call. The Effectual Call is God’s regenerating work in the hearts of His elect people that overcomes their depraved nature with the creation of a new heart and without fail brings them to saving faith. And it would be wise for use, with Jonathan Edwards, to abandon the language of Irresistibility and use more accurate language of Effectual.

[1] See Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of the Will (Mineola, N.Y: Dover Publications, 2012), 12–13. The whole chapter discusses the definitions, but these pages deal explicitly with “irresistible.”

[2] I demonstrate this assertion from various Arminian works in a large paper and/or book that I am currently working on and hope to finish by the end of the year.  In it I attempt to show as part of my larger argument—from books such as Arminian Theology, Classical Arminianism, Against Calvinism, and Chosen But Free—that an a-priori commitment to Incompatibilist Free Will leads inevitably to an Arminian theology and forms a foundational presupposition to their worldview and arguments.

[3] I know some will be offended by this choice of words, but most Arminians I read are unashamed of this presuppositions; see my upcoming paper/book on Prevenient Grace for a defense and explication of my view that this assumption is foundational to Arminian theology and can only be proven from the Bible if you first assume it (even then I would argue, and do in that paper, that you are forced to read the text in unnatural ways to accommodate this assumption).

[4] There are few different positions on what this specific call is, but the position I take is that it is regeneration. For an explanation of this position see; Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press ; Zondervan, 1994), 699–706.

[5] NASB

[6] for the progression of our conformity to Christ starting with the legal declaration of our justification, progressing through the Spirit’s work of sanctification making us holy in nature, and concluding in glorification when our sanctification will be completed and we will sin no longer. See v.28-39.

[7] This is from the NASB translation, for my full exegesis of this passage see my upcoming paper/book on prevenient grace.


6 thoughts on “Why The Title “Irresistible Grace” is a Misnomer that We Should Abandon

  1. Hi,

    I was wondering how you reconcile you belief in calvinism and OSAS (Once saved always saved) with these verses?

    1Ch 28:9 NKJV – “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.

    Mat 7:19 NKJV – “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
    Mat 7:20 NKJV – “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
    Mat 7:21 NKJV – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
    Mat 7:22 NKJV – “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
    Mat 7:23 NKJV – “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

    Luk 8:13 NKJV – “But the ones on the rock [are those] who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.

    Hbr 2:1 NKJV – Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.

    Hbr 3:12 NKJV – Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
    Hbr 3:13 NKJV – but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
    Hbr 3:14 NKJV – For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,

    Hbr 5:9 NKJV – And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

    Hbr 6:4 NKJV – For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
    Hbr 6:5 NKJV – and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
    Hbr 6:6 NKJV – if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put [Him] to an open shame.

    1Cr 15:1 NKJV – Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,
    1Cr 15:2 NKJV – by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.

    1Ti 1:18 NKJV – This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,
    1Ti 1:19 NKJV – having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,
    1Ti 1:20 NKJV – of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

    1Ti 4:1 NKJV – Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

    2Ti 2:12 NKJV – If we endure, We shall also reign with [Him]. If we deny [Him], He also will deny us.
    2Ti 2:13 NKJV – If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
    2Ti 2:14 NKJV – Remind [them] of these things, charging [them] before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.
    2Ti 2:15 NKJV – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    Jam 5:19 NKJV – Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,
    Jam 5:20 NKJV – let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

    When you become a believer, your name is written in the book of life:
    Phl 4:3 NKJV – And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names [are] in the Book of Life.

    Note however, that IT CAN BE REMOVED AGAIN!!!
    Rev 3:3 NKJV – “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
    Rev 3:4 NKJV – “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they
    are worthy.
    Rev 3:5 NKJV – “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

    1. Hi, thank you for taking the time to check out my blog! I would love to answer your question, but first a clarification; I do not, and never have, believed in Once-Saved-Always-Saved. This is a doctrine which arose in the last few centuries that claims easy believism; all someone has to do is pray a prayer and no matter what shows in their life, no matter what they do, they will be saved. I think this is an evisceration of the Biblical Gospel and a incredibly harmful doctrine. What I believe, and have believed for a few years now, is Perseverance of the Saints. Perseverance of the Saints says that God will ensure that all who come to true saving faith (that is a faith that will by its very nature produce fruit in accord with the new life it brings; James 2:14-26, Gal. 5) will endure to the final day to be glorified and enjoy eternity with God. This doctrine has a positive and negative side; The Bible requires for salvation endurance to the end and promises that God in His grace will work through our faith in our hearts so that we will endure in the faith to that final day, meaning that all who have expressed true saving faith in Jesus Christ will persevere and that all who walk away from the faith never to return were never truly saved. What perseverance does not exclude is the possibility that someone with true faith may be allowed by God to backslide at a point in their life, but it does say that if their faith was true in the first place they will return to professed and acted faith before they die. There is a significant difference between these two doctrines and this difference helps explain many of the verses you have offered. For the rest I would offer that in history there have been three different interpretations, interpretations that to be valid must be taught by the context of both the passage and Scripture (i.e. we cannot just say that it can be interpreted this way, but that this is the one interpretation that the original author intended). These three interpretations are; that the passages that seem to refer to apostasy genuinely indicate that a true believer may apostatize once for all, that these passages are given by the authors as a hypothetical warning that is used by God in order to preserve His saints, and lastly that they are genuine warnings meant for those within the gathered church who are not actually true believers, warnings that call for their true repentance before they walk away from the means of grace provided in the gathered church and are lost forever. I have been convinced by my studies of Scripture that these last two explanations explain all these passages and that the first explanation is both ruled out by the contexts of the passages themselves and the entirety of Scripture.
      First the latter and then the former. I am convinced that there are various Scriptures which cannot be interpreted any way other than that true believers will be preserved by God so that they endure to the end. Towards this end I offer 3 of the many Scriptures that show this (other examples are John 10 and Eph. 1:13-14), the first being John 6:44-45 plus context. I dealt with this passage pretty extensively in my above post, but in terms of perseverance these Scriptures are powerful, for Jesus says that all who are drawn by Him, all who are taught by the Father, will be raised up on the last day, that is; they will be glorified. “44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” Another is 1 Peter 1:3-7 (actually extends for quite a few more verses) “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (NKJV). Here Peter writes that God who saved us will work through our faith so that we will endure to the final day to receive a glorious and incorruptible inheritance (cf. NASB and ESV). Lastly, Rom. 8:28-39. I will trust you to look this one up in its fullness, for it is lengthy. Here Paul argues that we can and do know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (that is believers), he basis this truth on a chain of events beginning with foreknowledge and ending with glorification. The wording Paul uses both in our English translations and in Greek indicates that the entire group of those who where foreknown, predestined, and called will respond to be justified and that this entire group who are justified will be glorified, that is raised up on the last day, made conformed to Christ, and dwell in eternity with God. If one suggests that only some of these will be glorified then he ignores both the language used by Paul and the thrust of Paul’s argument, that is that we know that God works all things for the good of our conformity to Christ because everyone whom God has foreknown and justified will be glorified. After this passage Paul jumps into a tremendous doxology on how no one will ever be able to condemn those whom God has justified and no power in creation will be able to separate us from the love of Christ, it would be completely unnatural to anything in this passage to suggest that the only thing that can separate us from God’s love is our “free choice.” If a true believer can fall away that means that either Hell is for the good of our sanctification, which is entirely against the whole thrust of Scripture on this subject (see my Paper on this blog on Hell), or God has failed to work all things together for our good, which means that He is a liar and no longer God almighty.
      As to the interpretation of true believers truly apostatizing being refuted by the context itself, towards this end I will examine Hebrews and let you work through the rest yourself. I preached through Hebrews this summer with my old pastor (who in fact is an Arminian and a tremendous friend), the whole book is a letter calling for a people who are drifting back towards the Old Covenant from which they left to stay true to the New Covenant which is better than and replaced the Old Covenant (Heb. 8). Within this book comes the passage in Heb. 6 which I once used as a trump card against all Calvinists, a passage I am now convinced does not at all teach this. I believe that this passage from the context has a twofold purpose; the author of Hebrews writes to both give a warning to these drifting about what would happen if they did fall away–knowing that they wouldn’t by God’s grace–so that they might endure (i.e. a hypothetical warning to aid their perseverance) and to warn those who are unbelievers in the congregation that if they walk away now and don’t come to true repentance they will be lost eternally and face the fury of Hell (Heb. 10:26-27). This interpretation first finds it support in the authors own theology, as expressed in Heb. 3:14 “14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (NKJV). Here is conditional statement expressing the truth of the second half of the doctrine of perseverance; all who have become true partakers of Christ will hold fast our confidence to the end, for if we do not hold fast to the end then we show that we never were partakers of Christ (see the use of the perfect verb at the start of the verse; meaning that we are in state of having partaken of Christ in the past if and only if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end). Then in chapter 6 itself, note that none of the language used is a technical term for believers but all are used for non-believing experience as well (meaning that this passage could be teaching about someone who looks awfully like a believer but is not necessarily one), the author seems to indicate that he has in mind unbelievers in the church as well as warning the true believers who are drifting, this is seen in v. 7-8 7 “For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.” After speaking of those walking away from fellowship in the local church the author uses imagery of grace (usually the imagery refers to common grace, but from context seems to refer to the special grace found in the gathered church) and of a field which brings forth crops (always a sin of true saving faith) with another field that bears weeds destined to be burned (in hell). This later imagery is always of unbelief, never existing belief; the author is showing that in the face of the special grace provided in the gathered church their will be those who have faith and those who do not have true faith, if these who do not have truth walk away and encourage the rest of the congregation to depart with them back to the Old Covenant they will have only Hell to look forward to. The last aspect of this passage that informs my interpretation is the authors comments in vv. 9-12, despite his warning he tells the believers whom he is writing to that he is confident that in fact God will ensure they persevere to the end. Despite this strong warning passage he says that in fact they will endure, the author indicates that the warning is truly hypothetical for the true believer in the church.
      I challenge you to prayerfully wrestle through what I have said and through the passages you have presented to me. I want to leave you with another challenge; if sanctification is a work of the Spirit in us, if our ability to be conformed to Christ is a work of the Spirit enabling us and giving us the very desire to, then what stops the Spirit from so working through our existing faith that though we COULD walk away we never WILL, for God has so rendered our hearts that we will endure all trials with joy looking forward to our inheritance stored up in heaven? And if it is God working our sanctification in us (don’t worry, not discounting our side, see my soon coming blog post on Philippians, but I believe sanctification is our action done through the Spirit who gives us the ability and desire to be confirmed to Christ), how could He let us walk away once for all and invalidate His own promise that He will work all things for our good (Rom. 8:28). In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul writes; “12 So then, my beloved, as you have always obeyed—not only when in my presence but now much more in my absence—work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is the one who produces in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure” (My own translation, cf. NASB, ESV, NKJV). Paul gives the call for the Philippians to take action to conform themselves to Christ, to work out their salvation (here referring to sanctification), but doesn’t leave them on their own; he says that the very reason they–and we–are able to do this is because God is working in is; he gives us both the will to actually change and the ability to be able to do it.
      Thank you for your time and I pray that you both take the time to read through what I have said and more importantly go back to Scripture and truly wrestle with what God has to teach. I pray that you find the assurance that comes with knowing that it is not your own goodness or intrinsic ability to stay true to faith that will lead to you attaining the consummation of salvation at glorification, but that it is God Himself who works in you so that no matter what trial or deception or attack of the enemy comes your way you will stand in the faith by God’s grace alone.
      May the Lord guide, keep, and bless you
      Soli Deo Gloria;
      James Rutherford


      John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

      What is the meaning of John 6:44?

      1. Does it mean only a few, who have been selected by the Father, will be saved? No, it does not.
      2. Does it mean that men only respond to the gospel because of irresistible grace? No, it does not.


      John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

      The Father draws all who hear and learn. The Father does not force anyone to hear or learn. Men have free-will. God does not impute faith into a few so they will believe and be saved. Faith does not come by injection.


      Romans 10:13-14 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

      Men need to hear the gospel before they can learn and believe. The Father draws men by the gospel.

      Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

      Faith comes from hearing the gospel. Faith does not come because the Father selected a chosen few, before the world began, to be saved. All who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior are the chosen and that includes whoever accepts God’s terms for pardon. Faith does not come because of irresistible grace.

      God the Father draws men to Jesus with the gospel.

      Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,



      Romans 10:21 But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

      Israel as a nation reject the gospel. How would that be possible if irresistible grace were in play? Israel turned away from God.

      Matthew 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

      Jerusalem was unwilling to be drawn to Jesus by believing the gospel. They had a choice.

      John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

      The Jews had the opportunity to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they were unwilling. There was no irresistible grace in play. The Father draws all who are willing to believe the gospel.

      John 6:40 This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”





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      1. Hey Steve,

        Thank you very much for reading my post and for taking the time to respond, I appreciate your heart to search out God’s truth in His word. I 100% agree with you that God does not “force anyone to hear or learn” and that “God does not impute faith”. I also agree that the Father calls people through the Gospel, the general call. The problem is, all of us hear that call and reject it, we are able to but will never respond to that Gospel (if you are disturbed by the possibility of ability that will never come to fruition, that is the fruit of a presupposed idea of free will). Paul writes in Rom. 8, “for the mind set on the flesh is hostile towards God, because it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God”, and we were “slaves to sin” (6:6). Because we are hostile towards God and have abandoned Him for our own sinful pleasure (Rom. 1ff), we will never respond to the general call; this is what Jesus is addressing in John 6:44. I am currently writing a paper (118 pages so far… maybe a book) where I deal with this passage in depth, but I have touched on it in two posts on this blog: https://allforthegloryofhiskingdom.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/dangerous-assumptions-an-evaluation-of-the-free-will-defence-to-the-problem-of-evil-part-2a-objections-to-the-free-will-defence-scriptural/ and https://allforthegloryofhiskingdom.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/problem-passages-and-perseverance-part-1/. In the light of the peoples unbelief, to answer the question: “why arn’t they believing”, Jesus says what He does in John 6:44-51 (see vv. 41-43 & 64-65). His answer is that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws Him”; this only makes sense in context if it is referring to a smaller than universal group: why are some not believing? Because only those drawn can come to me. This is further confirmed by 44b, “and I will raise him up on the last day.” “him” here is the “no one”, the one drawn in 44a; the one who is drawn, and therefore can come to Jesus in faith (cf. 36-40), will certainly come to Him in faith, for He will be raised in the resurrection to new life. This makes sense as an answer to the grumbling of the Jews and the unbelief around Him; it is the only answer that does just to “I will raise him up on the last day” and the negative framing of Jesus comment “no one can come to me unless the Father draws Him.” This is confirmed by the structure of vv. 36-40 preceding and the following verses. In quoting “everyone who has learned and heard” without dealing with it in context, especially turning to Rom. 10 (which has a different topic in mind) to explain it, you have unintentionally wrenched these words to serve a purpose Jesus did not mean for them. First, they are meant to explain Jesus’ quote from Isaiah 54:13 immediately before, which He in turn quotes to explain the “drawing” of v. 44. Isaiah 54:13 in the LXX reads “and all your sons will be taught of God”. In the context of Isaiah, this is speaking of the New Covenant restoration of God’s people with the coming of the Suffering Servant, fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This promise of being taught by God refers to the New Covenant regenerative work of the Spirit whereby the people of God will be enable to love and serve Him, be obedient, by having His law printed on their hearts and minds and having their hard, stoney, hearts replaced by living, fleshy, ones; they will finally have cirumcised hearts. This promise is echoed in Jer 31:31-34, Ezekiel 36:25-27, which John has already cited in John 3 talking about the need for rebirth/birth from above to even see the kingdom of God, and first in Deut. 30:6. Here Jesus applies this text from Isaiah saying that only those who receive the New Covenant regeneration of the heart are able to come to Him, that is “those who learn from and are taught of God”. Your understanding is immediately ruled out because Jesus says that “everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to me.” This means that whoever is the recipient of this drawing/teaching/learning from God will come to Jesus in saving faith and be raised on the final day; so it has to be particular, because many people don’t come to Jesus, in fact the very reason He says these things is because people don’t believe.
        Thank you for your time Steve, I pray that you consider what I have said here. If you have any questions/concerns, I would love to dialogue with you further.
        A fellow believer and seeker of the truth, humble servant of the Lord, and continual learner,
        James Rutherford

      2. I should probably clarify: when I say I agree with you that God forces no one and does not impute faith; that was the whole purpose of this blog post. I don’t know if you read it closely, but I am arguing against that very position. My understanding is that we are so hardened in sin that we will never come to God unless He intervenes: for those whom He has mercifully elected, He reaches down and replaces their bitter and sinful hearts with new living spirit-filled hearts, because their affections have been enlightened, they will joyfully and most assuredly come to God; the drawing is effectual, but not forced, not irresistible because no resistance is offered. Only an a-priori commitment to an alien view of free will lead someone to the conclusion that this is some sort of forced action or that this violates free will as humans have it.

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