Yours in Christ: Pastoral Letters from Resurrection, State College

Irresistible Grace: God’s Grace Is Compelling

Dear Resurrection,

The I in T.U.L.I.P. stands for irresistible grace. Jesus says in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Just as at creation God’s word sovereignly called the universe into existence, so in conversion, God sovereignly calls dead sinners into spiritual life.

Irresistible grace does not mean that God saves people against their will. Sometimes I have to put my children to bed or feed them vegetables even though they don’t like it. Often they do resist—it’s just that resistance is futile! Irresistible grace is not that. God is able to do something in us that I cannot do in the hearts of my children—He transforms our wills. He creates an inward heart-change that never would happen without God’s gracious and powerful intervention.

Romans 3:11 says that “no one seeks for God.” So, when we find ourselves in fact seeking God, the only explanation has to be that God took the initiative to give us that desire. The Shorter Catechism (Q. 31) puts this beautifully in its definition of “effectual calling” as “the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.”

The point of irresistible grace is that our salvation depends on God from start to finish, and that what God starts He will always finish. Romans 8:30 says that everyone God “predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” In other words, when God decided to save His people, He committed Himself to doing everything necessary to see that decision through. That includes not only what Christ would do for you, but also what the Spirit would do in you.

In John 6 Jesus promises, “All that the Father gives me will come to me” (John 6:37); on the other hand, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). In other words, without God’s sovereign calling, nobody will want anything to do with God or His salvation. But if God does call a person to faith, nothing will be able to stand in the way of that call.

Grace-Based Action Point

In Ezekiel 36:26, God describes salvation like this: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Recognizing that irresistible grace of God in your life should energize you. God has made a miraculous change inside you, giving you desires and abilities that you never would have had apart from His grace. Your stony heart is gone; a new, soft, living one beating for God has taken its place. That’s a compelling reason to devote yourself to a grace-based life of love and service to God.

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew

He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;

It was not I that found, O Savior true;

No, I was found, was found of thee. 

(Anonymous, Trinity Psalter Hymnal #427)

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Simmons