The fourth of the five points of TULIP (Calvinism theology) is irresistible grace. This was a direct response to the Arminian view of resistible grace. Irresistible grace is the idea that when the spirit of God works on the heart of a sinner, the sinner can’t resist. Resistible grace states that God calls all to salvation, but that many people resist and reject this call.
Perhaps a more proper term for the Arminian view is prevenient grace. It is a matter of God opening the doors to heaven and a person choosing for themselves to walk through. If God does not open the door, the person cannot get in, but just because the door is open does not mean the person will walk through it. The person still has free will; this grace allows the person to choose God that would otherwise be unable to do so.
Resistible grace goes back to the theory that man was wounded from the fall. Resistible grace underestimates the power and determination of God. To the Calvinists, this view reduces God to little more than a concerned by-stander and placed man in the ultimate position of sovereignty.
“We will be saved only when God reaches in to our hearts and changes them. He is the seeker. He is the one who is aggressive. He is the one who reaches to us.” – Dr. Thomas Nettles
As I have mentioned before, men were not just wounded from the fall, they are dead. The Bible makes this clear:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.” – Ephesians 2:1
The last time I checked, a dead man can’t choose to take a step. He can’t make a decision for himself. He is dead.
Further (Jesus speaking):
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…” – John 6:44
A sinner is dead, not simply wounded. When the Holy Spirit works on the heart of a sinner, there is nothing that person can do to reject it. God is sovereign above man.
Study verses for this section: Isaiah 46:8-11, Romans 9:19, John 3:3,6, John 6:44,63, James 2:6, John 1:12-13
– Adam Smith