Reformed Theology: God's Grace

JeffLogan's picture

This discussion will be limited to the discussion of God's grace as it pertains to Reformed Theology.

Barry writes,

I would like to suggest that we explore the topic of "God's Grace " as it relates specifically to the process of one's coming to salvation. I personally am particularly interested in the doctrine of "Prevenient Grace", however, at ElderDad's suggestion which points out our primary forum theme, addressing the RT position termed "Irresistible Grace" first is the more appropriate approach.

So, if this approach is acceptable, I would invite someone to begin this thread by first defining the term, then giving a brief re-cap of the history of "TULIP", and concluding with Scriptural references supporting the concept. That should get us rolling.

Barring objections, I would encourage someone in the Reformed camp to please begin.

Grace and peace to all.


Suggested Structure: (Best if viewing options set: Threaded Collapsed | Oldest First | 200/page |)

(The first 3 headings are reserved for Reformed Theology Adherents ONLY)

Defining the terms (No opposing views here)
     Irresistible Grace
     Prevenient Grace
Brief re-cap of the history of "TULIP" (No opposing views here)
     Early History
     Later History
     Unfolding History/Current Understanding
Scriptural references supporting the concept (No opposing views here)
     Irresistible Grace
     Prevenient Grace
1st Discussion: Irresistible Grace
2nd Discussion: Prevenient Grace
3rd Discussion: etc...

bwarddvm's picture

Re: Sovereignty and human choice

You pose some very relevant questions that need to be addressed, Dan. The whole realm of the topic of God's sovereignty vs. man's free will is a tense balance for us in all areas of life. It is a mysterious concept in so many ways because God simply does not explain it sufficiently to satisfy all the questions our minds conjure up. I would say, though, that IMO Scripture is much clearer about God's sovereignty than it is about man's free will. Thus, if, as it sometimes can seem to us, man does function merely as a type of "puppet" serving strictly at the pleasure of the Triune Creator, that still would not be evidence to condemn God as "unjust" so long as we agree that Adam was truly born with a will completely free of sin and yet completely, freely chose to sin, dragging the entire human race along with him. At that point, our perfectly holy and righteous God is "free" to deal with man in whatever way He chooses. What WOULD be unjust, would be IF God MISLEADS us in His revelation to us in Scripture as to exactly what degree of freedom of will we truly have and how that "free will" is defined. Therein lies, IMO, the crux of the real issue that has led to the debates between the Reformed view vs the Arminian view or any other view that opposes the Reformed one.

As to you first question, yes, the benefits and efficacy of common grace are solely of God's determination, yet still the framework of man's "free will" which is the means by which He brings these to pass. So, yes man's choices are relevant and certainly have consequences in this life. We can all clearly attest to that in our own lives. Yet when all is said and done, God works within our choices to bring about His will in all things. RT does not deny the mystery involved in such a statement, but it does not concern itself with solving the unsolvable but rather explaining what it believes Scripture clearly teach. That is probably where a lot of our disagreements occur. Others appear to have the idea that RT professes to give an answer to these mysteries of God's hidden will when it does not do so. Hopefully that gives some level of answer to your question in paragraph 2.

I would concede that one could make the case (albeit unfair, IMO) that God is responsible for all the pain and evil in the world because it is ultimately the result of His judgement on the world and mankind for sinning. One could say "Well, God didn't have to pass such a severe judgment for one little bitty sin of eating a piece of fruit that He had forbidden, did He?" That doesn't seem either reasonable or fair to us, does it? We would argue that the punishment does not fit the crime. Thus we blame God for being so stern and unbending and picayunish to begin with. However we find that we have one HUGE problem and that is that this line of reasoning is not acceptable to any reasonable interpretation of Scripture. God is God and He alone determines what degree of punishment He will exercise on His creatures. And really, Scripture teaches, He is merely giving man over to His evil choice. Granted Adam did not foresee the extent of the punishment that awaited him and all his progeny. Surely if he had known he would have passed on the fruit, we would think. But God in His sovereign wisdom did not do it that way, did He?
So to conclude this string of thought as pointedly and directly as I know how, I would remind us all that Almighty God presides of all of His creation in sovereign rule and our responsibility is to obey that rule in humble realization that we will not understand the divine wisdom and reasoning behind it all. For us to try to wedge it into a theological system that we find to be "fair and equitable" and yet remain true to Scripture is likely never going to happen. I know of no Reformed believer who delights in all of the tenets we believe; the fate of the unbeliever is unspeakable horror. However, we do all share in the opposite unspeakable glory and gratitude of having been elected to His eternal saving grace and the blessings beyond comprehension that await us in the life to come. We recognize the gravity of our sin and the amazing free grace by which we have been saved.

Regarding your recounting of you own life experience with your father and brother, praise God that you stood up against "following your father to hell". Yes, God worked through the choices of the three of you to bring about different results. But can you not look at your brother without thinking "There, but for the grace of God, go I."?