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...

JeffLogan's picture

A reply to: Over-analysis?

A reply to: Over-analysis?
Submitted by Noshic on Sun, 2011-12-04 04:53.

Noshi, Chesterton is correct. But the sword cuts both ways. Our preconceptions, gained by embracing what others have understood scriptures to say rather than asking the Comforter to lead us personally into truth, cause our spiritual eyes to be closed to truth. When we come to the Bible we come to prove what we believe rather than opening our spiritual eyes to examine whether or not we are in the faith. So while it is "very hard" for man, nothing is impossible with God. And so we continue to witness always with hope.

But you brought out some other very important spiritual truths. With regard to original sin the Holy Spirit tells us through Paul in Romans 5:18 that, "...just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men."

Now the Greek words eis pantas are rendered "for all" in both occurrences in this single verse which compares and contrasts the fall with redemption. If, as you pointed out, one takes "all" in the first case of condemnation to mean ALL of humanity, then surely the "all" pertaining to redemption must also be understood to be equally pervasive. Else, in a single statement we'd wind up redefining terms to serve our purpose which would be an abuse of the text.

But I can see where the confusion might enter in. The Bible clearly teaches some form of total depravity: all men have sinned and come short and not one seeks after God. But it is also very clear that everyone will not be saved. And that God decides whom He will save. But all of those teachings must be reconciled with this truth of Romans 5 which says that both original sin and redemption affected ALL of humanity. The affect (impact) of Adam's sin was that it effected (produced) sin in ALL men. However, the affect (impact) of Christ's Righteousness, while it involves ALL men according to Romans 5, may not effect (produce) righteousness in ALL men. Why it does not produce the same results in ALL men is the crux of our contention here.

Paul writes under inspiration in 2 Cor. 3:17 that "Where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty." It's interesting to note how this verse has reference to Isaiah 61:1 where is written the words Christ read to His audience that Sabbath morning at the introduction of His mission: "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound..."

But my point is this: sin took away our free will. It held us captive. But through the life and death of Christ our ability to choose was restored. Christ has come to set the captives (in sin) at liberty. This liberty I see as being the restoration of our free will. Previously we had not choice but to sin, but now the invitation comes through Christ to reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive unto righteousness (God). Thus, Elisha, as did Joshua, spoke to the people, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." And again this invitation is repeated in the New Testament.

    It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before:

    “Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts.”

    For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.

    Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

    --Hebrews 4, NIV

Clearly this invitation was given by God to those whom He chose to save and yet they refused to enter i.e. they disobeyed. And now it is repeated again for us who are counselled not to harden our hearts to the invitation. That he writes, "make every effort to enter that rest," strongly implies a choice i.e. an exercise of the free will.

And, apparently even the elect will harden their hearts as is illustrated by this parable of Christ and their invitation will be rescinded and given to those who with gratitude drop everything and come to feast. Of course, this parable spoke of the Jews which at that time were Christ's elect. But when they refused to come He turned to the Gentiles.

    The Parable of the Great Banquet

    15When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

    16Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

    18“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

    19“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

    20“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

    21“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

    22“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

    23“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

    Luke 14, NIV

It cannot be denied that those who refused to come had received an invitation and were chosen to be the original guests. What can they be likened to but the Elect. And in the parable another group, which did respond, became the Elect and sat to eat. The fact that the parable states that the original "Elect" won't even get a bite of the banquet demonstrates how utterly they are rejected by exercising their free will to choose to do something else instead of attending the banquet. In this parable of Christ the man giving the banquet does not in any way force or coerce the original "elect" to attend. They freely have a choice which they exercise.

_______ _______ ______ ______ ______

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."