Friday, November 06, 2009

Effectual Power of Grace

Men are brought to God by the effectual power of grace, but grace never violates, though it subdues, the human will. They make a great mistake who think that God treats men as if they were logs: God knows they are not logs, and never treats them so. He has made them in his own image, to be free, intelligent agents, and he acts upon them as free agents.

It is difficult for some men to understand how grace can be effectual and almighty, and yet man can still be a free agent. Now, if persons do not see this, we are not bound to give them understandings, but the two things are consistent enough: prejudice creates the difficulty, there is none really. A man may be free enough, and yet he may be so overwhelmingly persuaded to a certain course,that he cannot do otherwise; such moral power does not at all interfere with true liberty.

If we taught that men were saved against their wills, and that physical force was put upon them to make them Christians, we should deserve to be denounced as talking nonsense, or worse; but the power which we speak of is moral, spiritual, persuasive, and operates in strict accordance with the usual laws of mind.

The grace of God does no violence to the will, but sweetly overcomes its obstinacy, making it a willing captive.

C. H. Spurgeon

29 comments:

Jonathan said...

That is one fancy opinion.

Wayne Dawg said...

But that is what I was trying to say (not very well) in the last comment thread.

There is a surrender to God's drawing to Christ.

I don't see the coming to Christ as a decision one makes, but rather more like a picture of a long distance runner who's body cannot go another step.

The runner is not deciding he can't go on...his body, so completely exhausted, surrenders for him. His body is simply responding because of the terrible strain it has been put through.

Same with the one that God draws to Christ.

We are drawn to Christ and we surrender to Him.

Jonathan said...

So, in your illustration, a person can't help but surrender because they can't refuse God if God determines to save a person?

Wayne Dawg said...

Good point Jonathan.

But if God chose us in eternity past (like Ike pointed out in Eph. 1:4 and Romans 9) how can we 'not' be saved?

Jonathan said...

Predestination is often misinterpreted throughout the Bible. It's more God's goal for the process of sanctification rather than for the determination of individual salvation.

Eph 1:5-6 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by
Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us
accepted in the beloved.

The predestination was specific in its aim. It is not the act of God in choosing the individual, but the goal of God for those individuals that are His children. God predestined that the saved would be children of God,
accepted into the inner circle of the beloved, a praise and glory to
the marvelous grace of God which sustains and delivers the believer.
Look at the verse just before this one: Eph 1:4b "that we should be
holy and without blame before him in love:" The predestination
involves a process of being conformed, becoming holy and without blame.

Jonathan said...

I appreciate this conversation, as I want to learn and understand the Bible better everyday, but this conversation could go on forever, it's been happening for 2000 years, and I don't want to detract from the greater mission here.

I'll end it with this quote from my friend:

"I suppose we're not all required to have an engineering degree when it comes to salvation, just as long as we understand grace."

and this quote from another friend:

"Thankfully God can use imperfect people to accomplish His perfect will."

Jonathan said...

Wayne, sorry if that seems like I'm cutting you off, I just realized that. Please feel free to respond. I just didn't want to turn this into a huge thing. I won't respond to your comment if you do choose to respond. I'm not upset at all, just don't want it to lead to any of us getting upset over this issue that we can agree to disagree on until the Holy Spirit reveals to us something different.

Wayne Dawg said...

Thank you for all your comments Jonathan!

You're right, the debate has been going on for centuries and we will know for certain when we go home!

I like both those quotes and I wholeheartedly agree!

No worries my brother :)

Nohm said...

So then, I'm curious to know you guys' opinions on this:

Why do you think that God hasn't done this for someone like myself? Or, do you think He has, but that there's something I'm doing that's preventing it from happening?

Just curious what your opinion is.

Nohm said...

Do you think that maybe I was "predestined" to be one of the damned? (Note: that's actually an opinion I had for a short time when I was a believer)

Jonathan said...

Nohm,

That's one of the reasons I don't adhere to Calvin's perspective on election. I guess one could say that in your case we would all be better off agreeing with Calvin, because God gets the blame for who goes to hell. I place blame on each individual for rejecting God's amazing grace.

My view and interpretation of Rom 1, 8, 9 and Eph 1 are that God calls all and makes Himself known to all. To what degree has He made hHimself known to you and every other person? I don't know, but according to the Bible it's evident enough that all people are without excuse (Rom 1).

I recognize your struggle, and in fact, your integrity, in not following something you aren't sure is real and true. I can only pray that God will reveal Himself in a mighty way to you so that you know He does exist and you can make a decision.

In the end though, if Christians are right, you won't be able to tell God that He didn't make Himself known enough. Your relationship with the creator of the universe is your responsibility to work out. Seek him and you will find Him.

if I were in your shoes (which I'm just guessing because I don't know you at all really), I would at least seek God and ask Him to help me have faith and to reveal Himself to me. Faith is hard sometimes, but God grants faith too.

Wayne Dawg said...

Nohm,

Paul say's in Romans 10:9,13 - “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved … for ‘whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved’”

Jesus said, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day” John 6:39

Pray that God will give you the faith so you can believe (eph 2:8).

If it is God's will that He saves you, then He will.

But election, from a biblical standpoint, doesn't exclude your responsibility to respond to the gospel once you have heard it.

Jonathan said...

Interestingly enough, despite my view, I'm forced to admit that there are many instances when God [apparently] did "force" a conversion on some, like Paul, Noah, Moses, and Abraham. These men weren't God following people until God revealed Himself and showed amazing grace.

But I don't believe that is the case for every person ever created.

Nohm said...

Hi Jonathan,

Thank you for your reply.

That's one of the reasons I don't adhere to Calvin's perspective on election. I guess one could say that in your case we would all be better off agreeing with Calvin, because God gets the blame for who goes to hell.

1. Much like how I am at work, it's irrelevant to me who gets the blame; I'm more interested in finding answers than applying blame.

2. As a nontheist, I am unable to blame God for anything.

I place blame on each individual for rejecting God's amazing grace.

Fair enough. My response is that I do not see evidence of God, much less His amazing grace how sweet the sound that... oops, sorry. ;-)

So, I'm unable to reject His grace, from my point of view. If I believed in God, I find it unlikely that I would reject His grace because, what would be the point of doing that? It seems like that would be a losing proposition.

My view and interpretation of Rom 1, 8, 9 and Eph 1 are that God calls all and makes Himself known to all. To what degree has He made hHimself known to you and every other person? I don't know, but according to the Bible it's evident enough that all people are without excuse (Rom 1).

Well, according to Paul's epistle, all people are without excuse. And according to Mohammed, all people are without excuse in acknowledging that Allah is the one true God.

From my point of view, this is simply the opinion of Paul, writing to the churches of Rome. I take this just as seriously as I would take anything said by an evangelist, such as Ted Haggard or Kent Hovind. ;-)

I recognize your struggle,

I actually wouldn't call it a "struggle", myself. My struggle is more in understanding why people think or believe certain things.

and in fact, your integrity, in not following something you aren't sure is real and true.

Thank you; I appreciate it. I'd also say that the real reason why I don't follow it is because it doesn't match the reality I know and experience.

In other words, it's my opinion that a universe created by God, as explained by the jewish, christian, or islamic faiths, would be a very different universe than the one I exist in.

I can only pray that God will reveal Himself in a mighty way to you so that you know He does exist and you can make a decision.

I understand your intention here, and I appreciate it. I would think that my "decision" (and I don't want to open that pandora's box again) would be pretty easy.

In the end though, if Christians are right, you won't be able to tell God that He didn't make Himself known enough.

Actually, I disagree. While I acknowledge that it would be useless to ask such questions, if I was face-to-face with Him on judgment day I would have many questions, such as "How can You say You made Yourself known enough, when no one can agree on what you said? We have thousands of different religions, and even within Christianity we have tons of denominations, all based on differing interpretations of a holy book which has been translated mutliple times throughout history. How would You expect me NOT to be confused? Who was I supposed to believe, if it all came down to faith?"

Your relationship with the creator of the universe is your responsibility to work out. Seek him and you will find Him.

I appreciate your intention here with these statements, but my only response is "been there, done that".

if I were in your shoes (which I'm just guessing because I don't know you at all really), I would at least seek God and ask Him to help me have faith and to reveal Himself to me.

Been there, done that, again. :-)

Thanks, Jonathan; be well.

Ike said...

How can God get any blame? "We" all deserve hell....every last one of us. It is only through His grace and mercy that anyone is saved.

Why do "we" pray for Nohm to be saved? Because the Lord must show Nohm mercy and grace. We do not pray that Nohm will make a decision because he can't....we pray that the Lord will replace his heart of stone with a heart of flesh, that Nohm may be able to respond to spiritual stimuli. God must do the work....it's all about Him! Nohm must call out to God for mercy and claim the blood of Jesus Christ. If Nohm does this....he will not be disappointed!!

Nohm said...

"Nohm must call out to God for mercy and claim the blood of Jesus Christ. If Nohm does this....he will not be disappointed!!"

I repeat: been there, done that. I was disappointed, so-to-speak.

Sorry to everyone about opening that pandora's box... I really didn't want this issue (decision vs. no decision) to start up again.

Dorci said...

Here's my tiny little two cents: each person's conversion to faith in Christ is a little bit different. Some come to faith gradually, some have a specific moment when they come to faith, some are knocked on their keisters like Saul/Paul was. Even the act of surrendering, though, is a decision. Choosing to reciprocate God's love should not be seen as a work..it is simply choosing to respond to Christ's call to us. Because God loves everyone and doesn't wish that any would perish, He calls out to everyone in the way that we each need to hear..but not everyone reciprocates. I prayed for my dad's salvation for about 14 years and he was finally ready 5 days before he died. Why did it take so long? I don't know. Although I have a suspicion that, because of our past, and because of some events that took place the day he prayed to receive Christ, that there were spiritually dark forces at work in his life. Anyway, God knows what it will take for each of us to be willing. And sometimes just being willing to be willing is all it takes to begin to see God reveal Himself.

God bless.

Jonathan said...

Well, seems like blame was a poor choice of words. God gets the "credit" for sending folks to hell. That will probably upset someone too though.

Thats the thing about blogging and bloggers. They nitpick every little thing.

The context of calvinism and arminianism requires an answer to that question. Who sends people to hell? God sends away sin and wickedness to hell for eternity, but man has the choice to accept his gift of salvation, so man sends himself to hell. Since hell is a "bad" thing, the appropriate word is "blame."

Nohm,
I don't concentrate on blame either, but that was the subject matter at the moment. Someone is responsible for it.

Dorci said...

Nohm, I have no idea of your past circumstances, of course, that caused you to be disappointed, but I feel the need to say I'm sorry. In the 20 years I've been a Christian, I've experienced disappointment in other Christians, disappointment in myself, and disappointment in God. Probably because my preconceived expectations in all 3 were a little grandiose, or just plain incorrect. Anyway, just wanted to say I know what's it's like to be disappointed, even in my faith, and whatever it was that happened, I'm sorry that it did.

Nohm said...

Hi Dorci,

Thanks for the comments.

To clarify, when I said "I was disappointed, so-to-speak", it was simply in reply to Ike's statement of "If Nohm does this....he will not be disappointed!!"

I wouldn't really say that I was disappointed, though, so I apologize for the confusion. I was really just trying to say, "I did it, but it didn't work for me".

Furthermore, I wouldn't say that anything happened, and certainly not anything that you, or really anyone else, should be sorry about.

For full clarification, I can't really think of any negative situations that happened to me while I was a Christian, and certainly not any that made me lose my faith.

I apologize that I unintentionally gave the wrong idea.

I hope that this cleared everything up.

Dorci said...

No problem, Nohm. :)

Ike said...

Nohm,

I didn't mean that if you said something to God, it would obligate Him, and in that sense you would not be disappointed.

The unregenerate are not like “newborn babes who long for the pure milk of the word” (1Peter 2:2). Those who have never received saving grace cannot grow by the means of grace. Those who are unconverted have not drawn near to God through the blood of Christ. It seems to me that this is you. It is impossible to have once been a genuine christian and then decide not to be one. He who began a good work....will finish it.

Nohm said...

Shorter Ike: Nohm, you are a False Convert.

Yeah yeah yeah. We're going to have to agree to disagree there.

I don't think that God is obligated for anything, so I'm pretty sure that I understood your previous comments.

Nohm said...

Also, I didn't "decide not to be one". I lost my faith; it's not a decision that I made.

Ike said...

I'm not sure I understand...but I do care about you and will certainly pray for you. Is there anything else I could do for you?

ExPatMatt said...

All,

How do you know if you've received 'grace'?

Thanks

Dorci said...

That's a good question, ExPatMatt. I'm gonna think on that one a bit. And wait until I get a good night's sleep so I can think coherently. :)

Ike said...

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (note the personal pronoun "I")..."Then "I" will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; "I" will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from your idols. Moreover, "I" will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and "I" will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I" will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances."

You "will" respond to spiritual stimuli.

Dorci said...

Okay, let's see...

There are only 2 ways to be saved, by keeping all the law from birth till death, or by grace.

And since everyone has sinned, the first way is out of the question.

"for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;" Romans 3:23-24

Jesus' whole reason for coming was to give grace. Another way to think of grace is getting something we don't deserve. He died because we can't earn salvation, so He earned it for us, if you will, by His death, and that gift of salvation by grace is promised to anyone who believes on Him.

"Because if you confess the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." Romans 10:9

When we put our faith in Jesus, He has promised to show grace by taking away the guilt of our sins, because He paid for them Himself.

"For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God," Ephesians 2:8

So, I know I've received grace because I am in no way able to earn salvation by being perfect, and because I realize that, I have put my faith in Jesus Christ and receive His unmerited favor (grace) of salvation through that faith. Jesus' grace is alive in me through the salvation I was given.