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The Doctrines of Grace: TULIP Revisited
by Carol Berubee

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Irresistible Grace, Part II

The Work of the Holy Spirit
If a man is going to be able to "choose" God, he must first be set free. The work of regeneration is given to the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5 says that it was "...according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit..." First, it was God's mercy poured out on His elect. The whole world is condemned in sin; no one deserves anything but Hell. We are all born in iniquity. Therefore, it is only by the mercy of God that He saved us. Second, this salvation comes through regeneration. Our original generation was not of our will; likewise, this regeneration is not of our will, but is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who washes us, who makes us alive, who turns our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, who opens our eyes, who unstops our ears. When we are regenerated, we see Christ and we are free to "choose" Him.

Not all grace is irresistible. There is what we call "common grace" that is resisted every day in this world. God is gracious to all His creatures to varying degrees, but this common grace is most often trampled on. The Holy Spirit works every day to convict the world of sin (John 16:9), but the world resists the Holy Spirit. What we must recognize here is that this conviction is according to God's glory, that the world may know how sinful it is and how deserving it is of eternal punishment (Romans 1:18-32).

The grace that is irresistible, however, is the power of the Holy Spirit to regenerate the elect. When the Gospel is preached, and it goes out to the whole world, many hear it, but only a few are saved. Those who hear it but reject it have received what we would term the "general" call of the Spirit through the Gospel. It is heard by both the elect and non-elect. Even the elect may resist it for a time. But there is another type of call that goes out and we would term this the "inner" or "inward" call of the Spirit. Only the elect hear it. It is almost as if it is in a frequency that most people cannot hear. When the elect hear this inward call, they will accept it.

Let's put it another way. The elect, as they are growing up, do not know that they are elect. They may hear the Gospel many, many times and resist this calling of the Spirit for years on end. Then, one day, the Spirit awakens them with this inward call and suddenly everything is different. At the time of regeneration by the Spirit, the elect are able to truly hear the words of God. They are delivered out of darkness and conveyed into the light. The non-elect, on the other hand, may hear the words of God many times but are never truly affected by it. The Spirit never regenerates them, so they are not able to "choose" God, being still bound in sin. The non-elect never hear the inner call, only the general call, if any.

The inward call is what Jesus is talking about in John 6:37-47, where He says, in part, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out... This is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day... No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him..."

First, Father elects a people and He gives them to His Son. It is these people who will come to Him. If the Father has given them to His Son, then we can be sure that they will come when they receive that inner call. When they come to Him, He will keep them and will raise them up at the resurrection unto eternal life. He is clear that no one can be saved unless Father draws him. Father sent the Holy Spirit to convict people. Some are convicted, some are not. Those who are truly convicted are the elect. These are the ones who heed the call of the Spirit, who are drawn, who are regenerated, who are delivered out of darkness and conveyed into the light.

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