Posted by Gary on April 27, 2009
Matthew 9:9 “As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.”
Sometimes things are best taught by pointing to them as they are happening. Those of us who believe in the Doctrines of Grace hold in counter-distinction to Arminianism that God’s saving grace cannot be rejected by those God has chosen.
Case in point, Matthew (Levi). Let’s consider him for a moment. He has a very lucrative (granted, despised) career, he is a tax collector for the Roman empire. This job brings with it two very attractive benefits. First, authority, Matthew is a man that other men must submit to. We can rightly assume that Matthew had Roman military strength at his beckon call if someone refused to pay the taxes he commanded. We haven’t talked about money yet but don’t underestimate the value a man puts on holding a position that allows him to tell other men what to do and to have force at his disposal. To most men this is second only to a large pay-check.
Second, Matthew makes a lot of money. From what we know of his position Matthew was required to raise a certain amount of revenue for the Roman empire but was free to attach whatever amount he chose to the required amount, the additional being his to keep. This is one of the reasons tax collectors were so hated.
So, we have a man who makes big bucks and has a position of authority and a stranger walks up to him and speaks two words to him, “Follow Me” and Matthew leaves it all. Does this make sense? Does it seem likely? When you factor in that Jesus is a stranger this is all the more amazing. A stranger walks up and tells you to follow him, are you going to?
There is only one explanation for Matthew’s response, irresistible grace. Irresistible grace is the grace that God sends forth to those He has chosen, this grace accomplishes its mission, it results in the person coming to God. What is the success rate of this grace? Well “irresistible” ought to tell us something, this saving grace succeeds every time without fail. Scriptural proof?
John 6:37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”
Who are the “all”? The elect. How many of them will come to Jesus? All of them.
There is what is called “common grace” that is God’s kindness to all His creatures (life, food to eat, rain from heaven, love of family). There is also a “general call” to trust Christ that goes out to all mankind. You ask if it can be resisted? Yes, as a matter because of our depravity it is always rejected unless God imparts this irresistible grace which enables a person to respond by faith. Scriptural proof?
John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”
John 6:65 “And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
Now here is the beauty of this irresistible grace, it is irresistible not just in the sense of power and force but also, desire. Some things cannot be resisted because they are too strong other things cannot be resisted because they are so desirable and wonderful.
This is how it is with God’s work in salvation, God makes Himself known to someone and when He is seen for who and what He is, that person does not want to resist. The person who has come to Christ can speak of having something wonderful done to their hearts in which they sense new life, they want to hear Christ’s words, they wonder at His power, they cannot resist Him though they may have been resisting previously. We are told of this wonderful work done to the heart in the account of the two disciples Jesus appeared to on the road to Emmaus shortly after the resurrection:
Luke 24:30-32 “When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”
God does not bring men to heaven kicking and screaming in opposition, He causes us to desire Him, He causes our hearts to burn within us, He makes us willing to come to Him. You may know the hymn, “Who Is On the Lord’s Side?” and it’s statement, “Thou hast made us willing, though hast made us free.” God’s grace results in a person desiring Him so strongly that He cannot be resisted. Thank God that He has and is willing to impart “Irresistible Grace” you and I could not be saved without it.
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