I is for irresistible grace. This is the concept that those chosen of God for salvation will be forced to be saved regardless of their human will in the matter. This relates to Augustine’s teaching that man can not make any good choice concerning the outcome of his salvation because of his inherited depravity. He says that man’s ability to make a good choice and faith are both gifts given by God to the elect. Repentance does not enter into the conversation here, because repenting of something that we cannot control does not make much sense. The faith only teaching puts all the movement in God’s hand, and relegates the elected man to a passive role in regard to salvation. There is nothing man can do that affects the outcome of his salvation, is the summation of this teaching.
While the scriptures teach the eternal security of Christians; that security is available only in the house of God, which is the body of Christ. Two stories from the old testament illustrates how we have salvation only in the house.
PROTECTION IN THE HOUSE
God protects His people inside the house that He has designated as a place of safety. This is illustrated by two stories from long ago.
God explained to the Israelites through Moses how they could be protected from death at the time the death angel passed through Egypt and every firstborn male throughout Egypt died. Each family was told to kill a lamb at evening and put the blood on the door post and lintel of their house. The family was required to be inside the house where the lamb's blood had been applied to be protected from death. (Exodus 12)
About forty years later, Rahab of Jericho demonstrated her faith in God by saving the Israelite spies. She requested that they save her and her family when Israel came to destroy Jericho. She was told to tie a scarlet cord in the window of her house that faced out of the wall of Jericho, and she was warned that her family must stay inside the house where the scarlet cord was tied in order to be protected. (Joshua 2)
We can see that the blood of the Passover lamb represented the blood of Jesus Christ, who is the Passover lamb for all Christians. (1 Corinthians 5:7) Also the scarlet cord tied in Rahab's window points to the blood of Jesus that redeems God's people and protects them from destruction. No one can harm us so long as we stay in the place where we are protected by the blood of Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39)
We also need to be inside the house in order to have protection. Moses warned Israel at the time of the first Passover: "And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning." (Exodus 12:22) Also the spies warned Rahab: "So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head." (Joshua 2:19, NKJ)
Today God protects His people in His spiritual house, the church. Peter spoke to Christians who had been "redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (1 Peter 1:18, NKJ) He said that Christians are living stones being built up as God's spiritual house. (1Peter 2:5)
Also Paul shows that the church is God's house: "I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15, NKJ)
The writer of Hebrews warns that being a part of God's house depends on our faithfulness: "Whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end." (Hebrews 3:6, NKJ) Paul also warned the Christians at Corinth, "I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:1-2, NKJ)
So God has warned us to stay in the place of safety where we are protected by the blood of Jesus. Please read the strong warning in Hebrews 10:22-31. "How much worse punishment, do you sup-pose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of Grace?"
God adds those who are saved through the gospel to the number of His called out people, which living stones compose the house where His people are protected by the blood of Christ. (Acts 2:41-47) As long as we remain in His house we will be protected. Nothing can harm us there. But if we go back outside into the world, we will be destroyed. "For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. " (2 Peter 2:20-21, NKJ) God's people must remain in His house, the assembly of children of God, the body of Christ, in order to be protected. See Ephesians 2:19-22; 5:22-26.
When we study the scriptures, we find it is full of stories about men who made good decisions and were rewarded, and those who made bad decisions and were punished. If man is not able to make good decisions, then why is he punished for something beyond his control? If God forces a man to make a good decision, then why is there any personal reward? If we are simply robots moving through life under the control of some other power, then what purpose do we have? If God simply chooses those to be saved and those to be lost based on His choosing, what justice is there?
God, through His love and mighty power, worked out a plan where He paid the complete price for our salvation, and then offered salvation as a gift to any and all who would come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. The concept of irresistible grace denies the clear teaching of the scriptures, and makes man a robot with no accountability. It reduces the value of human existence and denies hope to those who do not feel that they are among the elect of God. The teaching of irresistible grace is a diversion to take us off the right path that leads to heaven.
If God has chosen certain individuals for salvation, and God is all powerful, then He will save eternally all whom He has chosen. This concept of the irresistible grace of God is the natural result of human logic applied to some Bible statements. The problem with human logic is that its result is limited by our ability to understand statements within the given context. A Bible statement is always true, because its message was inspired and preserved by God. But the truth of the statement is attached to its context: Who? What? When? Where?
When we remove a Bible statement from its context and use it to build a logical argument, our success will depend on whether the statement is universal in application, or limited to a certain time, audience, series of events, or location. The fault in Augustine’s argument about God’s irresistible grace is that He disconnected God’s part and man’s part.
God’s part in our salvation included the offering of Jesus as a sacrifice for sins, which was unconditional and unlimited, available to all based on God’s gift. God is all powerful, but He has chosen to limit His power for salvation to working in a certain way, through the gospel. Since God has elected to save those who believe the gospel, He will not save those who do not believe the gospel. (Mark 16:15-16)
And man has a part in his salvation; not in paying anything toward earning salvation, for it is a gift from God. But man’s role is to hear the evidence of the gospel about Jesus Christ, and decide for himself if he believes or disbelieves. If he truly believes, he will do the things God says in order to receive the gift. Just claiming faith is not enough, faith is only real when it is demonstrated in submission and obedience to the commands of the gospel. Man’s part in salvation includes obeying the gospel which commands believers to repent of sins, confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and to be buried with Christ in baptism and raised by the power of God to walk with Jesus; remaining loyal to and loving Jesus.
Since God’s grace is available only through Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by the gospel, those who refuse to believe have successfully resisted the grace of God. Paul spoke about some who were counted worthy of the kingdom of God, and some worthy of destruction, depending on their obedience to the gospel: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, --- in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, ----- that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” (2 Th 1:3-10, NKJ)
The writer of Hebrews gave stern warning to those who reject the gospel: “Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb 10:28-29, NKJ)
Therefore we see that God has limited the application of His grace to those who choose to receive it. Those who obey the gospel through their faith (received by hearing the gospel) in Jesus Christ, and who remain faithful in the church, which is God’s house, will be saved eternally. All the talk about God’s power and His ability to save all that He has chosen for salvation, does not hinder the fact that God has chosen to save eternally those who (by the operation of their human will) examine the evidence presented in the gospel message, and decide to believe it enough to obey and be faithful to Jesus.
We are not detracting in any way from God’s power and planning when we understand that God has given us a role to play in our lives that enables us to make the choice between life and death. Rather we come to know the unlimited power of God, that He is able to make a plan and carry it out, while yet leaving us a role that depends on our choice. We choose sides in the battle between good and evil. Jesus Christ will win the victory, so it looks like an easy choice to make, considering the evidence. But Satan has managed to confuse the issue with our dependence on our human logic, and our wanting to explain things according to our own wisdom.
The TULIP doctrine leads those who are burdened with sin to think that they have not been chosen by God for salvation. We need to understand that God wants every one to be saved. No one is excluded from the invitation of Jesus. But only those who will truly believe and submit to Jesus will be eternally saved. No one has to wait on the Holy Spirit to convict their hearts, for the Holy Spirit convicts the heart through the message about Jesus. Those who hear and obey the message of Jesus are chosen for salvation, and will be eternally saved if they love and follow Him faithfully.