Kicking and Screaming – Calvinism Misconceptions Pt. 2

John Calvin By HolbeinObjection to Effectual Calling

When talking about irresistible grace (the I in TULIP) with an Arminian, you are likely to ruffle a feather or two. You see, they believe that man must cooperate with grace. Essentially, the thought is that God extends His grace to everybody and those who accept it in faith are now in a state of justification.

When you bring up irresistible grace (or, I prefer, effectual calling), they get the idea that God literally draws people to Him that don’t want anything to do with Him. They cry out, “I refuse to believe that God will drag people into heaven kicking and screaming while condemning those who desperately want in.” Those who say this really lack a proper understanding of how effectual calling works.



We discussed total depravity in our previous Calvinism Misconceptions, and how man is spiritually dead in his sins and is unable to see grace for what it is. The way effectual calling is as such:

1) Man is spiritually dead – he sees God as a threat to his autonomy and rejects Him.
2) The Spirit calls man – God says, “I’ve freed you from your bondage to your sin. Come to Me, my child”
3) The Holy Spirit regenerates man – he sees God for who He is. He understands His sinful nature
4) Man responds with faith – Man sees no other right path to take than to respond to the calling of God

You see, there is nobody on the outside of grace, looking in, wishing he could be on the inside. If a person sees himself as the sinful creature he is and has an understanding of his need for a savior, and rightly sees that Christ is that savior, and desperately wants to make himself right by having faith in Jesus, he is showing signs that he has already been regenerated, called, and has responded in faith. There is no man on the inside, looking out, wishing he could be back out there. If a man doesn’t want grace, God has not regenerated that person, so he is still in a state of spiritual death. God will leave that man to his devices and will allow him to wallow in unbelief to his damnation.

God will not drag somebody to heaven who is unwilling to believe. Rather, when God regenerates a man and he sees God for who he is, it is impossible for him to say no. That’s not to say that God is saying, “I render it impossible for you to say no to Me” it is man’s free will yelling at him, “GO! GO! GO! Why would you say no to such an amazing offer!”

My problem with the idea of man’s requirement of cooperating with grace is that it leaves salvation completely up to man. To me, it’s like the idea that God is out there with a fishing pole casting it out into the waters. When a fish bites, He will begin to reel in. If the fish doesn’t fight, it’ll end up in the boat with Him, but there is always a chance that the fish will break away from the hook and swim away. This leaves salvation completely up to chance and God is not sovereign over it.

Folks, salvation CANNOT be left up to chance. God doesn’t deal with “chance.” God makes commands and promises. If salvation was left to chance, there would have been a chance that the entire sacrifice of Christ would have been a failure of cosmic proportions. It would have been possible that Christ’s death on the cross was completely in vain because nobody decided to cooperate with the grace it offered.

I leave you with the following thoughts:

  • Would God do something without guaranteeing that it would be successful in its purpose?
  • If God does things without being able to guarantee it will be successful, then how can we believe any of His promises to us?
  • If we can’t trust His promises, then isn’t all our hope in them in vain?

When God calls you, you go. When Jesus called His disciples, He didn’t have to spend hours convincing them or wooing them to come. He didn’t have to hold on to hope that somebody, anybody, would agree to follow Him. No, He called to them, and they immediately went with Him. Willingly. Because they knew there was no other viable option for them. This is how it is with us. You’re not saved because God is some bully and is forcing you into heaven even if you don’t want to go there. When He calls, you listen, and you follow in joy.

Indeed, His call is irresistible.

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