Lesson 34 – Irresisitible Grace
We will consider now the question of the gospel. Many people who believe in the irresistible grace of God think this work is accomplished by the preaching of the gospel. In other words, they teach that the Holy Spirit uses the preached word or the written word to bring spiritual life to the sinner. This idea is sometimes referred to as “Gospel Regeneration.”
The Primitive Baptists and some others do not believe that the Word of God teaches this. They believe that the Holy Spirit accomplishes the work of regeneration or the new birth directly and apart from means.
At the same time, they believe that the gospel is very important and should be preached to every creature because God commands this. (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15). But they don’t believe that the Scriptures, preached or written, give spiritual life. They believe that the Scriptures are not used in regeneration, but they are used in conversion. I will not take time right now to fully explain the difference in regeneration and conversion, but, essentially, regeneration has to do with obtaining spiritual life, while conversion has to do with being brought to the knowledge of the truth. Only a regenerated person can be converted. The gospel will not be received by one who has not already been regenerated.
The Case Of Infants And Incompetent
If the gospel were necessary for regeneration, then all those who die in infancy and all those mentally incompetent to understand the Word of God would be doomed to hell. People who believe in Gospel Regeneration deny this. They say that God saves all responsible adults who are saved by the gospel and that He saves the rest of His elect by a direct work of the Holy Spirit. But this will not stand the test of Scripture. Peter preached, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). This verse teaches, first of all, that there is only one way of salvation — not one way for responsible adults and another way for others.
When Scripture speaks of the “name” of a person, it speaks of that person himself and all that he stands for. As W. E. Vine gives one of the usages of the word “name”: “For all that a name implies of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, etc., of everything that the name covers.”
We are not saved merely by a name but we are saved by the Person and Work of the One represented by the Name of Jesus Christ. The salvation is in the One Who wears this name. “Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). The name Jesus means “Jehovah is salvation.” The salvation resides in Him. Here in Acts 4:12, the name is put for the reality.
For an example of this use of the word “name,” “the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15), is equivalent to “the fruit of our lips giving thanks to Him.”
Furthermore, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8). This verse also teaches plainly that all the saved — infant, imbecile, and responsible adult — are saved one and the same way.
If, then, anyone is saved by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, apart from the preached or written word, then all the elect are saved this way.
John the Baptist was saved this way as we can see from Luke 1:41-44. John, even though he could not mentally understand, leaped for joy. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Regeneration is such a deep work that it takes place beneath the consciousness. Conversion is that that takes place on the conscious level.
David was also saved this way as he wrote, “But Thou art He that took me out of the womb: Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.” (Psalm 22:9). The word “hope” is from the Hebrew BATACH which means “to trust.” David was thus saved while in a state of infancy.
The Apostle Paul
Paul said, “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.” (I Timothy 1:16).
Paul is the pattern of how God saves His people. Paul was born again not when he was seeking Christ but when he was actively persecuting the church of God. He was “yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.” (Acts 9:1). There was no gospel preacher present when Paul was regenerated and he was not reading the word. The gospel had only made him mad and murderous before this time. He consented to the death of Stephen as Stephen was wonderfully preaching the word. (Acts 8:1). Jesus Christ directly appeared to Paul and called him to salvation. God revealed His Son in Paul (Galatians 1:16). Since Paul is the pattern, God saves all His elect by the same method. For the Biblical data concerning Paul’s regeneration see Acts 7:58; Acts 8:1-3; Acts 9:1-9; Acts 22:3-10; Acts 26:9-18; Romans 7:9-13; Galatians 1:13-16; I Timothy 1:12-16.
We will later deal with Scriptures which have to do with the purpose of the gospel.
1. The teaching that the preached or written word is used in regeneration is called ______________ ________________.
2. The Scriptures are not used in ________________ but they are used in ________________.
3. What do the Scriptures mean when they say that we are saved by the name of Jesus Christ?
4. ___________________ is that that takes place on the conscious level.
5. Describe the regeneration of the Apostle Paul.
We have memorized Psalm 110:3; II Corinthians 4:6; John 5:25; Philippians 1:29; John 3:8; John 6:37,44; I Peter 1:21; John 6:29; and Titus 3:5.
Let us memorize Romans 8:28-30.