Efficacious Grace - Or not?
Again, the main books I used in creating this page (other than the Bible) are:
'Foundations of Pentecostal Theology' by Duffield and Van Cleave
'An Exposition of The Westminster Confession of Faith' by Robert Shaw.
'Efficacious' means 'producing a desired effect'. This name is preffered by many Calvinists over 'Irresistable Grace' as the latter gives an incorrect impression. Calvinism teaches that the Holy Spirit moves through the elect drawing them towards acceptance of Christ. It teaches that the Spirit frees these people so that they are able to freely accept Christ, as before they were unable to do so. The Spirit then draws them to Christ in an effective manner. To say that the internal call by the Holy Spirit is irresistable does not mean that the person's will is violated, that he is forced to come to Christ. It is 'effacious' in that the Spirit, in knowing the person intimately, makes Salvation attractive to that person's being, and then draws him/her to acceptance of Christ in a method He knows will be effective. In this sense God's Grace is never effectively resisted by the elect.
Arminianism, on the other hand, teaches that God has given all mankind sufficient grace, upon which salvation depends upon their own improvement. Arminians say that God calls all men equally to Him (inwardly and externally), and that everyone is equally free to accept or reject these calls. Salvation depends upon man's response to this call.
The internal call is given only to the elect - those whom God has chosen to show His mercy upon - and this choice "does not depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." (Rom 9:16 NIV) For those "whom He predestined, He also called." (Rom 8:30 NASB) The Arminian view that the Spirit's success depends upon our free will gives the consequence that all who accept the call are no more indebted to God than those who refuse to accept it. Believers therefore can praise themselves for having made the correct, free, choice through their own power. But Romans 9:16 shows that this, and their view that election is dependant on God foreseeing our response to Him (a foreknowledge completely unrelated to His fore-ordaination), are false notions. Election depends only upon God's mercy. (See 'Election by Foreknowledge')
The Spirit effaciously calls inwardly those whom God chooses. The calling is always effective - those inwardly called will always repent and come to Christ. But their response is not forced. For we are saved through faith, and this faith must come through us freely responding to God's call. A personal relationship with God is dependant on this, and all of God's commands for us to choose Him are rendered pointless if our obeying of is are forced. So those renewed by the Spirit are enabled to respond freely, giving them faith and calling in a way which will draw them to freely responding. (Jn 6:37, 5:25; Ezek 36:27; Rom 6:18,22 etc..) "Thy people shall be willing in the day of power." (Ps 110:3) If the special calling by the Spirit of some to conversion were not invincible, then Christ would have died unsure of whether any would be saved through His death.
That this inward calling and renewal by the Spirit is necessary is affirmed
in many places in Scripture such as:
"But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." (1Cor 2:14 NASB)
"..the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so." (Rom 8:7 NASB)
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Eph 2:1-9 NASB)
That we have the power within us to prevent the Spirit from effectively calling us, and acceptance of Salvation through Christ's death is entirely down to our will and intelligent use of this will and power, are entirely humanists notions giving glory to those who have faith without any ground in Scripture. God's Word clearly states that the unregenerate will not 'accept the things of God' and our Salvation depends entirely upon God's mercy who frees those whom He wishes - not chosen arbitrarily but through His Holy Will (Eph) - so that they can then choose Him. Those freed by God are then drawn by Him effectively and will freely choose Him, they are not forced, yet God's Will always prevails.
Copyright Steven Shaw 2001