An argument frequently made against the biblical doctrine of irresistible grace is an appeal to Acts 7:51 which declares “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you."
It should be noted, however, that the very text here cited by some to demonstrate that grace is resistible contains the very language that makes a decisive argument against their own position. Indeed these persons Stephen is directing the comments toward are resisting the Holy Spirit, but look closely... the Text declares that their heart and ears are "uncircumcised". In the Old Testament this is commonly used language used for regeneration (See Deut 29:4, 30:6 & Ezek 36:26) so being unregenerate, to resist every outward working of the Spirit, is simply acting in accordance with their natures.
People always resist the outward call of the gospel.. ALWAYS, until God chooses to open their eyes, ears and heart to the gospel. That is called circumcision of heart, the new birth or regeneration. The work of the Holy Spirit is manifold, regeneration being only one aspect of redemption ... The Bible declares that He may convict the unregenerate of certain sin and do many things short of regenerating grace. Anything short of regeneration CAN and WILL BE be resisted.
Question: "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn." Deut. 10:16 --> If God commands the Israelites to circumcise their own hearts in this verse and in Jer. 4:4, how can we reconcile these two verses with monergistic principles?
Answer: Good question.
Let me first answer with a question. God commands you love love Him with all your heart, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself. Can you do so apart from grace?
When Adam fell in the garden God did not change his holy standard for men. But we changed. God cannot violate his own holy standard by lowering the bar for us. Holy moral perfection remains a requirement. Although man is now corrupt by nature, God still commands all men everywhere to be holy, and he punishes men for not obeying his law perfectly. This demonstrates that our inability does not alleviate our responsibility. This is why God brings the gospel to us, where He extends grace to us in Jesus Christ - TO GRANT WHAT HE COMMANDS. And we see this VERY principle later in (the book you cite) Deuteronomy 30:6 where God declares:
“Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live."
He grants in Deuteronomy 30:6 what he commanded in Deuteronomy 10:16.
Augustine, commenting on this once said,
"In some places God requires newness of heart [Ezek 18:31]. But elsewherre he testifies that it is given by him [Ezek. 11:19; 36:26]. But what God promises we ourselves do not do through choice or nature; but he himself does through grace."
Remember Romans 3:19, 20 teach us the purpose of the commands for sinners in the Bible >>> "through the law comes knowledge of sin"... In other words, the purpose of commands is not to show our moral ability but our inability - our utter impotence to live by them. Carried over to Deut 10:16 this means the command to circumcise our own hearts is God's holy requirement for us (our duty), but can only be fulfilled by grace. God commands us to circumcise our hearts because this is his holy requirement for us. And then in his mercy He grants the very thing he commands (Deut 30:6). Jesus came to do for us what we were unable to do for ourselves.
As for Jeremiah we see the same principle, The entire book of Jeremiah is about a prophet sent to people who, God tells him, will not listen. "So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you." (Jeremiah 7:27) So the command to circumcise their own hearts is going to people, who God declares, will reject his message.
Like Deuteronomy 30:6, there are also similar promises for regenerating grace in Jeremiah.
I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. - Jeremiah 24:7
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. - Jeremiah 31:33
I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. - Jeremiah 32:40