The Relationship Between Irresistible Grace and the Atonement

by John Hendryx

In a discussion relating to particular redemption (AKA limited atonement) I discussed how all redemptive blessings are found in Christ, including the blessing of irresistible grace.

A visitor responded:

John, Please help me understand your logic here. Irresistible grace is wrought through the atonement and not election? I am under the impression that God will have mercy on whom he wills. Whether the atonement is limited or not God has chosen his elect and they are atoned for. I am not seeing how by acknowledging that "irresistible grace is found only in Christ" we "acknowledge limited atonement by default". How are the two connected?

My response
Hello ______.

Election, by itself, has never saved anyone. It is God's blueprint, so to speak, of what he intends to do in time through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. God the Father elects, the Son redeems them, and the Spirit applies the work of Christ to the same. The Trinity, in other words, works in harmony, to bring about the redemption of the elect. God the Father does not do this alone, APART form the work of the other two Persons of the Trinity. All redemptive grace is found in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 explains it thus:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." (Eph 1:3-6)

Please note that all spiritual blessings are IN CHRIST, that the Father chose us IN CHRIST, that He predestined us to adoption as sons IN CHRIST. So yes, you are right, God elects according to his good pleasure but he gets the job done through Jesus Christ.

Particular redemption is connected to irresistible grace in that, irresistible grace (all acknowledge) is given to the elect alone. It is not granted to the non-elect. And all spiritual blessing are found in Christ... Therefore, Christ died in a way, a redemptive way, to secure irresistible grace for the elect, that he did not for the non-elect. Irresistible grace was not purchased for the non-elect PERIOD. In other words, the redemptive blessing of irresistible grace is what Christ purchased on the cross to render certain the elect would respond positively to the outward gospel call. God causes the the gospel, which is preached to all creatures, to come to those He has foreknown, with the power of the Holy Spirit's convicting, regenerating work accomplish through applying Christ's redemptive benefits. No redemptive grace is to be had outside of the work of Christ. All spiritual blessings are found in Christ and Christ alone. To claim otherwise is to deny Christ as our Savior and that His work is finished. At the very least, it denies that His work is sufficient to save completely. Those who deny limited atonement may well believe Christ's atonement was necessary, but it was not sufficient. Even Roman Catholics believe the grace of Christ was necessary, but it was not enough ... they must believe and persevere to the end and thus MAINTAIN their own just standing before God. We affirm that Christ work is complete ... it is totally sufficient to save. He is the author AND perfecter of our faith. There is nothing we can do to improve upon that. 1 Peter 1:3 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." The Text declares that our hope in Christ comes about through the new birth, which is direct result of our being intimately joined to Christ's resurrection.

In 529 AD the Council of Orange worte the following;

"...if anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life... that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit ...he is led astray by a heretical spirit." The Council of Orange, CANON 7.(529 AD)

John Owen said, "To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect."

Consider: that whatever God requires of us also includes faith. We do not have the power to believe the gospel without the the Spirit uniting us to Jesus Christ.

In Ezekiel 36:25 God says,

I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Notice that God first gives us a new heart so that we may keep his laws. Without the Holy Spirit, the word does not find a place in our heart. Jesus told his disciples that he must go to the Father so the the Spirit would come to the whole world. So again the Bible forces us to conclude that The Trinity works together to bring about his redemptive purposes.

Hope this helps