65. Does irresistible grace mean that human response is forced and artificial?

The common objection to the doctrine of irresistible grace, that it makes human response forced and artificial, as if they were robots and not real people making real choices, misunderstands what irresistible grace actually means. It certainly does not mean that God will bring people to Christ against their wills, kicking and screaming. Irresistibleness, in other words, does not imply coercion. On the contrary, it means that God will not just save his people apart from or in opposition to their wills, but he will give them the very will to come. He will give them new hearts of faith, that delight to come to him and walk in his ways. When Christ called to Lazarus from his grave, he irresistibly arose and came forth – but it was not as if the still-dead corpse were miraculously moving like a robot, nor yet as if he desperately wanted to stay in his grave, but Jesus dragged him out anyway. No, he was given new life, and the living will he received delighted to come forth from his stinking grave and embrace the Master (John 11:43-44). In the same way, when God irresistibly draws us to Christ, he does not makes us come mechanically, even though our hearts are still spiritually dead, nor does he force us to come unwillingly. He gives us new, living hearts of faith that delight to come to him, that could not do anything else, in fact, because our re-created wills naturally delight in him and want nothing else but to belong to him (for scriptural support, see the previous question, “What does the term 'irresistible grace' mean, and does the bible teach it?”).

To insist that, if God's grace is irresistible then our response must therefore be coerced and artificial, is really to diminish God's power. Why is it that you have a will at all, so that you might volitionally choose anything? Is it not because God created you as a volitional creature and not a robot? God created your will in the first place, a will that is able to choose the things it desires; so can he not create a new heart and will that still chooses what it desires, but that naturally desires what is good and right? To say that our response is forced or constrained, just because God gives us the desire to come to Christ freely and joyfully, is to minimize his power both as Creator and Redeemer. 

Related Resources
Finally Alive by John Piper
Treatise of Effectual Calling and Election


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