What Is Irresistible Grace? Bible Meaning Explained (2023)

Have you ever wondered why one person believes in God and another totally rejects Him? Some would say it has to do with irresistible grace. While it sounds like a decadent dessert that no person can deny, irresistible grace is something only God can do. Irresistible grace is defined as those whom God has elected and drawn to Himself. When God calls the elect, they respond (John 6:37, 44; 10:16).

I remember very clearly how I thought the Bible, God, church, and all the things in between were stuffy, legalistic, and limiting to living life. I used to think God was just a crutch for weak people. But during my college years, God overcame my resistance to Him. God made Jesus look so compelling that He overcame my resistance, He broke through my barriers and I not only came freely to Him—I ran to Him with every fiber of my being. I came alive in Christ at the age of 23 because of His irresistible grace. Like you, I had been resisting God all my life until the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the most compelling sight: Jesus, the cross, and God’s beautiful gift to be His daughter. Up until that moment, I was a slave to sin, dead on my feet.

God’s irresistible grace means that you were dead in your sins. You were dead, living your life as a blind, rebellious lover of this world. You were a dead man walking. But then God conquered your deadness, and you not only came to Jesus freely, but you also received the gift of salvation, and you believe in Him.

(Video) Irresistible Grace: What is Reformed Theology? with R.C. Sproul

What Is the Meaning of Irresistible Grace?

But if God’s grace is so irresistible, does that mean we don’t have a choice but to come to God? We still have free will and the Bible talks about how we have resisted God since the beginning of time. For example:

  • Acts 7:51: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.”
  • Zechariah 7:12: “They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.”

Irresistible Grace is defined as sovereign grace through what the Holy Spirit is doing, and it does not depend on us. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit never fails to bring to salvation sinners whom God personally calls to Christ (John 6:37-40). We are also reminded that no one comes to the father unless they are called first by Christ.

  • John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
  • John 6:65: “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

The phrase irresistible grace stands for the ‘I’ in the acronym TULIP in Calvinism or as the doctrines of grace. It’s better known as the effectual calling or transformation of the Holy Spirit.

What Are the 5 Points of TULIP in Calvinism?

Calvinism is a theological orientation, not a denomination or organization. It refers to doctrines and practices derived from the works of John Calvin and his followers that are characteristic of the Reformed churches. It is further defined as the Protestant theological system “which develops Luther's doctrine of justification by faith alone and emphasizes the grace of God and the doctrine of predestination.” The TULIP of Calvinism: T stands for total depravity, U for unconditional election, L for limited atonement, I for irresistible grace, and P for the perseverance of the saints.

(Video) What is Irresistible Grace? - Pastor Patrick Hines Podcast (John 6:37-47 / NASB20)

Total Depravity – As a result of Adam’s fall, all of mankind is affected. All are dead in their sins, and we are unable to save ourselves (Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-18).

Unconditional Election –Because we are dead in our sins, we are unable to initiate a response to God. Meaning only God can call us to Himself. This creates the “Elect and predestined” (Romans 8:29-30;9:11; Ephesians 1:4-6, 11-12).

Limited Atonement – As a result of God’s unconditional election, He determines that certain ones should be saved and that Jesus should die for the elect alone. The elect are saved through Jesus’ sacrifice. (Matthew 1:21; John 10:11; 17:9; Acts 20:28; Romans 8:32; Ephesians 5:25).

Irresistible Grace – The elected are drawn to God through His irresistible grace. When God calls, the elect respond (John 6:37, 44, 65; 10:16).

(Video) John Piper - Irresistible grace

Perseverance of the Saints – The elect will persevere through faith. None of whom God has elected will be lost. They are eternally protected (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:3-14).

Why Do Some Christians Struggle with the Concept of Irresistible Grace?

The doctrine of irresistible grace is a biblical concept, but some struggle with the idea because we assume that this grace is given to anyone who freely chooses to come to God. So the idea of irresistible grace implies that none have free will or that perhaps, God “cherry picks” whom He wants to belong to Him as the “Elect.” However, this is not what it means, nor does God cherry-pick us. 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us, The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, “not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.”

So back to the original question, have you wondered why someone believes in Christ and another walks away? Why does someone follow Him at the age of six instead of 26 or 86? Because God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Romans 9:15-16 perhaps says it best, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” After all, we are saved by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8 reminds us, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

However, a good example to put our struggling minds at ease is recorded in the Bible when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. In John 11:43, Jesus commanded Lazarus who had been dead for several days to, “come forth.” In order for Lazarus to be able to respond, Jesus had to make him alive because a dead man cannot hear or respond. This concept is the same spiritually. If we are dead in our sins, then God needs to make us alive before we can respond to the Gospel message. Just as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, we must be born again before we can see the kingdom of God.

(Video) Irresistible Grace | TULIP Reformed Theology

John 1:12-13 teaches us that being born again is not the result of something we do, but it is a sovereign act of God—not the will of man. While we are still dead in our sins, God makes us alive. This makes God’s grace irresistible grace because when He does call us forth—just as Jesus called Lazarus forth—it is an act of God’s grace to deliver us from death. Because all of this is an act of God’s grace, everything that pertains to salvation: softening of the heart, hearing and responding to the Holy Spirit, and the faith to believe—is an act of God’s grace. Salvation belongs to the Lord! Psalm 115:3 declares, “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” In Daniel 4:35, we see that “He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand!”

Photo credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Anastasiia Stiahailo

What Is Irresistible Grace? Bible Meaning Explained (1)Heather Riggleman is a believer, wife, mom, author, social media consultant, and full-time writer. She lives in Minden, Nebraska with her kids, high school sweetheart, and three cats who are her entourage around the homestead. She is a former award-winning journalist with over 2,000 articles published. She is full of grace and grit, raw honesty, and truly believes tacos can solve just about any situation. You can find her on GodUpdates, iBelieve, Crosswalk, Hello Darling, Focus On The Family, and in Brio Magazine. Connect with her atwww.HeatherRiggleman.com or onFacebook.


What is irresistible grace in the Bible? ›

“When Calvinists refer to irresistible grace,” notes Ware, “they mean to say that the Holy Spirit is able, when he so chooses, to overcome all human resistance and so cause his gracious work to be utterly effective and ultimately irresistible.

What is the question about irresistible grace? ›

The fundamental question is whether God can allow individuals to accept or reject his grace and yet remain sovereign. If so, then grace can be resistible. If not, then grace must be irresistible. This different understanding of sovereignty is often attributed to an improper understanding of total depravity.

What is the difference between irresistible grace and prevenient grace? ›

Calvinists have their own doctrine of prevenient grace, which they identify with the effectual calling and which is immediately and necessarily followed by faith. Because of the necessity of salvation following this dispensation of prevenient grace, the justifying grace is called irresistible grace.

What does it mean to have grace in the Bible? ›

grace, in Christian theology, the spontaneous, unmerited gift of the divine favour in the salvation of sinners, and the divine influence operating in individuals for their regeneration and sanctification.

What are the three types of grace in the Bible? ›

It specifies three types of grace: prevenient grace, which is God's active presence in people's lives before they even sense the divine at work in their lives; justifying grace, through which all sins are forgiven by God; and sanctifying grace, which allows people to grow in their ability to live like Jesus.

What are the three parts of grace? ›

The 3 aspects of grace he taught are: Prevenient grace (God's grace that is operative before we are in any way aware of it); Justifying grace (God's grace that restores us to God -- as we become aware of God's love for us); and Sanctifying grace (the grace that brings us closer to God's way throughout our lives).

What is the lesson of grace? ›

The Lesson of GRACE: Your accomplishments are NOT what make you a worthy human being. You learn this lesson when someone shows you GRACE: good things you didn't earn or deserve, but you're getting them anyway. I have to learn this lesson over and over again. You can have worthiness apart from your performance.

What does grace look like in your life? ›

Giving of time; sharing our worldly goods with those in need; feeding the hungry, offering forgiveness to those who wrong you; loving your neighbor; and even loving those who are hard to love: these are the characteristics of a grace- filled life.

How is grace given us by God? ›

Grace was given to us as a gift of love from God, not because we earned it, but because He is good of heart. We are taught to not only give grace to ourselves, but to others as well. As humans, we can forget to live out of this grace we've been given. Instead, we tend to be hard on our own spirit.

What is the Arminian view on irresistible grace? ›

In summary, “Arminians maintain that 'prevenient grace,' a benefit that flows from Christ's death on the cross, neutralizes human depravity and restores to pre-Christians everywhere the ability to heed God's general call to salvation” (Demarest, 208).

Did Augustine believe irresistible grace? ›

Augustine did not use the term irresistible grace, but wrote of God placing persons in circumstances God knew would cause them to make a certain choice or act a certain way.

How does Jesus define grace? ›

God's grace is usually defined as undeserved favor. Grace cannot be earned; it is something that is freely given. We count on God's grace and the bridge he built in our relationship with him. Bible verses about grace abound.

What are the four types of grace in the Bible? ›

A Wesleyan understanding of grace
  • GRACE: God's presence and power. ...
  • Prevenient grace: Grace that goes before. ...
  • Justifying/saving grace: Doorway into new identity, new creation. ...
  • Sanctifying grace: Grace perfecting us. ...
  • Growing in grace. ...
  • Conclusion.

What does it mean to have God's grace in your life? ›

The definition of grace could be “God's life, power and righteousness given to us by unmerited favor.” It is through grace that God works effective change in our hearts and lives. Grace gives us a new life which is not condemned by God.

What are the five stages of grace? ›

Stages of Grace Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance... When facing death, a mourning period is to be expected.

How many types of grace do we have in the Bible? ›

We experience three kinds of grace in our life with God — prevenient, justifying and sanctifying. Prevenient grace literally means "the grace that comes before." Prevenient grace calls us into a relationship with God before we are even aware of God.

What are the two primary graces? ›

There are two primary categories of grace: actual and sanctifying.

What are the elements of God's grace? ›

Product Description. Elements of Grace explores the journey of Christian faith through the essential “elements” by which we encounter God's grace: Earth, Water, Spirit, Light, Darkness, Discipleship, and Word.

What is the first grace in the Bible? ›

In the Bible, the story of Adam and Eve is where God first demonstrates His grace. God showed favour unto both Adam and Eve when he clothed them with leaves from His garden. Although they did not show any grace towards God and got thrown out of the Garden of Eden, God still looked after them.

When grace speaks what happens? ›

When grace speaks, every step taken by man is ordered by God. The roads may be rough and the immediate expectation may be blunt, but God is at work underneath. No matter the present condition, Grace will speak for you in Jesus name.

How do you explain what grace means? ›

: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification. : a virtue coming from God. : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance.

What did Paul teach about grace? ›

Faith and Grace

Likewise, Paul's statement to the Ephesians “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8) is frequently misunderstood. That salvation is a gift of God—and thus a manifestation of His grace—has already been demonstrated.

What power does grace give us? ›

Grace is the power that God willingly gives us to help us do what we could never do on our own. When God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you,” He was giving Paul His power to be set free from the thorn that was buffeting him.

What are examples of God's grace in our lives? ›

Grace looks like receiving forgiveness from my sister when I've said something I shouldn't have. Grace looks like the kindness and compassion of a parent. Grace looks like a friend stepping in and helping me out whenever I am stuck. All around us, there is evidence of God's grace.

What are signs of grace? ›

Signs of Grace You Are Forgiven

Signs of Grace: You Are Forgiven prepares children to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time by revealing that God is indeed “rich in mercy.”

How do I apply grace in my life? ›

10 Ways To Practice Grace In Your Daily Life
  1. Start with yourself. Choosing to treat yourself with kindness and goodwill is probably the greatest gift you can give yourseIf. ...
  2. Learn to let go. ...
  3. Practice gratitude. ...
  4. Forgive. ...
  5. Apologize. ...
  6. Be mindful. ...
  7. Speak kindly. ...
  8. Have compassion.

What does walk with grace mean? ›

It means forgiving a fellow person for their human shortcomings and choosing to be kind to them anyway. But you have to have your own reserve of grace before you can give it to others. In my experience, it's easy to “walk with grace” when you're hiking through a magnificent forest with your family.

How do you show grace? ›

Giving grace to another person is simply to forgive them, unconditionally, just as God forgave us through Christ. "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13, NIV).

Is Amazing grace a Calvinist? ›

To the Calvinists, grace is amazing because God is amazing, specifically in his gracious monergistic exercise in Christ to save ill-deserved spiritually dead sinners, and therefore He alone receives the glory; Soli Deo Gloria.

Is Sovereign grace Calvinist? ›

As of 2008 the group identified itself as "a family of churches passionate about the gospel of Jesus Christ... with a strong doctrinal basis that is evangelical, Reformed, and continuationist." This move towards Reformed (or Calvinist) doctrine is illustrated by Sovereign Grace's partnerships with Reformed theologians ...

Was John Wesley Calvinist or Arminian? ›

Wesley was a champion of Arminian teachings, defending his soteriology in The Arminian and writing articles such as Predestination Calmly Considered. He defended Arminianism against charges of semi-Pelagianism, holding strongly to beliefs in original sin and total depravity.

What does Augustine tell us about grace? ›

Grace must be firmly believed to be omnipotent; without grace nothing good can be done. All that is good in the soul must come from God, while all that is bad is of one's own doing. And yet all this appears to the individual as a matter of individual choices of that frustratingly free will.

What are three primary virtues of Augustine? ›

Augustine's theology of the theological virtues of faith, hope and love is really the key to his entire spirituality. He sees these three virtues as both gifts and actions of God, the Almighty acting in creatures in ways they are incapable of acting on their own.

What is meant by effectual calling? ›

Effectual calling (or effective calling) in Calvinist Christian soteriology is a stage in the ordo salutis in which God calls a person to himself. It is connected with, but different from external calling, in which a person hears the gospel message.

What are the 7 acts of grace? ›

These are the seven acts of mercy of the Christian tradition: to give food to the hungry; drink to the thirsty; to welcome strangers; to clothe the naked; to care for the sick; to visit the prisoners and the seventh, added by the Church to this list, to bury the dead.

What is the primary source of grace? ›

Among the principal means of grace are the sacraments (especially the Eucharist), prayers and good works. The sacramentals also are means of grace.

What is another word for grace in the Bible? ›

Some common synonyms of grace are charity, clemency, leniency, and mercy.

What does amazing grace mean in the Bible? ›

“Amazing Grace” speaks of the sweetness found in Christ's grace for his children. As humans we are lost, blind in sin, and need saving. Jesus's saving grace is amazing!

What is the Hebrew meaning grace? ›

The most common Hebrew word for “grace” is חן (hen). However, sometimes it is translated into a different English word, like 'precious' or 'valuable'.

What is a Holy Spirit grace? ›

The Holy Spirit is able to communicate life giving grace to the soul once Baptism occurs. This new life is referred to as sanctifying grace. Yet through Confirmation, new graces are received.

What is the most common grace? ›

Common grace is a systematic theological deduction from biblical theological roots with two major components: (1) it describes God's indiscriminate kindness to all men, believers and unbelievers, through the abundant and daily blessings of earthly life (e.g., Ps 145:9; Acts 14:17), the restraint of the power and ...

What attracts God's grace? ›

Two common grace-attracting virtues are praises and faithfulness. Jephthah did not find himself in God's grace by a stroke of luck. What attracted grace to his life was the spirit of faithfulness that God saw in him. Jephthah means He will open another door.

What is a simple explanation of God's grace? ›

The definition of grace could be “God's life, power and righteousness given to us by unmerited favor.” It is through grace that God works effective change in our hearts and lives. Grace gives us a new life which is not condemned by God.

How do you access God's grace? ›

To consistently flow in grace, you should develop a habit of prayer and constantly coming to the throne of grace. Anybody lacking help is in lacking in grace. The constant flow of Grace in your life makes you to find help in time of need. The spirit of grace is the spirit of prayer.

What does amazing grace mean? ›

"Amazing Grace," at its heart, is the hymn-equivalent of what Christians believe is the greatest redemption story in history. It tells how an undeserving wretch is saved from fate that would await him if it weren't for God's intercession.

What does saying grace symbolize? ›

On the simplest level, saying grace means offering thanksgiving—grace comes from the Latin gratiarum actio, "act of thanks." To say grace before meals is, among other things, to remember that it was God, not my credit card, that provided my meal.

What is God's great grace? ›

Choose to accept the gift of salvation by faith! Then it says that they all were experiencing “great grace.” It is the same adjective of intensity and importance. Those who believe the testimony and put their trust in Jesus receive the gift of salvation, and it is a great gift in every way.


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