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The Doctrines of Grace for Kids – Part 4

November 15, 2011

Part 1 – Total Depravity  |  Part 2 – Unconditional Election  |  Part 3 – Limited Atonement

Before we can even begin to define what the doctrine of irresistible grace is from a Biblical perspective and then look at how to teach the doctrine to our children, we have to define our terms. Like most things in Western culture, we have developed so many meanings for a word that it often becomes difficult to distinguish what we mean. Chocolate, for instance, is irresistible for some people. For some, it is the new car they want so badly. We often get the word “irresistible” tangled with the emotion of “want.” The issue when it comes to discussing irresistible grace (especially in light of total depravity) is that we do not naturally want God’s grace. Sin has so entered the world that our hearts do not desire what God desires. Paul expressed this very fact in Romans 7:15. What we mean when we say “irresistible grace,” then, is that God has so prepared our hearts that those he has chosen will literally be unable to resist the call of the Gospel. But you say, “I have seen so many people in my life resist the call of the Gospel.” To that I would say, precisely. He calls some unto repentance and some he does not (Romans 9:18).

We also have to deal with the word “grace.” To some, grace is what you show when you have company over. It is what little girls show when they are in beauty pageants. While these are fine uses of the term (Proverbs 22:11 even affirms this use), they do not get at the heart of what the Bible means by grace. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Paul gets to it in short order. He defines grace as the saving work of God that is not of our own effort, but God’s initiative and sustaining work on our behalf. Simply put, we deserve death but Christ became a curse for us (Gal. 3:13) so we would not experience death but would enjoy God forever.

Scripture affirms this doctrine in many ways. Ephesians 2:8 contains the famous words, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” This clearly establishes the work of salvation as a gift from God. We often stop there, but v. 10 provides additional information that is quite helpful in the picture of salvation. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” The artist, God, has created us as his workmanship. A piece of clay does not tell the potter how he is to be formed, the potter directs the clay. Likewise, paint, wood, or even a camera does not tell the artist or craftsman what the final product will look like. God is the craftsman, we are the work. It is not the other way around.

Why did he craft us? Isaiah 43:21 says that God has, “people who I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.” God forms some to be his people to continue carrying out the Abrahamic covenant of Genesis 12…to be a blessing to the world that the world would declare the Lord’s glory and praise him. Is the call of the Gospel about personal salvation? Yes. Is it even more about God forming people to declare his praise? Absolutely.

The last passage to consider is John 6:37. Many people will skip ahead to v. 40 where we are told that “everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.” This would seem to support the notion that grace is resistible and that people can freely chose God without his calling them. However, the context must be widened. This is in a larger section where Jesus also says in v. 37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me.” Those the Father has called, who are his workmanship, are those who receive the call of salvation. That call is irresistible. The verse does not say, “All that the Father gives me might come to me.” Instead, we have the word “will.”

So, how do we teach this doctrine to children? Magnets are an interesting object lesson for this. Magnets are “irresistibly” attracted to some other magnets and not attracted to others. In a similar way, God has called some to be “irresistibly attracted” to the Gospel and some will never be attracted to the Gospel. Talk to your children about magnets and how they relate to the doctrine of irresistible grace. The video below is classic.

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