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  • Receiving God's Grace in vain

    I have heard many people say that the grace of God cannot be thwarted and that grace is irresistable.

    Question:
    If the grace of God cannot be thwarted, and is irresistable, then how should we interpret the following Scripture. Is that verse really saying that a person can receive God's grace in vain?

    2 Cor 6:1 And working together with him we entreat also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain (ASV)

    Below is the same verse from another translation:

    2 Cor 6:1 Since, then, we are working with God, we plead with you not to accept God's grace in vain. (ISV)

    and below is the same verse for you KJV only persons

    2 Cor 6:1
    ¶ We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

    .
    If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. - Augustine

  • #2
    Originally posted by DSK View Post
    I have heard many people say that the grace of God cannot be thwarted and that grace is irresistable.
    .
    You probably heard this from someone who believes in Calvinism/predestination. Irresistable grace is the 'I' in the T.U.L.I.P (5 point calvinism)

    Based on the verses you referenced, it appears you have answered your own question....

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by DSK View Post
      I have heard many people say that the grace of God cannot be thwarted and that grace is irresistable.
      DSK,

      Just to make sure we are all on the "same page of the hymnal" before we start:

      1) I have heard the "will" of God cannot be thwarted but not the grace of God. And then further that it is ultimately that God's will is not thwarted when the plan of redemption is complete.

      2) Are you speaking specifically of salvific grace? i.e. the grace that brings a person to faith in Christ and justifies them before God or just grace in general in all areas of life?

      Originally posted by DSK View Post
      Question:
      If the grace of God cannot be thwarted, and is irresistable, then how should we interpret the following Scripture. Is that verse really saying that a person can receive God's grace in vain?

      2 Cor 6:1 And working together with him we entreat also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain (ASV)

      Below is the same verse from another translation:

      2 Cor 6:1 Since, then, we are working with God, we plead with you not to accept God's grace in vain. (ISV)

      and below is the same verse for you KJV only persons

      2 Cor 6:1
      ¶ We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

      .
      What is the context of Paul's statement and what does he mean within the context of his letter?
      WDJD - what DID Jesus do

      He died on a cross for our sin and rose from the dead,
      securing, for all who believe, eternal life and forgiveness of sin

      Toolman

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Sold Out View Post
        You probably heard this from someone who believes in Calvinism/predestination. Irresistable grace is the 'I' in the T.U.L.I.P (5 point calvinism)

        Based on the verses you referenced, it appears you have answered your own question....
        Then can we rightly deduce from the verse which I posted that grace is not irresistable?
        If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. - Augustine

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Toolman View Post
          DSK,

          Just to make sure we are all on the "same page of the hymnal" before we start:

          1) I have heard the "will" of God cannot be thwarted but not the grace of God. And then further that it is ultimately that God's will is not thwarted when the plan of redemption is complete.

          2) Are you speaking specifically of salvific grace? i.e. the grace that brings a person to faith in Christ and justifies them before God or just grace in general in all areas of life?

          What is the context of Paul's statement and what does he mean within the context of his letter?
          I don't claim to have the answer. Those are questions I hope others will help me answer. When Paul pleads with individuals to not receive the grace of God in vain, what exactly was he referring to? How should we interpret 2 Cor 6:1 -We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

          Below is what one commentary has to say:
          That ye receive not the grace of God in vain - The “grace of God” here means evidently the gracious offer of reconciliation and pardon. And the sense is, “We entreat you not to neglect or slight this offer of pardon, so as to lose the benefit of it, and be lost. It is offered freely and fully. It may be partaken of by all, and all may be saved. But it may also be slighted, and all the benefits of it will then be lost.” The sense is, that it was possible that this offer might be made to them, they might hear of a Saviour, be told of the plan of reconciliation and have the offers of mercy pressed on their attention and acceptance, and yet all be in vain. They might notwithstanding all this be lost, for simply to hear of the plan of salvation or the offers of mercy, will no more save a sinner than to hear of medicine will save the sick. It must be embraced and applied, or it will be in vain. (Barnes Notes)

          Personally I agree with that.

          How about you Roy?
          If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. - Augustine

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by DSK View Post
            I don't claim to have the answer. Those are questions I hope others will help me answer. When Paul pleads with individuals to not receive the grace of God in vain, what exactly was he referring to? How should we interpret 2 Cor 6:1 -We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

            Below is what one commentary has to say:
            That ye receive not the grace of God in vain - The “grace of God” here means evidently the gracious offer of reconciliation and pardon. And the sense is, “We entreat you not to neglect or slight this offer of pardon, so as to lose the benefit of it, and be lost. It is offered freely and fully. It may be partaken of by all, and all may be saved. But it may also be slighted, and all the benefits of it will then be lost.” The sense is, that it was possible that this offer might be made to them, they might hear of a Saviour, be told of the plan of reconciliation and have the offers of mercy pressed on their attention and acceptance, and yet all be in vain. They might notwithstanding all this be lost, for simply to hear of the plan of salvation or the offers of mercy, will no more save a sinner than to hear of medicine will save the sick. It must be embraced and applied, or it will be in vain. (Barnes Notes)

            Personally I agree with that.

            How about you Roy?
            I tend to see Paul's statement more inline with the context of causing a stumbling block before others and causing the ministry to be bad mouthed.

            It seems to me Paul is addressing practical daily issues of Grace's effects and not justification issues. I don't see justification within the context.

            That word kenov translated vain is an interesting study.

            As far as "grace" is concerned from a reformed standpoint (since that is what you are addressing), the grace that God extends to justify a person before Him is monergistic in that God actually changes the person's desire from unbelief to belief in Christ. Being monergistic it is only God doing the work of change. The man just responds in the result of belief.

            Regarding the grace of sanctification this is synergistic as our will is being daily changed and formed by God.

            The fullness of this work will be complete in the grace of glorification when our will will completely be free of the presence of sin and our bodies redeemed and God's plan of redemption is complete.

            Don't know if any of that helps
            WDJD - what DID Jesus do

            He died on a cross for our sin and rose from the dead,
            securing, for all who believe, eternal life and forgiveness of sin

            Toolman

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Toolman View Post
              I tend to see Paul's statement more inline with the context of causing a stumbling block before others and causing the ministry to be bad mouthed.

              It seems to me Paul is addressing practical daily issues of Grace's effects and not justification issues. I don't see justification within the context.

              That word kenov translated vain is an interesting study.

              As far as "grace" is concerned from a reformed standpoint (since that is what you are addressing), the grace that God extends to justify a person before Him is monergistic in that God actually changes the person's desire from unbelief to belief in Christ. Being monergistic it is only God doing the work of change. The man just responds in the result of belief.

              Regarding the grace of sanctification this is synergistic as our will is being daily changed and formed by God.

              The fullness of this work will be complete in the grace of glorification when our will will completely be free of the presence of sin and our bodies redeemed and God's plan of redemption is complete.

              Don't know if any of that helps
              2 Cor 6:1 -We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

              I tried to find some contextual reasons for forming my thoughts on that verse. I first read every thing in Chapter 6 that follows that verse, then I looked at what precedes that verse, especially in chapter 5, and found that chapter 5 may have provided me with a clue as to what is meant in 2 Cor 6:1. Allow me to post some Scripture from chapter 5 which leads up to chapter 6.
              2 Cor 5:20 Therefore, we are Christ's representatives, as though God were pleading through us. We plead on Christ's behalf: "Be reconciled to God!"

              Paul as an ambassador of Christ, is pleading with individuals to be reconciled to God. I see Paul saying that reconciliation isn't an automatic done deal for individuals, otherwise a plea to those he was speaking to would be unnecessary. I believe this ties into Barnes comments on 2 Cor 6:1 which I previously posted. I will post them again. I believe the whole commentary is right on the money, unless someone can provide me with a better explanation.

              That ye receive not the grace of God in vain - The “grace of God” here means evidently the gracious offer of reconciliation and pardon. And the sense is, “We entreat you not to neglect or slight this offer of pardon, so as to lose the benefit of it, and be lost. It is offered freely and fully. It may be partaken of by all, and all may be saved. But it may also be slighted, and all the benefits of it will then be lost.” The sense is, that it was possible that this offer might be made to them, they might hear of a Saviour, be told of the plan of reconciliation and have the offers of mercy pressed on their attention and acceptance, and yet all be in vain. They might notwithstanding all this be lost, for simply to hear of the plan of salvation or the offers of mercy, will no more save a sinner than to hear of medicine will save the sick. It must be embraced and applied, or it will be in vain. (Barnes Notes)
              If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. - Augustine

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by DSK View Post
                Then can we rightly deduce from the verse which I posted that grace is not irresistable?

                Correct. God does not impose His Will on us. We all must individually choose Christ.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't really know what any of those commentaries were saying, they confused me. *chuckles*
                  But I suppose that if we read it in context, it is saying something along the lines that the people he was writing to were believing what they were told about Jesus, but they were exactly "receiving" it and not living it. Like saying I am a christian, but I have no intentions of living it or bearing any fruit.
                  When we do something in vain, that means what we did was useless to us. Like many who have been christians have kept their faith to themselves, and lived unholy lives. I THINK that's what it's talking about.


                  2Cr 5:20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.


                  2Cr 6:2(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)

                  2Cr 6:3Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
                  Don't seek too much knowledge. You just may be putting more weight on your shoulders than you're able to bare. Let God be the one to decide how quickly you grow.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Saved7 View Post
                    When we do something in vain, that means what we did was useless to us.
                    So if we receive the grace of God in vain, then isn't that grace useless to us?

                    Originally posted by Saved7 View Post
                    2Cr 6:2(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)
                    I believe it is taught here, that the time will come when it will not be an accepted time. Now is the accepted time; not at some future period.

                    "The world is under a dispensation of mercy, and God is willing to show compassion, and while this exists, that is, while people live, the offers of salvation are to be freely made to them. The time will come when it will not be an acceptable time with God." - Albert Barnes
                    If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. - Augustine

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DSK View Post
                      "The world is under a dispensation of mercy, and God is willing to show compassion, and while this exists, that is, while people live, the offers of salvation are to be freely made to them. The time will come when it will not be an acceptable time with God." - Albert Barnes
                      His Mercy Endures Forever (42 scripture references)

                      FWIW.
                      WDJD - what DID Jesus do

                      He died on a cross for our sin and rose from the dead,
                      securing, for all who believe, eternal life and forgiveness of sin

                      Toolman

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DSK View Post
                        I have heard many people say that the grace of God cannot be thwarted and that grace is irresistable.
                        Hmm, well well he certainly has the power to do so, but the question is why should he? A parent wants unforced love from his children.

                        I think your 2 Cor 6:1 quote (that ye receive not the grace of God in vain) looks back to something Paul said in the previous letter:

                        1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

                        Paul wasn't a grace-potato, he didn't just bask in how lovely he was in God's eyes, he got up off the couch and got to work. That's not to say that Paul's "worked harder than any of them" was 'works' in the Jewish sense, or that he was saved through them. Obviously not:

                        Acts 15:11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
                        Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
                        Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
                        2 Timothy 1:9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

                        Instead, as he says "not I (worked), but the grace of God that is with me (worked)". This is what marks off the grace-worker from the grace-potato, (or the grace-policeman who suddenly springs into action when he sees a fellow christian get off his couch ), that some of what God is giving, giving, giving, giving all the time finds an outlet in life and walk. Without that, yes grace can end in being "in vain", sterile.

                        God bless
                        Steven

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          DSK, you are mixing your categories. There is a difference between God's grace found in the gospel, and the grace referred to in the I of TULIP. In the context of the verse you are quoting, Paul is urging the church to persevere.

                          The gospel is a word of grace sounding in our ears; but it will be in vain for us to hear it, unless we believe it, and comply with the end and design of it. - Matthew Henry


                          Now, the specific grace referred to in TULIP is to do with God's decree and work in the heart of a sinner:

                          "This conversion is that regeneration, new creation, resurrection from the dead, making alive, so highly spoken of in the Scriptures, which God works in us without us. But this regeneration is by no means brought about only by outward preaching, by moral persuasion, or by such a mode of operation that, after God has done His part, it remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not regenerated, converted or not converted. It is, however, clearly a supernatural, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, marvellous, mysterious, and inexpressible work. According to Scripture, inspired by the Author of this work, regeneration is not inferior in power to creation or the resurrection of the dead. Hence all those in whose hearts God works in this amazing way are certainly, unfailingly, and effectually regenerated and do actually believe. Therefore the will so renewed is not only acted upon and moved by God but, acted upon by God, the will itself also acts. Hence also man himself is rightly said to believe and repent through the grace he has received." Canons of Dordt, 3rd and 4th Heads of Doctrine, Paragraph 14

                          "Paragraph 7
                          Error: The grace whereby we are converted to God is only a gentle advising. This manner of working which consists in advising is the most noble manner in the conversion of man and is most in harmony with man’s nature. There is no reason why this advising grace alone should not be sufficient to make the natural man spiritual. Indeed, God does not bring about the consent of the will except through this moral suasion. The power of the divine working surpasses the working of Satan, in that God promises eternal while Satan promises only temporal goods.

                          Refutation: This is entirely Pelagian and contrary to the whole Scripture, which teaches beyond this moral suasion yet another, far more powerful and divine manner of the working of the Holy Spirit in the conversion of man: A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh, Eze_36:26.

                          Paragraph 8
                          Error: In regenerating man God does not use the powers of His omnipotence so as to forcefully and infallibly bend man’s will to faith and conversion. Even if all the works of grace have been accomplished which God employs to convert man and even if God intends his regeneration and wills to regenerate him, man may yet so resist God and the Holy Spirit, and indeed often does so resist, that he entirely prevents his regeneration. It therefore remains in man’s power to be regenerated or not.

                          Refutation: This is nothing less than the denial of all the efficiency of God’s grace in our conversion, and the subjecting of the working of Almighty God to the will of man. It is contrary to the apostles, who teach that we believe according to the working of His great might, Eph_1:19, pray that our God may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by His power, 2Th_1:11, and declare that His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, 2Pe_1:3." Canons of Dordt, 3rd and 4th heads of Doctrine, Rejections 7 and 8
                          What is thy only comfort in life and death?

                          That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Well, sometimes (OK, rarely, you caught me!) I will refer to a more "dynamic" translation of scripture if I'm unsure of a passage. Maybe this is better than checking out a commentary, but then again, maybe the dynamic translation ends up reading like a commentary! So here is how the NLT translates the verse in question:

                            2Cr 6:1 As God's partners, we beg you not to reject this marvelous message of God's great kindness.

                            Is this accurate? Hard to say. Going back to the other translations, how can you truly accept God's grace but do so in vain? It is almost an oxymoron.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DSK View Post
                              So if we receive the grace of God in vain, then isn't that grace useless to us?



                              I believe it is taught here, that the time will come when it will not be an accepted time. Now is the accepted time; not at some future period.

                              "The world is under a dispensation of mercy, and God is willing to show compassion, and while this exists, that is, while people live, the offers of salvation are to be freely made to them. The time will come when it will not be an acceptable time with God." - Albert Barnes
                              yes, then it is useless to us...while I agree that the acceptable time of salvation comment could be applied toward some future time that it will not be there for us. I think the point of that particular verse means,
                              "don't put it off just because you want to continue in sin, you could die today, now is your chance, don't dely; you believe, now accept the offer while you still have breath in your lungs". Believing without repenting because you want to continue to live in sin would in a sense make God's grace useless to us, because we have received it in vain, without living it.
                              Just my take on it.
                              Don't seek too much knowledge. You just may be putting more weight on your shoulders than you're able to bare. Let God be the one to decide how quickly you grow.

                              Comment

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