Apropos of some recent discussion of Lutherans and resistible grace, I was listening to the latest episode of Table Talk Radio in the car this morning, and they addressed this topic again. For the fuller discussion, crack open the podcast and jump to 6:20, but here is the most relevant snippet:
The Calvinist has the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, the teaching of the Holy Headlock, where God is like the Incredible Hulk, and once he’s gotcha he’s not gonna let you go (til you pass out)…and the reason is because, for the Calvinist, the overriding theological construct is the Strength of God — the Glory of God, the Power of God, the Sovereignty of God they like to say, but that means God is Strong. And so even when he comes in his means of grace he’s coming in strength.
What we see in the scriptures is that the means of grace — and God’s grace in general, and in fact, Jesus, when he comes to save — is Resistible. Fantastically Resistible. Or Horribly Resistible, however you want to say it. He is Resistable. He comes to us in meekness. “See, your King comes to you lowly.” So the way that Jesus comes to us is in humility and lowliness to save us, even to die on the cross. So when he comes to us in baptism, he comes with his great gifts and promises, but he comes in weakness there; the same way he comes in his word, in his supper, in his grace he comes to us in highly Resistible ways. What this means then, is that it is possible for us to resist the Holy Spirit (that’s what the Bible calls it), or to fall from grace (that’s another thing the Bible calls it).
This sounds pious and all, but I think the proper understanding is very neatly set forth by this pair of Shorter Catechism questions:
Q. 27. Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
A. Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.
Q. 28. Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?
A. Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.
Note carefully the change in tense. Christ’s humiliation did consist vs. Christ’s exaltation does consist. I think the bible is pretty clear that, since the resurrection, Christ is no longer humiliated (resistible) (“All power in heaven and on earth is given to me”) — or to the extent that he is, it is in the second kingdom (“At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”)