Monday, September 3, 2012

CPR, Man's Inability, and God's Irresistible Grace (Part 1)

I will put forth my thesis simply and succinctly by defining four terms: "clinically dead," "CPR," "man's inability," and "God's irresistible grace;" and then encapsulate these terms in one definitive statement. The terms and their subsequent definitions are as follows:

Clinically dead - as far as can be ascertained by a clinical examination the patient is dead. There is no pulse, no respiratory movement and no corneal reflex (i.e. closure of the lids on irritation of the cornea).

CPR - Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or cardiocerebral resuscitation; using rescue breathing (at times, optional) and chest compressions to help a person whose breathing and heartbeat have stopped.

Man's Inability - Total inability refers to the effect of man’s inherent corruption on his spiritual powers and discernment. Berkhof writes: “When we speak of man’s corruption as total inability, we mean two things: (1) that the unrenewed sinner cannot do any act, however insignificant, which fundamentally meets with God’s approval and answers to the demands of God’s holy law; and (2) that he cannot change his fundamental preference for sin and self to love for God, nor even make an approach to such a change. In a word, he is unable to do any spiritual good.”

Irresistible Grace - Whenever God pleases, He overcomes the resistance of the unregenerate sinner and regenerate him or her, according to His own will and for His own glory.

Just as no person, being clinically dead, can participate in or refuse the application of CPR, man lacks the ability to participate in his salvation and he also lacks the power and control to resist the grace of God if God has chosen to save him. Salvation is a monergistic work of God, not a synergistic (cooperative) effort between God and man.


It's one thing to take a CPR class and practice the procedure on a "life-like" model. It's one thing to watch CPR being performed on a live patient, as you sit on your couch watching any one of the myriad reality television shows produced to entertain mankind's insatiable voyeuristic tendencies. It's something altogether different to actually perform CPR on another human being. As a deputy sheriff, I found myself in the midst of this traumatic struggle between life and death, on more than one occasion.

One such incident is forever etched in my mind. It was early in my patrol career. My training officer and I received a "shots fired" call in the southwest part of town. When we arrived on scene, a man in his twenties laid on his back, in the driveway. He had an obvious bullet wound to the chest. There was about a quarter-sized spot of blood on his shirt where the bullet made entry.

People--friends and family--stood around the man's body, in shock and expressing various levels of emotional trauma. But no one was doing anything to help the wounded man.

My partner and I rushed to his side. He had no pulse and he wasn't breathing. We ordered one of the family members to come and provide the breathing for the man, as I began compression on his chest. The man's life's blood slowly made its way from the wound with every compression. His blood was now on my hands. I will never forget the feeling and the sound of the man's ribs cracking as I applied pressure.

I worked on the man for what seemed like several minutes as my partner put out critical information over the radio. Soon, the paramedics arrived, relieved me, and continued CPR. They continued the life-saving efforts as they transported him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The man was a victim of not only another man's sin, but his sin--a drug deal gone bad. He was dead, and there was absolutely nothing he could do to change that.

In Part 2 of this article, I will show, from Scripture, how this critical incident during my career is analogous to man's utter inability to do anything to save himself or even participate in his salvation.

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