Who CAN (is able) come to Christ?

Is anyone and everyone able to come to Christ, solely in the strength of human will? What, if anything, does the Bible have to say about who can (has the ability) come to Christ? For the moment, lay any doctrinal position you already have aside and just focus on the words in the pages of Scripture.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” – John 6:44-45

Those who are drawn by the Father, and who have heard from and learned from the Father are able to come Christ. We are in fact told that they will come.

“. . .no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” – John 6:65

Those to whom the Father has granted the ability, are able to come to Christ.

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” – Acts 13:48

Those who have been appointed (ordained) to eternal life are able to come to Christ, and in at least one instance, all who had been ‘appointed’ believed.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” – Eph 1:1-5

Those chosen before the foundation of the world and predestined (predetermined) to be adopted as sons, are able To come to Christ.

Regardless of anything else in those passages, they describe characteristics of those who are able to come to Christ. The passages from John also tell us, in no uncertain terms, that unless (a universal requisite), God grants the necessary ability, and draws a person to Christ, there is no coming to Christ. We are left with the inescapable conclusion that human ability alone is not sufficient for anyone to embrace Christ, that if we believe the words on the page.

We are now faced with the question “Why are natural human beings unable to come to Christ?  For that answer, we can again look to Scripture to see what God tells us about ‘us’.

“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” – Rom 8:7

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor 2:14

“What then? Are we Jews any better off (than Gentile non-believers)? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” – Rom 3:9-11

Regardless of what you currently believe about all the other ‘issues’ normally associated with the above Scripture passages, the words themselves teach us something about those who are able to come to Christ, and something about the nature of fallen men. Neither set of passages is exhaustive for either topic, in fact they are incredibly brief on both matters!

Please do not assume that this blogger is pushing his own opinion or agenda. I might have both of those, but they really don’t matter, because I am wise enough to know that I cannot personally persuade anyone of any spiritual truth – that’s God job. 

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

What People Believe

It’s been said that, in general, people believe what they want to believe. Conversely, they don’t believe what they don’t want to believe. If you can change what people want to believe, you’ve got them in the palm of your hand. Just ask the salesman who is an effective ‘closer’. His success as a ‘closer’ relies on overcoming the resistance of the person buying a car/boat/house/time-share/you name it. In spiritual matters it is not much different.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but–to proclaim good news; not in wisdom of discourse, that the cross of the Christ may not be made of none effect; for the word of the cross to those indeed perishing is foolishness, and to us–those being saved–it is the power of God.” 1 Cor 1:17-18

Now however, instead of the salesman, we are dealing with God. By nature, coming from the womb, we are spiritually dead, unable and unwilling to seek God on our own (See Psalm 14, Romans 3, and Ephesians 2). We don’t want to believe God, are living in rebellion against him objects of his wrath. That’s the bad news. Then, as Paul tells us, along comes the good news, the gospel of Christ and his death for our sins. But wait, a dead man can’t believe much of anything. What does God do?

God wakes the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit, who changes what a person wants to believe, and guess what? The word of the gospel is brought to that one who now wants to believe it, he/she believes, and another adopted son or daughter joins the family of God!

What a mighty God we serve!

Summary of the Sovereignty of God in Salvation – John Piper

Somehow I fail miserably in my feeble attempts to encourage folks to see the majesty and sovereignty of God in the salvation of men. Part of that might be attributed to today’s generally ‘low view of God’. I won’t go into that, but if you are reading this, at least consider the view you have of God. Much has already been written, preached and/or taught concerning the modern/postmodern and abysmally deficient view of God held by the vast majority of American evangelicalism. Below is an excellent summary, by John Piper, of God’s sovereignty in man’s salvation, which includes truths that uplift, encourage and ‘feel good’, and others that might reflect doctrine that is much hated these days.  

1. God elects, chooses, before the foundation of the world whom he will save and whom he will pass by and leave to unbelief and sin and rebellion. He does this unconditionally, not on the basis of foreseen faith that humans produce by a supposed power of ultimate self-determination (= “free will”).

Acts 13:48, “When the gentiles heard this they were glad and glorified the word of God. And as many as were for ordained to eternal life believed.”

Romans 11:7, “Israel failed to obtain what is sought. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened.”

John 6:37, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.” John 17:6, “I have manifested my name to them whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me.” (John 6:44, 65).

2. The Atonement applies to the elect in a unique, particular way, although the death of Christ is sufficient to propitiate the sins of the whole world. The death of Christ effectually accomplished the salvation for all God’s people.

Eph. 5:25, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Heb. 10:14, “By a single offering he perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

John 10:15, “I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Rom. 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?”

3. Because of the Fall, humans are incapable of any saving good apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. We are helpless and dead in sin. We have a mindset that “cannot submit to God without divine enabling.

Rom. 8:7-8, “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

Eph. 2:1,5, “You were dead through your trespasses and sins.”

4. God’s call to salvation is effectual, and, hence His grace cannot be ultimately thwarted by human resistance. God’s regenerating call can overcome all human resistance.

Acts 16:14, “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul.”

John 6:65, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by my Father.” (Matt. 16:17; Luke 10:21)

1 Cor. 1:23-24, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

5. Those whom God calls and regenerates He also keeps, so that they do not totally and finally fall away from faith and grace.

Rom. 8:30, “Those whom he predestined, he also called and those whom he called he also justified and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me; and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”

Phil. 1:6, “I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 1:8).

1 Thess. 5:23, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

Conclusion

Romans 11:36, “From him, through him, and to him are all things, to him be glory forever amen!”

Humanism and True Christianity

Following are excerpts from the sermon “Ten Shekels and a Shirt”, by Paris Reidhead

Humanism is, I believe, the most deadly and disastrous of all the philosophical stenches that’s crept up through the grating over the pit of Hell. It has penetrated so much of our religion. And it is in utter ant total contrast with Christianity.

I’m afraid that it’s become so subtle that it goes everywhere. What is it? In essence it’s this! That this philosophical postulate that the end of all being is the happiness of man, has been sort of covered over with evangelical terms and Biblical doctrine until God reigns in heaven for the happiness of man, Jesus Christ was incarnate for the happiness of man, all the angels exist in the…, Everything is for the happiness of man! AND I SUBMIT TO YOU THAT THIS IS UNCHRISTIAN !!! Isn’t man happy? Didn’t God intend to make man happy? Yes. But as a by-product and not a prime-product!

Do you see? Let me epitomize, let me summarize. Christianity says,”The end of all being is the glory of God.” Humanism says, “The end of all being is the happiness of man.”

And one was born in Hell, the deification of man. AND THE OTHER WAS BORN IN HEAVEN, THE GLORIFICATION OF GOD!

Why should a sinner repent? BECAUSE GOD DESERVES THE OBEDIENCE AND LOVE THAT HE’S REFUSED TO GIVE HIM! Not so that he’ll go to heaven. If the only reason he repents is so that he’ll go to heaven, it’s nothing but trying to make a deal or a bargain with God.

So the reason for you to go to the cross isn’t that you’re going to get victory, you will get victory. It isn’t that you’re going to have joy, you will have joy. But the reason for you to embrace the cross and press through until you know that you can testify with Paul “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:20), it isn’t what you’re going to get out of it, but what He’ll get out of it, FOR THE GLORY OF GOD!

You can find the entire text of the sermon, as well as a downloadable mp3 file, here.

OLD Truth and NEW Things

I’m hearing a lot these days about how God is doing a NEW things in our time. Now, I am not saying that God CANNOT do new things, for I would be trampling on His sovereignty if I did. I’ve been told by well meaning folk that God doesn’t need to do new things, but that he just IS doing a new thing in our time. While I totally agree with the former, I am skeptical about the latter. When I look as some of the touted NEW things taking place these days I see more of man’s imagination at work along with a little help from the ‘dark side’ (in some cases), than God being manifested in His true glory, majesty and sovereignty.

These NEW things range everywhere from ‘softening’ terms we use (‘Christ follower’ instead of ‘disciple’), how we ‘do’ church (I hate that term but it’s everywhere) to the completely unbiblical and sometimes even heretical. I have also discovered that most, of not all of the NEW things dancing around on the stages of many ‘churches’, are just based on old lies that surfaced early on in the history of the church that the Apostle Paul even warned against.

When I have thoroughly investigated some of the NEW things popular in our time, I find that scriptural ‘evidence’ for them is either slim and taken out of context, or non-existent. I have offered scripture after scripture, with contextual explanations, and been told what is plainly read is just my opinion man’s doctrine.

I offer here the twin notions that God has not changed and neither has man. Scripture still means what it says to us and what it says about itself. (See this post.) The only things that have changed since men first appeared on planet Earth are the ‘toys’ we play with. Could it be that perhaps WE are the ones fascinated with NEW things and not God? Just a thought. . .

What is the state of the ‘natural man’?

I think most of the ‘issues’ of the American church ultimately revolve around what we think of the state of human beings apart from Christ. Are we basically good with a few rough edges that need smoothing out? Are we able to choose Christ out of our purely human nature? Is NOT choosing Christ going against our human nature? Or are we born in a depraved state and in a ‘natural’ state of rebellion and hatred toward God?