Friday, February 22, 2013

Why Do People Come To Christ?

There is a fundamental question in regards to the doctrine of salvation concerning the reason why individual persons come to Christ. Among the various answers, there seems to be at least four (4) hypothesis offered as a valid answer to this question.

There are some who believe that a man possess the innate ability to come to Christ for salvation on his own without any aid or assistance from either God or the Holy Spirit. This position is known as the Pelagian view and it is heretical. Pelagius believed that a man was fundamentally good and possessed a libertarian free will. This view is referred to as humanistic monergism.

A second position is a modified Pelagian view that states that a man can initiate a desire to be saved and God will help that man in the completion of the process of salvation. Basically this position believes that within man is some type of innate ability and desire to be saved. This results in God through the Holy Spirit helping or assisting him to salvation. This belief includes that fact that it takes both God and man for the man to be saved.  This position is referred to as humanistic/divine synergism.

There is a third position to explain why people come to Christ. It actually is only a modification of view number two (which is a modification of view number one.) This position holds to the fact that God actually makes the first move toward salvation in the life of an individual and the individual then cooperates the rest of the way to salvation. It is believed that there exists a phenomenon known as “prevenient grace” which is a work of the Holy Spirit in all mankind. This “prevenient grace” is believed to give a small amount of spiritual life to every human being and thereby enabling anyone who is willing to respond positively to God’s prompting. This view is unfortunately what most people in evangelical and neo-evangelical circles beileve. It is classic Arminianism and it is referred to as divine/humanistic synergism.

The fourth and biblically correct view understands that it is God and God alone who brings an individual to Christ for salvation. It accepts Ephesians 2:1 which states clearly that all men are dead, possessing absolutely no amount of spiritual life. It accepts John 6 which states that it is God who draws men unto himself. This view is referred to as divine monergism.

Monergism is the position that regeneration or salvation of any individual is a complete work of God through the Holy Spirit alone. This view is opposed to any form of synergism, modified or not, which argues that God can only save an individual with their assistance. In other words, synergism states that the human will activated a spark or initiative of God cooperates with God’s grace and is thereby saved.

Monergists believe that regeneration takes place as a single act in which God regenerates a man from his fleshly state and, thus now enabled, a man can believe, and that he inevitably and invariably will do so. Monergism does not relieve the individual whom God is saving to respond in faith and repentance. Monergism simply believes that the work of God includes enabling the sinner through the regeneration by the Holy Spirit to respond with the gift of faith and repentance.

Understanding these views is crucial. Your view of how a person comes to Christ affects how you present the gospel.  If you believe that man can, either, on his own come to Christ, or that man makes a start toward Christ and God finishes the job, or God moves the man toward Christ but is dependent upon man finishing the job, you will present the gospel in a way that appeals to the man.

This is why the gospel has been both redefined and dumbed-down significantly. It is why emotional manipulation has been utilized in engaging people to make a decision, or as we have said in an earlier post, “sign on the dotted line.”

However, if you believe God when He states in Scripture that man is spiritually dead, totally depraved, unable and unwilling to come to Christ on his own, your presentation will be vastly different. There will be no need for emotional manipulation, gimmicks, watered-down gospel, and ET. Cetera.

How does an individual come to Christ?


Kansas Bob said...

Interesting synopsis Gregg! A few questions about a few verses.

What do you do with Romans 2:11-13 ...

For there is no partiality with God. For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

It seems that God shows partiality by only electing some.

And what of 2 Peter 3:9 ...

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

How can he wish that all will come when all cannot come?

Gregg Metcalf said...

@ Bob - First, thanks for the great comment. Second, your questions are typical and not difficult to answer Scripturally. The trouble is most won't or can't accept the solution.

Let's keep scripture in its proper context. The impartiality spoken of in Romans is that God will judge all men by the standards that they possess. The Gentiles will be judged and perish because of their sin. The Jews will be judged and perish because they possess the law.

Next - if you use our hunanistic standard of impartiality, I would have no problem with a sovereign God, who does as he pleases, and asks counsel of no man, to be "partial" by choosing according to his sovereign purpose to elect some to salvation. Of course this is what the bible teaches. I don't expect you to see this nor do I have a desire to convince you.

As far as the passage in Peter is concerned, it is a no brainer.

Who is Peter speaking to? Believers! What pronouncement did Christ about believers. All that the Father gives me will come to me.

God desires all those whom he has elected to salvation to come to him and is not willing that any of those whom he has chosen perish.

In 2 Peter 3, we see Peter talking about the perceived slowness of Jesus Christ in keeping his promise to return. In verse 9 Peter is explaining God’s patience and how the calling of the elect to repentance needs to be completed prior to Christ’s return. It has nothing to do with the scope of the atonement, but rather, the timing of Christ’s return in glory.

I have no problem with a God who will judge men equally according to the standards by which they have, who unfettered free grace chose some to be the recipients of salvation, who allow some men to remain in their preference of sin and darkness and do not wish salvation and be eternally lost, and is slow to keep his promise of return to this earth for his elect so that all the elect would be saved and that none of his elect would ever perish.

Mike said...

I always like to ask those with the Pelagian position in view, "Can a dead person raise him/her-self from the dead?" Good overview, brother Gregg.

Kansas Bob said...

I agree with you none of his elect will ever perish.

Anonymous said...

Great post~~!!! ♥

Anonymous said...

Great post~~!!! ♥

Anonymous said... what is the best way to witness to people in general?

I always pray for the LORD to 'call' and 'draw' a person to Himself. ♥

Gregg Metcalf said...

Of course following the Holy Spirit's leading in the best way. Study how Christ approached various individuals when he shared the gospel - the Woman at the Well, the Rich Young Ruler, the Pharisees, etc.

The law must be presented in order to shown the individual's utter sinfulness and inability to save themselves. The gospel is presented as the means of salvation and deliverance. Don't press for a decision. All the Spirit to do his work and allow the person to work through the awareness of their sin and need - they will cry out to God for deliverance, forgiveness and salvation in the their own words. D

Don't press before they are made ready, don't give them platitudes and cliches.

Find their weak spot to test their readiness - the Lord "attacked" the woman at the well's morality, he went after the rich young's ruler's love of his possessions.

trust them and their soul to God.