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?