This doctrine is extremely relevant because if Christ’s death was intended to only make salvation a possibility for all people, then it flies in the face of what we considered yesterday and what we will consider today. This view contends that for someone to be saved they must use their own inherent, natural abilities to believe and come to Christ. In other words, Christ did His part by shedding His blood. Now it is totally up to you. You must make up your own mind, exert your own will, make your own choice, and accept or reject. You have all power and ability in and of yourself.
While this view described above is the majority report today, a vital truth is often overlooked. If salvation is left up to each, individual, fallen person, no one will ever be saved! In our attempts to preserve our desire to have a say, we completely overlook our greatest hindrance to salvation, our fallenness!
That is hard for mankind, even those in the Church that should know what the Bible says, to accept. After all, our culture, and sadly the probable majority within the Church, believes that man is completely unfettered in his natural abilities. This erroneous view is accepted because of either biblical ignorance on the matter or outright denial of clear scriptural teaching.
As we did yesterday, let’s look at a host of passages that describe man in his fallen, natural state. (I emphasize what Scripture declares by underlining these descriptions.)
Genesis 6:5 - The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Psalm 14:1-3 - The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.
Psalm 51:5 - Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me
Psalm 58:3 - The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth
Romans 3:9-19 - What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written,“There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God.
Romans 5:6-10 - For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Romans 6:6-7, 17-20 - Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
Romans 8:6-8 - For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
1 Corinthians 2:14 - But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 - If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Ephesians 2:1-3, 5a - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. We were dead in our transgressions.
Colossians 1:21 - You were formerly alienated and hostile in mind
Colossians 2:13 - You were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh.
These are just some of the passages that speak to our condition after the fall and before salvation. (Please bear with me while I sum up these verses.) After the fall, man's heart and thoughts were only wickedness continually (Gen 6:5). No one does good, not even one. No one seeks God. No one understands God. All have turned aside. All have become corrupt. (Ps. 14:1-3; Rom. 3:9-18). Man is conceived in sin (Ps. 51:5) and goes astray from the womb (Ps. 58:3). We are all guilty for breaking God's law and are accountable to Him (Rom. 3:19-20). We were ungodly, powerless, and enemies of God (Rom. 5:6-10). Before God frees man, man is a slave to sin (Notice four times in this passage above Paul says we were slaves to sin - Rom. 6). Our natural minds are hostile towards God. We cannot even incline our natural minds to God. We cannot please God in the flesh (Rom. 8:6-8). The natural man does not and cannot accept spiritual things because they are foolishness to him (1 Cor. 2:14). We are blind to the truths of the Gospel (2 Cor. 4:3-4). We are dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13) and are children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). Our minds are alienated from and hostile towards God (Col. 1:21).
Listen to the words of Jesus from John’s Gospel:
John 3:3 - Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
John 3:5 - Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3:19 - This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
John 6:43-44 - Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
John 6:63, 65 - It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.
Far from this being flattering to the pride of natural man, these passages, and others like them in Scripture, show us that we are in dire straits spiritually. Left to ourselves, we perish. Our mind, heart, nature, and every fiber of our being are enslaved to sin and affected by sin. We are enemies of God because we don’t want Him naturally. We do not want to submit to His rule. We do not have the power to be born again. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that we cannot come to Him unless the Father draws us by His supernatural power and effectual call. Our flesh profits nothing!
Now, return to my earlier statement. If Jesus came and shed His blood only to make salvation possible for all those who naturally wanted salvation, who will be saved? No one will be saved because no one naturally desires salvation! Our fallen nature is the problem! God must take out hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh (Ezek. 36:25-27). We need new natures. We need new desires.
Therefore, I again state that when Christ died, He did so with a specific intention in mind. He actually came and bore the sins of His people. He became their Substitute. He earned the righteousness they need to be acceptable to God, and He bore the full penalty for the sins they deserve. He made real atonement. He actually secured everything that is needed for their salvation, including the faith that will be granted them to believe and come to Christ. That is amazing grace!
Someone may ask, well, who are God’s people? God’s people are all the ones who come to Him in faith alone looking to Christ alone for salvation. You see we are never called in Scripture to somehow determine beforehand who are God’s people and who are not God’s people. We are called to carry the Gospel into all the world and proclaim it. We are called to give the general call for sinners to repent and trust Christ.
God, and God alone, is the One who gives the effectual call through His Spirit. It is through this call that spiritual life is given to the dead sinner. The nature is changed and a desire for salvation is supernaturally created.
The response is that the once dead, hostile sinner now desires Christ and comes to Christ trusting in His work as the only means of salvation. It is in the manner, and this manner alone, that gives all glory to God for the redemption and transformation of sinners.
soli Deo gloria – To God alone be the glory!