Friday, July 9, 2010

Two-Step Plan of Salvation Part II

Decisionism salvation can be summed up in the following description:

"I made a decision, as an act of my will, to believe in Christ."

To further expound the meaning, one could say that those who believe this idea about the power of God unto salvation, or the Gospel (Romans 1:16), hold to a doctrinal position that man is not totally depraved. Man's fallen nature does not extend to his will. The will was left untouched by the fall. When man hears the Gospel message, he can exercise himself Godward or salvifically and make a decision for or against Christ.

In part one of this paper, I showed that according to Scripture, man is so utterly fallen in his nature that there is none who can do the righteous thing of getting saved because there is none righteous; no, not one. Getting saved is indeed a righteous act and not an unrighteous one. Man is so depraved in his spirit that he cannot understand the Gospel much less seek it and exercise himself toward it to be saved. Man is so dead in his trespasses and sin that he cannot, apart from Divine quickening (being made alive), answer the call to come forth to Christ. I used the example of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John chapter eleven to illustrate this point.

I concluded part one with the idea that to advocate this decisionism salvation plan is "another Gospel" about which the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians:

"…so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:6-9 NIV)

If making a decision for Christ is not the Gospel of Salvation then what is? What is the Gospel and how does man get from being dead in his trespasses and sins to being saved?

Another man wanted to know the answer to this question. In fact, so scandalous was his interest in meeting Jesus and to discuss the things of God that it was under the cloak of darkness that he sought out Christ. This man was Nicodemus, a Pharisee, who, if this meeting with Jesus were found out, would have certainly brought him censure or worse.

Jesus told Nicodemus that unless he be born again he would never see the Kingdom of God. Confused by his spiritual blindness, Nicodemus asked the logical question coming from a spiritually dead man,

"How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" (John 3:4 NKJV)

Jesus responded,

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:6-8)

Being born again, says Jesus, is like the wind. The wind, though you can hear the sound of it, you cannot tell from where it originates or its destination. It blows wherever it wishes and so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Spiritual rebirth, or regeneration, is as the Apostle wrote in Roman 9:15-16:

"For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy."

I will have mercy and compassion on whom I will, writes Paul, or the Spirit, like the wind, blows on whoever it wishes, writes John.

And, it could not be any plainer: Romans 9:16 - "So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy."

(See the Amplified Bible Romans 9:16: So then [God's gift] is not a question of human will and human effort, but of God's mercy. [It depends not on one's own willingness nor on his strenuous exertion as in running a race, but on God's having mercy on him.] )

In the beginning of John's Gospel, he gave the very definition of what it means to be born again:

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13 NKJV)

Don't miss what it being said here: "…who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Those who are born again, saved in Christ, are born not because of their human will but of the Divine's.

The Gospel is simple. It is plain. It is saving Grace.

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life." (John 6:44-47 NIV)

One cannot come to Christ unless the Father draws the sinner. This is a testimony to man's depravity, his inability, which prevents him from seeking Christ unto salvation. The Gospel call is, "…he who believes has everlasting life."

"And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."" (John 6:65 NKJV)

"All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me]." (John 6:37 Amplified)

Those whom God gives to Christ "will come." In fact, I would venture to say they will never run the risk of anything other than coming to Christ in believing faith. Notice, "I will most certainly not cast out…" If God gives you to Christ in believing faith, you will be His and will never run the risk of being anything other than His!

"It is impossible for anyone to come to Christ without the enabling call of God. The sinner's moral inability to choose Christ must be overcome by the gracious and sovereign power of the Spirit (John 3: 5-21)." - New Geneva Study Bible; page 1674

I have wondered for years, no, decades, how a professing Christian could read or hear Ephesians 2:

"For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law's demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]" (Ephesians 2:8-9 Amplified Bible)

I quote the Amplified Version here because of how it renders correctly the text:

1. It is by free grace you are delivered from judgment made partakers of Christ's salvation.

2. This salvation is not of your doing; it came not through your own striving.

3. It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself.

And, this is exactly what our friend I quoted in Part One of this paper is saying when she said she got saved by making a decision as an act of her will.

I shudder at that.

Salvation is God making man, who is dead in his sins and unable to choose Christ, alive (quickens him) in order that man would be able to confess with his mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in his heart that God raised him from the dead that he might be saved.

"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9 NIV)