Monday, June 6, 2011

Inviting Christ Into Your Heart: But there are none who do good

If you are a child of God today it is because God chose you unto salvation from before the foundation of the world, even time itself. It is a choice made in eternal love by the Triune God (Ephesians 1:3-6). God's electing Grace in which He chose some to eternal life while passing by others was an eternal exercise of the Divine volition with eternal motive and intent.

This is a Divine act worth our feeble human thought and pondering on a daily basis. For it was the Divine intent and motive to save us not only from our sin-wrecked lives but also to purify us (Titus 2: 11-15) and set us apart (sanctification) unto a holy manner of life and to eventually glorify us. His infinite and unchanging character guaranteed that His eternal volition to save us would be carried out in our behalf. There is never the risk of those whom He has chosen of not coming to saving faith in Christ.

But lest you, O Reader, become arrogant over this, rest assured that God choosing you to come to faith in Christ Jesus was not because of something He saw in you. It was NOT because of some foreseen exercise of your will He saw from eternity past. It was from the sheer collective pool of fallen humanity, all without exception deserving eternal damnation, that God elected some and did not elect others unto salvation.

So prevalent in Evangelicalism today is this idea that the basis of one's salvation goes something like this:

I am a Christian because I once made a decision based on an act of my will to invite Jesus into my heart...”

What one is saying in making this sort of profession of faith is that becoming a Christian is based squarely upon the decisive act of human volition. In other words, when push comes to shove, getting saved, or not saved, is dependent upon a human being deciding to accept Jesus into their hearts or to reject Him. This makes salvation a human work, does it not?

Let me further illustrate this: Let's say for the sake of argument that it is a correct proposition that getting saved is dependent upon someone hearing the facts of the Gospel and making a positive decision to invite Christ into his or her heart. The questions that come to my mind are as follows:

Would inviting Christ into your heart be a righteous decision? The obvious answer is, of course, yes. It certainly is not an unrighteous decision. However, in Romans 3:10 it says that man is not able to make a righteous decision:

As it is written: There is none righteous, no not one;” Romans 3:10

Would not inviting Christ into your heart have to imply a certain level of understanding of the facts of the Gospel and what is involved with a certain degree of a seeking after God? However, it says in Romans 3:11 that there is none who understands or who seeks God.

There is none who understands, there is none who seeks God.” Romans 3:11

And, this description of man in Romans 3 under sin gets worse and worse as we read:

12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “ Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;

The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “ Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “ Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “ There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

So the problem I have with this idea that dominates the Evangelical churches today that man, when he hears the facts of the Gospel, will either choose, as an act of his human will, to receive Christ into his heart or reject Christ is, HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE based on the description of all mankind under sin as Paul wrote in Romans 3:10 -18? How is it that any man, woman, or child can exercise their volition Godward in a salvific sense?

Note the carefully what the text says:

There is no one who has the righteousness to come to God through His Son in saving faith (vs. 10)

There is no one who is able to understand the things of God much less seek him (vs. 11).

There is no one who is able to exercise his or her will Godward in saving faith because being under sin (Rom. 3:9) ALL have turned aside and become unprofitable (Rom. 3:12)

There is no one who has the goodness that coming to Christ would most certainly require. I mean, can we agree that it would be a good thing, a good and excellent decision, to come to Christ and invite Him into your heart? The Bible says: “There is none who does good, no not one (Romans 3: 12).

The list goes on ending with verse 18: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

So this idea that saving faith is when someone makes a decision as an act of his or her human will doesn't work. It is apparently, according to Romans 3:10-18, in error. It is wrong. Man is not able to exercise himself Godward in saving faith because in his humanity he is under sin.

The Apostle Paul elaborates on his Romans 3 description of man's inability in Ephesians 2:1-10 and it isn't any better a picture of man's fallen nature. Man, writes the Apostle, is:
1.) Dead in his trespasses and sins.
2.) Walking in the course of this world according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan).
3.) Conducting himself or herself as a son or a daughter of disobedience in the lusts of the flesh and conducting himself or herself in the lust of his or her flesh and mind.
4.) By nature a child of wrath.

If this is the state of man's nature, how can anyone exercise his or her spiritually dead human will Godward in saving faith? How is it even possible? How does a human being who is dead in sin, walking according to the Devil (see point #2 above), behaving as a child of disobedience, living in his or her flesh, and is, by nature, a child of wrath make a righteous decision Godward? How?

It is not up to your fallen human will to make a decision Godward. If you are a believer today, truly born again, it is because God, in His infinite and rich mercy, chose you. You did not choose Him, but He chose you.

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44)

Those whom God the Father has chosen in God's timing draws those to Christ.

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37)

Those whom God the Father has chosen unto salvation He, in God's timing, not only gives to the Son, but those whom He gives to the Son will come.

But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:26-29)

To try and sum this all up: The above text makes the case plainly. It is His sheep that hear the voice of the Savior and follow Him. If you are a true believer it is not that you made a decision to invite Christ into your heart. It is because God chose you before time itself to be holy and blameless in Christ and predestined you to that end (Ephesians 1:3-4). And, in His timing, while you were yet dead in your sins unable to respond Godwardly, God made you alive together with Christ so that (and not a means to) you could respond in saving faith (See Ephesians 2:1-10). God made you a sheep so that you could hear His voice and follow Him. You did not make yourself a sheep. God did it from start to finish. That is why Paul wrote in Ephesians 2: 1-10:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:4-9)