Decisions! Decisions!

I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow Jesus;

No turning back; No turning back

These are the words to a popular song sung in many churches in response to an altar call. In fact, I grew up hearing this song sung often in the church I attended as a boy in Houston, Texas.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see

These too are the words to a popular song sung in many churches. In like manner, I grew up singing this song too. It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered the significant differences each song communicates concerning salvation. It was also then I began to question the teachings of many songs under the Christian heading, whether songs of antiquity or of a contemporary nature. In addition to questioning songs, I also began questioning many popular church practices and seeing if they had any biblical basis. The aim in doing so was to siphon true doctrine and identify dross of unbiblical teachings and church routine.

If it isn’t obvious already, each song communicates an active and a passive agent in salvation; or an initiator and a responder. What must be discerned is which agent is doing what and is that consistent with biblical soteriology or ordo salutis.

In the first song, man is portrayed as the active agent or initiator in salvation and therefore God must be the passive agent or recipient of man’s decision. The second song pictures God as the active agent or initiator in saving man, making man the passive agent in salvation by receiving the mercy of a pardon and the grace of new life, adoption and spiritual sight. But which position is taught in Scripture? Assuming we believe in Sola Scriptura, then it is safe to say we can find our answer in the authoritative Word of God concerning this issue.

Romans 3 :10-18

 “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 
 11THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
 THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 
 12ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE  BECOME USELESS;
 THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
  THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” 
 13″THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE,
 WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,”
 “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, 
16DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, 
17AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” 
18″THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

Quoting several verses from Psalms and one from Isaiah, the Apostle Paul sums up man’s natural depraved position before God. And because of such radical depravity, man does not understand nor seek after God (v11) nor is there any natural reverence for God in man’s heart (v18).  We must agree with the Scriptures when it tells us that our minds are depraved and because of that we naturally do not think rightly about God or ourselves.  One of greatest forms of deception is to believe that we are in a better spiritual condition than we actually are. To disbelieve in the extent our sinfulness disables our ability to truly see and appreciate the magnitude of the grace of God in the accomplishments of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

1 Corinthians 2:14

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.

Again, we see the inability of natural man (psuchikos) to accept spiritual things. In fact, things of the Spirit are foolishness to him. Just one chapter before, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:23:

23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,

Again, the gospel (Christ crucified, etc.) is perceived as a stumbling block and foolishness to unbelievers.

So if the gospel, which is a thing of the Spirit, is foolishness to natural man’s depraved mind, how can natural man on his own decide to follow Jesus? My contention is man cannot on his own see his own depravity before God and the beauty of Christ unless the Holy Spirit first does a work in man’s mind and heart to acknowledge the truth according to the foreknowledge of God.

 John 6:39-40, 44

 39″This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

40″For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

44″No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

From these few verses spoken by Jesus, it is evident that salvation is not initially dependent on man, but on God’s sovereign choice.  This is tough for some to come to terms with, but it is plain Scripture. But once it is accepted, we see grace for what it truly is. It was this grace that led John Newton to pen his famous hymn.  Utterly rebellious and hopeless, the Lord sacrificed Himself for His sheep and upon hearing the gospel, we believed according to the plan of God.  Indeed that is grace!

So does man initially choose God or does God choose man? I think the answer is obvious.

It is my sincere desire that we would be a people committed to correct doctrine and action for the sake of His glory and the manifestation of His kingdom.

Grace & Peace,

d.

Advertisements

One thought on “Decisions! Decisions!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s