Step Towards Transformation
Sunday Sermon on 03rd April, 2016
Many believe that man, by his free will, by something that resides in him, is completely able to independently accept or reject God. But this belief is not supported in scripture. Man’s will by nature is sinful. What then will a sinful free will choose? It will choose sin. His free will, then, would never allow Him to reach out to God.
But we must ask, “What is free will?”.
Generally it is accepted to mean the freedom to choose according to one’s desires. This seems true. But someone is only as free as his nature is free. His will is limited to that which is within his nature. The unregenerate can only choose what his nature allows him to choose. Since he is full of sin, not goodness, his choices can only be sinful.
In other words, a person can choose to do only that which his nature allows him to do. He cannot simply will to suddenly vanish into thin air or fly like Superman because he is incapable of such feats; his nature limits him. So too with the nature of fallen man. He is severely limited by what he can and cannot do.
The sinful man:
But some still maintain that God works on a person and slowly teaches and guides him or her into believing. Others say that there is something in a person’s free will that enables him to choose God. They maintain that everyone is equally able to accept or reject. But if they are equally free and equally able, then
The fact remains, Man Is Not Entirely Free; He Is Sinfully Free. The unsaved can act freely, but only within the limits of their sinful nature which cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14), does not seek for God (Rom. 3:11), hates God, and is in slavery to sin (Rom. 6:17,20), etc.
That is why Jesus said, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” (John 6:44), and, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father” (John 6:65). These are not the statements one would hope to find if the sinner were so free to choose to accept or reject God.
It is impossible.
Left to man, salvation is impossible: “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible'” (Matthew 19:25-26).
That is why it must be God who opens the heart: “And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14).
This is what truly glorifies God, that in His infinite mercy He is gracious enough to save those who would always reject Him, always hate Him, and always malign Him. Praise Him and His love!
If God opens our hearts and calls us , and our sinful wills would never allow us to seek God, then wouldn’t God be violating the wills of those He calls?
No, because He doesn’t violate their wills when He regenerates them [opens their hearts] first. Since God calls (Rom. 8:28-30), He first regenerates the nature of the person called. Since the person is then regenerate, with a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17), he is then able to desire God. Therefore, God does not violate his will.
But some say that faith brings regeneration. Again I ask: How can an unregenerate person have faith in the true God? He cannot.
It is regeneration that brings faith.
But I actually did choose to accept God.
That is right. You did. But only because God first regenerated you, freed your will from sin, and thereby allowed you to be able to choose Him. Regeneration precedes faith. The regenerated person is no longer the slave of sin (Rom. 6:6) and is therefore able to desire God. He then DOES choose God.
This act of regeneration is what God does. Remember, your believing is something God has given you: “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29); Also, “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent'” (John 6:29); And, “…and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).
This is also why we are born again not by our own wills, but the will of God: “But as many as received Him…[these] 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).