If God the Holy Spirit calls all…
“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” (Psalm 110:3)
How often have your heard a preacher say, “God has done all he can to save you, and now it is up to you”? Think about that for a minute. If God has done all he can to save all men, if God the Holy Spirit is gracious alike to all, if he calls all alike, if his power is exercised upon all alike for the saving of their souls, and some yet perish in unbelief under the wrath of God and are forever lost, what does the power, grace, will, and call of God the Holy Spirit have to do with anyone’s salvation?—Absolutely nothing!
If the Spirit of God strives to regenerate and save all men alike, if he seeks to bring every man and woman in the world to life and faith in Christ, and some are not saved, then it must be concluded that he has no power to give life to anyone, that he has no grace to regenerate anyone, that he has no ability to save anyone. In a word, it must be concluded that the eternal God is a frustrated, dismal failure, incapable of accomplishing anything!
To say that God loves all people alike, that he wills the salvation of all, that Christ died to redeem and save all, that the Holy Spirit strives to save all is to
declare, “Salvation is not of the Lord at all, but rather it is the response and work of man that saves!” It is to declare, as multitudes do, “God has done all that he can do, but salvation is altogether up to you!” Such thoughts are utterly blasphemous!
Caused to Approach
It is written, “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple” (Psalm 65:4). Regeneration, the new birth, eternal life is the gift and work of God the Holy Spirit, the operation of his omnipotent grace (John 3:5-8).
Every chosen, redeemed sinner is, at God’s appointed “time of love,” graciously born of the Spirit, made willing in the day of Christ’s saving power, and caused to approach him in faith. It is not the sinner’s willingness to come to Christ, or his coming to Christ in faith that causes him to be born of God. Can a spiritually dead sinner rally his will and alter it, muster faith in himself and bring himself to Christ? What nonsense! By the new birth and the revelation of Christ in the heaven born soul, the sinner is given a new nature and a new will, a new heart with new inclinations, and is sweetly, irresistibly, effectually caused to come to Christ in faith.
More than Religious Knowledge
The new birth is more than a change of mind. It is more than the mere acquirement of religious knowledge. Anyone who is familiar with the Word of God knows that all men and women have some awareness of God, of sin, of life, of death, of judgment, and of eternity (Romans 1:18-20; 2:14-15). Man is by nature a very religious creature (John 5:39-40). And unsaved religious people often recognize and believe some true facts about God and Christ and salvation (John 3:2). But the quickening, regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit is much, much more than embracing facts about God and salvation. As John Owen wrote…
“Of all the poison which at this day is diffused in the minds of men, corrupting them from the mystery of the gospel, there is no part that is more pernicious than this one perverse imagination, that to ‘believe in Christ’ is nothing at all but to believe the doctrine of the gospel!’”
In the new birth Christ is revealed in the chosen sinner (Galatians 1:15-16). God the Holy Spirit gives impotent, dead sinners eternal life (John 3:5-8; Ephesians 2:1-5). And the life he imparts is Christ himself (Colossians 1:27; 2 Peter 1:4). Revealing Christ in the heart, he convicts and convinces sinners of sin, righteousness, and judgment, (John 16:8-15; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10; Zechariah 10:12), and effectually draws sinners to Christ and makes them willing to come (John 6:44-45; Psalm 110:3).
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