Responsibility, Inability and Grace
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me..." - John 6:37
The truth of God's word is honored not in holding exclusively to one truth to the exclusion of another truth, but in believing the whole counsel of God. The Bible plainly teaches that man is responsible to obey the summons of God to repent and believe the gospel just as it plainly teaches that he is morally unwilling and unable to do so. These two seemingly contradictory assertions can be reconciled when we understand that, after the fall, God's perfect standard for holiness for man does not change ... so even the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Christ who justifies sinners, can only belong to us, not by nature but by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness. Jesus says, "no one can come to me [i.e. believe in me] unless the Father who sent me grants it." (John 6:54) Again, the Apostle Paul says, "And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). And again, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).
Furthermore some teach that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his regenerative grace, we believe, will and desire to believe, but do not confess that it is by the work of renewal by the Holy Spirit within us that we even have the faith, the will, or the desire to do all these things; If we make the assistance of grace depend on our own wisdom, humility, prudence, obedience, sound judgment or good sense, but don't agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, we then directly contradict the Scripture which says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).
The following chart shows that the Bible clearly teaches both man's responsibility to believe the gospel and his inability to do so. The third column helps us to understand how those whom God has set his affection on infallibly come to faith, in spite of this inability and, most of all, how this gives all glory to God in the work of salvation: Augustine once said, "God bids us do what we cannot, that we may know what we ought to seek from him."
(This chart is loosely based on a chart by Lamar McKinney)
The Responsibility of Man
The Inability of Man
Monergistic Grace of God
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
No man can come to me, . . .
. . . except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
...whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
...men loved the darkness rather than the Light...and will not come into the light...
John 3:20, 21
.."But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."
Note: there are, indeed, those who come to the light -- namely those whose deeds are the work of God. "Wrought in God" means worked by God. Apart from this gracious work of God all men hate the light of God and will not come to him lest their evil be exposed.
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
. . . I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ...
1 John 3:23
"...the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.
you do not hear, because you are not of God.
"...and these whom He called, He also justified;
...and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
God...commandeth all men every where to repent.
...the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him
"...if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth."
2 Tim 2:25
. . . whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
So then it is not of him that willeth, . . .
"...but on God, who has mercy." - Rom 9:16b
...Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,. . .
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
. . . Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
. . . The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest . . . see that Just One, . . ..
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Cor 2:14
But as many as received him, . . . were born, not of . . the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
. . . if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, . . .
. . . no man can say that Jesus is Lord . . .
1 Cor 12:3b
. . . but by the Holy Ghost.
1 Cor 12:3b
. . . make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, . . ?
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: . . .
A new heart also will I give you, . . . and I will take away the stony heart . . .
"If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
"Then who can be saved?" And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
God knoweth we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requireth no more than he giveth, and giveth what he requireth, and accepteth what he giveth." - Richard Sibbes