Making a "Decision" for Christ (Part 2 of the True Jesus/Gospel)
Making a “decision”
First I would like to address the idea that salvation is dependent on a decision that man makes. This is what all of Arminianism hangs on and what is rotting our churches and stealing God's glory today. The first part of scripture I would like to draw attention to is John 3:3-10-
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
Here we see a Pharisee named Nicodemus come to Jesus to Jesus to speak with Him about His ministry. Jesus explains to him the way into the kingdom of heaven, the way of salvation. Jesus tells him that you cannot see the kingdom of heaven unless you are born again. This new birth comes only by the Spirit of God and Jesus further explains that just as it is a mystery to man where the wind blows to and from, so it is with how the Spirit grants a new birth to people. Jesus is making it clear here that this new birth is from God alone, not anything from man. Jesus' silence on “making a decision”, “asking Him into your heart”, or “praying the sinners prayer” should be telling to many churches today. If that were the way to salvation then this would have been a perfect place for Jesus to explain that to Nicodemus.
If this does not convince you that man's decision has nothing to do with his salvation then I want you to turn to Ephesians chapters 1 and 2 with me. We will start in chapter 2:1-10-
2 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Notice in this section Paul is explaining the condition of man before salvation. He describes men as DEAD in trespasses and sins. He does not say we were living people in need of a little bit of help but says we were dead and were by nature children of wrath. Do we understand the implications of what this line of thought really means? It means that every man and woman is born spiritually dead and by nature an enemy of God. This is why Paul says in Romans 3:10-18-
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used 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 have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
What Paul is saying here is the same thing he implies in Ephesians 2, that no man is born good, that no man seeks God on their own, that every man is born an enemy of God and desiring to walk in the ways of satan (eph 2:2). This is why a man must be born again to see the kingdom of God because children of disobedience can not (and do not want to) see the kingdom of God. They are dead to God and there is no part of their heart that wants to “make a decision” to follow the true God. This is why Paul says in Eph 2:8, “ For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God..” What Paul means by this is that we are saved through faith and even that faith is not of ourselves. To further make this point we can jump back into a few verses in Ephesians 1.
Look with me at these verses-
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.......9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:........11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Now we have seen that men must be born again, that they are dead and must be made alive, that they must be given a new nature, but people may still hold out and say, “well God looked into the future and chose those who would choose Him”. These verses above totally destroy that argument and in doing so destroy the Arminian position on salvation. There is one thing that is very consistent and noticeable in all of these verses, who makes the decision. Look at verse 4 with me, it says that God chose us “before the foundation of the world” and then just to be clear that He did not look into the future to see our decision it says, “ according to the good pleasure of his will”. Go to verse 9 it says that this was God's good pleasure “which he hath purposed in himself”. Again in verse 11 it says we were predestined according to the purpose of Him “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will”. These verses are plain in their meaning; God did not look into the future and predestine man for salvation according to their own will or decisions, but according to His will and decision. It even goes further to say that God works ALL things according to the counsel of HIS OWN WILL. He does not take man's will into account because man's will is dead and unable to choose God.
There is one other reason I drew your attention to these verses. When we look back into them it not only tells HOW we are saved but also WHY we are saved. These verses state that our salvation is “To the praise of the glory of his grace (verse6)” and so “That we should be to the praise of his glory (verse 12)”. We are saved to glorify God and to glorify the mercy and grace that our God has abundantly poured out on people who did absolutely NOTHING to deserve it. It is a completely undeserved grace, we did not do good works to deserve it, we did not live the perfect life, and we did not even make a decision to deserve it, God did it ALL from start to finish and gets all the praise and glory for it! Saying that we did anything, including making a decision, to deserve our salvation robs God of the glory of what He has done for His people!
In the next section I will begin to break down the True Gospel.