At birth, no one is in a saved relationship with our Lord. We bear the stain of Adam's sin. God is holy and we are not. We are dead in spirit and unable to approach Him – even to plead for forgiveness or to worship.
Consider the condition of a man found lying in the street. He is not breathing and has no pulse. He is dead. Whatever the cause of his death, he is dead and can do nothing to bring himself to life. He will remain dead and his body, now nothing more than cold flesh and bone, will eventually return to the dust from whence it came.
That dead man is not able to help himself, nor is a dead spirit able to bring itself to life. Should medical aid or a CPR-trained passer-by happen upon the man moments after his heart stopped being, it may be possible to “bring him back.” No medical practitioner or CPR-trained person can bring a dead spirit to life. Only God, the Holy Spirit, has that power.
A person might recognize that something is lacking in his life. He may weary of the way he lives and begin looking for something better. Perhaps he will turn to what is wrongly labeled “Christian” radio or television, where he will be exposed to impassioned preaching, liberally salted with warnings of eternal punishment. Perhaps, after pitching a new book, talisman or just plain asking for money, the media preacher will assure his audience that HE has the ability to save the sinner. “Just place your hand on the radio or television and repeat this prayer after me.” It's so easy. So the seeker touches the radio, repeats the prayer and sends in his “offering.” Does he believe that he is saved? Perhaps. Is he saved? No!
How often have you been asked, “Are you a born-again believer?” How often have you asked someone that question? What does it mean to be born again? From the instant of conception, our spirits are dead in sin. This is the curse that every person inherits from Adam. I say again, a dead spirit can do nothing to bring itself to life. We weep, we pray, we do good works, we withdraw from a world awash in sin and degradation. Can any of this bring us into a saved relationship with the Lord? No!
Can puffed-up, self-styled mighty men of God bring us into a saved relationship with the Lord? No! Can beating a sinner over the head with your KJV while shouting the Lord's name in his face bring us into a saved relationship with the Lord? No!
There is absolutely nothing that man can do, either for himself or for others, that will bring a person into a saved relationship with the Lord. Salvation is a sovereign work reserved to God alone. Scripture informs that, in eternity past, He determined who He would bring into His presence by adoption.
Unless God calls someone to eternal life, there is nothing that I or anyone can do to bring that someone or anyone else to life and into the Bride of Christ. The quickening, the being born again, is only the door through which we pass into eternal life. Next must come the gift of saving faith. From my Statement of Faith:
The role that believers play in God's salvific program is to share the Gospel and manifest Christ in our lives. Even though we might do that often and well, still it is not man that calls those dead in sin to eternal life. To claim credit for “saving” anyone is, in my considered opinion, arrogance, fantasy and heresy.
To my admittedly biased mind, for anyone to claim to have “won souls for Christ,” or something similar, is to deny the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice and the effectiveness of God's salvific program. And this is cause for me wonder about such a person's own relationship, if any, with the Lord.
Once again, the Five Solas as a reminder of how it works:
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