Can a fallen, sinful man in the flesh, have the ability to choose and believe God?
The fallen man will choose sin (Romans 8:7); reprobates need regeneration (2 Corinthians 4:4); and that God “pre-selects” (Ephesians 1:11). But God did not create robots. He gave Adam and Eve a choice and man a chance to choose grace because He knows we will always choose sin.
3 Reasons why the fallen man can and cannot respond
1. Man can be sovereign over his will to choose
For Calvinists to say a “dead sinner” cannot respond means he also cannot refuse. For Jesus to say, He will deny those who deny Him (Matthew 10:33) means man is sovereign over his will to choose.
However, man’s nature is sinful, which means he would always choose sin, even if he believes in Jesus (Romans 7:15). The reason we are saved by faith alone.
Therefore, the issue is accepting God’s grace—not man’s inability to choose what is good. No man would want to go to hell and refuse God’s grace unless you are a reprobate.
Not are all are reprobates, but we are all sinful
True, a reprobate cannot comprehend the Gospel; they need regeneration. A reprobate chosen by God cannot resist the Gospel, but not all are reprobates though we are all sinners.
In fact, God created a vacuum in our hearts so we may desire to seek Him, despite having sinful hearts. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Dead to sin does not mean we cannot respond
Being dead to sin separates us from God. However, because Jesus’ propitiation tore the curtain that separates us 2,000 years ago, all can come boldly through Christ.
In fact, the apostle Paul invites those who are “dead in sin” to awaken, arise, and believe. (Ephesians 5:14; 2:8-9)
God’s desire vs. man’s sovereign choice
God desires ALL men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. However, not everyone would want to be saved. We see a line between God’s desire and man’s sovereign response.
God could override everyone’s unbelief, but He only does that for a few (the elect). Unless God is contradicting Himself, the offer is made for everyone because it’s up to man to believe or not.
1 Timothy 2:1
“… This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.“
2. Receiving a gift does not mean we took part in what the giver did
When we receive a gift, do we take part in what the giver did? No, the reason God’s gift is called “grace,” which is freely given. Our part is to accept the gift.
To say the “act of receiving is work” is legalistic, if not ridiculous. To begin with, why would God tell us to share His precious gift to the “dead” who cannot respond (since everyone is dead to sin).
Only mankind has a choice
If a person chooses not to believe in God, Satan blinds him and cannot see the light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). He needs regeneration.
If we say God “regenerates first” for us to respond, why won’t He regenerate everyone if God wants everyone to be saved?
That is why God so loved the world that He offered His son to everyone. But we must first receive Him, a choice given to man. The rest of God’s creation does not have that offer.
- God gives an offer to believe. (John 3:16)
- Man has a choice to believe after hearing the Gospel. (John 5:24)
- We can have faith if we’ve heard the Gospel and believe. (Romans 10:17)
- God tasked us to proclaim the Gospel so others can hear and grow in faith. (Matthew 28)
- Jesus wants many to be saved, the reason we boldly share the Gospel for all to hear. (1 Timothy 2:1)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.“
3. Jesus commanded to bring the Gospel BOLDY everywhere, even die for it
For Calvinists to say all of us who are “dead in sin” cannot respond to the Gospel makes sharing the Gospel futile. Why die for sharing the Gospel if only those “pre-destined” would be saved?
Likewise, some Christians believed, received, and walked with Jesus—but others rejected Him eventually. It shows a man is capable of accepting or rejecting.
Hence, to call man’s response “man’s sovereignty” is an utter legalism. We cannot limit God’s grace. In fact, it appears only to humankind He declared His love (John 3:16). There are no second chances for angels.
We cannot limit God’s grace.
The Great Commission: God’s offer is for everyone
Only the effectual grace of God can bring us to faith says R.C. Sproul. Faith is something we develop by hearing (studying) God’s words.
In Acts 26:17-18, Jesus appoints Paul, “I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light… so they may receive forgiveness, sanctified by faith (believing).”
For this to happen, someone must be sent to preach. Sinners won’t know there is hope unless we proclaim Jesus—who wants many to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.“