Does man have the ability to choose God? What is man’s free will? Can man, out of his own volition, choose to respond to God’s call to repentance apart from His sovereign grace?
John Samson from the Effectual Grace blog answers these questions and more in his article, Three Views on Man’s Condition. By no means an exhaustive presentation on the sovereignty of God and the free will of man, John presents three different views on the condition of man, namely Pelagianism, Synergism, and Monergism. In defining Divine monergism (the doctrine that God saves by His Divine power alone), John explains,
Lazarus, being a lifeless corpse in the tomb, did not cooperate with Christ with regard to his own resurrection. Jesus simply cried out “Lazarus come forth!” and this call was powerful and sufficient in and of itself to bring dead Lazarus back to life. Christ did not interview the dead man Lazarus and ask if he would like to be resurrected, and once he got the “all clear” went ahead with his plan, now having obtained Lazarus’ permission and assent. Nor did Lazarus, once brought back to life, immediately take Jesus to court in attempt to sue him for violating his free will – his libertarian rights as a dead man to stay dead! No, for the rest of his earthly life, Lazarus was deeply grateful for the unspeakable mercy he had received from the Master.
This is a beautiful picture of what God does in our regeneration from spiritual death. Man, once receiving this grace of regeneration, then infallibly responds in faith to the effectual call of God.
By effectual grace, John simply means that all of whom God has called will indeed come. We see this clearly in John 6:37
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
Without God’s spiritual awakening of our hearts, without His making us alive while we were yet the walking dead, without His removing our spiritual blindness, we cannot awake, we cannot be made alive, and we cannot see the truth of our depraved condition before a holy God and the need for His redeeming blood. It is by His grace we are saved, and those He has called by His grace will indeed respond to the calling. His grace is therefore effectually applied, or absolutely effective. God’s grace will bring about it’s intended effect. In other words, His sovereign grace cannot be resisted, and that is a glorious truth! This effectual grace guarantees a redeemed Church for which Christ shed His blood, otherwise Christ would have died in vain as man’s free will leads him to choose himself, not God.
Please continue to John’s article to read the different views on the condition of man: Three Views on Man’s Condition