Commenters on my previous post on Irresistible Grace raise a good question regarding salvation. Is man responsible or is God? Also, who is the originator of salvation, man or God? Anyway I’ll say up front that the answer in my opinion is that it is God who is both responsible from beginning to end and it is God who originates salvation. Now let’s see if I can be consistent with the idea that man has to make a choice without being compelled to do so irresistibly.
I see God as responsible for my salvation because I cannot find heaven without him. In fact I don’t even know of it’s existence without him. And now that I am aware of it and believe that he has secured it for me, I am still just along for the ride without anyway of getting myself to heaven without him.
I see God as the originator of salvation because it was his idea and not mine. He offered it first as a free gift which I could accept through faith. This was his design for such a transaction and not mine. But notice the requirement: my acceptance or rejection of that free gift. He decreed that I should glorify him by requiring my exercise of faith. My faith in him does not glorify me—I only love him because he first loved me. This is the synergism that glorifies God, not because man may choose rightly thereby completing the transaction but because the choice gives God glory, praise, honor and adoration from his creature whom He in turn makes happy in Him.
I will even say that the faith I have has come from him. How could it not? He is the creator! All I know is that God has somehow made man’s ability to make true free will choices compatible with his sovereignty. And we are called upon to make a choice to repent and have faith in God which has real consequences in both positively and negatively. That seems to me to be the emphasis of the Bible in all of its warnings (including Jesus’ pronouncement regarding blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). He wanted it that way because faith is the only thing that accords with grace and faith is what gives God glory.
Romans 4:16a (NKJV)
Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace
Romans 4:20 (NKJV)
He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God
There is a glorious mystery in all of this. One has to believe two apparently incompatible things simultaneously: 1) God is sovereign and knows everything past present and future. 2) man is created by God in His own image and thus has been given a free will with the responsibility to make a choice to trust in Him or not. This means God both knows the choice man will make and yet man must still make it freely. I cannot reconcile this and the Bible does not seem to worry one wit about helping me to do so.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts."