The Awakening of God to Our Sins
written by SEA member, Roy Ingle
Salvation is of the Lord. We affirm that but let us consider that truth played out in our lives. When I was a young man before my conversion to Christ, I sat in church week after week. I heard countless sermons. I heard countless songs. I had people personally witness to me about faith in Christ, about becoming a Christian, about receiving Christ. Yet I was stubborn in my sins. I was, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1-2, dead in my trespasses and sins. I was blind to the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). I had no desire for God, no love for His truth. I cared not that Jesus was crucified.
So what brought me to faith? It was not me. I couldn’t care less about the gospel. I wanted nothing of Christ. It was not then me who saved me. It was not my “faith” that brought me to Christ. It was the work of God’s grace and His Spirit that drew me to salvation in Christ. I didn’t see His hand then but I do now. I didn’t hear His voice then but I realize now that it was He, the sovereign Lord, who reached out to me. He brought me into His kingdom by His grace (Colossians 1:13-14). I was not seeking after Him. I did not see my sin until He opened my eyes by His grace.
This is the truth of prevenient grace. Both Arminians and Calvinists acknowledge that God alone must save sinners. It must be God, because of the nature of our sinfulness, to open our eyes to His gospel. Arminius wrote about this grace,
Concerning grace and free will, this is what I teach according to the Scriptures and orthodox consent: Free will is unable to begin or to perfect any true and spiritual good, without grace. That I may not be said, like Pelagius, to practice delusion with regard to the word “grace,” I mean by it that which is the grace of Christ and which belongs to regeneration. I affirm, therefore, that this grace is simply and absolutely necessary for the illumination of the mind, the due ordering of the affections, and the inclination of the will to that which is good. It is this grace which operates on the mind, the affections, and the will; which infuses good thoughts into the mind, inspires good desires into the actions, and bends the will to carry into execution good thoughts and good desires. This grace goes before, accompanies, and follows; it excites, assists, operates that we will, and co-operates lest we will in vain. It averts temptations, assists and grants succour in the midst of temptations, sustains man against the flesh, the world and Satan, and in this great contest grants to man the enjoyment of the victory. It raises up again those who are conquered and have fallen, establishes and supplies them with new strength, and renders them more cautious. This grace commences salvation, promotes it, and perfects and consummates it.
Grace must work in us to save us. God’s grace works in us by God’s Spirit to draw us to salvation. In this way, salvation is all of grace (Acts 15:11)! Salvation is not accomplished by works of the flesh. Salvation is not found in the workings of men but salvation is all of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). This is the gospel, the good news. The gospel is not about what we do to earn God’s favor, His life in us, or His righteousness. The gospel is all about God, all focused on Him and what He has done in saving us. Even when we come to Christ for salvation, we didn’t reach out to Him but He to us (John 6:44). God alone saves for His own glory and honor (Revelation 5:9-10).
This thinking runs contrary to our thinking. We tend to think that salvation is what Christ did for us and what we do to complete this work. Whether it is faith in Jesus plus church membership or this or that. Salvation is by grace through faith. It is not faith in Jesus and then we keep ourselves by good works. Faith obeys no doubt (James 2:14-26) but true faith does not have to be coerced. True faith does not have to be twisted to make us obey God. True faith obeys because of the implications of the gospel. When we understand the gospel we understand what Jesus Christ has done for us and that fact that we are saved through Him. We obey out of this understanding of the gospel.
Let us preach from every hill top and every valley that God alone saves! I didn’t find Him. He found me! He saved me by His grace and brought me to Himself. I don’t deserve His salvation but I deserve His just wrath but thanks be to God Almighty for saving me (Romans 5:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). He saved me (1 John 4:10). He alone!
For the original post, go to: http://arminiantoday.com/2012/11/01/the-awakening-of-god-to-our-sins/