Salvation is not of our will, nor our decision, nor our works. It is through the word of God, which is incorruptible, and the work of the Spirit, Who is incorruptible.
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. (1 Peter 1:23)
If salvation was our decision, can corrupt become incorrupt? Can we who are thoroughly corrupt then incorrupt ourselves? Never!
Can other corrupt men declare us incorrupt? Can those who are perishable declare us imperishable?
What a ghastly thought.
The Word of God will never fade away. (Matthew 24:35). It is imperishable, incorruptible, because its Author is. Salvation is by grace from above, from the incorrupt One.
Because salvation comes by the incorruptible Word of God as 1st Peter states, it must come from God Himself, not of man, works, or decisions.
Of the process of salvation, The scripture says, No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them (John 6:44a).
The initial work of God is to draw men toward Him. The actual moment of salvation (“Justification”) occurs in but a moment, just as long as it takes God to declare the person justified in His sight. But the process of drawing, is something a reader emailed me about.
A reader emailed with the following question. I’m so pleased to receive good questions like this, and more pleased she sought biblical support in her quest to answer it. I admit I was stumped for a while too. I raised the question at our Bible Discussion Group, researched the Word, listened to good sermons. Her question is below and my response follows.
Q. Does God draw people to Himself (effectually call) over a duration of time (even years) or instantly? Or both?
Some people at the Bible study I attend will say things like, “Oh yes, well that was the Holy Spirit working on his heart.” Yet, the person they refer to wasn’t actually saved until years later, accordingly. I am having a hard time finding biblical support for this. So, I was just wondering if you could help shed some light on this for me. I greatly value any wisdom you can shine my way.
God’s regeneration happens in but a moment, as fast as when an earthy judge bangs the gavel and the verdict is rendered. That’s called justification and it happens quickly. (Romans 3:28, 5:1). From what I understand, if I’m understanding correctly, the question is, what happens before the actual moment of justification AKA salvation? Can there be a lengthier time of drawing as the verse in John 6:44 says of drawing men?
This brings us to the parable of the soils. Jesus outlined 4 kinds of soils; thorny, hard, rocky, and good. The soil is the heart. (Matthew 13:19). If we read the first three soils are hard and will not allow a Gospel seed to be planted, and the fourth is the soil that reaps a saved soul, then that soil is soft. The question remains, is it always soft? Does it get softer as the time for hearing the Gospel approaches? Does the Lord close the ears and eyes to the things of Jesus until the time for salvation draws near? How close to the time of salvation does God prepare the heart for the Gospel seed?
Though the following doctrine is hard for people to accept sometimes, whosoever will be saved is already set in God’s economy. Before the foundation of the world He wrote down the names of the people He will save. (Ephesians 1:4).
From my study of the Parable of the Soils, it seems that whatever soil you are is what soil you remain. If you’re hard soil, you always will be and are not destined for salvation. If you’re good soil, you’re good and will be saved at some point. However, since we know all people are thoroughly depraved, being a good soil does not mean one is a good person. We are still sinners. It simply means God has plowed the ground to prepare for the Gospel seed.
Where the soil is prepared by God, the results are staggering. And while we’re talking about soil here, what does that refer to? Matthew 13:19 tells us that the soil is the heart in the parallel passage in Matthew, the soil is the heart. So the only way that there’s going to be good soil is that it’s divinely prepared by God, chosen, prepared, the Spirit of God has come and done conviction. The heart is made ready and there’s a response. A Diagnosis of the Soils, Part 1
Because the soil represents the heart, when we look at a person we do not know if the Gospel that we share with them will plant and germinate or be rejected immediately. We simply do not know the heart so we share the Gospel with all.
How long before the moment of justification the Lord draws a person, is a question I cannot answer. He could be working on a person by drawing them for a long time, or He could justify them all at once when they hear the Word. I suspect it differs from person to person and it all fits into His master plan, which is perfect. The amazing part is that He draws us at all. We are putrid, wretched, filthy, mucky people and He draws us to His perfect and pure bosom, cleans us, and makes us co-heirs. I’m grateful He drew me to Himself, however long it took. I know you are too!