Book Review: Four Views of Divine Providence by Dennis W. Jowers, ed.

I appreciate books that provide different views on theological issues.  (see my discussion on “Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?”  Wayne Grudem, ed.)  It’s important for objectivity to hear, read and understand opposing arguments or approaches to issues facing Christians today.  That challenge is to find people who will communicate in an understandable way and be objective themselves.  In this volume, there are four authors approaching Divine Providence: God causes all things,  by Paul Kjoss Helseth; God directs all things, by William Lane Craig; God controls by liberating, by Ron Highfield; and God limits His control, by Gregory A. Boyd.  Continue reading

Book Review: God’s Will & Man’s Will by Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum

God’s Will & Man’s Will by Arnold Fruchtenbaum is the best work I have read that explains the sovereignty of God and free will of man controversy.  Too much fire has been created over this discussion and countless brothers and sisters have been divided instead of brought together. Continue reading

Question: What is Prevenient Grace?

What is Prevenient Grace?

The word “prevenient” is no longer used today, but is common when discussing theology.  Prevenient is an archaic Latin term that simply means “to go before.”  It refers to the grace of God that precedes a person making a decision for salvation.  However, depending on the theological background of the person, the word can have different meanings.

Most people holding to the Reformed point of view will use the term Prevenient Grace to be the grace of God that goes before God’s work in a person’s life to regenerate and “give faith for salvation.” It will be used as a synonym for “Irresistible Grace,” that is, the grace of God that is irresistible by an elect person to believe.  In this sense, it is often equated with Effectual Grace, that is, the grace of God that is effectual to bring the elect person to the point of salvation.

Most people holding to the Arminian point of view will use the term Prevenient Grace as that which deals with the effects of the fall so that a person can choose to come to Christ or not.  It also can be a synonym for Effectual Grace, but used in a different manner in Reformed Theology.

Catholic doctrine would see Prevenient Grace as “assisting grace,” which assists those who are in the process of believing in Jesus and completing the work necessary for salvation.

Similar to Prevenient Grace is Common Grace, which is the grace of God that is common to all men. It is common, because it is for all mankind, not just those who might be elect as in Reformed Theology. Common grace is undeserved blessings extended to all mankind regarding God’s creative order, the restraint of sin from totally destroying man and man’s universal awareness of right and wrong.  Basically, the word is used according to the theology from which it is described.  It will mean slightly different things based on a person’s presuppositions.

I look at Prevenient Grace as the work of God prior to salvation.  It is unmerited favor that is not deserved and cannot be earned.  God made a universal call to man. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) Jesus was in prayer to the Father and He was also just talking to the multitudes about the sinners of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. The disciples of John the Baptist had been sent to ask Jesus if He was the coming One and Jesus turned and spoke to the multitudes about the greatness of John the Baptist and to consider their own lives.  As he rebuked the rejection of God’s light to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, He went into prayer to the Father.  From that prayer, He invited all to come to Him.

When Peter gave the first message in the Church Age, he invited everyone to Christ. He said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) Peter was talking to Jewish people who had assembled in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks, which came to be known as Pentecost. Peter was not distinguishing between elect or nonelect.

Additionally, when Paul was in prison, singing with Silas, the Philippian jailer realized the potency of the moment, and humbly approached Paul,

  • 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
  • 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Act 16:30-31)

Paul made the invitation to a complete stranger. It was the call of God.  God does not desire than any should perish, The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Pet. 3:9) That is why the Holy Spirit convicts the entire world of sin,

  • 8 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
  • 9 “of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
  • 10 “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
  • 11 “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:8-11)

In that call and in that conviction, the grace of God works to ensure the certain futurition of God’s decree. The tension between the sovereign decree of God and freewill is the antinomy (literally the incompatibility) that holds us humbly submissive to the will of God.

We could not choose for God, if He did not work His grace in us.  We could not have a relationship with Him, if we had not chosen to accept what He had done.  No one believes apart from His grace (common and prevenient). No one could choose for God apart from His work of calling and conviction. No one is saved if God did not take our nonmeritorious faith and enter us into union with Christ. And God’s grace can be spurned as men suppress the truth in unrighteousness and are therefore without excuse (Rom. 1:18-20).  In that antinomy are the sovereign work of God and the free will of man in harmony.

Question: Does God Elect or does man have Freewill in Salvation?

 

This is the first of several articles that will be included in the coming days.  Be careful about presuming on the content before you listen to understand and dialogue with someone on this important doctrine.

 

Does God Elect or does man have Freewill in Salvation?

 

            The question of Election versus Freewill has stirred up theological thinking for hundreds of years.  It’s not been totally settled, but many people have come with more clear answers than others.  Does God elect people separate and apart from the free will of man?  Or, does the free will of man determine his destiny for eternity? The Bible seems to address both aspects. 

            This will be the first of several articles to address this important question.  There is so much Scripture on the topic that it will not be addressed in a few short articles.  The purpose of this is to answer the question posed to me and to provide discussion points, so that we might arrive at a clearer understanding of God’s plan without causing division, schism, or even separation.  Jesus said oneness was a major purpose for His people in His prayer to the Father (John 17:20-23).  My intention is to preserve peace and rightly divide Scripture by renewing truth in the mind.

            Scripture indicates God sovereignly makes choices apart from man. For example,

13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!
 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion1.”
 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth1.”
 18Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. (Rom. 9:13-18)

Is this black and white clear?  Remember this is only one text, which must be harmonized with 66 books of the Bible.  One text cannot be taken out of context, or it becomes a pretext.

            On the other hand, Scripture indicates that man has freewill.  For example,

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh. 24:15)

If man didn’t have a choice, why would Joshua tell them to choose? Additionally, John wrote,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

If man didn’t have a part in salvation, then why does it say, “that whoever believes”?  Both God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill are indicated in Scripture, so how do we harmonize this to prevent any contradictions or pretexts in Scripture?

            This is best understood by the word “antinomy.” The word literally means “against the law” or the mutual incompatibility, real or apparent, of two laws.  The concept of antinomy holds that two subjects are both true, yet they contradict each other.  For example, the Trinity is an antinomy in that God is one and God is three. On the one extreme, God is one, which is modalism and states that God appears as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  On the other extreme, God is three and the extreme holds to three gods or tritheism.  If you go too far on either truth, you enter heresy. The same is true with sovereignty and free will.  Both are true and you end in heresy if you camp on one or the other.  Accept the antinomy by faith and you will be much closer to the truth.

             Does God elect? Yes.  Does man have freewill? Yes. Did God elect before the creation of the human race? Yes. Does man have to choose at the point of salvation to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior? Yes.

            Those who hold to extremes counter the other side’s argument. For example, those who camp on the sovereignty of God often say God regenerates man and then gives man faith to believe.  God does not give faith to those who do not believe.  Scripture does say, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy…” (Rom. 9:15).  Those who hold to the free will of man extreme often say that God knew who would believe and thus elected them. 

The key is to accept by faith that both are true and seek to understand Scripture so that no contradiction exists.  There can be no contradiction in Scripture, because it is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16) and the Holy Spirit carried along the writers of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:21), so that it is true (John 17:17).

            I will include a few more articles on the subject in the following days to stir up your thinking and to grasp the awesome infinity of God’s wisdom.

Reconciled to God

I’m going to give you a quote that is utterly fantastic.  It’s a little long, but bear with me and you will greatly advance in spiritual understanding. It’s helpful to understand the antimony of God’s sovereignty and Man’s freewill.  An antimony is an apparently unresolvable conflict or contradiction, especially between two true statements.  For example, Scripture declares that God is Sovereign.  Scripture also declares that man has free will.  If one is true, the other cannot be some will say.  It’s like God is one and God is three.  Both are true statements, but man’s finite mind cannot fully understand, except by accepting them both by faith and making our best understanding of both true statements.

This is a quote that helped me greatly understand the antinomy of God’s sovereign work in salvation and man’s non-meritorious choice. It’s a quote from Merrill Unger who wrote Unger’s Bible Dictionary.  He defines what the word “reconcile.” He explains what God did to restore man to Himself.  Read this and I’ll break it down.

“Reconcile comes from a word that means to change thoroughly from one position to another (Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20-21). It means that someone is completely altered and adjusted to a required standard. (Rom. 5:6-11).  By the death of Christ, the world is changed in its relationship to God. Man is reconciled to God, but God is not said to be reconciled to man.  By this change lost humanity is rendered savable.  As a result of the changed position of the world through the death of Christ, the divine attitude toward the human family can no longer be the same.  God is enabled to deal with lost souls in the light of what Christ has accomplished.  Although this seems to be a change in God, it is not a reconciliation; it is rather a ‘propitiation.’ God places full efficacy in the finished work of Christ and accepts it. Through His acceptance of it He remains righteous and the justifier of any sinner who believes in Jesus as his reconciliation.  When an individual heart sees and trusts in the value of Christ’s atoning death, he becomes reconciled to God, hostility is removed, friendship and fellowship eventuate.” 

            Let me break that down for you. 

“Reconcile comes from a word that means to change thoroughly from one position to another (Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20-21). It means that someone is completely altered and adjusted to a required standard. (Rom. 5:6-11). 

He is saying that the word “reconcile” means that by the death of Christ on the cross, God changes a person to a completely altered state related to God and adjusts that person to the required standard of God.  What is God’s standard?  His own righteousness.  Because Jesus died on the cross for the sins of man, paying the penalty of sin, man is altered and adjusted to the righteousness of God.  Listen to what Paul writes in Romans,

10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Rom. 5:10-11)

We were considered as enemies by God, but because of the cross, we were altered and adjusted to the required standard. The sin barrier was removed by Jesus’ death, so that God could now look at man in a different way. Note that last phrase, “we received the reconciliation.” We’ll see that below. It is the part man must do for the fullness of reconciliation. Then Unger says,

By the death of Christ, the world is changed in its relationship to God. Man is reconciled to God, but God is not said to be reconciled to man.  By this change lost humanity is rendered savable.

Here the change is caused by the death of Jesus on the cross, Who died for our sins.  Notice he says that man is reconciled to God, but nowhere does it say in Scripture that God is reconciled to man.  THAT is very significant.  Furthermore, man is then placed in a “savable” condition, whereby man can be saved.  Man has been placed in an altered condition and adjusted to the righteousness of God and rendered savable.  But man is not saved at that point, because there is a second part of the reconciliation that is necessary.

            Unger continues addressing the relationship,

As a result of the changed position of the world through the death of Christ, the divine attitude toward the human family can no longer be the same. 

Because of the death of Jesus, God’s attitude had to change toward mankind.  It couldn’t be the same. Why couldn’t it remain the same, that is, considering man as an enemy (Rom. 5:10)?

God is enabled to deal with lost souls in the light of what Christ has accomplished.  Although this seems to be a change in God, it is not a reconciliation; it is rather a ‘propitiation.’

Because of the death of Jesus, God is enabled to deal with fallen man. How does that work?  Because God’s righteousness was propitiated – satisfied.  Legally, the penalty for sins was paid by Jesus and God was satisfied with His death payment.  However, there hasn’t been a full reconciliation, because a second part is necessary.  God was satisfied with the death of Jesus for the sins of the world, so God could no longer look at man as an enemy, but a soul waiting to accept what God had done for him.   Catch this next section,

God places full efficacy in the finished work of Christ and accepts it. Through His acceptance of it He remains righteous and the justifier of any sinner who believes in Jesus as his reconciliation. 

Jesus did the work.  God makes effective, or considers of great value, the work of Christ. Why?  Because God the Father accepted the work of Jesus on the cross and therefore can place man in a position of being justified, if man makes a non-meritorious decision of faith to accept what Jesus has done, that is believe in Jesus as his reconciliation.  Finally, Unger says,

When an individual heart sees and trusts in the value of Christ’s atoning death, he becomes reconciled to God, hostility is removed, friendship and fellowship eventuate.” 

So God calls you to salvation and waits on you to put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior.  When you do, then the fullness of the hostility is removed and you can grow in fellowship with God.  That is deep, I know, but is utterly important to understand as you grow in your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Consider how that helps understand the antinomy described above.

 

Question: What is heaven like?

At a funeral this week, one of the passages I addressed was Revelation 21.  I was asked by one of the family members to address what heaven is like.  I only scratched the surface of how great heaven is.  It was just enough to give those who had not trusted in Christ an opportunity to hear that heaven is a place unlike the earth.  Let’s note several principles about heaven:

Heaven is coming. Twice in Revelation 21:1-2, John says, “I saw…” the new heavens and new earth.  We can praise the Lord for the great expression in the Bible, “And it came to pass…”  It didn’t come to stay, but it came to pass, because there is something better coming.  We may or may not experience it on earth, but we, who have trusted in Jesus Christ will experience the better in heaven.

Presence of Jesus. In Revelation 21:3, we see the “Tabernacle of God” is with men.  The Tabernacle in the Old Testament was a type of Christ with all of its articles pointing toward an aspect of Jesus Christ.  For example the showbread spoke of Jesus as the Bread of Life.  The Menorah spoke of Jesus as the Light of the world.  Revelation 21:3 says there will be a new relationship with men far beyond anything even what most Christians will experience on earth.  Jesus will be with Christians in heaven and they will willingly submit to Him as their head.  He is the great Builder of heaven.

No more pain.  Revelation 21:4 provides that great expression, “No more death, no more sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Why?  It is because God makes all things new in quality and wipes away every tear.  We will have sorrow and pain on earth, because this is not heaven and it is a sin-dreadful place.  But it will come to pass.

New surroundings.  Revelation 21:5 describes how Jesus will make ALL things new.  Nothing from the old will pass into eternity.  We can’t load up the Uhaul and take anything to heaven.  We won’t want to once we get there.  It will be beyond what we could ever imagine.  That’s the reward for simple faith at the point of salvation.  His words are true and faithful.

Living fresh water. Revelation 21:6 describes Jesus, the Alpha and Omega from Rev. 1:8 and 22:13, promising the water of life to anyone who thirsts.  We can experience that fresh water on earth, and it will be unbelievably real in heaven.

Overcoming friends. Revelation 21:7-8 describes those who overcame will be in heaven and inherit all things.  John writes in 1 John 5:4 that an overcomer is one who has been born again because of faith in Jesus Christ.  However, the rest of humanity who rejected Jesus and showed their rejection by hatred, sexual immorality, idolatry and lying will end up in the Lake of Fire, which is the second death.

Glory of God’s city.  Revelation 21:9-11 describes the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, which is the holy Jerusalem, the glory of God prepared for God’s people to dwell.  It is the presence of God.  It’s hard to understand the infinite, so John records Jesus’ words that He was going to prepare a place for Christians, mansions in heaven (John 14:1-3).

Solid structure for living.  Revelation 21:12-14 describe a city of walls, gates and foundations.  There is perfect protection and orderly living in heaven, because there will be perfect harmony in Jesus Christ.  It will be the best vacation spot, but where every believer will want to worship the Lord forever and ever.

Perfect spaciousness.  Revelation 21:15-17 describe the space provided in the city.  God has it measured and God’s perfect character ensures it will be perfect for us.  There will be no fighting because of a lack of room or having to share with another person. Why?  It will be because we will be in perfect harmony with each other.

Perfect beauty.  Revelation 21:18-21 describe using precious gems and stones the construction of the city.  It will be beautiful!  It will cause everyone to have to lift their mouths, like a gal who sees a beautiful one carat diamond ring a guy she loves uses to propose to her.  It will hold our attention because of perfect variety and beauty.

God’s presence.  Revelation 21:22 describes a lack of a temple, because the Father and Lord Jesus Christ are its temple.  It will be beyond anything we could ever imagine today.  Some great cathedrals seize your breath the first time you walk into them, because of their grandeur.  God’s presence will be amazing.

Light of glory. Revelation 21:23-24 describe the lack of light in heaven, because Jesus is the Light and all nations will walk in that light.  The infinite character of Jesus’ light is not easily understood, but in heaven, there will be no need for street lights for seeing or for protection.  Jesus will be the light.

Open access to Jesus.  Revelation 21:25-27 describe the open door policy of Jesus.  He doesn’t just have open door hours.  He is always available.  You won’t have to leave a voice mail or wait for a text message return.  Jesus will be instantly available, not for or to you, but with you because you will be in perfect submission to His glory.

Unending truth provided. Revelation 22:1 describes a river of life coming from the throne of God.  This will be truth that we will continue to enjoy the infinity of God.  Water is used for God’s Word in Ephesians 5:26.

Perfect sustenance. Revelation 22:2 describes 12 varieties of fruit for a different kind of pie or food each month.  God is creative and what is provided will not be boring or monotonous.  It will be better than anything you can imagine.

Freedom from cursing. Revelation 22:3 describes the freedom we will possess from the effects of the curse of sin.  All of God’s children will be servants who serve the Lord in perfect harmony.  There will be no estrangements.  There will be no hurt feelings.  There will be no harsh words spoken, wicked comparisons made, slights made toward anyone.  People will always be focused on the Lord in perfect unity.  THAT will be heaven!

Perfect fellowship with God. Revelation 22:4-5 describe that in the radiance of Jesus’ face, which will be reflected on our foreheads, we will see and reign forever.   Even as Moses’ face shone when he came off the mountain (Ex. 34:29-35), so we will bear that radiance on our face, because we will be face to face with the Lord!  There will be no shadows.  There will be no distrust.  There will be perfect harmony in heaven with each other, because we will be in perfect submission to the Lord.

 

Friends, are you a child of God?  You can become a child of God by trusting in Jesus Christ as your Savior.  There is nothing more important that understanding and taking the gift of salvation that God offers in His grace.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.  You will be adopted into God’s family and become a part of the Bride of Jesus Christ.  Your destiny will be heaven. 

Jesus was God and when He became man also, He bore the sins of all mankind while He hung on the cross.  God the Father made Him the target of His wrath as sin.  And pouring out His wrath on Jesus, the righteousness of God was satisfied and the world was reconciled to God awaiting that decision of faith by people to accept the gift of salvation.

Then you can begin to enjoy the blessings of heaven on earth as you submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  To the extent that you humble yourself to His Lordship, to that extent you will enjoy heaven on earth.  Yes, there will be tribulations (John 16:33), but you can have His peace and harmony that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7) and be a blessing to others regardless of their actions toward you.  You will be living heaven on earth, which is something the world does not and cannot understand. 

Let me know if you have any questions.

Explaining Divine History – Part 6

The previous five parts have established a foundation for understanding Divine History.   Part one noted a consistent means of salvation throughout history. Secondly, Scripture must be interpreted by a literal historico-grammatical interpretation approach. Thirdly, God’s promises to Israel in the Old Testament were unconditional and are yet to be fulfilled. Fourthly, the church began on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and not before.  Fifthly, the only way to understand God’s plan is to know the completed canon of Scripture.  This sixth segment identifies that man is born spiritually dead and how he is able to receive salvation.

Man is born separated from God in a helpless and hopeless condition (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).  He is spiritually dead.  There is nothing he can do to gain acceptance before God unless God reveals Himself to man and man chooses to trust in God’s revealed will for salvation.  Note the following principles:

·         Man is born in sin and he possesses his body of sin until death or the rapture Rom. 6:6, 12;  7:24; 1 Cor. 15:51-57.  The body of the unbeliever will control his life in sin, because the unbeliever cannot please God in any way.  Even the body of the believer retains the sin nature and causes a battle in the soul of the believer who trusts in Jesus Christ. That body of sin will tempt him to sin unless he is totally dependent on God’s Spirit, which Scripture calls the filling of the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

·         Spiritually, he is not able to please, to satisfy, or to approach God in any way because of his sin and God cannot look upon sin Gen. 2:16,17; Rom. 3:9-10; Eph. 2:1-3.  Man is spiritually dead.  The unbeliever cannot understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14) and cannot satisfy the righteousness of God from his works (Is. 64:6).

·         The unbeliever does have faith, because many trust in other gods, themselves or some system of doing to gain an afterlife Acts 17:18-23.   The unbeliever does not trust by faith in the right object of salvation. The unbeliever trusts in many things just like a believer, like flying in an airplane, but rejects trusting in the divine provision of Christ’s shed blood for atonement.

·         The unbeliever cannot understand the things of God apart from God’s convicting ministry John 16:8-11; 1 Cor. 2:14.  The unbeliever’s spirit is dead, therefore it will reject any revelation from or conviction of God’s revelation.

·         God provides the way of salvation through Christ’s death Rom. 5:8.  Even in the rejection of man, God provides that way because of His love.  God’s love is not dependent on a proper response.  God’s love acts regardless of the response.  Our godly love is only in response to His love for us (1 John 4:19).

·         God the Holy Spirit convicts of the whole world of sin, righteousness and judgment John 16:8-11.  The conviction is made to the entire world.  Conviction is necessary for man to see his lost state and separation from God.  Conviction allows for rejection.  God is bigger than some people think.  God handles the rejection of some people, likely a majority of people, because His love is infinite and He gives regardless of whether man responds to the conviction, or not.  God’s conviction shows that God’s grace provision is sufficient, but not necessarily efficient.  God allows man to reject God’s provision.  Rejection requires the Justice of God to leave man in condemnation and the ultimate consequence of the Lake of Fire.

·         Man can be saved by faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace Eph. 2:8-9.  God provides the way of salvation through Christ’s death on the cross for the sins of the world.  Man must exercise faith in Jesus Christ.  God the Holy Spirit then takes that spark of faith and regenerates the  human spirit so it can relate with the infinite God (Titus 3:5). 

·         Man is redeemed from sin by the precious blood of Jesus Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19.  Man can do nothing for salvation.  Faith becomes the spark, choice, or decision God then takes to carry the man from spiritual deadness to spiritual life.

·         When man exercises faith in Christ, he is only saved when the Holy Spirit regenerates him, not because of the decision made John 1:12-13; Tit. 3:5.  Man’s faith does not save him, but without faith man is not saved.  God does not force the issue.  God could force the issue, but then free will would not be involved.  God allows the human response to be the point where God sovereignly regenerates man to spiritual life.

·         God is not obligated to man regardless of what man does; God is only obligated to Himself and His Word Rom. 9:14-16.  God is no respecter of persons.  He does respect His own perfect character.

Man is born spiritually dead.  Through God’s conviction, which is the only way man could understand that he needs salvation and is the only way man could understand what he needs to do for salvation, man chooses to reject or accept God’s plan.  Man could not be saved unless God draws Him.  He could not understand unless God revealed Himself.  When man understands and humbles himself in totally dependence on the mercy of God, God obligates Himself to His character and regenerates man according to divine will.