A Brief Outline

In this article, we’re going to see the Biblical, compatibilist view of the human will and the sovereignty of God in salvation and some implications of that truth by briefly looking at 1 Peter 1:3.  We’ll then look at a competing view of the human will, libertarianism, as it was and is applied in Roman Catholicism, in the Arminian Remonstrance, and in the Socinian heresy.  The goal is for all of us to understand the Biblical view of God’s sovereignty, that we may offer Him the gratitude and the glory that is His due AND so we can avoid adding anything to grace as we realize that salvation is entirely from God.

We will be looking at 1 Peter 1:3 and the phrase “He has caused us to be born again.”

This passage speaks of being born again, or what we call “regeneration.” What is regeneration?  It’s a work of God that makes us alive spiritually, moves us from spiritual death to spiritual life.

Ephesians 2:1 and Colossians 2:13 tell us that, before regeneration, we are dead in our trespasses and sins.  This is obviously not a reference to being physically dead, but spiritually dead.  What does it mean to be physically dead?  What is a good definition of physical death?  One good sign of physical death is an inability to respond to physical stimuli – a dead body doesn’t respond to light, to sound, to being touched or poked.   In the same way, a spiritually dead person is unable to respond to spiritual stimuli, like the gospel.  The gospel calls to the spirit of a person, calls to repentance and faith.  But the spiritually dead CANNOT respond.  Spiritual death implies inability, not frail ability.  We are not called spiritually comatose or spiritually sick or spiritually injured, but spiritually dead.  This is what we refer to as total inability, total depravity, or radical depravity.  Mankind is totally incapable of responding positively to God.

Romans 8:8 says, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

This is the state of man prior to regeneration – totally depraved, totally unable to respond to the gospel.  The natural man cannot will to do anything truly good.  We must first be made alive spiritually so we become able to respond to God.  God graciously makes alive each and every individual whom He has chosen in eternity past to be made holy and blameless in His sight.

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