“I believe that Christ came into the world not to put men into a salvable state, but into a saved state. Not to put them where they could save themselves, but to do the work in them and for them, from first to last. If I did not believe that there was might going forth with the word of Jesus which makes men willing, and which turns them from the error of their ways by the mighty, overwhelming, constraining force of divine influence, I should cease to glory in the cross of Christ.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon
There are many people who believe that God cannot intrude upon a sinner’s rebellion and overcome him in his sin and draw him unto faith and salvation (perhaps you are one such person). They do not believe that God has the right to conquer a sinner with His overwhelming grace while their heart is still hardened in sin. Instead they choose to believe that man has a final decision to overcome the hardness of their heart and come to Christ. God may present Him with an option, but Man has to take that final step.
Although this view does line up well with our human ideas of what we think salvation should look like, when someone holds to this view it is very hard to pray for God to save people the way He says He will in Ezekiel,
“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” ~Ezekiel 11:19
Or the way that God saved the woman from Thyatira,
“The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” ~ Acts 16:14
Neither can you pray the promise of Deuteronomy 30:6,
“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
If you pray any of these prayers or many others you find in the Bible then you would be praying that God would save these people…. all the way. People who believe that man has the power of self-determination cannot consistently pray that God would save sinners. They would merely be praying for what John Piper calls “unsuccessful influence”. They would be pleading only that God would bring them to a savable state. I believe Paul clarified this problem well in Romans 9: 16,
“So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”
Salvation does not depend upon human will. It is all in God’s hands. He will bring us all the way from sinners deserving of God’s wrath unto justification, then through sanctification and into glorification. I pray that we would no longer try to conform God to our own human notions of how we think sinners should be saved. When we gasp these great biblical truths then we will be able to pray with great consistency and power for the conversion of the lost.
“he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”
~ Ephesians 1:4-11