Just as no person, being clinically dead, can participate in or refuse the application of CPR, man lacks the ability to participate in his salvation and he also lacks the power and control to resist the grace of God if God has chosen to save him. Salvation is a monergistic work of God, not a synergistic (cooperative) effort between God and man.I then shared an account of an incident during which I performed CPR on a man who was shot during a drug deal. In Part 2, I will begin to build upon that analogous critical incident to present the biblical case that man is utterly unable, apart from the regenerative and saving work of God through Jesus Christ, to do anything to assist or cooperate in his salvation.
What can a clinically dead person do to help themselves? The man upon whom I performed CPR was clinically dead. He had no pulse. He was not breathing. He was completely and utterly unresponsive. He couldn't hear me. He couldn't see me. He could not respond to my anxious pleas to breathe or to live. He was dead.
Had CPR worked that cold, dark night the man would have only been the recipient of that life-saving effort. He would not have been a participant. Had he lived, he could not have taken any credit for his resuscitation. His story would not have been:
"I remember the night I was shot in the chest. There I was, laying in the driveway, with a bullet wound in my chest. I wasn't breathing. The bullet struck my heart and it stopped beating. I felt someone pounding on my chest. It hurt. I could feel and hear my ribs crack. Whoever was jumping on my chest was doing everything he could to save me. So, with all my might, I responded. I got tired of the pounding on my chest. And whoever was blowing air into my mouth had bad breath. I was done with death. No more. I decided to live. So, with the help of the people performing CPR, I chose to start breathing and circulating blood through my heart again."Assuming you're a reasonable person, what would your initial thoughts be of such a fantastic story? I know what mine would be.
The man is lying, or...
The man is delusional, or...
The man is ungrateful and just has to be at the center of attention, or...
The man is sincere, but lacks even a basic understanding of the physiological aspects of life and death, or......
I think you get the picture. Most people--again, assuming they are reasonable--would hear the man's story and think either he doesn't believe what he is saying and is lying, or he honestly believes he had a hand, a part to play, in his resuscitation. Either way, his story would lack any semblance of credibility and believability.
Just as a person who has experienced resuscitation by way of CPR cannot take credit for the gift of life, those whom Jesus resuscitated during His earthly ministry could not take any credit either (Matthew 9:18-26; John 11:1-44).
And what is true in the physical realm is likewise true in the spiritual realm. Man, apart from the proactive work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), as a means of the Father's predetermined plan to save an individual (Acts 13:48), cannot and will not choose Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior unless the Lord allows it (Luke 10:22; John 15:16). The reason is quite simple.
The unregenerate person is dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). There is nothing a dead person can do to assist in anything, let alone salvation from sin and death. Not only is a spiritually dead person unable to participate in their salvation, the spiritually dead person (again, because of their condition), has absolutely no desire for eternal life, forgiveness, salvation, or reconciliation with God (Job 21:13-15; Proverbs 21:10; Romans 3:10-18). Man, born with a sin nature (Romans 5:12-21), is wicked to the core (Genesis 6:5; Job 15:15-16; Psalm 10:13; Psalm 36:1-2; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore, he is rendered spiritually unable to seek or desire God. In fact, apart from the regenerative work of God, man is a hater of God (Psalm 10:3-5; Romans 1:28-32).
Many people hate this doctrine--a doctrine that should cause the born-again follower of Christ to be filled with joy and thanksgiving, for the work Christ has done in their life.
How should a person resuscitated by way of CPR respond to the person who performed CPR on them? "Hey, thanks for the help." Or, "Thank you so very much for saving me!" The answer should be obvious.
Until the Christian comes to terms with the reality that salvation is a monergistic work of God, his thankfulness to God will be restrained (even marred) by the subtle, self-imposed minimization of God's grace, as he takes partial credit for what God alone accomplished for His own glory.
Man is unable to participate in the spiritual CPR that saves his soul. "Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15)!
In Part 3, we will consider the irresistible nature of God's amazing grace.