While Christians are often categorized as being “American Evangelicals,” American Evangelicalism is not synonymous with biblical Christianity. One reason: included in a large swath of American Evangelicals is the unbiblical belief that dead people can help themselves–the synergistic belief that man cooperates with God in his salvation.
You’ve Seen the Image
I often see images depicting what I think can safely be said to be the predominant American Evangelical view of salvation.
And they’re wrong.
The images I have in mind are of those of Jesus (usually the blonde-haired, blue-eyed, effeminate, blasphemous depiction of God-in-the-Flesh) presumably reaching out to a lost sinner in a “Jesus take the wheel” fashion. Of course, Jesus usually has a longing look on his face, as if he needs just one more filthy wretch to complete Him.
The artistic message: “Jesus is reaching out to you. He longs for you. Just take his hand. He will help you. It’s up to you. Jesus will do his part, but you have to do yours.”
A proper depiction of the moment prior to salvation, if drawn from the perspective of the lost sinner, would be to paint the entire canvas BLACK.
Dead People Can’t Do Anything
You see; the person presumably looking at Jesus’ outstretched hand (the lost person) is DEAD (see Ephesians 2:1-3).
- Dead people can’t see.
- Dead people can’t reach out their hand.
- Dead people can’t take Jesus by the hand.
- Dead people can’t choose Jesus.
- Dead people can’t do ANYTHING to assist in their rescue (salvation).
- Dead people, after all……….ARE DEAD.
“You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” ~ Jonathan Edwards.
Salvation is of The Lord
“Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9b).
It is God who causes a person to be born again (see 1 Peter 1:3).
And everyone God has appointed to eternal life will be saved (see Acts 13:48).
Repentance is a gift (see Acts 5:31; 11:18; Romans 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:25).
Faith is a gift (see Acts 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; 2 Peter 1:1).
Repentance and faith are the first fruits of regeneration because repentance and faith are given as gifts by God to those he regenerates–to those He predetermined to save before the foundation of the world (see Ephesians 1:4). They are not works leading to salvation.
Salvation is the monergistic work of God alone. It is not the synergistic, cooperative work between God and man.