Why does one person believe unto salvation, while another person who hears the very same message from the same messenger in the same environment does not believe? Because the Word of God is accomplishing what He sent it to accomplish in both cases. To the one whose heart is hardened in sin and perishing, the "word of the cross" is foolish. To the other, who has been given "an honest and good heart" (Luke 8:15) by the sovereign, sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and is being saved, it is "the power of God for salvation" (1 Corinthians 1:18; Romans 1:16).
"So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)
God is not waiting to see how men respond to His Word, then adopting into eternal sonship those who choose to believe. Rather, God is sending His Word to reveal "the kind intention...the counsel of His will" and bring to pass all that He ordained before the foundation of the world "to the praise of the glory of His grace" (Eph. 1:3-12). Those He has chosen exercise their free-from-the-bondage-of-sin will to believe. Those He has not chosen and not given "an honest and good heart" exercise their free-but-still-in-bondage-to-sin will to not believe.
"Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).
In other words, the "order" of the salvation "process" is (1) the preaching of the word of Christ, (2) the opening of the ears by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and (3) the exercise of God's gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-10) by the sinner to whom repentance has been granted by the sovereign grace of God (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
Scripture is clear. God chose us "by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ" and "caused us to be born again." (1 Peter 1:1-5)
God's work is primary, fundamental, absolutely necessary to salvation. Man's faith, an integral part of salvation, results from God's gracious work, not from his own unregenerate nature and will (cf. Ephesians 2:1-3).
God's will is sovereign, not man's. We are saved "according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).
"But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, 'LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.' ” (1 Cor. 1:30-31)
The believer has been "born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13)
So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. (Romans 9:16)
Do you marvel at God's grace? Do you revere His wisdom? Are you humbled by and praise Him for "His great love with which He has loved us" (Eph. 2:4)?. Then your salvation has accomplished in you all He sent it to do!
To God be all the glory.
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