If no one can come to Christ, how can anyone be saved?

Parts One & Two

Since all men are born dead in sin (our sin, not God’s, so charge cannot be laid on Him!); and since spiritual deadness renders all people disinterested and unwilling to look to Christ for salvation, if left to ourselves, no one would be saved.  No one.

In His mercy, God has therefore, appointed some to be saved.  This salvation takes place because the Holy Spirit regenerates (brings to life) the spiritually dead, who He has appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48).  When this happens, the spiritually regenerated person “hears” the gospel message, not only with his ears (as he may have repeatedly in the past, yet with no effect), but effectually (meaning it accomplishes God’s desired effect) with his heart.  Regeneration causes the gospel to make sense and become compelling.  It becomes all-important to the extent that the previously disinterested person wants to surrender to Christ and longs to follow Him.

This effectual calling does not save anyone against his will.  Rather, God graciously changes the person’s will so that he comes freely, willingly, and eagerly.  This effectual calling is by God’s grace alone, not being based on anything foreseen in those God is pleased to effectually call to salvation.  All glory for salvation, therefore, belongs to God alone.

(Part Two)

The effectual calling of God, whereby individuals are saved, depends on nothing whatsoever in the individual.  It is a sovereign work of God.  The individual is not even a partner with God in salvation.  As Jonah 2:9 succinctly says: “Salvation is of the Lord.”

Not only do saved individuals do nothing to cause their faith, they do not even contribute to their faith.  Spiritually dead people have no faith to contribute.  So, even one’s saving faith is God’s sovereign and gracious gift.  It is for this reason that regeneration must precede faith—though most Christians get that order wrong, insisting that one is born again because one believes.  Apart from the effectual call of God, no matter how religious a person may be, he cannot be saved.  As Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws Him” (John 6:44 emphasis added).  And drawing is not wooing until a person decides to come to Christ.  It is a unilateral action taken by God like a man drawing a sword out of his sheath (John 18:10), or like dragging a person to court (Acts 16:19, James 2:6).

God’s effectual call is so effectual, that saved infants and the redeemed that are incapable of understanding the outward call of the gospel (preaching) do, nevertheless, receive the effectual call and are saved.

Remember this: no one who is lost is lost because God kept him from believing.  Personal sin keeps people from believing.  But by the effectual call of God, He graciously overcomes that inability.