JoshT,

In reply to:

[color:"blue"]You are confusing being drawn and being given. One is not given to Christ until they soften their hearts and hear God when God draws them, but one can resist the pull of the Holy Spirit as is made plain in Acts 7:51, "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you."


There are two things which one needs to understand in Acts 7:51, which will shed light on the truth of its teaching.

1) Stephen's reference to "always resist the Holy Spirit" was not to the inward efficacious call of the Spirit which no man does nor can resist, but rather he was speaking of the resistance shown to the message of the Prophets who proclaimed God's truth, who were moved by the Holy Spirit and given the message they proclaimed. This is easily seen when verse 51 is taken in CONTEXT:

Acts 7:51-53 "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it]."
We know that the inward, salvific, efficacious call of God ALWAYS results in justification and final glorification:
Romans 8:30 "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (cf. Rom 1:6; 9:23, 24; Heb 9:15)
2) If we take the text to mean that men can actually resist the Holy Spirit, then I can also agree. But I fear that the text proves too much and thus actually refutes your contention that men can either resist the Holy Spirit or surrender to His "wooing". For the text says, ye do [color:blue]always resist the Holy Ghost: . . . It is not something that the sinner does occasionally but is that which he does repeatedly and continually.
Resisting the Holy Spirit is rejecting the Word of God of which the Holy Spirit is the author. The sinner is resisting the Spirit when he hears the Gospel and rejects it and opposes the one who bears the messages to him. The Jews to whom Stephen preached resisted the Holy Spirit in the same way their fathers did. "As your fathers did, so do ye." were his words to them. Their fathers resisted the Holy Spirit by rejecting the preaching of the prophets and by persecuting them. "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?"

Light is thrown upon the subject by reference to Neh. 9:29, 30. Nehemiah is explaining the cause of Israel's punishment and captivity by saying that Israel hardened their necks and refused to hear (Neh. 9:26). And in all this they were resisting the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit was speaking through the prophets just as He was speaking through Stephen. "Yet man years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by the Spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear." (Neh. 9:30).

Andrew Fuller calls this the indirect influence of the Holy Spirit. The following quotation from him (Fuller's Works page 742) is in full harmony with what I have said above:
I conceive there is what may be termed an indirect influence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, having inspired the prophets and apostles, testified in and by them, and often without effect. . . The message of the prophets being dictated by the Holy Spirit, resistance of them was resistance of Him. It was in this way, I conceive, that the Spirit of God stove with the antediluvians, and that unbelievers are said always to have resisted the Holy Spirit.
Fuller then speaks of the direct influence of the Holy Spirit which is effectual in renewing and sanctifying the sinner. This is a good distinction to make. The sinner resists the indirect influence of the Spirit in presenting the truth to him through the preacher; but the direct influence of the Spirit is the direct impact of the Holy Spirit on the human spirit, and this is not resisted, because it is the power of the Almighty.

Why does the sinner resist the Holy Spirit? Acts 7:51 gives a clear and unmistakeable answer to this question. "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit." The sinner resists the Holy Spirit (His indirect influence) because his heart is wrong and his ears are not attuned to the Word of God. He neither understands nor loves the Word of God. God's words are full of wisdom but to the natural man they are foolishness. (1Cor 2:14; Eph 4:17-19) The preached Word is the objective ministry and the indirect influence of the Holy Spirit, and this the dead sinner rejects and resists because it is foolishness to him. Our Lord told Nicodemus that except a man be born from above he cannot see or understand the Kingdom of God. The indirect influence of the Spirit is resisted until overcome by the direct influence of the Spirit in quickening power.

The Gospel must not only be presented to the sinner, but a divine work must be wrought in the sinner if he is to be saved. Objective truth, however plainly presented, is not sufficient for salvation. The person must be given eyes to see and a heart to understand it. Putting a larger lamp in the light socket will not enable a blind man to see; he must be given the ability to see. In the new birth the Holy Spirit gives eyes to see and a heart to understand and love the Gospel. This is His direct and subjective ministry and is not resisted. The child does not resists its birth.

Thus it takes more than the indirect influence of the Spirit in human conversion. Paul describes his conversion as the effect of being apprehended (laid hold of) by Christ (Phil 3:12), and of having Christ revealed in him (Gal. 1:16; cf. Matt 11:25-27). The objective ministry of the Spirit is resisted, but not the subjective. When this distinction is made, the truth of man's impotence and the Spirit's omnipotence is conserved, otherwise we have the creature mightier than the Creator.


In His Grace,

Last edited by lazarus; Mon Aug 05, 2002 2:13 PM.

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