There was once a ministersâ meeting in Toronto, and a scholar addressed them. He claimed that there was a spark that was present in every single person and that it was the duty of ministers to fan it into life. There was a fundamentalist preacher there who was bold enough in the question time to challenge this interpretation. He used Scripture very skillfully and comprehensively to present its own verdict on man. He expostulated with the speaker, didnât he know that man was dead in trespasses and sins, that he was born in sin and from the womb he went astray telling lies, that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, that in his flesh dwelt no good thing, that none seek after God. âThe leopard cannot change its spots,â he said, âand this so-called spark of goodness doctrine is not only a myth; it is a lie; it gives man confidence in himself. It dethrones God and exalts man to be the Captain of his soul.â It was very well done and all of us would have said Amen to his words.
Then the modernist got up to respond. âI commend you,â he said, âon your response and your knowledge of many Scriptures. I have only one question. Do you believe that man has the ability, in himself, to either accept or reject the gospel of Christ when it is presented to him?â Without a momentâs hesitation the fundamentalist replied, âWhy, of course I do.â âRight,â said Mr. Liberal, âwell, what is this ability in man that gives him this power?â The Arminian fundamentalist looked a bit puzzled as he replied, âWhy, that is manâs free will.â The modernist smiled and said, âExactly! You call it free will, while I call it the spark of goodness. You say we should do all we can to get man to exercise his will to make a decision, and I say we should fan the spark into a flame. Regardless of all you said in your statement, we both agree that the determining factor in becoming a Christian is manâs own power of choice, and weâve both got to find the best methods of inducing him to use that ability in the right way.â
That liberal was being 100% consistent with his basic and wrong presupposition, and the fundamentalist was the one who was totally inconsistent. The failure to see the obvious truth that a phrase like âspark of goodnessâ and another phrase like âfree willâ is much the same thing drove a wedge deep into the evangelical church a hundred years ago, and it allowed modernism its massive spread and grip on the pulpits of our nation. As long as men believe that they have a âspark of lifeâ that they can fan into a flame when they choose to do so then they will go on feeling that they are not actually dead in sin. Then salvation is not due to the grace of God alone, but it is grace cooperating with man who decides to fan the spark, when he chooses. But the Bible will not tolerate that interpretation. Every part of man is affected by his being dead in transgressions and sins.
- Geoff Thomas, pastor of Alfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwyth, Wales
To the contrary, you are dead and reveal it by refusing to believe that God chose and had mercy on you. Rejecting electing love proves man's depravity, for a few verses down, you see that we are born again, not by human will power or heritage, but by God. You cannot read the book of John and believe free will, unless you chose to stay blind to the Light. The true light of conscience won't save you, but the Light of revelation in the power of the Spirit... so that you actually believe... will.