And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.Genesis 3:6
Along with man’s natural belief in his own immortality is a deeply rooted notion that he possesses a “free will” which is for all intents and purposes “sovereign”, since he believes that even GOD HIMSELF does not possess the “right” or ability to control it. They would even bring a veiled indictment against the LORD by saying that HE cannot “violate” their free will as if GOD could somehow be held to account by them or even accused of a “violation”. How presumptuous and proud the potsherds of the earth are. We are continually amazed that HE does not annihilate the whole human race on the basis of its impudence alone.
Man goes about strutting and preening in his “wisdom”, natural understanding, and fleshly religion, supposing that he can approach GOD on some terms which he has approved or accepted. The scriptures, however, deny that such is the case, informing us that HE “Only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” (1Tim 6:16)
Men never grow weary in their determination to worship GOD on their own terms. They glory in their “wisdom”, “faith”, and “confessions”, while making a “name” for themselves. This is sheer folly, yet it completely fulfills the purpose of GOD, even as the LORD JESUS stated, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” (Mat 11:25) “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1Cor 1:19-21)
The “foolishness of preaching” does not refer (specifically) to the activity of proclamation by a man but rather refers to the (totally unacceptable to the natural man) declaration of the finished work of CHRIST in saving HIS elect by obtaining their eternal redemption with the offering up of HIMSELF on Calvary’s cross in their behalf. Even as Paul says, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1Cor 1:18)
Man in his wisdom does not consider that the work of CHRIST alone is sufficient for the salvation of HIS people. The purveyors of “religion” speak of CHRIST as having made salvation possible, but that only man by his “free will” can make it complete. This is not the “preaching of the cross” but is a mongrel religion which tries to amalgamate the work of GOD and the work of men. To cling to such delusions is to perish. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(II Thes 2:13-14)
A sinner must be convinced by the Holy Spirit of the holy character of God, the inflexibility of His law and of his own sinfulness and unworthiness to draw near to or please the Lord in any way before the gospel will be to him the message of good news. He must be brought to see he owes an infinite debt to the justice of God; a debt he has no ability to pay. Only upon being made aware of these things by the Spirit of grace will the gospel of Christ truly be the message of good news. It is then that the command, "behold the Lamb of God," will be lovingly and delightfully obeyed. It is then that the gospel will become "glad tidings of great joy." How thrilling it will then be to learn that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." The Son of God humbled Himself, taking into union with Himself human nature. Having lived a life of perfection under the watchful eye of God’s law, He then died on the cross, which death was in the stead of His guilty people thereby enabling God to be "a just God and a Savior." By His cross-death He made full compensation to the offended justice of God which demanded death for sin. He put away the iniquities of His people, satisfied infinite justice and brought in everlasting righteousness. This is good news indeed to a Spirit-convinced sinner, and the proof that He did accomplish the work of redemption is that He arose from the dead and ascended back to heaven. When once a sinner is brought to see Who Christ is and what He did for sinners, when shown by the Holy Spirit the glory of God in saving the guilty through the blessed Substitute and His sacrifice, he is thrilled in his soul with Christ and aborts every effort of self-salvation and casts Himself upon the mercy of God in the blessed Savior. Now the way of salvation in Christ is seen to be altogether wise and excellent and like the sweet Psalmist of Israel he says, "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name". (Psalm 103:1)