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Helpless:(help'lis), adj. 1.unable to help oneself; weak or dependent. 2. deprived of strength or power; powerless; incapacitated.
According to many theologians, God offers helpless sinners a general invitation to accept His Son. Did you catch the contradiction in asking helpless people to do something? Great. Then you're already far ahead of trained professionals. Keep moving.
Romans 3:11 says that, "Not one is seeking out God." Is this anyone's fault? No. Romans 11:32 says, "God locks up all together in stubbornness." We are all born stubborn, and apart from divine intervention, we stay that way.
Some may be upset by the previous paragraph, wondering why God would purposely make all humankind stubborn. It will greatly help to know this: It's also God's intention to have mercy on the same all He locks up in stubbornness (this is the second half of Romans 11:32). Anybody can rescue someone halfway in a boat. God actually rescues those who fight Him all the way.
In Acts, chapter nine, an extremely stubborn and helpless (to save himself) person named Saul of Tarsus is en route to Damascus to arrest and kill Christians. Here is a perfect field for a demonstration of amazing grace; don't think God hasn't thought of it.
Before he could even say, "Praise the Lord," Saul was on the ground beholding Christ's glory. This was not a "general invitation" to fall off a horse. Saul (Paul) wrote later: "The grace of our Lord overwhelms" (1 Tim. 1:14). "Overwhelms" reminds me of Niagara Falls, and causes me to now wonder: Does a person walking out from under Niagara Falls need to "make a decision" whether or not to get wet?
Paul became the rule for salvation, not the exception. He told Timothy he was "a pattern of those who are about to be believing on Him" (1 Tim. 1:16). This doesn't mean that everyone gets pitched off a pony. But the principle is the same: Salvation operates in spite of us, not because of us.
Some think we need to get unhelpless long enough to call on God. Nonsense. Remember? "Not one is seeking out God." We are so helpless that God has to give us the very faith we need to seek Him (Romans 12:3). Don't I believe in the free will of man? No. I believe in the free will of God.
Here is what the so-called "general invitation" doctrine is saying: God pulls into your driveway and, finding your house burning down, honks the horn a couple times. Being a hands off God, He then closes His eyes, plugs His ears and starts humming loudly to Himself so He won't be tempted to influence your decision to either get into or not get into His car. From this point on, it's entirely up to your strength and your wisdom to open the door and get in. Never mind that you're upstairs lying unconscious on the floor (see "helpless," Rom. 5:6). And you better hurry, too, because this buggy's moving on. Once God pulls out of the driveway, your chance to get in the car is over. (As if God leaves Christ's work on Calvary to chance!)
The really crazy part about this "general invitation" business is that those who believe it call it "salvation by grace." Hmm. Sounds to me more like "salvation by being strong enough and smart enough to get into God's car while God is closing His eyes, plugging His ears and humming to Himself."
Romans 5:6, layman's terms This is salvation by grace: God pulls into your driveway and, finding you nowhere in sight and your house burning down, lays His own neck on the line and runs up the stairway, through the flames and into your bedroom. Finding you unconscious on the floor in your underwear, He picks you up, carries you out of the house, down the sidewalk and out to His car. At the car, He cradles your limp frame in His left arm while opening the door with His right hand. Then He straps you into the front seat next to Him, slams the door and starts off to glory. Once you come to, He does let you say "I believe! I believe! I confess Your name!" Due to His gracious nature, He also lets you check the rear-view mirror for Him occasionally, run the power windows up and down and fool with the radio. This is called being a "fellow worker with God" (1 Cor. 3:5-9).
Helpless people being saved? The logical conclusion is this: Personal belief and confession are reactions to salvation, not causes of it. We believe because we are saved, we are not saved because we believe.