9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.(ESV)
I am struck in these verses with the mysterious interplay between a man’s will and God’s. This is a powerful example of the partnership that exists between God and man in the salvation process. God has sovereignly given light to every man (vs 9). None of us could hold any hope apart from this truth. No amount of lifting my sail will result in the movement of my boat unless the wind is blowing. No amount of choosing to look will avail if there is nothing to see. God has given light to every man.
There are some who reject him. Some people who have light choose not to see. But some see. Some receive. Some believe in his name.
And what is God’s response? He authorizes them to become his children. Man responds to God’s light, choosing to see. God responds to man’s faith, authorizing him as a child. But when a man chooses to receive and believe, he is responding to God’s sovereign initiative in giving him light. So though a man exercises his will to receive and believe, his salvation is not by his own will, but by the will of God. God’s will is the cause of my salvation. My choice to receive and believe is the necessary condition. God’s grace and mercy expressed through the finished work of Christ on the cross is the cause of my salvation. My faith is the necessary condition for his provision to be appropriated in my life. The wind moves my boat, but only if I lift my sail. His light enables sight, but only if I choose to look.
In the end, I will take no credit for my salvation, for I am born by his will, not my own. But for those who refuse to see, who refuse to receive and believe, it will be the exercise of their will that excludes them from his grace. If I refuse to lift my sail, I cannot blame the wind when my boat is dead in the water. If I refuse to open my eyes, I cannot blame the sun for my blindness.