A very common teaching today is that no one can come to God without being acted upon by the Holy Spirit. It is taught that this action of the Spirit happens independent of human cooperation, and causes the sinner to be able to understand spiritual things and seek after God. Where do such doctrines come from? Let’s look at a few verses that seem to support this position.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. (John 6:44, 45 NASB)

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 NASB)

If we just consider those passages, then the direct action teaching seems pretty solidly rooted in Scripture. But the problem is this; those are not the only verses on the subject, and we need to consider everything that has been revealed in the Word before coming to a conclusion.

If we agree that faith is required to please God, then we need to determine how faith is obtained. Paul said in Romans 10,

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:14-17 NASB)

Notice that the verse does not say that faith comes by election, but by hearing the Word of Christ. Paul confirms this when addressing the Galatians.

“This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:2 NASB)

From these two verses we can see that faith comes when a sinner hears the Word of Christ. This is also true because the Word of God is not a dead letter. It has inherent spiritual power within it.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NASB)

The Word of God, empowered by the Spirit in cooperation with faith growing in those who receive it, has the power to draw men to Christ and renew the mind. This is not limited to the salvation experience. This faith building and renewing of our minds is a lifelong journey of growth in the things of God.

So it is not a sovereign Divine act that enables sinners to come to God. It is, rather, a Divine cooperation with the Spirit that results in salvation.