Another Theological Rant from The Author of My Faith. This post is by no means an exhaustive teaching on this topic, but simply some observations and thoughts regarding Gentleman Jesus.
The song Jesus is a Gentleman is indicative of much of the man-centered theology that is popular among Christians today. Jesus has been reduced to a weak and effeminate savior who sits by helplessly while those he loves and died for reject him and continue down the road to destruction. The best that Gentleman Jesus can do is hope and pray that they will turn, believe, and ask him into their hearts. He patiently stands at the door and gently knocks. But since he is a gentleman, he would never force his way in or kick the door down. He loves them so much that he would rather let them plunge into hell for all eternity than force his will upon them to save them from their sin. After all, he is a gentleman.
A great example of this is found in the Book of Acts. The Apostle Paul was on the Road to Damascus. Gentleman Jesus did not want to offend or startle Paul, so he gently approached him and asked him the following question:
“Dear Saul, My apologizes for barging in on you unannounced like this. I usually knock gently and wait for the person to respond, but I love you so much and I died for all of your sins. Therefore, I desire to have a relationship with you. But since I am a gentleman, and I don’t kick down doors or force my will upon unwilling subjects, do you think you could find it in your heart to repent and turn away from murdering Christians and let me come in and be your Lord and Savior? I promise that I will be gentle and never force my will upon you. I will only make suggestions and then leave the rest up to you. What do you say? Would you let me be your savior?”
Paul thought about Jesus’ proposal and responded:
“You know what Jesus? I appreciate that about you. You didn’t’ demand anything from me but simply waited until I decided to let you in. And since you gently asked me if I would like to give you my heart, I will grant you that favor and let you in.”.
Well, at this point, I don’t have to tell you that I am being extremely sarcastic. But, if we follow this man-centered theology to its logical conclusion, we end up with the story above. We end up with a Savior who died on a cross to save his people from their sins, but is too much of a gentleman to offend anyone. So he would rather let them go to hell than cause them to believe because God would never cause anyone to believe, right? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Peter said that it was God who caused us to be born again. By what means did he cause us to be born again? By the gift of faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is the gift that God gives to the elect at regeneration which enables them to believe. Faith is a gift of God. Without that gift, man will never believe.
The Bible repeatedly speaks of God giving people faith and causing them to obey. Ezekiel prophesied regarding the New Covenant, “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:27). Jesus said that God is the one who grants the ability to believe. “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father” (John 6:65). In the Book of Acts, God caused a woman to believe, “And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14). These are only a few examples found in the Bible. God causes people to obey, grants them the ability to come, and opens their heart to understand and believe, otherwise they would never obey, believe, or come.
Yet, there are those that say unless free will is present, love is not genuine and people are therefore reduced to robots. But this is simply not true. If God were to leave man to himself and not intervene, man would never love God. In fact, the Apostle Paul said that by nature man is a “God hater” (Romans 1:30). If free will is required in order for true love to be present, then what will happen in eternity when believers are no longer able to sin? Or what about the elect angels mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:21? Do the elect angels love God? Do they have free will? Can they sin? Will redeemed man in eternity have the ability to rebel against God and sin? And if not, does that mean he does not love God?
Augustine, on his thoughts regarding the fourfold nature of man, argues that Adam, before the fall was able to sin, and able not to sin. After the fall all of mankind is able to sin, and unable not to sin. When a man is born again he is able to sin, and able not to sin. And finally the glorified man is able not to sin and unable to sin. So why is a glorified man unable to sin? Why are the elect angels unable to sin? There are many passages in the New Testament that speak of God’s power and ability to keep a person from sinning and falling away. One such passage is found in Romans 16:25. “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past”. In glory, God will establish all of his redeemed people so that we will no longer be able to sin. When God does that, will we be unable to genuinely love him? Of course we will. So let’s put away that silly notion that free will is necessary in order for true love to be present.
Free will simply does not exist. A man is free to do whatever he wants to do, yet he is not free. The following passages show the condition of fallen man:
“everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34);
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures” (Titus 3:3)
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8)
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
Therefore, man will always choose what he most desires, and what he most desires is only evil continually. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5. The Bible clearly refutes any concept of free will.
Those who cling to this man-centered theology of Gentleman Jesus and claim that God would never violate human free will quickly run into problems when they pray. If they are truly consistent in their belief that Jesus is a Gentleman, then they have no confidence that God will ever save their loved ones? If God will not change a sinful and unwilling heart, what hope do they have in prayer?
Yet, pray they do. And when they pray, they pray just like a Calvinist. They quote Proverbs 21:1 and say, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” Did you hear that? God turns the heart wherever he wills. Even if the heart is unwilling, God turns it so that it will conform to God’s will. That is what we are doing when we pray for our loved ones. We are asking God to change their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh that no longer hates God but loves Him. And God does this without their permission.
So, as sincere as the above video might be, it is sincerely wrong. Jesus does not wait by the door gently knocking for people to exercise their free will and invite him in. There is not a verse in all of scripture that portrays Jesus knocking on the door of the sinners heart.
Jesus saves who he wants and when he wants. And he does not ask permission to do so.
So is Jesus a Gentleman? I leave you with the following video clip from Voddie Baucham.