June 01, 2004

Acted or Acted upon? by Tim James

Luk 6:44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.

Things are not always as they appear. In the plant world it appears that flower stems bend their flowers to follow the sun as it goes from horizon to horizon. Is the plant acting or is being acted upon? In truth, the plant is responding to a stimulus outside it self. Also, in truth, there is something in the plant that reacts to the outside stimulus. Inside the stem of the plant there is a hormone called Auxin. This hormone causes cells in the stem of the plant to elongate when light touches the plant. In the presence of sunlight the auxin migrates to the shady side of the plant stem and causes the cells on the shady side to elongate, thus bending the plant toward the light source. It appears that the plant is acting but, in reality, it is reacting. Its apparent action is the result of being acted upon. Without this knowledge, one might look at the plant bending and attribute wisdom, understanding and power of will to the plant. As with most things in nature a spiritual lesson or illustration may be drawn.

Men come to Christ for salvation. They choose to do so. They are willing to do so. Scripture declares that they do so (John 6:37, 45). Religion looks at men as they profess faith, as they enter the waters of baptism, as they seemingly gain an interest in spiritual things. They assess these acts and reach the conclusion that salvation is dependent upon an act of man or that man is acting. They then attribute wisdom, understanding and power to the will of man. With eyes that are only capable of seeing that which is visible, religion can reach no other conclusion. Man, however, is not an actor in the matter of salvation, he is a reactor. When one of the elect comes to Christ, it is because God has put something in him, a kind of divine auxin. God gives him life, spiritual life, through the Word. This life in him reacts to the light of the knowledge of Christ. He believes because God gives him faith. He wills to come because he is made willing in the day of God’s power. He comes to Christ because God the Father draws him. He loves God because God first loves him. He is acted upon and he reacts. As the flowers is caused to bend to and follow the sun, so the elect is caused to bow to and follow the Son. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…. Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee…”