To know Christ means not merely to know who He is, for the devils know and tremble. Do you know Christ; have you received Christ, do you believe in Christ, do you love Christ more than anything else. The Apostle John adds that we should also obey God’s commandments:
“ Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments (1 John 5:1-2 ).”
A follower of Jesus obeys God’s commands not in order to be saved but because he is saved. Someone who relies on his own works doesn’t need a saviour, cannot believe in Christ, and therefore cannot be a child of God. The person who sees his own inability, his own helplessness is a child of God. The child of God has no confidence in the flesh:
“ Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.  For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” ( Philippians 3:2-3 ESV). The Gospel makes it clear, however, that “works” (fruit) is an integral consequence of faith. In sum, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (1 John 5:1) and the evidence of this fact is that we “obey his commandments” (1 John 5:1). And we can only believe if we do not trust in the flesh but in Jesus alone.
The question I would now like to tackle is the Arminian-Calvinist (synergist-monergist) controversy of how we come to faith and whether this has any bearing on one’s standing as a child of God.
In Calvinists, Neo-gnostic Calvinists and Seeking Arminians, I began by saying that when non-Calvinists bring up Calvinism (not too graphically, I hope), they are generally referring to the monergist doctrine that salvation is 100% of the Lord. The Arminian argues we certainly need grace, lots of it, but it is up to man to make the final decision, because “forced love is rape, and God is not a divine rapist!” (Norman Geisler in “Chosen but free”).
Yet, if Charles Spurgeon is correct when he says “If you began in the flesh, you have gone on in the flesh, and in the flesh you will die” (“God Promises you,” 1995, Whitaker House, p. 13), then how should we understand the following bible passages?
1. “…. who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13), and 2. we “who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” ( Philippians 3:3 ESV).
If you can honestly believe ‘my hope is built on nothing less than Jesu’s blood and righteousness, I dare not trust my sweetest frame but wholy lean on Jesu’s name, on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,’ then you are for certain a child of God.
Now, here’s the rub: assume a lost person believes he cooperates with God in receiving Him and also believes with all his heart: “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesu’s blood and righteousness, I dare not trust my sweetest frame but wholy lean on Jesu’s name, on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” The question I would ask, and I think Spurgeon would also ask is: “Did this lost person “put no confidence in the flesh” when he believed ( Philippians 3:3) or did he come to believe by “the will of the flesh,” or, to put it another way by “the will of man” (John 1:13)?
Arminians and Calvinists both agree that someone who relies on his own works doesn’t need a saviour, and so cannot believe in Christ, and therefore cannot be a child of God. The person who sees his own inability, his own helplessness is a child of God. In other words, both the Arminian and the Calvinist would agree that the child of God puts no confidence in the flesh. The Calvinist, however, says the whole process of coming to faith is entirely God’s work, while the Arminian says that this can’t be so because God has sovereignly decreed that the believer decide; his reasoning being that God does not want robots for children.
The question is: Does the person’s action of deciding – his will, his flesh – form an integral – indeed the crucial – ingredient of his justification (made righteous)? Most Protestants in the Arminian-Calvinist controversy believe in justification by faith alone, that is, no works (no actions) are involved in coming to faith. The Arminian will argue that although he works at something – a big something, because ultimately it depends on him, when he cooperates (opera “work”) with God in his salvation, this cooperation (co-work) does not mean the same as “works” in contrast of “faith.” He might give the following example:,
 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”  Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
(John 6:28-29 ).
It, is of course true, that “to believe” is an act, is a work, of the will, but this work of the will only comes into operation after the will has been set free. When is the will set free? When the Son sets you free, and when He does, you will be free indeed (John 8:36). Then when you sing “Amazing grace…who saved a wretch like me” you will really understand it, for how can you understand it if you think that the door to your heart can only be opened from the inside – by you. If it is you who decides what you will be doing with God’s plan, if it is you who has ultimate control over whether you become a child of God, whether you are saved, if that is what you think, how can you really understand “I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20)
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). If you’re an Arminian like John Stott – whose “The Cross of Christ” has been called a masterpiece by a Calvinist like J.I. Packer, and which I also think is a great work – Revelation 3:20 means this:
“Yes Jesus Christ says he is standing at the door of our lives, waiting.” (Stott is talking to the unsaved, those who are dead in sin, the unsaved – Ephesians 2). “He is the landlord; he bought it with his life-blood. He could command us to open to Him; instead, he merely invites us to do so. He will not force and entry into anybody’s life. He says (verse 18) ‘I counsel you.’ he could issue orders; he is content to give advice. Such are his condescension and humility, and the freedom he has given us” (John Stott, “Basic Christianity,” Intervaristy Press, 1958, p. 124).
Alexander Mclaren resonates with Stott:
He holds back the vengeance that is ready to fall and will one day fall ‘on all disobedience.’ Not till all other means have been patiently tried will He let that terrible ending crash down. It hangs over the heads of many of us who are all unaware that we walk beneath the shadow of a rock that at any moment may be set in motion and bury us beneath its weight. It is ‘in readiness,’ but it is still at rest. Let us be wise in time and yield to the merciful weapons with which Jesus would make His way into our hearts. Or if the metaphor of our text presents Him in too warlike a guise, let us listen to His own gentle pleading, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.’ (Mclaren, “A militant message”).
Those two arm-in-arm commentaries are obviously Arminian in spirit. Here is the Calvinist interpretation from Charles Spurgeon, which I consider to be the correct one. Spurgeon is addressing the depressed Christian:
“Let me speak to the depressed, and remind them that the prayer is instructive, for it shows that all that is wanted for a forsaken, forgotten spirit is that God should visit it again. “Remember me, O Lord. Anybody else’s remembering can do me no good, but if thou only give one thought toward thy servant, it is all done. Lord, I have been visited by the pastor, and he tried to cheer me. I have had a visit in the preaching of the gospel in the morning and the evening of thy day. I went to thy table, and I did not get encouragement there. But, Lord, do thou visit me!” A visit from Christ is the cure for all spiritual diseases. I have frequently reminded you of that in the address to the Church at Laodicea. The Church at Laodicea was neither cold nor hot, and Christ said that he would spue it out of his mouth; but do you know how he speaks of it as if he would cure it? “ Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and sup with him, and he with me.” That is not an address to sinners. It is sometimes used so, but it is rent out of its connection. It is evidently an address to a church of God, or a child of God, who has lost the presence and the light of God’s countenance. All you want is a visit from Christ. All you want is that once again your communion should be restored; and I do bless the Lord that he can do that of a sudden, in a moment! He can make thy soul, “or ever it is aware, like the chariots of Ammi-nadib.” You may have come here to-night about as dead in soul as you could be, but the flashes of eternal life can reach you, and kindle a soul within, within the ribs of your old dead nature once again. You may have felt as if it was all over, and the last spark of grace had gone out; but when the Lord visits his people, he makes the wilderness and the solitary place to rejoice, and the desert to blossom as the rose. I do pray it may be such a happy hour to you that the prayer may be fulfilled, “Visit me with thy salvation.” I have great sympathy with those that are cast down. God, the comfort of those that are cast down, comfort you! May he bring you out who are bound with chains; and you solitary ones, may he set you in families! And I do not know a wiser method for you to pursue than incessantly to cry unto him; and let this be the prayer, “Remember me — me — with the favor which thou bearest to thy people: O visit me with thy salvation” (Spurgeon’s sermon “Psalm 106:4 Fine Pleading”).
Here is Revelation 3:20 again:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”
In the context of this Revelation 3:20 passage, “anyone” does not refer to anyone in the world, but to any one of the believers on the other side of the door of the “church.” In other words, a believer needs to grow closer to Christ, needs to grow up in Christ, needs to be in closer communion (“sup”) with Him. The “anyone” on the other side of the door is not a blanket whosoever, blind and naked; he is the whoever who has heard “my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).
The whole controversy revolves round the question: “How does one come to faith in Christ?” How does one come to believe? Back up to John 5:21: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will (John 5:21-23). With regard to unbelievers in Christ, there’s nothing in the Bible about “any searchings of heart, any exercises of conscience, any sense of need, any felt desire after Christ. It is simply Christ, in Divine sufficiency, speaking to spiritually dead souls, empowering them (by sovereign “quickening”) to hear.” A.W. Pink.
Here is Richard Bennett’s comment on the teaching, “Give your life to Jesus and be saved.” (The Invincible Gospel and the Modern Evangelical Lie):
“This teaching is in error for two reasons. First, man in his natural condition is “dead in trespasses and sin.” Sin is what separates a man from God. Only God Himself can bestow forgiveness and eternal life. Eternal life is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:15-18, 6:23). A person does not give anything for a gift. God gives this gift to a person when He places that person in Christ Jesus. With the gift of salvation also comes the gift of faith to believe that this is what God has done (See also John 5:24-25).”
“Second, such phrases as “give your life to Jesus” wrongly presume that a person has some-thing worthy of God to give. Spiritually dead people cannot give anything that will save them from their sins. Because man is dead in sin, Christ Jesus gave His life for the sins of His people, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4). There is no Bible verse that says or teaches that a lost, spiritually dead person gives anything, not even his life, in order to be saved.”
But what about Jesus saying to his listeners, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you?” (Matthew 7:7). Very good. (Human) knocking, asking, preaching, coming, believing are the human means God uses to draw his sheep, to enable them to come to him, where the coming is the effect of the drawing/enabling. And those who come are granted eternal life. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:44).
“Thy will be done” says the Lord’s prayer. This does not mean that although God wants His will to be done, He generally fails – fails because of man’s refusal to allow Him to fulfill His will. “Thy will be done” means (to God!)“Thy will shall be done” (“shall” the strong third-person grammatical form of “will”), and nothing, including man’s will shall prevent it.
 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—  for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28] to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place (They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen)” (Acts 4:28).
“The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand” (Isaiah 14:24).
“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose (Isaiah 46:8-10).
Recall Stott (above):
“He will not force and entry into anybody’s life. He says (verse 18) ‘I counsel you.’ he could issue orders; he is content to give advice. Such are his condescension and humility, and the freedom he has given us.”
But didn’t Jesus say that only after you know the truth, will you be free. How does a dead person know the truth, how does a dead person (to the things of God) have freedom to choose God? (Ephesians 2:1-8)? In contrast to Stott, the Bible says: “I will accomplish my purpose.” (Isaiah 46:10). What is God’s purpose in salvation? What is his counsel in salvation? It is to save, and save perfectly those whom he has drawn into His eternal Life.