Will Not and Cannot


Elder Mark Green


Brother Cayce quoted, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life," to prove his doctrine as if it were: "ye cannot." The language clearly refutes the doctrine, because the language is, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life," not, "Ye cannot " I insist that this, "Ye will not," is the difficulty, and the whole difficulty. The reason that sinners, those that are passed by, are not saved by our Redeemer is because "they will not," not because they cannot come. The language implies they could if they would and this is in harmony with the facts and with the teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ [F. B. Srygley, a Campbellite minister, from his debate with Elder C. H. Cayce in 1911]

If Mr. Srygley wanted to have, "Ye will not," as the whole difficulty, then we would be glad to let him. We would ask him the question, "Why will they not?" Some men, the Savior said, will not come to Christ seeking salvation. Why won't they? There must be a reason. The reason they do not is because they do not desire it and do not feel to need it. Those who desire it, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, are in a blessed condition, the Savior said. He did not say they would begin to be in a blessed condition IF they would hunger and thirst: but the fact that they did hunger for righteousness gave evidence of that blessed condition. The hungering and thirsting indicated a soul that felt its unworthiness, a soul that already had been tendered by the grace of God. Those whom Christ said would not come would not because of the enmity that was in their heart toward Christ and the self-righteousness which possessed them.

Mr. S. says that the reason that sinners are not saved by Jesus is because they will not be saved, not because they cannot. We suppose that he was of the opinion that Jesus desired or willed the salvation of such individuals, but He was not able to save them because they would not come. Their will was more powerful than Jesus' will. Why was not Jesus able to make them willing? It certainly appeared that He was able to do so in the cases of Saul of Tarsus and the thief on the cross. Is the power that was exercised by the Lord in their cases different than what is engaged in "run-of-the-mill" cases like ours? If the voice of the Son of God is powerful enough to raise those dead in the graves, is it not able also to raise the dead in sin? Our Lord said that He was able to do that in John Chapter Five. The same voice accomplishes both things.

Mr. Srygley says that the reason sinners are not saved "is because they will not, not because they cannot come." I beg to differ! "No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." There it is: without the drawing power of the Spirit of God a man cannot come, despite all that Arminians might say. They might answer that the sinner can resist the pull of the Father. We would then reply that the text does not say "pull," but it says "draw." I can pull on a bulldozer, but I cannot draw a bulldozer, because I am not powerful enough to do so. God, however, is indeed powerful enough to draw the soul of a poor sinner out of a death in sin. Indeed, the Scriptures use the word "translate" to describe that action. God takes us up, out of death in sin, and sets us down in eternal life.

The reason Jesus does not save a man is either because He cannot save them or He will not save them. The Bible declares that He is "mighty to save," so I am forced to believe that God does not save some sinners because He does not choose to save them. He does them no injustice, but leaves them right where they are in sin to their own just condemnation.