"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand" (John 10.27-28). For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8.28,29). "Nor any other," not even we whom are saved can change our mind, because our choice was the choice to be saved by grace eternally. "I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Tim. 1.12). If He is able, I am sure He does it.

Question 36: The Will of God vs. the Will of Man in Salvation

Gospel Dialogue, CFP white covers, 106-109, by Watchman Nee

How do you reconcile “nor of the will of man” (John 1.13) with “he that will” (Rev. 22.17) in regard to eternal life?


To this agelong question theologians hold opposite views. Some maintain that our salvation is purely a matter of man’s will, others insist that our salvation is wholly a matter of God’s will. Let us acknowledge, however, that God’s truth often has two sides. If we are not careful we can easily become unbalanced. People usually tend to go to extremes.

Is salvation entirely a matter of man’s will or a matter of God’s will? Actually both wills are involved. Had it not been God’s will to save, no one could be saved. But at the same time God’s will is of no avail if man himself is not willing. God is willing, yet man too must be willing. “How often would I have gathered thy children together”, said the Lord Jesus, “even as a hen gathereth her own brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13.34) This is the two sides of God’s truth. Both must be willing; to have only the one side will not be successful. If we wish to know the truth we must not hold on to only one side. In tempting the Lord Jesus Satan said this to Him: “For it is written”; but the Lord’s answer was this: “Again it is written” (Matt. 4.6,7). True, it is written, but attention should also be paid to the again it is written. It is not adequate to just lay hold of a verse or a few verses and try to prove one side of the truth, for there may be many other verses which will prove the other side of the truth. For example, to say that a Christian once saved is forever saved is to declare but one side of the truth. For at the same time, if a Christian after he is saved should keep on sinning without exercising any repentance, he will most certainly be punished. Though he will not be punished with the second death itself, nevertheless, as the Scripture says, he will “be hurt of the second death” (Rev. 2.11). Let us recognize that this too is truth.

People will ask why on the one hand the Bible says “he that will, let him take the water of life freely” and “whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life”, and on the other hand it says that one’s salvation is predestinated by God? Someone has answered this question quite well. This person’s answer runs something like this: On the outside of the door of heaven there is written the words “Whosoever will may come” (Rev. 22.17) and hence whosoever wills to do so may enter. But upon entering through the door of heaven he looks back and sees written on the inside of the door: “Chosen from before the foundation of the earth” (Eph. 1.4). Such a reply shows the two sides of God’s truth. And our own experience indeed bears this out. At the moment of believing, belief is all which is required. Yet having believed, one reminisces why he is saved whereas many others who are far better than he are not saved. He acknowledges that he is ignorant and cannot explain. He can only say that his salvation is predestinated by God.

Whosoever believes shall be saved. This is the word to unbelievers. But God’s election—God’s predestination—is the word for believers. It will be unwise, if not a grave error, if the word for believers is spoken to unbelievers. Please note, for instance, that it was to the disciples that the Lord asserted: “Ye did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15.16). These words should therefore not be told to unbelievers.

Once a theological student went to see a servant of God, asking: “I find the Bible saying that man’s salvation is predestinated by God. Yet as I am preaching, I look at someone’s face and conclude that God has not predestinated him to be saved. What, then, will happen if I do persuade that one to get saved?” The servant of God wisely answered: “You go and preach. And if you persuade anyone to be saved, then he must have indeed been predestinated by God.”

We ought to realize that the reason why God tells the believers that they are predestinated to be saved is for the purpose of arousing in them a heart of gratitude such as might be expressed by some believer in the following way: “Many are still unsaved; and yet here I am, saved. I can only say that God has chosen me out of the tens of thousands. Hallelujah! I am saved, not because of my merit but because of God himself. I can do nothing but thank and praise Him!”

Hence we may answer that the words in Revelation 22.17 are spoken to unbelievers. And in this way shall the truth be balanced.