I was on the “N” train again today. I looked into the eyes of another Chinese man, asking myself this time, How does a sinner believe? How does one dead in trespasses and sin come to life? Does regeneration precede faith? Is it possible, as I look into the eyes of the Chinese man, that he has already been or will be made alive by the Spirit because he is one sovereignly chosen by God?
Or is it possible that his deadness means that no spiritual life is present and never can be possible because he may be one who is not part of God’s plan? Perhaps he is not one of God’s elect. Perhaps all of the prayer and preaching on his behalf can never have any influence in his coming to life.
Or does his deadness simply describe the absence of spiritual life and his alienation from God without erasing the possibility that he may live again? Is there a mystery, irresolvable to the human mind, regarding God’s knowledge and plan in relationship to human response?
Perhaps the answer to whether this Chinese man can believe or why I believed and my neighbor didn’t is not as clear-cut as “one was predestined to believe (Calvinism) or one chose on his own accord not to believe (Arminianism).”