This is exactly what Paul registers when he says that “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God … nor can he know them” (1 Cor. 2:14). Without the power of God in human life, man not only does not come to Christ, he cannot come to Christ.
Precisely for these reasons, the whole notion of conditional election is an absurdity. It requires us to believe that men who are spiritually dead can make spiritual decisions, that they can choose Christ by their own volition, and that they can have faith in Jesus. The glory of election lies precisely in the fact that those whom God ordained to eternal life are made willing by His power (Ps. 110:3a, KJV) to come to Christ, their faith in Him the result, not the cause or condition, of God’s divine decree. It is those whom the Father gives to the Son who come to Him (John 6:37).
Perhaps these three points are not enough to convince you. Let me give two final points that demonstrate the failure of this doctrine to conform to Scripture.
Fourth: It fails to appreciate the close relationship between election and grace.
When men reject Jesus, they do so willingly and freely, because of the power of sin in their lives. When men accept Jesus, they do so willingly and freely, because of the power of grace in their lives. And that grace is of the essence of election. In Romans 11:5, it is because of “the election of grace” that a “remnant” serves Christ. Grace lies behind election, is at the heart of election, and is praised in election (Eph. 1:5–6). God’s sovereign, electing decree flows out of His unmerited love and undeserved favor.
The moment we make such a decree conditional, we rob salvation of grace. We make it dependent on our works, and “if it is of works, it is no longer grace” (Rom. 11:6). The faith that saves is itself the gift of God (Eph. 2:8). God commands us to believe and gives us the grace to believe! Election humbles us and causes us to marvel, because it shows us with abundant clarity that our salvation has God, and not ourselves, as its cause. Grace, not foreknowledge, is the spring out of which election flows.
Finally: Conditional election robs God of His sovereignty.
God created the world so that He might rule over it in love and grace. Man was designed to honor, fear, and serve the Creator. Instead, man rebelled against God and set himself up as master of his own life and creator of his own destiny. But in sovereign, electing love, God provided a salvation and a Savior. He remains sovereign at every point of the salvation process and throughout redemptive history, preparing the world for Christ, offering Christ up as a sacrifice, drawing men by the Spirit to follow and serve the Lord, and working in us the willing and the doing of His pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
On the other hand, conditional election means that God’s sovereignty is not absolute; it is compromised from the beginning, because it is dependent on the will and choice of man. But if God is not absolutely sovereign in salvation, He is not sovereign anywhere. All things work together for our good, under God’s almighty hand, because He is the electing, purpose-driven God of salvation. Creation and providence are His servants in the execution of that purpose. Take away God’s absolute supremacy in election and you have removed the moral foundation of the whole universe. All of grace!