I’ve heard all sorts of analogies of how one is saved. For instance, sometimes people will say “We are drowning; God throws us a life preserver, but it is up to us to reach out and grab it.” I find this particular analogy utterly wanting. It does not line up with Scripture. The Bible does not say we are drowning; it says we are dead. Dead men cannot reach out and grab a life preserver. The only thing dead people can do is rot.
A Biblical Analogy of Salvation:
A more biblical analogy would be of an open grave. This grave was dug out by the hands of our father, and we fell in, and in so doing, our eyes were violently rent, our eardrums gored with debris; our necks were crushed by the fall, and we died. Adam’s sin as well as our own covers us in the form of six feet of solid earth. Nothing is able to penetrate this hard dirt except for the worms which feast upon our rotting corpses. The Son of God has the only tool capable or necessary for lifting off the tons of earth that weigh upon us and crush our bones to powder. By His cross and resurrection, Jesus takes away our dirt, lifts us out of our tomb; and in His mercy, He speaks life into our dead bones and says “Live!” It is at that moment that our eyesight is restored; our hearing returns to us; sinews cover our dry bones and our bodies are able to move. Seeing the beauty of the Son of God for the first time and hearing His voice causes us to run to Him willingly and cling to Him for our lives. ...Sadly though, in time many of us begin to think we somehow helped pull ourselves out of our tombs, as if the faith we have were not also God’s gift to us, and forgetting that it was entirely an act of God’s grace toward us that saved us from the grave. But then there are many as well who press forward to give all the credit of their salvation to God alone. Some of these are ridiculed by their fellows by calling them "know-it-alls", “prideful”, “arrogant” and the like. But no matter what is said, these will not flinch in their conviction. They set their faces like flint, pointing to Jesus as the Alpha and Omega of their salvation, the Author and Perfecter of their faith, because they have not forgotten their former days when they were but dust into whom God spoke life.
Lazarus could have patted himself on the back and said “I walked out of the tomb myself (by God’s grace, but I did it myself). I’m the one who stood up and walked to my Lord! But of course, Lazarus would be forgetting that he was previously a dead man, and Jesus made him alive before he could do anything. I think this is the same mistake many non-Calvinists make. They forget they were once dead; God made them alive, making it possible for them to believe, possible for them to repent, possible for them to turn and walk willingly to Christ.
Spiritual death is a reality, not just an analogy. It is a certainty if we are to take Scripture seriously. If fallen people are not dead, then right from the beginning the serpent was right and God was the liar. (Gen. 2:17)
Unbelievers are incapable of submitting to God’s Laws (Rom. 8:7). They are incapable of comprehending or accepting the things of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14). They are incapable of coming to Christ (John 6:44, 65). They are incapable of seeking God (Rom. 3:11). Period. Repentance must be granted to them (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25). Faith in Christ must also be granted to them (Phil. 1:29). Unbelievers can do nothing Godward. They are blind to the things of God (John 3:3), deaf to His voice (Matt. 13:15; John 5:25). Their hearts are entirely deceitful (Jer. 17:9). Every thought they have is only evil (Gen. 6:5). The Bible paints an ugly picture of our fallen race (Rom. 3:10-19). Of themselves, they are utterly without hope (Eph 2:12; Matt. 19:25-26). In short, it takes much more than simple prodding for an unbeliever to turn to Christ. It takes resurrection from the dead! (John 5:25; Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13)
The dead must be brought to life in order to repent and believe. Paul tells us that God does a work in us so powerful in order for us to believe upon Him; it is equal in power to raising Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:17-20). And Regeneration (AKA: Being born again) is something completely of God; something we are completely neutral in. We see our passivity in regeneration, for instance, when John 1:13 assures us that our human wills did not play any part in our being born again. God makes us alive. This is the answer to the “why” and to the “how” of our coming to Christ.
As the above demonstrates, God deserves ALL the credit of our salvation, and that is all most Calvinists are trying to do: Give God the credit and glory for our salvation which He alone deserves. And I want to add that I know there are many non-Calvinists sincerely trying to do this too. Is Calvinism flawless? I wouldn’t go that far. Is it the best Christians have come up with in a faithful attempt at understanding God and His Word? Humbly, I would say "Yes."