We emphasize that man does not become a child by his own decision for the Holy Spirit, new birth and faith are one gift from God. However, when man has received the Spirit that moves him to will and to do God's bidding, man has a free will and should make every effort to follow the Spirit's leading.
As soon as the Holy Spirit has begun His work of regeneration and renewal in us through the Word and holy Sacraments, we can and should cooperate through His power. This cooperation does not come from our fleshly natural powers, but from the new powers and gifts that the Holy Spirit has begun in us. St. Paul says, "working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain" [2 Cor. 6:1]. The converted person does good to such an extent and as long as God by His Holy Spirit rules, guides, and leads him.
* For we are God's fellow workers. (1 Cor. 3:9)
* But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Cor. 15:10)
* God said, "I will make My dwelling among them, and I will be their God." (2 Cor. 6:16)
There is a great difference between baptized and unbaptized people. According to Galatians 3:27, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ," and are made truly regenerate. They now have a freed will. As Christ says, they have been made free again. Therefore, they are able to hear the Word, agree with it and accept it, although in weakness. (paragraphs 65-67)
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.