Can a sinner come to God independent of God's calling? Those who say "yes" will point to passages such as Acts 10:1-2; Deut. 4:29; Psa. 34:10; Isa. 55:6; Acts 15:17 et. al. No serious Bible student should disagree that men can seek God; even unregenerate sinners. I'm very upfront about my convictions. This is not an impartial post. I hold to the doctrines of grace and believe that regeneration precedes justification. But this thread has to do with whether unregenerate sinners can seek God on their own, i.e. without God first prevailing upon their heart through the person of the Holy Spirit. I believe the scriptural answer to that question is, "no." God must first act before man will seek Him. The story of Cornelius in Acts 10 is one of my favorites in all the Bible. The story begins thus: Acts 10:1-2 Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. Cornelius' knowledge of God was based on Jewish custom at the time. He had not yet heard the Gospel, which would be proclaimed to Him later by Peter (vs. 34-48). If we are to accept the opinion that Cornelius was unsaved until he believed the Gospel message, are we to also conclude that he had sought God on His own without any preemptive act of God? The day after Cornelius prayed, Peter was receiving a vision from God: Acts 10:9-17 9 On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat!" 14 But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean." 15 Again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." 16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky. 17 Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be... Here we see two separate incidents, yet both are obviously connected within the context of scripture. As the story continues Peter went to Cornelius' house, preached the Gospel, and Cornelius and his household believed. Peter's response to this whole affair is telling: Acts 10:34 34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality... Peter recognized that God was at work here. Neither he nor Cornelius were on their own. God was calling. In the next chapter this obvious work of God was told to the Apostles and brethren in Judea: Acts 11:1 Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. And later, this same group realized that the purpose of God's calling of Cornelius, and Peter's preaching, was to inaugurate the Gospel going forth to the Gentiles: Acts 11:18 18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life." If we're to assume that Cornelius sought God independently, then must we not also assume that his seeking after God was the impetus for the Gospel going forth to the Gentiles and God simply took advantage of the situation? So, what do we make of scenarios in scripture that seem to indicate that a person can come to God independent of His calling? Well, we must balance such responses with what scripture clearly teaches. The Bible says: The above two verses establish man's total depravity; that man is completely fallen in all his faculties. These two verses establish the fact of man's total inability. Not only does man not seek God, man is incapable of seeking God on his own. In order for man to seek God, God must take unilateral action. In other words, He must act first. The condition of man prior to being saved is one of spiritual death. While the body may be alive, the soul of man is in a state of spiritual death. Left to his own devices that state will continue unabated for there is nothing within man (as we have seen in 1 Corinthians 2 and Romans 8) that would cause him to seek God. It's God who must first take action, and that is precisely what God does for those whom He calls: Note that Ephesians 2:4 doesn't start off with, "But man..."; it starts off with, "But God..." Paul already made the point that the spiritual state of man prior to salvation is death. According to the pirate mantra, "Dead men tell no tales." It's true. Dead men are, well, dead; in this case spiritually dead, and therefore incapable of a positive response towards God. It is God who took the initiative in verse 4. God is the one who made the former Ephesian sinners alive. How does regeneration fit into the picture? One of the arguments against regeneration is that there's not a verse in the Bible that says man must be regenerate prior to justification. That's a hollow argument. The Trinity is also not stated in simple terms, but we believe it because of the preponderance of the evidence. A priori regeneration (before salvation) is God enlightening the mind/heart to receive the things of the Spirit of God. In other words God makes man capable of receiving the Word of God. If God did not do so then man would have no desire and no ability in respect to receiving the Word. Another thing, not everyone who seeks God is actually seeking God. Some people, still dead in their trespasses and sin, are seeking some type of spiritual plug to fill their spiritual void, but they are not all seeking God honestly. Those who are honestly seeking God are those whom God is calling, who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit.