Free Will and Conversion

We believe that we have no free will in spiritual matters.  As sinners, there is no power in us by which we can come to Jesus or choose Him as our Lord and Savior.  Rather, we are brought to faith in Christ and kept in that faith only and completely by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:1-6, Colossians 2:13)

Our churches teach that a person’s will has some freedom to choose civil righteousness and to do things subject to reason.  It has no power, without the Holy Spirit, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness.  For “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14).  This righteousness is worked in the heart when the Holy Spirit is received through the Word. …  (Augsburg Confession: Article 18)

I believe that I cannot by my own reason of strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; just as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.  In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives me and all believers all our sins; and at the last day He will raise up me and all the dead, and will grant me and all believers in Christ eternally life.  This is most certainly true.  (Small Catechism: Explanation of the 3rd Article of the Creed)