Do People, by Nature, Have a Free Will to Come to Christ?
Does any person, by nature, have a free will to come to faith in Jesus Christ? No. The Bible declares that we were all held captive by our corruptions, Satan and the world. That is why Paul prays for unbelievers, "…if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” Now if we were held captive to do someone else’s will then it is clear that our will was not free, and according to the above passage, freedom comes to an individual only when God grants it. Likewise when Jesus promises freedom to the captives to sin, He says, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) And again, in like manner Paul declares that "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' apart form the Holy Spirit." (1 Cor 12:3) We would only do ourselves harm if left to our own boasted free will.
Notice the word "perhaps" before praying for God to grant them repentance. This clearly reveals that in Paul's mind, God did not do so for everyone. This granting of repentance was only for those the Father has "given" the Son (John 6 & 17) Likewise Jesus does not say "when the Son sets you free" but rather "IF the Son sets you free..."