All posts by Matthew J. Cochran

Matt Cochran's passion is seeing people's lives transformed by a relationship with Jesus Christ. Having served in the Marine Corps in locations all over the world, Matt easily connects with people. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Christian Studies and a Master's Degree in Discipleship Ministries. Above all else, Matt loves being a dad to Colin, Hank and Amelie.

Conversion

Ordo Salutis

Romans 10:10  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Conversion is both an event and a process.  It occurs, but it continues occurring throughout the life of a Christian.  It had divine action as well as human response.  Conversion is a sign of, but not the condition of, our justification.  We have to be given grace in order to repent and be converted.  We can’t obtain our own salvation just through choosing to believe.  The power to believe is given through the grace of God and regeneration takes place before we can have faith.

Of all the aspects to the salvation process, this is the first that requires any action of the person; all work up to this point has been done (mostly in secret) by the Holy Spirit in the heart of the regenerate person.  Now comes the time to respond to the call.  Just to be clear, we must respond but we are not responsible for our own salvation or conversion.  Only after we have had a work done in us by God can we even conceive of making the move to respond.

This is the part you may know as “accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior”.  The important part here is the acceptance of Him as Lord.  An acknowledgement of the need for a Savior is not the same as turning your life over to Christ.  Responding to the call of God with repentance and surrender is the beginning of the life-long process of sanctification.

Regeneration

Ordo Salutis

Ezekiel 36:26  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Have you been born again?  What happened the first time you were born?  Did you have anything to do with it?  When your mother and father conceived you, were you in control of the decision to be born?  What about in your spiritual rebirth?  Did you have any control of the decision to be reborn?

It’s worth viewing the words chosen by the Holy Spirit as He inspired the writers of the Bible as intentional and meaningful.  Even the more metaphorical phrases have deep meaning.  It’s no coincidence that the Bible speaks of someone who is saved as being “born again”.  Just as we couldn’t choose to be born, we can’t choose to be reborn.  God made us alive spiritually by giving us a new life (Ephesians 2:5).  He gives us a new heart.  He gives us the right to be adopted as His children by being born again (John 1:12-13).  It’s a gift, and we had nothing to do with it.  We didn’t earn it and we sure didn’t deserve it.

Regeneration is a secret act of God in which He gives us new spiritual life.  Whereas once the Gospel was foolishness to us (1 Corinthians 1:18), through His work in us it begins to make sense and we are drawn to it (Romans 1:16).  This is because we have been given a new understanding and a new heart that longs for God.  Regeneration brings us from spiritual death to life.  Now we have the ability to possess the saving faith required to respond to the Gospel by accepting Christ.  This is all a gift of God as He pours out His grace on us.

Effectual Call

Ordo Salutis

Romans 8:30  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

How does God call one to a saving faith in Jesus?  What is our part in this?  How do we know when we’ve received an effectual call?

God uses two key things to call people to Himself:  The Holy Spirit works in the person and the Gospel is proclaimed.  We use terminology to describe what we’re feeling when the Holy Spirit is working in us like “tugging at our heart” or “stirring our soul”.  Things like this are just our human way of describing what we know to be true; that the Holy Spirit is doing something.  We might not know what is happening inside of us, but we feel the need to respond to it.  Then we hear the Gospel.

A clear presentation of the Gospel will leave us with an understanding that we’re sinners and that we need a Savior, that the penalties for our sin is death, and that Jesus Christ died to pay that penalty.  Hearing this news proclaimed, paired with the work of the Holy Spirit to make us understand it, we can then respond in repentance and faith.  Those two things must be present.  God has to have initiated a calling within us for the possibility of faith to even exist, and we need to hear the Gospel (Romans 10:14) in order to respond to it.  Then, we can be saved.

Election

Ordo Salutis

Romans 8:29  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

“How can I know I’m saved?”  The first way to answer that would be to ask if you’re a changed person.  Are you becoming more like Jesus?  Would you say you’re being conformed into His image through the changing of your character? Assess your answers to those questions and reflect on what you “did” to be saved.  At what point in time did it happen?  In what order did it happen?

Most of us don’t think about an order of salvation much at all.  We just think, “I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior…I’m saved” and then we move on.  But when we take a deeper look at the theology of salvation and what God’s work in us is before we’re even aware of it, the more we can really appreciate the grace we’ve received.

If you’ve been saved, it means you’ve been called, for no one can come to Jesus that has not been drawn to Him by the Father (John 6:44).  Now, whether or not everyone receives this call or whether God chooses only certain people can be a debate for another day, but the biblical truth is that no one can reach out to God in faith on their own.  He plants the seed of faith in us to even believe the Gospel.  We can’t even have that faith until He gives it to us as a gift.  His grace goes beyond what we even realize.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

1 Corinthians 10:31  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

What is the meaning of life?  It’s a question that’s been asked throughout the ages.  What am I here for?  Why did God make me?  These questions will be asked for many ages to come, yet the answers are right before us.  They aren’t hidden from us.  Within God’s Word is the meaning of life.

Many attempts have been made, many guesses at the meaning of life.  From the simple yet naïve “Happiness” to the more discerning “helping others”, we’ve tried to figure it all out.  But we need not guess.  God did not leave this question open-ended.  He spoke and we should listen.

We’re told repeatedly in the Bible that all things were made by God and for God (Colossians 1:16, Romans 11:36).  This includes us.  You and I were made by God for God’s glory.  We’re made in His image! (Genesis 1:27)  I love how Psalm 8 describes God’s creation and our relationship to it. Salvation comes from Him and Him alone.  Not one of us is worthy of one bit of the glory. We are the created but He is the Creator, the Sanctifier, the Redeemer, the Savior.

None of this is by accident, none of it coincidence.  We’re all created with a purpose and that purpose is God’s.  We’re here for Him.  So what do we do?  Live like it!  Whatever we do: when we work, when we play, when we create, when we marry…when we die…  We can do it all for the glory of our God.

 

Solus Christus

I Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

Many and varied are the ways that man tries to get closer to God.  New religions spring up all the time, each seeking to find the right way to become whole.  Hundreds of self-help books are shelved at each book store, none quite adequately fulfilling our quest.  None quite bringing us into that place where we stand in right relationship with our Creator.

It’s sad that we spend so much time searching when the answer our souls seek has already been given.  We don’t attain enlightenment by searching within ourselves.  We don’t achieve entrance into heaven through doing enough good deeds.  There is one way to God and He is Christ Jesus.  He is our Savior, our King, our friend. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36) and not one thing was created that was not created by Him (John 1:3). He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and only He qualifies to mediate between God and man (John 14:6).We can try to fix ourselves, try to gain knowledge, or try to work our way to righteousness, but in the end it’s all in vain.  Only Christ can save us.  Only He can set us free (John 8:32).

 

Sola Gratia

Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Some ask how a loving God could allow anyone to go to hell.  Perhaps this is the wrong question though.  A better question is how a just God could allow any of us to go to heaven.  Even at our best, we still fail to live up to God’s standard for “good”.  Our very best attempts at righteousness are just filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  This is true of every one of us.  The question then is not how God can send some of us to hell but how He can allow even one of us to enter into fellowship with Him.

Two words come to mind: love and grace.  God is all-knowing.  It was not a surprise to Him that man would fall short of the plan.  But even in spite of this, God created a way.  Through His Son we can know Him.  By His grace we have been delivered.  Only someone who is full of love could even conceive of forgiving His enemies and allowing them a place that only friends deserve.

God does not send people to hell, we’re all headed there on our own from birth.  Our loving God provides a way out, a way to Him.  We can never earn this.  It’s by grace alone.

 

Sola Scriptura

John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Bible, God’s Holy Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105).  It is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). The Word is from God to man; His will, His plan, His love, all contained between those two covers.  It is not merely words on pages.

The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believers (Romans 1:16).  It is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit (Hebrews 4:12).  Within the Scriptures are the words of life.  Apart from God and His Word, there is no life.

Jesus said if we abide in His Word we are truly His disciples.  By it we will know the truth and the truth shall set us free (John 8:31-32).  Apart from God there is no truth, for He is truth. There is no greater way to know the will of God than to know His Word.

God’s Word stands alone.  It is divinely inspired, containing no error.  All of the self-help books in the world could never compare to the Book that tells us we can’t help ourselves and offers hope to all mankind.

 

Sola Fide

Romans 3:28  For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

There was, even in the time of the first century church, controversy surrounding the subject of whether one is justified through faith alone or whether that is not sufficient on its own.  Many Christians of Jewish heritage believed that one must first become a Jew (come under the Jewish laws) before becoming a legitimate Christian.  Today we have similar sects within the church that believe justification comes though a combination of faith and works.

There is no biblical support for this view.  To the contrary, the Bible tells us that Jesus died once and for all (Romans 6:10).  To add requirements for salvation is to cheapen the cross.  James’ argument in the New Testament (James 2:14-26) is not that works are a requirement for salvation but rather that salvation through faith in Christ results in good works.

The bad news is that there is nothing you or I can do to get into a right relationship with God.  The good news is that because of Christ Jesus we don’t have to earn our way into God’s favor.  Justification is found through faith in Christ alone.  This is a wondrous, glorious truth.  God loves us so much that He sent His Son because He knew that otherwise we could never be good enough (Romans 5:8). We just need to put our faith in Him.  What an awesome God we serve!

 

GROW

Ephesians 4:14-15  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

What is the goal that a disciple should aim for?  There are many things we need to do, and much that God has already done, but what are we striving for in the end?  What does God want from us?

To boil it all down into one simple thought:  God wants us to grow to be more like Jesus.  He wants this so that we can fulfill His purposes for us.  He created us with intent and He wants us to live up to that.  He made us alive in Christ and He wants us to use that life for Him.

But in order to do what God wants from us, we’ve got to move beyond just being saved sinners.  We’ve got to solidify ourselves with sound doctrine so we don’t believe every little thing we hear.  We’ve got to learn God’s character so that we know His will.  We’ve got to grow in fellowship with Him and grow in our faith.

In a disciple’s life, stagnation is not an option.  We were chosen for holiness, even before the foundation of the world.  We have been given lives to live on purpose, for God’s glory.

Go to God daily in Prayer

Read the Word every day

Obey God moment by moment

Witness for Christ