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.
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.
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).
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.
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,t as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
How can I lead someone to Christ through my witness? It’s intimidating to think about someone’s salvation hinging on whether or not they submit to Christ based on our testimony about Him. But when we focus on our part of it, we lose sight of the fact that it’s not up to us to convert souls. Our job is to witness for Christ, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit to get people to respond. We’re not ultimately responsible for the decision made.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power for salvation. It’s not in what we say, it’s in the power God has given through the work of Jesus on the cross that people are saved. Sometimes even if we mess up the message completely, a person will still respond to the gospel. It’s that powerful.
But we’re not off the hook in the work that needs to be done. Yes, salvation is found in the gospel and a person’s response to it, but they won’t hear the truth if we don’t present it. They can’t respond to the Good News if it isn’t delivered. Our lives are lived as a witness and our testimony is given so that people may know the gospel and all it means for their lives. The gospel is the power, but we’re the conduit by which that power gets plugged into souls.