Romans 8:28 - 30
ESV - 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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.
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Salvation is, in essence, deliverance. We are delivered from sin and death, we are delivered unto righteousness and eternal life. It was God who planned this salvation, and God who entirely accomplished this salvation through Christ. It is God who revealed this salvation to man through Christ, offered salvation through faith in Christ, and God who fulfills all the promises this salvation brings. What then, of man? We can do no work to earn salvation, nor would we have recognized our need without God revealing it to us, nor do we even in part save ourselves. Yet God has set one gracious condition for man to be granted salvation: have faith! This is no action or dead work of man, but our belief in response to the gospel. It is our acknowledgement of our sin, our belief that Jesus has come as Messiah to save us, our dying with Christ to self and rising with Christ to put on His righteousness. God set the plan of salvation up in such a way that we must do 'the work that God requires' and believe in Jesus Christ. (John 6:28-29) Only those who believe in Jesus will receive eternal life. (John 1:12, John 3:16) If one viewed salvation as a stage play, then we humans play the part of the people needing rescue (fallen humanity). As individuals of faith we play the part of recognizing the need for rescue (acknowledging our sin, needing help, crying out to God), and accepting rescue (faith) rather than rejecting it. The one playing the part of 'accomplishing' salvation would be Christ. The one playing the part of creating the plan for salvation would be God. The one playing the part of sending Christ to die for us would be God the Father. The one giving grace and offering pardon would be God. God would be the one offering reconciliation through Christ. The Holy Spirit would play the part of the 'downpayment' of God's promises that He gives to those with faith to show He will grant them an inheritance of eternal life in future. The Holy Spirit also would play the seal, guaranteeing that God will fulfill the terms of the covenant, and legally guarding the covenant contract from any outside interference. As for the sequence: 1) God creates the plan of salvation through Christ 2) God creates man 3) Man rebels 4) God promises man a redeemer 5) Some men have faith the redeemer will come 6) The redeemer is revealed (Christ) 7) Christ dies and rises again, offering forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation by His blood 8) The gospel of Christ spreads 9) Some respond to the gospel in faith 10) God gives believers the Holy Spirit 11) Christ returns at the Second coming 12) Believers are resurrected with spiritual bodies and given eternal life as God's adopted sons See also: https://ebible.com/questions/3273-how-are-predestination-and-election-connected-with-foreknowledge https://ebible.com/questions/12111-what-is-predestined-referring-to-in-ephesians-1#answer-19101 https://ebible.com/questions/15669-what-does-it-mean-that-it-is-by-grace-we-have-been-saved-through-faith-and-that-this-is-not-of-ourselves-but-is-the-gift-of-god#answer-24715 https://ebible.com/questions/3317-how-does-god-s-sovereignty-work-together-with-free-will#answer-17091 https://ebible.com/answers/22568 [Is human will capable of choosing or rejecting Jesus] https://ebible.com/questions/6750-how-do-christians-make-their-calling-and-election-certain-2-peter-1-10 https://ebible.com/questions/265-what-is-predestination-is-predestination-biblical#answer-15328 https://ebible.com/questions/7882-is-salvation-created-by-faith-or-is-faith-created-by-salvation#answer-14614 https://ebible.com/questions/72-does-rom-9-mean-god-predestined-some-to-heaven-while-created-others-with-no-chance-of-escaping-hell#answer-20797 https://ebible.com/questions/678-what-does-it-mean-that-jesus-is-the-author-and-perfecter-of-our-faith#answer-20250 https://ebible.com/questions/1528-is-unconditional-election-biblical#answer-17856
Man's part in salvation follows the plan of God for man from the beginning of creation. When man fell from dominion in the garden of Eden God did not cease to love man. He banished man from the garden and gave conditions for survival and relationship with Him. Out of His love for man He designed a plan of salvation for him and predicated it on His own son Jesus. That shows that God knew man from the beginning and chose him for a function, and so even when man derailed God provided another pedestal for reconciliation. The part of man in the salvation plan begins with the desire for reconciliation with God, followed by the efforts to truly repent of his offenses and seeking forgiveness by confessing the offenses. There must also be a firm resolution to forsake all the acts of offense. That signifies justification. The man also has the responsibility of inviting Jesus into his life and asking for divine assistance to work and walk with God. At this stage the man is said to be sanctified, that is saperated and set aside for use by God and such a one is said to be born again and as he continues to obey and please God, he is humbled by the sacrifice of Jesus and made fit for indwelling of the Holy Ghost. It is the Holy Ghost in the born again Christian that helps him to continue in holiness to work and walk with and for God. That is one of the most important part of man in salvation. No wonder the bible says that "we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling". With the Holy spirit in man, he is better able to overcome temptation, exercise his faith and perform all the injuctions statutes of God without much struggling. So you see man must acknowledge his sins, repent of them, confess them and forsake all of them. Then he must consciously work hard to live holy and do God's will and work, especially winning souls.
The following is clear: From John 3:3 - No one can see the Kingdom unless they are what? Unless they are born again first. What does "born again" mean? It means to be given new life. Ezekiel 36:26 says that God needs to take out our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh. Ephesians 2:1-5 says we were dead and were "made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved." John 15:5 says that apart from Christ we can do no thing. 1st Cor 2:14 says the natural man cannot understand the things of God. In John 8:43 Jesus says to the unbelieving Jews that they do not believe Him because they cannot bear to hear to hear his word. (note that it does not say they cannot bear to hear because they do not believe.) They cannot hear the word. (John 8:47) In John 10:26 Jesus says they do not believe because they are not among His sheep. (note that it does not say they are not His sheep because they do not believe.) Romans 3:10-11 says that no one understands or seeks God. John 14:13 says that the world cannot receive the Spirit because it doesn't see or know Him. Jude 17 says the same thing. Summary: An unsaved person is dead, dead, dead. They cannot see, hear, receive, understand, seek, etc... Christ. They are dead. They are not His sheep. An unsaved person cannot be saved unless and until something happens first. They must be born again, which brings us back to John 3:3. To be born again means to get that new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). The theological term for being born again is regeneration. Therefore, regeneration comes first. At that point a person, under the influence of the Holy Spirit can begin to understand the word of God. Acts 16:14 gives an example of this. Lydia's heart was opened so that she would pay attention and understand what Paul was preaching. Most of the church reformers - Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and others believed in this order of salvation: "Regeneration precedes Faith." and that Faith is, itself, a gift from God. (Eph 2:8) Eph 2:9 is also important because it says that "works", or anything we do, does not contribute to our salvation. At that point of spiritual conception we begin to mature, develop, and understand the things of God. We then want to follow Him, just like a baby wants to live. This is called "grace" which really is "unmerited favor". Again, it is something we do not deserve because we were dead. Nothing we had done caused God to favor us with this gift of new life. That all of this is God's work is supported by Phil 1:29; Jm 1:18; Jn 15:16; Mat 11:27 and other verses. Now obviously, we need to mature in this gift of new life. We will want to do so. (Philp 2:12). We need to use that new faith and depend on it. We will want to learn about Jesus and God. Each Christian (saved person) grows from spiritual infancy at different rates. Maturing is our part of the process. But even then, in that process, the Spirit helps us through helping us understand the Bible, and helping us seek the fellowship of other believers, etc. I will comment briefly on the passage under the original question of this topic... Romans 8:29-30 is called by many theologians the "Golden Chain of Salvation." First we are Foreknown and Predestined to be His. (Comments on these terms can be found elsewhere on this site.) Those who are predestined (which implies all of those predestined) are called. Those who are called are Justified, and those who are Justified and Sanctified. It's all God. These are great terms for discussion (not here), but the order is sure.
According to Scripture, the new birth is just the start. Getting saved is an ongoing process. "One believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved” (Rom. 10:10)." Jesus talks about entering the narrow gate and walking a difficult road: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. But narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). Also, Paul tells us to: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12b-13). We often hear that getting saved is all grace and no works and that we don’t have a blessed thing to do with our salvation: “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). When it says "not of works," people think that means "anything" we do. But that’s not it at all. There are "the works of the law,” and then there are the "works of obedience." In this case, it’s talking about "the works of the law." But there is a work God requires - to believe on the one He has sent! (John 6:28-29). The Bible lists at least six things every sinner must do in order to be saved—which are "the works of obedience” (James 2:14-23); we might call them the 'work' of faith, though faith is in every way contrasted with dead works of man. 1) First of all, a sinner has to "admit" he’s a sinner. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). You have to recognize you're lost sinner in need of salvation. Mere belief that Jesus is a Saviour, but not for you, would do nothing. 2) A second prerequisite is belief or faith. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Without faith it’s impossible to be saved. 3) A third prerequisite is to confess: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9-10). This may not be literally verbal, but is confessing Christ before men. 4) Another requirement that’s often overlooked is "coming to Christ." Jesus promised: “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). If we don’t come to Him, how can He ever save us? If we believe, like the demons, that Jesus is Saviour, but don't actually come, then we are still dead in sin. 5) We not only need to come to Jesus, we also need to "receive" Him: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). 6) We must continue to walk by the spirit and abide in that faith. Many people don’t like to hear the word “obedience,” but it’s an absolute necessity! Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt 7:21). There are a couple of others that theologians often overlook: "holy living" and "endurance": “Without holiness no man will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14), and “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13). “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). This obedience is not any specific required work, but rather consists of our growing in our relationship with Christ (II Pet 1:3-11). According to the Apostle Paul, salvation is a process being worked out in the lives of believers: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:9-10). “It is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11). A basic definition of "salvation" could be: 'A process which starts when one first gives his heart to the Lord in faith, and continues until he is granted eternal life at the judgement.'
I believe there is a scriptural story that resonates the part we play in the salvation process. Everyone knows the story but some miss the sequence of what occurred. I am speaking of the thief on the cross. As the story goes, one thief recognizes Jesus as a righteous man, and somehow is shown He does not deserve this punishment. He even goes so far as to recognize that fear in God is a factor in not mocking Jesus. Perhaps the thief had seen Jesus healing or perhaps teaching, never the less, He identified that Jesus was an innocent man not worthy of crucifixion. The thief does however acknowledge his own guilt, and that death is a just punishment for his deeds. Next of course, the thief asks Jesus to remember him. More specifically he asks to remember him when Jesus enters His kingdom. The response that Jesus gave him should echo in our brains," you will be with me in paradise." So surely this man was saved.....Surely this is a lesson of redemption and certainly a clarity to the ease by which our Savior made salvation accessible in even the worst of situations. The thief on the cross will be in paradise because of the condition of his heart. The thief first acknowledged Jesus as a King and innocent of accusation. Next he acknowledges his deserved death for his deeds. Then, and only after admission of guilt and proclaiming Jesus as King, he spoke outwardly, "remember me...." Simply put, acknowledge a fear for God, praise His guilt-free name, admit our sinful life, and then, simply ask to be remembered. Salvation was just that simple because our Lord came to save us, not to forsake us. I love this story as salvation came to a condemned man. It proves that salvation is the end to the means and that Jesus is willing to save us. The means by which we are saved are in the control of the Creator, but the decision to receive salvation lay solely on us. A free gift is never forced when it is truly free. Dean Donahue, Show Low, Arizona
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