Understanding Theology - Lesson 8


This lesson is an overview of the doctrine and process of salvation, beginning with election and then discussing calling, regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and, finally, the glorification of the believer.

Bruce Ware
Understanding Theology
Lesson 8
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I. Election

A. Scriptural Teaching

1. Election in the Old Testament

2. Election in the New Testament

B. The Arminian Approach: Conditional Election

C. The Calvinist Approach: Unconditional Election

II. Calling

A. The General Call

B. The Special or Effectual Call

III. Regeneration

A. The Nature of Regeneration

B. The Timing of Regeneration

IV. Conversion

A. Faith

B. Repentance

V. Justification

A. The Method of Justification

B. The Results of Justification

VI. Adoption

A. The Nature of Adoption

B. Key Verses

VII. Sanctification

A. Believers as Already “Holy:” Positional Sanctification

B. Believers as Continually Made “Holy:” Progressive Sanctification

VIII. Perseverance

A. An Arminian View of Perseverance

B. A Calvinist View of Perseverance

IX. Glorification

A. Definition

B. Key Verses

Class Resources
  • Studying systematic theology in this 10-hour course will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the doctrines of the Christian faith, from God and Christ to sin, salvation, the church, and the last things. By exploring these doctrines, you will strengthen your faith, gain hope and courage, and deepen your knowledge of God's character, work, and purposes. This course is liberating and will provide you with the truth that sets you free to live in the light of God's promises.
  • This is the first of ten lectures on Systematic Theology, a survey of the whole corpus of theology, and each lecture will be one hour long and each covering a separate doctrine or series of doctrines together. In this lesson Dr. Ware introduces the what and why of theology and discusses the foundational doctrines of Revelation and Scripture.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the Doctrine of God proper: why we need to know God, his incommunicable attributes, and those attributes that in some sense are communicable to humans.

  • Dr. Ware discusses the biblical basis for monotheism and trinitarianism. He also gives a brief overview of the history of the doctrine and the heresies that arose concerning the Trinity.

  • This lesson is an overview of the doctrines of humanity and sin, including a discussion of the origin of humanity, what it means to be created in the image of God, the nature and effects of sin, and original sin.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the doctrine of the Person of Christ, which includes his pre-incarnate existence, his incarnation, his deity and his humanity. He also discusses the important Christological passage of Philippians 2:6-8 and what does it mean that Christ “emptied” himself. Dr. Ware concludes this lesson with a discussion of the Council of Chalcedon.

  • Dr. Ware discusses the past (Atoning Savior), present (Mediator and Lord) and future (Coming Judge and Reigning King) work of Christ.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the person of the Holy Spirit, both his personhood and his deity. He also covers the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, in the life of Jesus, and in the church.

  • This lesson is an overview of the doctrine and process of salvation, beginning with election and then discussing calling, regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and, finally, the glorification of the believer.

  • Dr. Ware talks about the church universal and the local church. He discusses the offices of the local church, including the roles of elders and deacons. Dr. Ware also looks at how the church can be organized and what ordinances should be celebrated by a local body of believers.

  • In this final lesson, Dr. Ware gives a rationale for studying eschatology or last things. He discusses what happens to people just after they die and before the return of Christ. He also gives an overview of the various beliefs about the timing and events of the last days. He completes the lesson with a discussion of final judgment, heaven, and hell.

We all have a theology, a set of beliefs, but many are not able to articulate it or really understand it. This class will walk you through a basic evangelical understanding of God and his Word.

Recommended Books

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

We all have a theology, a set of beliefs, but many are not able to articulate them or really understand them. This class will walk you through a basic evangelical...

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

Dr. Bruce Ware
Understanding Theology
Lesson Transcript

We move on now to lecture eight, the Doctrine of Salvation. And if you look at the outline, you'll see a number of points that we'll be looking at beginning with election and ending with glorification. And these are oftentimes referred to as the ordo salutis in Latin, meaning the order of salvation, the order of things that take place by which God saves us completely as we see in the glorification.

This order is really more often a logical sequence of events because many of them happen right at the same moment when we become Christians. But there is a broad chronological order to it insofar as election takes place in eternity past, and glorification will take place in eternity future when Christ comes again, and we are made fully like Christ, resurrected bodies and completely remade in our own inner lives as well to be like Christ. So there's a broad chronological. But for a number of the points in the middle, they really all happen at the same time. And yet, there's a logical order to them. 

So let's think together about these. We begin with the doctrine of election, which takes place in eternity past. Do you remember Paul says in Ephesians 1 verse 3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." So he's announcing he's going to talk about these blessings that God has brought to us in Christ, and he begins with just as he chose us in him, in Christ, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love, he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, to himself to the praise of the glory of His name.

So the first thing that Paul says in terms of why God should be praised, what blessings has God brought to us for which we give praise to him is he chose us. And I just think that's an interesting point to observe right off the bat that the doctrine of election, which for many Christian people ought to be avoided. Let's not talk about it. Let's not go there. Let's stay clear of this, is for Paul, the first thing that comes to his mind, what he thinks why should God be praised? What are the benefits that God has brought to us?

First, he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. So I think in Paul's mind, he thinks about this very differently than we do, and I suspect we would all agree with this. If we think differently than Paul does, then, we're the ones who need to change our thinking, right, not him.

Well, Paul thinks of it this way, that had God not chosen us to be saved, we wouldn't be saved. Had God not chosen us to be in the end holy and blameless, that's really referring to our glorification, we would never make it there, right? We wouldn't be glorified saints, holy, and blameless in the end had God not chosen us before the foundation of the world. So indeed, the choosing of us as God's people indicates God's design for our salvation before he created the world, which is just an astonishing thing to consider together.

So one of the purposes that God had in the creation of the world was to create a people, was to form a people who are his people, his chosen people that he brings into existence and nurtures and grows them up and then glorifies them in the end so that they will be his people forever and ever.

And the doctrine of election really goes back to the Old Testament in forming a people there, that is the people of Israel. So, for example, in Deuteronomy chapter 7:6, we read these words that just resonate with election. God says in verse 6, Deuteronomy 7 verse 6, "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, holy" again, meaning here separated from the other nations. You are my people devoted to me. You are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love on you or choose you because you were more in number than all of the peoples, for you were the fewest. But because the Lord loved you and kept his oath, which he swore to your forefathers, he's brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you. Know therefore that the Lord your God, he is God the faithful God who keeps his covenant with you.”

So indeed, this is the accounting for Israel, being the people of God is not that Israel was out there saying, "God, notice us out here. We want to be your people." No, God came to them. God came to Abraham, Ur of the Chaldees, pagan, worshiper, and picked Abraham to be his people, and through Abraham, Isaac not Ishmael, Jacob not Esau. So you see this line of the people of Israel that are his people chosen by God to be his people from among all the nations of the world.

This is the act of God that makes this happen, this choosing them to be his own people. We see in Isaiah 43, just to give you one other example for the nation of Israel, this beautiful statement of them being the people that God chose as he made them his people. So Isaiah 43 verse 1, we read, "But now, thus says the Lord your creator O Jacob and he who formed you O Israel," notice in those words, he's using words from Genesis 1, create, bara, form yatsar, these terms that are used to indicate God's creation of the world.

But here he's not saying, "I created you when I created the world." That's not the point He's making. He's rather using these terms of creation and applying them to Israel specifically, "I created you. I formed you." And then going on in verse 1, "Do not fear for I have redeemed you." And, of course, He's referring here to the Exodus where He took them out of the bondage to Egypt and demonstrated his love for them and his mercy upon them by delivering them from slavery and taking them into the promised land.

So He created them, formed them, redeemed them. And then, He says at the end of verse 1, "I have called you by name, you are mine." So indeed, names them indicating his love for them and his ownership of them and his jurisdiction over them, and the fact that they are his people by what he has done.

So the Old Testament Israel then is a people formed by God. It has often struck me that Jews Israelites seem not to have had a problem with understanding themselves as the chosen, the chosen people. I have a novel at home that I've read several times written by Chaim Potok on the Hasidic Judaism community in New York City. It's a wonderful novel, really interesting. But the title of it is The Chosen. They seem to have embraced that idea. But for Christians, we too should embrace this. We should not view this as a disturbing doctrine, a troubling doctrine, a divisive doctrine.

We should see it for what it is, such mercy that God would choose us to be His own. We don't deserve it. We would never come on our own. We have hearts that are disinclined to go after God, but he chose us and made us his own people. So we too as Christians are the chosen. 

Let me show you just a few other passages quickly that speak of God's election of us. These in the New Testament, Acts 13:48. Acts 13:48, "As many has had been appointed to eternal life believed." Now we may want to turn that around and think that it says as many as believed were appointed to eternal life. But that's not what it says. It says, "As many has been appointed to eternal life believed." So God's appointing people to life accounts for their believing in Christ when the gospel comes to them. 

Romans 8:29 and 30, "Whom he foreknew, he predestined to be conformed to the image of His son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren whom he predestined he called, whom he called he justified, whom he justified he glorified." So he realized that this whole process that goes from God foreknowing us, which I take it means for-loving, for-favoring that God, for favored us, how is that demonstrated? Whom he favored before they ever existed, he predestined to become conformed to the image of his son, that He's the one who chose them to be like Christ. And then, that's followed up with these other elements of the ordo salutis. He predestined them and called them and whom He called He justified, whom He justified He glorified. So these other elements, the whole package is predicated upon the very beginning of God choosing us to be His own people.

Romans 9:11, Romans 9:11 speaks of God's purpose according to his choice, not because of works but because of him who calls. It is the choice of God. This is in the context of Jacob and Esau. Jacob have I loved. Esau have I hated. And it's because of the choice of God, his purpose for Jacob, not Esau.

Ephesians 1:4 and 5, I've already mentioned to you, so I won't say that again, but clearly, Paul highlights that at the beginning of this section, dealing with the blessings of God that he chose us.

Colossians 3:12, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved put on a heart of compassion and so on. So I mean part of the reason for affirming that we are chosen of God is it helps us understand our identity, who we are. So we should live out a certain way because of our identity as those who are chosen of God, holy and beloved live this way, put on a heart of compassion. So live in a particular way because of who you are, the chosen people of God. Notice also, this is one verse, and it's true in other verses also where the love of God and choosing are tied together. So listen again as those who have been chosen of God, holy and so separated out, that makes sense and beloved, loved by God. So his love is manifest in his choosing. We saw that also in Ephesians 1:5, in love, He predestined us to adoption as sons. 

2 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, "We should always give thanks to God for you because He has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth." So indeed, God is the one who chooses us from the beginning. 1 Thessalonians 1:4, "Knowing brethren, beloved of God, his choice of you." So again, the connection between love and choice, that they are beloved by God and his choice of them.

2 Timothy 2:10, Paul writes, "I endure all these things," and he's talking about his trials and difficulties that he has as an ambassador of Christ, how opposed he was and how he suffered for this. "I endure all these things for the sake of those who are chosen that they may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus and with an eternal glory." I think this is such an important passage, 2 Timothy 2:10, because what it indicates is that Paul obviously believes the doctrine of election. He talks about it quite a bit, and he knows that there are chosen people out there, but that does not result in Paul thinking, "Well, because they're chosen of God, I don't have any responsibility to go and tell them the gospel. If they're chosen, they'll be saved."

Instead, Paul understands that the only way they will be saved is as the chosen hear the gospel. And because they are chosen, they will respond when the gospel comes to them. So rather than thinking that missions and evangelism is negated by the doctrine of election, instead, missions and evangelism is empowered by the doctrine of election. We realize that people must hear the gospel to be saved as Paul makes clear in Romans 10, "Whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved," verse 13, but then verse 14, "But how should they call upon him who they have not believed? How should they believe without a preacher? How should they preach unless they're sent? How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good tidings."

So indeed, people must hear the gospel to be saved. In fact, I sometimes put it this way, notice that Romans 10 follows Romans 9. Profound, right? Well, Romans 9 is heavy teaching on God's sovereignty and predestination and election. Romans 10, "You must hear the gospel to be saved." So these two things go together. They don't conflict with each other. Someone who believes in election knows that as they go out, those who are chosen by God will respond. It gives hope and strength to the missionary calling and gospel proclamation.

Then, finally, 1 Peter 1 verses 1 and 2, Peter writes to those who reside as aliens who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God our Father. We see then that there is a strong biblical basis for the election of God. 

Now, there are different views on how election works, and I want to just talk about this with you briefly. The conditional election position would simply say that God elects people to be saved but conditioned upon his seeing in advance through his foreknowledge. He's seeing in advance their foreseen faith. So God knows that people will put their faith in Christ before he creates the world, and for those who he sees will respond positively to the gospel, he chooses them to be saved. So this is one view. It's held in the Arminian tradition based upon the foreknowledge of God, and they take Romans 8:29 and 1 Peter 1 verse 2 as evidence of that because those refer to foreknowledge.

My own understanding is I think they mistake what foreknowledge means in those passages. It doesn't mean that God looks ahead of time and sees what they're going to do. But rather, it's a foreknowing of them the way Adam knew his wife, Eve. It's that idea of an intimate knowledge of them, a commitment to them, a favoring of them. This is what that foreknowledge refers to.

In Romans 11, Paul says, "God has not forsaken his people whom he foreknew." Well, he doesn't mean by foreknowledge there whom he knew ahead of time would want to be his people. That's not what happened. God has not rejected his people whom he had a prior disposition to favor. That's the idea, right? So that's in Romans 11.

So go back to Romans 8 verse 29, whom he foreknew, he predestined. That is whom he for-favored, whom he loved, whom he had a commitment to. How did he manifest that commitment to them? He predestined them to become conformed to the image of his son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Arminians misunderstand what that foreknowledge is. It's not that God looks ahead of time and sees those who are going to believe. By the way, because of total depravity, how are we going to believe? We would reject? The mindset and the flesh is hostile toward God, does not subject itself to the law of God, is not even able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. So indeed, God must grant us grace that brings us to faith. And so he does that with those whom he has chosen. So this is the choosing of God.

The other view, the unconditional view is the view that I hold. It's the view that is held in the reformed tradition would hold that the election of God is not conditioned on anything about us. It's not because we're smart or good people or have done good things, or anything like that. It has nothing to do with that. Paul himself refers to himself as the chief of sinners. And yet, he was chosen of God to be saved. So it rather has to do only with the hidden purposes of God that he's not made known to us. None of us knows why we're chosen or why not. But God does. We do know it has nothing to do with us. Rather, he chooses us as an act of his own sovereign free will of his own good pleasure to choose those who will be his own people.

Doctrine of the election then is the beginning of the ordo salutis, what God does in eternity past in choosing those who will be the people of God, those who will be the bride of Christ. And that's followed in this life then with God's work to bring us to saving faith. And that begins with the calling of God, the calling of God to come to Christ. And we see in the Bible that there are two different kinds of calling that take place. One of them is often referred to as the general call, and the other one as the special call.

The general call is what I think of as sort of the Billy Graham crusade call. If you think of an evangelist like Billy Graham who calls out to the whole stadium of people, thousands of people out there, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you'll be saved. That's the general call. The call is really to go out to everyone in the earth, go to the extents of the earth, the Bible tells us and tell people about Christ.

In fact, here are a couple passages that speak of the general call, Isaiah 45:22, Isaiah 45:22, "Turn to me and be saved all the ends of the earth." So here is the heart of God who wants that gospel to go out to all of the earth, all the nations of the world. Isaiah 55:1, Isaiah 55:1, "Everyone who thirsts come to the waters," everyone who thirsts.

Now, Matthew 11:28, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Notice that there's no qualification here. It's to go to all people because this message is meant for everyone. John 7:37, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." So hear from Jesus himself, the call to anyone who is thirsty, come to him and drink. Now, Revelation 22:17, Revelation 22:17, "Let the one who is thirsty come." So we have these marvelous examples. And, of course, there's many more of the general call.

But there's also in the Bible what might be called the special call or the effectual call. The term effectual means this, that the call accomplishes the desired effect. The call accomplishes the desired effect so that it desires people to come, calls them to come. Well, it accomplishes that. It brings them. The call actually brings them to faith. You find in the Bible examples of this call that cannot be the general call even though the effectual call comes through the general call, right? When the general call goes out, it is effectual in the lives of some who hear that general call. And what we would say then is for them that general call has become an effectual call as they hear and come to faith in Christ.

But here are some examples in the Bible of the special or effectual call, back to Romans 8 verses 29 and 30 again. We actually are going to refer to these verses a number of times because they include a number of elements. But here, Paul has said, you remember, "Whom he foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of his son and whom He predestined He called."

Okay, stop right there, and think with me. So this is not the general call because it doesn't go to everyone. It goes only to whom, to the predestined, right? This is a call that is given just to those who are predestined, whom he foreknew He predestined, whom he predestined He called. And notice that this call is effectual because what happens with those to whom this call comes, that is to the predestined. What happens? Those who are called are justified. So, of course, it doesn't mention their faith in Christ. But we know from the broader teaching of Paul in the New Testament that one is justified by faith. So what this call does is results in their faith in Christ by which they are justified by faith.

It's not the general call. The general call is not necessarily effectual. There are many, many people who hear the Billy Graham crusade call and never become Christians, right? But here, this call goes to just a certain number of people that predestined and for every one of them, no exception. They're saved. Whom He called He justified, and whom He justified He glorified. So indeed, this is a very strong text to indicate the effectual call, the call that goes to just some, not all, and a call that when it comes to those some, the elect, the predestined, they will be saved as a result of that call.

Here's another passage on the effectual call, 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Paul says, "God is faithful through whom you were called into fellowship with His son." So I take it the meaning that he means by called into fellowship is not called, and it was up to you whether you come or not, but called in a way that brought you into fellowship. So it seems to imply there an effectual call. They're called, and so they come into the fellowship of His son.

1 Corinthians 1:24, 1 Corinthians 1:24, Paul has said that the gospel is to the Jews, the stumbling block to Gentile's foolishness, but to those who are the called, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. So notice here, he's not talking about the called as a separate category, separate from Jews or Gentiles. There is no category separate from Jews or Gentiles. The whole world, the whole population of the earth is either Jew or Gentile. Okay.

So when he says that the gospel is the stumbling block for Jews, foolishness to Gentiles but to the called both Jews and Greeks. So obviously, what he means is, as a general rule, Jews reject the gospel as a stumbling block. As a general rule, Gentiles reject the gospel as foolishness. But those Jews and Gentiles who are called when they hear the gospel, they respond differently.

Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God, they come to faith in Christ. Why? Because they chose to? Well, yes they do, but that's not the reason that's given in the text. They choose to come because they're called to come. So this is the work of God calling them that affects their salvation. Of course, they believe. Of course, that's involved in it, but that's not the emphasis that Paul is making. He's saying here that they're called and that affects their salvation. Those who are the called both Jews and Greeks, the power of God and the wisdom of God. So indeed, they come in faith and believed. And by that, it evidences they were called to be his people. 

Let's see. Maybe, just one more passage here. Romans 9 verses 23 and 24, let me read verse 22 as well. "What if God although willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for this destruction. He did so to make known the riches of his mercy upon vessels of mercy which he prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom he also called not from among the Jews only, but also from among the Gentiles."

So again, you realize the calling here accounts for the fact that we receive the riches of his glory. We are the vessels of mercy who enter into the beauty of what God has done for us in Christ. How is it that we come? “Whom He called, not from Jews only, but also from Gentiles?” So the calling of God affects the salvation of people.

Okay. Moving on then. Roman numeral III, regeneration is the work by which those who are called are made alive as those who used to be dead in their trespasses and sins. But regeneration is the enlivening of the person. So they are given a new heart. They are granted opened eyes that used to be blind in order that they can see and be saved. The Bible indicates that in ourselves because of sin and because of Satan, we would never come to Christ. We could not even understand the gospel of Christ and come.

For example, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul speaks there of the god of this world, Satan who has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. So he's indicating that because of our own sin and because of Satan's blindness of us, we would never come to Christ on our own.

So what has to happen is a change of us. We have to have eyes opened to see. We have to have hearts that are enlivened so that we can believe. In fact, this was part of the very calling of God on Paul's life to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Look with me at Acts 26 where Paul describes Christ's calling upon Him to be a minister to the Gentiles.

Notice the language that's used here. He says in verse 16 to Paul, this is Jesus speaking to him, "Get up, and stand in your feet, for this purpose, I have appeared to you to appoint you a minister and a witness, not only to the things that you have seen, but also to the things which I will appear to you, rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles to whom I am sending you." Now, look at this verse 18, "To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light from the dominion of Satan." Isn't that a sobering phrase? "The dominion of Satan to God and that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in me."

This is our condition prior to God's work to open our eyes is that we're blinded. We have hardened hearts. We cannot come. But the effectual call works because it's coupled with regeneration that awakens our heart, that opens our blind eyes so that now when we hear the gospel, we say, "Yes, we long to come because we know this is truth, and this is where life is found."

Regeneration, just a few passages here on this, John 1:13 where Jesus speaks of being born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God. So here is this regeneration that takes place. And notice he says that it's not of blood. It's not because your parents were Christians or you have some heritage, that's a heritage of faith. No, you must be born of God yourself. It's not of blood, not of the will of the flesh. You can't just choose on your own to do this, not of the will of man, other people. Your parents can't will you to be saved. God has to do this, but of God. So God is the one who does this work to make us born of him. John 3:3, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Being born again, being regenerated is a work that has to happen for us to be saved.

Titus 3:5, "He saved us according to his mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." So I take it that that regeneration and work of the spirit are coupled together in Paul's mind. The spirit works within us to regenerate our hearts, to give us new life and renew us as those who used to be dead in our trespasses and sins used to be blind so we could not see, we now are able to see the truth and we come with great joy.

And some have asked the question, if the ordo salutis as I have it on the outline here is correct. Should we have regeneration that follows saving faith, that is you believe in Christ, and because of that, you're born again or is it that you're born again. And because of that you believe in Christ. And I think the Bible indicates that regeneration does indeed precede.

Now, it's logical in that they go right together, but it does precede faith. You can see this in 1 John, take a look with me for a moment. In 1 John, many times, he talks about those who have been born again and the consequences of that. So example, in 1 John 2 :29, we read this, "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him." That's the way the NASB reads it here. It actually is a perfect passive indicative in the grammar of it. And so, it could be translated, "Has been born of Him. The one who practices righteousness has been born of Him."

So you see that the order is then being born of God, results in practicing righteousness. Does that make sense? You see that? Okay. Take a look at another example, 1 John 3:9 where we read, "No one who is born of God practices sin. But because His seed abides in him, he cannot sin because he," again, perfect passive, "he has been born of God."

So you don't go on sinning in the same way you did when you were an unbeliever because now, you have been born of God. And so, you don't practice sin as you did before. So again, the consequence of being born of God is not practicing sin in the manner that you did previously.

And there are other examples you can look, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 5:4, 1 John 5:18. Those are all other examples where this is the case. But the one I have in mind, I want to look at with you, is 1 John 5:1, 1 John 5:1, where we have the same pattern being born of God has this consequence. What is it here? 1 John 5:1, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God or has been born of God and whoever loves the father loves the child born of Him."

So whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, this is saving faith. This is putting your trust in Christ, has been born of God. So it seems to indicate here clearly that regeneration precedes and accounts for, even though it is not the case. We never find anywhere in the Bible that would indicate regeneration happens for several days or weeks or something. You're regenerated, but you haven't believed in Christ yet.

No, they happen right together. The spirit opens your eyes. When blind eyes are opened, what happens immediately? You see, right? When a dead heart is awakened, what happens immediately? It pulsates. So there is this regeneration that has an immediate consequence of trusting, believing in Christ by which we are saved.

We've looked at election calling, regeneration. Conversion then involves two things. It involves both faith and repentance. Faith is our disposition toward God, repentance our disposition towards sin. And both of them go together. We turn to God in Christ as we turned away from the sin that had enslaved us and had been our life and preoccupation previously.

So faith and repentance go together. They're really two sides of a coin. That's why they're each part of conversion to convert really refers to a turning. And when you turn, you realize anytime you turn, you always turn away from, and you turn to at the same motion, right?

So if I'm walking this way and I turn, well, I turn away from there, and I turn to here. So our conversion in Christ is always a turning away from sin and turning toward God in Christ. They go together. You really can't have one without the other, right? Try to turn without turning from and turning to, right? You have to do that. And this is the way it is with conversion as well.

So let me just mention briefly that, really, faith and repentance both have aspects that involve our minds, things that we know we didn't know before, but now, we know them, and our hearts that embrace that knowledge and then our wills that activate it.

So mind, and heart, and will are all involved in both faith and in repentance. So first of all, in terms of faith, you realize that our minds are involved in now knowing the truth of the gospel of Christ. We hear of Christ. We know of his death and resurrection. People must know of Christ to be saved. So there is an intellectual component to this. It isn't some mystical thing that happens where we empty our minds of things. That is not at all what it is to come to God in faith. It's rather to know that Christ has given his life for me.

He has died and been raised, and his death was for our sin. We come to faith in Christ through the knowledge of what he has done. But then, that knowledge is not just a kind of factual knowledge. Yeah, I believe Christ died and was raised. So what? But rather, I believe Christ died and raised and paid for my sin.

My trust is in him. So this is a heart embrace of that truth that then is acted by your will where you say, "I will trust you, I will believe you, I will follow you" to demonstrate that you now want to be a follower of Christ. So it has an intellectual and effective component as well as a volitional component.

Now, take a look at just a couple passages with me that helps see this. 2 Timothy 1 verse 12, Paul says, "For this reason, I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he's able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words, which you have heard from me in the faith and the love which are in Christ Jesus."

So you do notice the three components that are there. He knows whom he has believed. So there is this knowledge that he has of Christ which is at the core of his faith. But then, he is convinced that Christ is able to guard him until the day, and he entrusts his life to him. So there is the affective component of believing and embracing and trusting based upon your knowledge that as your eyes have been open to see that. And then, your will, in verse 13, retain the standard of sound words. So indeed, he's encouraging them as he encourages himself to hold onto this, firm until the end.

Another passage that may be helpful, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, let me read verse 13 also, "But we do not want you to be uninformed brethren about those who are asleep so that you'll not grieve as the rest who have no hope for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus."

It's a simple observation. But because Paul believes this, he obviously knows this to be the case, and he banks his life on it. He knows that he and they will be with him in the end. So this is not just an intellectual knowledge. It's a knowledge on the basis of which his faith is grounded, and his hope is secure because of what will take place. So indeed, repentance and faith involve these elements. 

Repentance, let me think about that with you for just a moment. Here, I think it's helpful to look at 2 Corinthians chapter 7 to see these components of the intellect of the affections or emotions and the will. 2 Corinthians 7, Paul writes to the Corinthians and expresses to them to some degree, his sorrow that he wrote to them in a way that was difficult for them.

Pick up with me at verse 9, 2 Corinthians 7 verse 9, he says, "I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance, for you are made sorrowful according to the will of God so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold, what earnestness this godly sorrow has produced in you? What vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging wrong in everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter?"

So what Paul is indicating here is that he wrote to them, confronted them with a sin that was in their midst. They turned away from it. They repented of it. And this is indicated by the fact they knew now because of Paul's letter that this is what they had done, and it was wrong. And they turned from it not in a way, oh we got caught, but I would continue doing it if I could, but I got caught. It's not that. But they had a sorrow without regret, right?

That is they are so glad that they now see the wrong that they have done so they could turn from it, and they had a zeal to continue in that, as Paul talks about. So mind, emotion and will are all involved in both repentance and faith as we see. So we must know the gospel of Christ, see Christ as the one who paid the penalty for our own sin and then willfully choose to believe and follow him for salvation.

Next on the list is justification. Justification. And, of course, the method of justification is by faith. Justification is the declaration of God that we are righteous before him, and that righteousness is declared at the point we put faith in Christ. Romans 5:1, "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

And so, we realize faith alone, not faith in works, not faith in family, not faith and work, not anything else, but faith alone in Christ alone is what results in justification. My hope is found in Christ, is what we declare. And God justifies us by faith.

The results of that justification we see as peace with God. We see that in Romans 5:1, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with him." It brings about forgiveness of our sin. We see this, for example, in Romans 3:23 and 24, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God being justified as a gift by his grace. So there is this sense in which his grace cancels out the penalty that we had before. And so, we are forgiven. We have that sin removed in justification. 

In Acts 13:39, we read this, "Through Christ, everyone who believes is justified from all the things from which you could not be justified through the law of Moses." So you can't get rid of your guilt and sin by doing things on your own, but you can. The only way you can is through faith in Christ. He removes your sin. But then, amazingly, that justification is more than removing sin than forgiveness. It is the imputing to you, crediting to you the very righteousness of Christ. So notice the language in Romans chapter 4, Paul talks about Abraham who believed God. This is Genesis 15:6. He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

So notice it isn't credited to him as forgiveness only, of just removing the guilt that he had, but credited him as righteousness, positive righteousness. And he goes on to say, "Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but what is due." So if you work for it, you've earned it. But that's not the case with justification. "But the one who does not work," verse 5, "but believes in him, who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness."

So the righteousness of Christ credited to us, though we are still ungodly. So I mean this is an amazing statement that you see here in verse 5, that to the one who does not work but believes in him, who justifies the ungodly, we realize that as ungodly people, we deserve condemnation. But through faith, the righteousness we receive is not our own. We're ungodly.

The righteousness we receive is Christ's righteousness imputed to us, credited to us. So justification is this marvelous teaching of the New Testament, really of the Bible, that indicates that only by faith alone can we receive both forgiveness of our sins so that all of our guilt is removed and a positive righteousness, righteous standing before God. So God views us as clothed in the righteousness of Christ as those who have come to faith in Him and are now justified.

Thus, this brings us then to adoption. Our adoption is part of our salvation where we are made legal children of the living God, which is really an astonishing thing. I think again in Ephesians 1 where Paul says, "We're chosen to be holy and blameless," I mean what a glorious thing that is in verse 4. But then verse 5, "In love, He predestined us to adoption through His son." So through His one and only son, the only genuine son of the Father, He has planned that through that son, He might bring in millions of other sons and daughters that will be brothers of Christ, sisters of Christ forever and ever. What love there is in that action to bring us into the family of God. 

This is a legal act. So it's similar then to justification, which is a legal act, God legal pronouncement, that we are righteous because of the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is a legal act by which we are declared to be the children of God. We don't belong to that family in and of ourselves, but we're legally brought into that family through faith in Christ.

A couple of the passages that speak of adoption, think for example of Romans 8:15 and 16, Romans 8:15 and 16, "The spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ." So we not only come into the family of God, but we have an inheritance that is ours in Christ.

And as inheritors, we stand then with Christ to share in his riches forever and ever. Galatians 3:26, I mentioned to you previously, says, "We are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." But then in Galatians 4:6, he says what happens because we're sons? Because you are sons, which happened through faith in Christ, "Because you are sons, God has poured forth the spirit of his son into our hearts crying Abba Father." So the idea is the very spirit of Christ by which he expresses his sonship relationship with the Father. That very same spirit is ours by which we express our sonship relationship with the Father.

And by the way, if there are some women believers who are watching this, listening to this, who wonder, "Why would God refer to me, a woman, as a son of God," I think the main reason is this is because sonship is oftentimes coupled with inheritance. And in Jewish culture, it's the son, not the daughter, who is necessarily the one who is inheritor of the family fortune as it were. So, honestly, my beloved sister, be grateful that you're a son of God because you enter into the fullness of the inheritance.

And remember that we believers who are men also have an issue to deal with when we're called part of the bride of Christ. So we struggle with that conceptually to understand how we can be a bride or part of the bride. You struggle with the fact you're sons of God. But nonetheless, both of these truths are glorious, and we accept them and embrace them to be the case.

Then one last passage, 1 John 3, "See what great love the father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God, and such we are. Beloved, now we are children of God. It has not appeared as yet what we shall be, but when He appears, we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is. We are children of God now, and yet we await this time when the fullness of that reality comes about."

Even to the extent that Paul will say in Romans 8 that we await our adoption, you remember that statement from the Apostle Paul? In Romans 8 beginning at verse 22, we read this, "For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but we ourselves having the first fruits of the spirit, we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption of sons, the redemption of our body, for in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what he already sees. But if we hope for what we do not see with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it."

So here's his point here is that, yes, we are adopted, but the fullness of that adoption has not yet been seen and will not be seen until the resurrection. So as children of God, we know much more good is yet to come. We praise God for that.

Okay. Now, sanctification. Sanctification, Roman numeral VII. Sanctification really is divided into two parts of positional and progressive sanctification. Positional sanctification can be thought of as this. It refers to our present status of being separated unto God in Christ, our present status of being separated unto God in Christ.

So sanctification, we're holy insofar as we don't belong to ourselves anymore. We belong to Christ. Galatians 2:20, "It's no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." So we're separated unto God in Christ and therefore are his people, a holy people. We are different than we were before we were saved. We are now temples of the Holy Spirit. We are now part of the people of God. We've entered into the kingdom of Christ. We are citizens of heaven, which is our true home to which we will one day go as his people. So you think of the many, many ways that the Bible talks about our new position in Christ as those who are now identified wholly with God and his work for us and in us through Christ.

And some passages speak of this present reality of our sanctification positionally. So for example, in 1 Corinthians 1 verse 2, now think who he's writing to in Corinthians here, a church with lots of problems, right? But he says, "To those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus saints by calling, holy ones, by calling." So his point is not, "Hey, I've got no concerns with you. I know that you're a sinless people." Obviously, that is not the case. Keep reading the book. There are so many problems, but these are Christians and hence they are separated unto God.

They are his people sanctified who have been sanctified, who are saints by calling, holy ones by calling, they are separated unto him. Here's another example. In Ephesians 5:26, Christ gave himself for us for the church that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her. So the sanctification there is this set-apart, that they would be the forgiven people of God, cleansed her from sin so that they no longer stand before God deserving condemnation.

And that positional sanctification really helps us understand our identity in Christ. We are new creatures in Christ. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. We are citizens of the kingdom and many other things. We are adopted children of God. Many of those things help us understand who we now are in Christ and form for us the basis then for how we should live, which relates to progressive sanctification.

So progressive sanctification then is the continuous operation of the Holy Spirit enjoining the believers’ responsible participation, strengthening our disposition for holiness and making us increasingly like Christ. Progressive sanctification is a continuous operation of the Holy Spirit enjoining the believers’ responsible participation enabling us to grow in holiness the disposition toward holiness growing to enable us to be renewed increasingly to the likeness of Christ.

So this sanctification then is progressive. It's the ongoing work of the Spirit to help us grow, to become more and more like Christ. Think for example of 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "Now, may the God of peace sanctify you entirely. May your spirit, soul and body be preserved complete at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he who called you who will bring it to pass." So again, God is at work to continue his work of remaking us to be like Christ.

Philippians 1:6, "He who began a good work in you will continue it until the day of Christ Jesus." So indeed, we continue growing more and more to be like Christ, and this is the principle work of the Spirit in our lives as believers to make us like Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:18, "Beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord Jesus, we are being transformed into that same image from glory to glory that is in incrementally increasing degrees of glory." This is from the Lord, the Spirit, so the Spirit working in us to make us more like Christ.

Then, perseverance, Roman numeral VIII. Perseverance is the doctrine of the church that holds that those who are truly saved evidence their salvation by persevering in the faith. So the perseverance of the faith is sometimes called, but actually the perseverance of the faith is only because of the perseverance of God to hold us in faith. So I think we need to remember that at the heart of our persevering is God's work within us to enable us to do what we do. 

Paul writes, for example, in Philippians 2:12 and 13, he says, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for God is the one at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Apart from the work of God within us, we wouldn't continue in the faith. But because of God's work within us, we do continue in the faith, and we grow and we work out our salvation, and we become more what God has called us to be. We continue holding onto the faith because of God's work within us. Because God perseveres in holding us, we persevere in holding onto him.

And then, finally glorification. Glorification is the great culmination of God's saving work whereby he makes us completely in body and soul, completely like Christ. Romans 8:29 and 30, remember that was the end of the process. We were predestined to become conformed to the image of his son and then called justified and then glorified. So glorification is the culmination where we are made completely like Christ. 

Philippians 3:20 and 21 indicates this certainly does include our bodies. Physical bodies are remade to be like Christ. So Paul writes at the end of Philippians 3, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that he has even to subject all things to Himself."

So indeed, Christ will do this work to remake us to be like Him. And when will this happen? When Christ comes again. 1 John 3, "Beloved, we do not know yet what we will be. But when he appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is, 1 John 3 verses 1 and 2. So indeed, that moment of the return of Christ will be a glorious moment for us as believers because we will be caught up together with him if we are alive at the time. 1 Thessalonians 4 indicates we're raptured and brought up with Christ and then transformed. If we've died before that time, we're raised from the dead and brought up to be with Christ and will reign with Him, be with Him forever and ever. Praise be to God for his saving work that begins in eternity past with the election and moves all the way through to eternity future in our everlasting glorification.

What would you say to the person in the youth group who just heard the doctrine of election taught and she's terrified that she's not one of the elect?

Well, number one, it's good to be terrified that you're not one of the elect because that's a terrible thing, not to belong to God through Christ, because then you face everlasting separation from all that is good, all that is joyful, all that is beautiful, all that is God. So yes, it's a terrible thing to face the living God outside of Christ.

So the way to solve that problem is to do what the Bible says, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you'll be saved. So really, we need to help that person understand that the only way we know who's elect and who isn't, is this, the elect believe in Christ. So will you believe in Christ? Will you put your faith in him? And if you do, all the promises of God are yours, are yes and amen in Christ. So that's the joyous solution to that, is be one who believes. I mean, I've heard this analogy. I think it's pretty much true of an entryway that has on the front of it, painted whosoever will may come and you walk through the door, and then you look back and say, "Elect from the foundation of the world." So you really only know you're elect because you have come, you've believed. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you'll be saved.

What would you say to the person who struggles with election, because it feels like they really did not make a true choice for God? Was their choice real?

My advice would be rather than focus on the past that you can't change, I mean maybe you'll never know for sure if it was real or not, focus on the present. Are you trusting in Christ now, because you do have control over that, right? So are you trusting in Christ now?

And so really, just let the past be what it is. It doesn't really matter. What matters is if you were to die right now and stand before God and he were to say to you, "Why should I let you into my heaven," what would you say? The Evangelism Explosion question. And is it that my only hope is in Christ in life and death? The first question of the Heidelberg Catechism is so beautiful, my only hope is Christ in life and in death. Is that your answer or do you think somehow what you've done merits God's approval? What is it? Good.

And so, I have a question that sort of goes to the forensics of the order of salvation. In this logical order that you talked about that some of which things happen seemingly simultaneously but there is an order, logical order, regeneration precedes faith in the unconditional election view.


But it would seem that order would be reversed in the conditional election view. In other words, faith would come before regeneration. Is that correct?

Yes. That's correct.


Yeah. And I gave arguments in the lecture for understanding biblically that regeneration grounds and accounts for faith. So there's a logical priority to regeneration, to account for faith. But some people disagree with that. And they would argue that faith gives rise to regeneration because we believe in Christ, we're born again. And that typically is found in the Arminian tradition that would say, really, it's up to us, because for the Arminian, it really doesn't work to say God regenerates us, but then it's up to us whether we believe because we've been born again. But we could say, "No, that doesn't work." So it works better in the Arminian view to say, "It's up to us whether we come and believe in Christ." And if we do, then, we're born again.

And you were talking about the depravity of man, that it's impossible for a depraved person to take the first step towards God. And I understand that in classic Arminianism and maybe not in today's Arminianism, that the Arminian believers agreed with depravity and they were not Pelagian or even semi-Pelagian. And they did agree that God's grace needed to intervene first for them to take that first step, but that first step could then later be denied, or it wasn't efficacious necessarily.

Right. Yes, that's right. It's not efficacious. It's resistible grace. Yeah. So you're correct about that. Arminius and Wesley both held the view that we can only come to God in faith because God has granted us grace that overcomes the effects of total depravity sufficient to enable us to believe in Christ. But that grace doesn't require or doesn't necessitate belief in Christ. So it's not efficacious grace or irresistible grace. It's resistible. So we can say no. We can either come or not. But we can only come or not because grace has freed us up, as it were to be able to make that choice. So that was their view. It has not been maintained in Arminianism today. Most Arminians today don't hold that view, although classic Arminians still do, people like Roger Olson who's at Baylor at Truett Seminary.

So then, that would be a semi-Pelagian view, it would seem.

Yeah. I would say more Arminians today, more typically, are either Pelagian or semi-Pelagian in their view of whether grace is necessary. The Pelagian would say, of course, grace is not necessary. Semi-Pelagian would say Grace is helpful but not necessary. Yeah.


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