Who is Responsible for a Believer’s Salvation?

by Mike Ratliff

30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV)

There are so many who want to attack the teachings I post with their extra-biblical arguments, which are mostly based in tradition. There are many topics where the numbers of those doing this drop drastically, but when it comes to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and how it relates to what is hot in the visible church “right now” like “missional” stuff my spam bucket seems to fill up fast. 

The Bible clearly shows us that God is sovereign, completely sovereign, in salvation, not the person. Let us ask some questions and then answer them scripturally. I will ask a few questions then list the answers by linking to scripture so you can go there and prayerfully read it yourself.

“Did God sovereignly elect us and save us? Or did He act in accord with what He knew we would do? In other words, “Who makes the first move?”

God wills                                                  John 1:12-13; Eph. 1:5, 11

God draws                                                John 6:44

God grants                                                John 6:65

God calls                                                   1 Thess. 2:12; 2Thess. 2:14; 2Tim. 1:9; 1Pet. 2:9

God appoints                                           Acts 13:48; 1 Thess. 5:9

God predestines                                      Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:5, 11

God prepares                                           Rom. 9:23

God causes                                               1 Cor. 1:30

God chooses                                            1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; Eph. 1:4

God purposes                                          Eph. 1:11

God delivers and transfers                   Col. 1:13

God saves                                                 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5

God makes us alive                               Eph. 2:5

God pours out His Spirit                     Titus 3:6

God brings us forth                               James 1:18

God justifies                                            Rom. 8:30; Titus 3:7

God sanctifies                                         1 Thess. 5:23

God glorifies                                           Rom. 8:3

 

The passages above summarize what Sacred Scripture teaches about God’s role in salvation. If you have taken an honest look at these passages then you have seen that God is the ‘first cause’ or initiator of a believer’s salvation.

Soli Deo Gloria!

35 thoughts on “Who is Responsible for a Believer’s Salvation?

  1. Mike, I would mention only that Chapter 9 of Romans (the whole chapter) is explaining why the Jews are experiencing a temporary hardening (until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in). This passage is about how God makes choices to carry out His will, not choices He made in eternity past. In each family line, He had to make a choice. He chose Abram above all the rest, then Jacob over Essau, David over His brothers, etc. Same with Pharoah. He didn’t “create” him for the purpose of sinning against Him, but “raised” him to his position so He could accomplish His will. And so the same with Israel in this chapter. God chose them to be blind for a season (just as He chose to make them a nation to deliver the Messiah) because of their sin, during which time He allows us Gentiles to be grafted in.

    ‘Just wanted to share that, as that is an often misunderstood chapter.

  2. Without that first one “God wills”, none of the others would take place.

    Man is so very arrogant, we cannot stand it if we are not control of everything. We trust too much in the arm of our flesh, not only in matters of salvation, but in every aspect of our lives.
    If we are truly “called out” and “quickened” by the Holy Spirit then all that we think, say, and do must be filtered by that same Spirit! (this is my belief)

    Praise God that it is ALL Him and NONE of me!
    (yes, I enjoy being a puppet on a string)

  3. Excellent list. Keep expanding it. The OT would offer many other examples, such as the Psalms. Get enough of them together and you could make a daily devotion out of them.

  4. Another great post Mike! A simple yet thorough Biblical explanation of the salvation process.

    While I wholeheartedly agree with every step in which God is the one doing the work (not man), I’m still struggling with the element of repentance. The Free-Grace, Non-Lordship view is that repentance is not required. That is, one must only believe to be saved and not be expected to repent of their sins in order to be justified. This position argues that repentance is a work and therefore, an ‘add-on’ to grace. Those who follow this mindset believe the only repenting we can do is the kind that repents from our unbelief.

    I completely agree that we are unable (on our own) to completely repent from our sins and stop sinning. Christians still do sin. Obviously, at the point of salvation, we are not coming before God completely ‘clean’ of all sin nor do we come being aware of every single sin we’ve ever committed. The moment we are justified is the moment we believe, trust and turn from our sinful life to Christ. This is the beginning of the sanctification process.

    Clearly, scripture teaches and commands for us to repent and I don’t believe it’s simply of our unbelief although that’s a big part of it. As you’ve identified above, everything we “do” in the salvation process is God’s doing'; not ours. As I understand what the bible says about repentance, it involves turning from ALL sin (not just unbelief) and that our ability to repent is also God-given. Repentance is the right response to the Gospel. With this understanding, how then are we to answer those who claim repentance should not be included in a witnessing encounter nor presented as a “requirement”? Appreciate your response. THANKS!

    ~ktf~
    John

  5. John, the turning to Christ for salvation IS repentance. We cannot DO that unless God does His work first. We respond to His call to repent. When we turn in repentance we are turning to Christ away from the works, the world, etc. To Christ for salvation. Does that help?

  6. Whom does God save? He saves those that believe. Why do they believe? They believe because they have been called. Why are they called? They are called because they have been chosen.

    Excellent, excellent, post Mike!

  7. Its all grace I’d say. People would be so comforted when they finally realise that. And they’d appreciate His Sovereignty too! We all start out arminian, but when God grows us up, we become calvinists…..which is nothing more than the Bible anyway! Rightfully divided that is. :-)

  8. Amen Paul and Luann! That is why when I see someone who is has been a professing Christian for a long time who is still stuck in self-will… well, I do wonder ya know…

  9. I hear ya Mike, we’re right there with your thinking too. Makes you wonder how they can not see it…..unless…..

  10. I suppose they could remain baby Christians, but the Word seems to say that God grows us up in Christ. Of course there are those who will escape by the skin of their teeth. That could be these people.

  11. Could be Mike. They listen to ‘man’ to much. If they’d dig into their Word and study, not just read, but study, they’d see it for themselves. The Holy Spirit would reveal it to them clearly. They are missing out on SO much by not knowing or believing its all G-R-A-C-E

  12. Dr. James White uses the illustration of the leadership of Calvary Chapel being puzzled of over where all the Calvinists are coming from in their churches. He tells them that they are coming from them pointing their people to study the Word of God. Perfect! God’s answers are so simple and succinct and perfect. Yes, that is exactly it. That was how it was for me. I became reformed by immersing myself in God’s Word not by listening to people. Then when I got back into the battle the argumentation seemed so petty for self-will that it was laughable. I find it incredible at times that these people can not see it yet call themselves biblical scholars.

  13. Hi Mike
    Exciting post – leaves my heart leaping about in my chest!

    Romans 11:36
    For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
    :-D

  14. And god opens the heart to ‘hear’ the gospel – Acts 16:14.
    I spent three hours one evening talking with a young ABA pastor concerning a lot of things really, and in the course of discussion brought up Lydia and the fact that it was God who opened her heart, only to hear him tell his small congregation, at invitation time, that they must open their own hearts. I have talked of such things with qhite a few who will at first agree that God is sovereign and then turn around and talk about ‘free’ will.

    BTW I got here via Kit’s blog and added you to my Blog roll.

  15. Pingback: Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen « Possessing the Treasure

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