by Mike Ratliff
13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:13-17 ESV)
Are people saved when they decide for Christ or make some sort of decision or when they receive saving faith? I contend that the majority of the preaching nowadays is of the former variety while the latter is very misunderstood and not preached much at all. In fact, there is much hatred to the latter by many who call themselves “Christians.” Let’s look at what the Bible says.
Look at the passage at the top of this post (Romans 10:13-17). I remember memorizing v13 several years ago when I was in Evangelism Explosion training. We pulled that verse out of Romans 10 and used in part of our gospel presentations. Does this passage show us the human side of the order of salvation? Start in v15. Preachers of the Gospel must be sent. Then from v14 we see that the preachers are to preach the Gospel. Then people hear the Gospel. As they hear the Gospel they believe. Then they call on the name of the Lord and are saved. It is very important that we see that belief comes before a person calls on the name of the Lord. Now let’s compare this with another passage.
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. 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. (Romans 8:28-30 ESV)
From this passage we know that all who are saved are called according to God’s purpose. Whom does God call? He calls those whom He foreknew and predestined. What happens to those whom God called? They are justified and glorified. If we extrapolate these steps to compare them with what we learned from Romans 10:13-17 what do we have? What comes first? God foreknew those whom He is going to save. Look at the passage below. What do we learn about God’s foreknowing us?
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)
God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. We also see that God predestined us for adoption. From Romans 8:29 we see that we are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. All of this happened before the foundation of the world. So let’s move forward to now. God has chosen those whom He foreknew then He predestined them. Now, where does the preacher preaching the gospel come in? It is now. This is why it is so important that preachers preach the entire Gospel comparing our depravity and violation of God’s Law with His Holiness and Righteousness. Then they must preach why Jesus came to earth and what He accomplished in His life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Those whom God has chosen and predestined will believe because God calls them. This is the effectual call which quickens spiritually dead people unto the New Birth. This is where God gives us the gift of belief. This belief is saving faith through which Grace is given by God and received by the new Christian. Because of this belief the new Christian repents and turns to Christ by calling on Him for salvation. Then God justifies him or her. They are now in Christ.
Did they decide for Christ or were they converted and saved by God?
Addendum: If you do not agree with the premise of this post please understand that my method of teaching is never to persuade by my words. Instead, what I attempt to do is to cause those who read what I write or hear what I teach or preach to THINK, to reason. However, that is not enough. This reasoning should always drive us to dig into God’s Word in the context of seeking the Truth, therefore, ask God to show you the truth. Don’t EVER presume that you understand everything about the subject, but rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal it to your heart. If your conscience is clear then you can trust it. If you have unresolved guilt then your conscience has become calloused. Seek the Lord, repent of what He is showing you. THEN, and only then, approach the throne of grace with your petition to know the truth. Humble yourself before Him and tell Him that you will embrace the truth He shows you. Then study the Bible. If you do this the Lord will answer and your conscience will lead you by imparting conviction as the Holy Spirit speaks to you. If you stray from the truth it will impart condemnation. If you find it it will impart commendation (joy?). You will know by these “convictions” if you know the truth.
Soli Deo Gloria!