f The Wittenberg Door: Who’s Sovereign in Salvation? – Part 10 – Arminianism: Resistible Grace

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Who’s Sovereign in Salvation? – Part 10 – Arminianism: Resistible Grace

In Part 9 of this series we considered the plight of man—how he is separated from God because of the fall. We also reflected upon the grace of God, His unmerited (unearned) favor—salvation is a free gift of God bestowed upon unworthy sinners.

In this post we’ll take a look at the work of the Trinity in saving men, and we’ll consider the gospel call.

The Trinity and Salvation

When thinking of the salvation of men, it is appropriate to step back and understand that salvation is the work of the Trinity. In eternity past, the Father marked out those who would be saved. This is referred to as “election” (see Part 6). At the appointed time, the Son came into the world and secured the redemption of His people (see Part 8). Finally, the Spirit, working through the Word, applies that redemption to the elect.

The Gospel Call

The general (or external) call. We find in Scripture that the gospel call is distributed indiscriminately. This call to repentance and faith goes out to all hearers. The great Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon was once asked why he didn’t preach to the elect only. His response was, as I recall, “Paint a yellow stripe down their back and I will.” The elect is known only to God. Thus those responding to the Great Commission proclaim Christ to all.

This external call includes (1.) A declaration of the plan of salvation. (2.) The promise of God to save all who accede to the terms of that plan. (3.) Command, exhortation, and invitation to all to accept of the offer mercy. (4.) An exhibition of the reasons which should constrain men to repent and believe, and thus escape from the wrath to come. All this is included in the gospel. For the gospel is a revelation of God's plan of saving sinners . . . This call is universal in the sense that it is addressed to all men indiscriminately to whom the gospel is sent. It is confined to no age, nation, or class of men. It is made to the Jew and Gentile, to Barbarians and Scythians, bond and free; to the learned and to the ignorant; to the righteous and to the wicked; to the elect and to the non-elect.

Charles Hodge (1797-1878)

For many are called, but few are chosen

Matthew 22:14

5) "The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up.

6) "Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.

7) "Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.

8) "Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great." As He said these things, He would call out, "(G)He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

11) "Now the parable is this: (the seed is the word of God.

Luke 8:5-8, 11

The Effectual (or inward) call. For the elect, a special inward call from the Holy Spirit accompanies the general call. This call brings the sinner, who is dead in his sins (Gen. 2:16–17, 3:1–7; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1–3; Col. 2:13), to life. By this work of the Spirit, through the Word, faith is granted to the sinner—he is enabled to believe all that is promised in the gospel.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins

Ephesians 2:1

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God

Ephesians 2:8

In my next post on this topic we’ll see what the Scriptures have to say regarding the efficacy and application of God’s grace.

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