I. Man’s Need for Salvation
A. Man has offended a holy and righteous God – Because of inherited guilt and corruption, unholy and unrighteous man (Ps. 14:1-3; Rom. 3:10,12) in his natural state is from conception underneath the wrath of a holy and righteous God (Rom. 1:18).
B. As an enemy of God, man will not seek God – Scripture is clear that because of man’s sin nature, man will not seek after God (Rom 3:11).
C. Man could not attain salvation even if he could seek after it – Man’s sin is against an infinitely holy God. There is therefore nothing that a finite and unholy creature could do to earn salvation or to make restitution for his sin (Eph. 2:8-9).
D. Man is therefore at the mercy of the One whom he has offended.
II. God’s Role in Salvation – I believe that God decreed salvation from eternity past according to His divine sovereign purpose and will (Acts 2:22-23; Rev. 17:8).
A. Election –Election is the process whereby God, before creation, called out some to be saved not based on any foreseen merit in them, but based solely on God’s sovereign good pleasure. God’s election of sinners for salvation is clearly revealed in Scripture:
1. Acts 13:48 “…as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”
2. Rom. 8:28-30 “…For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…And those whom He predestined He also called; and those whom He called he also justified; and those whom He justified He also glorified.”
3. Eph. 1:4-6 “…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…He destined us in love to be His sons through Jesus Christ…”
4. See also Rom 9:11-13; 11:7; 1 Thess. 1:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 1:1; 2:9; Rev. 13:7-8
B. The Gospel (Effective) Call – I believe that the effective calling is an act of God the Father whereby He speaks through human proclamation of the gospel, bringing people to Himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith (Rom. 8:30; 10:14; John 6:44; Acts 16:14). The gospel call must show man’s need for salvation (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; 5:8), the invitation to respond (Matt. 11:28-30) and the promise of forgiveness and eternal life (John 3:16; Acts 3:19).
C. Regeneration –Regeneration is an act of God, sometimes referred to as being “born again,” in which He gives life to a spiritually dead sinner (John 3). Scripture indicates that God regenerates us at the same time that He calls us (1 Pet. 1:23, 25; James 1:18), and that both God the Father and the Holy Spirit are involved in regeneration (Ezek. 36:26-27; John 3:8; Eph 2:5). I believe that the effective call and regeneration happen simultaneously, although regeneration is the result of the effective call.
D. Conversion/Faith – I believe that regeneration will always lead to the conversion of the sinner. Conversion is defined by Grudem as “our willing response to the gospel call, in which we sincerely repent of sins and place our trust in Christ for salvation.” I believe that conversion is not just knowing the facts about salvation or agreeing with those facts. Genuine conversion must include knowing and agreeing with the facts of salvation and submitting oneself to those facts by placing complete trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and new life in Christ. (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Eph. 2:8-9)
E. Justification – I believe that when a sinner is converted, God declares him righteous based upon the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 3:26, 28; 5:1; 8:30; Gal 2:16). Justification is “a judicial act of God, in which He declares, on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that all the claims of the law are satisfied with respect to the sinner” (Berkhof, p. 513). I believe that justification removes the guilt of sin and qualifies the sinner to all the rights belonging to a child of God. I believe that justification is a judicial act of God that takes place outside of man and is not to be confused with sanctification’s role in the inner life of man. Justification is a one-time transaction however “they are not justified personally until the Holy Spirit doth in time due actually apply Christ unto them” (LBCF: 11-4). (Titus 3:4-7)
F. Adoption – “But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). I believe that when God regenerates and justifies the converted sinner, that sinner becomes a child of God. I believe that this status as God’s children was not fully realized until Christ came (Gal 3:23-26).
G. Sanctification – I believe that sanctification is man’s cooperation with the progressive work of God whereby He sets His children apart from sin (holiness) by conforming them to the image of His Son (Titus 3:5; 1 Cor. 6:11; Rom 6:11, 14). I believe that sanctification begins at regeneration and will only be complete when we stand before Christ either by death or the Rapture. I believe that sanctification is primarily the work of God (1 Thess. 5:23), with Christ as our example (Heb 12:2), and the Holy Spirit working within us to change us and give us greater holiness of life (2 Thess. 2:13; Gal. 5:16-18).
H. Perseverance – I believe that God will keep all who are truly born again. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29 ESV). Those who “fall away” (Luke 8:13; Heb. 3:12; 6:6) are therefore not true believers. As such, I believe that perseverance will usually, if not always, be evident through outward manifestations (see sanctification and the book of James).
I. Glorification – I believe that when Christ returns He will give all believers perfect glorified bodies, “the dead shall be raised imperishable” and the bodies of living believers “shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
III. The Purpose and Extent of the Atonement
A. Purpose – I believe that before creation, God purposed that the atonement would affect His relationship to the sinner in a way that would bring Him the most glory. As such I believe that God also decreed Christ’s state and condition as the mediatory author of salvation, as well as the state and condition of the sinner.
B. Extent – I believe that the atonement not only made salvation possible for the sinner but actually secured it. Therefore, issues of sufficiency, application, the offer of salvation being genuine (God says it is), and benefits to the non-elect (there are) are not issues for me. I believe the only question to be answered is: “Did the Father in sending Christ, and did Christ in coming into the world to make atonement for sin, do this with the design or for the purpose of saving the elect only or all men?” (Berkhof, p. 394) I believe that God’s salvific design for the atonement was for the actual salvation of the elect. (John 10:26-27)