Reformation Theology Blog
My dad told me recently that when he was a kid, he had a cousin Jack who came from a very religious family. One day, he and Jack went to catch a movie in town. His cousin had just turned 12, but the theater offered one dime off to anyone 11 and under, so he lied and told the box office that he was eleven. When his parents took him and my dad home, Jack boasted to his parents that he had saved a dime by pretending he was eleven.
As a sinner, drawing near to God who is perfectly holy and without sin may seem impossible. And it is, if we trust in our own righteousness. In our own (de)merit, we can no more approach God than we can approach the sun without being burned. However, the Scriptures teach that through faith in Jesus Christ, sinners can be made right with God and have access to Him. This faith is a gift from God, and it is through this faith that sinners are justified and reconciled to God.
by Obadiah Sedgwick
Paul and Silas (on their journey) make a stop in Philippi, a chief city in Macedonia, ver. 12. They had a special calling for it, ver. 9. Being there, the next Sabbath, they devoted themselves to praying and preaching, ver. 13. And each of these activities was crowned with a blessed outcome.
By the former, Lydia was converted, ver. 14, 15. By the latter, the devil was exorcised from a damsel, ver. 16, 18. The word of God and prayer are the great power of God to change the heart and conquer Satan.
The doctrine of effectual calling is a clear expression how the three Persons of the Trinity work in harmony to bring about the redemption of ill-deserving sinners, like us. The Father elects people for salvation, the Son redeems them through His death and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit calls them to faith.
We do not forsake sin in order to go to Christ, but rather, we go to Christ in order to forsake sin. This is because faith precedes repentance in the ordo salutis, or the order of salvation. This means that faith in Jesus Christ must logically come first in order for a person to experience true repentance and turn away from sin.
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all." - John 6:63
"And he said, 'This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.'" - John 6:65
"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." - John 6:37
These verses emphasize that faith is a gift from God and not something that comes from our own strength or effort. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that quickens us and enables us to believe in Jesus.
God is in control of all things and everything that happens, is part of His divine plan for our lives (Eph 1:11). In light of this, cultivating a deep trust in God's sovereignty and His loving care for us, will result in a deep sense of contentment, regardless of our circumstances. It is by God-given faith alone that we yield to the will of God and submit to it, even in times of hardship and suffering. The more we understand the wisdom and love of God, the more we will be filled with peace and contentment, whatever situation we find ourselves.