Class Notes: 11/18/2015
Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; The doctrine of witnessing part 31
In our study of the doctrine of witnessing Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; we are examining the doctrines that undergird the gospel so that we can understand how and why it is God alone who made it possible for our so great salvation exclusively by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Eph 2:8-9;
Last time we noted that God's calling that occurs after the Holy Spirit's ministry of common grace and leads the unbeliever into expressing faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. God's will starts at salvation, because "He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to a change of thinking about Christ." 2Pet 3:9;
God also expresses desires for believers regarding our post-salvation experience. As members of the Royal Family of God, God provides every believer with equal privilege and equal opportunity to receive maximum blessing. 1Tim 2:4;
Under election, our equal privilege is our royal priesthood that places us in a position to represent ourselves before God. Our equal opportunity comes from logistical grace life support and blessings that God's justice conveys every day to God's perfect righteousness that He imputed to every believer at the point of their belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
Predestination and election are part of the doctrine of the divine decree. There are three elections in history, Israel under God's ritual plan, Jesus Christ under God's incarnation plan, and the Church under God's protocol plan.
Each election introduces a new category of creation into human history. The election of Israel introduces the new racial species, called the Jews. The election of Christ introduced the Hypostatic Union where Jesus Christ became the unique God-man savior and the election of the Church introduces a new spiritual species that is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit that comprises the Royal family of God.
After the unbeliever has responded positively to the Holy Spirit's work of common grace and the call of God the Father, God the Holy Spirit performs His work of efficacious Grace. Efficacious grace is defined as an instant act of the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit whereby the faith in Jesus Christ that comes from a spiritually dead person, is made effective for eternal salvation.
When the spiritually dead person responds to God's call or the invitation to believe in Christ, the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit causes the faith of the spiritually dead person to actually become effective for salvation.
We see from this that in God's work in evangelism there is no place for human works or ability. Therefore only faith and faith alone in Christ is made effective for salvation. No human works can be added to or included with faith because faith excludes all works. Eph 2:9;
The natural man is in the status of spiritual death from birth. This means that the faith of the spiritually dead person, though necessary as an expression of non-meritorious positive volition, is powerless of and by itself to do anything. It is ineffective because the source of that faith is dead, spiritually dead.
Because of this inability the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit is required to establish the desired result of eternal salvation. So although the message of the Gospel is simply to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved," behind the scenes the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit is working to make it happen on behalf of unbelieving mankind. That is efficacious grace.
Efficacious grace is when the faith of the spiritually dead person indicates positive volition, but since the volition of the spiritually dead person has no power to produce the objective because mankind is helpless in spiritual death. God found us in grace, saved us by grace, He provides for us by grace and He secures us in grace.
Grace is the work of God, not the work of man. Grace is also the policy of God after salvation for the believer's execution of God's protocol plan. Before salvation, grace is the work of God in making the issue of the Gospel clear, calling us and then making our faith in Jesus Christ effective for salvation.
The Holy Spirit in efficacious grace only makes faith in Jesus Christ effective for salvation. Any and all works added to faith in Christ are dead works. Dead works are the function of and dependent on human power. Divine omnipotence and human power are mutually exclusive.
Consequently, there is no efficacy when dead works are added to faith in Christ for salvation. Spiritual death causes the helplessness of the unbeliever. This is why the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in common grace is required for the unbeliever to understand the spiritual information contained in the Gospel
For the unbeliever to understand the Gospel invitation requires the ministry of God the Father and for the unbeliever's faith to be made effective for salvation requires the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
So efficacious grace is an act of God the Holy Spirit that comes from His omnipotence. Only from the omnipotence of God is there enough power to make the unbeliever's faith effective for salvation, Eph 1:13;
After the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in common grace, the spiritually dead person understands the Gospel. After the ministry of God the Father in the divine invitation to believe in Christ, the spiritually dead person understands the issue of John 3:36;
At this point, the spiritually dead person has a choice. He can believe in Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit will make his faith effective for salvation or he can reject Jesus Christ as Savior, and there is no function of the Holy Spirit, except that whenever the Gospel is re-presented He makes the issue clear again.
In that case the spiritually dead person remains in a state of spiritual death because he has rejected Christ as Savior so eternal judgment remains as his destiny. Heb 9:27; "It is appointed unto (destined to) man once to die, but after that the judgment." 2Pet 3:7; But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of unbelievers.
For those who remain in spiritual death because of unbelief there remains a second resurrection and judgment because they have rejected Jesus Christ as Savior. John 3:18; "He who believes in Him is not judged, but he who does not believe is judged already because he has not believed in the name of the uniquely born Son of God."
After the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in efficacious grace, the spiritually dead person's non-meritorious faith is made effectual for salvation. At the moment of salvation through faith in Christ, free human volition and the omnipotent sovereignty of God function together.
Human volition is the faith of the spiritually dead person is a non-meritorious function. It is also ineffective because the one who believes in Christ is spiritually dead. But in every case, without exception God's grace comes to the rescue.
Divine sovereignty and the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit turns that helpless that faith into effectual faith for eternal salvation.
In evangelism, the spiritually dead person listens to the Gospel, that God the Holy Spirit causes to be lucid, understandable, comprehensible, and perspicuous under the doctrine of common grace.
In evangelism, God the Father and God the Son issue a divine invitation or a call to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, Rom 1:6-7;
This call is not something that is overt or heard audibly. It is not a literal hearing of God's voice. God's Word is God's voice, and God's call is heard when the person understands in their thinking that to believe in Christ is eternal life, and to reject Him is to remain in under judgment in eternal condemnation.
In salvation, the spiritually dead person believes in Jesus Christ, while the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit under efficacious grace causes that faith from a dead person to be effective for eternal life. Real spiritual death implies brain death that is an inability to understand spiritual things. This means there is the necessity for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in common grace, in which the Holy Spirit makes the Gospel clear.
Real spiritual death also implies a dead faith that makes it necessary for God the Father to issue the invitation to believe in Christ, and for the ministry of God the Holy Spirit to make positive volition in faith response effective.
The invitation given in John 10:27; during the dispensation of the Hypostatic Union, our Lord said "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
At that time all of the different herds of sheep would gather at the same watering hole and there was no way to distinguish between the different herds. But each shepherd had his own call by which his own sheep would follow him.
Jesus used this practice as an illustration. All members of the human race look the same just like all the sheep looked the same but when anyone believes in Jesus Christ, they are distinguished and different not because they look different but because God the Holy Spirit takes that faith and converts it into eternal life so the believer responds to Jesus' call.
Efficacious grace is taught in John 10:28, "And I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand."
This does not conflict with the fact that the spiritually dead person uses his own free volition in hearing the Gospel as an act of non-meritorious positive volition that is compatible with God's grace. Believing in Jesus Christ is non-meritorious so it is compatible with God's grace.
In this way, the individual's responsibility to hear the Gospel and to believe in Jesus Christ is not ignored. Without the positive volition to listen to the Gospel and without positive volition to believe in Christ, there is no way to have eternal salvation.
So the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in common and efficacious grace is emphasized, although in the process of receiving it we are unaware of it.
"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Rom 10:17' What is presented in the Gospel must be the Word of God and it must be accurate. You must understand the Gospel before you can make a decision, for or against faith alone in Christ alone for salvation. Acts 16:31;
Given the heresies that are often taught when defining Efficacious Grace we must be clear regarding what it is and what it isn't.
In Calvinistic theology efficacious grace is called "irresistible grace," that corresponds to the "I" in the acronym "TULIP".
This view is explained by Dr. John Walvoord of Dallas Theological Seminary as "the instantaneous work of God empowering the human will and inclining the human heart toward faith." This view puts the cart before the horse and doesn't really explain the actual doctrine very well.
Efficacious grace isn't the Holy Spirit "inclining" us to faith. God the Holy Spirit does not work on our volition. If He did that would destroy free will. The reality is that God the Holy Spirit takes the faith that is freely expressed when unbelievers use their ineffective faith to believe and makes that faith effective for salvation.
We see from this that the Calvinistic definition of efficacious grace as "irresistible grace" contradicts God's Word so it is wrong, It disregards the fact that in the divine decree the sovereignty of God and the free will of man coexist in human history for the purpose of resolving the prehistoric angelic conflict.
During the course of human history the angels are learning that God's prehistoric judgment on the fallen angels was a just and fair. They learn this by watching the function of uncoerced human volition as it interacts with God's sovereignty in providing salvation for spiritually dead mankind.
The angels see human free will that accepts Christ, and they see human free will that rejects Christ. This coexistence of divine sovereignty and human volition is how God determined to resolve the angelic conflict experientially through the positive volition of spiritual dead mankind.
God invented human free will that can choose to operate in dependence on God or independent from God, as demonstrated by the fact that God permits mankind to function in sin and evil. The problem with the Calvinistic system is that it does not recognize that God is resolving the prehistoric angelic conflict with the freewill decisions that mankind makes during human history.
The 5-point Calvinistic view of irresistible grace contradicts the Divine decree because it implies coercion and compulsion and rejects the function of free human volition.
The most basic passages of scripture teach human positive volition versus negative volition, as in John 3:36; "He who believes on the Son has everlasting life. But he who does not believe shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." This verse does not contradict the Divine decree.
The correct view of efficacious grace is that God the Holy Spirit, using His omnipotence, makes the ineffective faith of the spiritually dead person effective for salvation.
The incorrect view is that of "irresistible grace" in the Calvinistic view, that claims that God the Holy Spirit works on the will rather than the faith of the spiritually dead person. This is one of the worst errors in 5 point Calvinism.
Efficacious grace means that the instant act of God the Holy Spirit on the faith of the spiritually dead person results in salvation immediately. In that moment of time, God does at least forty things for us.
God's call is an invitation to believe in Jesus Christ that is not effectual unless the spiritually dead person responds by believing in Jesus Christ. This is when omnipotence of the Holy Spirit causes faith in Jesus Christ from one who is totally helpless because of spiritual death to become efficacious, which means it is effective for salvation.
This brings Gods grace into view. We are hopelessly helpless; we are spiritually dead with spiritual brain death. We cannot understand anything that is spiritual so God the Holy Spirit in common grace makes it understandable as we listen.
Once we understand the Gospel, we hear God's call to believe in Christ through the communication of the Gospel. If we respond by believing in Christ, the Holy Spirit makes our faith effectual for salvation.
Efficacious grace therefore is not God the Holy Spirit working on the will of mankind to believe in Christ. It is the omnipotence of the God Holy Spirit in transforming the faith of the spiritually dead person into effective faith for salvation.
The doctrine of efficacious grace states that God the Holy Spirit only makes personal faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ is made effective for salvation.
He does not accept faith plus commitment, faith plus lordship, faith plus water baptism or faith plus anything. Efficacious grace recognizes only one thing and one thing only, and that is the faith alone in Jesus Christ.
We have seen that the perfect tense of the Greek verb "tetelestai" in John 19:30; means "finished in the past with the result that it stands finished forever." This is what our Lord Jesus Christ uttered while He was still alive, after He had completed being judged for the sins of the world. That one word eliminates any form of salvation by works.
God's Word clearly explains pre-salvation grace. In common grace the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit makes the Gospel understandable. God the Father issues the divine invitation or call to believe in Christ. Then God the Holy Spirit makes the faith of the spiritually dead person effective for eternal salvation.
Eph 1:13; "in whom also, when you heard (common grace) the message of truth, the Gospel of your salvation (content of common grace); in whom also, when you believed (efficacious grace), then you were sealed by means of the Spirit." The sealing ministry of the Spirit is God's signature guarantee of salvation.
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