Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Coming to Christ

This Sunday I'll be preaching on Romans 10 - a chapter which is beautiful in it's tone and perspective on God's sovereign choice and the way in which sinners come to Him. Needless to say, I've spent much grappling over the current subject for some time. And, I'm wanting to discuss it at further length with all of you who participate in my blog.

Let's focus on Romans 10:9-14: "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed?..."
In this passage, Paul is discussing what the righteousness of faith says to the world - Jews and Gentiles alike. In verse 9, Paul begins to discuss what is included in coming to Christ. I've found verses 9 and 10 to be somewhat confusing because Paul seems to distinguish between confession and believing and says that we're justified when we believe and then we're saved when we confess. However, in the context, these two words (justify and saved) are basically synonymous. According to R.C. Sproul, Paul changes the order of confession and believing in 9 and 10 to show the absolute necessity there is in linking confession with belief.

A question still remains - what about this "calling" that's mentioned in verses 12-14 (after which confession is not even mentioned)? How does calling relate to a believer's coming to Christ? Obviously, Paul "assumes that one must call upon the name of the Lord to be saved" (Systematic Theology, Grudem, p. 116). However, how does Paul separate "calling" and "confession" while still maintaining "sola fide?"

Here is where my studies have led me thus far. To quote Grudem again,
"Jesus speaks of 'coming to him' in several places. He says, 'All that the Father gives me will come ot me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out' (John 6:37). He also says, 'If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink" (John 7:37).... In these passages we have the idea of coming to Christ and asking for acceptance, for living water to drink, and for rest and instruction. All of these give an intensely personal picture of what is involved in saving faith" (Systematic Theology, p. 711).
I will try to pull his quote together and support it with biblical insight. As we all know, the basic definition of faith is trust in or reliance/dependence on someone or some thing. But, what does that entail? And, again, how do we maintain "sola fide?"

"'J.I. Packer presents [faith] as an 'appropriating instrument, an empty hand outstretched to receive the free gift of God's righteousness in Christ'" (Christ the Lord, p. 103). Packer and Grudem describe faith as something which goes outside of the person to another for salvation. And, faith includes "calling" or "asking" for forgiveness from the individual it goes to. This is even obvious in passages like Joel 2, Romans 10:13, Acts 2:32, etc.

So, how is "calling" and "asking" not a work? The answer is because these two things are an outflow of what true faith is at it's core. If we truly posess faith, we must be depending on Jesus. And, that dependence looks like going to Him for salvation. As John Piper says, "Coming to God for salvation means believing on Christ in your heart for all that he has done for you, and then giving expression to that with your mouth by confessing him and calling on him as Lord" (www.desiringgod.org).

What I love about Piper's definition is that he puts this all together (using Romans 10). He states that confessing and calling are merely an expression of your faith. So, that is not a work. It's merely the natural verbalization of what you believe.

What can be said of those who "don't know when they were saved?" Again, it's the heart attitude that matters. The heart attitude is one that goes to Christ, and depends on Him by calling to Him for salvation.

With all of this, I will close with Calvin's quote on this passage:
"...the apostle, in order to show that true faith cannot be indifferent about calling upon God, has laid down this order: just as faith is born from the gospel, so through it our hearts are trained to call upon God's name [Rom. 10:14-17]" (Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion 2, ed. John T. McNeill, p. 850).




22 comments:

AgapeTheologian said...

Very nice post! Can you please remind me what "Sola Fide" means again. You are not saying that Faith is a work, and asking is a part of faith. Rather, it's all a gift from God. Also, where do we get the idea that Faith comes from God. I know faith in God given, but where is that located in scripture. Thanks again for your post.


In Prayers,


-AgapeTheologian

PT2 said...

"Sola Fide" means Faith ALONE!

And, I'm saying that "calling/asking" is a part of saving faith. Then we give expression to that by confessing and calling on Him as Lord.

Make sense?

Gage Browning said...

Agape,

Eph 2:9--... and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

Gage Browning said...

In my study I couldn’t help but be reminded of that great and
wonderful scene where the prophet Elijah was in he cave when he was running from Jezebel. There are some amazing literary
parallels between the two passages. Consider whether or not Paul may have had this very passage in mind as he was writing Romans 10. Elijah had had this tremendous battle with the
prophets of Baal and had called down fire from heaven to consume their offerings and even the altar and he had led the Israelites to kill the prophets of Baal and then he had gotten a word from Jezebel, “May the Lord do so to me
and even more if you are not dead by the end of the day.” So Elijah had decided to relocate and had relocated to this particular cave. Then in 1 Kings 19:11.
"The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks
before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 14 He replied, "I
have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites
have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

I think Elijah wanted a practical demonstration of the power of God
and what God was answering was that the power of God is the Word of God and as God’s prophet that word was right in his mouth. God was saying, “You are worried about zealousness, and power. You are worried about all those things
and as my prophet I have given you the authority to speak the Word of God and that is all you need. The power you are looking for is right there in you mouth.”
Now it seems to me that that is exactly the point Paul is making in Romans 10. It seems to me he is saying, “You think you can obey the law. You think your obedience can help you to ascend into heaven and pull the Messiah down or
descend into hell and pull the Messiah up and there is no need for that because the word of salvation is right there in your mouth and here it is, ‘You
must confess that Jesus is Lord.’”
Now what does that mean? Is there some magic in saying the phrase, “Jesus is Lord?” It is some sort of theological magical catch phrase that will guarantee
salvation? No, it’s not that at all. You see to a Jew to say that Jesus was Lord was to confess the Jesus was the great covenant keeping God of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament the word “Lord” was applied only to Yahweh. Therefore, when Paul asks his Jewish brothers to confess Jesus as Lord he is asking them to
confess Jesus to be their great covenant keeping God. Paul is asking them to confess that Jesus is the God who came into the world to redeem sinners from their sin. For many Jews that would have been a complete reversal of everything
they believed and for many it would have involved an admission that Jesus was the fulfillment of all of the prophecy of the Old Testament. Then in verse 10, Paul says this:
Romans 10:10… For it is with your heart that you believe and are
justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
You see his point is this, “I love the Jews and I want them to come to faith and they disobeyed the Word of God by not believing in Jesus but they can still come in. They can still be united to God as His great covenant people. All they
have to do is confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and they too will be saved because no one that trusts in Him will ever be disappointed.”

PT2 said...

Thanks for the exposition, gage.

What's also interesting about Romans 10 is the connection between verses 11 and 13.

Meaning that "calling" is simply an expression of true belief. While confession is also an expression of true belief (as noted in the preceeding verses).

AgapeTheologian said...

Hey,


Where does it state that Faith is a gift from God. I totally believe it's from God. But where scripturally does it say this? Eph 2:8-9 says salvation is a gift, and it's through faith. But where does it say Faith is from God? Make sense?


Also, if you would please pray for me tomorrow. I need God to use me as I preach to my class tomorrow. It doesn't have to be long, but I have decided to talk on the Trinity. I do hope to come across clearly and that God will use me...


In Prayers,


-AgapeTheologian

Gage Browning said...

Agape,

Your exposition is half right...
The salvation, and the faith, and the whole gracious work together, are not of ourselves (but all collectively are a gift from God).
Paul's argument allows for no boasting... if Faith were not a gift, I could boast of my faith, but Paul lays the axe at the root of all human pride... even the faith to apprehend Christ is a Gift. That's why verse 9 says what it says.

Salvation is a "gift" from the hand of God and is not, therefore, "from ourselves" or "by works" (vv. 8-9)—God Himself mercifully grants all that the sinner needs, including both faith and repentance, so that the whole act of salvation from start to finish may be properly called a divine "gift" (cf. Acts 18:27; Phil. 1:29).

Acts 18:27 "When Apollos wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he assisted greatly those who had believed by grace."

Phil 1:29 "For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him."

Gage Browning
Experimental Calvinism

AspiringTheologian said...

You are right - Sola Fide does not mean faith exclusively without works, but that salvation is only by faith. Faith is evidenced by works, confession, etc.

To say that faith alone is evidence of Christianity would be antinomianism. The works come as a result of faith - that's what Scripture says.

Was there a particular part of your post you wanted me to comment on? I hope your sermon goes well.

God bless,

A. Shepherd
The Aspiring Theologian

PT2 said...

gage,

Thanks for taking the time to answer agape's questions.

Also, aspiring, what I find interesting in Romans 10 is that Paul doesn't just say that confession is a work resulting from faith (although I believe it is). Paul says that confession and calling are the heartcry's of faith.

Basically this post is trying to state that calling on the Lord is necessary for salvation - not because it's something we do to get God, but it's part of faith at the core. That is an outcry of fath. It's part of dependence.

Sola-fied said...

So, to try to understand what you're all saying is that, although good works don't gain you your salvation, they are still an essential part in your persevering throughout your Christian life, right? And, although salvation is only "gained" through faith alone, if you do not show a change in your life through your "good works" then you really never had a true faith to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Right, sola-fied, but one thing that you have to realize is that, although faith is what "gains" you your salvation, you cannot have that faith unless God has elected you to be saved. And God is the One who truly even gives you the strength to persevere in the first place. In Romans 9: 14-18 it says that God has mercy and compassion on whom He desires. It says that it doesn't depend on man who "wills" but on God "who has mercy." And remember, although God "desires" that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9), God's will (I believe for the purpose of maximizing His glory) - (Eph. 1:5-12) is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so if God elects people, then wouldn't that mean that they're just going to come to Him no matter what? Why bother doing anything. (By the way, I would like someone other than the Grudem guy to answer me)

Grudem Calvinist Student (in spirit) said...

Anonymous... I think that you might need to study the scripture some more before you start accusing my post.

Please, get the facts straight and pay attention to what we're actually talking - so as to not get off subject.

AspiringTheologian said...

Anonymous, think about your question for a moment. If God predestines that something will live, does that mean that the thing shouldn't worry about drinking or eating or breathing? No. God will use those things to keep the thing alive. Just like God uses us to evangelize and bring His chosen into the fold.

PT2, I agree - it is an outcry.

God bless,

A. Shepherd
The Aspiring Theologian

On Calvinism

Anonymous said...

One commentor asked,"Where does it state that Faith is a gift from God. I totally believe it's from God. But where scripturally does it say this?"

~ Hebrews 12:2 says, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (bolding mine)

Hope this helps.

Arminian Advocate (Anonymous) said...

That verse says that JESUS is the author and finisher of our faith - implying that because He died on the cross we therefore don't have to offer animals or sacrifices (except our own lives and). It's not saying that He GIVES us the faith, but that He allows to now have a faith where we don't have to offer sacrifices. It even says later in that verse that He "...ENDURED THE CROSS..." It may be a gift, but does that mean that we HAVE to accept it?

G. Calvinist Student said...

Arminian, you are completely taking away from what that verse is saying. Obviously it's not saying what it is that you are implying. There are dozens of other verses that completely contradict what it is that you're saying. In Eph. 1:5-12 it says that "He predestined us to adoption as sons THROUGH JESUS CHRIST..." This verse along with the Hebrews verse CLEARLY shows why Jesus died on the cross - which is so that we might be adopted through Him for a final sacrifice. The verse goes on to say, "... according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of His glory and grace... In him we have redemption THROUGH HIS BLOOD... which He lavished on US." Paul here is saying that Jesus gave his life for the elect, His beloved. He gave to those who were saved, and all those who were to be saved. "He made known to US the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention... in Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been PREDESTINED according to HIS purpose who works all things after the counsel of HIS will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. (vs. 13) In Him, you also, AFTER LISTENING TO THE GOSPEL OF TRUTH (implying that He uses preaching and spreading the gospel to accomplish HIS PURPOSE), the gospel of your salvation..." You have more than enough evidence in these verses that God elects peolpl (for HIS own purposes), not because of anything that we have ever done (,are doing, or will ever do) to merit His favor toward us. You are completely taking that verse way out of context. Look at the Scriptures and what God has to say versus believing what may be the easiest to believe as a human being. STUDY, STUDY, STUDY, and you will really understand what God has to say.

Sola-fied said...

So... anyway. Calling, then, is an expression of faith. It is a gift from God. And there is a general calling (which is the Bible and preachers and stuff), but there is also an effectual calling (which is the work of God in a specific way in a specific person). Please! Let us get back to the subject of this post - which is about faith and just coming to Christ, not salvation DIRECTLY.

oakleyses said...

louis vuitton outlet online, louis vuitton handbags, oakley sunglasses, burberry outlet online, prada outlet, coach purses, longchamp outlet online, michael kors outlet online, jordan shoes, nike outlet, louis vuitton outlet, tiffany and co jewelry, michael kors outlet store, coach outlet, chanel handbags, tiffany jewelry, nike free, longchamp handbags, christian louboutin, true religion, christian louboutin shoes, polo ralph lauren outlet, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, michael kors outlet, longchamp outlet, burberry outlet online, louis vuitton, ray ban sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, coach outlet, gucci handbags, coach outlet store online, christian louboutin outlet, tory burch outlet online, michael kors handbags, red bottom shoes, polo ralph lauren, kate spade outlet online, oakley vault, nike air max, ray ban outlet, michael kors outlet online, prada handbags, kate spade outlet, true religion outlet, nike air max

oakleyses said...

nike air max, chaussure louboutin, lululemon, michael kors uk, nike roshe, burberry pas cher, true religion jeans, timberland, true religion outlet, hermes pas cher, air max pas cher, barbour, ralph lauren, scarpe hogan, nike free, nike roshe run, louis vuitton uk, mulberry, michael kors canada, ray ban uk, hollister, north face, air max, north face pas cher, louis vuitton pas cher, air jordan, converse pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, sac louis vuitton, nike air force, nike air max, longchamp, hollister, nike blazer pas cher, sac michael kors, oakley pas cher, lacoste pas cher, vans pas cher, nike free pas cher, guess pas cher, ray ban pas cher, louis vuitton, abercrombie and fitch, tn pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, new balance pas cher, longchamp pas cher

oakleyses said...

north face jackets, lululemon outlet, babyliss pro, vans outlet, birkin bag, insanity workout, giuseppe zanotti, asics shoes, mac cosmetics, abercrombie and fitch, canada goose outlet, ghd, nike roshe, uggs on sale, ugg boots, nike trainers, herve leger, soccer shoes, ugg soldes, replica watches, p90x workout, soccer jerseys, ferragamo shoes, beats headphones, uggs outlet, longchamp, valentino shoes, ugg outlet, marc jacobs outlet, jimmy choo shoes, ugg, instyler ionic styler, mcm handbags, mont blanc pens, new balance outlet, uggs outlet, chi flat iron, canada goose, ugg boots, reebok shoes, canada goose outlet, canada goose outlet, hollister, nike huarache, wedding dresses, bottega veneta, celine handbags, north face outlet, nfl jerseys

oakleyses said...

moncler, links of london uk, moncler, moncler outlet, juicy couture outlet, uggs canada, moncler outlet, supra shoes, canada goose pas cher, hollister canada, louboutin, hollister clothing, baseball bats, iphone 6 case, toms outlet, canada goose, swarovski uk, replica watches, wedding dress, juicy couture outlet, timberland shoes, converse shoes, parajumpers outlet, pandora jewelry, gucci, moncler, hollister, moncler, thomas sabo uk, swarovski jewelry, nike air max, pandora charms, vans, montre femme, oakley, pandora uk, louis vuitton canada, karen millen, converse, air max, ray ban, lancel, coach outlet, ralph lauren, canada goose, moncler, ugg, canada goose