In this presentation, I want to explain why the change of heart I mentioned in the Message of Christianity takes place in the life of a person who listens to and trusts the eye witness testimony written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
In order to do that, we are going to take a look at the Order of Salvation.
The Order of Salvation is a collection of 10 different doctrines. I want to begin by giving you the names of all ten doctrines, then we will begin to look at them one at a time. The names of the ten doctrines in the Order of Salvation are Election, The Gospel Call, Regeneration, Conversion, Justification, Adoption, Sanctification, Perseverance, Death and Glorification.
The first doctrine we are going to look at is known as Election.
Wayne Grudem says “Election is an act of God before creation in which he chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his sovereign good pleasure.”
In other words, we believe God had a plan. We believe that God’s plan on how to fix the problems caused by the corruption in human nature was already prepared before he created the universe and began filling it with people whose lives would be broken by the existence of evil.
Let me give you one reason we think this way. One reason we believe this is because in Romans chapter 8:28-30 (ESV), the Bible says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
There are other places in the Bible were we are shown that God had a plan to clean up the lives of those who love God, and his plan will not fail. The bad news is that not everyone is interested in receiving the benefits of God’s plans, not everyone living in this world loves God back.
We need the teachers in your area to help the people gathering around the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ explore the consequences of election for those who love God and those people who “loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19 ESV)
The Gospel Call
Our next concern is to look at the doctrine known as the Gospel Call.
Wayne Grudem says “we may define effective calling as follows: effective calling is an act of God the Father, speaking through the human proclamation of the Gospel, in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond with saving faith.”
The doctrine of the Gospel call is found by connecting passages like Romans 3:23 with Acts 17:30 together. In Romans :23 the Bible says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” which blends in very well with Acts 17:30 which says “the times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”
We believe the change of heart I mentioned in The Message of Christianity can only take place when God and a Christian speak in agreement. We catch a glimpse of this in Acts 16:14 (ESV) which says “The Lord opened her her to give heed to what was said by Paul.”
When the Lord opened Lydia’s heart, she experienced regeneration. Wayne Grudem says “we may define regeneration as follows: Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us.” This new spiritual life was promised to us in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 36:28 (ESV), the Bible says God “will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.”
The implication here is that God has to perform a miracle in our lives that will allow us to have faith and live in repentance from the corruption that was important to us in our old way of life. This results in what has commonly been called conversion.
Wayne Grudem says “we may define conversion as follows: Conversion is our willing response to the Gospel call, in which we sincerely repent of our sins and place our trust in Christ for salvation.”
The Bible mentions the importance of this in Isaiah 55:6-7 (ESV), which says this: “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near, let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, let him return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
The point here is there is a choice we have to make. When someone shares The Message of Christianity, God will b e speaking to invite the person listening to “seek the Lord” by believing that Jesus Christ is the only way we can be reconciled with God.
This leads to our justification.
Wayne Grudem says “Just what is justification? We may define it as follows: Justification is an instanteousness legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s forgiveness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight.”
In Romans 8:1 (ESV) the Bible says “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” and by faith we agree that in order for someone to be on good terms with God, there has to be a moment when God sits down on his throne and makes a decree saying He will not hold that person responsible for the corruption in their lives.
In response to this offer of forgiveness, the Bible says “blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Romansa 4:8 ESV) In addition to our justification, we also receive adoption.
What exactly is adoption? Wayne Grudem says “we may define adoption as follows: Adoption is an act of God whereby he makes us members of his family.” We need the teachers in your area to help people understand the significance of this doctrine.
The reality is that the corruption that exists in human nature has made us “children of wrath” according to Ephesians 2:3 who “are of your father the devil” according to John 8:42-44. This is the status we have before God the moment we are born in this world.
The Message of Christianity is that we can be redeemed – God wants to rescue us from the influence of evil spirits by adoption so we can live our lives as adopted sons under His influence.
His influence is known as sanctification.
Wayne Grudem says “sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.” In other words, sanctification is a life long process that the Christian experiences so that God can repair the damage done in the past to the person being redeemed by the influence of evil spirits.
When a person has the change of heart resulting in trusting the eye witness testimony we enter a training period where we can learn how to live our lives in a way that “sin will have no dominion over you” according to Romans 6:14.
This process makes significant changes in how we live our lives, as well as all of our personal relationships with friends and family members. The lifestyle change that begins to take place can cause problems, which bring us to the next doctrine in the Order of Salvation – the Perseverance of the Saints.
The Perseverance of the Saints
Wayne Grudem says “the perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.”
The point here is that if you have made a decision to move in God’s direction, God’s enemies will begin using promises of pleasure and threats of pain to distract and mislead you. For example, if you live in a part of the English speaking world where people have freedom to worship, God’s enemies will begin making the decision to attend services hard on you.
In Matthew 10 Jesus said that “a brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”
The Simple reality is that when we decide to want to be faithful to God, the people under the influence of God’s enemies will begin to mistreat us in the hopes of convincing us to walk away. The people under the influence of God’s enemies have even gone so far as to kill Christians who remained faithful to God in the past.
This brings us to the Basic Christian Belief about death.
The Bible explains what happens to a Christian when they die. God has said that when we are “faithful unto death” he will give us “the crown of life” (according to Revelation 2:10 ESV).
When all the bad things an unbelieving world does to us while they are under the influence of evil spirits who want to destroy God’s providential design for our lives, we get to “be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:9 ESV)
If you go back and look at the Order of Salvation, you will notice I still have to talk about Glorification. I am not going to talk about the doctrine of glorification yet, I will come back to that later. As a final thought on this presentation, I want to encourage you to examine your own livers to see how much of these things you experience on a regular basis because of who Jesus is.
The Fifth Task of the Teacher involves helping others become familiar with these aspects of the Christian faith after you have spent years becoming familiar with them in your own life.