What Difference Does It Make?—II -- By: Mark Webb

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 03:2 (Spring 1994)
Article: What Difference Does It Make?—II
Author: Mark Webb

What Difference Does It Make?—II

Mark Webb

In the first part of this two-part series I began by showing the importance of doctrinal concern. I connected that importance to practical, pastoral concern by stating that the doctrines of grace, those truths which anchor the gospel in God’s sovereign grace, are most useful in living the Christian life. Often this point is missed in debates surrounding this matter. One gets the feeling that all of this is just grist for the theologian’s “debate mill.” We are attempting to show, in our two articles, that this is not the case. Rather, it will make immense practical difference in your life and mine when we confess that grace is totally sovereign in the purpose and application of redemption.

Who Can Come? The Doctrine of Effectual Grace

What is it, exactly, that saves the soul of a human being? You might think that I would reply that it is God’s election, or choice, of that person. Yet that’s simply not true. God in His election makes choice of individuals to salvation, and that choice will not be thwarted, but “election to salvation” and “salvation” are not the same thing. Otherwise a person would be saved at the moment God makes choice of them, before the foundation of the world. Yet it is clear from Scripture that the elect enter this world “by nature, objects of wrath” (Eph. 2:3), needing to be saved.

Others might say that it’s the death of Christ in a person’s stead which saves his soul. To be sure, without His death, no one would be saved. Yet Christ’s death for His people, which secures, purchases, and guarantees their salvation, does not immediately bring salvation upon His people. Else all those for whom He died would be saved at the moment His work on Calvary was finished 2, 000 years ago. Yes, He bought their salvation—but He bought it, and it is His! The merit, the value, and the efficacy of what He did was not distributed immediately upon His death, but resides in His person.

The life Christ obtained for His people is never bestowed apart from Himself. A man will obtain this life only when he comes into a living union with Christ, who is life indeed. Whoever a man may be—elect or not—outside of Christ, he is outside of life (1 John 5:12), and “God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36). How, then, does a sinner receive this new life in Christ?

Election, as we have seen previously, is unconditional—but salvation is not! There are conditions which must be met if a man ever comes to salvation: He must come to l...

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