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The Plan of God and Individual Salvation

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Dear Friends,

Below is the final excerpt of "God's Plan to Save You", part I of the forthcoming part 4B of the Bible Basics series, "Soteriology".  As always, I appreciate your help in finding typos or other problems.  The two previous parts can be found at these links:

Excerpt #1 from Soteriology:  "Faith:  What is it?"

Excerpt #2 from Soteriology:  "Free-will faith and the Will of God"

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill


 

a. Foreknowledge and the Divine Decrees

Grass withers. Flowers fade. But the Word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:8

The term "divine decrees", while not occurring in scripture, is the traditional theological terminology used to express the fact that all of creature history has come about as the result of the express will of God. The logos, or divine "word" (i.e., a single, unified "decree"), as expressing this overall Plan of God, is a better term on two scores: 1) as we have seen above, it is a biblical designation; 2) unlike "decrees", which with their plural number may indicate something reactive, logos presents the Plan of God as it actually is, namely, a unified and comprehensive whole: everything that has happened, is happening, or will happen from the beginning of time to the end has been determined in a perfect, all-encompassing totality which has left nothing to chance. Indeed, there can be no "chance", since God has foreordained, God has "decreed" every event in the history of the world no matter how seemingly minute and insignificant (cf. Ps.104:10-30), and since without His decree nothing could ever have taken place.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21 NIV

"Do you not fear Me?" declares the Lord, "Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it."
Jeremiah 5:22 NASB

(29) Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. (30) And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (31) So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31 NIV

If this complete taking into account of every possible action is true of what we might see as random events, how much more is it not so in the case of the free-will actions of moral creatures?

A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.
Job 14:5 NIV

(8) Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. (9) For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. (10) The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. (11) But the plans (lit., singular) of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Psalm 33:8-11 NIV

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:16b NIV (cf. Job 21:21; Ps 31:15a; 39:4; 90:12)

Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?
Lamentations 3:37 NIV

As the Creator, God invented, created, and controls time (cf. Josh.10:13-14). Everything that has ever happened or ever will happen has already been decreed by Him (Ps.56:8; 139:16; Jer.33:25; Rom.8:28-30; Eph.1:11; 1Pet.1:2). While this is true of everything without exception, scripture emphasizes three major areas of God's foreordained control of events: 1) Jesus Christ, the Logos, the One for whom and through whom all things have been created, and the One without whom none of what goes on under the sun would have any point whatsoever; 2) God's morally responsible creatures (i.e., human beings and angels), namely, those who have been created to respond to Jesus Christ; 3) history itself, the process wherein God allows the free-will of His creatures to determine their eternal status (and, in the case of believers, our eternal rewards). As is no doubt clear from the above description, these three are in fact indistinguishable: Jesus is here for us, we are here for Jesus, and history is the "here" we presently and temporarily inhabit.

1) Jesus Christ: As we have had occasion to demonstrate many times in the past, Jesus Christ is the central Person of history.1 His becoming a human beings proves that mankind is not somehow God's second best (cf. Heb.2:16), while His sacrifice on the cross is both the cornerstone of the Plan of God and the true focal point of all creature history. For, in a very fundamental way, Jesus is the Plan God: we have been created and have been placed here in time in order to respond to God with our divinely constructed free-will, and that response must come in the form of accepting the Person and the work of Jesus Christ, of believing and accepting the word (or gospel) concerning Him who is the Word (or logos) of God. It is therefore impossible to speak of history from the divine point of view without speaking of the One for whom history has been created: we are here and "here" exists that we may respond to Him.

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day."
John 6:44 NIV

And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to Myself.
John 12:32

These passages not only show the eagerness on behalf of the Father and the Son to save all of humanity but also their active involvement in the lives of all human beings to draw each and every one to salvation. But in fact few respond to God's will, God's desire, and God's not insubstantial efforts to lead all of His children to salvation (Christ died for all, and the entire universe is structured to proclaim His glory and the need for salvation). In reality, therefore, this failure to be saved has nothing to do with God who has made every provision for salvation, most particularly in the gift of His one and only dear Son to die on our behalf, but has everything to do with the hardened hearts of mankind who by and large are unwilling to accept the gift at the price of acknowledging Christ's Person and Christ's work for them. Thus it is that from the divine perspective the cross divides human history not only chronologically (with all of human history before it anticipating that fundamental event and with all of human history afterwards looking back to it) but also individually: the cross divides the believer from his or her former life of unbelief and his or her new birth and entrance into the family of God by grace through faith; the cross divides the unbeliever from God because of his or her unwillingness to enter through the one and only gate of salvation: faith in the Person and work of the One who died to make that salvation available to all. In every respect, then, Jesus' life and death for us all really is "the conjunction of the ages" (Heb.9:26; cf. Rom.5:6; Gal.4:4; 1Tim.2:6).

(1) God, from antiquity having communicated to our fathers in the prophets at many times and in many ways, (2) has in these last days communicated to us in a Son, [the One] whom He has appointed heir of all things, [the One] through whom He created the universe. (3) He is the shining forth of [the Father's] glory, the precise image of His essence, the One who sustains the universe by His mighty Word. When He had accomplished the cleansing of [our] sins, He took His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Hebrews 1:1-3

As the passage above makes so very clear, the coming of Jesus Christ and His death for us on the cross separated the previous time of shadows from the present time of reality. Christ’s sacrifice is the cornerstone upon which the Plan of God is founded (Ps.118:22; Is.8:13-15; 28:16; Dan.2:34-45; Matt.16:18; 21:42; 1Cor.10:4; 1Pet.2:4-8), so that all of history as it actually unfolds according to the eternal decrees of God is predicated upon the cross (Eph.1:9-10; Col.1:17-20; 2Tim.1:9-10; cf. Matt.21:42; Rom.5:6; 8:29-30; 1Cor.8:6; Eph.2:20; 1Pet.2:6-7; Heb.9:26).

I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.
Psalm 2:7 NASB

The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!
Luke 22:22 NIV

And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
Acts 10:42 KJV

(3) [The gospel] which is about [God's] Son, the One who was born of the seed of David according to His flesh, (4) and ordained as God's Son by the power of the Spirit of Holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 1:3-4

(8) To me, the least of all His holy ones, this gracious charge has been entrusted: to proclaim to the gentiles the unfathomable wealth that is Christ, (9) and to shed light on this mystery[, the calling out of the gentiles] which is now being brought to pass (lit., "the dispensation" of it), though it was once hidden from the ages in God who created everything. (10) God [did this] so that [His] enigmatically intricate wisdom might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms through the agency of the Church, (11) according to His plan for the ages (i.e., history) which He has implemented in [the person of] Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 3:8-11

Everything in the heavens and on the earth was created by Him (Jesus Christ), things invisible as well as those visible – whether thrones, authorities, rulers or powers, everything was created through Him and for Him. And He Himself is before everything, and everything subsists in Him.
Colossians 1:16-17

(18) For you know that it was not with perishable things [like] silver or gold that you were ransomed from the futile manner of life passed down to you by your ancestors, (19) but [you were redeemed] with precious blood, like that of a lamb without spot or blemish, [that is, by the blood] of Christ [Jesus, (20) whose coming was] foreknown (and subsequently predestined) before the creation of the world, but who appeared [in the flesh] at the end of times because of us (i.e., for our salvation).
1st Peter 1:18-20

It should not be surprising that scripture should emphasize the foreordination of Jesus and His sacrifice, for without Him and His work in dying on our behalf history would not only have been meaningless – it would have been impossible. For Jesus is the very Word of God, the Logos; He is the Plan of God, the foundation, the cornerstone, and the agent of it, so that everything in history comes down to Jesus Christ and His work (Jn.1:1-5; Heb.1:1-3). Viewed from the individual perspective, therefore, our response to Him is what life is really all about. "Jesus and us, and what we do about it" is the true essence of human life and human history.

2) Individuals: As Christ was foreordained to come into the world as a human being and die for the sins of the world, so those for whom He died have likewise been foreordained to creation and, for all who will accept God's gracious offer of salvation, to eternal life. We believers are the Bride of Christ and exist for Jesus Christ (2Cor.11:2-3; Eph.1:22-23; 5:22-33; Rev.21:2-4; 21:9ff.; 22:17; cf. 1Cor.15:23). For that reason our lives have been predestined as well so that the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have been predetermined by the Plan of God for salvation, Savior and saved foreknown in the thinking and planning of the Lord since before time began.

(47) For this is what the Lord has commanded us: "I have made you [Jesus Christ] a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth." (48) When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
Acts 1:47-48 NIV

No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
1st Corinthians 2:7 NIV

(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing heaven has [to offer], (4) seeing that even before the world was founded He chose us in Him to be sanctified and blameless before Him.
Ephesians 1:3-4

[God] who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not through our works, but through His own [sovereign] choice [of us] and [His] grace [towards us], [that grace] which was given to us in Christ Jesus in eternity past.
2nd Timothy 1:9

(1) Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for [the purpose of aiding] the faith of the elect and their acceptance of the truth which accords with godliness, (2) in the hope of eternal life which God who cannot lie promised before time began, (3) and [who] has [now] at just the right time revealed His Plan (lit., logos) through the proclamation [of the gospel] with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.
Titus 1:1-3

And all the inhabitants of the earth will worship [the beast], [that is, all] whose names are not [still] written in the book of life [where they were written] from the beginning of the world, [even the book] which belongs to the Lamb who was slain.
Revelation 13:8

3) History: Putting the above two principles together, we can see clearly that from God's point of view human history is in its essence the process of uniting Christ with His Bride – everything else is superficial. The primary purpose of human history is to function as "God’s threshing floor" (Matt.3:12), being designed by Him to demonstrate beyond any doubt what we His moral creatures really have chosen in life (the choice for or against Christ determining our eternal future) and just how emphatically we have chosen it (our choices in following Christ forming the basis for our eternal rewards). Through Jesus, God the Father created the universe in an instant, but in Jesus, He required three full hours to judge the sins of the world on the cross in the darkness as our Lord bore our sins that we might have the opportunity of eternal life. We believe in an instant, but our decision determines our eternal future, and all of our faith-choices thereafter have consequences that last for all eternity. Only through this process of conflict and choice in time would we ever have been able to come to learn about who and what God is in terms of His love for us, manifest supremely in the gift and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and played out in our reception of the grace thereby provided at salvation and in a plethora of ways thereafter. This is the proper, biblical perspective of history, not a geological or chronological time-line, not a narrative of civilizations, peoples, wars, politics and culture, but the calling out of God's people, their selection and their proving in the crucible of the devil's world, all based upon the salvation provided for by the blood of Christ. All the other events of "history" have in fact been woven into the true, spiritual narrative by our omniscient, omnipotent, all-wise and loving God with our salvation and spiritual growth through faith in Jesus Christ being the primary objective and concern (cf. Is.22:11; 25:1; 37:26; 44:8; Dan.9:24-27; Amos 3:6; Acts 17:31; Eph.2:10).

The Lord works out everything to its proper end – even the wicked for a day of disaster.
Proverbs 16:4 NIV

In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.
Proverbs 21:1 NIV

"Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone."
2nd Kings 19:25

The Lord Almighty has sworn, "Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen."
Isaiah 14:24 NIV

"I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, 'My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.' "
Isaiah 46:9-10 NIV

(26) For from one man [Adam], [God] created the nations of mankind, that they might inhabit the entire face of the earth. And He predetermined both their appointed times and the boundaries of their settlement, (27) that they might seek God, if perhaps they might even [deign to] grope after Him and so come to find Him – for He is not far from any one of us.
Acts 17:26-27

The Foreknowledge Question: Since in His plan God has foreordained human history in its most minute details, the question of His foreknowledge as being potentially inconsistent with genuine free will often comes up in theological discussions. However, those who see divine foreknowledge and human choice as either incompatible or their interaction as somehow "mysterious" have misunderstood what scripture teaches on this account. The fact of God knowing in full omniscience all that would happen in human history and decreeing it before the fact most definitely does not in any vitiate the free will of His moral creatures. Rather, it empowers, establishes and ratifies it.

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
Romans 3:31 NIV

God could not possibly "not know" ahead of time and in perfect detail all that would happen as a result of His decision to create us (and the universe for us). A vitally important part of that knowledge was His prior, complete understanding of everything we His creatures would ever do throughout the course of human and angelic history. He knew what in our heart of hearts we would wish to do and He made us and tailored our circumstances accordingly. We, on the other hand, still must actually do what we are ordained to do – completely in accordance with the free will choices God knew we would make and so decreed that we would make. Just as we could never have existed in the first place so as to make the choices we are making without God's foreknowledge and decree, so the fact of His decree makes inevitable this exercise of our free will in precisely the way God has ordained according to the precise choices He knew that we would make. Both God's foreknowledge and subsequent decree of our free will choices on the one hand and our actual making of these choices in the course of human history in accordance with His foreknowledge and decree on the other are immutable and inseparable parts of the same equation. Rather than being contradictory opposites, they are actually perfect complements which not only fit with each other hand-in-glove but could not exist apart from each other: without God's foreknowledge and decree we could never have come into being, and the fact of our existence and free will choice is indicative of and only possible because of God's foreknowledge and decree.

This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge;
Acts 2:23a NIV

They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
Acts 4:28 NIV

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined (i.e., foreordained) to share the likeness of His Son, so that He might be the Firstborn over many brothers [and sisters].
Romans 8:29

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who, though outcasts dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, were yet selected in the foreknowledge of God the Father, by means of the Holy Spirit's consecration, for the obedience in and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you!
1st Peter 1:1-2

If the theological terminology employed here sounds a bit difficult, the concept itself surely is not. God the Father knew who would believe in Christ, and so made all the arrangements necessary for us who were willing to do so. History is all about the choices we make, the fundamental and most consequential of which is whether or not we are willing to respond to God on His terms in order to be able to spend eternity with Him . . . or not. History has thus been precisely constructed by our loving Father in order to ensure the salvation of all who are willing to be saved (and for our spiritual growth, progress and production thereafter). The fact of His prior knowledge of how each and every one of His moral creatures (in the full and perfect set of such creatures necessary for the process) would respond, given genuine free will, does not remove the choice – rather it necessitates it; likewise, the decree that makes the choice inevitable is what makes the circumstances in which the choice is made possible. Without God's foreknowledge and decree we could not exist and choose; the fact of our existence and choice is a reflection of the foreknowledge of God and His divine decree. God could not help but know us in every detail before the fact, and He has ratified who we wanted to be and what we would choose if given the chance in an eternal decree upon which human history is founded. Rather than making free will impossible, God has enshrined it as the fundamental principle of all He has created. For it is only through God's foreknowledge and decree that the Bride is able to say "I do!" – in uncoerced and genuine free will – to the Groom who had to pay the most amazing price in dying for her sins that she might be able to do so.

b. Predestination, Calling and Election

(28) And we know that, for those who love God, He works everything together for good – [that is to say,] for those who have been called according to His plan. (29) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined (i.e., foreordained) to share the likeness of His Son, so that He might be the Firstborn over many brothers [and sisters]. (30) And those whom He predestined (i.e., foreordained), these He also called [to salvation], and those whom He called, He also justified (i.e., made righteous through faith in Christ), and those whom He justified, these He also glorified (i.e., our future resurrection and eternal life).
Romans 8:28-30

This passage provides us with the progression of God's plan of salvation for individual believers:

foreknowledge > predestination > election/selection > justification/salvation > glorification

Predestination: We have considered above the question of foreknowledge, that is, God's prior and complete comprehension of all that would occur in human and angelic history as a result of His decreeing the commencement of that process of self-selection of all moral agents. Technically speaking, although God knows all the implications of all possible alternative decisions on our part, foreknowledge comprises what would actually happen in the event of creation and the subsequent structuring of history on God's part for what actually did occur.

[Jesus, whose coming was] foreknown (i.e., and so foreordained through predestination) before the creation of the world, but who appeared [in the flesh] at the end of times because of us (i.e., for our salvation).
1st Peter 1:20

Predestination (otherwise known as foreordination) represents God's decree of what He foreknew (cf. Lk.22:22; Acts 2:23; 10:42; 17:26; 17:31; Rom.1:4; Heb.4:7).

"[They gathered together] to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur."
Acts 4:28 NASB

But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
1Corinthians 2:7 NASB

This is particularly true as it applies to individual believers: God knew before hand that, given the chance, we would seize the opportunity of salvation through faith in Christ, and so He has accordingly written us into His plan in such a way so as to accomplish that salvation.

Having predestined (i.e., foreordained) us in [His] love for adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of His will.
Ephesians 1:11

(11) [Jesus], in whom we also have an inheritance, having been predestined (i.e., ordained) according to the design of Him who is working everything out according to the desire of His will.
Ephesians 1:11

Thus predestination represents God's decreeing and thereby establishing what He foreknew:

"This [Jesus], handed over through the agency of lawless men, you put to death by nailing Him [to the cross], according to the predestined will and foreknowledge of God."
Acts 2:23

Calling and Election: Calling is an invitation; election is a selection. While it is true that in His foreknowledge God anticipated both and decreed both according to what would actually transpire in time, from the point of view of individual human beings calling – the invitation to salvation, a life of following Jesus, and eternal life thereafter – precedes election, the actual selection of the individual in question for an eternal part in God's family by means of God's grace – through faith:

(13) And we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation by the sanctification of the Spirit and by faith in the truth. (14) For it is precisely for this purpose (i.e., salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and faith in the truth; v.13) that He called you through our gospel in order that you might gain lasting possession of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (i.e., the resurrection).
2nd Thessalonians 2:13-14

Faith, the essential exercise of our free will in response to God, is the critical factor which distinguishes an "effectual call" from an invitation that is rejected.

For those called [to salvation] are many, but those chosen [for salvation] are few.
Matthew 22:14

God wants all to be saved (many are called), but only chooses for His Son those who want to be saved, namely, that small number throughout the ages who are willing to submit their will to His will by putting their faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ for salvation (few are chosen).

Paul, a servant of God and [appointed] an apostle of Jesus Christ on account of the faith of the elect of God and their full-knowledge (epignosis or "acceptance") of the truth which accords with godliness.
Titus 1:1

Thus it is that when scripture is speaking of believers destined to persevere unto eternal life, the idea of "calling" can be and often is substituted for "elect" and "chosen", since all such believers have been effectually called. The reason for the substitution has to do with emphasis. Election emphasizes our status as those who belong to God; calling emphasizes not only our entrance into His family but also the purpose for which God has called us: faith, salvation, and spiritual growth.

[God] who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not through our works, but through His own [sovereign] choice [of us] and [His] grace [towards us], [that grace] which was given to us in Christ Jesus in eternity past.
2nd Timothy 1:9

We see this progression in the following verses, where those who are called are henceforth elected (i.e., selected or "chosen" when they respond to the call of God in faith), then lead a life of faithful service to Jesus Christ thereafter, securing thereby not only their eternity with Him but their eternal rewards as well.

These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, because He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and called, and elect – and faithful are those with Him.
Revelation 17:14

So strive all that much more then, brothers, to make your calling and election secure through these good works. By devoting yourselves to these things (i.e., virtue, growth and the Christian production which springs from faith) you shall never be tripped up along your way.
2nd Peter 1:10

(11) "Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: (12) not by works but by him who calls—she was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' "
Romans 9:11-12 NIV

Since, in the case of believers, the invitation (or calling) is definitely followed by faith acceptance which results immediately in our selection (election), it is easy to see how the two words, calling and election, can be used as virtual synonyms (Rom.8:28; 9:24-26; 1Cor.1:9; 1:24; 5:11; 5:17; etc.).  For we are called to the godly purpose of salvation and spiritual growth (compare Rom.8:28 "those who are called according to His purpose" with Rom.9:11 "so that God's purpose in election might stand"). When the objective is to emphasize our effectual calling (as opposed to its purpose), however, election (i.e., selection on the basis of faith-response) is the word/concept most often employed:

Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant (i.e., of believing Jews) according to the election of grace.
Romans 11:5 KJV

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who, though outcasts dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, were yet elected in the foreknowledge of God the Father, by means of the Holy Spirit's consecration, for the obedience in and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you!
1st Peter 1:1-2

As the context in which Jesus' words "many are called but few are chosen" occurs makes clear (Matt.22:14), the invitation to salvation goes out to many (the king compels various and sundry to come the banquet), but not all are found worthy (the man without the proper wedding garment represents those who have not been cleansed through faith in Christ; cf. Rev.3:4; 16:15; 19:8). Only the elect are resurrected to eternal life (cf. Ps.106:5; Is.41:8; 65:9; 65:22; Matt.24:22; 24:24; Mk.13:20; 13:22; 13:27; Lk.18:7; Jn.15:19; Rom.8:33; 11:7; 1Tim.5:21; 2Tim.2:10; Tit.1:1; 1Pet.2:9).

Then [the Son of Man] will send forth His angels with a loud trumpet call, and will assemble His elect ones from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
Matthew 24:31

Finally, we are elected through our choice, but our choice would never have been possible without God's selection/election of the One who chose to die in our place, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Behold my Servant – I will support Him. My chosen One – my soul (i.e., heart) takes pleasure in Him. I have placed my Spirit upon Him. He will bring forth justice for the nations.
Isaiah 42:1

A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him."
Luke 9:35 NIV

For this reason, calling and election tend to be used in scripture to summarize the entire process of salvation from the inception of the Plan of God to the ultimate sanctified state of believers following our resurrection and reward – because with God having done absolutely everything to bring about our final glorification, the only thing lacking for us to be effectually called and so become His chosen and elect is our willingness to accept the unfathomable gift He offers us freely in Jesus Christ (cf. Rom.9:6-12).

(28) And we know that, for those who love God, He works everything together for good – [that is to say,] for those who have been called according to His plan. (29) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined (i.e., foreordained) to share the likeness of His Son, so that He might be the Firstborn over many brothers [and sisters]. (30) And those whom He predestined (i.e., foreordained), these He also called [to salvation], and those whom He called, He also justified (i.e., made righteous through faith in Christ), and those whom He justified, these He also glorified (i.e., our future resurrection and eternal life).
Romans 8:28-30

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who, though outcasts dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, were yet selected (lit., "elect") in the foreknowledge of God the Father, by means of the Holy Spirit's consecration, for the obedience in and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you!
1st Peter 1:1-2

c. Sanctification before salvation

As we have seen in the past and covered briefly above, sanctification in the Plan of God is the threefold process wherein a person is set apart to God, removed from the realm of the profane and entered into the realm of the holy, from the power of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col.1:13). The first phase, salvation, enters the new believer into union with Christ; we become "one with Him", holy, sanctified, "saints" by way of our position in Jesus (Rom.1:7; 16:2; 1Cor.1:2; 1:30; 6:11; Eph.3:18). After salvation, the process of sanctification continues as we draw ever closer to God and farther away from the world through our adherence to the truth of the Word, becoming more like our Savior in terms of our behavior as we mature spiritually (Rom.6:19-22; Eph.4:12; 5:3; 1Thes.4:3-7; Heb.10:14; 12:14). The final phase of sanctification will occur for us at the resurrection when in perfect, eternal bodies we shall be perfect and perfectly sanctified in every way forevermore (Jn.17:19; Acts 20:32; 1Cor.6:2; Eph.1:18; Col.1:12; 1Thes.3:13; 2Thes.2:1:10; Rev.11:18).

While holiness and sanctification usually relate to believers, scripture also notes an aspect of God's plan wherein all who are destined to believe (through His anticipation of our future choice) are kept safe for that future choice.

And we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation by the sanctification of the Spirit and by faith in the truth.
2nd Thessalonians 2:13-14

(1) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who, though outcasts dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, were yet selected (2) in the foreknowledge of God the Father, by means of the Holy Spirit's consecration (lit., "sanctification"), for the obedience in and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you!
1st Peter 1:1-2

This last passage in particular clearly links the foreknowledge of God with the sanctification of the Spirit. Although looking forward to the time of the believer's actual phase-one sanctification at salvation, the intent of both apostles is to connect that destined sanctification to God's decree and also to indicate that while not positionally "holy" until the point of faith in Christ, we believers do indeed find ourselves under the aegis of the Holy Spirit and His protection until the moment of our salvation (and sanctification). Paul expresses this same principle for all mankind in regard to the divine provision of the Law whose ultimate purpose is evangelism:

(23) Before faith arrived, we were being guarded under the Law['s protection], shut in [in anticipation of] our faith which was destined to be revealed. (24) So the Law acts as a guardian to us [who leads us] to Christ so that we might be justified by faith.
Galatians 3:23-24 (cf. Gal.1:15)

This divine protection in anticipation of salvation and our official "setting apart" or sanctification that then takes place is certainly in line with what the process of being sanctified is all about. Sanctification is the process of becoming "holy" – truly holy, that is, as opposed to false, pharisaical, outward shows of self-righteousness. Sanctification in all three phases is a result of our accommodating our will to God's Will by means of our responsiveness to His truth; that is how we become "holy" and more like our Master day by day. We attain this holiness in principle (or "positionally") when we believe; we attain it in practice as we adjust to His perfect standard of truth in our Christian walk; we attain eternally when we have carried through our faith intact until the end according to His Will. Sanctification is the process of the Christian life; imitation of Christ is its goal; and the truth of the Word of God is the means by which it is accomplished when that truth is believed initially at salvation, embraced and followed consistently after salvation, and confirmed eternally and bountifully rewarded based upon the quality of our response during this life. And while this process of spiritual transformation, God's Plan for every believer writ large, technically begins at the point when we first put our faith in Christ, it is most comforting and encouraging to realize that God's plan for us bridges the gap between His eternal decree and our official entrance in His family: even before we believed, we were under the special protection of His Spirit, so guiding us and shaping our lives that at the proper time we might believe.

d. Justification

And those whom He predestined (i.e., foreordained), these He also called [to salvation], and those whom He called, He also justified (i.e., made righteous through faith in Christ), and those whom He justified, these He also glorified (i.e., our future resurrection and eternal life).
Romans 8:30

Justification is the next chronological step in the process of salvation, occurring at the point of faith in Christ for all who believe in Jesus. Having been foreknown as those who would believe and having therefore been foreordained for salvation in the Plan of God, believers are called to the truth of the gospel at their appointed time (having been previously superintended by the sanctification of the Spirit for that very day and hour), and are made righteous in God's eyes the moment they believe on the basis of Jesus' sacrifice for their sins.

(23) For all sin and fall short of God's glory, (24) [but we are all] justified without cost by His grace through the redemption (lit., "ransoming" from sin) which is in Christ Jesus. (25) God made Him a means of atonement [achieved] by His blood [and claimed] through faith, to give proof of His justice in leaving unpunished in divine forbearance [all] previously committed sins, (26) so as to prove His justice at this present time, namely, so that He would be [shown to be] just [in this] and [justified] in justifying the one who has faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:23-26

The fact that justification must follow the cross in its collective effect of considering prior believers righteous on the basis of Christ's historical sacrifice, and that it must follow actual faith in Christ for all believers from that point forward, demonstrates conclusively that our free will exercised in faith is the trigger which causes God to pronounce us "righteous": Christ's sacrifice is sufficient for all mankind, but it can only appropriated "through faith".

But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.
Romans 4:5 NASB

(1) So now that we have been justified by faith, let us take hold of the peace [we have] with God [the Father] through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom we have also obtained our access into this grace in which we stand, and let us boast in the hope of the glory of God (i.e., in anticipation of our resurrection).
Romans 5:1-2

As in the case of phase I sanctification, justification is a positional blessing. Justification means that God no longer views us as those who are stained by and steeped in sin, but as those who have been made truly righteous, justified and washed clean from sin through the blood of Christ, having now placed our faith in Him for eternal life. Believers will never be completely sinless in an experiential sense as long as we inhabit these bodies infested with the sin nature. However, the sacrifice of our dear Lord Jesus in dying for all of our sins – past, present and future – means that God in His perfect justice and righteousness is free to consider us as sinless because Christ has paid the price for all our sins – and we have accepted that Sacrifice on our behalf, laying it as a substitute on the altar before God, so to speak, the only substitute acceptable to the Father, His dear Son our Lord Jesus. It is this righteousness-by-faith-in-Christ we now possess which has therefore opened up the door to eternal life.

(3) For we were also once mindless, disobedient, wandering [pointlessly] astray, enslaved to all sorts of lusts and pleasures, living our lives in wickedness and envy, loathsome and hating each other. (4) But [in spite of our prior sinfulness], when the goodness and benevolence of God our Savior appeared [in the flesh], (5) not on account of [any] works which we had done in [so-called] righteousness did He save us, but through the washing [away of our sins which leads to our] rebirth and [to our] new beginning from the Holy Spirit (6) whom He poured out upon us bountifully through Jesus Christ our Savior, (7) so that [now] having been justified [in this way] by His grace, we might become heirs in regard to the eternal life for which we hope.
Titus 3:3-7

e. Glorification

And those whom He predestined (i.e., foreordained), these He also called [to salvation], and those whom He called, He also justified (i.e., made righteous through faith in Christ), and those whom He justified, these He also glorified (i.e., guaranteed the future resurrection and eternal life of all who remain faithful to Jesus).
Romans 8:30

The result of pursuing sanctification in this life (Rom.6:19; 6:22; 1Thes.4:3; 4:7; Heb.12:14) and the perfect righteousness which has been imputed to us (1Tim.6:11; 2Tim.2:22; 1Pet.2:24; cf. Rom.6:13; 6:18-19; 2Cor.6:7; 9:10; Gal.5:5; Eph.4:24; Phil.1:11; 2Tim.3:16; Heb.12:11; Jas.3:18; 1Jn.2:29; Rev.22:11) is our inevitable resurrection and reward as we share in the glory of our dear Lord Jesus forevermore. That is the ultimate purpose of the Plan of God for each and everyone of us, namely, our eternal glorification as members of the Bride of Christ together with Him in the New Jerusalem forevermore. Such a destiny is a wondrous thing to contemplate, well-worth whatever "light and momentary afflictions" (2Cor.4:17) it be our lot to endure in our temporary sojourning on this earth.2

(16) For the Spirit Himself testifies to our spirit that we are God's children. (17) And if we are God's children, then we are also His heirs, even fellow heirs of Christ – that is if we have indeed suffered with Him so that we might also be glorified together with Him.
Romans 8:16-17


Notes:

1.  See especially part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series, section II.1, "The One Central Person of Human History".

2.  For the eternal rewards given to believers who fulfill God's Plan for their lives, see part 6 of Coming Tribulation, section I.7, "The Judgment and Reward of the Church".
 

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