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The book of Romans has many wonderful and memorable passages, and the “golden chain” of salvation in chapter 8 is undoubtedly one of its key highlights. And what a glorious chain it is…all of it points to God as the sole initiator of our salvation! But, there is also another “chain” of salvation that Paul elaborates on later in his epistle which focuses more on the human side of salvation. In other words, the chain of salvation in chapter 8 emphasizes the eternal perspective of our salvation, whereas the chain of salvation in chapter 10 is more focused on our salvation from our temporal experience. Here, Paul writes these remarkable words:

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’ However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:12-17)

This is a passage that often gets attributed to the importance of missionary work, and rightly so. Missionaries, both at home and abroad, are vital to fulfilling Christ’s commission to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). For the purposes of today’s discussion, we will be focusing on the sequence that Paul lays out in this text. First, notice how Paul is saying that we are unable to “call on the name of the Lord” which in essence means to actively worship our God with praise and thanksgiving without first believing. To believe involves more than a mere intellectual affirmation; it must truly come from a regenerated heart that is accompanied with repentance and faith, the two wings that fly us to the Savior as Thomas Watson once put it. Secondly, we are unable to believe unless we first hear the gospel proclaimed. In other words, we get saved when we are exposed to the truth of God’s Word and it penetrates our hearts to the point of genuine contrition. This is what takes place at the moment of regeneration, and it is the result of receiving the effectual call from the Holy Spirit!

It is this effectual call that God has chosen to use as His means of bringing salvation at a foreordained moment in time to each and every person whom He has elected before the foundation of the world. As Paul laid out so vividly in Romans 8,

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (v. 28-30).

When the Holy Spirit calls you unto salvation in the manner described in this “golden chain”, that calling cannot and will not ever fail. God began this amazing work in your life when He called you out of your darkness, and He will keep you secure no matter what because your glorification is guaranteed. In Philippians 2:13, Paul wrote, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Regeneration is a miracle of God that completely changes us from the inside out. It is out of our resultant new nature that we not only perform the good works that God prepared for us beforehand (Ephesians 2:10), but that we do so from a genuine desire in our hearts. Without regeneration, our ministerial works would be nothing more than external and mechanical actions which have no capability of pleasing the Lord. But once we are born again, Christ abides in us and we in Him, and we inevitably become the fruit-bearing branches of the vine that Jesus spoke of in John 15.  All of this is in accordance to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us! It is by His grace that we have been called and justified, it is by His grace that we have been equipped for every good work, and it is by His grace that He will one day take us home and give us resurrected bodies that will be like Christ’s resurrected body! Is it any wonder that we sing countless songs and hymns about the grace of God?

Maybe you are reading this today and you are one who questions your motivation for living out the Christian life. Perhaps you at times anxiously feel that you need to keep doing good deeds, such as serving in the local church, in order to remain in God’s favor. If this describes you, take comfort in knowing that your salvation is God’s work, not yours. You did absolutely nothing to deserve it then, and you can do nothing to deserve it now. Your good works could do nothing to change your standing before God before you were justified, and they can do nothing to change your standing before Him now, having been justified. My prayer for you is that you will not just treat this series on the doctrine of irresistible grace as a mere academic exercise (i.e. “This is cool! I know what the I in TULIP means now!”), but that the truth of God’s grace and His effectual calling will be a reminder for you to constantly fix your eyes on Christ and His perfect work, not on your own abilities and will-power. Your good works contribute nothing to your salvation, but they are the inevitable result of a regenerated heart that has experienced the amazing love of God. May the grace of God compel you to excel all the more in living your life as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, all for His glory.