This question could have many various answers and they all could be right. Some would say the Lord saves whom He chooses and that is truth. Eph. 1:4 "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." But the Lord's choosing does not do away with man's responsibility in the salvation of his soul. With that in mind I would like to show you four things involved in answer to the question. "Who does the Lord save?"
1. THOSE WHO COME
An invitation is given for man to come. (Isa. 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Rev. 22:17 "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Mat. 11:28 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.") But there is nothing in man that enables him to come for he is dead (Eph. 2:1 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.") and without strength. (Rom. 5:6 "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.") Therefore, for man to come to the Lord Jesus he must first believe that God exist. (Heb. 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.") Then he must be drawn. (Psa. 65:4 "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple." John 6:44-45 "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.") In verse 45 we see for one to come ("cometh" = a continuous action verb) he must hear and learn. "Learn" means to understand. This requires teaching (Psa. 25: 8 "Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.") even before one is saved. The Holy Spirit is the teacher.
The parable of the soil in Mat. 13 reveals the good ground is the only one who had understanding (Mat. 13:23 "But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.") and they are the only ones saved in this parable. "Cometh" in John 6:45 means to come along the path of understanding which is the narrow way that leads to the strait gate. (Mat. 7:13-14 "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.") The person who "cometh" to the Lord will not be cast out even while coming along that path of understanding or the narrow way. (John 6:37 "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh (along the path of understanding) to me I will in no wise cast out.")
2. THOSE WHO CONTINUE
It is not enough to start out on the path of understanding. You must continue. Jesus told the Jews whom the Bible says believed on Him in John 8:31-32 ("Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.") to continue if they were to be truly (indeed) His disciples. They were given a conditional promise: "If" they would continue in His word they "shall know (experience) the truth" who is Jesus. (John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.") These Jews instead of continuing in His Word got angry and Jesus later told them they were of "your father, the devil." (John 8:44) These Jews were not saved because they did not continue. Let me say that the Lord is the one who enables you to come and continue in the narrow way (path of understanding) that leads to life.
3. THOSE WHO COUNT THE COST
Jesus put demands on the multitude that followed Him and wanted to make Him King in John 6:53. ("Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.") This verse means to receive Jesus as their Lord. When they counted the cost in essence they said, "The price is too high" and they left Jesus (were not saved). They were not willing to pay the price.
Paul counted the cost for three days as he lay blinded under conviction on the street called Straight in Damascus. He gave his pedigree in Phil. 3:4-6 ("Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.") and then stated he was willing to pay the price in Phil. 3:7-8. ("But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.")
Jesus stated plainly the cost of becoming His disciple in Luke 14:26,27,33. (Luke 14:26 "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:27 "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:33 "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.")
You may say, "I'm not willing to pay such a price." No man is within himself but when the Holy Spirit begins His work in salvation, the Lord will enable you to pay the price (like Paul) because you will be made "willing in the day of thy (Lord's) power." (Psa. 110:3)
4. THOSE WHO CALL
(Psa. 55:16 "As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me." Rom. 10:13 "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.") "Call" means to recognize one's need and one can not do that without a completed work of Holy Ghost conviction. (I Cor. 12:3 "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.")
To call does not mean to say words with your mouth but to cry out from the depths of your heart which has been broken by Godly sorrow over your sin--root sin of unbelief. For you to call according to Rom. 10:13 you must recognize your need of Jesus Christ as your righteousness and Lord. (II Cor. 7:10 "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." John 16:8-11 "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness (Jesus), because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.")
Who does the Lord save? He saves those who come to Him (begin the pilgrim journey on the path of understanding--the narrow way) and continues all the while counting the cost. And when that person is made willing to pay the price then he can and will call on the Lord from the heart. At that point he will be saved and the Lord will get all the glory and He should because Salvation is of the Lord!
THE PERSUADER - Oct.-Dec., 1999