TJ Singleton

Software Engineer, Baptist Preacher

The Application of Redemption

The Work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation

We must come to the realization that salvation is a multi-faceted process that has been the culmination of the will and plan of God from before the foundations of the world. From out of the good pleasure of His will, he purposed from eternity past to redeem an unworthy multitude to be his chosen people. Throughout the history of the world God has providentially directed the affairs of man that in the fullness of time Christ would die in our place to redeem those that the heart of God has in awe-inspiring free grace loved from eternity. It was that same divine providence that, in the fullness of time in the life of the sinner, sent the Holy Spirit to apply the salvation to the heart of those whom Christ redeemed.

It was God the Father that has appropriated our redemption. He has done the work of setting us aside. God, the Son, has accomplished our redemption. He was the ransom payment and the satisfaction for our sin to reconcile us to God. It was God, the Holy Spirit, which applied the redemption wrought in Christ to our hearts. A part of the work of the Holy Ghost in the application of redemption is that which we experience in the new birth and our being brought to faith in Christ. It is upon this subject that we will embark upon its understanding.

The question, which lies at the center of our study, is how the sinner is to partake of the accomplished work of Christ. To properly address this question, we must discern that it is not a single isolated act but a compilation of unified workings of the Holy Ghost.  It was the great theologian and Christian writer, John Murray that said:

When we think of the application of redemption we must not think of it as one simple and indivisible act. It comprises a series of acts and processes. To mention some, we have calling, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification. These are all distinct, and not one of these can be defined in terms of the other. Each has its own distinct meaning, function, and purpose in the action and grace of God. [1]

Therefore, let us examine these works progressively as experienced by the believer.

As the farmer must first plough the field in order that fruit may grow, the Holy Spirit begins by convicting hearts of sin, righteousness, and judgment[2].  Conviction is the act of the Holy Spirit convincing the sinner of his sin, the righteousness that is found in Christ, and the judgment that is to come. Yet, conviction, in and of itself, is inadequate to be left to stand alone.

Not all those, who are convicted of the Holy Ghost, will turn in faith and repentance to Christ.  For those vessels of wrath, who have fitted themselves for destruction [3], the process of conviction only adds to their offence. They, instead of becoming tender to the revelation of the Sprit, become further hardened in their stony hearts.

Even through the general call of the gospel, combined with the Spirit’s conviction, man, in his natural condition, is unable to come to faith due to his total depravity. Christ describes the condition of man outside of the grace of God in John 3:19-20:

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Notice that we, because to our love for sin and hate of righteousness, would not come to the light. What a pitiful condition of the man outside of Christ!

Paul goes further saying that man is, “dead in trespasses and sins.” [4] There is no spiritual life. Spiritually, natural man is dead!  In another passage, Paul brings another indictment against man that “there is none that seeketh after God.” [5]

Nevertheless, for those whom God has covenanted with Christ to save conviction is a stepping stone in the path of the effectual call. We have already stated that not all men, who are convicted, will respond. To state it more clearly, outside of grace and left in the freedom of our will to choose that which we love, namely sin, we would never choose him. The Holy Spirit must overcome our natural resistance in our hearts to God if we are ever to respond in faith and repentance through his drawing [6].

Therefore, all men that are drawn will respond in repentance and faith. For Christ said in John 6:44 that “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.” In this verse we see man’s inability to come and the drawing that must happen which will result in the resurrection at the last day.

He accomplishes this through what many theologians have titled the effectual call. To overcome our deadness in sin he has quickened us. [7] To overcome our love for the darkness, but He “commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. [8]” Since we would not seek Him He sought us. This is the ministry the prophet Hosea spoke of when he said, “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” [9]

Being brought to life in Christ through the Holy Ghost enables us to turn from our sin in repentance and to Christ in faith [10]. This process of the effectual call will necessarily result in the conversion just as Christ said that “all that the Father giveth me shall come to me.” [11] Also, the need for the Holy Spirit to regenerate is found in His words in John 3:7, “Ye must be born again.” This new birth will result in the calling out in faith. It was the great advocate for the supremacy of God, John Piper, who said, “The cry of a new born babe in Christ is faith.” Of faith, we know that it is said to be given [12] and of repentance granted, [13] which is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Let us note that we are not implying that you can separate these events chronologically, but logically and that they are distinct in function. The most clear teaching of this is found in Paul’s letter to the Romans where he outlines what is known as the golden chain of redemption.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. [14]

In closing, we must be careful to give God the glory for the whole of salvation; the work of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. Let us not fail to praise Him for the Spirit’s portion in the application of what the Father has appropriated, and the Son has accomplished. Rather let us rejoice in the fullness of our salvation wrought by the fullness of our triune God.

  1. Redemption: Accomplished and Applied by John Murray, p. 79, 80
  2. John 16:8
  3. Rom 9:22
  4. Eph 2:1
  5. Rom 3:11
  6. John 6:44
  7. Eph 2:1
  8. 2 Cor 4:6
  9. Hosea 11:4
  10. Acts 20:21
  11. John 6:37
  12. Eph 2:8
  13. Acts 11:18
  14. Rom 8:29-30