Does a person have to believe the doctrines of grace and the five points of Calvinism in order to be saved? No. A sinner must believe Christ alone in order to be saved. However, no regenerated person will ever argue against the doctrines of grace. When God saves a sinner, they know they are totally depraved so there is nothing they can do to earn or contribute to their salvation. When God saves a sinner, they know that God is sovereign in salvation. They know that salvation was not their choice of God, but God’s choice of them. When God saves a sinner, that sinner knows that Christ died for them on purpose. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ is the successful Savior. He did not die for the sins of every son of Adam, many of whom will perish in hell. When God saves a sinner, they know that the only reason they came to Christ was that the Holy Spirit drew them to Christ and gave them faith to believe Christ. And when God saves a sinner, that sinner knows that their perseverance depends on God’s keeping grace not their works. In short, when God saves a sinner, that sinner KNOWS that salvation is all of God’s grace and not by anything they do or don’t do.
The gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in the glorious person and finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ is plain enough to comfort the simplest, and profound enough that eternity will not be sufficient to plumb its depths.
Pastor Greg Elmquist
Godchose the elect and Christ died for them particularly, but this redemption must be applied to them in order for them to be saved. God issues a general “call” to all who hear the Gospel (Matt. 22:14), All who hear are invited. But because all men are totally depraved they resist this call and the work of the Spirit (Acts 7:51).
God has a particular love for the elect and will do more than simply give an external call. He does something that guarantees that they will hear this call. He overwhelms them with what we call Irresistible Grace. In addition to the general call to all men, God gives them an effectual call (Rom. 8:28-30), or what Paul describes as a “holy calling”. It is a calling which is effectual (Gal. 1:15). God thereby draws the elect irresistibly to Himself with special loving-kindness (Jer. 31:3). He causes the elect to come to Him (Psa. 65:4). This is irresistible, for God “drags” us to Christ (John 6:44) and “compels” us by divine omnipotence to come. He actually changes our wills so that we come willingly (Psa. 110:3).
There is much mystery in how God works grace in the hearts of the elect, but the Bible tells us some definite things about the process. God sovereignly opens the dead hearts of the elect (Acts 16:14). It is not that they opened their hearts to receive Christ; Christ opened their hearts that He might enter. He opens our hearts, and with our hearts being opened we can hear His voice (John 10:16). This is not, of course, a literal voice but the effectual call of Christ in Scripture. God sovereignly gives the elect a new birth (John 3:1-8 James 1:18). They did not regenerate themselves; they were regenerated sovereignly by God’s free grace. No spiritually dead man can make himself alive any more than a corpse can. Matter cannot create itself, and the new birth is a new creation that is sovereignly given by God’s grace (2 Cor. 5:17. It is spiritual resurrection (Eph. 2:1, 5).
The elect are not born again because they believe; rather, they believe because they have been born again (1 John 5:1). The new birth is a sovereign gift, and so is faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Repentance is also a free gift that is sovereignly bestowed (2 Tim. 2:25). Because the elect now have faith, God justifies them and they are saved. “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9) If any man is ever to be saved, it is only by God’s free grace from first to last.