The Procession and Consumation of Salvation
Salvation proceeds from our election in Christ but is not consumated until regeneration. Election itself does not save but was the blueprint for Christ's historical work regarding those God has given Him from eternity (Eph 1:4, John 6:37, 65; 17:9) which Jesus redeems in time and joins to himself by the Holy Spirit when quickened. The foundation of this gracious election is solely God's good pleasure which implies that salvation is pure grace. The existence of faith in a person is the way to come to certainty that we have been elect of God. Since salvation is in God's hands and not ours we owe the entirely of it to Him alone who deserves all the glory. Our comfort and certainty rests in what Christ has accomplished for us and not anything we have done for Him.
It is through the means of grace that people come to saving faith, which refelects the work of the Holy Spirit. Faith is really the most important work of the Spirit because it does not originate in unregenerate man. It comes from the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' apart from the Holy Spirit. This means that all men are unspiritual and cannot understand the gospel apart from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:14). So it is through the preaching of the word and the use of the sacraments that the Spirit germinates faith (Rom 10) and the continuing desire to obey Christ. These are the means by which the Holy Spirit joins us in communion with Christ. The word of God particularly is the instrument in which the Spirit illumines the understanding of believers. Some wonder why we would bother to preach the gospel if predestination is true. The reason is that God uses means (his word) to accomplish that end and nothing happens apart from it. Faith necessitates the Holy Spirit using the word to open our eyes, unplug our ears and turn our heart of strone to a heart of flesh. This is why there is a varied responses to the outward call of the gospel. Those who respond do not do so because they are smarter or generated better thoughts than their neighbor, it is because the Spirit worked faith in the heart of those who believed (John 6:63-65; Eph 2:5). Election thefore, becomes a reality through the calling of the Holy Spirit. The Father elects in Christ, the Son redeems and the Holy Spirit applies that redemption to those the Father chose and joins them to Christ, our only hope. The call of the gospel goes out to all people, but no one (not one) responds to the call apart from inward work of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul said, "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." May the Lord alone be glorified.