In Saved by Grace, Herman Bavinck discusses God’s gracious work in bringing fallen sinners to new life and salvation. He gives a careful historical analysis that shows how Reformed theologians have wrestled to understand and express the Holy Spirit’s work in calling and regeneration since the seventeenth century. Bavinck also brings exegetical precision and theological clarity to the discussion, carefully avoiding the errors of undervaluing and overvaluing the use of means in the work of salvation. This book, therefore, takes up questions with which every new generation of Reformed writers must grapple.
The call to faith must be universally preached; this is Christ’s command. The outcome must be left in God’s hands; we are simply to obey. The gospel is to be preached to human beings, not as elect or reprobate, but as sinners, all of whom need redemption.
God is sovereign and his grace is rich and varied. Following Augustine, Reformed theology distinguishes an external or revealed call from the savingly efficacious internal call of the Holy Spirit. This distinction honors the universality of sin, the need to have the word of proclamation take root in a sinner’s heart by a special work of God, and ascribes all of our salvation to God’s mercy and activity. This change is so dramatic that it is properly called “rebirth” or “regeneration.”