As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
– Ephesians 2:1-10
“I am not saved by believing— I simply realize I am saved by believing. And it is not repentance that saves me— repentance is only the sign that I realize what God has done through Christ Jesus. The danger here is putting the emphasis on the effect, instead of on the cause. Is it my obedience, consecration, and dedication that make me right with God? It is never that! I am made right with God because, prior to all of that, Christ died. When I turn to God and by belief accept what God reveals, the miraculous atonement by the Cross of Christ instantly places me into a right relationship with God. And as a result of the supernatural miracle of God’s grace I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, or because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done. The Spirit of God brings justification with a shattering, radiant light, and I know that I am saved, even though I don’t know how it was accomplished.
“The salvation that comes from God is not based on human logic, but on the sacrificial death of Jesus. We can be born again solely because of the atonement of our Lord. Sinful men and women can be changed into new creations, not through their repentance or their belief, but through the wonderful work of God in Christ Jesus which preceded all of our experience (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-19). The unconquerable safety of justification and sanctification is God Himself. We do not have to accomplish these things ourselves— they have been accomplished through the atonement of the Cross of Christ. The supernatural becomes natural to us through the miracle of God, and there is the realization of what Jesus Christ has already done— ‘It is finished!’ (John 19:30).”
– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
I read this devotion by Oswald Chambers and thought of how it eloquently stated what I tried to say in Salvation by Grace, back last December 1. This devotion is only about a week removed from his devotion about Unconditional Surrender, which I wrote my thoughts on this past Sunday.
As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, works do not save us. That would include walking forward for an alter call and saying the proper words in a prayer. Too many of those who came to Jesus to ask a question regarding what must be done to enter God’s kingdom already thought they had ‘done enough’. They went away sad when Jesus did not affirm their idea of salvation.
Chambers makes it clear from his first statement. Not even believing saves us. So many people believe that the story of Jesus is historically accurate, but that does not create a relationship with our Savior or establish Jesus as the Lord over us. We can repent of our sins and be ‘good’ in brief bursts of our own will-power, but as I told a friend, “If you tried to lock yourself in a room for an hour and not sin, about fifty minutes into the hour, you would be so full of yourself, you would ruin your own attempt at being good.”
What amazes me is that Chambers writes such powerful messages. He has gotten a firm grasp of the Scriptures. Then he states “I know that I am saved, even though I don’t know how it was accomplished.”
From the Scripture above, we see that we are saved by Grace through Faith, but those are gifts from God. So even our saving Faith is a gift. All those that try to shove the gates of Heaven open on their own steam are probably too busy shoving to realize that salvation from beginning to end is a gift of God for His chosen.
Many people hear the story of Jesus dying for their sins on the cross, but few are cut to the heart by their own sins and fall prostrate before the cross. Why did the few do that, and the others did not? The Holy Spirit was working in their lives to bring them to that point at that time. Again, it is God doing the heavy lifting.
We may beat ourselves up that we have not been an effective witness for Jesus. We have not seen the people flock around us, but Jesus is not interested in the numbers. He is interested in the lost sheep.
So keep telling your story of how Jesus has changed your entire life. You never know when a lost sheep is ready to hear what you have to say. Who made the lost sheep ready to listen? God did.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.