In my post: Through Faith in Christ we are Justified NOW, I spoke of how we are justified when we are saved by God. We are right with God now because of the work God has done. We simply need to have faith in Jesus and trust that His work is sufficient to redeem us before God.
But as a result of acknowledging that, some provocative and very valid arguments/questions raise up: If we are assured of our salvation, what’s stopping us from doing what we want? We can choose to embrace Him, therefore we can choose to reject Him. What do we say of those who have professed to be Christians, and even showed a lot of evidence in their lives, yet choose to go their own way, not ever appearing to ‘return’ to the Lord. How do we explain that?
Here are two quick responses to that.
- Firstly, we are commanded to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) and to abide in Jesus (John 14:15, 15:9-11). This will be the fruit of those who are truly Jesus’ disciples. If we are truly born again spiritually – a child of God – then we WILL persevere in our faith as we are a new creation, born of God. If we choose not to, then we are revealing our true nature – an unregenerate, rebellious heart. Even false prophets and teachers “may appear” to be like Christians in many ways, but come the day of judgement, Jesus will reveal their true nature and say to them “Away, I do not know who you are”. Sure, we will go up and down in our faith as we struggle with our sinful nature, but our perseverance in our faith is one of the ‘proofs’ that we are truly a child of God’s, sealed by the Holy Spirit, being bought at a huge price! God knows who are His children and He will not lose them.
- Secondly, if there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, then clearly there is nothing we can do to lose it. If there is, then salvation is effectively linked with works and therefore is dependent on us. This is clearly not what the Bible teaches (Eph 2:8-9). We are to choose to follow God each day. However our capacity to follow God would be fruitless in the end, if it wasn’t for God graciously giving us the capacity to do so. As soon as we think we have earned the right to be saved in any measure, then we are taking the glory from God and putting it on ourselves.
Our salvation is a work done completely by God. Our choice and capacity to work out our salvation, to choose to follow God each day, is merely the evidence of the work God has done. When we realise that, we will humbly rely on Him always, not becoming proud. We will not take any credit for our salvation, let alone rely on our own ability to keep it. Given it is God alone who saves, we will be able to rest in the blessed truth that we are secure in God’s arms and nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:31-39). I for one am glad my salvation is by God’s grace alone, because I could never rely on myself to wake up the next day and choose to persevere in following God. It’s by God’s grace that I have the capacity to persevere in my faith in Him, by God’s grace that I am saved to begin with, and by God’s grace that I am safe in His arms.
In realising this and relying on it more every day, God receives all the glory, as He alone deserves!