Salvation: The Sovereign Work of God’s Grace
I became a disciple of Jesus in 1992 at the young age of 17 years old. I have often wondered what could or who could have reached me before that age? Why didn’t I get saved earlier as I grew up going to church?
The reality is that I don’t know why God chose to save me when He did. I have no answers. While a guy I went to high school with planted the first seeds of the true gospel (mainly through his transformed life; 2 Corinthians 5:17), the Lord chose to save me in His own timing by His own sovereign power. I am reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 1:9, “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (NASB). Why God chose to save me is beyond me but I am thankful that He reached down to me in His grace and saved me.
This much I do know about salvation, it is the work of God. We don’t have to force people to become disciples of Jesus. We can study with them. Pray for them. Speak to them. Warn them. But the end result is the work of God. Our duty before the Lord is to be faithful in evangelism. We know His command (Matthew 28:19-20). We have His Spirit (Acts 1:8). We have His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). But salvation is a work of God. The Church nor any person can save a soul. Only God can save souls. Salvation is never a work of man. Salvation is not accomplished because the music was right and the lights were correct or the message moved us (though the message should be biblical). Salvation is a work of God. Arminius stated:
Justification is a just and gracious act of God as a judge, by which, from the throne of his grace and mercy, he absolves from his sins, man, a sinner, but who is a believer, on account of Christ, and the obedience and righteousness of Christ, and considers him righteous, to the salvation of the justified person, and to the glory of divine righteousness and grace.
But isn’t salvation accomplished only when a person believes the gospel and is saved? Yes! Justification is a work of God by His grace through faith (Romans 5:1). The Scriptures clearly teach that we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38-39; 8:36-38; 16:30-34; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7) but even that faith is a gift from God. Arminians deny that salvation is 95% God and 5% man but we teach that all of salvation is a work of grace. Even the act of believing the gospel is a work of grace.
My encouragement for you is this: preach the gospel and let the Holy Spirit take the gospel and convert the lost. Be faithful to share your faith but leave the results to God alone. We don’t have to create converts for Jesus. We need only preach the gospel and the Holy Spirit will take the gospel and He will transform lives. I know that I post 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 often on this blog concerning evangelism but 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 so strongly teaches that it is not the work of people to save the lost. It is the work of disciples to take the gospel to sinners but the act of saving sinners is the sovereign act of God alone. In His timing He saves sinners and we need to allow Him to use us to spread His gospel of His Son to the world but leave the results to Him alone.