Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
So we have firmly established that God did not look into the future and see that I was good enough to be saved. I did not make the right decision to be saved or do a bunch of “good” works to be saved. We now know that from eternally past, God looked upon me and saw my wickedness, my evilness, my sins, and trespasses and graciously, sovereignly, completely, and mightily decided to save me if for no other reason other than for His glory.
For my name’s sake I defer my anger;
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another. 1
But because God is so glorious, the overabundance of that glory is my joy:
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 2
But how did God save us?
In other words, was it enough for God to save us by sending his Son to be born of an unwed, virgin, teenage girl and to live as a carpenter’s stepson?
Was it enough for the Son of God, filled with the Spirit of God, to wait until he was 30 years old to start his earthly ministry, all the while spending his entire life completely sinless and perfectly obeying the law of God?
Was it enough for Christ Jesus to finish his life and ministry by being falsely accused, falsely arrested, falsely tried, and falsely executed upon a Roman cross for crimes and sins he did not commit?
Furthermore, to be buried in a tomb for three days, and by that same Spirit of God that dwelled in him, risen again to be made alive, and then continued his ministry on earth for 40 more days and then ascend to the right hand of the Father?
Was all of that enough for Jesus Christ to save His people?
Anybody who has grown up in church all of their lives will shout the answer, “You must believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved!” That is the answer. Just believe in the one who lived and died for you and you shall be saved.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 3
But let us think about this: what if Christ came to live and die and no one believed? Would his life and death be in vain? Absolutely not, because Christ death on the cross on actually and factually accomplished something.
The Bible speaks of this through and through. I believe it is most evident in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 1 verse 21:
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. 4
Read that verse. Does it give the mere possibility of saving his people from their sins or does it say distinctly will save? Does God fail in anything that he will set out to accomplish? Even if his word goes out, it will accomplish something and does not go out in vain 5, what more than God alone who all powerful, all knowing, and ever-present will perfectly set out what he wants to accomplish.
We say believe but did God die for the possibility of saving everybody? If we have established that God will perfectly execute his plans then we know that even the mere possibility indicates possible failure. Even we can bring up a couple verses starting in 1 John:
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 6
But reading 1 John as a whole especially starting with chapter 2 verse 1, we can see that John’s intention was not to say “the whole world is saved” but rather that all brothers and sisters for all around the world are saved because of the the propitiating work of Jesus Christ who is our advocate with the Father when and if we do sin. 7 To even suggest that the whole world would be saved would directly contradict Matthew’s witness account of Jesus: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” 8
And I would say that John would be contradicting himself in his own gospel account in the aforementioned John 3:16. But look closely: John did not write, “that whoever believes and doesn’t believe in him should not perish” but “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Yes, John did write in verse 17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” but see how he ends the chapter with verse 36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” 9
Both John, Matthew and the writers of the Bible are not mincing words when we speak of who God does and does not save (especially when you read about the Kingdom of God in Matthew chapter 13). Instead of looking at individual verses and making them stand on their own, let us be like Christ when he walked on the road to Emmaus and understand the entire Bible speaks about himself, Jesus Christ.
So we know that God is powerful to save. We know it wasn’t our “good works” or right decision that attracted the grace and favor of God upon us. We have established that God didn’t send his Son to die in mere hopes that we would make the right decision–nevermind the fact that that decision was already too late for the Old Testament saints. 10
We must always remember that, unlike Christ, we came into this world “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” 11
We have all fallen short of the glory of God that saves us.
What are we to do if we are not already saved?
Without God, we are blind and cannot see. We are deaf and cannot hear. We have minds but cannot understand. We inhale breath but we are not completely alive.
In other words, we are completely dead in our trespasses. 14
But open your eyes and see this good news: Just as Moses lifted the serpent up in the wilderness that the Israelites might look upon it and be saved 15, God appeared:
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 16
God saves us
- According to his own mercy
- By the washing of regeneration
- Renewal of the Holy Spirit
- Poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior
- Justified by his grace
- So that we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life
Might not as in mere possibility but based on the strength of the love our God our Father by the power of the Holy Spirit through the broken body of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
There is no greater news than this because there is no greater love than this.
Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. So we then have to ask, what is love? This series is my attempt to answer that question as theologically and biblically as possible.