The thing about salvation is that we absolutely, totally, and in no way deserve it.
And that is beautiful, my friends.
I often must remind myself of this fact. I become prideful in good works. I become arrogant in my salvation. For whatever reason, I often think that I have done something special to deserve the forgiveness given to me by God. This is something against which I must constantly guard myself.
I think this is why I spend a LOT of time in the book of Ephesians. I was able to preach through this book earlier in the year, and it quickly became a very personal, devotional endeavor. As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of Ephesians 2:1-10. Paul describes our sinful state as being “dead.” He does not mince words. We were dead – completely dead. By nature, we humans are children of wrath.
So then we, as children of wrath, must ask ourselves, “What does a loving, holy Creator God owe me, a natural follower of disobedience and sin?” It’s laughable when we phrase it this way. The perfect Father owes us nothing. Because of our natural sin, our holy God owes sinful people nothing. We don’t deserve anything from God. In fact, we actually deserve eternal punishment.
Enter Christ. My favorite part of this passage can be found in verses 4-5: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…”
This passage always brings me back down to earth, in a good way. Whenever I begin to feel arrogant in salvation or calling, this passage is quick to remind me that no part of my salvation is earned by me. Who am I to think that I could ever earn the approval of God Almighty? Only by the finished work of Christ am I saved. I was completely dead in my sin before Christ, but now I have been made together with Christ, united by his grace and his forgiveness. It’s only by this marvelous, confusing, absolute work of Christ that anyone can gain the acceptance of God. And this work of Christ on the cross that accomplishes salvation for all who believe is done because of the great love God has for us.
Now, no one can possibly explain the love of God for humanity. To put it simply: God loves every being made in his image, and that includes all of humanity. And he loves enough to show undeserved grace and favor to humanity through giving up his son, Jesus, for the purpose of salvation.
Are you seeing something here?
In the story of the gospel, no work of man is ever taken into account. And that’s a great thing. If my works were being counted toward my salvation, and if my works were supposed to be perfect based on God’s perfection, I would be dead in the water. I feel as though I have done more good than bad in life, but that is not what counts. None of us can say that we are perfect. Therefore, none of us deserve God’s perfect presence. Thank God for Christ and his righteousness, which is imputed to me for salvation. And I don’t deserve a single bit of it. But God has given me faith, and for that I will praise him all my days.