Why What You Do with Jesus Christ Does Not Determine Your Salvation
Man-centered theology has long been the scourge of the church. Preachers are ever tempted to turn salvation over to the trust of sinful men. The Bible warns men not to trust in themselves and not to trust those who would entrust salvation over to you. In this article my proposition is that what you do with Jesus has no bearing on your salvation, that is, what determines your being saved or not.
Christians know that when a person is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, born again of God, change does occur (Ezek 36:26; Jn 3:1–8; Rom 12:2; 1 Pet 1:3). New life means that a new creation has come to man made new. As a Christian grows in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus (2 Pet 3:18), his perspectives are altered by the Word of God illumined by the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of truth (Jn 14:17, 26; 15:26; 16:13).
Absolutely everything regarding God’s salvation of His chosen people must be attributed to God, in order for Him to receive all the glory due Him. Salvation belongs to the Lord (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1).
So, a man comes along and inquires, “So what have you done with Jesus?” The unbeliever says, “Nothing.” The true believer also says, “Nothing.” The deceived respondent says, “Yes, I have decided to do something with Jesus. I have chosen to let Him save me.” The true believer and the unbeliever are not saying the same thing despite having the same answer. The reason is that it is Jesus who does something…or not.
When God saves one of His elect, it is a work that precedes the creation of the physical universe (Eph 1:11; 2 Tim 1:9; Heb 4:4). God determined who would be saved by Him (the elect) and who would not be saved by Him (the reprobate) before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4–5). He even wrote the names of the elect to be saved in the Lamb’s book of life before creation (Rev 13:8; 17:8). His choice, made according to His will (Jn 1:13), of a remnant to be redeemed, regenerated, and resurrected to life is called, “gracious (Rom 11:5).” God saves His people from sin, death, judgment, hell, eternal punishment, and the lake of fire by His grace (Eph 2:8–9), as evidenced by the repentance and faith granted to those for whom Christ died on the cross (Acts 5:31; 11:18; Rom 12:3; Gal 3:22; Phil 1:29; Heb 12:2). He bore their sins in His body, crucified on a Roman death device, a cursed tree (1 Pet 2:24).
God’s glorious grace in the predestination of those He determined to adopt as His own children is also valued as surpassing riches (Eph 1:4–5; 2:7). God’s Word spares nothing in revealing so great a salvation (Heb 2:3). If it is so great, why do so few people value what God has determined and executed to perfection? It is because those who have received salvation, not by their free will (Jn 1:12–13; Rom 9:15–16), nor by their “good” works in “seeking” to attain it (Rom 3:10–12), have seen what God has done for them and to them (Jn 9:25; Rom 4:5).
Salvation is in no way achieved by men; rather, salvation is manifest to them personally (Rom 5:5; 2 Cor 4:6; 5:5). It begins at the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11), when the Father and the Son send the Spirit to cause one to be made alive, spiritually (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), by a permanent indwelling of that person’s soul (heart and mind). Someone, namely, the Spirit of the Living God has moved into the Temple of God, that is, the Christian’s body and soul (Eph 2:20–22). If someone moved into your house on the street where you live, you would surely know it. It is the same with the abiding Spirit of grace in the saint (Zech 12:10; Rom 8:9, 11).
Grace, by definition, is all the works of God that save the redeemed sinner. The blessings and benefits are apprehended by the Spirit of Christ, in God’s chosen vessel of mercy being prepared for glory (Rom 9:23). So, the Father determines who and how salvation is to be executed in His predetermined plan (Acts 2:23). The Son offers Himself as the perfect substitute sacrifice, in order to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21; Rom 8:3). The Spirit brings all that was predetermined and accomplished as a blessing and benefit to those who are now justified and sanctified (Rom 3:24, 28; 5:1, 4, 9; 1 Thess 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13).
The unbeliever has none of this, so he bears witness that he has “nothing” pertaining to Christ Jesus. The true believer says, “I did nothing…all glory to God for the great things He has done concerning me (Ps 57:2; 138:8; Is 26:12). As the Apostle Paul wrote Titus in the simplest of terms, “He saved us (Titus 3:5).”
The deceived invariably default to their boast in themselves and their free will decision, to ignite salvation by their omnipotent and all wise choice. We discern it is totally inappropriate to propose the leading question, “What you do with Jesus determines your salvation and your eternity with or without Him…What are you going to do?”
Under the temptation of Satan, the deceiver, men are ever inclined to rob God of the glory due Him, for the entire work of salvation from beginning to end. May we ask a better question, “What do you say, O man, is it God or is it you that determines whether you are chosen to be adopted into the family of God? If you persist in answering that it is you, then you may wish to examine the status you actually hold before God (2 Cor 13:5).
It is the indwelling Spirit that ensures our Christian witness will be entirely God-glorifying, as we boast in Jesus Christ, alone (Gal 6:14). If God does not share His glory with another (Is 43:11; 44:6, 8; 45:5, 6, 21; 47:8, 10), examine your public witness, as to whether it is all of God and all of grace…or must you take at least some of the credit? God forbid! May it never be!
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
September 28, 2021