A few weeks ago I had the honor of officiating my first wedding ceremony. By God’s grace, the day was a great success. Everyone said “I do” at the right time, I didn’t forget any major portions of the traditional wedding script (which I was quite nervous I would do) and, though the wedding band that was to go on the husband’s finger could not be found, a providentially placed mechanical washer was used instead and allowed for not only a smooth ring exchange during the ceremony but also created a funny memory the couple will recall fondly for years to come.
This past Sunday pastor Greg taught on the essentials of salvation. In this sermon he compared the moment someone receives faith in Jesus to the vows that a couple says during their wedding ceremony. Greg said that the vows don’t create the relationship or bond but merely confirms the love the couple has for one another. The same is true when someone says a prayer committing their life to the Lord. They did not work up the faith that is causing them to joyfully take on such a challenging change of life. Beforehand, God, in grace, love, and compassion, graciously and for His own glory, filled that person with His Spirit, made them spiritually alive, and gave them a new nature that is inclined to Him. Then, when that person hears the Gospel, they believe it, and acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and savior, repent of their sin, and commit their life to him. And though becoming a Christian happens in an instant, it is worked out over a lifetime. J.D. Greer puts it this way, “salvation is a posture of repentance and faith that you begin in a moment and maintain for the rest of your life.” Just as true, servant-oriented love will sustain a married couple through every rough patch they will inevitably go through, so God-given faith will keep the new believer in Christ for all eternity.
It is not the prayer that saves. Jesus alone saves. So, if you are Christian, never forget that nothing you did made God save you. He did so out of sheer grace, love, and generosity. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9: God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Questions for Reflection
Greg said that faith is trust in action and not head knowledge. As it relates to salvation what are some specific truths and promises that we are actively trusting? Do you ever have moments of doubting any of those specifics? When that happens, what aspects of the Gospel must we remind ourselves of?
Part of repentance is changing our mindset regarding sin. What are some lies about sin that we are prone to believe? What are some excuses we make to defend our sinful behavior?