Sinclair Ferguson says the key truth of the Bible is found in Jonah 2, verse 9, where from the belly of the fish, Jonah prays: “Salvation is of the Lord.” And it is, of course, and often even more than we imagine.
Salvation is totally by grace.
In contrast, many Christians tend to think that they are finally responsible for their salvation. Now, don’t get me wrong. Of course to be a Christian I must understand that Christ has paid the penalty on the cross, that my “righteous” works had nothing to do with it, but in the end, we tend to believe that we are the ones who “made the decision”.
In this we assume that somehow we are fundamentally different than the Apostle Paul, who clearly was plucked from a wicked trajectory on the Damascus road and MADE a servant of God. No question about that. And again, we assume that Abraham was a special case when God appeared to him and called him out of Ur of the Chaldees to be the Father of a new nation in the Promised Land.
But from our vantage point, these two must be special cases, as we clearly had a big part in the drama of our own salvation. There’s no getting around it, we assume. And so, what makes us different from our non-believing friends? Ultimately…us. We decided for Christ, and they? Well…they didn’t, or haven’t yet, at least.
But what if we are more like Paul and Abraham than we imagine? What if God “plucked” us from a wicked road too, and what if God also called us “irresistibly” to the ultimate Promised Land? That’s what Paul is saying in Romans 9:16…
“So then, it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy.” (ESV)
There is much more that could be said of this, and when I preached Romans, I gave four messages in this powerful chapter. But for now, suffice it to say that this idea is a cornerstone truth in what theologians have come to call the “Doctrines of Grace.” Salvation is of the Lord, totally and completely. And we? We are objects of His glorious mercy and grace.
Tomorrow, April 2: Romans 10