Study 5 – God's Work in Salvation

The phrase, 'God saves sinners,' sums up the Bible's teaching on how God rescues those trapped by sin.

God saves. He sent Christ. He calls men to Christ. He did not just provide a way for sinners to be saved, but actually saves men and women.

An illustration of a drowning man

God doesn't just throw a life belt but lays hold of the man and pulls him into the life boat.

Why does God save?

Is it because we are loveable? (Romans 3:10-25). Obviously not! It is because he loves sinners (John 3:16). And because he chooses to do so (Ephesians 1:4-5). It also brings God praise and glory (Ephesians 1:6).

If God plans to save will he fail?

God has both power and determination to do as he plans.

Are God's plans modified by the idea of human free will?

Scripture shows that the sinner is spiritually powerless [e.g. Ephesians 2:1-10; John 6:44-45]. He is responsible for his own actions, yet because his nature is sinful, he freely chooses to oppose God. His only hope is to have a new nature.

How does God save?

He predestines some to be saved and chooses them in Christ [election] (see Ephesians 1:5-11; Romans 8:28-30). [John 17:4-12; 1 Peter 1:2]

God could have planned to save no-one, or he could have planned to save everyone, because no-one deserves to be saved.

God chose in love to do this. He didn't foresee who would believe and then choose them.

Look at Paul's argument:

Faith in Christ which saves is itself a gift of God.

Good works don't earn salvation but rather flow from it.

What should our response be to this?

Why is this doctrine useful?

1) It gives glory to God by removing boasting.

2) It gives a basis for assurance.

3) It leads to praise and thanksgiving to God.

Salvation therefore is based on God's choice or election. It depends on God's sovereign mercy. It is not man's will that is the deciding factor in who will or will not be saved. It is God's will which makes the difference. God's will determines who will be shown mercy and saved.

Some problems:

1) Is man a pre-programmed robot?

No, man is responsible for what he chooses. Because of his nature he willingly chooses slavery to sin rather than God's service. God never compels a sinner to sin.

2) What hope is there then - who can be saved? How can sinners come to Christ?

They cannot come unless God in his mercy gives life and with this new life they then freely come to Christ.

3) Surely it says in the Bible, 'Whosoever will may come.'

That is true. If someone is willing he can come to Christ and be assured Christ will not drive him away. And it is the duty of everyone to repent.

4) What should a non-Christian do: wait to be chosen or come now to Christ?

He must come to Christ.

5) Should we preach the Gospel to everyone?