December 22, 2016

How then can I be saved?

The Jews grumbled about Jesus because He said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me . . . .” (John 6:41–45)

The Jews in this conversation did not believe in Jesus. He said things they did not understand and when He told them they could not come to Him unless God the Father drew them, they became so angry that they eventually put Him to death.

If these religious people were not drawn to Jesus by the Father, why then did He draw me? This is a question that really has no answer. A better question is why does God draw anyone? Yet even that question can only be answered in platitudes. He loves the world. He sent Jesus to die for all sin. Yet no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them and it seems He does not do that for everyone.

In reality, the only person I can be accountable for is me, and at times that is also a mystery. Why does God put up with me, loving me and picking me up when I fall down? I am not special. The Bible is clear that I can do nothing to earn or deserve my salvation, much less His great love.

Chambers says that there must be a surrender of the will, a deliberate commitment of myself to God, but that is not how I was saved. I was running the other way and He stopped me in my tracks. He entered my life without a conscious invitation from me, never mind a deliberate commitment. Each day since, I’ve tried that deliberate action of the will only to discover that being saved from the power of sin is the same as being saved from its penalty; I cannot do it by choice. God must put his hand on me and grant me the grace of His presence and power.

When John the Baptist said, “He must increase and I must decrease” I first thought this meant Jesus must increase ‘in importance’ or ‘in the way I talk about Him’ but it goes far beyond that. My efforts to battle sin are real and strenuous. They involve knowledge of God and His will, and decisions to yield my will, added to a deep abhorrence of sin and a rich desire to please Him, yet none of those things deliver me. They are definitely from God, but it is the grace of God that releases me. He is governing my salvation from start to finish and He uses His Word and His Holy Spirit to do it.

Any talk of pushing the will to believe, of having no confidence in myself, of determination to leave the old life behind, of yielding to Christ — all of this what the Bible says, yet for me, all my effort to do it has resulted in only one thing: I cannot do it. Only Jesus Christ in me is capable of increasing my faith, decreasing my confidence in me, and enabling me to abandon the old life and yield to Him. Again, He does it through His Word (particularly rhema*) and by the power of His Holy Spirit.

It seems to me that this is what John meant . . . Jesus increases and I decrease — as He continually draws me to the fact that without Him, I am nothing and I can do nothing.

Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me and for increasing in my life.

*Rhema = a specific communication from God directed to the need of the moment

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