Sometimes, you hear the charge that the COGs teach that you earn your own salvation. In other words, it is alleged that your own efforts get you into the Kingdom. Not only is that a distortion of what is taught, it is a downright false idea which is believed by no one I’ve ever met.
In the past, I have used the example of a person drowning. Perhaps I can save you by throwing you a life preserver. You had nothing to do with whether or not I threw it to you. You didn’t do something to earn me throwing you a safety line with a floating device on the end. It was a free gift.
But, what if you don’t grab hold of it? Will you be saved? Most likely not. If you do grab hold of it, would you claim that you were saved by your own power because you grabbed ahold of the life preserver? Only the really arrogant would do such a thing, it seems to me.
In the case of God, however, it goes even deeper than that. What if you were an android instead of a human being and I were your inventor? I would have given you the ability to even grab ahold of the life preserver. I would have designed the joints and bearings that create motion and the appendages that can grab. Now, how much credit would you get for “your efforts”?
In the case of God, again, even that isn’t deep enough. If I designed you as an android, then I also made the plans for your construction. If I didn’t manufacture the parts myself, I drew up the designs for someone else to do so. Even the materials that were used in your manufacture would have been designated in your design.
Yet, once again, that analogy falls far short, doesn’t it? After all, God created everything there is – from nothing! There is no analogy for that. However, there is an old joke that tells it like it is:
In the year 2020, science has advanced to the point that human cloning is now passé. Artificial life was now a reality. And, so now science felt that they could challenge God to making an entire human being from scratch. “OK,” God said, “Let’s have this little contest of yours. You and I will make a human being from scratch, only you have to do it just like I do.”
“Agreed,” says the top scientist. He then reaches down to pick up a handful of dirt.
“No,” says God. “I do it from nothing. Now, go make your own dirt.”
What do we bring to the table? Nothing. We are dirt, and we came from nothing until God created everything.
However, God wants us to be part of His family. From nothing to God-plan existence! So, what does this mean? It means we have to want and strive to be like God. We have to grab ahold of that life preserver in order to be saved, literally. The alternative is the second death.
God gives us His Holy Spirit in order to give us the strength to hang on. It is true that He steps in where we fail. Our power alone cannot save us at all, and even if it by chance were able to, it would not matter, for where did the power come from to begin with?
No matter how you look at it, it is from God.
11Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
12Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
13And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
14Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
15Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;
16Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
17And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
18But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. (Deuteronomy 8:11-18, King James Version)
Is it any wonder that we see in Revelation and elsewhere that all glory and honor is given to God?
10The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:10-11, King James Version)
For what it's worth…
Once upon a time a women fell into the Niagara River and was swept into a current that only leads to a certain death.
Before her obvious ulimate doom, someone threw her a live preserver that she could hold onto. It was a life perserver that was attached to solid ground.
The first words out of her mouth were, "Thank You God!". Then she looked into the eyes of the man who actually threw that preserver and her next words were, "Thank you too!"
I like to compare the grace of God to an anniversary gift. Do I EARN an anniversary gift from my spouse? Of course not! Should I expect an anniversary gift if I do not remain married? The answer is obvious. Does this mean that "works" are required? If staying married is a "work" , then yes- Brian
That was an interesting post to consider. We know that Christ of Himself could do nothing,
With that in mind I think of a few verses, which show that God must work in our lives, as His workmanship, if we are to be saved:
"But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." Isaiah 64:8
What does clay really do? Now, that Potter: that's something else! There’s a Doer: a Worker!
Knowing that God will finish/complete what He does with the workmanship of His hands, He also must begin/start it too, or as Paul was inspired to tell us:
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath BEGUN a good work in you WILL PERFORM it until the day of Jesus Christ:" Phil 1:6
And, of course, God must give "the will" as well as the "to do" if He is to succeed:
"For it is God which worketh IN you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Phil 2:13
It's okay being in the hands of the Living (no connection to a group by that name) God…as clay!