What saves us?

By what are we saved?

Consider:

  • Christ’s blood: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood…” (Romans 5:9a; cf. Ephesians 1:7).
  • Christ: “…We shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9b)
  • His perfect life: “…We shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10b).
  • The Holy Spirit: “…You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
  • The Gospel: “…I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation, for everyone who believes…”  (Romans 1:16).
  • Preaching: “…It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe…” (1 Corinthians 1:21b).
  • Baptism: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you…” (1 Peter 3:21 ESV; cf. Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5).
  • Grace: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24; cf. Titus 3:7).
  • Faith: “…Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1).
  • Works: “…A man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).
  • Obedience: “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying ‘Save yourselves from this untoward generation'” (Acts 2:40, KJV).

You may be thinking, “Well Mike, which is it? Which of these factors saves us?”

Think of it this way:

A man goes out for a morning’s swim in the ocean. No sooner does he make his way out into the turbulent water than he begins to be pulled down by a fierce undertow.

Despite his desperate struggle, he simply cannot make it back to shore. His situation seems hopeless. He cries out for help, hoping that someone will intervene before it’s too late.

Three onlookers on shore witness what is happening and spring into action. In unison, they rush across the beach and then push a small boat out into the surf in an effort to reach the drowning man. They row with all of their might and make it within twenty feet of poor soul.

One of the trio on board throws out a life preserver ring to the man. There’s a rope attached to the ring. With what little strength is left in his body, the drowning man latches on. The group pulls the man to the boat, hauls him in, and brings him back to shore.

Now think about it.

Could we accurately say that the boat saved the man? Well, in a sense, “yes,” because without it the three could have never reached him in time. Did the oars save the man? Without them the boat could have never been positioned close enough to reach him.

Did the life preserver ring save? What about the rope? What about the man himself? Could we, in any sense, say that he saved himself?  Had he not reached out for the ring and rope and held on, he surely would have perished. Then too, had it not been for the compassion of the three men on shore, the man surely would have died.

So, which was it–was it the boat, the oars, the ring, the rope, the man himself, or the three onlookers who rushed to help? To ask the question is to answer it. They all were involved; they all had a part in the man’s salvation.

This parable helps me to understand what is involved in salvation today. It’s not one thing; it’s several. Salvation involves God’s part (e.g., grace) and man’s part (e.g., obedient faith.)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8).

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