For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
No believer wants to take credit for their salvation. Every true believer will admit that they cannot take credit for God delivering them from His wrath, otherwise this would be prideful. And so the verses above expound upon that idea, unpacking the testimony of each one of us. But what are the theological ramifications for you not taking credit for your salvation?
Prior to our conversion as believers, each one of us went his own way in sin, running from God, rebellious, disobedient to His commandments, enemies of God, hated by others and hating one another. To qualify it again, there was nothing in us that wanted God or desired anything godly. It was all utter foolishness to us. But! When Christ appeared, He Saved us; when dying on the cross for His people (securing everything pertaining to their salvation), he did not choose to save us according to any foreseen works or faith that we would perform where everything becomes fragile and contingent on what we do, but He saved us according to His own mercy alone. I say again, God chose to save us based solely upon His mercy alone! What does this look like?
At the moment we believed, we were saved by grace (justified before the Father), through faith, that the Holy Spirit Himself supplied us with. Faith was God’s gift to His people that He chose to save. It is not earned, but faith itself depends on the granting of God’s mercy upon rotten, fallen sinners who do not deserve it. That is why we cannot take credit for our salvation. He saved us by the regeneration and renewal of our souls, hearts, and minds by the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit was poured out on us richly through the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross. The faith of every believer is the result of God’s grace alone, and thus no believer can take credit for their salvation. We are not saved by Grace + Faith, but rather saved by Grace through Faith, a work of God itself. Faith is God’s means to bring those of us He has chosen to Himself. God does not believe for any of us, but supplies us with what is necessary to believe in Him, a regenerated heart, mind and soul that desire Christ and are “zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14)
We cannot even boast in the fact that we’re chosen though, because there was nothing in us that made God look at us and save us. If any believer boasts in the fact that they were chosen of God, they have not understood grace. It is a gift of God’s grace alone that any of us have believed in Him. God’s election to save us secures God’s glory at every level of salvation (excludes boasting on our part at every level), including the time when we exert our regenerated will and believe in Christ. What God commands of us (faith in Christ unto salvation), He gives us by His Holy Spirit in the regeneration of our souls to be able to see clearly the irresistable beauty of Christ, and thus we cannot help but believe.
We can in no way take credit for our salvation at any level, even at the point at which we believed. And the ramifications of that scripturally is that we were chosen of God to inherit salvation, not because of any foreseen works or faith (not because of any human willing or exertion, Romans 9:16), but because of His choice made before the foundation of the world, to which we humbly fall at the feet of the Savior with tears, in gratitude for what an amazing act He has performed in our lives to save us! From this, grace takes on a whole new meaning and unfolds in layer upon infinite layer of divine, undeserved, eternal love, that go on forever into the depths of God’s counsel! This indeed is my testimony. Saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. I wanted nothing to do with Christ, was running away from Him, and He chose to come and turn my heart to believe in Him, not based on my doing, and not based on Him seeing me believe or perform any good works in the future, but based on His mercy alone that I did not deserve or earn. What an awesome, all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing, all-wise Savior!
To quote Spurgeon concerning grace:
“When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul—when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man—that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God. One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment—I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, ‘I ascribe my change wholly to God.'”