Is salvation our responsibility or God’s?

Written on a church billboard was the stark message: Responsibility. Jesus help us.

I’m sure it was well meaning, that it’s about time we got serious about Jesus dying for our salvation, and asking him for help to fulfill our part in it, but is that the message God wants the world to hear? Is the gospel about God landing us with this huge Responsibility (with a capital ‘R’), and our future for eternity depends on us fulfilling it? Must our message include what God expects us to do, because that’s what salvation depends on as well?

But didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 19:17, “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments”? That seems pretty clear: If we want salvation, then we’d better be doing our part in it too, by obeying all ten commandments perfectly, right? But is that what Jesus is saying, that we too have a responsibility to fulfill in our salvation, and the only way we fulfill our responsibility properly is by our obedience?

Jesus went on to say in verse 26, however, that “With man this is impossible.” It’s impossible fur us humans to gain or secure our salvation by our obedience. In other words, God has given us a responsibility we can’t fulfill. But that begs the question: “Why on earth would God base our salvation on something we can’t do?” And if we think we can do what our salvation requires – like the young man in that story thought he could – Jesus simply lifts the “Responsibility bar” ten notches higher to a level that’s beyond our ability to fulfill. In the young man’s case it was sell everything he owned to help the poor. That was the responsibility Jesus gave him, but the young man couldn’t do it. Does that mean the man loses out on his salvation because he couldn’t do his part perfectly?

But Jesus hasn’t finished yet. He then says in verse 26, “but with God all things are possible.” Oh, so what God has given us to do is only possible for him to fulfill. It’s still important that we obey his law (verse 17), and nothing less than perfect obedience will do, but only God can pull that off for us. In other words, God made himself responsible for our salvation. As Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, “May GOD HIMSELF, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and HE WILL DO IT.”

When it comes to salvation God has taken that responsibility on himself. He will do it.


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