If you’re a believer reading this, I want to ask you a question: Why are you a believer and why isn’t your unsaved friend?
For me, that question is a little more personal: why am I a believer but my brother, whom I grew up with, isn’t?
I’m sure we can all think of that close person in our lives whom we love dearly and yet they do not believe in Jesus.
Is it because you or I were smarter, more gifted, paid more attention or were more humble?
Allow me to ask this question much more pointedly: who gets the final credit for your salvation?
One of the issues that flowed out of the Reformation was the question of who gets the glory in salvation. In football terms, does God get the goal or the assist when it comes to our redemption?
As I read my NT, I see a consistent theme – salvation is from God and by God for God’s own glory.
Nowhere is that theme more powerfully set forth than in the opening verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ as a plan for the right time—to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.
In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will, so that we who had already put our hope in Christ might bring praise to his glory.
In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. he Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory. 1
I want to consider three movements in this glorious text which expound on the glory our triune God receives in our salvation:
Glory! The Father loved, chose and predestined us…
Ephesians 1:6 notes that God the Father chose us for salvation and predestined us – planned before the dawn of time to adopt us into His family – and that for this, He is worthy of glory.
Election is often painted as a cold, austere doctrine – the divine equivalent of duck, duck, goose – but the Bible knows nothing of such an idea. According to the Bible, God predestines us in love. Predestination rides on the track of divine love every bit as much as it does on the justice, sovereignty and power of God.
As the old Gospel song says:
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary! 2
We were outside of the family of God, headed towards His wrath and without hope in the world – and then the eternal God chose to make us His own. He stepped in to alter the very course of our lives – and not for anything good in us. God does all this for His own glory.
Glory! The Son has redeemed us and given us an inheritance…
Not only does God the Father receive all the glory in our salvation but God the Son also receives glory for our salvation in Ephesians 1:11-12.
If the Father is the Architect of salvation, the Son is the One who has purchased the salvation desired by the Father. Beyond that, He has also invited us to share in the inheritance He has been given from the Father. 3
God the Father has invited us into His family and the Son has seen to it that He has paid the price and included us in the family will. We were slaves to sin until Christ bought us out of our bondage to the world, the flesh and the Devil 4. We started with nothing but will one day inherit the earth itself 5
Glory! The Holy Spirit will see us home to glory…
The Father receives glory in our salvation for His loving predestination and the Son receives glory for redeeming us and granting us His full inheritance. The Spirit also receives glory as well in our salvation in verses 13-14.
The Father has planned salvation out of His divine love, the Son purchases our salvation and the Spirit applies that salvation to the believer and ensures that we will enter the presence of the Father on that final day. The Spirit is the “proof of purchase” – the pledge that we have been the beneficiary of the work of the Father and the Son.
The Spirit guarantees our hope
Until redemption’s done
Until we join in endless praise
To God, the Three in One 6
A great many Christians labour under the impression that salvation is a work that God might plan and the Son might pay for but we have to keep up or maintain it. The text couldn’t be clearer though – the Spirit is the one who is the down payment of our salvation. It is the Spirit who is charged with testifying to our spirit that we are sons of God 7, who unites us to Christ 8 and acts as our guarantee. 9
And why does the Spirit do this? To the praise of His glory.
So we return to the question with which we began: who gets the credit for our salvation?
If we believe the Bible to be true in all it says, we have to conclude: to God alone be all the glory…or as the Reformers and those in their wake would say, “Soli deo Gloria!”
Glory, glory to the Father
Glory, glory to the Son
Glory, glory to the Spirit
Ever three and ever one!
- Ephesians 1:3-14
- At Calvary, William R. Newell
- “The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:16-17
- Gal 3:13; Heb 2:8-15
- Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5
- Come Praise and Glorify, Sovereign Grace Music
- Romans 8:16
- 1 Corinthians 12:13
- 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5
- Numbers 23:19
- Hebrews 6:13