2 Timothy 1:9
Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace…
I. THE ORIGIN OF OUR SALVATION. Three facts claim our notice.
1. It is with God. The last clause of the preceding verse shows to whom the pronoun "who" refers — "According to the power of God." It is God the Father to whom the apostle alludes. The Bible everywhere preserves the distinction between the origin and the means of our salvation. The last it invariably ascribes to God the Son: the first it as invariably ascribes to God the Father. In Ephesians 2:4-7 we have a striking instance of this. In ver. 5, it is "with Christ"; ver. 6, "by Christ"; ver. 7, "through Christ." But all these expressions are introduced by the statement in ver. 4, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith tie loved us," etc. And so, in the text, the apostle says it is "in Christ Jesus"; but it originates so entirely with God the Father, that He is said to have "saved us." This Scripture distinction does away with the only apparently plausible objection that has been raised against the atonement of Christ — viz., that it represents the Father as unwilling to save sinners, or as needing to be appeased. The eternal Father, and the suffering Son, are united in one ascription of praise. In all our doctrinal statements, and in all our expressions of praise, let us give honour to both.
2. It is in His own purpose and grace. The idea of a purpose resulting from grace alone is prominent here. Our salvation not only originates with God, but in His gracious purpose alone.
(1) It is not the result of necessity. Even acts of grace are sometimes necessary. The public voice demands them — the interests of the empire require them — the weakness of the government renders them expedient. Nay, the claims of justice itself may be satisfied, and grace steps forward. No voice in heaven — on earth — in hell — could have demanded salvation for guilty men. Believer, your damnation would not have tarnished His glory. Your salvation originated in His own purpose and grace.
(2) It was not from the impulse of others. A generous heart is sometimes sluggish. It needs to be excited. One word from another has often stirred to benevolent action. Our merciful God needed no stimulus. It was not the offer of Jesus to die for us which roused Him to save us — ii only met His own gracious desire. No pleading of angels or of men impelled Him. His loving heart did not wait for either. A few years ago a vessel was wrecked on the coast at Scarborough. It was in the night. The signals of distress aroused the crew of the lifeboat; the men were on the cliff, looking out and pitying; but the danger was so great that they stirred not. As soon as it was light crowds gathered on the spot. One voice was heard. It was the voice of a stranger. Pointing to the wreck, it appealed to the lifeboat's crew. It reached the hearts of the men. The boat was launched and manned. Soon it returned, bearing the saved ones to the shore. About the same time another wreck occurred on the same coast. It was the dead of night. A daughter and her father were sleeping in the lighthouse. The signal of distress awoke the young woman. She saw the peril. No voice was near to stir her to the deed of mercy. She aroused her father. Solitary and unstimulated they entered the boat — the wreck was reached — the wrecked ones were borne back in safety. Both deeds were noble; but you see the difference. The impulse from another stirred the crew of the lifeboat. No impulse was needed to stir the heart of Grace Darling. All illustrations must fail us; but we are speaking of Him who needed no impulse — waited for none — but acted at once from His own gracious purpose.
(3) It was not by the counsel of others. The phrase "His own purpose" here is expressive. The generous heart is sometimes perplexed. It needs no stimulus, but it needs counsel. Difficulties stand in the way of following out its own promptings. Its language often is — "Oh! tell me what I can do to save him." How gratefully it welcomes the happy thought which removes all its perplexities. David's heart yearned towards Absalom, but his kingly office stood in the way of indulging a father's wishes. How welcome were the counsels of the woman of Tekoah, when she threw herself in his way to plead for the guilty one. But God was His own counsellor in man's salvation. He had no counsellor in creation — no architect. He was His own. He has no counsellor in providence. He needs no minister to advise, or privy council to deliberate — He is His own. It was yet more true as to man's salvation. It is "the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He hath pursued in Himself" (Ephesians 1:9). He had no counsellor. No one can divide the honour with Him.
3. It is not according to our works. The apostle here intends to put good works in their right place; not to set them aside. By "good works" he invariably means not charities alone, however benevolent — nor prayers alone, however devout: he includes the whole works of a holy life. The daughter of Jairus was raised by Jesus. Think you not that, as the thrill of returning life passed through her veins, her first emotion would be that of love to Him who had rescued her from the grave, and that ever after she would be anxious to show it by every act which gratitude prompted? But Jesus raised her from His own gracious purpose. Her subsequent acts were the effect, not the cause.
II. THE MEANS OR METHOD OF OUR SALVATION. Three facts deserve attention.
1. It is in Christ. Paul teaches this: It is "according to His own purpose and grace"; but he adds, "which was given us in Christ Jesus." No views of God's purposes are right, then, which separate them from Christ Jesus. God has revealed no purpose except in Him. His very mercy, full as it is, knows no channel except through Him. Most men are ready to be saved — nay, wish it. The hard lesson for some to learn is, salvation by Christ. Strange that it should be so. The method which most honours God is the most suited to us.
2. It is by God's calling.
3. This calling is holy. The Apostle Paul has clearly explained his own meaning (2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14). We pause not now to reason with those who would make it a salvation to sin, and not from sin. The text points higher than this. It is not enough to say that we are saved in the way of holiness: our very calling is holy — holy in its design, and holy in its spirit. It breathes spiritual purity, as well as life into the soul — A portion of the pure atmosphere of heaven itself. There is no calling by God which is not a holy calling. He stamps His own image as His own mark upon every soul He calls and saves. There are three classes to whom we wish especially to apply these statements.
(1) To those inquiring after the way to salvation. Inquirer; we compared our text to a miniature map of the way of salvation. Take care that you follow it. John Bunyan's "Pilgrim" found his way out of the City of Destruction easily enough when alarmed. But his own mistakes, and the misleadings of others, led him into many perils. Nor was it until Evangelist met him the second time, and set him right, that he found the wicket gate, and the only way to the Celestial City. Take this verse with you at the beginning of your journey. Study it well. It will preserve you from serious perils to your salvation.
(2) To those who object to God's plan of salvation. Our reference now is to those who object on the ground of its supposed tendency. It is thought by some that a salvation so arranged will check a holy life. If rightly viewed, it stimulates to it. If holiness be not always the result of the doctrine, the cause of failure is not in the truth, but in the heart on which it falls. When the soft fertilising shower has fallen on your garden, old flowers give fresh signs of life, and new flowers begin to open their buds. Nay, the seed hitherto buried, but invisible appears. And yet in one part of the garden you look, and although the same pure rain has fallen upon it, and the same seed lies buried beneath it, no flowers appears. The cause is not with the rain, but the soil. It was the doctrine of salvation by grace which transformed the frivolous dissipated young soldier of Corfu into the consistent, holy, religious hero of the Crimea — Captain Hedley Vicars.
3. To those who despise or neglect this salvation. Does its simple easy method offend you? How is this? The accomplishment of great ends by the simplest means is usually regarded as the greatest achievement of wisdom. This plan is the result of Divine wisdom alone. No other wisdom could have devised it.
Parallel VersesKJV: Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,