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…
It is somewhat remarkable — at least it may seem so to persons who are not accustomed to think upon the subject — that the apostle, in order to excite Timothy to boldness, to keep him constant in the faith, reminds him of the great doctrine that the grace of God reigns in the salvation of men.
I. Very carefully let us CONSIDER THE DOCTRINE TAUGHT BY THE APOSTLE IN THIS TEXT.
1. The apostle in stating his doctrine in the following words, "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," declares God to be the Author of salvation — "Who hath saved us and called us." The whole tenor of the verse is towards a strong affirmation of Jonah's doctrine, "that salvation is of the Lord." To say that we save ourselves is to utter a manifest absurdity. We are called in Scripture "a temple" — A holy temple in the Lord. But shall any one assert that the stones of the edifice were their own architect? No: we believe that God the Father was the architect, sketched the plan, supplied the materials, and will complete the work. Shall it also be said that those who are redeemed, redeemed themselves? that slaves of Satan break their own fetters? Then why was a Redeemer needed at all? Do you believe that the sheep of God, whom He has taken from between the jaws of the lion, could have rescued themselves? Can the dead make themselves alive?
2. We next remark that grace is in this verse rendered conspicuous when we see that God pursues a singular method — "Who hath saved us and called us." The peculiarity of the manner lies in three things — first, in the completeness of it. The apostle uses the perfect tense and says, "who hath saved us." Believers in Christ Jesus are saved. This completeness is one peculiarity — we must mark another. I want you to notice the order as well as the completeness: "who hath saved us and called us. What I saved us before He called us? Yes, so the text says. But is a man saved before he is called by grace? Not in his own experience, not as far as the work of the Holy Spirit goes, but he is saved in God's purpose, in Christ's redemption, and in his relationship to his covenant Head; and he is saved, moreover, in this respect, that the work of his salvation is done, and he has only to receive it as a finished work. In the olden times of imprisonment for debt, it would have been quite correct for you to step into the cell of a debtor and say to him, I have freed you, if you had paid his debts and obtained an order for his discharge. Well, but he is still in prison. Yes; but you really liberated him as soon as you paid his debts.
3. When a speaker desires to strengthen his point and to make himself clear, he generally puts in a negative as to the other side. So the apostle adds a negative: "Not according to our works." The world's great preaching is, "Do as well as you can, live a moral life, and God will save you." The gospel preaching is this: "Thou art a lost sinner, and thou canst deserve nothing of God but His displeasure; if thou art to be saved, it must be by an act of sovereign grace."
4. My text is even more explicit yet, for the eternal purpose is mentioned. The next thing the apostle says is this: "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our worlds but according to His own purpose." Mark that word — "according to His own purpose." Do you not see how all the merit and the power of the creature are shut out here, when you are saved, not according to your purpose or merit, but "according to His own purpose"?
5. But then the text, lest we should make any mistake, adds, "according to His own purpose and grace." The purpose is not founded on foreseen merit, but upon grace alone. It is grace, all grace, nothing but grace from first to last.
6. Again, in order to shut out everything like boasting, the whole is spoken of as a gift. Do notice that, "purpose and grace which He gave us" — not "which He sold us," "offered us," but "which He gave us."
7. But the gift is bestowed through a medium which glorifies Christ. It is written, "which was given us in Christ Jesus." We ask to have mercy from the well-head of grace, but we ask not even to make the bucket in which it is to be brought to us; Christ is to be the sacred vessel in which the grace of God is to be presented to our thirsty lips.
8. Yet further, a period is mentioned and added — "before the world began." Those last words seem to me for ever to lay prostrate all idea of anything of our merits in saving ourselves, because it is here witnessed that God gave us grace "before the world began." Where were you then? What hand had you in it "before the world began"?
II. SHOW THE USES OF THIS DOCTRINE. I would that free grace were more preached, because it gives men something to believe with confidence.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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,