Thursday, July 28, 2011

“Man’s Part” in Salvation

“I know that salvation is all of God, but man has to do his part.” I have heard that statement many times over the years, and it sounds less credible each time I hear it.

When we consider that man is “dead in trespasses and sins,” and that he is totally helpless to do anything about his lost condition until the Lord makes him alive (Ephesians 2:1), then the “man has to do his part” idea makes about as much sense as saying, “I know it was Christ alone who raised Lazarus from the dead, but Lazarus had to do his part.”

What? So Jesus went out to the graves and gave an invitation, pleading with the dead and saying something like, “Whoever wants to, please raise your hand and come forward, and I will bring you to life.” Such would have resulted in Lazarus remaining in the grave, because he was dead, totally incapable of responding in any way.

On the other hand, if by some unique set of circumstances the dead could respond, how would Christ have made sure Lazarus, and only Lazarus, would come out of the grave? Perhaps Lazarus would have decided he didn’t want to come back and a number of others would have responded instead. That would have taken the Lord out of the position of control and authority and placed humans in charge of the situation.

It is clear that the Lord fully intended to raise Lazarus, and only Lazarus, on that day, and that He did so by His power according to His will. Lazarus had nothing to say about it. It was not necessary for Lazarus to believe that Jesus could raise him from the dead before He would do so. He could not do that – he was dead. Instead, Lazarus had no idea that Jesus could raise him until after He had done so. Only after he was alive did he have any ability to believe.

Many have adopted a backwards view of the Gospel and salvation, making the work of God contingent on the work of man. This is simply not so. Salvation is all of grace. Dead men cannot think, reason, respond, or make decisions. Only after He has made us alive do we have any ability to believe. Belief is evidence that we have been born again and have new life.

Salvation always has been and always will be all of God. “Man’s part” in salvation is a cruel falsehood and is foreign to the teaching of Scripture. Thank the Lord I had no part in my own salvation, because if I were in any way responsible for saving myself, I would most certainly be lost.

Note:  A follow-up to this article is found here.


  1. The only thing Lazarus had to contribute to his resurrection was his cold, rotting, stinking, dead body and the only thing man can contribute to his salvation is his SIN.

  2. So now the resurrection of Lazarus becomes our reference point for salvation instead of John 3:16? It seems to me I remember something about "whosoever believeth" in that old verse that we are now going to ignore.

    And if we are going to use the resurrection of Lazarus we also have hope for those who die in their sin because we can ignore "it is appointed unto men once to die." They will get a second call?

    And of course this also means universalism because it says in II Peter 3:9 that God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

    I accept that we are saved by grace. I accept we are saved through faith. I also read time after time after time that obedience is required. I read that in the Bible.

    Grace says God is the only one with the power. Grace says we can never deserve salvation. Grace says God is the giver. Grace does not say that He did not give me free will.

    Grace and Peace.

  3. Does God get to have a free will? Just wondered because lots of people I know don't think He should.

  4. Ralph: Thanks for your comments. There are even some people who believe that God does not know the future and can't control it. Man's idea of God is certainly different from what the Scripture says.

  5. Pumice: Thanks for your comment. It is obvious that we have differing theological perspectives, but it is likewise obvious that we are both saved by the grace of God. As brothers in Christ, our differences over such issues should provide food for thought and strengthen us both. “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, NASB). I do not get into heated arguments when I see something differently than someone else does, but I do believe it is important to lay out the case.

    I wrote a response to your comment, but for some reason, the comments section would not accept it. Maybe it was too long. I will re-write it as a new post.


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