January 11, 2013

Why Did God Save You?

Why did God save you? Whenever I ask someone this question, the answer is inevitably something like "because God loves me." It's true that God saves his people out of his love for them, but this answer is insufficient because we're then left with another question: Why does God set his saving love on his people? What is the purpose of salvation? Kevin DeYoung is helpful here:

Maybe you've thought about how God saves us, or what we must do to be saved, or when you were saved. But have you ever considered why he saved you? There is more than one right answer to the question. The Bible says God saved us because he loves us (John 3:16). It also tells us that God saved us for the praise of his own name (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). Those are two of the best answers to the why question. But there is another answer—just as good, just as biblical, just as important. God saved you so that you might be holy. [1]
God loves freely. Which means that he is not obligated to save anyone. God's love for his people is purposeful. There is a reason for our redemption. When God created mankind, he gave us a mission: to spread his glory to the ends of the earth (Genesis 1:28). Sin derailed that mission (Genesis 3). The purpose of the gospel—the reason for our redemption—is not disconnected from that original purpose. The reason for our redemption is so that we can fulfill that original mission, the mission of spreading God's glory, a mission which requires holiness. Grace restores nature. The gospel transforms the cultural mandate of Genesis 1 into the Great Commission of Matthew 28. The spreading of God's glory to the ends of the earth must start with individual lives that display that glory—lives characterized by holiness.

For a Protestant who clings tightly to the doctrine of justification by faith alone, all this talk of the necessity of holiness can sound scary. But it shouldn't. It is not contradictory (and it is quite biblical) for us to affirm that, though we have been saved by grace, we were saved for holiness. DeYoung is helpful once again:
. . . don't be so scared of works-righteousness that you make pale what the Bible writes in bold colors. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). And we were created in Christ Jesus for good works (v. 10). Any gospel which purports to save people without also transforming them is inviting easy believism. If you think being a Christian is nothing more than saying a prayer or joining a church, then you've confused real grace with cheap grace. Those who are justified will be sanctified. [2]
So many claim to follow Christ, yet their lives bear no fruit. What does it even mean for one who cares nothing for holiness to claim to be saved? Believers are those who have been saved from God's wrath against the ungodly (Romans 5:6-8). They have been saved to holiness (Ephesians 1:4). Those who claim to follow Jesus without actually following Jesus have redefined "salvation."

1. Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness (Crossway, 2012), pp. 23-24.
2. Ibid., p. 30


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