Only God Can Save Us - The Warrior's Journey®

Only God Can Save Us

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“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:1-3, ESV) 

If anyone could have saved himself by works, it was Paul the apostle. If it took a zealous adherence to the Law of Moses, then Paul then Paul appeared good to go. In Philippians 3:4-6, he wrote, “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the Law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.”  Yet, Paul viewed all those credentials as worthless refuse compared to the free gift of God’s righteousness which He offered through Jesus Christ. Well, what about all his marvelous deeds since he became a Christian. Ever since Paul became a follower of Jesus, his every moment, effort, and breath were devoted entirely to the Gospel. Surely all these works added to his merit and made him stand on a higher level with the Lord. Right? 

No. Paul tells us here that we are saved – raised from death in transgressions and sin, born anew by the Spirit of God, washed in the blood of Jesus, and seated with Christ in the heavenly places – by no effort of our own. It’s all been done by God. Even the faith with which we believe in Jesus comes as a gift from God. We were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1-2). Can a dead man do anything to help himself? We were once “children of God’s wrath” (Ephesians 2:3) and “enemies of God” (Romans 5:9-10). Under those dreadful conditions could we do anything to earn God’s favor? No, only the Son of God could satisfy God’s justice, put away our sins, and reconcile us to God. 

And now that we are saved by Christ, can we sustain or improve our standing with God by our own human effort? Think about it, if we are already seated with Christ in the heavenly places, then there’s no higher level we can possibly reach. If we’ve been made the righteousness of God by simply trusting in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), how can we possibly make ourselves more righteous than that?  We can’t be any more righteous than God. Paul, whose entire life is devoted to God, is telling us that we cannot add anything to what Christ has already done for us on the cross.   

Nor can we sustain or perfect this work of salvation in our hearts. Paul told the Galatians, “How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:3). God who began a good work in us must be the same one who sustains and perfects it (Philippians 1:6). Truly, only God can save us. 


  • Based on Ephesians 2:8-9, should a Christian ever fear God’s judgment? 
  • Though good works cannot save us or make us righteous in God’s sight, should Christians do good works (read Ephesians 2:10)? 
  • Let’s do good works and serve God for the pure joy that pleasing God brings us. 

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