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Living in the Light

 

 

The Active and Passive in Salvation

Jessalyn Hutto

Are we active in our salvation or completely passive? Is salvation a work of God or is faith something that we must do in order to be saved? I found this quote from Charle's Spurgeon's sermon, "The Lifting Up of the Bowed Down," a helpful illustration of what happens when a person is saved. This sermon was on Luke 13:10-13 in which Jesus heals a woman who had been disabled and bent over for 18 years:

She was made straight we are told, and that at once. Now, what I want you to notice is this, that she must have lifted herself up – that was her own act and deed. No pressure or force was put upon her, she lifted up herself; and yet she was ‘made straight.’ She was passive in so much as a miracle was wrought upon her, but she was active too, and, being enabled, she lifted up herself. What a wonderful meeting there is here of the active and the passive in the salvation of men. The Arminian says to the sinner, ‘Now, sinner, you are a responsible being; you must do this and that.’ the Calvinist says, ‘truly, sinner you are responsible enough, but you are also unable to do anything of yourself. God must work in you both to will and to do.’ What shall we do with these two teachers? They fell to fighting, a hundred years ago, most frightfully. We will not let them fight now, but what shall we do with them? We will let both speak, and believe what is true in both their testimonies. Is it true what the Arminian says, that there must be effort on the sinner’s part or he will never be saved? Unquestionably it is. As soon as ever the Lord gives spiritual life there is spiritual activiity. Nobody is ever lugged into heaven by his ears, or carried there asleep on a feather bed. God deals with us as with responsible intelligent beings. That is true, and what is the use of denying it? Now what has the Calvinist to say? He says that the sinner is bound by the infirmity of sin, and cannot lift up himself, and when he does so, it is Go that does it all, and the Lord must have all the glory of it. Is not that true too? ‘Oh, says the Arminian, ‘I never denied that the Lord is to have the glory. I will sing a hymn with you to the divine honor; and I will pray the same prayer with you for the divine power.’ All Christians are thorough Calvinists when they come to singing and praying, but it is a pity to doubt as a doctrine what we profess on our knees and in our songs. It is most true that Jesus alone saves the sinner, and equally true that the sinner believes unto salvation. The Holy Ghost never believed on behalf of anybody; a man must believe for himself and repent for himself, or be lost; but yet there never was a grain of true faith or true repentance in this world except it was produced by the Holy Ghost.

My favorite part of this quote:

"All Christians are thorough Calvinists when they come to singing and praying, but it is a pity to doubt as a doctrine what we profess on our knees and in our songs. It is most true that Jesus alone saves the sinner, and equally true that the sinner believes unto salvation. The Holy Ghost never believed on behalf of anybody; a man must believe for himself and repent for himself, or be lost; but yet there never was a grain of true faith or true repentance in this world except it was produced by the Holy Ghost.