God is More Than a Lifeguard
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” – Ephesians 2:1-3
You may have heard the saying that before becoming a Christian, we were like a drowning person. God offered His grace to us like a life preserver that we grab, and we become eternally secure. It paints a picture of our helplessness, and the initiative God takes to save us, showing that unless God acted first, we would not be saved, but is it accurate?
The truth is that we are even more helpless than this illustration shows; according to the Bible, we are dead before God extends grace to us (Ephesians 2:1). A lifeguard who throws a life preserver to a person who has drowned is not going to help that person at all. It would take a miracle to bring the person to life, and the drowned person would contribute nothing to the miraculous act.
Similarly, when God extends grace to us, He is performing a miraculous act. Paul says later in Ephesians, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).” God not only initiates His act of grace, but He also works entirely on His own to bring us from spiritual death to spiritual life. It is clear that God makes spiritually dead people alive and is working alone when He does it.
Jesus spoke the same way when He told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).” We did not choose to be physically born nor did we contribute anything to our birth. The same is with our spiritual birth. Unless God acts, we will remain dead. Jesus said again to Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:8).”
Theologians call this monergism, meaning that God acts alone in regenerating us and bringing us to salvation. He does not offer salvation to us and hope that we accept; He gives us faith and restores us from death to life. This is so that we will not boast and so that God receives all the praise and glory for our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Prayer of the day:
Dear heavenly Father,
Thank you so much for your work of bringing us from death to life. We know that we cannot save ourselves, that we are dead in our sins and cannot make ourselves alive. You are sovereign and in total control. We are so thankful because without Your grace we would remain eternally dead. We glorify You for Your grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!