It would require very great twisting, involving more than ingenuity, it would need dishonesty, to make out salvation by man out of this text
1. The apostle in stating his doctrine in the following words, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” declares God to be the author of salvation,- “Who hath saved us and called us.” The whole tenor of the verse is towards a strong affirmation of Jonah’s doctrine, “that salvation is of the Lord.” It would require very great twisting, involving more than ingenuity, it would need dishonesty, to make out salvation by man out of this text; but to find salvation altogether of God in it is to perceive the truth which lies upon the very surface. No need for profound enquiry, the wayfaring man though a fool shall not err therein; for the text says as plainly as words can say, “God hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling.” The apostle, then, in order to bring forth the truth that salvation is of grace declares that it is of God, that it springs directly and entirely from him and from him only. Is not this according to the teaching of the Holy Spirit in other places, where he affirms over and over again that the alpha and omega of our salvation must be found not in ourselves but in our God? Our apostle in saying that God hath saved us refers to all the persons of the Divine Unity. The Father hath saved us. “God hath given to us eternal life.” 1 John 5:2. “The Father himself loveth you.” It was he whose gracious mind first conceived the thought of redeeming his chosen from the ruin of the fall; it was his mind which first planned the way of salvation by substitution; it was from his generous heart that the thought first sprang that Christ should suffer as the covenant head of his people, as saith the apostle, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6. From the bowels of divine compassion came the gift of the only begotten Son: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Father selected the persons who should receive an interest in the redemption of his Son, for these are described as “called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. The plan of salvation in all its details sprang from the Father’s wisdom and grace. The apostle did not, however, overlook the work of the Son. It is most certainly through the Son of God that we are saved, for is not his name Jesus, the Savior? Incarnate in the flesh, his holy life is the righteousness in which saints are arrayed; while his ignominious and painful death has filled the sacred hath of blood in which the sinner must be washed that he may be made clean. It is through the redemption, which is in Christ Jesus that the people of God become accepted in the Beloved. With one consent before the eternal throne they sing, “Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his blood, unto him be glory;” and they chant that hymn because he deserves the glory which they ascribe to him. It is the Son of God who is the Savior of men, and men are not the saviours of themselves.
Nor did the apostle, I am persuaded, forget that Third Person in the blessed Unity-the Holy Spirit. Who but the Holy Spirit first gives us power to understand the gospel? for “the carnal mind understandeth not the things that be of God.” Doth not the Holy Spirit influence our will, turning us from the obstinacy of our former rebellion to the obedience of the truth? Doth not the Holy Ghost renew us, creating us in Christ Jesus unto good works? Is it not by the Holy Spirit’s breath that we live in the spiritual life? Is he not to us instructor, comforter, quickener, is he not everything, in fact, through his active operations upon our mind? The Father, then, in planning, the Son in redeeming, the Spirit in applying the redemption must be spoken of as the one God “who hath saved us.”
Brethren, to say that we save ourselves is to utter a manifest absurdity. We are called in Scripture “a temple” -a holy temple in the Lord. But shall any one assert that the stones of the edifice were their own architect? Shall it be said that the stones of the building in which we are now assembled cut themselves into their present shape, and then spontaneously came together, and piled this spacious edifice? Should any one assert such a foolish thing, we should be disposed to doubt his sanity; much more may we suspect the spiritual sanity of any man who should venture to affirm that the great temple of the church of God designed and erected itself. No: we believe that God the Father was the architect, sketched the plan, supplies the materials, and will complete the work. Shall it also be said that those who are redeemed redeemed themselves? that slaves of Satan break their own fetters? Then why was a Redeemer needed at all? How should there be any need for Jesus to descend into the world to redeem those who could redeem themselves? Do you believe that the sheep of God, whom he has taken from between the jaws of the lion, could have rescued themselves? It were a strange thing if such were the case. Our Lord Jesus came not to do a work of supererogation, but if he came to save persons who might have saved themselves, he certainly came without a necessity for so doing. We cannot believe that Christ came, to do what the sinners might have done themselves. No. “He hath trodden the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with him,” and the redemption of his people shall give glory unto himself only. Shall it be asserted that those who were once dead have spiritually quickened themselves? Can the dead make themselves alive? Who shall assert that Lazarus, rotting in the grave, came forth to life of himself? If it be so said and so believed, then, nay, not even then, will we believe that the dead in sin have ever quickened themselves. Those who are saved by God the Holy Spirit are created anew according to Scripture; but who ever dreamed of creation creating itself? God spake the world out of nothing, but nothing did not aid in the creation of the universe Divine energy can do everything, but what can nothing do? Now if we have a new creation, there must have been a creator, and it is clear that not being then spiritually created, we could not have assisted in our own new creation, unless, indeed, death can assist life, and non-existence aid in creation. The carnal mind does not assist the Spirit of God in new creating a man, but altogether regeneration is the work of God the Holy Ghost, and the work of renewal is from his unassisted power. Father, Son, and Spirit we then adore, and putting these thoughts together, we would humbly prostrate ourselves at the foot of the throne of the august Majesty, and acknowledge that if saved he alone hath saved us, and unto him be the glory.
Charles H. Spurgeon- Salvation Altogether by Grace (2 Timothy 1:9)- Delivered on Sunday Morning July 29th, 1866