Our salvation is not ours.
The headline of this post is my immediate thought on reading this. Now, that is unusual, for this is one of the texts that points towards predestination. But I want to go somewhere else. We are saved to add to the glory of God. God sees our salvation as a good work.
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
Now, I am aware that there are people who argue that the Augustinian interpretation — that God chose us from the beginning, and Salvation is not our work, but God’s — is wrong because it is Calvinist. I think they are in error — Calvin was repeating a doctrine that comes from the early church fathers, and is defensible in scripture. It has led to reformed theology moving through the Lutheran, Presbyterian and (even) Anglican Churches. It was the original meaning of evangelical. Our salvation is Gods, and he will bring us to him.
What I want to reflect on is that our disciplines are not what does the job. It is not our works. It is God working in us.
And how this should not remove our need to be disciplined. It does not remove the need to obey God, to meet together, to do good and keep ourselves separate from the evil in the world. But… it indicates that God has great mercy, for he knows that we will fail.
We own our salvation as much as we own the church. Which is not at all. This removes from us a temptation to pride (look at my rank! Look how many Churchian merit badges I have!).
Instead it allows us to relax. For God will lead us, if we are his.
However, I will leave that alone. .