Uncovering Jesus' Free Grace message.

Jesus’ Ability vs Your Inability

Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyGoogle Podcasts

What does it mean to trust someone?

Would you agree that putting your faith in someone reflects your confidence in their ability to do the job?

If you take your son to a pediatrician because he’s been suffering from terrible headaches, doesn’t that mean you think the doctor can do what you cannot do for yourself?

Believing in Jesus as your Savior is like that. It means trusting His ability and admitting your inability. Here’s how W. H. Griffith Thomas, the co-founder of Dallas Seminary, put it:

“Trust implies dependence upon another and the consequent cessation of dependence upon ourselves. Faith is, therefore, the acknowledgment of our own inability and the admission of our need of another’s ability” (Griffith Thomas, The Principles of Theology, Article XI, 101).

Believing in Jesus—believing in Him as your Savior—means you no longer depend upon yourself for salvation. It excludes any scheme of sense that you are saved by your works—by doing your best and letting Jesus do the rest.

Think of what Paul told the Galatians. They believed in Jesus but were in danger of slipping back into life under the law, and Paul warned that those two things were mutually exclusive: you either trusted Jesus or the law, never both:

Take note! I, Paul, am telling you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all. Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to do the entire law. You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace (Gal 5:2-4).

Some people wonder whether if Christians who believe in works salvation can be saved. I believe this is Paul’s answer.

According to Paul, if you are trying to be justified by the law, you are alienated from Christ and have fallen from grace even if you believe in Him. If born-again believers can fall from grace and become alienated from Christ, the situation must be even worse for unbelievers who do not have Christ at all. That was part of Paul’s anguish over Israel, that while they obtained righteousness by faith, Israel did not because they pursued it by works (cf. Rom 9:30-33).

The principle is: if you only trust Christ to do some of the work of salvation, then you are really trusting Him to do none of it. If that sounds shocking, then good, because I think that was Paul’s point—to shock the Galatians out of thinking they could get away with mixing law and grace.

It’s one or the other.

The flipside of depending upon Jesus to be your all-sufficient Savior is to stop trusting your ability to save yourself.

Send your questions or comments to Shawn.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Free Grace content right in your inbox!
question-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram