I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “salvation is free, but it will cost you your life.” Or perhaps you have heard “salvation is by grace and not of works, but you must surrender your life.” Or perhaps some other permutation thereof that implies that there is some sort of exchange involved in salvation-grace in exchange for your life or something you now promise to do.
This is absurd. It is a blatant contradiction which has no scriptural support, and it implies that man has some part to play in his salvation, which is demonic deception.
First of all, only the elect of God will be saved-period. Salvation is not a party that anyone can show up to if they pray a prayer, make a promise to do better, or “surrender their life” (whatever that means). Only the elect of God will be saved, and the elect of God have ALREADY been chosen. It is a definite number of people, chosen by God in eternity past for salvation. One is either elect, or they are not elect. One cannot jump between these groups.
The elect will be saved BECAUSE of what Christ did on their behalf, not because they do anything, up to and including “surrendering their life.” The elect, unregenerate sinner has no life to surrender-they are dead in trespasses and sins.
Dead means you have no life. Dead means that there is nothing you can do. Dead means that you are wholly incapable of surrendering, exchanging, working, and believing. Dead means dead. One would think that is simple enough.
Here’s what the Apostle Paul says-“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. 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—by grace you have been saved—”Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV
If you are an elect, regenerated sinner, you were DEAD before God made you alive. You were following the devil. But pay close attention to verses 4 and 5-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-by grace you HAVE BEEN SAVED.
When did God save His people? When they were dead in sin. They did not first “surrender” before being saved. This passage is saying that in spite of being dead in sin, God saved His elect because He loved them. He is the one who made them alive! And pay attention to the last clause-you HAVE BEEN SAVED. That is passive language. Salvation is something that happenes to the elect, regenerated sinner. There is no exchange! God saves His elect because it pleases Him to save them. He doesn’t demand anything from a dead elect sinner before saving them. He saves them because He loves them.
A dead sinner has no life to surrender. They are dead. A dead sinner CANNOT surrender, because they are dead.
This sort of exchange language employed by popular preachers today is nothing short of backdoor Arminianism. It is the same old lie-you can be saved if YOU DO something. Oh sure, they couch these lies in language that the self-righteous flesh loves! “You need to surrender yourself,” “you need to leave it all behind for Christ,” “you gotta be willing to give up your life for Christ.”
Friends, these are satanic lies-you’re dead if you haven’t been born again. If you are elect and still unregenerate, God will make you alive and cause you to believe the gospel-at no cost to you because salvation is of grace and not of works. It cost Christ His life, it costs the elect sinner nothing, and God is pleased to save His people. If you are a regenerated elect sinner, then God has already made you alive with Christ, and your belief of the gospel is the evidence that you now possess eternal life.
If you are not elect, then you are dead, and will never be made alive with Christ, no matter how much moral reform your flesh brings about, no matter how much “surrendering” you do, no matter how much of anything you do. The reason for this is because Christ did not die for the non-elect, so they still bear their sins, and they must be punished for them. I do not mean to be trite or casual about this very real truth. But it is something that must be declared-if one is not of those for whom Christ died (His people), then one is destined for eternal punishment and no amount of “surrendering” can change that.
Dead sinners can’t surrender, because they are dead. God is the one who must intervene and cause one to be made alive, and the only people God will give new life to are those He has already chosen to adoption as sons.
“In love, He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ”Ephesians 1:5-9 ESV