The delegates and visitors have returned home from the 60th General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas. What a wondrous and inspiring experience to share in a world-wide convocation of Adventists from all parts of the globe. The music, the spirit-filled preaching, the seasons of prayer all draped around doing the business of the church and setting the stage for the next five years of mission and witness across planet Earth.
As my wife, Lois, and I sat in the morning and Sabbath worship sessions, albeit amid the inspiration of the moment, along with 50,000-60,000 people in attendance, one thing kept coming forcefully to my mind: Salvation is of the Lord (Psalm 37:39). Put another way, we’re not saved as a body of believers or by our own efforts. We’re saved as individuals who are trusting and leaning on the divine arm of our precious Savior.
Actually, salvation is a very big term which describes the life of believers, from the time of their acceptance of Jesus into their lives to their entrance into glory. Believers constantly feel the need to be saved—from self, sin, Satan, and the world.
This notion then of “Salvation is of the Lord” is the argument of both the Old and New Testaments. Someone has said, if salvation were partly of God and partly of man, it would be as sorry an affair as that image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which is partly iron and partly clay! Salvation is all of Christ, not partly.
Ellen White wrote: “He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. Man cannot be saved without obedience, but his works should not be of himself; Christ should work in him to will and to do of His good pleasure. If a man could save himself by his own works, he might have something in himself in which to rejoice. The effort that man makes in his own strength to obtain salvation is represented by the offering of Cain. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin; but that which is wrought through faith is acceptable to God. When we seek to gain heaven through the merits
of Christ, the soul makes progress. ‘Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,’ we may go on from strength to strength, from victory to victory; for through Christ the grace of God has worked out our complete salvation”—Faith and Works, p. 94.
Human beings have proven to be dependent upon themselves. There is a tendency for humans to believe they can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Human nature reeks with the stench of conceit and pride. Only the Holy Spirit can lead a person to receive the humbling sentence—Salvation is of the Lord!
Donald G. King is president of the Atlantic Union Conference and chairman of the Atlantic Union College Board of Trustees.