Who Saves? God, Me, or Both?

By: Tanwin Tanoto

I saved a life once. In fact, I didn't save just any lives - I saved my son's life. You see, it was a beautiful afternoon in the middle of our Christmas holiday so we decided to go for a swim. Not long after we jumped into the water, my then 6-year-old son suddenly waved his hands around and screamed for help! It took me only a second to swim straight to him and grabbed him to safety. Scared and shocked, he couldn't stop crying. I kept telling him, "It's okay. Daddy got you now. You're safe."

You may have heard salvation described like this: You are drowning in the ocean because of your sins when a nearby boat hears your cry for help and throws you a lifeline. All you must do is grab and cling to that lifeline to be saved - which is your act of faith. In this instance, who does the saving? Does the boat save you or your "act" of grabbing and clinging to that line that saves you? Or is it both?

The way I see it (and Paul described it in Eph 2), we are not floating in the water casually while waiting for a boat to come by. Paul described us as people who are already dead, not someone who is trying to keep his head above water while waiting for someone to rescue us.

Trevin Wax in his book "Holy Subversion" wrote what Paul would have described salvation in a manner close to this: "You are a floating corpse, face down, dead in the water, drowned in your trespasses and sins. Suddenly, someone yanks you out of the water, throws you down on the floor of the boat and gives you mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, breathing new life into you."

He continued: "Which rescue story is more impressive? Which story makes God look more glorious? A God who throws us a life raft and says, 'Come on! I hope you make it!' or a God who rescues the person who has already drowned?"

My son can swim. But at that time he was surprised by the depth of the pool which caused him to panic. The ability that he thought he had to survive suddenly disappeared. Years of swimming lessons that we paid for didn't matter at that time. All he needed was a rescuer. All he needed was a saviour. All he needed was his daddy's hand to yank him to safety.

You may think you know who to stay afloat. You may think you know how to keep your head above water. You may think with you can gain salvation by your knowledge and experience. But what God saves you from is not the lack of knowledge or experience. God saves you from death. Our years or swimming lessons cannot save us from drowning when we are already dead.

So who saves? In our horrific experience, my son would tell you that his daddy did the saving. All he did was cry for help. He contributed nothing while my arm does the whole saving. Salvation belongs to our God (Rev 7:10). So the next time you see someone got saved, think to your self, "Jesus saved a life today." He yanked that dead person into His arms and gave him life - not a swimming lesson. Because dead people need life, not a swimming lesson to gain their own salvation.