Shorter Catechism Qs. 29 & 30
Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.
Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12)
“he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” (Titus 3:5)
Do you ever feel like things are out of your hand? You feel like you’re not in control and you feel vulnerable. Maybe this is why some people like to imagine that salvation is in their hands. So they choose God. They decide whether God exists or not. They decide to believe. They are in control. Actually, we should say that they feel like they are in control.
But in the most wonderful sense we are not in control with respect to our salvation. Because if we really were in control, if coming to Christ in faith is something that we decided to do, and having decided to do so, we acted upon, then we can just as easily “un-act” and fall from God. Today I may feel like being a Christian, but who is to say that I will feel like this tomorrow or 10 years from now? What security can we possibly have before God? What assurance of salvation can we have? None whatsoever!
But this week’s catechism questions remind us the powerful and sweet truth that our salvation is not in our hands, but in God’s hands. We are not in control. God is. And there is our security and assurance.
First, these questions remind us that our redemption has been purchased by Christ. It is not something that we do. Redemption is something done to us. While we were God’s enemies Christ died for us and removed the enmity that stood between God and us (see Romans 5). But if Christ died for us while we were his enemies, if he did not give up on us while we were hostile to God, then what can we possibly do to turn him against us now that we are justified and have peace with God? The truth is we may, and we do, continue to sin. But redemption is not something done by us. It was done to us by another, Christ, when we were his enemies. He purchased us. He paid the price on the cross. Then there is nothing we can do now to undo the redemption accomplished by Christ. The price has been paid and the debts are cancelled. Who will dare refuse Jesus’ payment? No one! How sweet this is! My security before God does not rest in me but in Jesus.
Our security and assurance also have their root in the Holy Spirit’s effective ministry. After all, what good is anything that Jesus has done unless I am the recipient of the benefits of Christ’s work? Christ may have conquered the world, but as long as I remain a stranger to him I will enjoy none of his benefits. And at this point even my faith is meaningless if my faith is my desperate attempt to constrain Jesus against his desire.
But the answers to these catechism questions tell us that the Holy Spirit effectively takes what is Jesus’ and makes them mine. He takes all the benefits of Jesus’ finished work on the cross and resurrection, and applies them to me. Faith, then, is not my desperate attempt to constrain a uninterested Savior. Rather, faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit by which I am united to Jesus and all his saving works are made mine. My redemption was accomplished by Jesus. Now that redemption is applied to me by the Holy Spirit.
Our salvation, then, is in the immovable hands of the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God is in control. God brought us to faith. God caused us to believe. God holds our eternal life in his hands. Are you stronger than God? Stop dreaming! Instead, start celebrating. We cannot undo what God has done. He has made us his and we will be his. End of story.