From the belly of the great fish, Jonah declares “Salvation belongs to the Lord (Jonah 2:9).” Jonah has experienced this truth. When Jonah was tossed overboard, he was likely floundering at sea, drowning; facing certain death. He understood the truth that Paul would teach the Roman church years later, “The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).” He was tossed overboard to die, and he knew this. Then God sent an unlikely deliverer, a big fish, to rescue him. So from the belly of the big fish, Jonah sings a psalm of praise, and he concludes with these words, “Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
Think about your own salvation. Do you actually believe that salvation belongs to the Lord? How do you tell people you were saved? Think through the details. Do you tell them about the prayer you prayed? Do you tell them about walking an aisle? Do you tell them about the preacher that was preaching, or who prayed with you? It's very easy to turn our salvation into something that we did. It’s very easy to focus on the conscious decision that you made to trust Christ, and there is no doubt that you certainly made a decision and commitment, but only after God had graciously recreated your heart and given you the faith to believe!
It’s the age old question: which came first, the chicken or the egg? Only, we’re asking: which came first, faith or a regenerated heart? Did your faith cause God to save you and give you a new heart? Or did God save you, give you a new heart, and give you the faith to believe? The correct answer is the latter.
He gave you faith. God totally gave you the faith to call upon him. "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. 10:9)". But you will not confess this and you will not believe this until God changes your dead heart! Again, "For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:13).” But how will you actually call on the name of the Lord? Are you smart enough to figure it out? Then salvation belongs to your intelligence. Are you clever enough? Are you wealthy enough? Then salvation belongs to you.
Consider Ephesians 1 and 2. Read both chapters in their entirety to see the whole picture here, but consider with me Ephesians 2. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked...(v1).” D-E-A-D- DEAD! How many dead people have you ever seen save themselves? Have you ever seen a dead person make a decision to do anything? Have you ever witnessed a dead person bring themselves back to life? There is a reason Paul describes our sinful state with the word, dead. Keep reading, "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 (v4-5).” Do you need any more clarity? But God...because of his great love...even when we were dead...made us alive. This is the gospel. Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Paul continues though! "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,not a result of works, so that no one may boast (v8-9).” Let’s ask some important questions about these verses:
What is not of your own doing? Salvation? Yes, but specifically “for by grace you have been saved through faith.”
What is the gift of God? Does the “it” refer to grace or faith or the general concept of salvation in general? Yes. The very idea of grace is something that is undeserved, so by its very nature it is connected to gift. But we are saved through faith. It takes faith to call on the name of the Lord (Rom. 10:13). It takes faith to confess and believe (Rom. 10:9). It takes faith to believe in Him (John 3:16). So the question is: How do you get faith? Paul is telling us here that it is a gift from God, so that no one may boast.
If your faith is not a gift of God, and it is something that you mustered up yourself, then you have every reason to boast! You could be proud of yourself. You could be proud of the decision that you made. We would have reason to congratulate people when they were saved because of the great faith they found and the wonderful decision they made. Wait a minute — that sounds exactly like what we do! Are those not the same words we use? “I’m so proud of you.” “That’s the best decision you’ll ever make.” “Congratulations!” It’s no wonder people are so confused about their salvation. Shouldn’t we really being saying, “Praise the Lord!” “Thank you God for saving him.” “Thank you God for opening her eyes to the truth and redeeming her.” “Thank you God for sending your Son, Jesus, to die for him."
Do you see the difference? Who do we actually give glory to? Who do we really ascribe salvation to?
Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Watch the sermon, Salvation Belongs to the Lord!