“Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 2 Timothy 1:9.
The purpose is not founded on foreseen merit, but upon grace alone. It is grace, all grace, nothing but grace from first to last. Man stands shivering outside, a condemned criminal, and God sitting upon His throne, sends the herald to tell him that He is willing to receive sinners and to pardon them. The sinner replies, “Well, I am willing to be pardoned if I am permitted to do something in order to earn pardon. If I can stand before the King and claim that I have done something to win His favor, I am quite willing to come.” But the herald replies, “No, if you are pardoned, you must understand it is entirely and wholly as an act of grace on God’s part. He sees nothing good in you, He knows that there is nothing good in you, He is willing to take you just as you are, black, and bad, and wicked, and undeserving, He is willing to give you graciously what He would not sell to you, and what He knows you cannot earn of Him. Will you have it?” and naturally every man says, “No, I will not be saved in that style.” Well, then, soul, remember that you will never be saved at all, for God’s way is salvation by grace.
You will have to confess, if ever you are saved, my dear hearer, that you never deserved one single blessing from the God of grace, you will have to give all the glory to His holy name if ever you get to heaven. And mark you, even in the matter of the acceptance of this offered mercy, you will never accept it unless He makes you willing. He does freely present it to every one of you, and He honestly bids you come to Christ and live, but come you never will, I know, except the effectual grace which first provided mercy shall make you willing to accept that mercy. So the text tells us it is His own purpose and grace.
Again, in order to shut out everything like boasting, the whole is spoken of as a gift. Do notice that, lest (for we are such straying sheep in this matter)—lest we should still slip out of the field, it is added, “purpose and grace which he gave us”—not “which He sold us,” “offered us,” but “which he gave us.” He must have a word here which shall be a death-blow to all merit—“which he gave us”—it was given, and what can be freer than a gift, and what more evidently of grace?
But the gift is bestowed through a medium which glorifies Christ. It is written, “which was given us in Christ Jesus.” We ask to have mercy from the well-head of grace, but we ask not even to make the bucket in which it is to be brought to us, Christ is to be the sacred vessel in which the grace of God is to
be presented to our thirsty lips. Now where is boasting? Why surely there it sits at the foot of the cross and sings, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Is it not grace and grace alone?
Yet further, a period is mentioned and added—“before the world began.” Those last words seem to me forever to lay prostrate all idea of anything of our own merits in saving ourselves, because it is here witnessed that God gave us grace “before the world began.” Where were you then? What hand had you in it “before the world began”? Why, fly back if you can in imagination to the ancient years when those venerable mountains, that elder birth of nature, were not yet formed, when world, and sun, and moon, and stars, were all in embryo in God’s great mind, when the unnavigated sea of space had never been disturbed by wing of seraph, and the awful silence of eternity had never been startled by the song of cherubim—when God dwelt alone. If you can conceive that time before all time, that vast eternity—it was then He gave us grace in Christ Jesus. What, O soul, had you to do with that? Where were your merits then? Where were you yourself? O you small dust of the balance, you insect of a day, where were you? See how JEHOVAH reigned, dispensing mercy as He would, and ordaining unto eternal life without taking counsel of man or angel, for neither man or angel then had an existence. That it might be all of grace He gave us grace before the world began.
I have honestly read out the doctrine of the text, and nothing more. If you do not like the doctrine why I cannot help it. I did not make the text; it is in my Master’s Word, and I pray you to receive what He says whatever you may do with what I say. CH Spurgeon