That is not only the cry for deliverance of the prophet Jonah inside the belly of the great fish (Jonah 2:9, ESV). That is also the core message of salvation. It is all of God and none of us. We cannot add to it. We cannot subtract from it. We cannot substitute anything for it.
Evangelist D. James Kennedy illustrated it this way. Imagine that you are a tightrope walker. You are about to cross from the edge of a cliff to another which is a hundred feet away. Would you be comfortable if you would cross a 90-foot rope attached to a 10-foot thread? Of course, not! What if you have a rope that is 99 feet and 11 inches long attached to a one-inch thread? Kennedy wrote, “You see, if you have one inch of thread, you will be just as dead on the rocks below as if you tried to cross on a hundred feet of thread. The rope obviously represents what Christ has done and the thread represents what we have done. We must trust in Christ alone.” (As quoted in Tom Holladay and Kay Warren’s “Foundations: 11 Core Truths To Build Your Life On”)
Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. According to Ephesians 2:8-9, “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.” We are saved not by good works, that is, not by joining a church, not by baptism and not by giving alms just to name a few.
It is by grace alone. “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11:6) It is through faith alone. “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (3:28, NLT) It is in Christ alone. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
It is never about what we have done, what we are doing and what we will do. It is about what our Lord Jesus Christ has done on the cross. As Dr. John MacArthur, Jr. wrote, “There’s no place for self effort, there’s no place for boasting, no place for self-congratulation, no human achievement, it’s not of works”. (Source: Grace To You) It is not about our work. It is about His work on the cross. So, salvation is either all of God or none at all. It’s not even of God and of man. It’s an either-or and not an and-both proposition.
Even the faith that saves is not even from us. It is from God. Note that, in Ephesians 2:8-9, “faith” is the antecedent or the word for which the pronouns “this” and “it” stand. Even our repentance is something that God grants to us, too. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
Brothers and sisters, our “salvation comes from the Lord alone.” (NLT)