In Revelation 7, we see a multitude of people from every nation offering praise to God. Often when I read that passage, I am struck by the content of the multitude, the multi-national collection of people to the glory of God. But this time I am more interested in the content of the song of praise.
Revelation 7:9-12 – 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
The claim that is made by the multitude, a claim intended to honor our Lord, is what has my attention. These people declare that salvation belongs to the Lord. O, I know, that is not a shocking thing. You’ve read this before. But stop and think. God inspired in his holy word a reminder for us to see that the proper way to worship the Lord includes an understanding that the Lord owns salvation.
Compare this to how many people think, and perhaps you will see the implications of the claim. I’ve been in multiple conversations with people about the issue of salvation. Sometimes these have been with folks who claim Christ and sometimes not. But I’m no longer surprised when I hear people being critical of the plan of salvation. I am not surprised when a person, whether by word or by tone, lets me know that they simply do not approve of the way that God has chosen to save. And here I’m not even thinking of the issue of sovereign election. I’m simply thinking of salvation that is exclusively by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
If you talk with folks who do not know Jesus, and with some who claim to know Jesus, you will find that there is something off-putting about the idea that there is only one way of salvation. You will find that folks are bothered by the fact that God does not bring about the salvation of every human being. You will find folks bothered by the biblical claim that those who are faithful followers of other world religions are lost.
But remember what the song of praise in Revelation 7 tells us, “Salvation belongs to our God.” The entire issue of salvation, from its doctrine to its accomplishment, belongs to the Lord. It is God’s property. It is up to him and to him only to determine how he will save, by what means he will forgive any. We must recall that it would be totally just of God not to save any human being.
If salvation belongs to our God, if it is his and his alone, how can we be anything but sinful if we question his goodness for saving in the way that he saves? If this is God’s property, we have no right to tell him how things should be done. WE have no right to pretend that, were we the owners of salvation, we would do it differently. That is, of course, just another way of telling God that he is wrong for not saving in the way that most pleases us in our limited understanding.
Christians, be careful not to allow yourself to look at that which is God’s property and then make a moral judgment as to how God ought to dole it out. Be careful not to let yourself think you know things better than God. Be careful not to assign to yourself cleaner motives or greater kindness than the Lord displays. Be careful not to allow your lack of understanding of the ways of God lead you to question the perfection of those ways. Salvation is God’s. It is right for him to accomplish it in exactly the way he does. To question that is to put yourself above and against the Lord, and that is dangerously sinful.