God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (NLT)
Some people want to say getting right with God is all his work. We simply can’t resist it. Others want to say it is all about our being decent sort of people which sort of forces God to accept us. Each of these approaches is sadly mistaken.
Getting right with God involves Him taking the initiative. If he didn’t offer Jesus as the means of getting right with him, then we couldn’t have achieved it ourselves no matter how good we might be. So in that sense what we call “salvation” is God’s work.
Then again, the Bible frequently urges us to choose to accept what God has done for us in offering mercy through Jesus. God’s grace comes to us in the form of an offer. For it to have its effect, the offer needs to be accepted. And that involves our faith in the grace of God, our trusting that we need help and that help is at hand.
It is a bit like a person floundering in deep water. They can’t swim and so can’t save themselves. A rescuer appears on the riverbank and throws a lifebelt to the swimmer who gratefully takes hold of it. The swimmer can’t boast about their being rescued, but they needed to cling to the lifebelt in order to be saved from drowning.
God is our rescuer; Jesus is our lifebelt; our faith is what takes hold of it all. God acts, we act. But God’s acts are primary. We can only helplessly respond.