Saved By Grace

                                                                                                                                     3-25-03

 

Saved By Grace

Text: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” ( Eph 2:8 (KJV)

 

Of all the things that I have spoken to you about, the subject of today’s message sums up what I believe about the salvation of men and women.  I’m happy to say that their have been great preachers of God’s word, who have held the same beliefs that I have. 

Today, at the beginning of my message, I want to talk about those things, which relate to salvation. Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth...” (Rom.1:16). It’s the gospel and the word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to work the miracle of salvation in the heart of a sinner.  It is God’s word, spoken by God’s people that cause men and women to repent of their sins and to take Jesus as their Savior.  The word of God is what is important, not what we say about it.  Some preachers are better than others, but none of them can preach a better gospel. 

The origin of salvation is found in today’s text: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” ( Eph. 2:8 (KJV).

We can be saved only because God is willing to save us.  And He was willing to give His only begotten Son to save us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 (KJV).  It’s God’s love for us, not our love for Him, which saves us.  We have seen that God’s grace is the source of our salvation, but I want to add that the means of salvation is “through faith.”  But Paul also added, “and not of yourselves.”  Salvation cannot come from anything we do, because of the weakness and inability of human nature. 

God spoke about the depravity of man early in human history, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5 (KJV).  And don’t think that we are better today, than those who lived six to eight thousand years ago.  In fact, when God said this, mankind had not been out of the Garden of Eden very long.  When God spoke these words, everyone knew about Him and believed in Him, but they didn’t obey Him or love Him. 

We have laid the foundation for today’s message, and there are five points that I want to share with you that relate to salvation.
1. There is salvation available today.
2. At the present time, salvation must be through grace.
3. At the present, salvation by grace must come through faith.
4. Salvation by grace, through faith, is not of ourselves.
5. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

I hope that when we are done looking at God’s plan of for salvation, that we will see how wonderful and how wise God is. 

Our first point is, “THERE IS SALVATION AVAILABLE TODAY.

The apostle says, “Ye are saved.”  He doesn’t say, “Ye shall be,” or “Ye may be;” but “Ye are saved.”  He doesn’t say, “Ye are partly saved,” or “in the process of being saved,” or “that you can hope to be saved.”  Let’s be as clear on this point as he was, and let’s never rest until we know that all of us are saved. 

At this moment, each of us is either saved or unsaved.  That is a fact.  Which category do we belong to?  I hope that, by the witness of the Holy Spirit, all of us can say, “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has also become my salvation.”

Our second point is this, “AT THE PRESENT TIME SALVATION MUST BE THROUGH GRACE.”

If we can say about any person, “you are saved,” we would have to add the words, “by grace.”  There is no salvation today, which doesn’t begin and end with grace.  As far as I know, there isn’t anyone in the whole wide world who preaches or possesses Christian salvation, except those who believe that salvation is all by grace.  I have heard that there are those who claim that salvation can be obtained by works, but I have not made their acquaintance. 

Some may say that the Catholic Church teaches salvation by works, but no one in the Catholic Church claims to be presently saved; completely and eternally saved.  Such a claim would make them a heretic.  A few Catholics may hope to enter heaven when they die, but most of them have the miserable prospect of purgatory before their eyes.  There are constant prayers for departed souls, and that would not be necessary if they were saved.  Masses for the restfulness of these souls, indicates the incompleteness of the salvation that The Catholic Church has to offer.  The salvation they preach is by works, but even if it was possible to be saved by doing good works, no one could ever be sure they had done enough to secure their salvation. 

There are people all around us, who know nothing about the doctrine of grace, and they never dream that they could be saved right now and where they are at.  They believe that they will be saved when they die, or at least they hope they will.  They believe that after years of being dedicated to holiness, they may, perhaps, be saved at last, but they don’t have any hope of being saved now. And for them to know they are saved, would be a presumption that is quite beyond them.

At the present time, there can be no salvation, unless it stands upon this foundation; “By grace are ye saved.” 

It is very interesting that no one has stood-up to preach that you can be saved in the present by works. 
It would probably be too absurd.  Where there were works, which were unfinished, the salvation would be incomplete; or if the salvation were complete, there would be no motive to continue doing good works.
Salvation must be by grace. 

If a person is lost because of sin, how can he be saved, except through the grace of God?  If he has sinned, he is condemned; and how can anyone, by himself, reverse that condemnation?  Suppose that a person could keep the law all the rest of his life; then he would only have done the minimum; what he was always obligated to do, so he will still be an unprofitable servant.  What could be done about this man's past?  How can old sins be blotted out?  How can you retrieve lost opportunities? 

According to scripture, and according to common sense, salvation can only be through a free act of kindness by God. Salvation at the present time must be by the goodwill of God, and it is a free gift.  People may compete for salvation by doing good works, but you won’t hear anyone defend their case by saying, “I am saved by what I have done.”  That would sound holier-than-thou, and it’s something that few men would do.   This type of boasting and pride would not make any friends.  No, if we are saved, it must be a gift of God. For salvation to be complete, it must be a free act of kindness. 

When those who belong to God are about to die, they never put their hope in their good works.  When those who have lived holy and useful lives are in their final moments, they always put their trust in God’s grace. 
That is not a time when anyone would put their confidence in their own prayers, or their religiousness. 
Those who are prepared for death simply trust in the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ; and place no value in themselves.  If this is the case in our last moments, when we have almost finished the good fight, we ought to trust in Him even more when we are in the thick of the fight. 

If a person is completely saved in this present time of war against Satan and temptation, how can it be, except by grace?  A child of God must grieve over the sin that is within him, and he must confess many shortcomings and disobedience, and sin is mixed in with everything he does, so how can he believe he is completely saved, unless it comes as a free gift of God, and from the mercy and grace of God.

Paul speaks about salvation, like it belongs to the Ephesians.  He wrote, “By grace are ye saved.”  The Ephesians were into witchcraft, and fortune-telling, and Devil worship.  Now, if men and women, such as these are saved, it must be by grace alone.  And it’s the same with us; our original condition and character make it clear, that if we are saved, we must owe it to the free favor of God.  I know it’s true in my case, and it may also be true for the rest of you believers.

The third thing to be observed is that, “OUR PRESENT SALVATION BY GRACE MUST BE THROUGH FAITH.

Your salvation must be through grace, and salvation by grace must be through faith.  You cannot get a hold of salvation by grace by any other means than by faith. 

I suppose that it could be possible, if God had willed it, that salvation might have been through works, and not by grace.  If Adam had perfectly obeyed God, he would only have done what he was obligated to do. 
If he had not fallen into sin, his salvation would have still been by grace, because God owed him nothing. 
This would have been a very difficult system to work out, since the object was perfection; but in our case it would not work at all.  In our case, salvation means deliverance from guilt and sin, and we could not be delivered by any amount of good works, since we so very often fall into sin. 

Suppose I was to preach to you that you must do certain good works, and then you would be saved.  And suppose that you could perform them; that type of salvation would not have been by grace, but instead it would be payment for a debt, which you were owed by God.  Salvation obtained like this would be a reward for the work that you have done. 

Salvation by grace can only be gripped by the hand of faith.  Any attempt to grab a hold of it by your own efforts, would cause grace to fade away.  "Therefore, it is of faith that it might be by grace." "If by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."

Some people try to get a hold of salvation by grace through the use of ceremonies; but that will not work.  You may be christened, confirmed and receive the “holy sacraments” from the hands of a priest, or you may be baptized, or join the church or take communion; but does any of those things save you? 
Let me ask, “Are you saved?”  If you did claim salvation of some sort, would you believe it was salvation by grace?

And you cannot get salvation by grace through your feelings.  If you are saved today, it must be by grace alone. 
If you go around saying, “I must feel that I am saved.  I must feel a certain amount of joy or a certain amount of sorrow; otherwise I don’t believe that I am saved,” you will find that this approach will not work.  If your hope is to measure your faith by your feelings, you might as well hope to see with your ear, or taste with your eye, or hear with your nose; because feeling is the wrong organ for believing.  But after you are saved, it’s a different story; you can enjoy salvation by feeling its heavenly influences; but to think that you can grasp salvation by your own feelings is like trying to carry sunlight in a grocery bag; it would be absurd.
Besides, those results, which feelings can produce, are very unpredictable.  When your feelings are tranquil and pleasant, they are soon interrupted, and they become agitated and depressed.  The most changeable of elements, the feeblest of creatures, the most distasteful conditions, may sink or rise by your mood.  Experienced men and women, come to rely less and less on their emotions.  Faith alone brings salvation; but feelings are an uncertain platform for salvation to rest upon. 
Feelings boil and rage then become lukewarm, depressed, and hopeless.  They can’t be trusted, when our eternal security is at stake. 

Now let’s look at our forth point; “SALVATION BY GRACE, THROUGH FAITH, IS NOT OF US.”

Salvation and faith is not of us.  To begin with, we don’t deserve them, and they are not the rewards for our previous good works.  No one has lived well enough that God is obligated to give him eternal life; but even if He did give him eternal life, it would be payment for a debt owed, and not by grace.  Salvation is given to us, not earned by us. 

Our early years, always involves a wandering away from God, and our new life is a return to God.  It’s a work of undeserved mercy conferred on those who need it, but never deserve it.

Salvation is not of us, that is, it doesn’t develop out of our previous goodness.  Salvation comes from above; it never evolves from within.  Paul said that before we are saved that we are dead in our sin, so the question is, “How can eternal life evolve from one who is dead?” 

There are some who even dare to tell us that faith in Christ and the new birth is only the product of good things that lay hidden in us by nature.  But what we have inherited is not a good nature; it’s the nature of Adam, a fallen nature, a nature that sins; and what will develop out of it is only fit for the place prepared for the devil and his angels. 

You may take any lost man, and give him the best college education, but when he graduates, he’ll still be lost, unless a higher power will come and save him from himself. 

Grace brings into the heart, something that is entirely foreign to it.  Grace does not improve anything and it doesn’t perpetuate anything; it kills, and then makes alive.  There is nothing in common, between our original natural state, and the state of grace.  The first one is darkness, and the other is light; one is death, and the other is life. 

Salvation by grace, through faith, is not of us, in the sense of it being the result of our own power.  We are obliged to view salvation as a divine act of creation; and not of ourselves. 

When a man believes, that belief is only one of the results of the life that God implants within the soul. Even the motivation to be saved by grace, is not of us; but it is the gift of God. 

Everybody ought to believe in Jesus: It’s our duty to receive Him, because God made Him to be sin for us. 
But here lies the problem with man; man will not believe in Jesus; he prefers anything to faith in his Redeemer.  Unless the Holy Spirit persuades a person’s judgment, and restrains their will, they will have no desire to believe in Jesus. 

I want to ask you to think about when you were saved; can you explain how it came about?  You turned to Christ and believed in Him: these were your own acts.  But what caused you to turn to Christ?  What was that force, which caused you to turn from sin, and to want to serve Christ?  Do you attribute what happened to you to something you have within, which those who do not believe are yet to discover?  No, you would say that you would be just like that unbeliever, if it were not for that powerful something which touched your will and enlightened your mind, and then guided you to the foot of the cross.  So it must be that salvation by grace, through faith is not of us, and I don’t believe that any of us would ever dream of taking any credit for our salvation. 

Now, this is the last point…“BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED THROUGH FAITH; AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES: IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD.”

Salvation is God’s gift; it’s the unspeakable gift, and it’s free and it contains immeasurable love.
Salvation is a gift of God, as opposed to a wage. 

When a man pays another man a wage, he is doing what is right; and no one ever thinks of praising him for it. 
But we praise God for salvation, because it is not payment for a debt; it is a gift of grace.  No one gets eternal life because it is something that is owed to them: it is a gift from God.  Nothing can be more freely given than a gift.  And salvation is such an absolutely free gift of God that nothing can be freer.  God gives it, because He chooses to give it.  And He gives it according to that great verse, which causes many men to bite their lip in anger, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."  

You are all guilty and condemned, and the Great King pardons whoever He wants to from among us.  But God never forces anyone to believe in His Son. 

You can resist the Holy Spirit, and many men do resist Him.  But it’s best to cooperate with Him, because He wants you to receive Jesus and have eternal life.  Remember, salvation by grace through faith is for whosoever will believe in the only begotten Son of God. Salvation is completely a gift of God, as opposed to the notion that it grows within.  Salvation is not something that is naturally produced from within: it is brought from above, and planted within the heart by heavenly hands. 

The complete process of salvation is a gift of God.  If you want to have it, there it is, complete.  Will you accept it as a perfect gift?  If you say, “No, I will produce it within myself,” you will be disappointed.  We cannot do a work that is so rare and costly, a work that Jesus spent His life blood for. 

Won’t you just freely take the gift that Christ on the cross declared was finished.   It is the gift of God: that is, it is eternally secure, as opposed to the gifts of men, which soon pass away.  Jesus said, “Not as the world givith, give I unto you.” 

If my Lord Jesus gives you salvation at this moment, you have it forever.  He will never take it back, and if He doesn’t take it from you, who can? 

If He saves you now, through faith, you are saved, so saved that you shall never perish; neither shall any pluck you out of his hand.  I pray that that is the way it will be for every one of us.  Amen.

 

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http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (Life of Christ)

http://teachingsermonsforpastorsandlaymen.yolasite.com (sermons)

http://theepistlesofpaul.yolasite.com (Titus and Jude)

tttp://paulsepistletotheromans.yolasite.com (Romans)

http://theperiodofthejudges.yolasite.com (Judges)

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