Salvation All of Grace<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Ephesians 2: 8-10
"For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God had before ordained that we should walk in them."
Considerable controversy exists among many professing Christians on the issue of salvation and sanctification. Many contend that salvation cannot be by grace alone. Even those professing Christians who profess to be reformed in their faith don't all agree that salvation is by God's grace alone. Others do not agree that salvation is through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many professing Christians debate whether it is necessary to repent from one's sins. Others debate whether sanctification is more properly rooted in regeneration or adoption. In our time, not only do we see the "falling away" occurring in those purporting to be God's children (i.e., the Church), but there are many who do not know Christ at all. Emergent theology purports to be new but is not. The New Age still exists. Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other groups purporting to be Christians have differing theories and ideas of salvation and sanctification.
The trumpet must not sound an "uncertain sound." God's Living Word, however, stands clear. It is because of the sovereign will of God alone that anyone is saved. In Paul's Epistle to the Church at Ephesus, he makes it abundantly clear to them and to the Church at large that God's blessings of adoption, redemption, acceptance in Christ, knowledge and revelation of God Himself through Jesus Christ our Lord are all rooted in the sovereign will of God. All individuals are described as being "by nature the children of wrath." All are described as being "dead in their trespasses and sins" until God makes them alive. This great theme of salvation by grace alone, which is defined as being God's unmerited favor, runs throughout scripture.
Paul says in his letter to the Church at Rome that "by the works of the Law shall no flesh be saved." "None are righteous not one." "None seek after God. They have all gone astray." "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord." If it is true, and it is, that everyone is dead in their trespasses and sins, the first need of everyone is to be made alive in Christ Jesus. No man can make himself alive. This is an act of creation just as surely as it was when God said, "Let there be light" before the foundation of the world. It is this fact of salvation by God's grace alone, through the sovereign gift of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, and the implications of such a great gift to which we turn our attention in this devotional.
The Implications of Evangelism
The great expository evangelical preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his voluminous and instructive work on an exposition of the Book of Ephesians stated concerning Ephesians 2:8-10: "Here is a statement, surely, that must be determinative in all evangelism. [One's] belief and practice cannot be separated." "This is one of the most crucial statements that is to be found anywhere in scripture . . . ." [Although] "This is perhaps the greatest of all the Epistles in some senses, packed as it is with profound theology and doctrinal statements, nevertheless, it was written primarily in order to help people in a practical and pastoral manner." Paul, the great Apostle, "knew that no person can live the Christian life unless he first of all has a true understanding of what it is that makes one a Christian at all."
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his exposition, goes on to say that Paul had first prayed for the Christians in Ephesus. As you can read in the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Church at Ephesus, Paul prays that "the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened, and that they might know the hope of God's calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and, perhaps most important of all, the exceeding greatness of His power to us ward that believe." Is this not also a great need in the church today? There is a seemingly almost universal failure to realize the exceeding greatness of the power of God in us who believe.
Power for War
The great Apostle tells the Church at Corinth, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations and every vain thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing in to captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." II Corinthians 10: 3- 5. Nevertheless, are we not constantly guilty of trying to use carnal weaponry? We hear that someone has said something about us which we do not like. We set about in our carnal way to "set the record straight." We perceive that one has made themselves our enemy, and we purpose to "get back at them." These are but simple examples of our failure to recognize and use the great power that God gives to His children. Surely, it must be a failure to recognize that we have the power, for the result is that we fail to use the power. So Paul wants God's children to know this great power which God has given to us who believe.
The Mark of a True Christian
If one has not been saved by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as a sheer gift, they are not a Christian at all. The result, of course, is they have difficulty understanding and getting anything in the Christian life right. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, ". . . if we are not right at the beginning, we shall be wrong everywhere. And it is because so many are still confused at that very first step that they are always full of problems, and difficulties, and questions, and do not understand this, and cannot see that. It is because they have never been clear about the foundation." Naturally, if the foundation of a building is not laid properly, the building itself will not rise properly and, indeed, may ultimately collapse of its own weight. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out the fact that it is the lack of understanding of the clear foundation that results in many of the matters of controversy. Many times controversy has arisen because of efforts on the part of some to argue over one or two verses instead of taking the plain statements of scripture and comparing it to other plain statements of scripture. This frequently, through the ages, has resulted in these various controversies. Philosophical arguments are bound to get one in trouble. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, "We either accept the scriptures as our own foundation, or else we do not." The Westminster Confession declares that God's Word is our "only rule of faith and practice." Do we adhere to God's Word? Do we receive it as the Holy Word of God? When it says, "Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy," do we equivocate and try to make the word day (the full 24 hours) mean only a part of the day? Worse still, do we simply argue with that great Commandment and say that it is a cultural thing, and it doesn't mean what it says today because times have changed? As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, "We either accept the scriptures as our only foundation or else we do not.
The Apostle here says that we are Christians entirely and solely as the result of God's grace. Salvation is a sheer gift. Saving faith is a sheer gift. God purposes to take a child of wrath by nature, according to His Word, and make him or her a child of God. What a great blessing! The Apostle has said that this blessing has actually taken place before the foundation of the world. Of course, not only are we naturally children of wrath: But we also do the wrong thing, i.e., sin, as a result of our own conduct. The creature, according to the Apostle Paul, lives according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the Power of the Air. The creature is dead in trespasses and sins, fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and of the mind. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls this an appalling description of mankind. Thus, if we are God's children at all, we have been saved solely, and only, and exclusively by God's sovereign will and grace. Praise Him and seek to live for Him.
Note that scripture says that in our natural state we were dead. This means that we were without any life at all. Therefore, it is not a matter of ability. It is not even a matter of earnest desire. We were dead and had no ability and no desire. Surely, the truth of scripture which says that none seek after God epitomizes our former deadness. Therefore, the greatest need that anyone has is to be made alive. Amazing love, how can it be? That is the very thing that God has done for me. God does that for every one of His children or else they are not His children. Creatures who were dead are raised from the dead and made alive solely by the grace of God.
This passage of scripture makes it clear that our salvation is all of grace and not of works lest any man should boast. Man is generally so prone to boast. "Did you see what I did?" "Did you see how well I performed?" "Do you know that I figured out this salvation thing on my own?" "I have done great and mighty works." Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, "It is always in connection with our works that we are most liable to boast. This is a subtle thing. It's one of the reasons by the Pharisees were the greatest enemies of Jesus Christ, according to Martyn Lloyd-Jones. They weren't mere talkers, they actually did "fast twice in the week." Luke 18: 9. They actually did give tithes of all that they possessed. They were obsessed with self-righteousness. No man has ever kept the Commandments perfectly except for the Lord Jesus Christ.
The first and greatest Commandment, "Thou shalt love God with all thine heart, and soul, and mind, and strength," cannot be kept. If we loved God with all of our mind, we would never have a wrong thought. If we loved God with all of our strength, we would never do anything wrong. Many of us fail to keep the first and greatest Commandment even to this day. As we realize that we are unable to save ourselves, and we realize that we are great sinners, God's great grace is even sweeter. His grace stops our boasting. Our being His child is entirely the result of God's grace and work in us through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith itself is a sheer gift. We are made anew after the image and pattern of the Son of God Himself. And we are called to put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and truly holiness.
The great Apostle begins this letter to the Church at Ephesus detailing the blessings which God has given to us from before the foundation of the world. Paul says, "According as he hath chosen us in Him (Jesus) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." He "has made us accepted in the Beloved." He has "redeemed us with the precious blood of Jesus." He tells us in the 8th Chapter of Romans that God has predestinated us "to be conformed to the image of His Son!" A Christian is one who has been saved by the grace of God through faith and that not of himself. It is a gift of God that he be made like Christ, conformed to the image of God's Son. "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live; yet not I that lives, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. " What does it mean to be a Christian? It is Christ in you, the hope of glory, made after the image of God's own Son.
I. There is Hope for Every Sinner
The Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, said that because we are saved as a result of the free favor and un-bought mercy of God, not because of deserving deeds, not because of debt, but entirely and altogether because the Lord has had mercy on us and saved us by His free grace, that every unconverted sinner should be inspired with hope. If salvation be all of grace, then what sinner can be so wicked as to sit down in sullenness and say, "It is impossible for me to be saved"?
A. Sin is not an Impediment to Salvation
If salvation be all of grace, it is clear that an individual sinner can have no sin, that is by any means, an impediment to his salvation. Spurgeon said that "if we are saved by grace, [that necessarily] implies that we are fit objects for grace; and who are fit objects for grace but the guilty, the wretched, the condemned." "Christ died for the ungodly." "he came into the world to save sinners." "If mercy come onto the field, sin is swallowed up in forgiveness and unworthiness ceases to be a barrier for love." This is both clear and comforting.
B. No Despair Because of Any One Sin
This great doctrine prevents the despair which might arise in any heart on account of some one special sin. "Whatever the sin may be, its greatness will only serve to illustrate the great grace of God. Undeserved mercy can pardon one sin as well as another, if the soul confess it," said Spurgeon. That salvation is all of grace prevents the despair which might arise in any heart on account of any one particular sin.
C. No Despair Because of Multitudes of Sins
Just as the Doctrine of Salvation by grace alone through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone prevents any sinner from despair because of any one particular sin, it also prevents any sinner from despair because of a continuing multitude and great aggravation of his sins. Spurgeon said, "I wish to speak right home to the hearts of those who are in trouble and seeking mercy. And to them I say - 'do you not see that if salvation be of grace alone, He is able to blot out ten thousand sins as easily as blotting out one. I see in the multitude of your sins only so much the more room for the Lord to exercise His own delightful attribute of mercy.'"
D. No Despair Because of the Depravity of your Nature
Spurgeon said that "if salvation be of grace alone, then the depravity of thy nature does not shut thee up in despair. However fallen you may be, you may yet be raised up. Why should not the Lord take the most depraved, and abandoned, and obstinate among us, and renew his nature, and make of him a miracle of grace? He can do it. Glory be to His name, He can do it; and now He deals with us in grace. Let us hope He will do it in the case of many.
E. No Despair Because of the Hardness of Your Heart and Lack of Repentance
"I think I hear you say 'I believe God can save me, but I am so impenitent, my heart is so hard, and I am so unrepentant. If God should deal with thee entirely upon another ground, namely, His mercy, why I think I hear Him say, 'poor hard-hearted sinner, I will pity thee and take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.' Do you say you cannot repent? It is a great sin not to be able to repent, but then the Lord will not look upon you from the point of what you ought to be, but He will consider what He can make of you, and He will give you repentance unto life."
F. No Despair Because of Lack of Belief
Spurgeon went on to say, "Do I hear you confess that you cannot believe? The absence of faith is a great evil. But because the Lord is dealing with you on terms of grace, He says, 'I will give Thee faith,' for faith is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Spurgeon said, "Oh, though I were black as the devil with past sin, and vile as the devil with innate depravity, yet, if the Lord's mercy looked upon me, could He not forgive the past and change my nature, and make me, as bright as Seraph, as Gabriel before His throne?" "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" "Thus, we see what a door of hope there is in this truth that salvation is altogether of grace.
Spurgeon summarized this point by pointing out in conclusion that "there is no supposable circumstance or incident, or anything connected with any man, that can shut him out of hope if he seek forgiveness through the Savior's blood." "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him turn unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." The Lord says, "Come now, and let us reason together said the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Thus, salvation by grace alone through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ ought to give hope to every sinner.
II. This Great Doctrine Affords Direction to the Sinner
Clearly, Spurgeon said, "If salvation be of grace alone, it would be a very wrong course of action to plead that you are not guilty, or to extenuate your faults before God. That would be wrong altogether. Because salvation is of grace, go to the Lord and confess your sin and your transgression and ask Him for grace. Do not for a moment attempt to show that you have no need of grace, but because salvation is all of grace, accept it as a free gift and bless the giver. Go to Him and confess your sin and tell him that you are in need of mercy. Indeed, aggravate your sin in your confession if you can. The right way to plead is to plead your misery, your impotence, your danger, your sin. Lay bare your wounds before the Lord, and as Hezekiah spread Sennacherib's letter before the Lord, spread your sins before Him with many a tear and many a cry, and say, 'Lord, save me from all these; save me from these black and vile things, for thy infinite mercies sake.' Then yield yourself to God. Tell Him, "Here I stand before Thee oh my Maker; I have offended Thee; I yield to Thee, because You have said You will deal with me on terms of grace; behold I cast myself at your feet; the weapons of my rebellion I cast from my hands forever; I desire that You would take me and make me what You would have me to be; and seeing you are a God of grace, I beseech Thee to have pity upon me. You have appointed a way of salvation through Jesus Christ, oh save me in that way, I entreat Thee.'"
A. The Doctrine of Salvation by Grace Directs Us How to Pray
Spurgeon told his congregation present on the morning of August 4, 1872, "Let me teach you, seeking sinner, for a moment how to pray. Plead with God your miserable and undone condition; tell Him you are utterly lost if He does not save you. Tell him that you are afraid to die and to come before His righteous bar, for unless He saves you, hell will be your portion. Show Him the eminence of thy danger. He knows it, but let Him see that you know it, and this will be good pleading with His mercy." "Save me, oh Lord, for if ever so needed saving, if ever so were in the jaws of destruction, I am that soul, therefore have mercy upon me." "Lord, you are merciful, Your mercy will find ample scope in me. Does your grace seek out sin to purge it away? It is here, Lord; I teem with it; my heart swarms with evils. If you art pitiful, here is a heart which bleeds and is ready to parish. Oh, if you be indeed a physician, here is a sick soul that needs you. If you are ready to forgive, here are sins that need forgiving." "And then say to Him, 'Lord, your mercy is very great, I know it is.' 'According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.' 'If you were a little God and you had but little mercy, I should have but little hope in Thee; but oh, Thou art so great and glorious, You can cast my transgressions behind Your back.' Tell Him you have said that if the wicked forsake his way and turn unto you, he will live. 'Lord, I forsake my way, and turn unto You. Receive me. You have said that all manner of sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men. You have declared that the blood of Jesus Christ your son cleanses from all sin. Do not go back from your word, oh God. Since You are dealing with men on terms of grace, keep Your promise and let your rich, free mercy fall on me.'"
Plead with Him like this: "Lord, Thou hast given Thine only begotten Son to die; surely He need not have died for the righteous; He died for the guilty; I am such a one; Lord, wilt Thou give Thy Son for sinners and then cast sinners away? Did you nail Him to the cross only for a mockery, that we might come to that cross and not find pity? Oh, thou God of mercy, in the gift of Thy Son, Thou hast done so much that you cannot draw back. You must save sinners, now that Thou hast given Jesus to die for them." "Tell Him that He has said, 'Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.' Tell Him that it is written of Him, 'This man receiveth sinners and eats with them.' Tell Him that you have heard that 'this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.'"
"If you think that you are still failing in prayer, said Spurgeon, "Go to God like this and say to Him: 'Lord, You have sworn with an oath as I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of Him that dieth, but had rather than he would turn to me and live. I know that you mean this, my God. Will you take pleasure then in my death and spurn me now that I turn to Thee?' Say to Him, 'Lord, doest Thou not delight to save great big black sinners? I am just such a one.' And finally, tell Him, 'I thank Thee oh God that Thou hast permitted me even to pray to Thee; I bless Thy grace that Thou hast moved me to come to Thee; and as Thou hast given me grace to feel my sin in a measure, wilt Thou leave me to perish after all?' As the Lord my God liveth before whom I stand," said Spurgeon, "There shall never a soul perish that can cast himself upon the sovereign grace of God through Jesus Christ His Son."
III. The Doctrines of Salvation by Grace Alone Provide a Powerful Motive for Future Holiness
A man who feels that he is saved by grace alone says, "Did God, of His own free favor, blot out my sins?" Then, oh, how I love Him. Was it nothing but His love that saved an undeserving wretch like me? Then my soul is knit to Him forever. Spurgeon said, "I put it to thee, sinner, if the Lord this morning were to appear to thee and say, 'All thy sins have been blotted out,' wouldst you not love Him?" "I, said Spurgeon, "think even a dog would love such a master as that."
This motive for future holiness would cause you to desire to put away everything that would displease the living God. "Away ye sins, away ye sins; how can I defile myself with You again? And then you would desire to practice all His will, and say, 'for the love I bear His name, no duty shall be too difficult, no command too severe.' There are none that love God like those who are saved by grace. The man who thinks to save himself by works does not love God at all; he loves himself; he is a servant working for wages, and that is the kind of servant who would turn to another master tomorrow if he could get a better deal."
IV. A Test for You
There are other implications for this great doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. How you treat this text will reveal to you who and what you really are. This text, according to Spurgeon, will either be a stone of stumbling to you or a foundation stone on which you build. Spurgeon called for people to beware of self-righteousness. This black doctrine of the Pharisees cannot save you. Seeking to make one's own self righteous simply doesn't work. The reason, of course, is rooted in the fact that we are dead in our trespasses and sins. We cannot save ourselves! Indeed, even if we could, we are, by nature, the children of wrath, therefore, we would choose darkness rather than light. Our rebelliousness would cause us to refuse to eat the salvation meal. Spurgeon said that the black devil of licentiousness destroys his hundreds, but the white devil of self-righteousness destroys his thousands. However, the marvelous thing of salvation by grace alone through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which is of itself a sheer gift, is that you cannot have any sin too great, and you cannot have too many sins. Spurgeon said:
"Art thou guilty? Come and trust thy Savior. Art thou empty? Come and be filled out of the fullness which is treasured up in Christ Jesus. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ now, for one act of faith sets thee free from all sin. Do not tarry for a moment, nor raise questions with thy God. Believe Him, capable of infinite mercy, and through Jesus Christ rest thou in Him. If thou be the worst soul in the world to thine own apprehension, and the one odd man that would be left out of every catalog of grace, now write not such things against thyself; for even if thou do, come and cast thyself upon thy God. He cannot reject thee; or if he should, thou wouldst be the first that ever trusted in Him and was confounded. Come and try Jesus. Oh! That His Spirit may bring thee to Jesus at this very moment, and that in heaven there may be joy in the presence of the angels of God because a soul has confided in the grace of God and found immediate pardon, instantaneous salvation, through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. The Lord bless every one of you."
Now, unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we even ask or think according to the power which works in us in the Church by Christ Jesus, world without end, Amen!
Your friend and brother in Christ,
Worldview Weekend Foundation
PO BOX 1690
Collierville, TN, 38027 USA