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"For by Grace Are Ye Saved Through Faith"
"For by grace are ye 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 hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10
God's justice did not require that he bring salvation to anyone. It was God's love and grace that reached down to bring about the means of our recovery. We as Christians are reckoned as saved from our sins by means of faith in Christ's redemptive work. No works that we can do could lift the judgment of death standing against us. This is what is meant by "not of yourselves." It is commonly recognized by Christians that what we have received is "not of works, lest any man should boast." No one merited such favor. Hence, if not of merit, it must be of "grace."
A Christian may not continue in evil works and call for more of God's grace. Paul makes it very clear, that "we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works." We are enabled to do "good works" only by God's grace. God works in his people to "will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Unless such a transformation of heart and character has taken place, it is doubtful that any are "his workmanship." Paul says, "Shall we continue to sin, that grace may abound? God forbid" (Romans 6:1, 2). Christians, however sincere, do sin, but not willingly, for they will to do righteousness. It is one thing to be overcome by human weakness and another thing to live after the flesh. When we are told that some "born again" Christians have a lifestyle no different than the world, and that grace compensates for this unregenerate way of life, that is hard to believe. "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Romans 8:5).
"Faith … Not of Yourselves: It Is the Gift of God"
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves" (Ephesians 2:8). This raises the question as to whether God supplies faith as well as grace. Does the individual exercise faith or does faith come by endowment? The answer is that God provides the basis for faith in his word. Paul tells us, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). It is in this sense that Paul says faith is "not of yourselves." No one could exercise faith without some basis or platform for it. God provides the platform for faith. This should not be construed to mean the individual does not need to exercise personal faith. It is clearly written, "Without faith it is impossible to please him" (Hebrews 11:6). In other words, once God provides the foundation for faith, then the individual must be willing to step out on the promises of God with full assurance. God develops our faith by the revelations of his love, through his promises, through his Word.
The "free grace" movement tends to minimize individual inward effort in the process of "being saved." It is sweet music to some to hear that God will guarantee transport to heaven by merely professing to accept Jesus as their Savior. How convenient to believe that with such a confession, heaven is guaranteed and that once "saved" one cannot be "unsaved." That is a better deal than Tetzel* (*John Tetzel, a Dominican Friar who used high pressure tactics to sell indulgences during the 1500s, would say, "The moment you hear your money drop in the box, the soul of your mother will jump out of purgatory." The Church in History, by B. K. Kuiper, published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.) offered while selling indulgences† for sin. (†The Roman Catholic Church used the system of indulgences as a means for penitent sinners to buy a release from sins.) To secure an indulgence the individual had to put a princely sum in Tetzel's coffer. Under the "free grace" terms, heaven is guaranteed by God's grace to all those who accept Christ. Even when these acceptors of God's grace continue to sin, no matter, God's grace is limitless and his love unconditional. The sinner does not need to pay an indulgence for sin, but gets one free from Christ. This is an incredible offer. No wonder the "free grace" siren song is attracting adherents. It sounds almost too good to be true. In fact, that is exactly the case. God is not "mocked."
Religion is a field that attracts all kinds of beliefs and all kinds of believers. The unique thing about religion is that it does not have to be true to have followers. Everybody dies no matter what his or her belief. Standing before the awesome power of death, people can deny its reality and suppose that God is obligated to transfer these "immortal souls" to heaven. What would God do with all these immortal sinners in heaven? His will would not be done then in heaven as it is not being done now on earth. This is a popular view even though not one verse of Scriptures says that man has an "immortal soul" or an "immortal anything." No, not one verse may be found.
Without here exploring the full depth of the subject of the soul, we will offer but a sampling of what the Bible says. Note how these examples clearly reveal that the soul is not an undying entity and that it can cease to exist:
"And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body [Hebrew, nephesh, soul] of a man" (Numbers 9:6).
"The soul [Hebrew, nephesh] that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).
"Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls [Hebrew, nephesh] that were therein" (Joshua 10:28, 30, 32, 35, 37, 39).
"Their soul [Hebrew, nephesh] dieth in youth" (Job 36:14, margin).
"Fear him which is able to destroy both soul [Greek, psuche] and body" (Matthew 10:28).
"Shall save a soul [Greek, psuche] from death" (James 5:20).
The preponderance of scriptural evidence confirms that the soul itself is subject to death. Still the fable persists that undying souls go to heaven where God must receive them. Is it true? No, but does it matter? This is popular and that is what people want to believe. It will not be until the resurrection morning when the truth will be fully known by all. Malachi says, "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not" (Malachi 3:18). Surely there will be a manifestation of everything that is true, as well as everything that is false. Is it not written, "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work" (1 Corinthians 3:13). God will not be mocked.
"Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:9, 10). No one may boast that works make him or her acceptable to God. The "grace" of God extended to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus is the sole means of access to God. Having received "remission of sins" and the "Spirit" of God, then we become God's "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." God's "workmanship" in the Christian must lead unto "good works." The "good works" include the Christian graces being developed within and also faithfully witnessing to God's truth in Christ. Only after becoming God's "workmanship" do "good works" follow.
"And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [Greek, will save] me unto his heavenly kingdom" (2 Timothy 4:18). Paul is using the word will save in the sense of will preserve or that of being kept unto "his heavenly kingdom." There is little doubt that Paul is speaking of his future great reward and not of being justified. The Christian is justified and given the gift of the Spirit for the ultimate purpose of receiving a heavenly reward. So the word "saved" has grown into broader usage. However, one must carefully read the context to understand how it is used. A heavenly reward may not be read into every usage of the word "saved." It must be remembered that in nearly one-third of the uses of the word "saved," it has nothing to do with "justification" or receiving the "gift of the Spirit" or of heaven. It simply means healed or saved from drowning or a similar common application. See the listings of all the uses of the word "saved" on pages 81-87 in the back of this booklet. "Saved" in black type has no spiritual meaning and applies to the everyday use of the word "saved."
God's grace may have been involved in works of healing, being saved from drowning, or being saved from death or harm. However, such grace is not tied to being justified or having the judgment against us lifted. When Paul's ship which carried him to Rome was wrecked, all on that boat were to be saved from drowning if they stayed in the boat (Acts 27:31). The only person justified by Christ's blood on that boat was Paul. This did not stop God from granting a favor to all in the boat, even though the blood of Christ covered Paul alone. The context must always be considered when the word "saved" is used.
The woman with an issue of blood had such great faith that she knew if she could but touch the hem of Jesus' garment she would be healed (sozo, saved).
Jesus said to her, "Thy faith hath made thee whole [saved]" (Mark 5:34). The translators knew this only meant she had been healed or saved from her malady, so they properly used the word healed. However, by giving the word, save, different meanings they hid the broad usage of this word.
When Jesus was on the cross being taunted, the malicious crowds said, "He saved others; himself he cannot save" (Matthew 27:42). Now, they were not saying that Jesus could not save himself to heaven, but that he could not save himself from the cruel death on the cross. If they knew that he was the Lord of glory, that he would be raised from the dead, invested with all power in heaven and earth, they would not have crucified him (1 Corinthians 2:8).
The Lord is looking for those who would love him supremely and only such will live and reign with him. Jesus said, "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it" (Matthew 16:25). Any accepting Jesus to escape from their mistaken view of a burning hell, are motivated by selfishness and not by a true love of God and of his dear son.
Jesus clearly stated the terms of discipleship. In Matthew 10:37-39 he says, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." Those merely seeking an escape from "hell fire" certainly do not seem to meet these requirements. Christ is looking for worthy disciples. Only if one meets the high requirements needed to be a worthy follower of Christ should he enlist to be a footstep follower of the Master. We would only encourage those who truly love Jesus to consecrate their lives into a baptism of Christ's death.
Paul explains true baptism in Romans 6:3-23, "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death." Heaven is promised those who are "dead with Christ" and only such may indeed look for a heavenly reward. To seek this reward without meeting the requirements laid down by Jesus will neither please the Lord nor gain the salvation being sought. Not one word is said about water baptism in this chapter. The baptism being presented here is the "baptism into Christ's death." While water baptism is proper it should be remembered that it is only a symbol of the true baptism of the heart into Christ's death.
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