Saturday, June 24, 2017
 

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Saved By Grace ]

SALVATION BY GRACE Lonnie Branam For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:8—10). My subject is “Salvation By Grace.” Few passages of the Bible have been more abused than this one. One of the most serious problems of our day is a correct understanding of what is involved in man's salvation. In a business investment, misinformation may cost you your money, but not your soul. Partial information concerning your physical health may cost you your life, but it will not cost you your soul. However, in the matter of salvation, misinformation or partial information may cost you your eternal salvation in heaven. The Bible teaches that God gives man salvation in two parts. The first part is initial salvation and the second part is ultimate salvation. The writers of the Bible use the word salvation in these two senses, and a careful distinction must be made between them. When Paul said, “By grace you have been saved through faith, not of works”, he was speaking of initial salvation. There are four key words in this passage which must be understood in their relationship to each other, if we are to have a correct understanding of the subject of salvation. The words are: saved, grace, faith, and works. The first key word is the term “saved”. The American Standard Version renders this passage, “for by grace have you been saved through faith.” It is in the past tense. It had already been experienced. They had been saved or rescued from their past sins. The forgiveness of your past sins is initial salvation. The word saved does not always mean you are certain to go to haven. It can simply mean that you have been forgiven of your past sins and have been adopted into God's family. It was said of Jesus before his birth in Matt. 1:21, “He shall save his people from their sins.” Jesus saved people from their sins by forgiving them. When the forgiveness of Christ has been received, one has received what may be correctly called initial or primary salvation. That is the first meaning of the word salvation. But how can we be certain that the word saved in this passage is to be restricted to forgiveness of past sins? The context clearly reveals this limitation. A few verses before in Eph. 2:1, we read, “And you he has made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Verse 2 says that they were disobedient to God and lived under Satan's influence and control. Verse 5 adds that even when these people were dead in trespasses and sins, God made them alive, saving them by grace. A life of sin caused them to be separated from God. They were saved from this sinful condition to a condition of forgiveness and acceptance with God. Their initial salvation was their forgiveness and their conversion. The forgiveness of God is a blessed experience and one of the great accomplishments of life. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The word justified means to be forgiven of past sins. The Bible also speaks of initial salvation in Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” This passage states that those who obeyed the gospel of Christ had been forgiven of past sins by the washing of water baptism, being baptized in obedience to the teachings of the Holy Spirit. When preceded by sincere repentance the Bible says of baptism in I Peter 3:21, “baptism does also now save us.” Baptism saves us because God requires it before one can have the forgiveness of sis. When Paul said by grace you have been saved, he meant they had been forgiven by God's favor of all past sins through faith in Christ. Another key word in the text is grace. They had been saved or forgiven by grace. Grace means unmerited favor, and refers to blessings from God which the sinner does not deserve or merit. The forgiveness of sins is something given to you, not as a matter of debt,but as an undeserved gift. The word grace expresses God's part in salvation from sin. God has a part and man has a part in forgiveness. However insignificant man's part, it is vitally important. The text says man is saved by grace but not by grace alone. Titus 2:11 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” If salvation is by grace alone then everybody will be saved, but the Bible does not teach that. The truth about grace is that God had a law for human conduct, and all violated that law. Nevertheless, God did not want to punish us. However he is a God of justice as well as love and mercy. The place called hell in the Bible was prepared for the devil and his angels according to Matthew 25:41. And when man followed the example of the fallen angels and disobeyed God, man was appointed to the same place of punishment. To save man from hell, vindicate his law, and satisfy his justice, God sent Jesus to take our place and suffer our punishment for us. His suffering on the cross was a foretaste of hell. Grace means that God through Christ has taken the sinner̓s place, paid the debt of sin, and died with the weight of the sins of the human race on his shoulders. Grace released us from an unpayable debt. This is the one and only way of escape for man. That is the meaning of grace. But let's go on. Paul said we are saved by grace through faith. The word faith means belief. Faith is believing what God says on any and all subjects. Romans 10:17 says “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Faith is believing the testimony of God (Hebrews 11:1). A familiar hymn says, “Trust and obey for there̓s no other way.” Trust and obey go together. There is no trust where there is no obey. The word faith implies that the sinner will believe whatever God says to do and will obey all of God's commands connected with his offer of pardon and acceptance. The text does not say that man is saved by faith alone. The Bible says there are other things the sinner must do to be saved by grace. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved, for with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” This is how you are saved by grace through faith. You must believe in Christ's death and resurrection and believe God when he says you must make a public confession with your mouth. This confession is not a daily confession of Christ but a public statement made just before baptism. The confession is, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the(Divine) Son of God (Matt. 16:16, Acts 8:37, and I Tim. 6:12). Another thing required by God for salvation from sin, but not mentioned in my text, is repentance. In Luke 13:3 Jesus said, “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” Repentance necessarily comes after faith. Repentance is the turning of the mind away from a sinful life and the committing of one's self to a life of obedience to God. One must have faith in God first in order to know whom he has sinned against. Only then can one turn, in the mind, away from sin. To be saved by grace through faith is to believe God's command to repent and obey it. Moreover, faith does not save you until it leads you to be baptized. God commands in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” God says baptism is for, in order to the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16). Hence without baptism or before baptism, there is no forgiveness. To be saved by grace through faith is to believe all that God said about baptism and obey the command intelligently. God says in Col. 2:12 that we are “buried with him in baptism, in which you were risen with him through the faith in the working of God who raised him from he dead.” During the act of baptism there must be faith in the working God. The working which God is performing on a penitent believer is forgiveness of sins. In Acts 19:1—5, Paul rebaptized 12 followers of Jesus because of insufficient knowledge about the plan of salvation. They had been baptized once, but it was not good enough Believers should understand why they are being baptized and what for. They obeyed the baptism of John the Baptist The baptism commanded by Christ was different from the baptism of John. Now what you are doing when you come to baptism. There is one more key word in Eph. 2:8—10 to be studied and that is works. The Bible says we are saved by grace through faith and not of works. Works means literally deeds and, in the context, good deeds. The meaning is that man does not receive the initial salvation of forgiveness because of any good moral or religious qualities he may have. All come to God as sinners, whatever the quality of life one has been living. The strictest observance of the 10 commandments cannot bring one the forgiveness of Christ. God does not command morality as a condition to forgiveness. He does command faith in the death of His Son. Good moral people cannot bypass the cross and rendering obedience to the gospel. A morally bad person who believes in the death of Christ and repents will be forgiven in baptism, but a morally or religiously good person who does not believe in the sacrifice of Christ cannot be forgiven. No person who will not submit to Christian baptism can be forgiven. No moral or religious development, however excellent, can produce a Christian. A Christian is one who has been forgiven of the past sins of his life by the blood of Christ. Without the shedding of Christ's blood there is no forgiveness for the entire human race. Only faith in Christ crucified followed by repentance and baptism can bring forgiveness. It is a mistake to say that we are not saved by repentance and baptism because this passage says, “Not of works.” To interpret repentance and baptism as works which do not save in Eph. 2:8,9 would cause the Bible to contradict itself. The Bible says in I Pet. 3:21, “Baptism does also now save us.” Any preacher who does not believe that statement is shamefully destitute of understanding regarding God's plan of salvation. Jesus teaches in Luke 13:3 that repentance saves us. Eph. 2:8,9 should not be interpreted in such a way as to contradict Jesus and Peter. The simple solution is that the works in Eph. 2:8,9, which do not save, are the works of man which God did not command in order to receive forgiveness of sins. He was speaking of the good works of the Jewish religion and the good works of the pagan religions. Faith, repentance, confession, and baptism are the commands of God which bring you into Christ, into the church, and bring you forgiveness of sins. That is initial salvation. Now we are in a position to understand the subject of ultimate salvation. At the general resurrection of the dead and at the final judgment, Jesus will say to some, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”(Matt. 25:34) That is ultimate salvation. I Peter 1:5 says that our salvation is “ready to be revealed in the last time.” We have not obtained that salvation yet. I Peter 1:4 says that our eternal inheritance is reserved in heaven for us. No one will receive ultimate salvation until after the judgment and entrance into heaven. An easy way to distinguish initial salvation and ultimate salvation is that initial salvation is received when the soul is in the physical body, but ultimate salvation is received when the soul is in our new spiritual body at the resurrection. Initial salvation is to enter the kingdom of God on earth, whereas ultimate salvation is to enter the kingdom of God in heaven. Initial salvation is to enter the church; ultimate salvation is to enter heaven. Initial salvation is to be saved from past sin; ultimate salvation is to be saved from the grave and eternal punishment at the judgment. Initial salvation is received in this life. Ultimate salvation will be received in the next life. But it may be asked, “If you have initial salvation, don't you have ultimate salvation?” No, not necessarily. It is possible to have them both together only if death occurs at the time of baptism or shortly thereafter, If death occurs just after God has forgiven you in baptism, then ultimate salvation also will be yours. Such a one would die in a faithful, forgiven, and righteous condition. But if you are allowed to live, you are subject to being contaminated by the world. You must prove to God that repentance has led you to a change of life. Baptism forgives your past sins but does not forgive your future sins. If you fall into sin after conversion and do not seek God's forgiveness, you will be lost and miss ultimate salvation.(Gal. 5:21). Hebrews 4:1 says, “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any one of you seem to come short of it.” This can only mean that Christians who have fallen into sin and have not sought God's forgiveness through Christ, are in danger of cming short of ultimate salvation. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Holiness is one of God's requirements for ultimate salvation. You have to live a devoted Christian life. God's grace will not do that for you. The Christian can choose to live a good life or a bad life. What must the Christian do to live a life of holiness? The Bible says your life must be filled with good works after Jesus saves you from sin. James 2:19,20 says, “You believe that there is one God; you do well; the devils also believe, and tremble. But do you want to know, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:24 says, “Ye see then that by works a man is justified and not by faith only.” James was speaking of such good works as feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. After salvation from sin, good works minister to your eternal salvation. It is paradoxical and seems condtradictory, but initial salvation from sin cannot be obtained by good moral works, but ultimate salvation must be obtained by good works. James 1:21 says to Christians, “Receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls.” After God has saved you by grace through faith, after you have been converted, after you have become a follower of Christ, there is still something to do to save your soul. God's word must be received and obeyed. What are the good works which a Christian must do to inherit eternal life? The Bible answers that question in 2 Peter 1:5-9, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he who lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” God requires of the Christian seven good works for ultimate salvation, according to this passage. The first good work is virtue which is moral goodness, a virtuous course of thought, feeling, and action. Knowledge refers to a general knowledge of God, of right living, and of the Christian religion. Temperance is self control and refers to the control of physical appetites and pleasures necessary for a life of moral excellence. Patience is steadfastness in Christian living in the face of difficulty and trouble. Godliness is reverence for God, including worship habits and church responsibilities. Brotherly love is the love for Christians and the church which is enjoined by the gospel of Christ. Charity means love and refers to a love for all of your fellow men who are made in the image of God. There are four steps into the church; Faith, repentance, confession, and baptism, and there are seven steps into heaven as just enumerated. Nay God bless this study of His word. —4—

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