Temple Baptist Church - 8-4-2010
A. The Book of Ephesians is all about the grace of God and the grace of God is probably the misunderstood of all doctrines. What is it about grace that people cannot understand? People use the word grace without ever properly understanding the word.
B. Grace by definition, in a theological sense, means unmerited favor; unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification; a virtue coming from God; a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace; approval; favor; mercy; pardon; privilege; a disposition or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency; exemption; or reprieve!
C. Is that definition ambiguous? Is that definition plain or what? The Bible declares, concerning grace and works, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” You cannot, in any form, mix works with grace for one automatically destroys the other. Grace means you do not deserve it and works demands a just reward!
D. Another great misconception is that salvation by grace and grace alone is a license for the believer to sin. Grace in salvation does not open the door of disobedience! True saving grace teaches us just the opposite.
Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
E. Religion has “muddied” the simple truth of biblical salvation. “Cain Worship” is still the common practice of the vast majority of those who profess salvation. This is a practice of works and personal merit which cannot save! I often say, “Salvation required Heaven’s best, not our best!” Our best is the “filthy rags” of Isaiah 64:6. Though we know that salvation is not of works, even we do not entirely understand the realm of grace. I can only sum it up on two words: Amazing Grace!
F. There are three things that I want us to look at as we begin tonight: the words “by,” “through,” and “unto.” These three simple prepositions define the grace of salvation for us.
1. Salvation Is A Present Of Grace To Be Believed – “by grace” A person will never be saved until they grasp the truth of grace. As long as an individual is adding personal merit to the finished work of Christ, they remain eternally lost. “For by grace” means just that: it is either grace and grace alone or it is not salvation!
Romans 11:5-6 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (6) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (Paul makes it clear here that election is by grace! Verse 6 is not arguing grace verses works but simply explaining that salvation is of grace and grace cannot be mixed with any amount of works!)
a. By grace means undeserved! Isaiah 64:6-8 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (7) And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. (8) But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. (Is this portion of Scripture not clear? All means all and that’s all all means!)
b. By grace means unearned! Titus 3:4-7 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, (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 Ghost; (6) Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; (7) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (There can be no mixture of grace and works as they destroy each other.)
2. Salvation Is A Possession Of Grace To Be Received – “through faith” Faith is a gift that God gives to each individual. The Bible says that “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
a) Through grace means personal enablement to believe! Acts 16:31-34 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (32) And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. (33) And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. (34) And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. (Every person who has ever lived, lives, or will live has the God given ability to come to Christ unless they do not have the mental capacity to do so in which case they remain innocent and therefore safe. Notice I said safe, not saved. I do not fully understand this but the innocent are safe before accountability.)
b) Through grace means personal responsibility to believe! Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Along with ability comes responsibility! In God’s absolute sovereignty, He gave man both ability and responsibility. No lost man will ever be able to indict God for his lack of salvation. I do not fully understand this either but believe it with all of my heart.)
3. Salvation Is A Power Of Grace For Works To Be Achieved – “unto good works”
a) Unto good works denotes purpose in sanctification! Romans 8:29-30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Biblical salvation always brings about biblical sanctification. Salvation is positional sanctification while the effect of it is practical sanctification.)
b) Unto good works denotes power in sanctification! Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Practical sanctification is the result of both the new birth and God’s power to change.)