"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." Ephesians 2:8, 9.
This message is sent forth with the prayer that God may use it to refute the Christ dishonoring, soul destroying doctrines of salvation by works. This is the most important matter that ever confronts the sinner — his salvation. On the one hand Satan is trying to deceive and destroy the souls of men by leading them to depend on their own works for salvation. This is done, By the sleight of men, and cunning: craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. Ephesians 4:14. While on the other hand the Bible is exceedingly clear and plain about this matter.
God has never had, does not now have and will never have but one way of saving sinners. As it is written in our text, Ephesians 2:8-9. "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." Here God forever settles the question of what our salvation is, and how it is received. In these passages God gives the positive and negative of salvation. The positive — what salvation is. The negative — what salvation is not, Let us first consider the negative of salvation.
1. Negative. "Not of yourselves, not of works, lest any man should boast." 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; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Titus 3:5-6.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Roman 1:16.
"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures." I Corinthians 15:3-4. In these passages Paul says that the gospel he preaches is the gospel by which men are saved; and since the only work that is mentioned in these passages is the work of Christ in dying on the cross for our sins and His resurrection on the third day for our justification: - Therefore all the works of men such as baptism, church-membership, right-living and all other bodily acts for (in order to) salvation are excluded. Since they are not mentioned in the gospel, that is proof that they are not part of the gospel and therefore are not essential to salvation. Again Paul says, Foe Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel. I Corinthians 1:17. This passage proves conclusively that baptism is no part of the gospel, and since the gospel brings salvation to all who believe it, this proves that all who are ever saved, are saved before, and without baptism.
Again Paul says, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you. let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8. The above passages clearly show that the gospel which saves is not a gospel of works, but a gospel of grace: and those who add baptism, church-membership, and other works of men for salvation, do not preach the gospel, and therefore they have no Saviour, no salvation, and are under the curse of God. Baptism is a work of righteousness. Matthew 3:13-15. "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade Him saying, I have need to be baptized of thee and comest thou to me? and Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then He suffered him." Thus, the Son of God says baptism is a righteous act. The scripture says again in Titus 3:5, also in our text that we are not saved by works of righteousness, and thereby exclude baptism from the plan of salvation.
The Bible gives two outstandnig reasons why man cannot be saved by works.
ALL THE WORKS OF ALL MEN ARE EVIL UNTIL AFTER THEY ARE BORN AGAIN. "There is none righteous, no, not one: There, is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out ef the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." Romans 3:10-12. In these passages, God proves that the works of men are evil. Since this is true there is no hope for the sinner tinder the law. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them. Galatians 3:10.
2. NO MAN EVER DOES ENOUGH TO SAVE HIM.
"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:2. "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." James 2:10. "Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."Romans 3:20.
"For if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law." Galatians 3:21.
These passages prove the hopelessness of any man under the law for all have broken the law and are criminals and fugitives from God and must look to some other source if ever saved. This being true we shall now turn to the positive side of salvation.
II. POSITIVE. God says, salvation is a gift of Sod by grace thru faith in Jesus Christ. This salvation is wholly the work of God. He provides and gives, and man receives salvation. This salvation was wrought out on Calvary and is revealed in the gospel. "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." I Corinthians 15:3-4. In this passage God lays the axe at the root of the soul-destroying doctrines of salvation by works by showing that all the works that was necessary for man's salvation Jesus did, and we are made righteous by believing on Him. "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested. being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there are no difference." Romans 3:21-22.
"For as by one man's (Adam's) disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Jesus Christ) shall many be made righteous." Romans 5:19. In this passage God says, that the obedience by which men are saved is the obedience of Christ, and not ours. Again He says. "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly his faith is counted for righteousness." Romans 4:4-5. Here God says if salvaion was by works it would not be a gift, but God would only be paying His debts.
Jesus in His explanation of the new birth said, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
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 3:14-16. Just as the serpent was uplifted in the wilderness as the only remedy for the bite of the serpent, and all who looked to the uplifted serpent received physical healing. Even so must Jesus die on the cross as the only remedy for sin, and ail who believe in Him receive eternal life. Again Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6.
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12. "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins." Acts 10:43. "Verily, Veriiy, I say unto you He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." John 6 :47.
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." 1 John 5:1. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy. house." Acts 16:31. "For we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:26. "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace." Romans 4:16. "And 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. But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." John 21:31.
These passages are a clear revelation of the marvelous, infinite, matchless love of God who in sovereign grace sent His own Son to take the sinner's place. "That we who believe, might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2nd Corinthians 5:21.
"But he was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our inquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with his stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5. "And by him all that believeth are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." Acts 13:39. Sinner, believe on Him and be saved.
[From a tract by L. W. Carlin, "Salvation by Grace." Reprinted by the J. H. Spencer Historical society.]
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