THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF SALVATION
BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH
September 1, 1987 Issue
"For by grace have ye been saved 'through faith; and that not of your selves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory."--Eph 2:8-9 (ASV)
One of the most common accusations leveled against members of the Lords church today is that they believed in salvation by works and not in salvation by grace. This accusation is usually accompanied by the affirmation that members of the Church of Christ believed they will earn salvation by the works which they have done. Also involved is the accusation that members of the church believe in "water salvation" rather than in salvation by the blood of Christ!
It is even sadder to say that now we are also hearing the same accusation, (that we reject salvation by grace and affirm that salvation is by meritorious works) being leveled against those who stand for the truth by those digressives who have espoused the "All Grace, No Law" stance. However, this accusation is just as false when it comes from our own 'digressive brethren as it is when it comes from denominationalists.
The truth of this matter is that grace, faith, love and acts of obedience all have crucial roles in Gods plan of salvation.
GODS GRACE AND EPH 2:8-9.
In Eph 2:8-9, the Apostle Paul plainly teaches that if men are saved, they are saved by the grace of God. No one is or can be saved by meritorious works. But this truth does not mean that men are saved by grace only without any works at all. If grace were the only consideration, then all men would be saved (Tit 2:11). Yet, Jesus made clear that "few" would be saved, in contrast to the "many" who would be lost (Mt 7:21 -23).
In the above scriptures, Paul very plainly declares that salvation is by grace through faith and not by grace only! Clearly then, if salvation is "by grace" and if salvation is "through faith", then both grace and faith relate to and are necessary to ones salvation. Paul stresses the basic fact that there are Two Sides in salvation. This point is so clearly illustrated in the word of God. It is seen in the Lords lament over Jerusalem: "...how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Mt 23:37). The Lord said: "I would... but you would not." This truth is also clearly and forcefully demonstrated in the Old Testament story of the cleaning of Naaman. Naaman had to go to the Jordan river. He had to dip himself seven times in the waters of the Jordan. He came forth cleansed and whole again. He did not earn his cleaning. There was no cleansing power in the Jordan waters. But God specified certain conditions to be met, based upon which He would bestow the wonderful blessing, and God did not grant the blessing until Naaman had met the specified conditions.
THERE IS THE DIVINE SIDE IN MANS SALVATION
"Grace" always refers to the divine side. Grace means Gods favor, unmerited favor. Man had sinned and had broken his contract with God, and God therefore was not obligated to man. But God loved man in spite of mans sin and immediately began involving Himself in working out the plan for mans redemption. This is the foundation of the Bibles teaching on the subject of "salvation by grace" - the fact that God didn't have to provide the plan. He was not obligated. Grace is the love of God, as that love relates to mans salvation through Jesus Christ. Gods grace in mans salvation means:
I.) God purposed the Scheme of Redemption (Eph 3:8-11; Rom 8:28; 2 Tim 1:9)
II.) God promised the Messiah to come (Gen 3:15).
Ill.) God sent His only begotten son to die on the Cross so as to make possible the remission of sins. (Jn 3:16; Heb 9:22).
Thus, by the grace of God salvation has been provided. In other words, Gods part in mans salvation is called "grace".
THERE IS THE HUMAN SIDE IN MANS SALVATION
"Through Faith" refers to the human side. God demands faith (Heb 11:6). Availing faith is always alive, active, working, obedient faith. This faith is the means by which we appropriate the divine blessings. By the grace of God provisions have been made. But men are not saved by provisions only. God provides food for men but a man will die of starvation if he refuses to partake of that food. God provides water for man but a man will die of thirst if he refuses to drink the water. In the great sermon recorded in Acts 2, Peter stressed that God has provided; now, save yourselves! To the Philippians, Paul said, "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..." (Philippians 2:12). In Acts 10:34,35, Peter says; "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecters of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him."
For years I have heard denominational preachers loudly affirm that no man can do anything to be saved. But when Saul of Tarsus asked, "What shall I do Lord?," Jesus did not say, "There is nothing which any man can do to be saved." Rather, He said, "...but arise, and enter into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do" (Acts 9:6). When, in obedience to the instruction which was later given to him, Saul was baptized (so that his sins would be washed away, (Acts 22:16), he did not earn the remission of this sins by being baptized, but he did have to be baptized to be saved. It was necessary for him to be baptized in order to be saved by the blood of Christ, that is, by the grace of God (see Acts 20:24).
While some men may not like it, the Bible still teaches that even though men are not saved by meritorious works, they are saved by the works which God demands (James 2:24) in the sense that they cannot be saved by the grace of God without doing these works works of obedience! This is the case in spite of the fact after one has obeyed these works, he is still to recognize that salvation from sin is a gift, not a wage (Rom 6:23 cf. Lk 17:10).
When are men saved by the grace of God? Men are saved by the grace of God when their faith leads them, as penitent believers, to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of their sins Acts 2:38). To be so saved is not to be saved by meritorious works but by the grace of God. Such is not "water salvation" as some men claim. It is salvation by the grace of God. Involved in the gospel of the grace of God, there is at least some sense in which men act in regard to their own salvation. (Acts 20:24; 2:40; Phil 2:12; Acts 10:34-45).
No man can be saved without trusting in the grace of God, that is, in God to save him by the saving power of the blood of Christ (Rom 5:8-9), but it should also be obvious that one appropriates the grace of God by lovingly obeying the instructions which God has given to man in His word. (Gal 5:6; Jas 2:24-26; Mt 7:21 -23; Heb 5:8-9; 2 Thess 1:7-9).
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