Presentation on theme: "There is no greater theme that can occupy man’s attention than salvation. As one begins to focus, one sees both God and man involved in man’s salvation."— Presentation transcript:
There is no greater theme that can occupy man’s attention than salvation. As one begins to focus, one sees both God and man involved in man’s salvation. Paul is addressing man’s role when he wrote, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phili. 2: 12). Paul then turns his attention to God’s part when he penned, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (vs. 13). Man brings the “faith” (humble acquiescence) and God provides the “grace,” Paul states another way (Eph. 2: 8-10). No man can be saved without accepting in simple obedience God’s grace and no man can be saved without God’s essential grace (Heb. 5: 8, 9, Tit. 2: 11-14).
Grace defined: “…moreover, the word charis contains the idea of kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved….the New Testament writers use charis pre-eminently of that kindness by which God bestows favors even upon the ill-deserving, and grants to sinners the pardon of their offences, and bids them accept of eternal salvation through Christ…” (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Thayer, pg. 666).
“9: For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8: 9). Grace is especially associated with Jesus:
Moses’ system required flawless obedience in order to obtain salvation through that system and there was no immediate provision of grace to cover any short comings. Some reasoned that the solution was to combine their traditional religion (Law of Moses) and Christianity. Romans 11: 6 is emphatically saying that such is not possible. If one could earn salvation by perfect law keeping, then, there would be no need for grace. On the other hand, provision for a condition short of sinlessness cancelled out “work” or earned salvation.
A biblical fact that appears hard for some to understand and accept is that Christianity is a system of combined “law” and “grace” (cp. Gal. 6: 2, Eph. 2: 8). Hence, “…the perfect law of liberty” (Jas. 1: 25). Associated with Moses was “law,” which implied perfect law keeping to be justified and associated with Jesus is “grace” (John 1: 17, 2 Cor. 8: 9). Since all men sin, salvation only through law is not possible. There is the circumstance of essential grace (I John 1: 7-10, Tit. 3: 5). Jesus stressed the plight of man not being able to earn his salvation (Luke 17: 10).
Grace must have a certain requisite environment in order to flourish and produce salvation. Grace never reigns in a climate of disobedience (Rom. 2: 6-9). In fact, we are told that grace reigns in the milieu of righteousness (Rom. 5: 21). The “righteousness” in which grace reigns is not Christ’s personal righteousness, which some teach is arbitrarily and unconditionally imputed to the sinner, but man’s humble submission to Jesus’ teaching and Lordship (Luke 6: 46, cp. Ps. 119: 172).
The plight of Joe: “I have studied the scriptures and learned that I must obey God’s commands in order to be saved. Regardless of how sincerely and determinedly I attempt to live sinlessly, I still sin on occasion. What am I do? Am I eternally doomed to hell due to my lack of ability to flawlessly keep God’s laws?”
Joe’s mistake: Joe manifested a good attitude and respect for the commandments of the New Testament (cp. I John 2: 1-6). However, Joe had not properly considered God’s part, His essential grace. Any teaching relative to salvation that omits the role of either man or God, is patently false. Joe was omitting God.
God has promised that, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine…” and, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded (striving for perfection, vs. 14, dm): and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you” (John 7: 17; Phili. 3: 15).
Grace is essential for a number of reasons. 1. ”Justified by grace” (Rom. 3: 24). 2. God’s grace makes man better in lifting him up out of the mire of sin (I Cor. 15: 9, 10). 3. The service of the Christian is “made acceptable” by grace (Heb. 12: 28, 29).
The practicality of grace: 1. It is by grace that the gospel, God’s power unto salvation, is effected (Gal. 1: 6-9). 2. Man is initially called to God by grace (cp. Gal 1: 15). 3. The heart is “established by grace” and grace can be sufficient for the many trying experiences life offers (Heb. 13: 9; 2 Cor. 12: 7-10). 4. Moreover, we can have “everlasting consolation” and “good hope” by or in God’s grace (2 Thes. 2: 16).
I think all would agree that if the just mentioned benefits of grace were removed, man would be in a hopeless state of spiritual despair. However, which individual benefit could be excluded? Could we spiritually flourish without “justification” (being pronounced pardoned, Rom. 3: 24)? How about the absence of just being able to render acceptable service to God? (Heb. 12: 28, 29).
One great truth associated with God’s essential grace is the fact that it is made available to all men. “11: 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; 13: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; 14: Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Tit. 2).
Notice, God’s grace has “appeared to all men,” hence, essential grace is universal in design and availability. It is understood, though, man must appropriate grace. Otherwise, we would have universal salvation, which is not the case (cp. Matt. 7: 13, 14). Grace “teaches us,” a concept lacking in most theologies. God’s grace teaches the implementation of a certain lifestyle and the avoidance of another, ungodliness and worldly lust.
Not by “grace alone:” Salvation by grace alone was popularized by the reformers in their cry, "Salvation is by Christ alone, faith alone, and grace alone." Consider some contemporary statements regarding grace only or grace alone: "The plan of salvation then is seen as an all-embracing divine plan which gives the credit for man's salvation to God alone. No glory, not even a reflected glory, may accrue to man in the matter of salvation. He brings nothing, not even the will to be saved, to God" - Jay Green (Five Points of Calvinism, pgs. 2, pg. 28).
"Salvation is a free gift from God to certain individuals. We exercise faith in order to be saved, but even our faith is also a gift of God. Faith is the result of regeneration. Unless the Holy Spirit energizes the sinner, that sinner cannot exercise saving faith. Unregenerate man is not capable of turning to God" - William Cox (Amillennialism Today, pg. 33). "We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace…Justification, the pardon of sin, and the promise of eternal life…are solely though faith" - Baptist Church Manual, Art. 4, pg. 47, Art. 5, pg. 48).
Regarding grace being essential, perhaps no stronger verse anywhere can be considered than Titus 3: 5: “But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior 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 Spirit.”
Caution needed: In striving for perfection, a good goal, Matt. 5: 48, Joe lost sight of God’s essential grace. If we are not careful, we, too, can by so totally focusing on man’s part, forget about God’s part. “4: Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5: But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4).
The intent of this study is not to eliminate or even de-emphasize man’s obedience and way in which he accepts saving grace or to use grace as a means to justify sin (cp. Rom. 5: 19-6: 6, 15). However, we must also remember that without grace, salvation would not be obtainable!
The matter must not be, “How much can I fall short and still have grace to cover my imperfection” but, rather, “I shall sincerely try with all my heart and ability to serve God the best I can and then look to God’s grace to address the shortcomings.”
Conclusion: “9: For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10: But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Cor. 15). “21: I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2).