Which one or ones would you check? Grace equals salvation, faith equals salvation, works equals salvation, grace plus faith equals salvation, grace plus faith plus works equals salvation, none of the above, all of the above?
I know it’s easy to get confused, and even the Bible seems to contradict itself. For example, when you read in Ephesians 2 and Romans 4 that salvation is not by works and then you read in James chapter 2 that it is by works, you may wonder, what is the Biblical doctrine concerning grace, faith, works, and salvation? This is an eternally important question because we’re talking about salvation.
SINGING>> Blessed be the Lord God Almighty who reigns for evermore.
ROBERT >> This morning I want us to consider three things that will help us to sort all this out about grace, faith, works, and salvation. First of all, let’s notice that the popular doctrines of salvation by grace only and faith only are not found in the Bible.
Now that may surprise some of you, but let’s see what the Bible says. Certainly the Bible teaches we are saved by grace. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:5 and Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are you saved through faith.” Titus 2:11 reminds us that, “The grace of God has appeared unto all men, bringing salvation.”
And by the way, there’s evidence there that we’re not saved by grace only, else everybody would be saved, because “the grace of God has appeared unto all men, bringing salvation.”
We can look in Acts 15:11 and Romans 3:24, and we can see the importance, the necessity of grace in our salvation. Grace means that God gives us what we do not deserve. As Paul said in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Yes, without the grace of God, we would all be lost in our sins.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but now am found; was blind, but now I see.” But nowhere does the Bible teach we are saved by grace only.
Certainly the Bible teaches we’re saved by faith. We again look in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are you saved through faith.” And the Hebrew writer tells us in chapter 11 and verse 6 that, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” We must “believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.”
You can look in 2 Timothy 3:15, in 1 Peter 1:5 and 9. All of these emphasize the essentiality of faith, of belief in our salvation. You might remember these words of Jesus in Mark 16:16, where he said, “He that believes and is baptized will be saved; he that disbelieves will be condemned”; or the words of the apostle Paul to that Roman guard in Acts 16:31, where he told him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved”; or Romans 1:16, how “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes”; or Romans 10:9-10, how we must “believe in our heart unto righteousness”; or in 1 Corinthians 1:21, 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
If we do not believe in Jesus, we will die in our sins. Hear his words in John 8:24: “Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” But nowhere does the Bible teach we are saved by faith only.
Think about it. If we are saved by grace only, then we cannot be saved by faith. And if we are saved by faith only, then we cannot be saved by grace. The truth is that we are saved by both grace and faith.
In fact, there are many things that save us. Jesus saves us. Matthew 1:21, when he was to be born into this world, it is said that, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” He himself said in Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a good and faithful saying”, Christ Jesus saves us. He’s our savior.
The longsuffering of our Lord saves us according to 2 Peter 3:15.
Sanctification by the Spirit, the renewal of the Holy Spirit saves us according to 2 Thessalonians 2:13 and Titus 3:5.
The gospel message, the word saves us, Romans 1:16, the gospel, “the power of God to salvation”.
James 1:21, the word, that implanted word which is able to save our souls. Read Acts 11:14, 1 Corinthians 1:21, 2 Timothy 3:15.
All of these emphasize how that the gospel, the word of God saves our soul. But notice also that there are other things that save us. How that “calling on the name of the Lord” saves us in Acts 2:21. In Romans 10:13, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Belief and confession save us, Romans 10:9-10.
Godly sorrow and repentance save us according to 2 Corinthians 7:10.
Belief and baptism saves us according to Mark 16:16. Baptism saves us according to 1 Peter 3:21.
A wife might save her husband, a husband might save his wife according to 1 Corinthians 7:16. Paul was talking about the influence that they may have on them for Christ.
The apostle Paul saved some, according to 1 Corinthians 9:22. He did everything that he “might save some”.
Timothy himself could be saved AND those who heard him if he was diligent as a preacher, according to 1 Timothy 4:16.
Even affliction and comfort are necessary for our salvation according to 2 Corinthians 1:6.
Endurance saves us, Romans 10:22.
Hope saves us, Romans 8:24.
Works save us, Philippians 2:12, James 2:24.
Do we not see that there are many things that are involved in the salvation of our souls? So no, we’re not saved by grace only or by faith only. There are many different things that save us.
Now let’s know secondly this morning that the Bible speaks of several different kinds of works. You see, there are works that are done in an attempt to earn or to merit salvation. But the only thing that can pay for our sins is the sacrifice of Jesus. Such works cannot save us without the sacrifice of Jesus.
You look in Ephesians chapter 2, and you see the emphasis on the fact that it was God’s mercy, God’s grace. It’s what God provided through Jesus Christ that enables us to be saved. Titus 2:3-7, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.” You see, it’s according to God’s grace. It involved the sacrifice of Christ. God’s grace is the source, it’s the basis, it’s the grounds of our salvation.
All of our works could never pay for even one sin. Only the sacrifice of Christ could pay for our sins.
Notice also that there are works of the law of Moses. This law was given to the Jewish nation, but never to any other nation. It showed them that they were sinners in need of a savior, because every one of them transgressed, fell under its condemnation, save the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, the law of Moses cannot save; it only points us to the savior, Jesus Christ.
Look with me if you will for just a moment in Romans chapter 3 and Romans chapter 4. The apostle Paul was showing that Gentiles had fallen into sin, and thus God gave them up, that they needed a savior; but he also points out how that the Jews needed a savior as well, having fallen under the condemnation of the law.
Notice here in Romans 3:19, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God; therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
What the law showed the Jewish people is that they were sinners in need of a savior.
Look at it a little bit further as you go on in Romans chapter 3, beginning in verse 21. “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
So how can we be made right with God? Not through the law, but through that one that the law pointed to, Jesus Christ. Notice Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”
The problem is that the Jews tried to earn their salvation by the works of the law instead of trusting God for it. Look with me in Romans 9:32, where the apostle Paul really brings this together, I think. He says, “Why is it?” Why is it that Israel keeps pursuing the law of righteousness and hasn’t attained that law? How come they can’t ever get right with God? Why? “Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were by the works of the law; for they stumbled at the stumbling stone.” They failed to realize their need for the savior, Jesus Christ, that they could never earn or merit their salvation.
So the Bible speaks of works of merit, and it speaks of those works that were done under the law. But the Bible also speaks of the works of faith, 1 Thessalonians 1:3 and 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
In both of these letters the apostle Paul commended the church at Thessalonica for their works of faith. This is the obedience that comes from a heart of faith. Trusting not in one’s perfect performance of keeping God’s word, but in Christ for salvation.
Let’s look at this in Romans the 4th chapter. Notice verse 11 and verse 12. “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also; and the father of circumcision to those who are not only of the circumcision, but also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.”
Do you see something here? Do you see that Abraham was the father of all those who believe, of those who also walk in the steps of the faith? So you see, true saving Biblical faith is a faith that obeys, it’s a faith that walks, it’s a faith that works.
In fact, Romans begins in Romans 1:5 speaking of “the obedience of faith”, and the book ends in Romans 16:26 speaking of “the obedience of faith”.
In Galatians 5:6, the apostle Paul spoke of what really is effective for salvation. What is it that avails for salvation? Was it circumcision? Was it keeping of the law? Could we earn it? Could we merit it? No. He said it was “faith working through love”.
Philippians 2:12, he tells the church there, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” And look at it in James chapter 2 as James addresses this same subject and he speaks of this same work of faith, the obedience of faith and how important it is to our salvation.
James chapter 2 beginning in verse 14, he asked this question: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can faith save him?” Well, the obvious answer is that it doesn’t profit him anything to have faith without works. That kind of faith does not save.
Notice what he says in verse 17. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” “Faith without works is dead,” as it goes on to conclude in verse 26 of this chapter.
Notice also verse 22. “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” Complete faith, perfect faith, the faith that saves is a faith that works.
In verse 24 he makes this statement: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” Read Acts 20:21. Look at Romans 6:17-18 where he talks about the obedience of faith from the heart; in Romans 10:9-10, how that we must believe in our heart unto righteousness; and Galatians 3:26-27, how that we’re “sons of God through faith” when we’re “baptized into Christ”; Ephesians 3:10, how that we’ve been “created in Christ Jesus unto good works”; or Colossians 2:12, how that we’re “raised out of the waters of baptism,” notice this, “through faith in the working of God”.
Baptism is just an act of faith where we’re trusting God to raise us up a new creation. Titus 2:11-14, how, “The grace of God teaches us that denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world.” Grace teaches us to be obedient to God.
Hebrews 6:1, Hebrews 6:10 emphasizes the importance of working obedient faith. And so we see how that we must trust God enough to do what he says to do in order to be saved.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not every one that says unto Me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” “Why call Me ‘Lord, Lord,'” he says, “and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Yes, Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him,” Hebrews 5:8-9.
No, we’re not saved by grace only, we’re not saved by faith only. There are many things that save us.
We are saved by works, not the works of merit, not the works of the law, no, but we are saved by the works of faith when we trust the Lord enough to do what he’s told us to do in order that we might be saved.
But let’s notice this last point today. According to the Bible, works of faith are necessary for salvation. You see, grace is God’s initiative. He loved us, and he loved us first. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” “God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8.
You see, before we asked, before we did anything, “from the foundation of the world” Christ was “slain for the sins of all,” 1 Peter 1:18-20.
Revelation 13:8. John 1:29, when John the Baptizer saw Jesus Christ, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world.” He knew that was God’s plan, that was God’s purpose, that God in his grace would provide the sacrifice of Jesus to pay for our sins.
1 Timothy 2:6, 1 John 2:2, “Jesus Christ is the propitiation,” that atoning sacrifice for our sins; “and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.” You see, we cannot obtain salvation on our own without Jesus Christ.
He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes unto the Father but by Me.” “There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.
But notice, faith is man’s response. We believe, we trust with our hearts, with our whole lives the one who loves us so. That involves a decision of faith. The Bible calls it repentance, how that we must “repent and turn again, that their sins might be blotted out, that “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” Acts 3:19; how that “godly sorrow produces repentance, that leads to salvation,” 2 Corinthians 7:10.
We must make that decision to repent. That means to turn from sin, to live for God. “Unless you repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” Luke 13:3.
It also includes a declaration of faith. The Bible calls it confession. Before Philip would baptize the Ethiopian in Acts 8:37, he said, “If you believe, you may.” He said, “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” And upon that confession, they both went down in the water, and he baptized him.
You see, there must be that declaration of faith, because, “With the mouth confession is made unto salvation”; “with the heart man believes unto righteousness,” Romans 10:9-10.
One must declare faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Lord, the savior of the world, the Son of God. And Jesus said, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him will I confess before My Father who is in heaven; whoever denies Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 10:32-33.
So there must be that decision of faith, that repentance in our heart. There must be that declaration of faith declaring our faith in Jesus Christ; but there must also be a demonstration of faith, baptism.
“He that believes and is baptized will be saved,” Jesus said in Mark 16:16. “Repent and be baptized” “for the remission of sins,” Acts 2:38. “Baptism also saves us,” 1 Peter 3:21.
Baptism’s not a work of merit. It’s not a work of the law of Moses. It’s an act of faith and obedience to the gospel of Christ. “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord,” Acts 22:16.
Read Romans 6 and Galatians 3 and Colossians 2, where it describes baptism as putting us “into Christ” and “burying” us with Christ and “raising us” with Christ.
In baptism we’re “united with Christ,” we’re “added to his church” with all the saved, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Acts 2:47.
You’ve got to be baptized. You’ve got to be “born again of water and the Spirit,” as Jesus said in John 3:5. But it’s just the beginning of the new life. You see, finally it calls for a devotion of faith, a life of faith.
Paul put it like this: “I’ve been crucified with Christ, and it’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life that I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Paul was living by faith because he knew that that’s what the Lord wanted of him. Hebrews 12:1-2, “Seeing we’re compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that’s set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Yes, it’s trusting in Jesus Christ, never giving up on Christ, always looking to Jesus Christ that he’ll bring us home.
2 Timothy 4:7-8, I see the apostle Paul in his old age writing these last words to the young preacher Timothy, reminding him of how his departure was at hand, how that he had “fought the good fight,” how he had “kept the faith,” how he had “finished the course”. It was keeping faith with Jesus Christ that he could go on to say, “There’s laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me in that day; and not to me only, but to all those who have loved His appearing.”
Yes, we must strive to glorify God in all things, to keep his commandments, trusting him for salvation until Jesus returns.
Oh, how sad it will be for some who, “having known the truth”, continue to “sin willfully”, “turning their backs” on Jesus, “trodding under foot the Son of God”, “insulting the Spirit of grace”, “counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing”, as the Hebrew writer says in Hebrews 10:26-31. “These,” he says, fall “into the hands of the living God.”
You can be saved by grace through faith when you make that decision to turn away from your sin to live for God, when you declare your faith if Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and you give yourself to him in the waters of baptism, and being raised to walk in newness of life you keep faith with Jesus. “This is good, acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” 1 Timothy 2:3-4.
Won’t you be saved by grace through faith?
Won’t you let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven today?
SINGING >> Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy, set apart for you, Lord. I choose to be holy, set apart for you, my master, ready to do your will. Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy, set apart for you, Lord. I choose to be holy, set apart for you, my master, ready to do your will. Lord, I’m ready to do your will.
ROBERT >> Thank you for watching our program today. We’ve but one goal, to help us all towards heaven. This is the mission God has given us to, to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ, baptizing them, teaching them, Matthew 28:19.
We know that the gospel of Christ is God’s power unto salvation, Romans 1:16. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by Me,” John 14:6. Yes, “there’s no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12. And therefore, like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “We seek to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
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SINGING >> The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord lift his countenance upon you, and give you peace, and give you peace, and give you peace, and give you peace; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you, and be gracious; the Lord be gracious, gracious unto you. Amen, amen, amen, amen.