BY GRACE ALONE (PART 16)
The Scripture which many would use to interject into this matter in order to contradict these points, is Philippians 2:12: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. “This is to be understood not in such a sense as though men could obtain and procure for themselves spiritual and eternal salvation by their own works and doings; for such a sense is contrary to the Scriptures, which deny any part of salvation, as election, justification, and calling, and the whole of it to be of works, but ascribe it to the free grace of God; and is also repugnant to the perfections of God, as His wisdom, grace, and righteousness; for where are the wisdom and love of God, in forming a scheme of salvation, and sending His Son to effect it, and after all it is left to men to work it out for themselves? and where is the justice of God in admitting of an imperfect righteousness in the room of a perfect one, which must be the case, if salvation is obtained by men's works? for these are imperfect, even the best of them; and is another reason against this sense of the passage; and were they perfect, they could not be meritorious of salvation, for the requisites of merits are wanting in them. Moreover, was salvation to be obtained by the works of men, these consequences would follow; the death of Christ would be in vain, boasting would be encouraged in men, they would have whereof to glory, and their obligations to obedience taken from the love of God, and redemption by Christ, would be weakened and destroyed: add to all this, that the Scriptures assure us, that salvation is alone by Christ; and that it is already finished by Him, and not to be wrought out now by Him, or any other; and that such is the weakness and impotence of men, even of believers, to whom this exhortation is directed, that it is impossible for them ever to affect it; therefore, whatever sense these words have, we may be sure that this can never possibly be the sense of them. The words may be rendered, ‘work about your salvation’; employ yourselves in things which accompany salvation, and to be performed by all those that expect it, though not to be expected for the performance of them; such as hearing of the word, submission to Gospel ordinances, and a discharge of every branch of moral, spiritual, and evangelical obedience for which the apostle before commends them, and now exhorts them to continue in; to go on in a course of cheerful obedience to the close of their days, believing in Christ, obeying His Gospel, attending constantly to His Word and ordinances, and discharging every duty in faith and fear, until at last they should receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls: agreeably the Syriac version renders the words, (Nwkyyxd anxlwp wxwlp), ‘do the work’, or ‘business of your lives’; the work you are to do in your generation, which God has prescribed, directed and ordained you to, which the grace of God teaches, and the love of Christ constrains to. Do all that ‘with fear and trembling’; not with a slavish fear of Hell and damnation, or lest they should fall away, or finally miscarry of Heaven and happiness; since this would be a distrust of the power and faithfulness of God, and so criminal in them; nor is it reasonable to suppose, that the apostle would exhort to such a fear, when he himself was so confidently assured, that the good work begun in them would be performed; and besides, the exhortation would be very oddly formed, if this was the sense, ‘work out your salvation with fear’ of damnation: but this fear and trembling spoken of, is such as is consistent with the highest acts of faith, trust, confidence, and joy, and is opposed to pride and vain glory (see Psa. 2:11; 115:11; Rom. 11:20); and intends modesty and humility, which is what the apostle is pressing for throughout the whole context; and here urges to a cheerful and constant obedience to Christ, with all humility of soul, without dependence on it, or vain glorying in it, but ascribing it wholly to the grace of God, for, the verse immediately following informs us, ‘…it is GOD THAT WORKETH in you both to will and to do (Gr. acting, operating) of His good pleasure’ (Phil. 2:13)”.
Paul posed the questions: “…Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:2,3 cf. Phil. 1:6). Man does not have to, nor can he, put in the last piece to the salvation ‘puzzle’, for salvation is a one piece indivisible gift, and God alone is responsible for it. The puzzle is salvation, the one piece that fits it is grace and the picture it displays is the Lord Jesus Christ seen only by the faith which God gives. The whole of salvation, the entirety of salvation is given to a man as a gift. There is no work for him to do to get it, or maintain it. Even if man could do anything that could gain salvation from God, there simply would be no need for it, for salvation comes only by that which is undeservedly given. All the glory for salvation must be God’s, for it is “…according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace...” (see Eph. 1:5,6 cf. Eph. 1:9). Salvation is perfect and eternal, for it is of God and comes from God and is given freely by God to His special people. The Righteousness of Christ does not need your righteousness to make it any more Righteous than what it already is. No supplemental work of man’s is necessary for God to save by grace. The work of Christ is complete, and all His chosen ones are complete in Him. A man is saved by grace alone providing Christ’s Righteousness alone. All God’s elect ever needed to have eternal life was completed by Christ for them. HE is their hope, they, therefore, look not to themselves, or to any work of their own, but only to Him and His perfect obedience on their behalf. It is Christ’s Righteousness that saves and preserves the elect of God. God’s Holiness, Law and Justice are satisfied with Christ’s Righteousness which is why His people are saved by the Righteousness of Jesus, and not their own, by His obedience unto death, and not by their works. The One Who has begun a good work in the Christian does not need his help to maintain it, or see it through, because the good Work God has done was everything that needed to be done. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6 cf. Jn. 6:29; Gal. 3:3; 2 Tim. 1:12; Heb. 12:2). Christ is the Author AND Finisher of our faith, and the Christian is, because of grace, continually “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” (Heb. 12:2 cf. 1 Cor. 1:8; Phil. 1:6). “A believer is always looking to Christ, and off of every object, as the word here used signifies. Christ is to be looked unto as ‘Jesus’, the Saviour, Who being appointed and sent by God to be the Saviour, came, and is become the Author of eternal salvation; and to Him only should we look for it.” This true Jesus is revealed only in the Gospel of Almighty God.
Those who look to themselves and what they do, do not know Christ at all. The Christian does not look to the Saviour to save him, and then to his own works to maintain his saved state. If Christ has saved you, you are saved forever by what He has done. If you are saved by the Righteousness of Christ then you are saved forever by the Righteousness of Christ. The Christian always looks to Christ and His Righteousness, and never his own. “…I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:8,9 cf. Rom. 4:5-7). That faith by which a saved man believes is also of God by grace. The apostle Paul did not want his own righteousness, he did not want the righteousness that he had worked for, but only that Righteousness which is of Christ: the only Righteousness which saves! So many billions who are under the delusion that they are Christians, are working day and night to establish their own righteousness, believing they have been saved by grace, but now need to maintain that ‘salvation’ by what they do! The reality of the situation is, those who look to their own righteousness only have their own righteousness, and not the Righteousness of Christ that saves. They will approach God on Judgement day clothed with nothing but filthy rags, while the saved man who did not trust in his own righteousness but had confidence only in the Righteousness of Christ, will be clothed with the glorious pure white Robe of the Righteousness of God, for they are the ones that have been saved by grace. Those who trust in the Righteousness of Christ for their salvation, look to no other’s obedience—not even their own—for salvation. Saving grace points a man to God, AND KEEPS HIS ATTENTION ON GOD, and what He, alone, has done.
Paul, the apostle, prayed for the salvation of those who believed that by their doing, their righteousness, they would be saved: “…my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved…For they being ignorant of God's Righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the Righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for Righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:1,3,4). The saved rest in the Righteousness which was provided for them to be charged with. The lost go about like chickens with their heads cut off trying to establish a righteousness of their own. Israel, in seeking to obey God through the law, were disobeying God’s having established His own Righteousness as the only Righteousness upon which salvation could be based. Those who believe their obedience plays a role in getting saved and/or staying saved, are guilty of the exact same sin, they are ignorant of the fact that only God’s Righteousness saves. They have not submitted themselves to God’s Righteousness, but insist that salvation needs their own righteousness, too. They have not taken the yoke of Christ upon them, but are still heavy laden, labouring for their salvation rather than resting in Christ (see Matt. 11:28-30). “Imagine the foolishness of saying to the Lord, ‘Please help me to save myself. I will work very hard and I do the best I can. I pray you will strengthen me’. If you hear someone praying this way, hopefully you will explain to them that though they may be praying in sincerity, they are praying ignorantly. For we are not saved by trusting Christ to help us save ourselves, but by giving up trying to save ourselves and trusting Him to do what we cannot do. Once we realize it is by grace, and not works, there is nothing to do but raise our hands to Heaven and say, ‘Lord Jesus, I cannot save myself – I trust You for that! Thank you for saving me by grace alone!’ Prayer for help to do it becomes praise to God that it is already done.” It is important to note that salvation by grace is not dependent on how we think, or what our attitude toward God is. Scripture says that while God’s chosen were enemies they were made alive by God through grace (see Rom. 5:10). Prior to the new birth, every chosen person was nothing but a child of God’s Wrath (see Eph. 2:3), nothing they did, said or wanted made any of them stand out from their fellow man. God does not save His people after they have said certain words the right way, or done certain things with the right motive. God does not save His people by their doing anything, but only by His grace.
The Righteousness of Jesus Christ, His PERFECT Righteousness, is the first and last word on how a man is saved. “Christ is able and willing to save; He is a suitable, complete, and only Saviour; and whoever are made by grace to look to Him through the gift of faith shall be saved; and He is to be considered, and looked unto, as ‘the author and finisher of faith: He is the author or efficient cause of it; all men are by nature without it; it is not in the power of man to believe of himself; it is a work of omnipotence; it is an instance of the exceeding greatness of the power of God; and it is the operation of Christ, by His Spirit; and the increase of it is from Him, (see Lk. 17:5), and He is the finisher of it; He gives Himself, and the blessings of His grace, to His people, to maintain and strengthen it; He prays for it, He carries on the work of faith, and will perform it with power; and brings to, and gives that which is the end of it, eternal life, or the salvation of the soul.” A saved man’s obedience is a product of grace. It is produced by salvation, but does not play any part in the procurement of it, nor in the maintaining of it. The act of salvation is not a one-off thing that must be maintained by the saved. It is not something which is begun by God, but completed by man, for Scripture tells us that God is the Author, the Beginner, and the Finisher of the faith He gives to His people. The original Greek has it, “Inaugurator and perfector”. Salvation is eternal and only by grace from beginning to final glory and beyond. The Christian will never be a creature which does not need the grace of God to sustain him, for he can only be sustained by grace. A man can only be saved by grace and sustained by grace. Grace is the only fuel which eternal life requires, any other ‘fuel’ will simply destroy the engine. Grace is the life-source that keeps a man spiritually alive forever. Trying to get to God by one’s works is like trying to climb a ladder made out of wet sand. The Christian is “…sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ…” (Jd. 1:1 cf. 1 Thess. 5:23). “For the Lord loveth judgement, and forsaketh not His saints; they are preserved forever…” (Psa. 37:28 cf. Heb. 13:5). They do not preserve themselves by works, but are preserved by grace alone. The saved creature will always be cognizant of the fact that he is what he is and where he is only because of the grace of Almighty God. “…by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Cor. 15:10), is an eternal refrain which all God’s people will recite and rejoice in forever.
All of God’s elect will hear the Gospel, and will, at the appointed time, believe it only by the saving grace of God through the gift of faith, for this has been predetermined, ordained, by God’s immutable Counsel and eternal Will before the foundation of the world, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48 cf. Acts 2:47; Eph. 1:3-9). The gift of eternal life is something a person is ordained by grace to receive. The reason for grace is the will and purpose of God. The Word of God teaches that all for whom this has been done—culminating in their being given by the Father to Christ the Son—will never perish (see Jn. 10:27:28; cf. Jn. 6:37-40; 17:2). They have been saved eternally, given eternal life by, and are preserved in, Christ Jesus their Lord, “…sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called” (Jude 1); “…the Lord loveth judgement, and forsaketh not His saints; they are preserved forever…” (Psa. 37:28), and their lives are “…hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3 cf. Psa. 37:28; 83:3; Jd. 1). You could not get a salvation more complete than that! All God’s chosen are sanctified by what God has done: “…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13 cf. Jn. 17:17); They are preserved forever by what God has done: “For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not His saints; they are preserved forever…” (Psa. 37:28 cf. Psa. 12:7; 145:20); God’s chosen are given eternal life by, and because of, what God has done: “…I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish…” (Jn. 10:28). Notice how God’s chosen will never perish based on the fact He has given them ETERNAL life. All is because of God—all is conditioned on God—all is by the grace of God based on the love of God for all His people. Christ Jesus says: “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (Jn. 6:37). This declaration assures that all whom God is willing to save will be saved, and there is nothing and no one that can prevent this from occurring. “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him” (Jn. 17:2). God WILL save HIS people from THEIR sins (see Matt. 1:21).
There is only one way in and one way out of this world. The only way in is to be born, and the only way out is to die. When it comes to spiritual life, when it comes to being made alive, being a Christian, the only way in is to be made a new creature by God in Christ, and there is no way out, for it is an ETERNAL life. Once a man has been made spiritually alive he can never ever spiritually die again, for the new life he has been given is eternal. And still there are many people who say they believe this, and yet, they add the nonsensical questions, ‘What if I lose my salvation?’ ‘What if I backslide?’ People who think like this fail to ‘get it’. They fail to realise that the word eternal means forever. There is no end to that which is eternal. THIS is the life that God gives to all His chosen. The saved have had all their sins past, present and future nailed to Christ’s cross. The Righteousness by which they are accepted by God is Christ’s own Righteousness! NOW PLEASE TELL ME HOW IN THE WORLD CAN A SAVED MAN EVER BE JUDGED UNRIGHTEOUS!! How can you lose that which is eternal? How can you lose that which has made you eternally Righteous. What can possibly cause God to condemn you, Who has made you a new creature in Christ, ETERNALLY! “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (Rom. 8:33). “Justification is permanent and irrevocable. There is no double jeopardy, no double indemnity. Satan cannot appeal the verdict or raise an objection or sue for a mistrial. It is over and done with. All that follows is the joy of knowing one is justified and free forever, never to be condemned. We have peace with God at last! ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom. 5:1).”
There is no future death for those who have been made eternally alive from death. Death is OVER for the eternally saved life. The people whom God chooses are His FOREVER! They are preserved by Him and reserved for Him FOREVER. Nothing can ever change, hinder, stop, interrupt, etc., that which is eternal. The eternal is unstoppable. The only way to be made a spiritual creature, a new creature, is by grace. No one can will this to happen, for it was something which was settled before the world began. Works have never caused anyone to become born again. Spiritually dead people can only perform dead works. God’s chosen people have been given eternal life not because of anything done by them, but because they have been given by the Father to the Son. The blood of Christ has not provided a potential, temporary or conditional state of salvation for those for whom it was shed, BUT AN ETERNAL STATE OF SALVATION! The blood of Christ has actually obtained, and PERMANENTLY saved all for whom it was poured out (see Heb. 9:11-15). God will never leave His people, He will never forsake His people which is why they can never be separated from Him (see Heb. 13:5 cf. Rom. 8:31-39). Their salvation is eternally assured and secured, for their sins and their guilt have been charged to Another, Who has blotted them out forever, their debt has been paid in full, and a perfect Righteousness established and eternally imputed unto all those for whom Christ loved and died (see Rom. 4:6-8 cf. 2 Cor. 1:21,22). There remains now no condemnation for them because of what God has done for them. There is no condemnation that remains for those who love God, for He BY GRACE loved them first, and will love them forever. God’s love for His people ensures they will be His forever. God’s love does not hope they will stay, but ensures they will stay with Him eternally. Who or what could possibly bring to an end God’s eternal love, and the eternal life He has given to all His children?
The salvation that a Christian has is not one which is subject to change, for no part of it is conditioned on a man’s efforts at obedience, but is solely, totally, conditioned on Christ, from beginning to final glory, and is, therefore, eternal and wavers not. The eternality of a saved life shows clearly that it is not conditioned on the temporal. It cannot be dependent on that which is subject to change. Its eternality is decreed by God and ensured by His unchangeable will and eternal grace alone. The Sustainer of all life, even spiritual life, is God. “For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Col. 1:16,17). God keeps His people forever. They are “…kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation”, for “…by grace are (they) saved through faith…” (1 Pet. 1:5 & Eph. 2:8). This is what is meant by, “by grace ye are saved”. A chosen child of God, at the appointed time, is saved. He was saved in time, and now declares ‘God has saved me’, ‘I am preserved by the grace of God forever’. ‘I am reserved for Him and by Him, and I can never undo what He has done, for all my sins are forgiven. I can never lose what He has done, for what God does is eternal’. “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him” (Eccl. 3:14). “This holds good of all His works, and acts of grace; election of persons to eternal life stands firm, not on the foot of works, but of grace, and has its certain effect; it can never be made void, nor be surer than it is; it will ever take place, and continue in its fruit and consequences: the covenant of grace, as it is made from everlasting, continues to everlasting; its promises never, fail, its blessings are the sure mercies of David: redemption by Christ is eternal; such as are redeemed from sin, Satan, and the law, are ever so, and shall never be brought into bondage to either again: the work of grace upon the heart being begun, shall be performed and perfected; the graces wrought in the soul, as faith, hope, and love, ever remain; the blessings of grace bestowed, as pardon, justification, adoption, and salvation, are never reversed, but ever continue; such as are regenerated, pardoned, justified, adopted, and saved, shall be ever so; and the work of God, as it is durable, so perfect; nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it; the works of nature have been finished and perfected from the foundation of the world; the decrees of God are a complete system of His will, according to which He does all things invariably, in providence and grace; the covenant of grace is ordered in all things, and nothing wanting in it; the work of redemption is completely done by Christ, Who is a rock, and His work is perfect '…ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He' (Deut. 32:3,4); and the work of grace on the heart, though (the heart) at present (is) imperfect, shall be perfected; nor is it in the power of men to add anything to it, nor take anything from it; and God doeth [it], that [men] should fear before Him; His works of creation being done in so much wisdom, and giving such a display of His power and goodness, command awe of Him in His creatures, (see Psa. 33:6-9); His works of providence, being all according to His wise purposes and decrees, should be patiently and quietly submitted to; and men should be still, and know that He is God, and humble themselves under His mighty hand: His decrees, respecting the present or future state of men, do not lead to despair, nor to a neglect of means, nor to a dissolute life, but tend to promote the fear of God and true holiness, which they are the source of; and the blessings of grace have a kind influence on the same; particularly the blessing of pardoning grace, which is with God, that He may be feared, (see Psa. 130:4; Hos. 3:5); and one principal part of the work of grace on the heart is the fear of God; and nothing more strongly engages to the whole worship of God, which is often meant by the fear of Him, than His grace vouchsafed to men (see Heb. 12:28; Eccl. 12:14).”
The saved man is not kept saved by his efforts, but by the power/grace of Almighty God through faith in Christ: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5 cf. Jn. 17:11,12; 2 Cor. 1:21,22). How could anyone earn or lose this salvation? The saved man has an inheritance that cannot be corrupted, it cannot be defiled, and it will not fade away, for it is reserved in Heaven for him. How can anyone or anything stop a saved man from being kept by the power of God unto salvation? Saved is an eternal word, it is a covenant word. A saved person is kept saved by grace as much as he was initially saved by grace. Salvation, the whole of salvation, is by grace alone. The grace God gives His people is forever. Saved does not indicate a single, one-off, momentary event, but an on-going and eternal standing with God. Salvation does have a beginning, but according to its eternal nature, it can have no end. To be saved is to be eternally preserved by God for Himself forever. There is no other kind of true salvation other than eternal salvation. “…by grace are ye saved through faith…” (Eph. 2:8). A man is not saved by grace, and then has to work to keep his salvation. “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3). That is nothing but a salvation by works. It is a lie. It is a false gospel that has never saved anybody. Salvation is eternal. A man is saved eternally by grace through the gift of faith in the Righteousness of Christ, not in his own personal righteousness—before or during salvation. The Christian is ordained to walk in the works God has ordained for him, but these works do not get the man saved, for he is saved by grace alone. They are performed because he has been, and will forever remain saved by the grace of God. Only those who are saved by grace alone perform the works God has ordained for them to walk in. These works are the fruit of salvation, not what causes salvation. If you believe in a god who keeps you saved by what you do, you have been taught a false gospel about a false god that cannot save. Eternal salvation is the will of God for all His chosen ones. “…He preserveth the souls of His saints…” (Psa. 97:10). “The Lord preserveth all them that love Him…” (Psa. 145:20). “…your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). A man is not saved by grace and then remains saved by works, or by grace and works. To be saved is to be saved by God, and, therefore, saved forever by grace. It is the grace of God that gives salvation its eternality. To be saved is to be eternally saved by grace. To be saved includes remaining saved. God saves you by grace, and God keeps you saved by grace. To be saved is to be rescued, preserved and reserved by God for Himself forever by His grace. Salvation is not based on a person’s good works, and the maintaining of salvation is never based on what a man does, for the whole of salvation is solely by grace, solely by God, solely by that which you cannot do, or have any influence upon. Salvation comes by grace and is maintained by grace. Though salvation does have a beginning, a starting point in a person’s life, it cannot be separated from its eternality. Salvation is eternal salvation. To be saved is to be saved by grace forever. Salvation is a permanent state, and nothing can undo what grace has done. Nothing can return a saved man back to a spiritually dead state, for he has been eternally made alive by grace, and he is kept alive by grace. NOTHING can resist the power of the will and grace of the Almighty and Sovereign God.
So many people live their lives under the misapprehension that salvation is some one-off act. That salvation means being saved, or brought into a saved state at a certain moment, but to remain saved is something that depends on how one lives their life, etc. ‘God saves us, and now it is up to us to remain saved’. ‘We are saved by grace, but we can only remain saved by works.’ This line of oxymoronic thinking is subscribed to by those who believe there was nothing they could do to get saved, but that somehow—now that they are ‘saved’—they can do something to remain saved. Again, this madness which is empty of any Biblical logic, is highlighted by the apostle Paul: “...Received ye the Spirit by the works of he law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:2,3). Paul strongly implies here that no one can be made perfect by their own conduct, by their own allegiance to obedience. Saved by grace, made alive by the Spirit, but perfected by works which do not profit a man? (see Jn. 6:63). That a man can do anything to even stay saved is nothing but a hellish lie which does nothing but keep a man dead in his sins! This is what the blindness of a man who is dead in his sins is all about. He can never escape the bondage of seeing his works as playing an indispensable part in his phantom salvation. Trying to maintain a saved state by what you do is the clearest indication that you are not saved at all. Being made alive by God is something which cannot be reversed, for Christ has paid the price for every sin of a saved man, therefore, there is nothing which a man can do that can return him to a spiritually dead state. To rely on oneself, to think that any part of salvation is conditioned on what a man does, is to reveal, not a belief in the grace of God, but a complete ignorance of what true grace is, and, therefore, a spiritual insensitivity as to Who the only true God is and what He has done in the salvation of His people. The Psalmist says: “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what HE HATH DONE for my soul” (Psa. 66:16). That is a proclamation of grace! The praise is to God for what HE has done, and NOT for what He has enabled a person to do. Salvation is completely by what God, and no one else, has done. Salvation is exclusively from God and by God. It is an eternal gift, given and maintained by the grace of God. To believe otherwise is to deny the efficaciousness of Christ’s atoning death, and Christ’s finished work as being sufficient, not only to initially save His people, but to ensure the eternal security of those people.
Writing to Christians, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews states: “…by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12). The redeemed man is redeemed eternally by Christ. A Christian’s redemption is not subject to change. There is no other kind of Biblical redemption other than ETERNAL redemption. “And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in Heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight” (Col. 1:20-22). Good works are appointed to God’s people by God, and will fill a Christian’s life, however, they play no part in salvation other than their being the fruit of salvation. The apple does not produce itself, it does not sustain its own existence; it contributes nothing to its becoming an apple, being an apple or remaining an apple, for it is a product. The apple remains an apple only by that which was given to it by the tree. The apple is not an apple because of what it is, but because of what it was made to be. It was the tree, and not the apple that determined what it would be, for an apple tree never produces oranges. The apple is a product of something else over which it has no control. Something else brings it into being and sustains its life. The apple simply gets a ‘free ride’. An apple is something that something else has produced. To say the apple contributed in some way to its being an apple, or remaining an apple, is to only reveal one’s lunacy. It is to say that an apple can choose what it wants to be, or that a dog can choose what it wants to be. The dog, the apple or the saved man HAD NO CHOICE as to what they would be, AT ALL! Dogs are created, apples are created and the saved man is created a new creature in Christ by God according to the will of God. Nothing, and no one has any say in what they were created to be, nor do they remain what they are because of what they are, but only by what they were predetermined and created to be. The apple is solely a product of the tree from which it hangs. The apple has no right to receive any glory for its existence, for it is solely a product of that which deserves all the glory, the tree. So too, a Christian, a born again new creature created in Christ Jesus receives no glory for what he is, for all the glory is rightly and solely due to the One Who created and sustains him: Almighty God.
Salvation is not a momentary, fleeting, thing, but an eternal decree for the people God has chosen to be His. Salvation is not like being given a hat which can be blown off one’s head at any moment by a sudden gust of wind, but rather it is like being given a complete suit of armour to wear which has been permanently welded, and thus irremovable. Salvation is given by grace, and it is maintained by grace. Grace brings salvation, and it is grace which sustains its reality, its presence in the saved man’s life. Grace gains, secures and preserves salvation for all God’s elect forever. It is the power of grace, and not the ineffectiveness of works which saves a man and keeps him saved. How could something so perfect as grace have its success dependent upon an imperfect man and his wavering, fluctuating, deficient obedience ‘characterized by a fundamental weakness or imperfection’? How can God Who does whatsoever He wills and wills whatsoever He does, make salvation dependent upon unreliable, imperfect and inconsistent man? The only thing consistent about man is his inconsistency. The only thing reliable about man is his unreliability. The only thing perfect about a man is his imperfection. Man by nature is 100% unreliable, inconsistent and imperfect. Salvation does not come after anything a man has done—from asking to be saved to performing a work to get and/or remain ‘saved’—for “…by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight…” (Rom. 3:20 cf. Psa. 130:3; 143:2; Rom. 3:24-26). No deed, actual or foreseen, can justify a man in the sight of God. Therefore, the whole of salvation must be covered by the whole of grace to the glory of God. A MAN IS NOT SAVED BY WHAT HE DOES, BUT BY WHAT GOD DOES to him and for him. Salvation is not conditioned on works, therefore, it can only be dependent on grace. If nothing you can do can get it, then the only way a man will ever be saved is if that salvation is given to him, obviously not according to what he has done, but only according to the will and grace of an Almighty, Sovereign God. Salvation is not based upon the obedience of the one saved, but solely upon the Obedience of the One Who saved him! Salvation is not conditioned on a man’s will, but the will, grace and purpose of God. A man’s justification comes not by what he does, but by the obedience and Righteousness of Jesus Christ alone: “…by the obedience of One shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:19). There is no way to get Righteous, be Righteous or stay Righteous, but by the perfect Obedience of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Salvation is not by the righteousness you have, but the Righteousness you are charged with. SALVATION IS NOT BY, AND, THEREFORE, CANNOT BE DEPENDENT ON, WHAT A MAN DOES, OR DOES NOT DO. God alone is the Beginner of salvation, the Sustainer of salvation and the Completer of salvation. The moment you begin to attempt to do something to secure and/or maintain salvation, is the moment you reveal the fact that the faith you have has not been given you by God, for all true Christians know they are saved by God, and not by anything done by themselves. To rely on works in any way to any degree is to trust in yourself rather than in God alone. To say ‘saved by grace’ is to say saved and kept by God alone, saved and preserved by what God, and no one else, has done, SAVED BY HIS OBEDIENCE AND NOT YOUR OWN. SAVED BY HIS RIGHTEOUSNES AND NOT YOUR OWN. SAVED BY HIS GRACE AND NOT YOUR WORKS.
The saved man is a securely preserved-by-God man. By God’s “…GRACE are ye saved…not of yourselves” (Eph. 2:8). “…by GRACE are ye saved…Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9 cf. Psa.115:1). A man is saved only by that which he cannot boast of. In other words, a man is saved by nothing he has done, could do, should do, would do or ever will do. A man is not saved by anything which is of himself. The presence of grace precludes any man it has saved of boasting in anything he has done, therefore, any and all boasting can only legitimately be about what God has done, for He has done everything necessary to save His people from their sins by His grace alone. Salvation by grace is not temporal, it is not subject to change, but is eternal, for the state, or spiritual condition of being saved can never be altered. It is the will of God that His chosen people be saved. God is not willing that any of them should perish (see 2 Pet. 3:9). Salvation is by what God has done, and the grace of God simply shuts man completely out of the picture insofar as doing anything—therefore, being able to do anything—to gain or maintain salvation. Grace immediately cancels out any need for anything else to be done in salvation, by anyone other than God, thereby, dispensing with the notion that anything could/must be done by man. Salvation by grace at once shows that nothing could be done by man, and that nothing but grace is necessary for salvation. Why would salvation be completely by grace alone, if there was anything a man could do to attain it, or at the least, sustain it? Indeed, why would salvation involve grace at all if a man could meet any condition to be saved. When the Jailer in Acts 16:30 asked, “What must I do to be saved?”, he was not told to do, but to believe. That is faith and not works. Believing is by the gift of faith not by a work of man’s. Some would retort by saying, ‘But believing is doing’. Yes, believing is doing, but it is God doing, God working in the sinner that makes him a believer. None can believe in the true and only God without first being saved by the grace of God giving the gift of faith. “Who BY HIM do believe in God…” (1 Pet. 1:21 cf. Phil. 2:13). The Christian is granted God-given faith, by grace, to believe in the works of the Saviour for his salvation, not to begin a lifetime series of works that may get him saved. Believing is not a work of man’s but a gift from God by grace. If a man could procure salvation by anything he did, then salvation would not need to be by grace, for it would be attainable by works. However, seeing that the Word of God clearly states that salvation is not according to works, we conclude that it could only ever be by grace. Indeed, the apostle did say that if Righteousness was attainable by our own obedience to the law, then Christ’s death for the salvation of His people was profitless. The apostle Paul stated: “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if Righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21 cf. 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5). How did Paul not frustrate the grace of God? BY NOT ADDING HIS WORKS, TO IT! Paul taught salvation purely by grace alone. He did not negate grace in any way. Paul did not frustrate grace, or nullify it at all, because grace is all he taught when it came to how a man is saved, not just initially, but eternally. Anytime a man thinks that he can get saved or stay ‘saved’ by what he does, he nullifies the need for grace, and labels what Christ has done for His people a vanity. In other words, the moment anyone looks to their works, they simply cancel out any possibility of a genuine belief in the grace of God, and the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus the Lord.
If God had to do something by grace first, before a man ‘chose to believe’, it must be asked what is it that grace must do first. What must grace do so that a man can ‘choose God’, ‘choose to believe’? The grace of God saves. The grace of God makes alive. It is not involved in the man-made notion of making salvation something potential—conditioned on a man doing—for grace is sent by God to His chosen for the express purpose of saving them, not to enable them to meet a condition by what they do so they can then be saved. There is no need for, indeed there can be nothing done by any man prior to, or during, salvation that will ensure his salvation, for all is done by grace. It is what God does, not man, that results in salvation. It is what grace does, not works, that results in salvation. God’s people are chosen UNTO salvation, and they are saved by the agent that makes them alive: GRACE. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). God’s people are chosen to be sanctified, they are chosen to believe the truth of God, His Gospel (see v. 14), because He has chosen them to be saved. God has chosen salvation for all those He has elected, for this is the only way anyone could be saved. God chose His people to be saved by His grace. There is no room here for a man to do anything, for salvation by grace demands that all of salvation be of God, and no one else. Salvation without the works of a man can only be a salvation by the grace of God. Salvation by grace through faith can only be a salvation by grace without works. Salvation without boasting can only be a salvation which glories in the God of all grace. All the glory for salvation belongs solely to God, therefore, all the work of salvation is done by God.
GOD is the Saviour, and there is none else. God does all the work, for all the work of salvation could only have been done BY HIM! God is the God of grace. Grace belongs to God so salvation is of the Lord. Saving grace does not do anything else but save. Since all of salvation is all by grace, it stands to Biblical reason that salvation is by grace alone, and not by any works at all. If it is by grace then there is no need for works, and if it is by works then there is no need for grace. The apostle Paul did not frustrate the grace of God by promoting the idea that a man’s works are also necessary in order for him to be saved, or to maintain his salvation: “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if Righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21). The minute you attempt to get saved, or remain ‘saved’ by what you do, is the moment you have rejected Christ Jesus the Lord and what He has done. Those who have embraced works have rejected grace as God’s only means of salvation! Only those who have not been given to Christ will not come to Him, for they do not believe in the Gospel of grace. All that the Father gives to His Son will come to Him, they will believe only in the Gospel of salvation by grace alone. The Christian has not been given a faith with which to partially believe and trust in the Saviour, and partially in his own works. The faith God gives to His elect is one which trusts completely in the Saviour. No part of God-given saving faith leads a man to ever trust in himself, partially, or otherwise. Only lost people look to themselves and their works as their hope of salvation. The Christian’s eyes look only to Jesus. Christians do not look to their own obedience for salvation, or to assure them that they are truly saved, but only to that Obedience of Christ. One’s whole faith, and complete trust, must be in Christ as total and complete Saviour for there to be explicit, and incontrovertible, evidence that one is saved of God, that one has been given the gift of the faith of the elect from God. Salvation is totally of God, and not at all of man. The fact that salvation is by grace shows conclusively that salvation could be by nothing else. Salvation comes by no other means but grace, and no other one, but God. Eternal salvation is by grace, not works; by God, not man.
One of the greatest Scriptures which deals with grace and works is found in Paul's second Letter to Timothy. Speaking of God, Paul says: "Who hath saved us, and called us with an Holy calling, NOT ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS, but according to His own purpose and GRACE, which was GIVEN US in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim. 1:9 cf. Gal. 2:21). Couple this with Ephesians 2:8,9 and one gets a complete picture of what a man is saved by, and what he could not possibly be saved by. “…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.” Salvation is NOT according to man, but only according to God; NOT by man’s will, but only by God’s Sovereign will. Before any man had done any work, even before the world began, God called those He wanted to save according to His own purpose and grace. NOTHING ELSE! Clearly, salvation is not according to what we have done, but solely according to what God has done for His people. The grace of God is given to make a man saved, not to enable him to do so that he can become saved. Grace is not man working, but God working. Salvation is an act of God, not man. Salvation is by God doing, not a man doing. Salvation is the result of God working by grace to save those He has chosen who could never work their way to Heaven. Salvation is not according to what a man does, but only in accord with God, His purpose and His grace. God does not save anyone according to what they do, but only according to His own purpose and grace. GOD SAVES ONLY BY WHAT HE GIVES TO HIS PEOPLE, NOT BY ANYTHING THEY DO, OR ‘GIVE’ TO HIM. THE FACT THAT SALVATION IS NOT ACCORDING TO A MAN’S WORKS REVEALS THAT IT CAN ONLY BE ACCORDING TO GOD’S GRACE. There is no other alternative. It is either one or the other, for it can NEVER be both! (see Rom. 11:6; Rom. 4:14-16).