BY GRACE ALONE (PART 20)
The works God has ordained for His people come because they are saved, they are not given as a means to provide salvation by their being done, nor are they given to sustain a man’s salvation. They are given because a man has been and will always remain saved by grace alone. They are not performed in order to gain salvation, but because one is saved. The Righteousness of God’s people does not come by what they do, but by Jesus Christ who died for them. “…a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ…” (Gal. 2:16). A man is not justified by his own works, but by the faith he has been given by grace in the Person and Work of the Saviour. It is Christ’s obedience, not theirs, upon which the salvation of His people is conditioned, based and relies upon. If you do not possess the gift of Faith from God, then all you have is your dead faith which can only produce dead works, and your dead works (as the Scripture calls them in Hebrews 6:1 & 9:14) will not help you, for a man is not justified by his works, but only by the FAITH which is given to him, “Therefore being justified by Faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1 cf. Gal. 2:16). “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth Righteousness WITHOUT WORKS” (Rom. 4:6). Look what these verses, along with Ephesians 2:8 and 9, are saying: “…not justified by the works of the law…justified by faith…without works…by grace are ye saved…not works…” The proper interpretation of James 2 comes only when accompanied by an awareness and godly understanding of the overwhelming number of Scriptures and Scripture passages which state salvation is by grace alone and not by works at all. To attempt to discount all of these Scriptures, and many like them, by one single misinterpreted verse is to show oneself an ignorant doctrinal outlaw. Of course, the true faith given by God leads to corresponding works—the works God has ordained for His people to walk in—otherwise it would be a dead faith, but these works are not the reason why a believer is justified. “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:2,3). Abraham’s faith was not without works, but it was NOT those works which saved him! They were merely the product of his God-given faith. To think that works play a part in the salvation of a man, is to believe that what a man does after he has been brought to life contributes to his resuscitation! But how can this be when the resuscitation takes place PRIOR TO the performance of the appointed works. How can what a person does after they have been made alive by grace contribute to their being made alive, and/or staying alive. Doesn’t it make Biblical sense that a man stays alive, that he stays saved, by what He has been saved by? Otherwise, all that would remain is the contradictory statement ‘Saved by grace through works’. Saved undeservedly by that which is deserved, or saved undeservedly but deservedly kept saved by works. The Biblical reality is that a man is undeservedly saved by grace, and he remains undeservedly saved by grace. Salvation comes BEFORE any works, not after works, or because of works. Salvation comes by grace, and is totally dependent on grace. Salvation comes by grace which produces works of gratitude, not works done to seek salvation as a reward. SALVATION IS BY WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN, NOT BY WHAT MAN HAS DONE. Salvation is by grace through faith WITHOUT WORKS. There is no Scripture from the Holy Word of God which states ‘man is saved by works’. NOTHING! Man is not justified by works, he is not elected according to works, he is not saved by his works. Man is saved by grace, not works.
Saving faith always has works accompanying it, but these works were all ordained by God for His people to walk in. They are not earning works, but works which draw attention to the glorious grace of the glorious God. The man chosen by God is saved by grace, made a new creature in Christ Jesus to perform the works God has ordained him to. The works which God has ordained His people to perform do not play any part in their being created in Christ Jesus, for the works come after salvation because of salvation. Just like believing comes after a person is made alive, so too, the good works they do can only come after they are saved as the fruit of salvation, and, therefore, are in no way that which produces salvation or sustains it. “Paul, in his Letter to the saints at Rome, wrote, ‘Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight…’ (Rom. 3:20); ‘Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law’ (Rom. 3:28); ‘For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness’ (Rom. 4:3); ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom. 5:1); ‘But TO HIM THAT WORKETH NOT, BUT BELIEVETH on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness’ (Rom. 4:5).” Nowhere in the entire Word of God do we see works counted for Righteousness. The above verses show works contrasted with believing. Salvation is not by works, but by grace through the gift to believe and trust in the Person and Work of the Saviour.
“James says, ‘Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only’ (Jas. 2:24); ‘For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also’ (Jas. 2:26). Which is it? Are we justified by faith or by works? Does the Bible Contradict--Itself? It is a fundamental Christian belief that we are justified by faith. Justification means that God declares a sinner to be Righteous. He does this by crediting--by reckoning the Righteousness of Jesus to the sinner. This is done by grace through faith. God justifies the sinner by grace through the gift of faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and trusts in Him and not himself for Righteousness. God justifies him. ‘…Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness’ (Rom. 4:3). But, if the Bible teaches that we are justified by faith, does it also teach we are justified by works as James ‘seems’ to say? Do we have a contradiction? The answer is no. Context is Everything. It is erroneous to take a verse, read it without its context, and then attempt to develop a doctrine from that verse alone. Therefore, let's take a look at the context of James 2:24 which says that a man is justified by works and not by faith only. James chapter 2 has 26 verses: Verses 1-7 instruct us not to show favoritism. Verses 8-13 are comments on the Law. Verses 14-26 are about the relationship between faith and works. Notice that James begins this section by using the example of someone who says he has faith—verse 14. He then immediately gives an example of what true and false faiths are. He begins with the negative and demonstrates what an empty faith is (see verses 15-17). Then he gives an example of the type of faith that isn't much different from the faith of demons (see verse 19). Finally, he gives examples of living faith by showing Abraham and Rahab as the type of people who demonstrated their faith by their deeds. James is examining two kinds of faith: one that leads to godly works and one that does not. One is true, and the other is false. One is dead, the other alive; hence, ‘Faith without works is dead’ (Jas. 2:20). This is why in the middle of his section on faith and works, he says in verse 19, ‘Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble’. James says this because the demons believe in God; that is, they have faith, but the faith they have is useless. It does not result in appropriate works. Their faith is only a mental acknowledgment of God's existence.” Their faith is not a gift from God. There are plenty of people who have this exact same faith. It is a mere acknowledgement of the existence of a supreme being, but there are no corresponding works. Others, who also have a faith of their own, and not from God, live very religious lives which are filled with works. However, these works are dead, for the faith with which such people believe is not the gift that comes from God by grace and believes in His only Gospel, but that which is natural to man and leads him only to false gods. A faith which has no works is dead, likewise, a faith which believes only in false gods can only produce dead works. The crucial point which needs to be made clear at this juncture, is, the faith which is without works IS NEVER the faith which God gives His people. The faith God gives by grace to all His elect is never without the works He has ordained for them to walk in, therefore, a true Christian’s faith is NEVER dead!
“Two words are worth introducing here: ascentia and fiducia. Ascentia is the mental assent—the mental acknowledgment of something's existence. The demons acknowledge and believe that God exists. Fiducia is more than mental acknowledgment. It involves a trust in something—a giving over to it, a complete believing and acceptance of something. This is the kind of faith that a Christian has in Christ. A Christian, therefore, has fiducia; that is, he has real faith and trust in Christ because it has been given to him by God, and not simply a fleshly acknowledgment that He lived on earth at one time. Another way to put this is that there are many people in the world who believe that Jesus lived: ascentia. But they do not believe that He is the Saviour, the one to Whom they should look and trust for the forgiveness of their sins. Ascentia does not lead to works. Fiducia does. Ascentia is not of the heart. Fiducia is.” Ascentia, is that which is natural to man. Every man has the ability to acknowledge, but only those who have been given the gift of faith by God through grace believe and trust solely in the only true God and His Righteousness for salvation, not their own. “So what is James saying? James is simply saying that if you ‘say' you are a Christian, then there had better be some appropriate works manifested, or your faith is false. (It is not from God). This sentiment is echoed in 1 John 2:4 which says, 'He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him'.” This is obviously talking about works as evidence, not as that which is the cause, or that which sustains salvation. “Apparently, there were people who were saying they were Christians but were not manifesting any of the fruit of Christianity. Can this faith justify?” Is this the faith which God gives to His chosen? “Can the dead ‘faith' that someone has by nature which can only produce dead works (see Heb. 6:1), and not the good works ordained by God for His people to walk in, be a faith that justifies? Absolutely not. It is not merely enough to say you believe in Jesus.” Real faith, real trust, just like real love, will always have corresponding actions.
“You must actually believe and trust in God. If you actually do, then you will demonstrate that faith by good works. If not, then your profession is of no more value than the same profession of demons.” That faith comes from yourself, not from God. Works do not get you saved or keep you saved, they are the evidence that you have been saved by the Sovereign grace of Almighty God. “Notice that James actually quotes the same verse that Paul uses to support the teaching of justification by faith in Romans 4:3. James 2:23 says, 'And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God'. If James was trying to teach a contradictory doctrine of faith and works than the other New Testament writers, then he would not have used Abraham as an example. Therefore, we are justified by faith. That is, we are made Righteous in the eyes of God by grace through the gift of faith as is amply demonstrated by Romans. However, that faith, if it is true, will result in deeds appropriate to salvation. These are the deeds God has ordained for His chosen to walk in. After all, didn't God say in Ephesians 2:7-10, 'That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them'." Christians are not created in Christ because of any good works they have performed, but so that they will perform the good works which God has ordained for them to walk in. The Christian is saved not by his works, but by God’s workmanship. Salvation by grace is God’s kindness toward His people. Salvation is not a reward earned, but a kindness given. The Christian is created, he is a new creature, he is born again, he is made alive by God in Christ so that he will walk in the works God has ordained for him to walk in, and not because of those works. A Christian is not saved by, or because of, those works, but performs them because he is saved.
“…as works, without God-given faith, are dead works, so faith, without works, is a dead faith, and not like the lively hope and faith given by God to regenerated persons: and indeed, such who have no other faith than that which is natural to man are dead in trespasses and sins; not that works are the life of faith, or that the life of faith lies in, and flows from works; but good works are second acts, necessarily flowing from the life of faith; to which may be added, and by these faith appears to be living, lively and active, or such who perform them appear to be true and living believers.” The faith James was talking about was the faith of devils that tremble (see Jas. 2:19). James makes reference to a “vain man”, in James 2:20, not to a saved man. No vain, profitless, man believes in the Gospel of the grace of God with the gift of faith that God gives to His people. James’ “…allusion is to an empty vessel, which sounds more than one that is full. The carnal professor to whom he speaks is vain, because he is empty of true faith and good works, though full of noise and boasting.” James does not say, “…faith is dead without works, lest it should be thought that works were the cause of the life of faith; but faith without works is dead, implying that works are the effects and signs of the life of faith”. He who does not have God-given faith, has a life that is only filled with dead works. Simply because a man has a belief, and devotes his life to doing good to others, does not mean he is a saved man. A dead faith is a faith which can only produce dead works. This can hardly be said to be the case with God-given faith. The only dead faith with exists is that which is the faith of demons, and the faith which is inherent in every man by nature. The only living faith is that which God gives, by grace, to all His people.
A dead body has no life, and so, cannot do anything. If a body did do something it would merely show that it is alive. What it does, does not make it alive, or keep it alive, but merely evidences the presence of life. Activity does not maintain life, but is the evidence of life. So too, a Christian’s works do not make him alive, or contribute to his aliveness, they merely show the presence of life, a life given him by grace alone. The faith that God gives to His people by grace is not dead, that is, it is not without works for them to perform, but again, the works themselves do not procure salvation, for they are given to those who have been saved, not to make it possible for them to be saved. Dead works can neither result in salvation, nor are they ordained for a Christian to walk in. Dead works are performed only by those who remain dead in trespasses and sins with a faith that does not come from God. God’s workmanship—those whom He has created in Christ Jesus—were created UNTO GOOD WORKS not by, or because of any good works (see Eph. 2:10). God has elected His people “…through sanctification of the Spirit, UNTO obedience…” (1 Pet. 1:2), not because they were obedient. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled IN us…” (Rom. 8:3,4), not by us. Righteousness does not come by the obedience of man, but solely through the obedience of One: the Lord Jesus Christ (see Rom. 5:19). God’s people are chosen unto salvation (see 2 Thess. 2:13), not because they were holy and without blame, but “…that (they) should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4 cf. Rom. 8:29). The original Greek has “to be” holy. It is God, by grace, Who has made them holy, for His people have not, and could never have, played any contributory role in their own salvation. In Deuteronomy we see that the Lord chose Israel to be a peculiar people unto Him, to be a special people unto the Lord, not because they were in any way special, or different from any other nation: “…the Lord hath chosen thee TO BE a peculiar people unto Himself…” (Deut. 14:2 cf. Deut. 7:6-8; Psa. 135:4). “The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you…” (Deut. 7:7,8). It was God’s will that they be His people. THAT—the will of God, and no other’s—is what makes the difference between the people of God, and the people of the world, the saved and the unsaved, the one’s whose faith is alive, and those whose faith is dead.
A tree is alive, not because it produces fruit, but it produces fruit because it is alive. The fruit is the evidence of life, but not the source of life. The Christian is not spiritually alive because he performs good works, but he performs the good works ordained for him to walk in by God because he has been made alive. The fact they are alive is due to their being made alive by the grace of God. Works do not make alive, they do not save. Only grace which produces works makes alive. Only grace saves. The works a Christian does always follow after they are saved, and never before. The Christian is made alive to perform good works, the good works are not why he has been made alive. The fruit is merely an evidence of the tree being alive; ordained works are merely an evidence of a man having been made spiritually alive by grace alone. Certainly a dead tree cannot, and does not, produce any fruit. Only by the tree which is alive is any fruit produced. Good works come by grace through faith, they do not produce salvation, but are the direct result of salvation. A man is spiritually born again unto good works, and not as the result of good works (see Eph. 2:10). Those who insist a man cannot be saved without works ,will not listen to grace alone. Many will not even look at the abundance of Scriptures they are presented with which speak of salvation by grace not works. They will not challenge their beliefs by entering into an objective study of the Scriptures, but stubbornly remain glued to what they know, interpreting familiarity with what they know as some kind of confirmation that what they believe is correct. Familiarity is by no means confirmation of accuracy. Many believe a man is saved by grace, but remains saved by works. Such are in a worse state than those who believe in works alone, and not grace at all, for these people are convinced they believe in grace according to the Scriptures. The Word of God states that a man is saved by grace—not works. Importantly, the Bible states that there are works associated with the grace that saves, but these works are ordained by God for the people He has saved by grace alone to walk in. They are not saved by these works, but are ordained by God to walk in those works because He has saved them by grace alone. The only people who perform good works are those who are saved by grace alone. These works only come after the saved life begins. They do not have anything to do with a person getting saved, nor are they given a man to contribute to his remaining saved, they are simply the fruit, the product of a man’s being saved. The saved creature, the new creature created in Christ Jesus was made to perform good works, not because they had performed good works. The good works connected to saving grace merely show that one has been saved by grace. If one is not saved by grace they cannot perform good works. Now, if the good works ordained by God for His people to walk in do not in any way contribute to their being saved and remaining saved, what makes any man think that anything done—which the Bible calls dead works—prior to salvation is going to get a man saved! “…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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10).
Grace alone is the only way God saves His people. Salvation is believing the Gospel of Christ by God-given grace. The faith which God gives His people by grace, completely trusts in what He has done and never looks to one’s own imperfect, and, therefore, utterly useless obedience. The apostle Paul’s inspired words should leave no one in any doubt of this truth: “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and 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. 3:3-9). The Lord Jesus stated: “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me” (Acts 26:18). The Christian’s hope of Righteousness lies in the Lord and Savour Jesus Christ, not in themselves, “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of Righteousness by faith” (Gal. 5:5 cf. Gal. 5:18). Christians do not work for the hope of Righteousness, but they wait for the hope of Righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ. They all look to Him and His Work, not to themselves and what they do, or have done. The Inheritance which awaits them is due to the fact they are sanctified by God-given faith in Jesus the Lord as He is portrayed in the doctrines of the Gospel of salvation by grace alone.
Salvation is a Work of God, not a work of man. If one is saved by grace, then salvation depends only on grace, only on God. In the world of spiritual mathematics, only grace = salvation. There is no other right answer to the question of salvation, but grace alone. The correct answer to salvation cannot be arrived at by any other combination, or by any other means, than: GOD BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH. Works will not produce salvation, grace and works will not produce salvation, only God’s grace alone will produce salvation. Nothing added to grace—which automatically and simultaneously takes away from grace—can produce salvation. And most importantly, nothing added to grace will ever sustain salvation. The saving grace of God disqualifies everything else as being a necessary element in the eternal salvation of a man. THE GRACE OF GOD IS THAT AGENT WHICH GIVES THE GOSPEL OF GOD ITS EXCLUSIVE POWER TO SAVE. Any gospel which takes away from grace by adding anything to grace, such as the works and vain efforts of man to ingratiate himself to God, is a gospel which has no power whatsoever to save anyone. God’s power to save is by grace alone. EVERYTHING OUTSIDE OF GRACE IS ANOTHER GOSPEL. Every gospel that allows room for a man’s works is not testifying to the grace of God in the salvation of His people, but is rebelling against it, and everyone who believes such a gospel is a willing, albeit ignorant, participant in that rebellion. To trust in a lie is rebellion against God (see Jer. 28:15,16).
Conditioning any part of salvation on a man’s works essentially and inevitably demands that people trust in those works to partly be responsible for their supposed salvation. False gospels which teach works as the means to salvation invariably shift the focus away from grace, and, therefore, from God. They remove the power to save from grace by making salvation, or the success of salvation, ultimately contingent on works. Salvation by any works is a salvation dependent on works, not grace. Even if only one act of obedience was necessary for salvation, it would ultimately be that one act, and not grace at all, which would make the difference between saved and lost. No amount of grace could ever be the means to salvation in a gospel that includes even a single work in its salvation plan. The faith which God gives to His people believes only in Him, only in His grace alone as the only way to salvation. No one can attain to Righteousness by their works, for it is only by the faith that is given by grace which believes in the Righteousness of Christ—that must come, and can only come, by free imputation—by which any are saved (see Rom. 9:31,32; 10:1-4). Salvation is by the Righteousness of Another, not your own righteousness. Therefore, salvation is by grace through faith in God’s Righteousness, not in any works that are performed in order to establish a righteousness of one’s own. No one is sanctified by God based on their faith in themselves, in their works, in their efforts at pleasing God and reaching Heaven. This is the road travelled only by those who do not know grace, those whose lives remain dead in sins, those who are lost. THE ONLY FAITH THAT SANCTIFIES IS THAT FAITH WHICH IS TOTALLY, WHOLLY, AND EXCLUSIVELY FROM, AND IN, THE LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST. The living trust in Christ, only the dead trust in themselves. The saved trust in God, only the lost trust in anything outside of God. IF IT IS NOT OF GOD IT CANNOT SAVE. If you are trying to get saved you are looking to what you do, you are trusting in yourself, for the saved look only to Christ and what He has done.
To merit grace is such a nonsense. To merit grace is like saying that which you have worked for is a gift and not a wage. A gift is what you get before/without you having done a single thing to earn it. If a person has been given something because they have performed any act, or work, that something is not a gift, but a wage. No matter how much it may be thought of as a gift it is nothing but a wage. Something earned is not because of grace, but because of works. It is not something given, but something earned. A true gift is not a reciprocal act, but an act which is free and independent of anything and everything outside the giver. The Word of God says that it is by grace ye are saved, and so, it cannot be of works. Grace is a gift not a reward, therefore, grace always comes before any work is done, just as a gift is given before anything meritable is done to earn it. The person to whom the gift is given may well do good and kind things in return, BUT NO ENSUING SHOW OF APPRECIATION HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH EARNING THE GIFT WHICH HAS ANTECEDENTLY BEEN GIVEN. Works only follow the act of salvation, they are never part of the cause of salvation. Salvation is a gift, it comes because of God not because of you! Grace is a gift, it comes because of God not because of you! Faith is a gift, it comes because of God not because of you! This whole package marked GRACE, comes because of God’s will, not because of your will, it comes because of what God has done not because of what you have done, for you are hopelessly, helplessly, contemptibly dead in your trespasses and sins, and worthy of nothing but eternal Wrath.
Sin is the reason man needs a Saviour. God is the Saviour, and God saves because of what He does, not because of what any sinner does. Man cannot intervene in, therefore, he cannot influence, his own salvation, for the decision how to save and who to save was made by God before the foundation of the world. This is another great truth that many people are either totally ignorant of, or conveniently ignore. If God did the choosing, it is because He is the only one that could have chosen. If God saves by grace it is because grace is the only way God can save. This is not limiting God to only one way of salvation because of any incompetence on His part, but shows that salvation can only be by grace, for it can never be deserved. Works of obedience can never do what only the gift of grace was sent to do. If God saves by grace alone it is because this is His chosen means. If God did it, it is because He is the only one that could have done it. If God did it, it is because it took God to do it. A man cannot save himself by works, and he can surely not save himself by grace. The works of man do not save, and so, the only thing which will save is grace. If one can never deserve something then they must be given it, if they are to ever have it. The fact salvation is by grace alone, is the strongest evidence of them all that salvation could never have been by works. Why would God do something if man had the wherewithal to do it? Why would God save a man by that which is undeserved, if man could deservedly be saved by what he did? Only God doing everything by grace in the salvation of His people, matches perfectly with the Biblical fact that man is dead in sins and can do nothing in and of himself to come to God. Man being saved by grace is because grace is the only way a man can be saved. If works cannot do it, then grace is the only viable alternative. If works could do it, then grace would not be needed. However, if works cannot do it then only grace can save a man. Again, grace is an act of God which actually saves. Grace does the saving, it does not enable a man to do that which only grace can do. Grace was designed to save, hence, by grace ye are saved, and not by works. To qualify grace by saying it is only that by which God enables a man to do what needs to be done before God can save him, is to go beyond what the Scriptures say, for they do not even hint at such flawed thinking. What God does saves, and what saves is grace. Scripture does not say ‘by grace ye are enabled to get saved’, because the concept of grace working in collaboration with works is totally foreign to the Word of God. Grace is always contrasted with works because there is no correlation between grace and works whatsoever. Therefore, grace saves completely independently of works. Grace and works are utterly incompatible, for one is of God and the other of man. There is nothing a man can do to warrant his being appointed to salvation, for if there was it would be works that save, and not grace, and the Scripture would say, ‘By works are ye saved through free will; and that not of God: it is a work of man’s: Not of grace, lest God should boast’.
What saves a man is unmerited, it is undeserved. Therefore, salvation is subsequent only to what God does by grace alone, for it is consequent only on what God does. Salvation is all of God. All of salvation comes from God and because of God. “…Salvation is of the Lord…by grace…through faith…” (Jon. 2:9 & Eph. 2:8 cf. Jn. 1:13). If what saved a man was what he did, then it could not be grace that saved him, it could not be after and because of what God had done, but upon works only. God’s grace is according to God’s will, and not anybody else’s. Grace makes a man willing, it does not equip him with the potential to be willing. God’s act of grace is given without any prior act of man’s, without any prompting by man, or inducement from man. Grace is something which follows God, not man. “The world often operates on the idea of Karma. Karma teaches that what we do will come back to us.” Scripture teaches the principle of “…God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7,8). “If you are good, good things will happen to you. If you are bad, then bad things will come your way. Grace refuses to play by these rules.” Grace only highlights the goodness of God. “In an interview he did back in 2010, lead singer of the band U2, Bono, real name (Paul Hewson), had this to say about grace and karma: ‘It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that ‘as you sow, so you will reap’ stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge… I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.” Whether, or not, Bono is a saved man is not the issue here, but his statement does make for surprisingly interesting reading. Grace is that which truly saves a man, for without grace, without the intervening love of God, all that remains is for a man to be judged according to what he has done, and what he is. A man once foolishly wrote “I don’t believe in an interventionist God”. The only hope a man has is that God will intervene in one’s life with the grace that saves, because there is assuredly nothing a man can do which will intervene and put a halt to his current course toward Hell. Grace ensures that the man it is given to is judged according to what God has done for him, and not on anything the man has done. Only grace ensures salvation.
The comment, ‘Love interrupts the consequences of your actions’ is quite a statement, for it captures exactly what saves a man, and how he is saved. “Grace is the opposite of karma, which is all about getting what you deserve.” Grace is being given what you do not deserve. Isn’t it interesting how people who love the law of karma, never realise that according to the law of karma, it will finally judge them all guilty. Man has sown sin and reaped only death. We love justice for others, but somehow always expect mercy for ourselves. Karma is a much loved teaching, for it allows room for a man to escape damnation by the ‘good’ that he does. To reap what you have sown is to always reap the consequence of death. Only by what a man does not deserve can he be saved from death. Grace is the manifestation of the undeserved love of God that saves His chosen people from their sins. God’s undeserved, unmerited and intervening love for His people, His elect people, is all that stands between them and Hell. Without God, without His love, mercy and grace, without His intervention in a man’s life, all men would remain without God and without hope in this world and forever. God loves His people first. That is grace. His reason to love them comes from within Him, and is not at all attracted by who a man is, or by what any man has ever done. The choice was made before the world began. God’s love for His people was established long before they did any good or evil, even before He created the foundation of the world. This includes all works done or ‘foreseen’. All are deserving of Hell. Man is a born sinner. He does not learn to sin, for it comes naturally to him. Man is, therefore, rightly deserving of judgement and punishment for his actions. The only thing that can prevent this from happening is if God has, by grace, chosen to love the man. Such a man will never be punished for his sins, for this has, by the Lord Jesus Christ, already been done for him. The elect man’s sins have been punished in Christ. “…for the transgression of My people was He stricken” (Isa. 53:8 cf. Psa. 85:1-3).
The Love of God does not merely ‘interrupt’ the consequences of the actions of His elect, it brings them to an immediate halt, and replaces penal judgement with adoring grace, mercy, everlasting forgiveness and eternal salvation. Grace transferred all the blame, all the guilt and all of a chosen man’s deserved punishment onto the Saviour Jesus Christ. All man has done in the theatre of life, is sin. Sin is of man — Salvation is all of God. Salvation is not reaped from what man has sown, it is given because of the love of God. Salvation is not earned, it is given. What man has sown is sin, what man has reaped is an eternity of the Wrath of God. The grace which God has sown has reaped salvation for all His elect. Salvation is not a consequence of a man’s will and works, but is subsequent only to the will and grace of God. Salvation is not a reap what you sow proposition, quite the reverse. Salvation is reaping what Another has sown, for it is based on God: His will, His purpose, His love, His grace and His mercy. Salvation does not come from man’s garden of good works, but only from God’s Garden of grace. Salvation is a work of grace, not a work of man’s. Salvation is the consequence of God’s will and God’s purpose for His people conditioned only upon His grace and mercy. Salvation by grace alone is not deserved, therefore, it cannot be merited by, or because of, anything a man has done. Undeserved, means not of man, but by grace alone. Grace means salvation is by, and solely because of, God. God is the 100% Giver, and all man is, is a 100% recipient made so by the grace and love of God. Man does not reap salvation because of what he has done, but he is given salvation by grace because of what God has done. You do not get what you do not deserve because of something you have done, but only because of what God Almighty has done and willed for you.
Mercy. What is mercy? “Mercy is God not punishing His elect as they deserve. Grace is God blessing His chosen despite the fact that they do not deserve it. Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is extending kindness to the unworthy.” The mercy of God toward His people comes solely from Himself. God’s mercy comes from His dynamic, purposeful love to save His people from their sins. God’s mercy and grace are simply AWESOME! They highlight the fact that God is love, and He loves His people so much that He sacrificed His only begotten Son so that they could and would be with Him forever. God does not withdraw His Wrath from His people because of anything they have done, for there is nothing that a man who is dead in sins can possibly do to dissuade God from taking punitive action toward him for his sins. The dead can make no appeals. They have no redeeming feature. There is nothing in man, or that can be done by man, to compensate for his many sins, or for the fact he is a sinner by nature. This is, no doubt, why mercy is obviously necessary—because man cannot do anything to meet the requirements of God’s justice which demands satisfaction in terms of sins being punished in full. In addition, God does not withdraw His Wrath from His people simply because He has appointed them to salvation. The mercy of God cannot be implemented without a satisfaction for sin. God’s Justice must be served – “The soul that sinneth, it shall die…” (Ezek. 18:20). The penalty which sin has incurred must be paid in full. The Lord Jesus Christ took the penalty His people deserved upon Himself, and so, His Sacrifice on the behalf of those people whom the Father gave to Him is accepted. “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all…Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My Righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:4-6,10-12). Who are the many referred to in these Scriptures? God calls them “…MY PEOPLE…” (Isa. 53:8).
When Christ said upon the cross, “…It is finished…” (Jn. 19:30), He was saying that the penalty for the sins of those for whom He died, is paid in full. “THREE words in English, ONE word in Greek – TETELESTAI! The GREATEST WORD from the GREATEST MAN on the GREATEST DAY in all eternity! In Latin tetelestai is rendered with two words ‘Consummatum est’.” “The whole Righteousness of the Law was fulfilled” (see Rom. 10:4). Jesus was without sin, and laid down His life for His people. He gave His life for them, paid for their sins in full and took the punishment which they deserved, in turn charging them with His Righteousness which they did not deserve. He was and is their glorious Substitute. God’s Justice is perfectly satisfied by Who Jesus is and by what Jesus has done. The actions of anyone else simply would not do, the righteousness of anyone else simply would not do, for all are sinners. This rings true for all eternity, no one’s actions, no one’s righteousness has ever saved, or will ever save anyone. No one can atone for their sins, or anyone else’s sins, for all are corrupt. There is no salvation in man (see Psa. 146:3). No one can establish a perfect Righteousness, for all are sinful, “…and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Because of the Saviour and what He has successfully done and accomplished for His people, there is now no legal reason why God should punish His people and not have mercy upon them instead, because Jesus, His sinless Son—whom He sent to the earth for this very reason—has satisfied God’s Wrath on their behalf. Their sins were imputed to Him, and His Righteousness charged to their account (see 2 Cor. 5:21). God can now be merciful to those whom He has chosen because Jesus took the punishment for their sins. There is no more price to be paid by the elect of God, no more condemnation, for the Lord has paid that price in full for them all. Because of Jesus, Mercy has replaced Wrath. Notably, there is no other righteousness than the Righteousness of Christ which needs to be established for God to save a man. The only Righteousness required for salvation to take place is the Righteousness of Christ Jesus the Lord. This saving Righteousness could have been established by no other, and so, it comes only by imputation. The Righteousness which saves does not come from the saved man, but from the God-Man. It is not a righteousness earned, but the Righteousness of Christ charged to him. A saved man cannot be saved by his own righteousness, but only with the Righteousness of Jesus Christ the Lord and Saviour. Righteousness comes by grace, not effort. You cannot have true faith in Christ if you are trying to establish a righteousness of your own. “…they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law…” (Rom. 9:32). Faith and works will never mix. Trusting in Christ is not trusting in what He has done, and trusting in what you do. Trusting in Christ, believing in Christ is trusting exclusively in His Righteousness, and not trusting in your righteousness at all. Looking to what you do is not trusting in Who Christ is, and what Christ has done. God’s people do not strive and struggle to establish a perfectly acceptable righteousness, for their Saviour has already established that Righteousness on their behalf which is the only ground of their salvation. Salvation is all about the will and purpose of God, the love of God, and the grace and mercy of God, not the religious efforts of man.
Salvation is not about the will and purpose or intentions of man. It is not about man’s love for God, for any genuine love for the only true God comes only because God has loved His chosen first (see 1 Jn. 4:19). God loves His people before they loved Him, before they even knew Him. God is gracious and merciful toward His chosen people because they could never do anything to recommend themselves to God. No one ever deserves grace, and only the guilty require mercy. If you believe that you have done anything that has gained you God’s favour, you are among the most deluded people on earth. Salvation is not about the efforts of a man to do good, and to make up for his sins, etc., for grace and mercy would then not be necessary. “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16). God saves by mercy and grace because man cannot save himself by works. God acts effectually because man cannot act at all, being dead. God loved His people first thus ensuring they will all, in time, love Him. No man by nature has any love in him for the true God. Jesus said: “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me…” (Jn. 6:37). This is the only way anyone can come to Jesus: if the Father has given them to Him. You cannot give yourself to Him, for it is He Who has chosen, and it is He Who has given His chosen to His Son. All that the Father has loved and chosen will come to Jesus. They do not choose Him, for He has chosen them. That is the governing principle of grace (see Jn. 15:16). Salvation is a Promise, not a reward. Salvation is a Promise, not an offer. If salvation was a reward you would need to earn it. If salvation was an offer then it would be conditioned on what you do, and not on grace alone. “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise…And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:18, 29 cf. Gal. 3:21,22; 4:28-31). That is grace! The promise is by grace. “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed…” (Rom. 4:16). God loved His people first because they, in their spiritually dead state, could never have loved God. Only when God makes a man alive based on His love for the man, will the man love God. That is grace. Salvation cannot be by any other way, but God’s Way. Saving grace can only come before anything a man has done. After salvation has come, all of salvation is done. Jesus says no man can come to Him of his own accord. No man can will to come to the true God, for no man knows the true God as God whilst they are dead in sins. With man salvation is impossible. Scripture always shows that it is God Who comes to a man to save him. The Shepherd finds His sheep. The sheep could never find the Shepherd. The world and its religion places an impossible burden on everyone of its followers: to come to God first. ‘You act, and then God will respond’, which means God is paralysed, He can do nothing, for He has no hope if you do not do. That is religion. True Christianity is the exact opposite, for it says, ‘You cannot do, you are without God and without hope. God commands and His people are saved’. Religion tries to vainly get ‘God’ to save people based on what they do. It is clearly working on the Karma principle. Religion says people come to God not by His Sovereignly drawing them through His love, but through their drawing God to them by their own will and works. Religion says, 'IT IS of him that willeth, IT IS of him that runneth’, while the Word of God says: it is “…OF GOD THAT SHEWETH MERCY” (Rom. 9:16). Religion endeavours to get its people to impress God enough by what they do, and by their sincerest intentions, so that God will acquiesce and save them. Any teaching out there which makes any part of salvation dependent upon what a man does, is a rejection of grace and of the need for mercy. It is a rejection of God’s plan of salvation by His grace, His Son and His love.