BY GRACE ALONE (PART 23)
God saves a man because there is nothing a man can do to save himself. Salvation is by grace because it cannot be by works. Salvation is by God, and so, it cannot be by man. Salvation is not by works, so no man can boast in anything he believes he has done. Man’s inability and incapability, his utterly hopeless and helpless state requires the need for grace, for grace alone does what no man can do. If works could save there would be no need for grace, but the fact that salvation is by grace shows that it cannot be by any works at all. Man cannot make himself a new creature. All he can do is perform imperfect sin-affected and vain deeds for which there is no profit, but only punishment. Man can do nothing to change his sinful state, or do anything to atone for the sins he has committed, therefore, salvation is totally out of reach for every sinner, as is the ability to protect himself from the punishment he deserves. Only God can do these things, only God does do these things for His people by His grace and by His mercy. Grace is given according to the will of the One who gives it, and is, therefore, in no way beholding to the one to whom it is given. Mercy is afforded to those whom God has chosen, and not to those who believe they have chosen Him. Mercy is not offered, as grace is not offered, for if grace and mercy were dependent upon any actions by anyone other than the grace Giver and the mercy Giver, they would cease to be grace and mercy, they would cease to be gifts, they would cease to be undeserved and unmerited. Grace and mercy are free, therefore, they are not things which can be earned, or in any way deserved. Grace and mercy are not dependent on anyone other than God. Grace and mercy do not cost a man anything, for they are in no way dependent on him. There is no act a man must do before receiving them, because there is no act he can do to receive them. They cannot be taken, or worked for, but only given. You cannot do something in order to attain that which is undeserved. A gift is not something which requires any act by the recipient either before or after it is given. The dead can do nothing to make themselves alive. Moreover, you will find it most difficult to counteract something which has already killed you. You cannot do anything to prevent what has already happened, or its consequences. You cannot do anything which only grace and mercy can do, and have done, for the chosen of God. If grace and mercy are the means by which God saves, then obviously they are essential, they are the indispensable means, they are the way and only way to salvation. If grace and mercy are essential—what God uses to save His people from their sins—if grace and mercy are the only way to salvation provided by the only Saviour for His chosen, then it stands to Biblical reason THERE CANNOT BE ANY OTHER WAY!! Just as Jesus Christ is THE Way, grace is THE Way. No one else but Jesus can save, and nothing else but grace can save. Jesus is the Saviour and grace is the way He saves. Just as God is the only Saviour, so too, grace is the only means used by God in the salvation of His people. Grace cannot be rightly described as God giving someone the power to do something to get saved, but only as God’s power that saves. The terms grace and Gospel are used interchangeably in the following two verses: “…to testify the Gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24 cf. Acts 20:27,32); “…that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Gal. 1:6). There is nothing a man can do, and nothing a man can refrain from doing which can get him saved. Salvation is subject only to the will of God. Salvation involves the creation of a new creature, and God alone is the Creator. Salvation is by God alone, therefore, salvation can only be, and must be, by grace and mercy alone. These acts cannot be performed by man to save himself, therefore, they can only be performed by God for those whom He has chosen to be the recipients, the beneficiaries of them. Grace and mercy are supernatural acts. In light of this, salvation must be wholly by a supernatural act of God.
“How does the power of the Grace of God manifest itself in the deliverance and salvation of a lost soul who is under the reign and dominion of sin? Romans 5:20,21 tells us: ‘…But where sin abounded, GRACE DID MUCH MORE ABOUND: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might GRACE REIGN through Righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord’. Here we see that God's grace must be powerful, to abound over sin, and to reign where once sin reigned: it is powerful because it is Sovereign, reigning where sin and death once reigned in the heart of the sinner. Let us go further. For grace to do this then, it must be powerful and IRRESISTIBLE, for if grace were not irresistible, no one would ever be saved. You see, grace does not merely help or assist us, it comes in and actually reigns where sin once reigned. It will not take ‘no’ for an answer!” No one can say ‘no’ to saving grace, for grace changes everything. “By the power of the Holy Spirit, the antagonistic will of the dead sinner has been overcome and he is now made willing in the day of God's power (grace; see Psa. 110:3).” None are made willing who have not first been made alive. “And being overcome by grace in the power of the Holy Spirit, that sinner cries like the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 15:10: ‘By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain’...if grace only presented to us the love of God in Christ as the way of salvation and reconciliation back to God, and then left the final choice with us as to whether or not we were going to take advantage of it, it would leave us worse off than we were before. Why? because being dead spiritually, we would never, could never, respond to the claims of the Gospel. Apart from the irresistible grace of God not only to bring us to salvation (see Titus 2:11), but also to teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present evil world (see Titus 2:12), we would die and go to Hell! In other words, if God did not take the initiative by His grace, subduing our depraved wills and making us willing in the day of His power, then we would never be saved!” Grace brings salvation, it does not give a man the ability to choose God, for grace is all about God choosing the man.
“Grace reigns and shows itself to be powerful in REGENERATION. A man can no more give himself the new birth or regenerate himself than he could produce himself in his mother's womb…a man is not born again or regenerated because he believes; he believes because he is born again!” Grace brings salvation. Salvation does not draw grace, it is brought by grace. Grace brings faith, faith does not draw the grace of God to us, for saving faith is given by the gift of grace. The faith by which a saved man believes comes from the same Source grace does. Salvation is by the gifts of grace and faith. God makes things happen according to His grace, not as a response to our works, or our faith. Grace brings the faith that believes in salvation by grace alone. A man believes after he is born again, made alive (see Eph. 1:12,13). A man believes after he has been saved by grace. If a man believed before he was saved by grace, then salvation would be according to a work of man, not by the grace of God. “This is so clearly set forth in John 1:12,13: 'But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’.” Those who have received Him concerns the will of God in giving Himself to them. It is by the will of God that they became the sons of God, believers on His name. Their receiving Him was not an act of their will, but of God’s grace. A man’s receiving Him is only by grace through the gift of faith given to the chosen. Those who wrongly claim that God’s grace is a response to our faith, fail to see the picture painted in these Scriptures by the Holy Spirit. How can salvation be God’s response to man, when man is not born of blood, or of his own will, but only the will of Almighty God. The saved were given birth to by God through the power of irresistible grace, not their will or works. To receive is to be given, not to accept, or grant permission. The key to receiving God is the will of God. The key to receiving God is being born of God by grace. Those who believe on His name do so because they have been granted faith to believe by grace.
It is the will of God, and no other, that creates the new creature in Christ. “This takes place by the grace of God in the power of the same Holy Spirit that raised our blessed Lord Jesus from the grave (see Jn. 3:3-8; Eph. 1:20; I Pet. 1:23). Grace reigns and shows itself powerful in its SAVING AND PERSEVERING EFFECT. Here again is something we constantly need. We have seen how we are brought out of the bondage of sin and antagonism toward God and His Christ, and are delivered from the second death in Hell. We have seen how we are restored, sanctified and supported. But, how are we to continue on the rest of our journey? How are we to hold out in the Christian warfare and the fight of faith? The answer is still the same! It is the power of reigning grace alone that makes possible and guarantees the final perseverance of the saints. Philippians 1:6 tells us how: ‘He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’. This means that what the grace of God starts, it will finish. Grace so works in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that we are enabled to persevere to the end (see Jude 20).” It is all the work of grace that keeps us saved, for Scripture states that God’s elect are all “…kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation…” (1 Pet. 1:5). Compare this with Ephesians 2:8, “…by grace are ye saved through faith…” and you begin to see the picture which grace paints. God keeps those whom He has saved by grace. They are kept and preserved by the power of His grace. Grace does not so much enable the Christian to do, for it is grace which is at work in us and through us. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Again, the apostle Paul states quite clearly, “…by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Cor. 15:10) The Christian is not what he is by what grace has enabled him to do, but because of what grace alone has done: “By the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Cor. 15:10). It was because of the will of God and the work of grace that Paul was what he was, and what all Christians are what they are.
Man, by nature, is destitute of anything which is required for him to be saved. If man is without God, then he is totally without hope. Man left to his own devices can do nothing to save himself. The best a man can do will always leave him a miserable sinner without any hope of salvation. “…verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Psa. 39:5). “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20). “…there is no man that sinneth not…” (1 Kings 8:46). “…there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:12). Sin is endemic to the human race. The reality of the state of every man is clearly spelled out in Scripture: “…the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Eccl. 8:11); “…the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Eccl. 9:3 cf. Jer. 17:9). Salvation by what a man can do is impossible. Many talk about ‘Revival, Revival, Revival’, encouraging people to revive themselves, but there can be no true revival without life. To be revived is to be revivified. Revival literally means to live again. Prior to spiritual revival there is only spiritual death. Rejoicing over a moral reformation and a resolute determination to do good in one’s life has never saved anybody. God saves by grace through faith not works. Spiritually dead men dancing and rejoicing, intending to do nothing but good, remain dead no matter what they do, no matter what they think. To be revived means restore to life or rebirth, and no one can be reborn, or born again, no one can be spiritually alive without God. True Revival comes only according to God’s will to be gracious and merciful to whomsoever He wills to be gracious and merciful to. Dead men cannot revive themselves. Grace makes a man alive, it does not enable him to come alive. Grace does not make the first move and then leaves the rest to man, for it is only by grace that a man is saved and kept saved. It is by what grace does, not what a man does that saves him. Everything a man is, by nature, runs contrary to any possibility that he can do anything to get saved, and/or remain saved. A man dead in sins cannot even will to be saved God’s Way, for he does not know God’s Way of salvation. How can a man will himself to be saved God’s way, when prior to being made alive he knows not the true God, does not seek Him and is hostile to His way of salvation by grace alone?
Even if God Himself did enable a man to get saved, there is absolutely nothing that a man can do which could possibly change his sinful state! Grace does not merely enable a man to choose God, or decide for God, for the only ones who willingly want God have been made alive by grace. Grace must bring a man OUT OF his spiritually dead state, for whilst in it a man would and could never willingly go with God. The work of grace is to bring a man out from under the burden of a works-for-salvation mentality, and into the Kingdom of grace. The work of grace is to make a man spiritually alive from the dead. Grace does not cause a man, while in his spiritually dead state, to choose God. Grace makes a man alive so that he will go with and follow the true God Who has chosen him. Grace makes a man alive so that he will believe and follow God. A man MUST be born again, or he will never see the Kingdom of God (see Jn. 3:3). What in the world can a human being do that can possibly be accepted by God so that He can then save him? The obvious question that arises from all this, is ‘Why does man have to do anything?’. For what possible reason must a man have a say, play a part, in his salvation? From where does this mindset originate? From no other place than the carnal minds of spiritually dead men! Why can’t salvation be solely by grace? Why shouldn’t it be by grace alone! What is so wrong with a man who is dead in sins being saved by the will and grace of Almighty God? Why does Sovereign grace meet with so much resistance from lost men? How can a man play his part in salvation when there is no part for him to play! What part can a man play when Scripture clearly teaches that there are no works in which a man can boast, for salvation comes based on Christ’s Righteousness alone, not yours (see Rom. 3:26,27). All boasting is excluded because salvation is by grace alone. Works are excluded from God’s salvation Plan because salvation is by grace alone. It is by grace alone ye are saved. PERIOD! Man’s need for grace assures this.
Salvation is not by works, not at all by man, but only by grace, only by God. The need for grace is the unchallengeable evidence that man can do nothing. Grace is God doing because man cannot do. It is by grace ye are saved because ye cannot be saved by works. Salvation comes from God not from what we do. According to which Scripture in God’s Word must man do something before God can save him? Must a man believe first? How can he believe, how can he choose to believe when believing is a gift from God Who loves His people first. Must a man repent first? How can he repent, how can he choose to repent when repentance is a gift from God Who loves His people first. Must a man do before God can then give him a free gift? What kind of ludicrous nonsense is this which insists man must pay something, offer something, do something before God can give him a free gift! The price for salvation, what needed to be done for salvation, HAS BEEN paid by Christ Jesus the Lord, thus salvation is by the free grace of God. The Word of God teaches that under no circumstances can the favor of God be bought (see Acts 8:18,19). “Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God.” “…feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Salvation cannot be purchased by anything a man is, has or does, for it is free, and God is free to give it to whomsoever He desires to have it. Therefore, salvation is according to God’s will, not man’s. Man’s situation is not one which simply requires him to do in order that God can then save him, for man is a sinful, useless and vain mess from the top of his head to the tip of his toes. We are reminded that man IS vanity! “…surely every man is vanity” (Psa. 39:11). Man is totally incompetent and profitless. To elaborate, man and his efforts to make up for his sin, to please God and reach Heaven, are: “Pointless, useless, to no purpose, of no use, unprofitable, futile, vain, to no avail, to no effect, fruitless, senseless, unproductive, purposeless, idle, worthless, valueless, ineffective, unavailing”. Man is a depraved monstrosity made so by his own actions. All he is and all he can do is sin, for he is a contemptible, reprehensible and recidivous sinner. The point which all those who believe God’s grace enables His people to do that which they need to do before salvation can take place, are missing, is the fact that to perform a genuine good work one must be spiritually alive, but if one is spiritually alive then one needs do nothing to become alive, which is the whole point of salvation by grace alone. Man can do nothing which is why he can only be saved by grace alone. Lost people run around like headless chickens wondering what they should do to get saved, or what they should do next to remain ‘saved’, when all the while the Biblical fact remains they can do nothing. Salvation by grace alone says you can do nothing! To be saved is to be made alive to God by God. How can a man do anything without first being made alive? How can a man still dead in his sins producing nothing but dead works, choose God? If one is made alive then there is nothing that must be done to be alive. If one is already alive one is already saved. Otherwise we would have the absurd situation where a man must be made alive only to then do what must be done before he is made alive! Absolutely ridiculous. How can a man do anything before he is made alive, and why would he need to do anything to come alive when he has already been made alive by the grace of God.
What can a man do that can trigger his own salvation? What can a dead man do to make himself live? What can a man do that salvation by grace cannot, or must not, do first? What can man do to make God act? Is it believing? Believing is a work of God, a gift from God. Believing in the only true God is something which is in God’s possession, not something within every man’s reach. To believe requires the grace of God through the gift of faith. To believe is a gift given, not an act of man’s which is deserving of some reward. Believing the true Gospel of God is something which does not come from within man, it is not a work of the flesh, but a gift given by God. The fundamental problem with a man saying salvation is by grace, but must first do something so that grace can come, is that saving grace does not come because of anything done first. Grace is undeserved. This means no man can do anything to procure it, which in turn means that no man can, by his own free will, want, or seek the true God. God saves sinners because they are dead in sins. It is grace that makes a man alive unto God, not any antecedent act of man’s. GOD HAS NEVER SAVED ANYONE WHO DESERVED TO BE SAVED BECAUSE OF WHO THEY WERE, OR WHAT THEY HAD DONE! Is what triggers salvation all about a man making a decision for God? Does a man’s choosing God oblige God to save him? How can this be the difference between saved and lost when the choosing was done by God before the foundation of the world. God chose a people for Himself to believe. How can a man who is dead in sins and dead to God possibly make a decision for God? A dead man has no hope. A dead man cannot only do nothing, but he also does not even have the potential to do anything to come to God. A dead man has no grace. It is only grace that makes alive. A man without grace is a man without God is a man without hope is a man dead in sins. This is Biblical reality! “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins…But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)” (Eph. 2:1,4,5). The apostle reminds us here, that it is grace, and grace alone, which makes a man alive to God. Prior to grace a man is dead, only by grace is a man made alive. By nature man is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, and is a child of God’s Wrath (see Eph. 2:3). So the only answer to a man’s sin dilemma is he needs to be spiritually made alive by God Who alone has this power, thus removing a man from under God’s Wrath. Salvation is a spiritually dead man being made spiritually alive solely by the grace of God.
Grace is given not so a man can choose God, for it is the evidence he has been chosen by God. Grace is given not to enable a man, but to make him alive to God. Grace is not given to a man so that he can then do something, with the assistance of grace, to get himself saved. Grace is not given to empower a man to do what God is hoping and waiting helplessly for him to do before He can save him. Grace is what saves a man, “…by grace are ye saved…” (Eph. 2:8). Saving grace is what only God can give, therefore, a man is saved only by what God does. A dead man can do nothing to no longer be a dead man, just like an error can do nothing to correct itself. God chooses His people because of His will, love and purpose and saves them by His grace and mercy, and not because of anything they have done. The love of God prompts the grace of God to save the elect of God. God’s people do not choose Him. It may appear that they do, however, they have been predestinated by God’s will and purpose to love Him and follow Him. “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you…” (Jn. 15:16). THAT is grace! THAT is how God works, because no work of man’s can do what only God can do by grace. The elect have been chosen by God unto salvation by grace. What else is there that is said a man can/must do before God can save him? People who have been led by religious tradition, and not by the Word of God, to believe they are required to do something before God is permitted or enabled to save them, have been deceived into believing nothing but an empty man-made lie. It all boils down to the point made at the end of the last paragraph, man must be made alive from his spiritually dead state. Once a man is made alive he is alive, he is saved, and all that he does after he is made alive is because he is saved. The fruit of his salvation shows he has been made alive by grace. The fruit of a saved man, is the works God has ordained for him to walk in. Only a man already saved performs these works (see Eph. 2:8-10). A man’s works do not help him in any way to acquire salvation, or maintain his state of salvation, for the good fruit only comes after a man is saved by grace, and not before, and so does not contribute to his being made alive. Good works come because of life, they are not what makes alive. Good works can only be performed after one is saved by grace, and not before. Prior to life, all a man can perform is dead works. What a saved man does is not what makes him alive, but is due to the fact he has been made alive by grace alone. Being made alive is salvation, being born again is salvation, these things are not conditions which a man can meet, but are gifts which only God can give, and does give to all His people by grace alone. All life comes from God, and being made alive by grace is a supernatural act of God which needs no assistance from anyone, let alone the vain works which come from the cursed sinful nature of a man dead in his sins. That is why all of salvation is, and must be, all by grace and mercy. This is evidenced in the fact that it is God alone Who deserves ALL the glory for salvation. If God deserves all the glory for salvation, then man has done, and can do, nothing. To think that man must do something before he can be saved is to say man deserves some of the glory for salvation. This would be tantamount to a crowd at a football match applauding the ball that has just been kicked through the goal posts, instead of the player who kicked it.
All the glory for salvation belongs exclusively to God due to His mercy and grace toward elected sinners. Therefore, none of the glory for salvation belongs to any man for anything he has done, for anything he does do is by and because of grace (see 1 Cor. 15:10; Phil. 2:13). Grace makes a man willing, grace makes a man do, and so, all the glory for man’s willingness and man’s good works is due to grace, the God of grace. However, it must be made clear that nothing a man does gets him saved, nothing a saved man does keeps him saved. Salvation is wholly the domain of grace, therefore, all the glory for salvation belongs to God alone. Christians are saved not by the works God has ordained for them to do, but solely by the grace that has ordained them to walk in them. It is not a question of will they perform them, for they have been ordained by the God of grace to walk in them and fulfil the will of God for them and through them. God’s grace and mercy in salvation leave no room for a man to boast in anything he has done, for all has been done by, and is because of, the grace and mercy of God. In fact, the grace and mercy of God cancel out any need for a man to do anything. God’s grace and mercy cover everything that needed to be done for salvation to take place and remain in place. God does not share His glory for salvation with any man, for no part of salvation is dependent on man because it is solely dependent on God by HIS grace and by HIS mercy. “I am the Lord: that is My name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images…how should My name be polluted? and I will not give My glory unto another” (Isa. 42:8 & Isa. 48:11). “‘My glory will I not give to another'; that is, to another god, to a strange god, to an idol; as that has not the nature, it ought not to have the name of Deity, nor Divine worship given to it: this the Lord will not admit of, but will punish those, be they Heathens, or are called Christians, that give the glory to idols that is due unto His name. This is not to be understood to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit, Who are with the Father the one Yahweh, and share in the same glory; the Son is the brightness of His Father's glory, and the Spirit is the Spirit of glory (see Heb. 1:3; 1 Pet. 4:14), nor will He suffer the glory of the justification, salvation, and conversion of men, to be given to their works, will, and power, which is entirely due to His own grace, to the blood and Righteousness of His Son, and to the energy of the Divine Spirit.”
Every Christian is in agreement with God: “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth's sake” (Psa. 115:1). “There is no glory due to men; no, not to the best of men, not to be given them on any account whatever; neither on account of things natural, civil, and temporal, nor on account of things spiritual and eternal; but all to be given to the Lord: for, as for their beings and the preservation of them, with all the mercies of life, food, raiment they are not of themselves, but of the Lord; and so are the salvation of their souls, their election and redemption, their regeneration, conversion, and sanctification, their justification and pardon; whatsoever good thing is in them, or done by them: nor have they anything for the sake of righteousness done by them; nor do they desire to take the glory of past favours to themselves; nor request deliverance from present evils for their own merits, which they disclaim; nor for their own sakes, or that they may be great and glorious; but for the Lord's sake, for His name's sake, that He may be glorified; which is the principal sense of the passage. So the Targum reads, ‘not for our sakes. O Lord, not for our merit, but to Thy name give glory’. Good men desire to glorify God themselves, by ascribing to Him the perfections of His nature, and celebrating them; by giving thanks to Him for mercies, spiritual and temporal; by exercising faith upon Him, as a promising God; and by living to His glory: and they are very desirous that all others would give Him the glory due unto His name; and that He would glorify Himself, and get Himself a glorious and an everlasting name. And indeed the words are addressed to Him, and not to others; and particularly that He would glorify, or take the glory of the following perfections: ‘for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth's sake’; so very manifest in the salvation of His people, and in all their deliverances, and therefore ought to have the glory of them. His ‘mercy’, or His ‘grace’, as it may be rendered, is displayed in the salvation of His people by Christ, in their regeneration, justification, pardon, and eternal life: and so is His truth, or faithfulness in all His promises; and particularly in the mission of His Son as a Saviour, so long promised and expected; and Who is ‘truth’ Himself, the truth of all promises and prophecies; and by Whom the truth of the Gospel came, the Word, which God has magnified above every name.”
Only the hopeless require grace. Only the guilty require mercy. Man’s hopeless state is seen in the fact that grace is required to save him, and man’s guilty condition shows his desperate need for mercy. Mercy comes only by what someone else does. If a man could do anything to procure grace or mercy he would not need grace or mercy. Grace and mercy are for the hopeless: those who cannot do, and for the guilty: those that are not innocent. The fact that salvation is by God through the instrumentality of grace and mercy shows clearly that it can come no other way, and that only GOD can satisfy the prerequisites of salvation. The only way salvation can ever reach a man is if it travels down the road paved by the grace and mercy of God. The will and works of man is not a road, but a dusty, pothole-laden track that leads to no other destination but Hell. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for Righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). Works do not lead to salvation. Genuine works are performed by the saved because they are saved. They are the fruit of grace as are the saved themselves. “...to him that worketh not, but believeth” (Rom. 4:5), is no different to saying “by grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). “This small verse, Romans 4:5, carries a big punch, actually three of them. In its 20 words we discover the 3 prerequisites of salvation. They are simple and stunning. 1. You must not work. Salvation cannot be achieved. It is not a reward for a life well lived or a pay check received for hard work done. Those who try to earn the free gift of salvation spit in the face of the Giver, God Himself. Eternal life was earned, achieved and worked for by the only One Who deserved it, Jesus Christ. His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, crawl up a hill called Calvary and slow death on a cross of wood earned His people’s forgiveness. When people try to deserve this free gift based on what they've done they are despising what He has done on the cross. To be saved you must not work. 2. You must trust God. Salvation is not earned through good works it is received through simple God-given faith. God’s elect believe that Jesus died in their place, for their sins and they are forgiven. Salvation can only be purchased through Divine currency—the blood of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 9:22 reminds us that ‘…without shedding of blood there is no remission’ (Heb. 9:22), no forgiveness of sins. Because Jesus' body and blood were human He could die for other humans. Because Jesus was God in the flesh His payment for their sins was infinite. Faith alone is the way of trusting vs. the way of trying. It pits the humility that is required by trusting in someone else to save us vs. the pride that erupts from trying to earn this free gift through self-effort. In this battle of belief systems faith wins. You must not work. You must trust God. 3. You must be wicked. ‘But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for Righteousness’ (Rom. 4:5). People usually reserve terms like ‘ungodly’ for witches, dictators and murderers. But man by nature is all three wrapped up into one. ‘Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft…’ (1 Sam. 15:23).We conjure up our own idols to serve, dictate our lives by our own rules and murder people in our minds when we are angry. We are wicked, sinful and selfish to the core, and Jesus came to save the sinners the Father gave to Him. If you have a hard time seeing this just know that on the day you stand before God and give account He will illuminate every lustful thought, every ‘white lie’, every selfish deed and every prideful thought. In a flash you'll see that your life erupted from motives that found their epicentre in the flames of hellish pride.”
The fact man needs salvation, that he needs to be saved, shows clearly that there is nothing he can do to get saved. Man is guilty, spiritually dead in sins and a child of the Wrath of God, by his very nature. To be saved is to be saved by another, not by you and what you can do, but only by God and what He alone does. The fact a man needs to be made alive indisputably reveals his natural, current spiritual state as dead. The Saviour saves by what He does, not by what someone else does first. Man needs to BE saved, for there is nothing he can do to get saved. Jesus said no man can come to Him unless it is given to the man by the Father (see Jn. 6:65). A saved man loves God only because God loved him first (see 1 Jn. 4:19). A saved man comes to God only AFTER God has come to him. Believing God, loving God, are gifts given to a man by grace. A man’s believing and coming to God reveal he is a saved man, for a man can only believe and come to God AFTER God has visited him with the gifts of grace and mercy. Man cannot love God before God loves him. Man does not believe God before God gives him the gift of faith, by grace, to believe. Man is not alive to God until grace saves him. Believing, loving, and coming to God are all gifts given to the chosen sinner according to the will of God. Coming to God is really God coming to the man, for a man cannot come without God coming to him first, and giving him the gift of faith, and drawing him by His grace-based love. God giving is God coming to a man. Likewise, man loving God is really part and parcel of God loving the man first. These acts do not originate within the sinner. They do not draw God to the man, for a man is drawn to the true God solely by the love of God for him. These things do not lie dormant within a man, but are things which are given to him from without. No man does anything for which God must reward him. No man can do anything unless it is given to him to do. IMPORTANTLY, WHAT A SAVED MAN DOES IN NO WAY MERITS SALVATION BECAUSE WHAT A SAVED MAN DOES IS PURELY THE FRUIT OF SALVATION. Only Grace merits salvation. A saved man performs those things which come because of salvation, after salvation, and not prior to salvation. The fruit comes after the tree and not before. Fruit does not suddenly appear and then cause a tree to come into existence. It is always the tree first then the fruit. It is always salvation first then the fruit, or works. Even in creation itself, God did not first make the fruit for the man to plant the seeds thereof, but the tree came first. God created animals and plant life which all contained seeds. The tree is in no way dependent on the fruit because it is the one that produces the fruit, so too, salvation is not dependent upon works, salvation is responsible for those works. The fruit of a tree and the acts of a saved man do not contribute in any way to the existence of the tree, or the salvation of a man. If there is fruit then it is a given that there was a tree that produced the fruit. If there is a saved man then it is a given that God has made him alive by grace alone.
Salvation is by the grace of God, for it cannot be by anything else, and it cannot be by anyone else. No act performed by a sinner can get himself saved, otherwise, grace and mercy would not be necessary. Man is a hopeless creature which means nothing he can do—including his claim to have ‘reached out’ to God, or ‘found’ God, or ‘accepted’ God—can attract salvation to him. A man without God, without Christ and without hope is a man who is free of any effective means to salvation. If a man could do something to get saved, how could he be given, what need would there be for him to be given, that which is underserved. The fact that a man does not deserve saving grace, that he does not deserve to be saved proves conclusively that there is nothing he can do, nor is there anything for him to do in order to get saved. How could a man who has done something to earn his salvation possibly be rewarded with that which is undeserved? Doing something to make one’s peace with God, etc., disqualifies any claim to grace! The Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is responsible for the peace between God and His chosen people. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1 cf. Col. 1:20). If Righteousness comes by an act of obedience by man, then there was no need for Christ to come in order to establish a perfect Righteousness that would be imputed to all His people. “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if Righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21). In other words, the apostle Paul was saying, if Righteousness comes by a man’s individual obedience to God’s Law, then what need was there for a Saviour to come and establish a perfect Righteousness, the only Righteousness, through which He would save His people. If salvation comes by a man’s personal obedience to the law—as so many who have completely twisted the words of James, believe—then there was no need for the perfect obedience and Righteousness of the Lord Jesus. Salvation is by HIS Work, not any man’s works. It is the SINLESS Man Who has established the only Righteousness acceptable to God. No sinful man could ever have produced such Righteousness. Clearly, Righteousness comes only by Christ the Saviour, and so, works are utterly frustrated, and are performed by lost men in vain. Any gospel which conditions salvation on anything a man does, or must do, whether it is claimed it can only be done with the assistance of grace, or not, is a nonsense. It would be like saying, ‘God saves, but only through something done by someone else’. All of religion’s bellowing ‘you must do this’, or, ‘you must do that’, is a direct attack against, and an absolute thumbing of the nose at, the Righteousness of Christ. Grace is GOD doing, so anytime anyone conditions salvation, or any part of it, on what a man must do, they frustrate, or nullify, the grace of God. Salvation conditioned on man promotes the individual’s establishing a righteousness of his own, rather than looking to and trusting solely in the Righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. You cannot condition grace on what a man must do, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. Likewise, you cannot condition salvation on a grace that enables a man to do something so he can then be saved. No matter how you look at it, this kind of ‘salvation’ is dependent upon what a man does. It rests the entire responsibility of salvation on man and his works, rather than on God and His grace.
Salvation by grace cannot be by any works, just as ‘salvation’ by works cannot include grace (see Rom. 11:6). Works cancel out the need for grace, and grace negates any need for works. You cannot have both grace and works simultaneously getting you the same thing. Works cannot get you what you do not deserve, and grace can never get you what you do deserve. Works earn, grace is given. Salvation by grace is an abandonment of works. The lie that salvation is by works, or by grace through works, destroys the very meaning of grace. Salvation by the Grace of God is to look to nothing else, and no one else. You either get salvation given to you by grace, or you work for it and get it by reward. If salvation awaits what a man must do then it is solely by works, otherwise you would have the silly scenario where a man would be given salvation freely, after he has done something to earn it! If, however, salvation awaits what God does, then, and only then, is it a salvation purely by grace which is purely by the will of God. Salvation must be all by grace, or it must be all by works. A conditional salvation leaves no room for grace, but only that which it has been conditioned on. “God's grace rather than human merit is the source of the whole arrangement.” To cancel out grace by conditioning salvation on what a man must do, is something which the apostle Paul clearly did not do: “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 word frustrate here means: “to do away with; to set aside, to disesteem, neutralize or violate or disregard; to thwart the efficacy of; nullify, make void, to reject, to refuse, to slight; to cast off, despise, disannul, to bring to nought”. Can you see how the works of a man are an utter enemy to the grace of God? Salvation is not by your obedience to God’s law, but by the grace of God. If salvation is by any works—your obedience—then it cannot be salvation by grace based only on Christ’s obedience.
Works always seek to replace grace. Man has replaced the true God and the only way to salvation, with gods that cannot save by means that change nothing. Works are an enemy of saving grace when they are performed in the hope that they will gain or maintain salvation. Paul is saying that if saving Righteousness comes by a man's obedience, a man's works, then what this does is to completely do away with grace. Works violate the very principle of salvation by grace, which is, God doing because man cannot do. Salvation based on works despises grace, it is an all-encompassing rejection of grace. God saves by grace not according to your works. God “…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). The whole concept of works playing any part in a man's salvation is a violation of grace, a disannulling of grace and a rejection of grace, replacing what God does with what man does, and so making Christ's death a vain thing. Works is a totally ineffective means to salvation. Grace is God’s Way, works is man’s way. Works always replace what God has done with what a man has done. Grace does not work with works! There is no partnership required between God and man in order to arrive at salvation. What is required for a man's salvation must be grace-shaped and not works-shaped, for no work of man's will fit, or can be squeezed into, the salvation space which God's grace has already fully filled. If it is by grace THEN IT IS NO LONGER WORKS. If grace has done it, then works have not done it, and could never do it! Trying to fit works into grace, is like trying to put something into a hermetically sealed container. If works have done it, then grace has not. If salvation is by grace then salvation is by God, ENTIRELY!! No works of man are involved, for it is all done by grace, by the God of grace. If salvation is conditioned on any work of man's, THEN SALVATION CAN NO LONGER BE BY GRACE, AT ALL! Salvation is not by collaboration, but by one Benefactor. If salvation is of God, alone, as the Scriptures teach, then it is not at all dependent on what a man does or is enabled to do. Why would God enable a man to do something when God HAS DONE EVERTHING, WHEN HE HAS ACCOMPLISHED SALVATION BY GRACE? Why would God help a man to establish a righteousness of his own, when God has sent His Son into the world to establish the Perfect Righteousness on the behalf of all His chosen ones. Why would God condition salvation on a man’s works, when “…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…” (Eph. 2:8-10).
If Righteousness comes by works, then there is no need for grace. Works are what a man does, grace is only what God can do. What Paul was saying in Galatians 2 is that if right standing with God comes after, and according to, what a man does, then the grace of God is frustrated. The original Greek has unplacing grace, or repudiating grace. Again, the word frustrate in Galatians 2 means: “To do away with; to set aside, to disesteem, to neutralize, violate or disregard; to thwart the efficacy of; to nullify, to make void, to render null, to reject, to refuse, to slight; to cast off, despise, disannul, to bring to nought, to displace, to abrogate, abolish, get rid of, and, to act towards anything as though it were annulled, to deprive a law of its force by opinions or acts contrary to it”. This is precisely what a person who looks to their works as playing any part in salvation is doing to grace, whether they are aware of the consequences of their actions or not. One would be hard-pressed, to say the least, in light of all this to try and successfully join their works with God’s grace in order to produce salvation. Every time one tries to join works with grace, grace always disappears. Paul was saying that if right standing with God comes by what a man does—if any obedient act on the part of man precedes salvation—then the grace of God is done away with; it is set aside; grace is disesteemed and neutralized, and cannot, therefore, be appealed to. Emphasizing his point, the apostle later declared: “…if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing…Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:2,4). The fact that salvation is by grace, in other words, by what God does, shows that it cannot be by anything a man does. Salvation is by God, not man. Salvation can only be according to what God does, for HE is the Saviour. The moment you turn to what you do, you have turned away from the true God, you have rejected what He does, you have rejected grace. Any appeal to works, any reliance upon what you feel you must do before salvation to get saved, or after salvation to remain saved, and Christ shall profit you nothing. Who He is and what He has done is of no effect unto you. “Christ is become of no effect unto you”, “Or, ‘ye are abolished from Christ’; or as others by an ‘hypallage read the words, ‘Christ is abolished unto you’; for by their seeking for justification by their own works, it was all one to them as if there was no Christ, and no Righteousness in Him, and no salvation by Him; they had nothing to do with Him, nor He with them.” That is what you are guilty of if you rest salvation on even one act of your obedience. Salvation by God is salvation by what He has done, not by anything you do.
Salvation based on what a man does violates the grace of God. A man’s attempts to get saved by what he does is anti-Christ, anti-Gospel and anti-God. Trying to do in order to be saved, is trying to establish a righteousness of one’s own which is nothing short of a total rejection of the Righteousness of Christ, a complete rejection of the Gospel of God and an utter denial of the only true God. The only Righteousness that saves comes from God by grace, not man by works. When the jailer asked “…What must I do to be saved?”, the reply was not ‘Do’, but “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Acts 16:30,31). Trust in Him not you. Again, this believing does not come from within man, but is a gift from God. The Lord Jesus obeyed everything perfectly. He has established the only Righteousness by which a man is saved, so why in the world would anyone claiming to be a Christian—a follower of Jesus Christ as Saviour and God—be seeking to establish a righteousness of their own as if Christ had not established the only Righteousness by which God saves His people. Only perfect Righteousness saves. Anything that comes short of perfection is not perfect, it is imperfect, and, therefore, not acceptable. To obey in order to be saved is solely the domain of the ignorant. Those who obey in order to establish their own righteousness, “…have not submitted themselves unto the Righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:3), as have the saved of God, “For Christ is the end of the law for Righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:4). “Christ is the fulfilling end of the law, since it is added, ‘for Righteousness’ for the bringing in of an everlasting Righteousness; a Righteousness justifying in the sight of God; a Righteousness sinners needed, and could not obtain of themselves, and could never be obtained but by a perfect fulfilling of the law: this Christ has done partly by the conformity of His nature, being exactly like that, and what it requires holy, just, and good; and partly by perfect obedience of His life to all its precepts; and also by suffering the penalty of it, death, in the room and stead of all His people; and so the whole righteousness of the law is fulfilled by Him, and He becomes the end of it, for a justifying Righteousness before God, ‘to everyone that believeth’ not to him that works for life, and in order to obtain a righteousness of his own; nor to the Jew only, but also to the Gentile, even to everyone, be who he will, that has been given faith in Christ; not that faith is either the matter, cause, or condition of Righteousness, but this Righteousness is only revealed unto, and given to the believer, and can only be pleaded by him, as his justifying Righteousness. Moreover, this phrase is descriptive of the persons to whom Christ is the end of the law for Righteousness, and suggests that for whomsoever He has fulfilled the law, in order to bring in for them a justifying Righteousness, faith in consequence is given to them, to receive and embrace it, and enjoy all the comfort and privileges of it.” Salvation is not for the one who strives to establish a righteousness of his own, but for the believer in the Righteousness of Christ alone, saved by grace alone through the gift of faith alone.