BY GRACE ALONE (PART 31)
What brings a man to God is God drawing the man by His love. “…I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3 cf. 1 Jn. 4:19). There is no enabling of man at all, for God is the one Who draws the man. Saving grace is God doing, not enabling a man to do. Saving grace is God doing, it is God saving His people making them alive. Saving grace is not God enabling His people to do anything after which He saves them. The prerequisite for salvation is grace, not works. Grace does all the work of salvation there needs to be done. Grace makes alive. Grace saves. The love of God through grace brings a man to Him. The grace of God delivers “…us from the power of darkness, and (translates) us into the Kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:13). God qualifies His people by His grace. What would be the point of grace enabling a dead man without making him alive? What would be the point of giving a dead man a tennis racquet, or a football, or a basketball? Enablement, or equipping, is useless without life. You cannot enable a dean man to do anything by which he can make himself alive. A dead man must either be made alive, or he will remain forever dead. Grace makes alive, and a man made alive to God, born again by the grace of God, is a saved man. He is made alive without any works, for prior to being made alive by grace, he was spiritually dead in sins. A man made alive is not enabled, but saved! A saved man is not enabled to do, but is saved eternally by grace from the impossible task of meeting any condition that will make him spiritually alive before God. A MAN’S BEING SAVED BY GRACE IS PRECISELY WHAT HAS MADE HIM ALIVE FOREVERMORE!! Grace is what qualifies a man for Heaven. God does not enable a man to come, but actually does all that is required in making the man come.
Grace does not enable a man so that he can do the work, for the whole work of salvation is done by God through the agency of grace. IT IS BY GRACE, NOT WORKS! There are no works that can make a man alive, for there is nothing a dead man can do. Salvation is by the Work of God, the act of grace upon a man, not by any works of men. The subtle deception of Satan is that he has illegitimately attached grace to works and formed a means to salvation which is nothing but a counterfeit of God’s only Way. “By grace are ye saved…not works”, is saying ‘grace alone is what saves you’. God’s people are saved without their works, without any act done by them. No act of man, either by ‘enablement’ or ‘free will’ plays any part in a man’s salvation. Salvation is by grace, it is an act of God. Salvation does not come after works have been done, but only after grace has been given. Clearly, the only work done by man once he is saved, is because of salvation not so that he might attain or maintain salvation. “…faith in Christ is the gift of God, and coming to Him, is owing to efficacious grace, and is not the produce of man's power and freewill…because they had neither power nor will of themselves; being dead in trespasses and sins, and impotent to everything that is spiritual: and whilst men are in a state of unregeneracy, blindness, and darkness, they see no need of coming to the true Christ, nor anything in Him worth coming for; they are prejudiced against Him, and their hearts are set on other things; and besides, coming to Christ and believing in Christ being the same thing, it is certain faith is not of a man's self, it is the gift of God, and the operation of His Spirit.” No man can come, no man is able to come, no man desires to come to the true God, but is drawn by the love and grace of God. God doeth the work. The whole concept of a man coming to God by his own power and free will, completely disregards the inescapable fact that by nature every man is dead in sins. Therefore, it must be grace alone that saves, for man can do nothing. “…by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves…” (Eph. 2:8).
Man does not draw God to him, but God draws the man to Him, and He does this by the power of His grace. There is no power inherent within man to come to the only true God, therefore, he must be drawn, or dragged, by the love of God for him. Notice, that man is not equipped by God to come, but is literally dragged to God by God through grace. Man is not induced or attracted to God, but must be made alive to God by God before he will come. Jesus said: “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me…” (Jn. 6:37). The chosen man is dragged, drawn, pulled, to God by God. The sheep that has been found by the shepherd does not jump into its master’s arms after having been coaxed to do so, but is picked up by the shepherd and carried back to its proper place (see Lk. 15:5). No man can come to the Saviour unless such an act is given the man by grace. No man can believe in the Saviour unless he is given the gift of faith by saving grace. Grace does the work that makes a man come. “No man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him…” (Jn. 6:44). Grace makes a man willing, it does not enable him to choose to be willing. The saved man is a man who has been, and remains, occupied by grace. Salvation is death expunged by Life through Grace. It is not an enabled man who comes, but one who has been made alive. The act of coming is the action of grace. The gift of grace makes alive; the gift of grace makes a man born again; the gift of grace saves a man. The gift of grace is what CONVERTS a man! The gift of grace changes EVERYTHING! GRACE APPLIED MAKES MAN ALIVE!! The gift of grace through faith makes a man see, hear and believe the Gospel of the grace of the Lord God Almighty, and no other. The gift of grace is according to the will and purpose of God, and not the works or will of any man. Grace does not enable, grace saves. Grace does not enable, or empower a man to get saved, for GRACE IS THE POWER OF GOD THAT SAVES! A man’s being enabled by grace, strongly implies that grace is merely a tool of empowerment which a man may utilize as he sees fit in order to fulfil some condition upon which his salvation allegedly depends. “The Bible is explicit that sinners are saved by faith alone, through God’s grace alone, found in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.” “By grace are ye saved” is a clear statement which declares that salvation comes by grace, and is by grace, in other words, by God Who gives it. A man’s coming to God is solely due to the ‘internal and efficacious operation’ of the Spirit of God. “The impulse to faith (as well as saving faith itself) comes from God.” God does not show people a picture of Heaven in order to draw them to Him, for they are dead in sins. No man, by nature, can respond to God. Salvation by grace means if a man has come to God it must be that God has done all the work. It is grace that makes a man spiritually alive SO THAT HE WILL come to God. Just as Lazarus was made physically alive so that he would come forth. Grace leaves no decision for man to make, for GRACE MAKES THE DECISION FOR YOU! Grace is God’s decision and means to make you undeservedly come to Him. Grace saves the dead by making them alive. God saving by grace is God choosing to make His chosen alive. It is the power of God, not any enablement of man that draws a man to Him. The faith with which a saved man believes, is a gift from God, and does not originate within, nor can it be manufactured by man, for a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit (see Matt. 7:17-19). Grace is God doing, and not God enabling a man to do. Grace is God saving a man by what God alone has done. The chosen do not ask for salvation, they are saved by grace.
“Salvation Belongs To God Alone: It Is His Gift. In Jonah 2:9, the Bible declares, ‘…Salvation is of the Lord’. Salvation is God’s to give or to withhold. He has the right to save whomever He wills, and He has the right to deny salvation.” Those who believe Christ died for all, and that the decision for salvation is now in man’s hands, have no right to call the true God unfair for saving some and not all. They paint the bizarre picture of people banging on Heaven’s Door with all their might wanting to get in, but being denied entrance by the God Who chose not to save them, even though they wanted to be saved! No such thing has ever happened, or could ever happen, for a man can only love the only true God, seek and desire the only true God, if he is loved and saved by the only true God. The fact that a person truly loves the only true God only because God loved them first (see 1 Jn. 4:19), is the unshatterable evidence that proves no man can love God who is not loved by God first. Those like the Pharisee of Luke 18, and the pseudo-Christians of Matthew 7 were in love with a false god, for their belief was that salvation was by their “wonderful works”. These people expected to be saved, but their focus on works belied a love that was not for the God Who saves His people by Hs grace alone. They boasted in their works, not in the only true God Who saves by grace alone. “Salvation is of the Lord”, therefore, salvation is God’s choice. No man by nature has ever loved the only true God unless God loved the man first. Therefore, without God no man by nature seeks Him, loves Him, wants Him, has Him or will ever want to have Him. No one who is dead in sins has any desire for the true God. The only ‘heaven’ lost people have any love for is the ‘heaven’ of false gods. “Compare Isaiah 43:11-13, where God reveals Himself, saves sinners, and proclaims His own grace – by Himself. Romans 9:14-16 teaches that God is not unjust, and that salvation depends not on human will [a decision for Christ] or exertion [your own works], but entirely on God, Who has mercy…so then, He rightly, justly, has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills. 'What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy' (Rom. 9:14-16).” Salvation is not by merit, but mercy. The salvation decision IS NOT YOURS to make! The salvation decision HAS ALREADY BEEN MADE before the foundation of the world. Salvation is by a gift, not a work. The salvation decision is not man’s to make, for it is God Who chooses, nay it is God Who HAS CHOSEN whom He would be gracious and merciful toward, therefore, it is God Who saves whomsoever HE WILLS (see Ex. 33 & Rom. 9). The saved are “a chosen generation” (1 Pet. 2:9), not a generation of choosers. Dead men cannot will. Dead men cannot come to God by their will and works, therefore, if any are to be saved it must be by God and HIS will, and by HIS Work, and so, by HIS GRACE and HIS MERCY, and, therefore, by HIS choice according to His will not a man’s works. A man must be made alive by grace, and not merely enabled, for the whole concept of enablement presupposes the existence of life. Any affirmation of any salvation plan which conditions salvation on what a man does, is nothing less than confirmation of the Satanic lie that man would not die, for in saying man must do, it declares man is not dead. False preachers tacitly assume, thereby, falsely imply that a man who is enabled is a man who is alive. God does not come to enable those who are already alive, but to make alive those who are spiritually dead (see Gen. 2:17; Eph. 2:1,5; Jn. 6:63).
The first instinctive thought of natural man when he hears of election based on grace and mercy unto salvation is that it is unfair. With a vice-like grip on the notion of reward for works, the carnal mind can only see election and salvation not by grace and mercy alone, but by works as well. Spiritually dead men only have eyes for salvation by works. Many of them say they believe in grace, but ultimately the success, the efficaciousness of what they call salvation by grace depends totally on what they do. Their decision, their choice, their acceptance, their believing, their lifestyle, their obedience, their commitment. Man is naturally drawn to the lie that he must somehow do something to earn salvation apart from what God has done. In other words lost man thinks he is saved by God through grace so that he can perform works that he is convinced are essential to either his getting saved, or ‘remaining saved’. Man’s carnal mind cannot accept the Biblical truth that all of salvation has to be a free gift, for man is dead in trespasses and sins and can do nothing to earn his way to Heaven. Sinful man’s naturally rebellious pride simply will not accept the Biblical concept of salvation by Sovereign grace alone. He counts such teaching foolishness, for he finds it highly offensive. Man’s natural spiritual condition has no way of acknowledging such truth, let alone submitting himself to it. This clearly shows that a man’s thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and to understand and believe God’s Gospel of salvation by grace alone does not come naturally to man, such a thing is not naturally resident within man, but something which must be given him. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they (the things of God) are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Natural man cannot discern the things of God, for man is dead to God. Why else would there be a need for regeneration? Natural man cannot discern the things of God, for they can only be spiritually discerned by those whom God has made alive by grace alone. The spiritually dead cannot discern the things of God.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5 cf. Jd. 21). “It is God’s choice to give – or to withhold – His grace, not our choice. He is not obligated to us; He is under no compulsion to save. He is not motivated by any deficiency or need within Himself. God saves men and women simply because it pleases Him to do so, and He does it through the Message of Christ’s cross. The cross is the power and wisdom of God on display, to those who are saved, but sheer foolishness to those who are perishing in their sins, 'For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God' (1 Cor. 1:18 cf. Rom. 1:16,17; 1 Cor. 1:21).” Writing to the saints at Ephesus, the apostle Paul stated: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself” (Eph. 1:3-9). Works are not included in a salvation which is by grace through faith.
“Think about Ephesians 2:8,9: ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of (from) yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast’. So God’s grace, and the faith in that grace (your belief in His grace), are both His gift to you. You do not earn it or perform anything to help out. In the original language, the word ‘this’ (from the phrase 'this is not of yourselves') refers to both grace and faith as one ‘package gift’: ‘this grace and faith, together, are the gift of God and not from yourselves’. The whole of your salvation is God’s gift. So, you cannot take pride in your salvation, nor can you claim that you did something to play a part in it. Earlier in his Letter to the saints which were at Ephesus, Paul is clear about what part you played in your salvation: you were dead and rightfully under God’s Holy Wrath. ‘And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins…and were by nature the children of Wrath, even as others’ (Eph. 2:1,3). So a man brings death and offense to the table, not righteousness or merit. Or look at John 1:12,13 — ‘But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them gave He power (notice God’s gift again) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name (this is faith alone): Which were born (not physically birthed), not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh (not a father and mother deciding to conceive), nor of the will of man (not even by a person’s ‘decision’ to get saved, nor of a person’s attempts to improve themselves or do good things), but of God’. So God brought you to life – to spiritual birth – by the free exercise of His own will to do so. Compare this with 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, especially verses 29-31, where it is ‘…of Him (God) are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord’. Again, this is God’s work, not ours…You may not boast in your own efforts or works or attempts at being righteous. Scripture is incredibly clear and consistent on this fact. The boast of a truly saved person is only always, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare WHAT HE HATH DONE for my soul” (Psa. 66:16).
“God’s Opinion of Our Good Works and Good Intentions: What does God think of our works or our attempts to make ourselves right with Him? ‘…(ye) are all as an unclean thing, and all (your) righteousnesses are as filthy rags’ (Isa. 64:6). The Hebrew word translated here as filthy rags draws the picture of a used menstrual cloth. On our own, that’s what our righteous deeds are before the Holy God.” Scripture says: "…verily every man AT HIS BEST state is altogether vanity…every man is vanity" (Psa. 39:5,11 cf. Job 15:31). The Word of God also describes man as "…a worm.…an unclean thing…" whose "righteousnesses are as filthy rags…" (Job 25:6; Isa. 64:6 cf. Job 14:4; Prov. 20:9). Notice that a man’s evil deeds are not here described as filthy rags, but a man’s righteousnesses, the very best that he can do is nothing, but filthy rags in the sight of the Holy God. In light of this, imagine how horrible our evil deeds appear to Him. The very righteous acts, the best things a man believes he has done on this earth during his life time—to which multitudes turn and appeal—and which he thinks will recommend him to God, are compared to used menstrual cloths, by Almighty God! The righteousnesses, or ‘good works’, of man are compared in Isaiah 64:6 with “...used menstrual cloths associated with one of the most extreme forms of ceremonial uncleanness under the law of Moses (see Lev. 15:19-33; 20:18). They are of such a nature as to be treated with the greatest discretion by the genteel, disposed of immediately, never reused. These ‘filthy rags’ are in our text joined with ‘an unclean thing’, the leper afflicted with another of the most extreme forms of ceremonial uncleanness (see Lev. 13:45ff).” In other words, man approaching God with his own ‘good works’, his own efforts at obedience to God’s Holy Law, and attempts at reconciling with the Most Holy One, rather than with the Righteousness of the Mediator alone, is tantamount to approaching God as a man infected with leprosy and clothed in used menstrual cloths! 'Good luck with that'! Man at his best is an offensive sight and smell before the Holy God. This is the picture, the disgusting and putrid picture that God sees, of man at his most moral and religious best coming to Him clothed with his own righteousness, rather than the Pure White Robe of the Righteousness of Christ.
The parable of the wedding in Matthew 22 gives us the clear picture of a man trying to enter Heaven according to his own righteousness. “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:11-14). “‘And he saith unto him, friend’. Either in an ironical way, or because he professed to be a friend of God and Christ: ‘how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment?’ Which way didst thou come in hither? since he did not come in by faith, in the Righteousness of Christ; intimating, that he climbed up some other way, and was a thief and robber (see Jn. 10:1); or with what face, or how couldest thou have the assurance to come in hither in such a dress, having nothing but the filthy rags of thine own righteousness? How couldest thou expect to meet with acceptance with me, or to be suitable company for my people, not being arrayed with the garments of salvation, and robe of righteousness, as they are? ‘And he was speechless’: or muzzled: his mouth was stopped, he had nothing to say for himself: not but that there will be pleas made use of by hypocrites, and formal professors, another day; who will plead either their preaching and prophesying in Christ's name; or their attendance on outward ordinances; or the works they have done, ordinary or extraordinary; but then these will all be superseded and silenced, their own consciences will condemn them, their mouths will be stopped, and they will have nothing to say in vindication of themselves; their righteousness will not answer for them in a time to come.”
God does not see a man’s ‘good works’ as admirable attempts to get right with Him. All God sees is a sinner blasphemously trying to get to Heaven via his own righteousness, rather than the Righteousness of God the Son alone. If it is by the obedience of One, then it is not by the obedience of many; if it is by the Righteousness of one, then it must be by grace alone and not by a man’s works at all. “Philippians 3 – an incredibly helpful chapter to consult on this question of man’s righteousness – goes even further: Paul says, '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 (reputation, status, good works, etc.), 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. 3:7-9).” The righteousness which is of man by works will always fall far short of the Righteousness that is required. “The word ‘dung’ here draws the picture of a pile of fresh manure. A pile of animal dung is what God says our righteous acts amount to.” The Righteousness that saves is not by the works of a man, but Christ’s own Righteousness which is believed in with the gift of faith given by grace. Man’s works leave him in a leprous state smelling like used menstrual cloths combined with the rotting excrement of animals! THIS IS MAN AT HIS BEST!! This is what most people are depending on to make them acceptable to God! “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for Righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth Righteousness without works” (Rom. 4:5,6). In other words, the Righteousness which a saved man is charged with is not one that comes by way of his own works, but wholly WITHOUT his works! The works that established the only Righteousness which saves are not any works of men, but solely those of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
“What does God think about our good intentions? Today’s psychologists teach that people are basically good. We tend to think that we’re not so bad, our hearts and intentions are good, and we can basically shape ourselves up if we put forth enough effort, if we discipline ourselves. What does God say? The Bible says that 'The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?' (Jer. 17:9). To ‘know’ (understand) your heart in the Scripture is to comprehend it, to have an accurate evaluation of its state and capacities. God says here, no human can fully or accurately comprehend just how perverted, wicked, deceitful and corrupt we really are in our sin…Sin blinds, while giving the illusion of sight; we cannot perceive our true condition, because we are blinded by sin. God alone can judge our hearts correctly. Our good intentions aren’t really good. Consider Genesis 6:5, where God’s observation of human thoughts and motivations – the intentions of our hearts – is that they are ‘only evil continually’.” This was not a characteristic peculiar only to those before the Flood, but of all men by nature. “Ezekiel 20:16 echoes this, even the hearts of Israel, God’s own covenant people, were thoroughly corrupt and wicked. Instead of worshiping God rightly: ‘Because they despised My judgments, and walked not in My statutes, but polluted My sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols’. David knew that this was true, confessing ‘Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me’ (Psa. 51:5). His son Solomon later agreed: ‘Foolishness (folly) is bound (found in) in the heart of a child’ (Prov. 22:15). In Proverbs, ‘folly’ is wickedness and rebellion against God, and the fool is one who acts wickedly and rebelliously. Years later, Isaiah would also agree, stating that we were called ‘a transgressor from the womb’ (see Isa.48:8). So according to God, we have bad hearts, bad intentions, and no ability to change that bad situation on our own. It would be wicked for a Holy God to accept our evil, incomplete efforts to set ourselves right with Him.
“How God Saves: By Grace Through Faith Alone: In light of salvation belonging to the Lord, being completely a gift of His grace, consider Romans 1 & 2. In Romans 1, Paul states that every human’s heart ‘was darkened’ by sin (Rom. 1:21), and that every single person holds the ‘the truth in unrighteousness’ (Rom. 1:18). In chapter 2, they are told that their disobedience to the truth (see Rom. 2:8) – that is, their failure to believe that God alone saves – is in fact showing contempt for the riches of God’s ‘goodness and forbearance and longsuffering’ (Rom. 2:4). To think lightly of something that is actually weighty and wonderful is to show great pride and to despise that thing. It’s like Jesus showed us in the story of the servant whose great debt was forgiven: he couldn’t possibly repay it. Yet that servant despised the forgiveness his master gave him, because he did not in turn show it to others. That servant thought lightly of something that was incredibly weighty; he had pride, not repentance, and certainly not humility (see Matt. 18). So Romans 2:4 teaches us that it is the kindness of God that leads you to repentance. That is, God, in Kingly authority and great grace, opens your eyes to see His mercy. Therefore, even your repentance is His initiative. It is His gift to you (see 2 Tim. 2:24,25 cf. Acts 5:31). He leads you to it.
“Consider Titus 3:4-8. Here, Paul explains (in much the same way as Romans 2) that salvation is God’s kindness appearing to us – coming to us. Verses 4-6 are explicit: ‘But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour’. The great instance of the kindness and love of God our Saviour is salvation; which the apostle denies that it is brought about by any works, even the best works of men…So – God saves, not on the basis of our righteous works, but because He is merciful.” God saves not because we, but because He. That is grace. Grace is God always acting first, and always acting alone. God’s loving first is God’s grace in action (see 1 Jn. 4:19). No act of man can prompt God’s grace. Mercy is for those who cannot redeem themselves. GOD SAVES BECAUSE HE, NOT BECAUSE WE. The kindness and love of God the Saviour appeared not because of anything a man had done, not by anything He allegedly enabled a man to do, but solely according to the will of God and His mercy by which He saves His people from their sins. Salvation does not come after any works of righteousness done by man, but only after a man is blessed by the merciful God Who saves by His grace alone. “God saves by washing us at the moment of regeneration [the moment He makes us spiritually alive (see Eph. 2:1-10] and renewal. ‘Renewal’ not only pictures how He cleans us, it demonstrates that He changes our hearts – so that we will now be a holy people, who are eager to do good works. Titus 3:7 is even clearer: ‘That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life’ – that is, we are declared to be Righteous on the basis of God’s grace, not our works. And verse 8 says that God’s grace is the central focus of the Gospel, and therefore of our lives. As we look at God’s grace, Paul says here, it motivates our good works, not for salvation or to somehow gain God’s approval. We’re saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone – not by some mixture of God’s grace and our own works, or by a strange hybrid ‘faith’ in God’s Righteousness and my own righteousness together. We have God’s approval because He united His chosen with Christ through faith in Him alone – so we, BY GRACE, now demonstrate the authenticity of the faith we have been given by devoting ourselves to good works.” The motivation behind the devotion and commitment to good works is not to get saved or remain saved, but because we are saved.
“Faith, Plus My Works?: Incidentally, this is exactly what James 2 is talking about. Many people today think that James 2 is teaching that faith and works must operate together to achieve a person’s salvation. They think that James teaches ‘faith plus works’. That misunderstands (and misrepresents) the passage. In fact, what James has in view is faith that is authenticated – proved to be genuine – by our works. James 2:18 is the key to understanding this text. ‘I will shew thee my faith by my works’. James is not making the point that your works add to your faith in some saving way. Be very clear on this point: he’s already had some strong words for people who forget what the Bible says about the human heart in chapter 1. They’re compared to a guy who looks in a mirror and promptly forgets what he looks like (see Jas. 1:23-25). He is crystal clear, ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights (God), with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning’ (Jas. 1:17) - (God does not ever change, nor does He alter the way He deals with us) ‘Of His (God’s) own will begat He us (there’s the spiritual birth again like in John 1:13) with the Word of Truth’ (Jas. 1:18), the Message of the Gospel of His grace). So James does not teach salvation by grace plus works. Quite the contrary: James states directly that God alone births us, and God alone saves us. So in James 2, what we’re dealing with is the proof: the evidence that we’ve been born again spiritually. James 2 teaches that faith and works are two sides of the same coin; they’re heads and tails. Abraham is his example. In Genesis 15:6, God credits Abraham’s faith in His Word as Righteousness (so salvation is by faith alone), ‘And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for Righteousness’. James observes that his faith was proved genuine by his obedience: he put Isaac on the altar and was going to sacrifice him, because God told him to do so. Abraham, James points out, put his money where his mouth was! His point is that faith is an action verb – it is never passive, never simply agreeing with God but doing nothing about it.”
Not incidentally, it is ironical that the vast multitude of people who read James 2 and come away convinced that their works are as important as faith is in their salvation, reveal that their faith is in a false gospel. True faith, which James talks about, is the faith which God gives His elect so that they will all believe in the Gospel of salvation by grace alone. Any faith which believes salvation is in some way to some degree conditioned on a man’s works is the faith which is inherent in every man who is naturally spiritually dead in sins. Works added to such a worthless faith do nothing but deceive a lost man into thinking he is saved.
“The demons ‘have faith’, James reminds us in 2:19 (‘have faith’ and ‘believe’ are the same word in the original language). But their belief does not save them; it does not produce obedience, so it’s not real saving faith. It’s actually false faith. Repentance (a change of mind toward sin) is done in faith. They have not repented, as evidenced by their continued rebellion, and so their faith (believing) is worthless, and therefore dead (see Jas. 2:17). James’ point is that saving faith is never alone – it is always accompanied and proved by works of obedience. That’s the exact idea we saw in Titus 3. So, James 2:24 – ‘Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only’, by works: it’s evident that someone is saved, because their works demonstrate the reality of their salvation.” Importantly, James wrote just several verses before this, in the same chapter, stressing the fact that NO MAN IS SAVED BY HIS WORKS: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (Jas. 2:10). This is no different to what Paul said in Galatians 2:16: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." James showed that if a man does not obey the law perfectly, he is guilty. This reveals that James was certainly not teaching that salvation is by works, by a man’s obedience, for if it was he would have to obey the law perfectly. “Saying ‘I believe, I have faith’ does not prove anything. The demons do that. It has been said that ‘we are saved by faith alone, but saving faith is never alone’. Saving faith is always found walking hand-in-hand with the obedience that God demands (principally toward His Gospel, the Gospel of grace). A helpful statement of this truth is found in Ephesians 2:10, where Paul reminds us that ‘we are His (God’s) workmanship, created (notice that God creates us; we do not create, or help create ourselves) in Christ Jesus (being created in Christ Jesus is salvation) unto (not by) good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them’. So God’s gracious purposes for His own people are the basis of our salvation – we are to display in our newness of life that He has done this work in us. We who are Christians are 'His workmanship', not a mixture of His working with us – we are created by Him, and for His own glory in and through us.” A Christian is the workmanship of grace.
“Putting It All Together: So – Scripture alone teaches that we are saved by God’s grace alone, through God’s gift of faith alone, which is found in Christ alone, and the whole of our salvation and lives are only for the glory of God alone. Nothing less than this is saving faith, according to the Bible. The question facing you today, reader, is this: do you have saving faith? Or do you believe in God like the demons do? The demons tremble – knowing that they will face an eternity of the Holy Wrath of God. But the Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ has purchased God’s elect people, His Church, with His own blood (see Acts 20:28).” They have not purchased salvation by their works, but Christ has purchased them—His people—by His own blood. Christians are not purchasers, but the purchased ones of God. They are not the choosers, but the chosen. “Faith in Jesus’ Righteousness alone is the faith that does not believe in your own ability to be righteous and acceptable before God; God-given faith relies totally upon Jesus having fulfilled God’s requirements in place of His people. Have you truly been turned to God on His terms? Or are you still trying to present yourself to God on your own terms? The cross of the Lord Jesus Christ reveals an infinitely Holy God Who has an infinite fury against sin, Who yet demonstrates His own mercy toward His chosen by taking their humanity upon himself, and fully satisfying the demands of His own Holiness. This, then, is the Gospel in a nutshell: God, in Christ, became like unto His brethren (see Heb. 2:17), in order to redeem them from their bondage to sin. ‘While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (Rom. 5:8). If you’ve never done this, look in faith to Jesus alone today, and not to yourself. Salvation is by God’s Sovereign grace, so that your boast and joy may always be, ‘God did this – look at how great God is!’ The Christian is saved by works – but not his own works.” The Christian is not saved by his own works, but by Christ’s Work. A man is saved not by his own obedience, but by Jesus’ Righteousness.
“The work of reconciliation, or making atonement for sin, is ascribed to the Father; not that He is the author of it, for it is properly Christ's work; but because He took the first step towards it: He formed the scheme of it; He set forth His Son in His purposes and decrees to be the propitiatory sacrifice; He assigned Him this work in council and covenant, in promise and in prophecy, and sent Him to effect it; therefore He is said to do it ‘by’ Him; that is, by His blood and sacrifice, by His sufferings and death, to which, and to which alone, the Scriptures ascribe our peace and reconciliation: and this is made to ‘Himself’: as being the party offended, Whose law was broken, against Whom sin was committed, and Whose justice required and demanded satisfaction.” “Christ has fully accomplished the work for His people who will, consequently, all repent and turn to Him alone in faith by God’s grace. Sinners are saved only by the works of Christ as the God-given Substitute: He obeyed God perfectly in their place, and was obedient to the point of death on a cross: ‘And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross’ (Phil. 2:8)…or ‘until death’; for He was obedient from the cradle to the cross, to God, to men, to His earthly parents, and to magistrates; He was obedient to the ceremonial law, to circumcision, the passover to the moral law, to all the precepts of it, which He punctually fulfilled; and to the penalty of it, death, which He voluntarily and cheerfully bore, in the room and stead of His people: ‘even the death of the cross’; which was both painful and shameful; it was an accursed one, and showed that He bore the curse of the law, and was made a curse for His people: this was a punishment usually inflicted on servants, and is called a servile punishment; and such was the form which He took, when He was found in fashion as a man. Look in faith and repentance to Jesus, believe His Gospel and you will be satisfied with all that God is for His people in Him.”
The Word of God states that grace does not enable a man to get saved, but that it is in fact “…the grace of God that bringeth salvation…” (Titus 2:11). Salvation is a gift from without, not something a man can bring forth of himself. Salvation can never be brought forth by a man, for salvation is of God and is given by Him as a gift to all His elect. Salvation cannot be brought forth, that is, it cannot be produced by works, for it can only be brought to a man. Grace does not equip a man with what he needs to do before he can be saved. Grace does not play second fiddle to what a man does. Grace does not introduce the possibility of one getting saved. Grace does not make a man potentially saveable, and then proceeds to base the success of its activity on what a man does. Grace is never the support act, if you will, but always the main act in a man’s salvation. Man is not the star of salvation, it is GOD ALONE Who is the Superstar of all that has to do with the salvation of His people! Salvation is a solo performance by God, for it comes only from His grace not by any man’s works. It is He, God, Who is the One Hope of salvation for any man. GRACE SAVES. GOD SAVES. Man does not save, his works do not save, for all of salvation is based on the Righteousness of Christ. Grace brings salvation, salvation is not a reward for works. Salvation comes via grace not works. Salvation is by God’s work, not a man’s works. A man is saved by grace through faith. Neither grace, or faith, are works of man’s, therefore, a man is not saved by anything he does whether, or not, he has been enabled to do it. How can a dead man be enabled to come alive by something he does? How can a dead man be enabled to come alive by what he has been enabled to do, when dead men cannot do anything before they are made alive/saved. Man does not merely need enablement, he needs LIFE! He does not need a little help, he needs LIFE! Can a man be alive before he is made alive? Can a man be alive when he is dead? How can a dead man do anything before he is saved, before he is made alive by the grace of God? How can anything be expected from a man who is dead in his sins? How can a man be enabled to do anything whilst dead in sins? If a man is not made alive when he is allegedly ‘enabled by grace’, am I to understand that what triggers God to save is the act of a man still dead in his sins? To do anything a man must be alive, so are we to understand that grace enables a man to come alive by something he does before he is made alive? What craziness is this which has a man dead in his sins made temporarily alive so that he can choose whether or not he would like to be eternally alive! When God’s saving grace has touched a man he is made eternally alive according to the will of God. Once there is life there is no need for enablement, there is no further need for anything to be done to gain life, or to prolong life—not even by God Himself. When a man is made alive he is made alive forever. Grace gives eternal life forever. Grace gains life, brings life and sustains life forever. A man made alive by grace is evidence that the decision has already been made, the choice has already been made for him to be made alive by God through grace alone.
It is clear that people who have been fed, and willingly partake of, the lie, that man must do before he is saved, do not believe that man is dead in sins at all. Such people may use the terminology of ‘dead in sins’ and ‘saved by grace’, etc., however, in believing that God enables a man to do before he can be saved, they are revealed as followers of the satanic lie that man would not die in the Garden, for they are adherents to the blasphemy that man is not spiritually dead. If you are one of these people, look at who you are agreeing with, those of you who say man is not dead, for Satan said man would not surely die. Clearly, those who believe man is not spiritually dead, believe that man did not spiritually die in the Garden of Eden. Their theology is satanic, for it is founded on the Serpent’s lie that man would not surely die. Only those who believe man is spiritually dead and without any hope, agree with God’s own words to Adam: “Thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Man cannot do because he is dead. Man cannot come to Christ because man is dead in sins. Man does not seek God, for man is dead in sins. Man can do nothing before he is made alive, for before life man is dead in sins. Salvation is impossible with man, for man is dead in sins. Man must be made alive, for he is dead! Man being enabled to do does not make any sense in light of the fact of man’s needing to be made alive. Man does not need to be enabled to do, he needs to be made alive, and if he needs to be made alive it is transparently and undeniably clear that he is dead. “And you hath He quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins…Even when we were dead in sins, hath (God) quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Eph. 2:1,5). Clearly a man being made alive is a man saved by grace. Man’s problem is death, and God’s answer is life. A man saved by grace is a man made alive who was dead. If you deny spiritual death, you can never rightly claim to have been made alive. Those who believe Satan, that man would not surely die, are the very same ones who believe that works are an indispensable element in a man’s salvation. Not dead leads to works doctrine – dead leads to grace doctrine. Even if man’s spiritual death were merely metaphorical, which it is not, it would still be used to show that a man cannot do anything to come alive to God. It would still show that without grace working alone, no man could ever be saved. Those who say man is not dead in sins cannot ever subscribe to the Biblical doctrine that a man who has been made alive by God through grace, is a man who was spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. If man, by nature, is not dead in sins, then he could never be made alive, therefore, he can never be saved by grace. Salvation is God making His people alive by grace. If man is not spiritually dead in sins, then salvation would not need grace, for man would already be spiritually alive without it. To be born is synonymous with life. To be born again is synonymous with spiritual life. But if man is not spiritually dead, then he would not need to be born again spiritually, for he would be spiritually alive without a re-birth, without God giving life to him. The whole point to the lie that man is not dead in sins is the promotion of the heresy that man can and must do before he can be saved. This doctrine has perverted every other doctrine which is based on salvation by Sovereign grace alone. All such false doctrines are presented in false gospels which cannot save.
Man can do nothing. Sinful man does not need some assistance to perform a human act which can never change what he is, but a spiritual resurrection! The lie of enablement always brings with it salvation by works, which is, ‘salvation’ only after YOU have done something. Am I to understand that grace allegedly enables the dead to do whilst they are dead? No man can choose life whilst he is dead. Only after he is given life does a man see he has been made alive by the grace of God. This whole concept of man being enabled by grace so he can choose God is a vacuous lie, for how does one help a dead person! How does one assist a dead person to do anything? Dead people do not need help, they need life! They need someone to make them alive! Lazarus needed the very command of Christ before he was brought back to life and only then was he able to come forth. They say man is enabled so he can then make a free will decision. But are we to understand that a man is made alive long enough to make a decision, but if he decides against ‘accepting God’, then he is returned again to his previously dead-in-sins condition? Where is anything that even remotely resembles this ludicrous notion found in the Holy Word of God? Where in the Word of God does it say that a man is enabled by God to choose Him, when Scripture talks only of man being chosen by God before the world began. Moreover, how can a man who has been made spiritually alive, shown the light so he can see the light, possibly not want the light? A man must be converted to see, he must be born again before he can see, so how could any such person possibly change back to being dead in sins after being made eternally alive by God! What possible decision is there for a man to make whose very existence has been flooded with the Light of God, when he has been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and been translated into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (see Col. 1:13). What decision does a man have to make to be saved who has just been made eternally alive? Being made alive by grace is what salvation is all about. When Light is shown, when saving grace is applied, people see, people are saved. Only the saved can see the Light. The grace of God in the salvation of a man is God making the man alive, and the life he is given is eternal. God causes a man to be born again. That is grace.