30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
May 21, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking you for tuning in this morning to WAVG radio to listen to a message of God. Before we get to our lesson of the hour entitled "Salvation by Grace and Faith," I want to let everyone of you in our listening audience to know about our Vacation Bible School that will be held at the Clarksville church of Christ on July 17-21 this year. We want to let you know about our Bible School early this year so that you can make plans early for you and your children to be able to attend this year's Bible school. Our Bible school will be held each night from 7:30-8:30 PM with this year's them being "How Shall the Young Secure Their Hearts?" This promises to be one of the best Vacation Bible Schools ever and we want you to plan on attending. You can enroll your children in one of two ways. If you have access to the internet you can enroll your children on-line by going to our WEB Site at www.ClarksvillechurchofChrist.org and follow the directions to enroll your children. You may also call 944-2305 and leave your name and phone number and we will return your call to get the necessary enrollment information. We look forward to seeing you and your children at VBS this year! At this time I want to encourage you to get your Bible, pen, and piece of paper out and be ready to write the scriptures down and turn to them as the truth of God's word is presented this morning. How many times has it been that you have heard something discussed in matters of religion and wished that you had a pencil handy to write down that passage of scripture or that particular thought? I want to give you a chance right now to get your pencil and paper ready so that you can be prepared to write these verses down so that you can do some serious study at a later date. Jesus said: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). As we have discussed on this program before, many false prophets are out there trying to deceive innocent people into believing a lie. I want to make sure that I am only presenting the truth of God's Word and I want you to test my words to make sure that I am not putting forth a doctrine that is false but rather is true. I want to encourage you this day to learn the truth. Jesus said plainly in John 8:32: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Every sincere, religious person will want to learn the truth in order to make sure that his call and election is sure (2 Pet 1:10).
Now, to our subject of the morning: "Salvation by Grace and Faith." This subject has been the hope of sinners and the joy of saints since Christ died on the cross. Paul states in Eph. 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God."And again, in Titus 2:11 it says, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." Then in Romans 3:24, he states that we are "justified freely by his grace." If the New Testament teaches anything, my friends, it teaches that salvation is by grace, and to deny this is to deny the New Testament of Christ Jesus, for it is founded upon grace and all the blessings we derive from there are the result of God's grace to us. Grace is unmerited favor and it means, "a gift, a favor, which one receives without any merit of his own." To be saved by grace, then, means that salvation, which we neither deserve nor merit, is bestowed upon us through the favor, merit, and love of another! Grace means a "free gift" and salvation is a free gift from God. It is not something we earn; nor is it something which God bestows in payment of a deft. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Salvation by grace has always been a gift of God and we must thankfully receive it, by obedience to the gospel and give praise to Him whose grace has redeemed us from sin!
We are saved by grace, not by rites and ceremonies! This was the fundamental mistake made by the early Jewish Christians. They wanted to make salvation depend on the keeping of the law, on tradition, and upon circumcision. They even went so far as to teach that Gentiles could not be saved until they were circumcised and submitted to the law. Acts 15:1, reads, "And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." This created such a controversy in the church that the brethren went to the apostles in Jerusalem for a settlement of it. The apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, said that circumcision was not necessary to salvation. Instead of circumcision contributing to salvation, it was a positive hindrance since it was a part of "a yoke" which no one had been able to bear. So it states in Acts 15:10. Then, in verse 11, Peter states, "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."One of the great mistakes in the history of religion, has been made by those who have taught and continue to teach that salvation is the result of human merit, that it is earned, and that it is bestowed through rites and ceremonies. Against this false teaching, the Bible continually says,"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 Spirit; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:5-7).
We are saved by grace, not by works. As noted earlier, Paul states, "For by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Eph 2:8-10). In 2 Timothy 1:9, the same apostle declares, "God has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus." Works are the fruit, not the ground, of man's salvation. Here Paul declares that in being saved by grace, we are created in Christ unto good works and certainly good works, of all kinds, will characterize the lives of those who have been saved by grace. It was to Christians like these that James said, "Faith without works is dead" and "You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:26, 24). If a saved person will not perform good works, he will not be justified because his faith is dead and, therefore, vain! But, alien sinners are saved by grace, not works. If justification depended on works, we could boast of the fact that we had earned salvation and God must give it to us in payment of a just debt. This conception of justification completely nullifies grace.
After affirming salvation by grace in Romans 3:23-26, Paul asks in the 27th verse, "Where is boasting them? It is excluded. By what law? or works? Nay, but by the law of faith," and in Romans 4:2, Paul says, "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God." Works predicate salvation on man's inherent merit; grace predicates it on God's inherent merit. Works demand perfect obedience; grace allows for man's imperfections. Works demand boasting; grace excludes boasting. When depending on works, we take all the credit unto ourselves and, in boastful selfrighteousness, glory in our merit; but when depending on grace, we give all the credit to God and in humble self-surrender glory in the merit of a crucified Redeemer, whose cross is our only source of boasting. God forbid that we glory in our money, our position, our race, our learning, our morality, our own righteousness, or our works; rather, let us glory only in the cross of Christ by which the world is crucified unto us and we unto the world!
But, my dear friends, there is another phase of this important subject which we must consider, and that is, Salvation by Grace is conditional. Salvation has always been conditional -- God has always required sinners to do something to be saved. "What must I do to be saved?," is a question frequently asked in the New Testament and it is still the most important question in the world. Whatever sinners must do in order to be saved, must be done in order to be saved by grace. When we, as sinners, obey the commands of God, we are not trying to earn salvation by the mere doing of deeds. Rather, we are obeying the conditions which God has laid down in the gospel, because obedience is necessary to salvation by grace. Our faith is not in obedience, but in God's grace; our trust is not in doing of deeds, but in Christ; our reliance is not on conditions, but on the blood of Christ; and our hope for salvation lies not in what we do, but in what God and Christ have promised to do for us! But we, as sinners, must do something in order to be saved. Let us not forget that! God`s grace cannot, and will not, save us until we, by faith, accept it. Many are unsaved today because of the rejection of God's grace, not because His grace is unable to save!
Going back to Ephesians 2:8, Paul says, "For by grace you are saved through faith." Here we have the two sides of salvation, the Divine side and the human side. Grace is the divine side of salvation, faith is the human side. Grace represents everything done for us; faith represents everything we must do for ourselves. God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the shed blood, the gospel, the truth, all of these, are represented by grace and are the manifestations of it. Trusting Christ, repentance of sin, confessing Christ, and baptism are all represented by faith and we are the manifestations of it. Belief, or trust, is faith placed in a Saviour, repentance is faith turning away from sin, confession is faith acknowledging a Saviour, and baptism is faith coming to the death, or blood, of the crucified Saviour. In other words, all we do must be done by faith and because we are trusting in the merit, grace, love, and mercy of an almighty God. Grace demands faith and faith is the only logical and scriptural response to grace! God's grace provides salvation; men's faith accepts salvation. Grace is God's hand reaching down; faith is man's hand reaching up. God's grace says to the sinner, "Come~; man's faith says to God, "I will come."
Jesus said, "Go preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk. 16:15). That is grace offering salvation to an undeserving world. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). That is faith obeying the commands of the gospel and receiving the promised salvation. On the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts chapter 2, Peter preached Christ crucified to those gathered. That was grace. They were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and they did just that. That was faith laying hold of grace. To obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, by faith, repentance, confession, and baptism, is the only way to be saved by grace, for obedience to the gospel is Salvation by Grace!
Friends, will you not today accept this great offer of mercy and grace? Salvation, as a gift of God, is "without money and without price" for "Jesus paid it all" and it is yours for the taking. Believe and obey the gospel and this treasure is yours. Live the life of a Christian faithfully and trust His grace till death and then heaven will be yours and there, throughout eternity, you can sing the song of "Amazing Grace" forever and forever.
We have talked so far this morning concerning salvation by grace, now let us consider salvation by faith. In every age and dispensation faith has been a condition of pardon. God has never saved a sinner without faith and He could not do so, for, in the very nature of conversion, the sinner must believe and trust God in order to receive forgiveness.
The Bible everywhere emphasizes the necessity of faith. In John 3:16, Jesus says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," and in verse 18, he says, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God,": and in verse 36, Jesus says, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him." In John 8:24, Jesus further says, "For if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins." In John 11:25, Jesus states, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." When Jesus gave the great commission, he said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).
When the gospel began to be proclaimed, beginning at Pentecost, (Acts 2), faith was laid down as a condition of salvation, and the apostles and other preachers of the first century refused to baptize sinners unless they believed in Christ. When the Ethiopian nobleman, who had heard the gospel, desired to be baptized, Philip, the evangelist, said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Acts 8:37). Upon this confession of his faith, Philip baptized him. When preaching the gospel to the house of Cornelius, Peter declared, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43), and upon that faith he commanded them to be baptized (verse 48). When the gospel was preached at Antioch in Syria for the first time, it is said that "a great number believed and turned unto the Lord" (Acts 11:21). When Paul preached the gospel in Antioch of Pisidia, he said, "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses"(Acts 13:38-39). When Paul preached the gospel in the synagogue at Iconium he "so spake that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed" (Acts 14:1). When the Philippian jailer asked, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul immediately replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31). When Paul preached the gospel in Thessalonica, a great multitude believed (Acts 17:4). When he went on to Berea and preached the record says, "therefore many of them believed" (Acts 17:12). When he preached in Athens, though many mocked and refused to believe, yet it is said that "some men joined him and believed" (Acts 17:34). From Athens, Paul went to Corinth preaching Jesus Christ and him crucified and in Acts 18:8, Luke says, "and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." When Paul came to Ephesus from Corinth, he preached Christ there also and in Acts 19:18, it is said that many believed. From all of these examples, it is abundantly clear that faith in Jesus Christ was a prominent part of ancient gospel preaching and it was always required of sinners as a condition of pardon or forgiveness.
Several serious doctrinal controversies arose in those early churches. One of the most prominent controversies, was on the subject of circumcision. I mentioned this briefly earlier in this lesson. Jewish Christians were not satisfied with the doctrine of justification by faith; they wanted to bind some of the rites and ceremonies of Judaism upon these early Christians. When this controversy was brought to the apostles for settlement, they affirmed the doctrine of justification by faith, and denied the doctrine of justification by circumcision. Peter said, "God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God....put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:7-9). Later Paul encountered this same error among the Galatian churches, and, when disputing with them, he boldly declared that sinners were justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law. He affirmed that "The just shall live by faith" (Galatians 3:11), and that "You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26); and he showed that circumcision completely nullified the doctrine of salvation by faith. It is not circumcision or uncircumcision that counts,"but faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6).
In the Roman letter, Paul affirms the doctrine of justification by faith as against justification by works. He says that the gospel is God's power to save those who believe (Romans 1:16) and that the righteousness of God is by faith in Christ (Romans 3:22). He states that salvation is appropriated "through faith in his blood" (Rom 5:25). In Romans 5:1-2, Paul reaches the climax of this matchless argument by saying, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Continuing this argument in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of Romans, Paul says that the Gentiles attained to righteousness but the Jews did not attain to it. And why? Because the Jews sought justification by works while the Gentiles sought it by faith (Romans 9:30-32). The Jews set aside God's righteousness (which was by faith) and established their own righteousness (which was by the works of the law) (Romans 10:1-3), and because of this they were lost. They had refused to obey the gospel because they did not believe, for in Romans 10:16-17, Paul says, "But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." In Romans 11:20, he shows that the Jews were lost because of their unbelief while the Gentiles were saved because of their faith; and he goes on to show that the Jews can be saved when they give up their unbelief and trust in Christ crucified for salvation.
Thus we see, dear friends, that the necessity and importance of faith are emphasized over and over again in the Bible. Hebrews 11:6 states, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Jesus said that we shall die in our sins without faith, and he further said, "He that believeth not shall be damned." Faith is absolutely essential to salvation. We are "justified by faith" (Romans 5:1); we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8); our hearts are purified by faith (Acts 15:9)' we live by faith (Romans 1:17); we walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7); and John states in 1 John 5:4, "This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." Hebrews 6:12 states, it is through "faith and patience" that we inherit the promises.
But a very important question comes to our attention right now. How and when does faith save? That it does save, we all admit; but how and when faith saves is a question for which an answer is needed and that answer is found in God's Book, the New Testament.
Salvation is not be faith only. James makes this very clear in James 2:24, when he states, "You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." That should settle the matter. It takes more than faith to save the sinner, it takes obedience as well. Saving faith is always an obedient faith, and true obedience is always the result, or fruit, of faith. The works referred to by James are deeds of obedience to the commands of the Lord. As Abraham obeyed the Lord when he showed his willingness of offering up Isaac as a sacrifice. It was not his own works, but the works of God. In Galatians 5:6, Paul says the thing that avails is faith that works by love. In Romans 1:5, he teaches that salvation is by the "obedience to the faith," and in Romans 16:26, he further affirms that salvation is "made known to all nations for the obedience of faith." The faith that saves, therefore, is the faith that works---the faith that obeys all the commands of the Lord. Saving faith leads a sinner to obey the gospel commands to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, so stated in Acts 2:38. A refusal to obey God's commands simply demonstrates the fact that the sinner's faith is dead and therefore, a vain faith! In Hebrews 11:7, Paul says, "By faith Noah....prepared an ark." Noah believed God, and, because he trusted Him, his faith led him to do what God had commanded him, that is, prepare an ark. Had Noah refused to obey God, his faith would never have saved him. In the next verse, we are told, "By faith Abraham... obeyed."God told Abraham to leave his native land. He believed God and, because he trusted Him (that's faith in action); he arose and obeyed the command of the Lord.
The sinner today must hear the gospel. He must believe, for "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). He must repent of his sins for God "commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30) and faith obeys God's commands. He must, upon a confession of his faith, be baptized for in Acts 10:48, we read, "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." In the great commission, Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Repentance is faith turning from sin; confession is faith acknowledging a Savior, and baptism is faith coming to the blood of the Savior for we are "baptized into his death," so states Paul in Romans 6:3.
After conversion we are to live by faith; all that we do must be done in faith; we are to walk by faith, not by sight: we are kept secure in Christ by the power of God through faith; and it is our duty to be faithful to Christ all of the time, yes even unto death, if we would receive the crown of life. Revelation 2:10, reads, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life." May we all understand that salvation is by grace and faith and have the courage to live in such a way that we believe and trust in God so that we can truthfully say:
My faith looks up to Thee
Thou Lamb of Calvary,
Now hear me while I pray,
Take all my guilt away,
O, let me from this day
Be wholly Thine!
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"