Salvation by Grace
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
In the above verses we learn that salvation is by grace. The word translated “grace” always described a gift which would have been impossible for one to procure in and of himself. It speaks of a gift that could never be earned or merited. So it is with salvation. Man has sinned and thus fellowship with God is severed (Isaiah 59:1-2). Man un-aided could never be bridged from the earthly side. So God promised a bridge-builder from the heavenly side. From Genesis 3:15 onward, there is an ever increasing stream of prophecies flowing from God. Now Christ has come. He has made it possible for all to be saved. It is upon Him we must depend for salvation. By grace we are saved! To further clinch this the apostle said that salvation is “not of works.” He then went on to indicate what kind of works he was speaking of , that is works of merit or boasting. Hear him, “not of works lest any man should boast.” So, my friends, you cannot merit or earn salvation. There is no room for boasting.
Now as we continue our study, I want to make it clear that nowhere does the Bible teach salvation is by “grace only.” Many have the idea that since salvation is a gift it is unconditional on the part of man. In a little booklet entitled Saved and Certain we note this statement, “Salvation is by the grace of God alone, apart from any human effort or merit, making God alone responsible for our salvation.” One popular Church Manual says, “We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace.” “Wholly” is a lonesome word, it will not allow anything else. The manual is saying that salvation is by “grace alone.” Such a doctrine is a perversion of the Bible doctrine of salvation by grace.
Question: Does compliance with terms or conditions nullify grace?
If a neighbor or relative purposes to give you something of great value but places some small conditions to be met before you could have the gift would the performance of these conditions nullify the gift? No, it would not. May I illustrate with the following. Suppose a relative has a new Buick that he says he will give to you. But he makes the following terms or conditions to be met: fill up the three small holes in my drive-way with gravel. In doing this have you earned the automobile? Have you merited it? Is there any room for boasting in what you did to receive the Buick? The answer is obvious. No, you did not earn the automobile. It was a gift. The performance of those conditions did not mean you merited it and thereby nullified the gift. So it is with salvation. We are saved by grace, but God has made the gift conditional.
In Matthew 7:21-27 Jesus said, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Get your Bible and read the entire passage. The rich young ruler we read about in Matthew 19:16-32 understood salvation to be conditional and Jesus made no attempt to cause him to think otherwise. The Philippian jailor in Acts 16 understood that there was something he needed to do, and Paul and Silas made no effort to correct him.
So, salvation is conditional and our complying with the conditions does not nullify grace. Please notice the two dilemmas faced by “grace alone” advocates. If salvation is by “grace alone” then:
1. Everyone will be saved. In Titus 2:11 we read, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." But the idea that everyone will be saved is in conflict with Matthew 7:13 which says, “For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at.”
2. This would make God responsible for those that are lost. But this is in conflict with 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:3-4. These verses teach that God would have all men to be saved, that He is not willing that any perish. Let us go back to the text at the beginning of this article. The apostle says that we are saved by grace through faith. In Romans 5:2 he says, “By whom we have access by faith into this grace wherein you stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Grace is God’s part in salvation - Faith is man’s part. Grace brings salvation into our reach and by faith we lay hold on to it.
Notice the following examples of God’s grace and man’s faith working together to obtain the desired results.
1. God’s grace made it possible for Naaman to be healed of leprosy; Naaman’s faith led him to meet the conditions (2 Kings 5).
2. Grace made it possible to take Jericho; faith led Israel to meet God's conditions (Joshua 6).
3. So the grace of God makes possible our salvation, but our faith will cause us to do what God has prescribed as conditions.
Sometimes people ask what these conditions are. A study of the book of Acts will reveal that in order for one to become a Christian , be forgiven of this sins, stand in a saved condition, he must hear the gospel of Christ, believe the message heard, repent of past sins, confess his faith in Christ and be baptized for the remission of his sins.
The Bible teaches salvation by grace, but this does not mean that it is by “grace alone.” He requires that you meet the conditions he has laid down. I trust that you will give this your very serious attention.