Friday, March 18, 2011

Saved By Grace... Alone?

Father God, I just thank you this morning for life, health and strength.  I thank you for protecting my household while we slumbered.  It is a time where we are most vulnerable, yet you saw it fitting to provide a covering, and I thank you for it.  I thank you for your mercy, and your grace, and it is because of your grace, why we have an opportunity to come back to you and commune with you, but it must be done by our actions.  I pray this morning a blessing on those who read this message.  I pray that they are in a right mind and spirit, and that there is nothing that will hinder them from reading a word that you have blessed me with.  So I pray oh God, that you allow your Holy Spirit to reign down on each reader’s location.  I pray that you set the atmosphere for them to study and meditate on your word, so they can see in fact there is no other wisdom, but yours.  I pray Father, that if there is anything that we have done, whether in thought, speech, or deed, that was not pleasing in thy sight, I pray for forgiveness for myself, and all.  We give you all honor and glory in the precious name of your Son Jesus, and it’s in His name I pray.  Amen

This is a message I shared a while back and I feel that I should share it again.  I had a conversation a while back with a sister in Christ, and we were in a healthy discussion regarding the goodness of God.  In our discussion she stated that we are saved by grace.  I concurred but added by our faith also.  She insisted that only God’s grace is why we are saved.  After expressing my agreement with her again, yet sharing there is more, we concluded that she will not budge from her stance, and I neither will I.  Below is why I believe there is more and after reading, you decide.

We can find the “saved by grace” concept in Eph 2:8, which states “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”  In this verse, the Apostle Paul used 3 key words, in which 1 of them is a action word that would be performed by us.  They are grace, saved, and faith.  If we are to truly understand the intent of the Apostle’s statement, it will require us to determine the meaning of these words and how it applies in his verse. 

GRACE - favor or good will; mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace.
SAVED  - to rescue from danger or possible harm, injury, or loss: to save someone from drowning; To deliver from the power and consequences of sin.
FAITH - confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability. 

So in essence, grace is mercy or pardon, saved is to keep or rescue, and faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing without any proof.  The Apostle is saying only by God’s mercy (grace), do we have the opportunity for salvation (saved), and that we would have to believe (faith) this is to be true.  We would have to believe ( action) and understand that we could not have done it by ourselves, but only by it being a gift from God.  God did His part, and man (mankind) will have to do his part. 

Now let’s look at the verse again: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God .”  Does this verse sound familiar?  What did the Apostle John write?  For God so loved(GRACE) the world  that he gave his only begotten Son(GIFT-GOD’S PART), that whoever believes (FAITH-MAN’SPART) in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (SAVED)  The Apostle Paul reiterated what John the Apostle stated, but put a more emphasis on it.  It is not because of the many alms that we do (Matt 6:1), or by repetition of prayer (Matt 6:7), but by God’s mercy.  The world was in a condemned state, about to perish eternally, and was without power to rescue itself from destruction.  God, through His eternal love, gave us an opportunity and provided a means of rescue, by giving His Son to die for us (study atonement in its entirety).  That was God’s part.  No man is saved through this sacrifice, “unless” they believe.  Amen!  Now that is man’s part.

A gift is not a gift unless you have someone who gives, and the other who accepts the gift.  God gave to man, man accepted.  When God gives, it is now up to man to show what he does with the gifts.  God gave us the beast of the ground, fowl of the air, and fish of the sea.  We accepted and named them.  He gave us plants.  We accepted and named them.  He gave us woman, we accepted and named her.  All of these were man’s part.  God did His part, and man has to do his part.  It was man’s actions that cause us not to physically live eternally, but it will be man’s actions again, via the grace of God to live spiritually eternally.   There are two parts to salvation.  God has already done His part.

Jesus himself said it, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  We are saved by grace.  We were given the opportunity to restore our broken relationship with our Father.  This was His gift to us.  That was His part.  Our part is to believe in His son.  We are to believe and adhere to His teachings.  We must strive to imitate our Father in as many ways we can.  It requires workOur works is the result of our faith.  They work hand in hand.  I understand why James said “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (Ja 2:24)  A person, who has a genuine faith, will produce.    James also stated “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! (Ja 2:19) One would do well in believing that there is one God, for it means you believe the truth. However, it will do you no good, any more than it does devils who believe the same, unless it leads you to obey him.  Your faith will require proof of your faith.  Abraham proved it to God with Isaac (Gen 22:1-22).  Jesus healed many according to their faith (Matt 9:22, Mark 10:52).  Jesus was even moved by the Gentile guard, by saying “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (Matt 8:5-10)

There has to be something to distinguish your faith from those of demons.  That “something” will have to be the works.  Demons are incapable of obeying.  What makes you different from others who also say they believe in God?  What makes you different than those who just live morally right?  What makes you different than your co-workers, friends, spouse, etc?  These questions I encourage you to ask yourself, and then re-read this lesson.  So is it grace alone, or is there more to it? Amen!

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