Firm Foundation #14

    BY GRACE ARE YOU SAVED

    “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). Salvation is the central theme of the Bible. From before the foundation of the world God formulated the plan to send his Son as a perfect sacrifice for the redemption of man. The omniscience of God permitted him to foreknow that man would sin and be in need of a Saviour. In the New Testament salvation is ascribed to several things. Every item that the New Testament mentions as necessary in man’s salvation blends with every other essential thing. In the verse we will consider in this lesson, salvation is ascribed to two things – grace and faith. Our primary consideration will be to learn the nature of grace and what part grace plays in our redemption.

    Grace has been defined as “unmerited favor” and while this is a good definition of the word, it fails to give us real depth of understanding. Perhaps we can best understand the nature and character of grace if we study the manifestations of grace.

    Creation is clearly an act of grace. At the time God brought order out of chaos, man had not yet been created. He, therefore, could have nothing whatsoever to do with the present arrangement of things. God created the world for man’s happiness and, inasmuch as man did not merit this act of God, creation is the result of unmerited favor.

    Another example of God’s unmerited favor to man is the priceless gift of his Son. The apostle Paul wrote concerning Christ: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant and made in the likeness of men: and being found in the fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). We stand amazed in the presence of such unexcelled love for us. “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” (John 3:16). With the apostle Paul, we humbly say, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). The gift of God’s Son, which was absolutely necessary for man’s eternal salvation, was the result of God’s unmerited favor. It was, therefore, of grace.

    In connection with the gift of God’s Son, we should also list the sacrifice that the Son made for us. God is just and, because of this, he could not forgive sinful and guilty man. In order to forgive man and still maintain his attribute of justice, God arranged for the Son to come and make a sacrifice of his life’s blood. This perfect, sinless sacrifice is the cause urged by Jesus in the heavenly court to render God favorable toward us. Without the blood of Christ there could be no salvation. “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Who would dare to claim that he deserved or merited the sacrifice of the sinless Son of God? The blood of Christ is therefore another example of God’s grace.

    Another proof of the grace of God is seen in that he gave us an inspired and infallible guide – the Bible. The word of God is essential to our salvation. Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jews first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). And again, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). The message to be preached, of course, is the word of God. John wrote, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30,31). These verses combine to show us the essentiality of the Bible in the plan of salvation. We must have the word to direct, counsel and guide us. But man did not and cannot do anything to merit such a priceless gift. Therefore, the word is a demonstration of God’s unmerited favor. It is a product of grace.

    Other items could be listed as a part of the grace of God, but these are sufficient to give the student a clear idea of what is meant when the scriptures say that we are saved by grace. We can immediately see that grace is undeniably essential to our ultimate and eternal salvation. Man’s salvation is all grace on God’s part and all faith on man’s part. The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. God has done all that is necessary to fulfill his portion of man’s salvation. He has gone as far as he can and still be just. It now remains for man to accept God’s grace and favor. This is done through faith. Faith is accepting God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and trusting confidently in them as we obey without question every command given in God’s word. Saving faith is obedient faith. The Bible tells us how faith accepts God’s grace. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). As the climax of our initial return to God, we are also told, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3,4).

    Paul tells us that by baptism we are buried into the death of Christ and, since it was in his death that Christ shed his blood, then it is in baptism that we come in contact with the blood of Jesus. The blood of Christ is the means that God has used in the divine economy to cleanse man of his sins and to make him wholly acceptable. This is not to say that man’s action is in the nature of meriting or earning salvation for this idea would contradict the teaching of the scriptures. But it is simply that man is required to demonstrate his trust and his unwavering belief in God by overt acts of obedience. A classic example of this truth is found in 2 Kings, chapter 5, where we read of a certain officer in the Syrian army whose name was Naaman. He had contracted the dread disease of leprosy. In his house was an Israelite servant girl who suggested to Naaman’s wife that there was a prophet in Israel who could cure him. Eventually Naaman went to the land of Israel and sought out the house of Elisha, the prophet. When the chariots of Naaman drew before his humble abode, the prophet immediately knew the purpose of the visit and sent a messenger to Naaman, saying “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.” This made Naaman angry and he went away saying, “Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean?” Naaman, like so many today, depended more on what he thought than on what God had commanded. This Syrian captain was brought to himself, however, when one of his servants asked, “If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it?” Naaman realized how foolish he had been and went to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times as he had been commanded to do. When he came up out of the river, he was cured. What cured Naaman? Certainly not the water of the Jordan River, for if it had possessed any power to cleanse leprosy, surely all the lepers in the country would have been clean. Obviously Naaman was cleansed by the power of God, but the power was not applied until Naaman believed the messenger of God and demonstrated his trust by doing as he was commanded.

    And so it is with us: we are saved by the grace of God, but in order for God’s power to be applied we must do certain things. We are not saved by the things we do, but the things we do bring us within the scope of God’s grace and mercy. It is as if some benevolent person should offer a valuable reward to us, conditioned upon our doing certain acts. When we meet the terms of the offer we receive the gift, and it is nonetheless a gift. God offers to give man salvation. There is nothing we can do to earn or merit that salvation, but there is something we must do in order for God’s grace to be applied, bringing us the blessing of salvation. We are saved by God’s grace, and by our faith, but it is not of works, lest man should boast.

    “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now I’m found, Was blind, but now I see.”

    Section 1-Fill in the blanks

    Question 1
    __________ is the central theme of the Bible

    Question 2
    Four manifestations of grace are __________, the gift of __________, the __________ of __________, and the __________.

    Question 3
    One definition of grace is __________ __________.

    Question 4
    Man’s salvation is all __________ on God’s part and all __________ on man’s part.

    Question 5
    Naaman was healed of __________ by the power of God when he showed his belief and trust in God by __________ his command though the command seemed foolish to him.

    Section 2-Select the correct Answers
    Question 1
    The means that God has used to cleanse man of his sins is:
    animal sacrificethe blood of Christcharitable offerings

    Question 2
    We come in contact with the blood of Christ in:
    baptismour own deatha moral life

    Question 3
    Naaman was cleansed by:
    the water of the Jordan RiverElisha's striking his hand over the leprosythe power of God

    Question 4
    The power of God can only be applied to us, bringing us the blessing of salvation, when we:
    meet the terms of God's offerfollow our own desiresearn it

    Question 5
    Man accepts Gods grace and favor through:
    worldly wisdomfollowing traditionobedient faith

    Section 3-Complete the Scriptures

    Question 1
    “For the law was given by __________, but __________ and truth came by __________” (John 1:17).

    Question 2
    “And now, brethren, I comment you to God, and to the __________ of his __________, which is able to build you up, and to give you an __________ among them which are sanctified’ (Acts 20:32).

    Question 3
    “Therefore being justified by __________, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by __________ into this __________ wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1,2).

    Question 4
    “In whom we have __________ according to the riches of his __________” (Ephesians 1:7).

    Question 5
    “For the __________ of God that bringeth __________ hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).

    Please complete the form below.

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