Terms of Salvation
What Does a Person Need to Do to be Saved?
What Does It Mean to be Saved 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.
"For by grace ye are saved" (Eph. 2:5,8). If a person is saved, he is saved in only one way: by the marvelous, matchless grace of God!
What does this mean? What is GRACE? Grace is Gods unmerited favor, His undeserved kindness. Grace is Gods approval, Gods acceptance, Gods favor towards the sinner because of Jesus Christ. None of it is deserved. None of it is earned. The sinner does not merit it and cannot merit it. God has graciously and freely poured out His love and kindness toward the sinner who believes on His Son.
The Bible gives its own definition of Gods grace. In Ephesians chapter 2 Paul discusses salvation by grace alone. He defines Gods grace as "His kindness toward us [the undeserving ones described in Eph. 2:1-3] through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7). In Titus chapter 3 Paul writes that a person is saved purely by the mercy and grace of God (see verses 5 and 8, "not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us . . . justified by His grace"). In Titus 3:4 the grace of God is defined as "the kindness and love of God, our Saviour, toward man [even the undeserving man described in verse 3, "foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts, etc."].
The following relationships help us to better understand the grace of God:
The Relationship Between GRACE and WAGES
Grace has nothing to do with wages. A wage is something that a person works for and earns. Grace is something a person receives that he does not deserve and that he cannot and did not earn. A wage is payment for work done. Grace is something freely given based upon the work done by Another, even the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Relationship Between GRACE and DEBT
Grace has nothing to do with debt. Debt is something that is owed. Debt has to do with work and earnings. If a person works for someone, then that person owes him something. He needs to pay the worker for the work done. Grace is something freely given. God does not owe anyone salvation. If God were to give us what we have earned and what He owes us, it would be eternal death (Rom. 6:23a).
The Relationship Between GRACE and REWARD
Grace has nothing to do with receiving a reward. A reward is something that is given in return for good or evil done. Salvation is not a reward which God gives to a person in return for the good that the person has done. Salvation is by grace, based only upon the Person and work of Jesus Christ. It is based upon what He has done, not upon what the sinner has done. If God were to reward us for how we have lived, the reward would be eternal punishment. We deserve nothing less than hell.
The Relationship Between GRACE and MERCY
Grace focuses upon all that God gives to the sinner which the sinner does not deserve [such as eternal life, forgiveness of sins, peace with God, etc.]. Mercy focuses upon all that God does not give to the miserable sinner which he does deserve [such as Gods wrath, punishment, eternal death, hell, etc.]. God is gracious to the believing sinner in freely giving to Him the gift of Christ and all that comes with the gift of His Son (Romans 8:32), all of which he does not deserve. God is merciful to the believing sinner in that He has withheld His judgment and wrath upon him, all of which the sinner justly deserves.
The Relationship Between GRACE and FREE JUSTIFICATION
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24). When the Bible says that sinners are justified freely, what does this mean?
A key passage which helps us to understand this word "freely" is John 15:25"But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause" [this phrase without a cause is the same Greek word translated freely in Romans 3:24]. What does it mean when it says that the Lords enemies hated Him WITHOUT A CAUSE? It means that they had no reason to hate Him. There was not one thing that Christ did to deserve their hatred. Their hatred was undeserved and unearned.
Now let us apply this same meaning to Romans 3:24. The sinner is JUSTIFIED FREELY. He is justified "without a cause." There is no reason [found in the sinner] why God should justify this person. There is nothing that the sinner has done to deserve justification or salvation. The sinner is justified FREELY. This justification is not the result of anything that the sinner did. This justification or salvation is totally undeserved and unearned. It is by grace and it is totally free. The reason the sinner is saved is found in God, not in the sinner. It is based on the Lord Jesus Christwho He is and what He has done on Calvarys cross. It is not based on the sinners anything. It is based on Gods everything. God and God alone does the saving. Salvation is of the Lord! "Saved by grace alone, this is all my plea!" "Oh to grace how great a debtor daily Im constrained to be!"
The Relationship Between GRACE and BOASTING
If a person is saved by grace, then boasting [in self] is absolutely and totally excluded. "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith" (Rom. 3:27). Salvation is by grace and not of works, "lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8). All the sinner can do is boast and glory in the Lord, "That, according as it is written, He that glorieth [boasteth], let him glory [boast]in the Lord" (1 Cor. 1:31).
Boasting says, "Look at what I have done! Look at what I have earned! Look at the good I have performed! Look at my good works! Look at what I have accomplished! Look at my dedication! Look at my commitment! Look at my love for the Saviour! Look at my surrender to Christ! Look at my obedience to His commands! Look at my submission to His Word!" ALL SUCH BOASTING IS EXCLUDED because salvation is by grace through faith. The person saved by grace says, "Look at what my Saviour has done! Look at what He has accomplished!" The person who is saved looks away from SELF and looks unto the crucified and risen Saviour!
The Relationship Between GRACE and WORKS
Consider Romans 11:5-6, "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." Grace and works are two principles that are utterly opposed. They are mutually exclusive. They are contrary the one to the other. If you have grace then you cannot have works. If you have works, then you cannot have grace. If you have a free gift, then it cannot be earned or paid for. If you work for something and earn it, then it cannot be a free gift. If it is a debt, then it cannot be grace. If it is a reward, then it cannot be grace. Salvation is either all of grace or else it is all of works. And the Bible insists that it is all of grace, "not of works" (Eph. 2:8; Tit. 3:5).
You cannot and must not add works in any shape, form or manner to the grace of God. Why not? ". . . otherwise grace is no more grace." When it comes to our salvation, God wants and God deserves and God demands all of the credit! God does not want most of the credit and thus allow man to have a little of the credit! No, God gets all of the glory and all of the credit, because it is God who alone does the saving! As the hymn says, "Gods grace has planned it all--tis mine but to believe and recognize the work of love and Christ receive."
If man were to deserve some of the credit for salvation (even a little), then man would have some basis whereby he could boast. But God says that boasting is totally excluded (Rom. 3:27) and that "no flesh should glory in his presence" (1 Cor. 1:29). Salvation is something that the sinner does not deserve at all, not even in the slightest bit. A person is saved by the free, unmerited favor and grace of God PLUS NOTHING ELSE!
In considering the relationship between grace and works it is helpful to examine Romans 4:4, "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." Here is the person who works! This person is a total stranger to the grace of God. He knows nothing of the grace of God. He foolishly thinks that he will be blessed and rewarded for his works. He foolishly thinks that God owes him something because of how he lives. He somehow thinks that his works and his love for God and his commitment to God and his surrender to God and his obedience to God have earned him salvation. Quite the contrary! The only reward he will get is eternal death.
In Romans 4:5 we have a description of the person who is justified freely by Gods grace: "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Notice that he is the person THAT DOES NOT WORK! He does not work at all! He is not trusting or counting on anything that he has done. He realizes that there is not one thing that he has ever done that could earn one drop of favor or approval or acceptance before a holy God!
He does not work! What then does he do? He believes! He believes on the God who justifies freely by His grace! We must not miss the significance of Romans 4:5, "that worketh not, but believeth." This tells us very clearly that faith is not a work. This person does not work but he believes. Faith is not a work. Rather, faith is resting upon the work of Another. Faith is resting all of ones weight on the WORTH (the Person, who He is), on the WORK (what He has done) and on the WORD (what He has said) of Jesus Christ. Faith is non-meritorious. If believing were a work, then we could boast about our faith: "Look at what I have done! I have believed!" How silly! Believing is not some good work that we do. Believing is a humble recognition on the part of the guilty, broken and contrite sinner that he has done no good before a holy God and that his only hope is found in Jesus Christ. There is nothing good about a persons faith. It is the Saviour who is good and who is great, and our faith must be in Him. Faith in itself gives us no merit before God. Faith does not boast except in a crucified and risen Saviour!
The Relationship Between FAITH and GRACE
"For BY GRACE are ye saved THROUGH FAITH" (Eph. 2:8). Faith and grace go together. Why? Faith is the "hand of the heart" that reaches out and receives Gods free gift which is totally undeserved and unmerited. We need to make a difference between the gift (salvation) and the reception of the gift (faith). See our study on Ephesians 2:8-9.
The Relationship Between JUSTIFICATION BY GRACE and WORKS
Consider Romans 3:28; 4:6, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without [apart from] the deeds of the law . . . Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without [apart from] works." Justification by grace is totally "without" or "apart from" works.
This same Greek word is used in Hebrews 4:15 of Jesus Christ who was "without sin." This means that the Saviour had no sin whatsoever. He was totally WITHOUT SIN. Likewise, justification or salvation by grace has no works whatsoever! God saves the believing sinner totally apart from any works which he has done (Tit. 3:5).
If you charge the character of Jesus Christ with just one little sin, then you have totally destroyed [not actually but by accusation] the perfect, sinless character of the Saviour. You have made Him a sinner [by attributing sin to Him]. Likewise, if you add one little work of any kind to salvation then you have totally destroyed the gospel and it is no longer salvation by grace. Works must never be added as a requirement for salvation ("you must do such and such in order to be saved"). Justification is totally apart from works.
The true gospel is the "gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). Any other gospel is under the awesome curse and anathema of God [Galatians chapter 1, and note especially verse 6. What these false teachers had moved away from was "the grace of God."] The true gospel is a message of good news about a great Saviour who saves people in only one way: BY HIS GRACE!! FREELY BY HIS GRACE!! ONLY BY HIS GRACE!! Any so-called gospel message which mingles or mixes works in any way, shape or form is a false gospel and Gods curse is upon it. Notice Galatians 2:16 where THREE TIMES IN ONE VERSE we read "not by works"!
The Relationship Between SALVATION and THOSE WORKS THAT PLEASE GOD
Good works are the RESULT of salvation. We are not saved by good works but we are saved "unto good works." "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). Likewise in Titus 3:8, "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men." Good works are not something that a person must do in order to be saved. Good works are something that a saved person does because he is saved and because God is working in and through Him (Phil. 2:13).
The danger comes when we take what ought to be the RESULT of salvation and make it the REQUIREMENT for salvation. Never put the cart before the horse! Good works should always follow salvation but good works are not the requirement or the means of salvation.
The Relationship Between GODS GRACE and ANTINOMIANISM
There are two great errors, relating to the grace of God, that have plagued the church throughout the centuries. The first of these is the error of "turning the grace of God into lasciviousness [absence of restraint, uncontrolled lust, unbridled lust]--see Jude 4. This error expresses itself in this way, "Because I am saved by grace apart from any works at all, I can live any way I please." This error has been labeled antinomianism [against law] or lawlessness. It is using the grace of God as an excuse for lawlessness and every kind of ungodly type of living.
The Bible gives a strong answer to this error: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:1-2). "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:11-12).
The Relationship Between GODS GRACE and LEGALISM
The second great error, relating to the grace of God, is legalism. Legalism is adding some kind of work as a requirement for salvation. One example of this is found in Acts 15:1"And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." Here we have circumcision added as a requirement for salvation [Gods grace + circumcision = salvation]. Peter answered this error in no uncertain terms: "And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe . . . But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they" (Acts 15:7,11). The Gentiles did not need to be circumcised in order to be saved. ALL THEY NEEDED TO BE SAVED WAS THE GRACE OF GOD! All they needed to be saved was faith in Jesus Christ, Gods only Saviour!
The Relationship Between GODS GRACE and LORDSHIP LEGALISM
This brings us to a teaching of our day, common in Reformed circles, popularly known as LORDSHIP SALVATION. Essentially Lordship salvation teaches that simple faith in Jesus Christ is not enough for salvation. Something else is needed. A solid commitment to Christ as Lord is needed. A person needs to surrender to the Lordship of Christ. A willingness to obey Christs commands is necessary. Also the sinner must fulfill the demands of discipleship or be willing to fulfill them. This includes loving Christ supremely, forsaking possessions, etc. (see Luke 14:25-33).
What do Lordship teachers do with Acts 16:30-31? ["And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."] This verse teaches that the sinner must do the believing and that God must do the saving. It teaches that faith and faith alone is necessary for salvation. It does not say, "Believe and surrender to Christs Lordship and fulfill the terms of discipleship and thou shalt be saved." It simply says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."
What does it mean to believe? The hymn-writer has explained it in very simple terms, "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word, just to rest upon His promise, just to know THUS SAITH THE LORD!" Those who teach Lordship salvation are forced to redefine saving faith. It means more than just simple, childlike faith in Jesus Christ. They might say something like this: "We believe in Acts 16:31 just as much as you do, but you need to understand what the word believe really means. Believe means more than just believe. Saving faith involves much more."
What does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Lordship salvation teachers would say that it involves the following:
It means surrendering to His Lordship.
It means turning from sin.
It means submitting to His authority and to His Word.
It means obeying His commands, or at least having a willingness to obey.
It means fully accepting all the terms of discipleship.
Consider this last statement. Does saving faith really involve accepting all the terms of discipleship? Does saving faith really include such requirements as loving Christ supremely, forsaking all that one has, denying self, etc. (Luke 14:25-33, etc.)? A saved person should do all of these things, but he does not do these things in order to be saved. He is saved because he throws himself upon the mercy of a loving Saviour who died for him. One reason why he needs to be saved is because he does not love Christ supremely. He is guilty of breaking the greatest commandment!
It is not our COMMITMENT that saves us, it is our CHRIST who saves us! It is not our SURRENDER that saves us, it is our SAVIOUR who does! It is not what I do for God; its what God has done for me.
Avoid the dangerous error of taking what should be the RESULT of salvation and making it the REQUIREMENT of salvation:
It is because I am saved that I surrender to His Lordship (Rom. 12:1-2).
It is because I am saved that I turn from sin and begin to learn what it means to live unto righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).
It is because I am saved that I follow Him in willing obedience (1 John 2:3-5).
It is because I am saved that I agree to the terms of discipleship and begin to learn all that discipleship involves (Luke chapter 14).
It is because I am saved that I submit to His authority over every area of my life (Rom. 6:13).
I do these things because I am saved by the grace of God, not in order to be saved. Do not turn the results into requirements! Dont turn the grace of God into legalism [adding unbiblical requirements to the gospel message]. Dont confuse saving faith with that which saving faith ought to produce. Dont confuse repentance with the fruits of repentance. Behavior and fruit are the evidences of saving faith but they are not the essence of saving faith. Dont confuse the fruit with the root. Before you can "come after" Christ in discipleship (Luke 9:23; Matt. 11:29-30), you must "come unto" Christ for salvation (Matthew 11:28). Discipleship is not a requirement for salvation; discipleship is the obligation of every saved person. Salvation involves Christ loving me (Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20); discipleship involves me loving Christ (Matthew 10:37). Because we are justified freely by His grace we measure up to the full demands of Gods righteousness in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Because we are frail we often fail to measure up to the full demands of discipleship (Luke 14:25-33). The requirements of discipleship are many; the requirement for salvation is simple faith and trust in the Saviour. A Comparison and Contrast Between SALVATION and DISCIPLESHIP
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