Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Thursday, April 21st. Self-effort can get you far in this world, but those attitudes get in the way of a relationship with God. Stay tuned to discover why you have to rely wholly on Christ to have eternal life.
I'm Charles Stanley, and welcome back to Truth Network. Now, what is salvation? Because oftentimes people say, well, yes, I think I'm saved. But what is salvation? Salvation is the work of God, whereby he delivers us from eternal death and endows us with eternal life. So the whole idea that Paul has in mind here is this is to explain how it is that God delivers us from eternal death and endows us as a gift with eternal life.
How does he do that? He says it is by grace and grace alone. And I believe that one of the primary reasons for the struggle that goes on is while we say we believe it and we sing about it, deep down inside we are still working to add to, to be sure of that we indeed are remaining saved. So what place does works have in the Christian life? Well, look, if you will, in verse 10, because after he says that we're saved by grace, by God's unmerited and undeserved favor, notice what he says in verse 10, because he gets back to works. For we are his workmanship. That is, we're not self-made Christians. We are his workmanship, listen to this, created in Christ Jesus that is saved by him, become new creatures.
Look at this now. We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus. What does that next phrase say? For good works. That is one of the motivations for saving us is good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. So then what is the place of work in the Christian life?
It certainly has nothing to do with becoming one. Works has nothing to do with becoming a Christian. It is one of the motivations for which God saves us. And what he says is that he prepared beforehand, before God ever brought you into this world, God had a choice in your life for you. I think he had many choices in our life. He doesn't just leave us up to make choices in our life. And he's many things he's prepared and planned beforehand for us.
One of them is how we'll spend our life. He gifts us the spiritual gifts that you have. God gives you spiritual gifts to equip you for what he wants you to do or how he wants you to spend or invest your life.
So you're not here just by happenstance and some people are very capable in areas because God wants to use them in those areas. Now, when he says prepared that you and I should walk in them, that means that serving God is not optional. Somebody says, well, you know, I think I'll serve him. I think I won't.
That's not even an option. Look at what this says. He says, for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.
Now, that's just simple and plain as it can be. He saved us. One of his primary reasons for saving us is good works.
He says, which God prepared beforehand that you and I should walk in them. It is a way of life. It is a lifestyle. Did you know that a Christian who does not serve God is totally unscriptural?
Whether you're a college student or a mother, a father, a grandparent, it makes no difference what you are. Good works should be a part of our life from the moment we're saved. Let your life be such that people will see the good works in your life now that you're saved and they'll do what?
They'll look at you, listen, and not glorify you and me. It is not that we be glorified, but that God be glorified by people seeing what God is doing in your life. So let me ask you a question. Is there anything going on in your life that someone will look at your life and say, boy, God's doing something in her life.
God's doing something in his life. When is the last time someone walked up to you and said, I really would like to know God the way you know him? When's the last time anybody said that to you? Let me ask you that again. When is the last time someone came up to you or has anyone ever come up to you and said, I believe you know something about God.
I'd like to know. I wish I had the kind of relationship to Jesus that you have. I wish I wish I could be as excited about God as you are. I wish I love the scriptures like you love them. I wish I understood the Bible like you understand it.
A lot of questions they could ask. Listen, if our light, if our Christian experience is being lived out the way it should be, somebody ought to be asking us something. Because he says, you and I were created in Christ Jesus under good works. Let your light so shine, which means that there should be something about the normal Christian life. That somebody will see us and something is going to be so radiant in us. Something is going to be so evident about us. Something about our life is going to have some kind of aura about it.
That somebody is going to want to know who we know and what it is about God that we know that's changed their life or made us happy. Now, that's what the works are all about. Has nothing to do with salvation, because listen, dead men can't shine.
They can't shine. Dead men can't work. Works of darkness, works of evil, works of the flesh, but nothing that's going to glorify the Father. You see, a lost person can't glorify God. First of all, the heart's full of sin. And they're separated from God.
And the motivation is selfish. But he says, let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify the Father. Want to know Him, desire Him in their life. That's the place of works in the life of the believer. What is the place of faith? Look at this verse. He says, by grace have you been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
I want to say this again and again and again because it is so very important. Faith is not what gets me saved. The death of Jesus is what gets us saved. Faith is the channel. Faith is my expression of acceptance. If I really trust Him, that is, I receive Him as my personal Savior. So he says, by grace God's unmerited, undeserved, love and favor toward us are we saved through faith.
That is, the moment I accept what Jesus did at the cross, personally applied to my life, then he says salvation becomes my gift. Now look at this. He says, not of works lest anyone should boast, even my faith.
Now look at this. He says that we are saved through faith and that not of yourselves. Now the word that, what does that refer to? Does it refer to grace or does it refer to faith?
Well the truth is it could refer to either one of them. And it doesn't make any difference because your faith to trust God is a gift. And the grace of God is a gift. It's all of Him and none of us. When we can come to the conclusion that everything that comes our way, all of God's goodness and love and mercy, His salvation and all that He has to offer us is absolutely from Him and has nothing to do with our goodness, nothing to do with our works, then we're going to start loving God on a whole different level.
And we're going to be able to enjoy our relationship on a whole different level. That we're the recipients of the love of God. He says He's poured it out in our heart. And when God pours out His love, He pours it out in abundance, overflowing, abounding in love.
That is the gift of every single believer. Where did that come from? We sure didn't pump it up. The Bible says He poured it out. We didn't pump it up.
We didn't work it up. He poured it out upon us. That is the grace of God. So if you'll notice He says in this passage, the condition of man, His sinful condition requires that salvation is by grace alone. Secondly, that the, His unacceptability of our works, that is the fact that our works are unacceptable requires that it's by grace and grace alone. The third thing I want you to notice here is this, that the very nature of grace requires that it is what? It is grace only. Now what have we said? We said grace means without merit.
There is not anything within you. Go back, if you will, to the first chapter of Ephesians and look at this fourth verse. He says, just as He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love.
Now listen, He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, not on our merit, not on what we would do, not what we would promise to do, had nothing to do with what's on the inside of us. None of our works. It is pure grace. It is God's love poured out. Now I know what you may be thinking.
I think the same thing we think. Lord, how could you love me that much? Right. You can't answer that question. How could He love us like that? Because He's God. And the wonderful thing about Him, listen, there is not anything within God to inhibit His love.
You see, you can't do anything to cause Him not to love you. He understands us fully, absolutely and completely. Think about being totally, absolutely and overwhelmingly loved by God, whose love absolutely never changes. The very nature of grace says it's got to be grace only. It can't be anything mixed up with that. If you mix anything with that, it is no longer grace, but rather it is grace plus works.
And He says there's no way for that to happen. Look, if you will, in Romans chapter 11. Romans chapter 11, He says a little differently there.
And the sixth verse. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. Now, you know what that does? Somebody says, well, you know, that looks like to me that gives me license to sin.
No, here's what it does if you'll think about it. What it really does is absolutely, totally humble us. Because what it says is salvation is absolutely and totally the work of God.
We are totally dependent upon Him. There's not anything we can do except to receive it by faith. It is all God and none of us. And instead of giving us license to sin, that ought to humble us. And so He says in this passage, the very nature of grace itself, you cannot pay God back and you cannot change it.
Now, here's the fourth and the last one. That is in this passage, He says, God's supreme purpose for saving man requires that it is grace alone. What is His supreme purpose? Well, it's certainly not to make us feel good, to keep us out of hell.
It certainly isn't to make us have joy and peace and happiness in life, though those things may be true. What is His supreme purpose for saving us? Now, I've brought you this verse of Scripture a number of times and I'm not too sure how many people got this, but in this context, maybe you will. Look back, if you will, and let's start in verse four of Ephesians two. Look, if you will, in verse four.
But God, being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you've been saved. And He says, now here's what He did to us. And raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Now, here's what He says. When He saved us, remember this, the Bible says that He placed us into Christ. That is, we're a part of Him. And where is He? Seated at the Father's right hand. In the mind of holy God, every single believer is seated with Him in Christ in the heavenly places.
That is, at the Father's right hand. We're all there. Because of our relationship to Him physically, spiritually, emotionally, and every other way I'm here, but He says I'm also there. He says I don't understand that, thank God you don't have to understand it, just believe it. He says we're in Christ Jesus and Christ Jesus is in us.
We believe that part. He says He raised us up with Him that we are seated in the heavenly places in Christ. That is our eternal security.
We're in Him. Verse 7, here is His supreme purpose for saving every single person. In order that in the ages to come, that is in the future eternity, He, that is God, may show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Now what in the world does that mean? That God's ultimate purpose, now go back for just a moment, you know He didn't have to allow sin in the world. That isn't something that Satan did apart from the power of God. God could have created this universe and He could have eliminated, He could have made the earth so that there absolutely would have been no sin whatsoever. You say well why in the world didn't He do it? Wouldn't things have been better, wouldn't we have just lived in this wonderful marvelous thing called earth and just been one big huge garden of Eden?
Well it could have been I suppose. So why did God allow sin? He allowed man to choose to rebel against Him and knowing that He was going to rebel against Him, He chose anyway to allow man to rebel and then turn right around and immediately began His redemption plan on earth which was already predetermined beforehand and began to save man and He says in the future, in all future eternity, He says what He has done is in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Listen, what He's saying is this, that all the principalities and all the powers and all the celestial beings and all the terrestrial beings and all beings that they are, they will glorify and magnify God the Father above everything else for His rich grace toward sinful human beings because all the celestial beings know how sinful man is and so you and I He says will be everlasting living eternal trophies of the richness of the grace of Almighty God. What will bring Him more glory than anything else in all eternal future is what? One saved sinner will bring the Father more glory than the entire creation. You say, well, but look at all of these people who are lost, right?
I understand that. But look at this verse. He says in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Friend, God didn't allow man to fall just out of some happenstance. There was purpose in it. Now, friend, you're talking about grace and goodness and love and mercy and bringing glory to the Father. Now, what should that say to us?
That says that every single one of us, listen, every single one of us will be an eternal trophy. So grace isn't licensed for sin. Grace is a motivation for holy living. Grace is a motivation to want to serve God and to want to work for Him and to want to be what He wants us to be.
Why? We're living eternal trophies of the grace of God. Every celestial being will see us and give glory and praise and honor to God. Do you realize how important you are? There's no such thing as an unimportant saint. You may come to church and feel like, well, nobody knows me and I'm a nobody and I don't count.
Let me tell you something, friend. In glory, you're going to count just as much as anybody counts because you're a trophy of His grace. He did something for you. He's never done for an angel. He saved us out of our sins and is making us like His Son.
Friend, that is grace. And it can be yours simply for the asking because, you see, He says, for by grace are you saved through faith. It doesn't make any difference how vile and wicked you've been. It makes no difference what you've done in your past if you're willing to ask God to save you, to forgive you of your sins and to make you one of His children that you do believe that His death at the cross, the death of His Son, Christ, paid your sin debt.
That's why He died. The moment you're willing to accept that is payment for your sin and receive Him by faith. In that split second, you become a child of God and you are forever a child of God and He says He forgives us for every single solitary sin by grace.
That's why it's amazing. When I think about the fact that God has saved you and me, that's amazing. And it is marvelous and it is greater than all of our sins. That is the grace of God. Thank you for listening to Part 2 of Grace Alone. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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