Share This Episode
The Bible Study Hour James Boice Logo

Salvation by Grace Alone

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
June 25, 2021 8:00 am

Salvation by Grace Alone

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 586 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

June 25, 2021 8:00 am

We know that salvation is by grace alone, but what about good works? Where do they fit in? Dr. Boice explains what he calls the deepest theology - the theology of salvation - by looking at the past, present, and future of salvation from God's point of view.


We know that salvation is by grace alone, but what about good works. Where do they fit in coming up on the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce explains what he calls the deepest theology the theology of salvation by looking at the past, present and future of salvation from God's point of view and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. You probably never expected to hear stories about fortunetellers and zombies from Dr. Boyce and they are certainly not the central feature of today's message from Ephesians 2. What is central and of eternal importance is the salvation of sinners by grace alone second chapter of Ephesians contains within it. Some of the best-known verses of all the Bible. Matter fact, they are probably the exception of John 316 and possibly 23rd Psalm of verses that more Christians memorize in any other owner, John 316 God so loved the world gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Many of us recite Psalm 23 and other passages also but it would seem that virtually every Christian.

At one point or another. Stop to read study meditate upon and inwardly digest the words of Ephesians 2894 it is by grace you have been saved through faith is not from yourselves the gift of God not of works lest anyone should boast those verses have three parts. They tell us how we are saved by grace. Tell us how the grace of God in salvation comes to us is through faith. And they tell us how we are not safe and explain why not by works of the reason is most of those verses which we focus so much of our thinking about the gospel or in the context of the immediate context is section that contains the first 10 verses of chapter began by speaking the Christians past the change that is common to the life of the Christian by the grace of God and then they speak about the Christian future as well. Context isn't the whole context, those verses are best seen against the background of chapter 1. When we began to study the subject of grace theologically or doctrinally based upon this book, we began that first great chapter.

Now they both talk about salvation. What's the difference well. The difference is this. Chapter 1 talks about salvation from the point of view of God does what God has… The father is God in electing salvation son has done and redeeming us from our sin. What the Holy Spirit is donning joining us that Jesus Christ saving why applying the benefits of his death of the individual Christian is all from God's perspective and we come to the second chapter in the second chapter describes the same thing, but it doesn't. From our point of that is how it's affected us what we were what we have the comments remind me that years ago I attend church. We began to write a Sunday school curriculum, which is still in use in some parts of the Sunday school because of time was not a Sunday school curriculum. The did quite what we thought should be done. Many of them are rather strong in biblical theology, but they were poor in pedagogy and others had good methods of instruction, but they were poor theologically and in any case, it is quite teach any of the theology we wanted that we devise curriculum which had a three year cycle first year we taught basic doctrines things like sin, salvation, faith and repentance of Christian life and then second year in which we approach the same thing from the point of view of the church, talking about sin, salvation, but rather what is the church.

How do you get to be a member of the church function within the church talking about relationships in that year and then in the third year we approach the same thing.

Historically, what is God doing in history and how do we fit in. Now I mentioned that because there is something quite similar to that in the book of Ephesians chapter 1 the theology of salvation, the deepest theology because it deals with what God is.that's why we considered election redemption application.

Chapter 2 is the relational aspect is what we do in our second year of that curriculum here were talking about how you become a member of the church how you function with. Then finally, all in the third chapter and onto the end of the book.

Instead, talk about the place of the Christian hasn't history what God is doing and how we finance out there's a parallel there. I give that illustrate kind of ongoing development of font that you have in the book of Ephesians when we compare chapters 1 and two. One way of talking about it is this in the first chapter, we have the past present and future of salvation from God's point of view is elected us in the past redeemed us in the present and the application is something that's ongoing in the second chapter of Ephesians we have the past present and future of salvation from our point of view. I reminds me of a great story. One of my favorite stories from life Harry Ironside Harry Ironside was a great Bible teacher of the previous generation as pastor of Moody Church in Chicago for many years but this came from earlier in his ministry when he was doing itinerant work out in California got around by train largely in those days and he was on the train on occasion on the way to a series of meetings in the southern part of California setting reviewing his notes when the gypsy got on. They made her way down the aisle. She was obviously looking for people that she could persuade the payer money to tell her fortune and she stopped beside Ironside that Sir crossed my poem of the silver quarter and I will tell you your future.

Ironside said somewhat humorously to himself and Lisa, are you sure you can do that. I'm a Scotch abscess. I sure wouldn't want to give up water unless I could be sure you can really do it all. Yes sir. She said she was very serious because my poem with the silver quarter and I will give you your plaster present in your future online sites that is really no need for you to do that because I've already had my passport present in my future hold was somewhat surprised she said you have. Yes, he said that if I have it written down in the book.

She said all yes. He said he reached in his pocket he pulled out his New Testament and he turned to the second chapter of Ephesians and said look at my placidly began to read verses 1 to 3 of this great chapter is for you.

You were dead in trespasses and sins in which you used to live when you follow the ways of the world ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit was now at work in those were disobedient always also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest we were by nature, objects of wrath. Gypsy didn't want to hear is trying to get away that I say wait a minute, you've only heard my pastor have to hear my present to herein as he began to read verses 4 to 6 because of his great love toward us, God is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions and sin is by grace you have been saved and God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

This point the gypsy was literally struggling to get away. Ironside said he had to put his hand on her arm to restrain her said no more. I don't want to hear anymore, but he wasn't ready to quit. He said you have to hear my future to began to read from verses seven to tenant that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. By this time the gypsy was down the aisle. She went by people who were sitting there, they could hear her say I took the wrong man well that's what we have in Ephesians 2, Ironside was exactly right, plaster present and our future. If we are believers in Jesus Christ point of the contrast between our past, our president, our glorious future is all due to the grace of God studying I talked about our past first versus I just read what is the size of four different things.

First, Wally says that our past, spiritually speaking, we were dead in our transgressions, spiritually dead. I suppose in the whole history of the human rights have only been three basic views of human nature, and to express its language very easy to understand. Simply, this number one that we are well number two second number three that we are dead on the first view is the view of optimists for most people want to be optimistically swear human nature is concerned, they have a lot of pessimists around their pessimistic about the Republican Party and its chances of turning the economy around their Democrats are of the Republicans are very pessimistic about the Democrats. All of the candidates are pessimistic about the other people know anything about the economy are pessimistic about the economy. The Japanese are very pessimistic about America and America for its part, as a share of pessimism in the looks of the other world economies were pessimistic about everything, but not really about human nature.

So optimism probably is the prevailing view in the view that says human beings are alright, maybe not. Absolutely perfect. Certainly doing fine and well on the way to you of optimists. Never mind the world than the mass and still as we have been able to clear it up thousands of years of human history nevertheless prevails well. Second, it was a nanosecond on that's the view of a lot of Christian shouldn't be there view their view out of the third of the biblical view which is expressed here, but that view goes like this. It says human beings are now something really wrong with human nature. But it's not absolutely hopeless. People are sick. I may even be mentally ill, virtually on their deathbed, but as one is life there is hope. So we shouldn't give up hope we can keep working and who knows psychiatry modern medicine better environment. Perhaps even genetic engineering to away all of the blanks like human nature, down through the centuries, so they want to save it sick, certainly not more biblical view of the view that we have here in these verses is a man is not well that is not sick and is dead spiritually speaking.

What that means is that he is unable to respond to God himself as a corpse is to respond to physical stimuli. That's why you see when we speak about Jesus Christ of the unsaved.

Unless God regenerates and gives him a new nature is absolutely hopeless doesn't mean we should give up hope because God regenerates the testimony of the teaching of his worth why we do it does mean we don't think that we can persuade people by our own logic or eloquence God has to do that as we got spiritually unresponsive to the preaching of the gospel of God is a miracle now. The second thing Paul says about human nature here is that although human beings are dead in sin, there nevertheless actively practicing evil see how he does it is for you. You were dead in transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you follow the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air. That's a strange kind of death at least conceivable years ago, one of our early conferences on reformed theology.

Jonathan Gerstner was here former professor at Pittsburgh theological seminary now retired and he was speaking on this text and he compared it to a zombie. Not everybody knows what a zombie is the sort of thing that you find horror stories, especially the kind of comic books, whole lot of us read those anymore. We did when we were children, but a zombie.

For those of you don't know what a zombie is a corpse and somebody was dead but is less a corpse is walking around and it's a disgusting sort of thing. Hardly anybody think of anything more horrible than that except that in the worst of the zombie stories only is this dead body up walking around its decaying so it's offensive as it can be well. Gerstner said that's the way God sees human beings dead in their trespasses, struggling around on their feet even though morally decaying from day-to-day last struggling around practicing evil in every opportunity to the fullest imaginable degree are not set because you don't find decaying corpse very appetizing to carry the image over it's a way of segment in the Gospels of God, you stink. That's the second thing he says dad. Nevertheless, practicing evil things as were enslaved to sin always speaks about that in different ways we talk about the Christians three great enemies being the world, the flesh of the double combination of ideas that grew up in the liturgy of the church over the years with all the say that here. You look at it carefully you'll find two speaking of our enslavement to the world because we follow the ways of the world's to as we think, the way the world thinks. With no regard for the health of our sales are final destiny's people go along filling their heads in their lives with all of the things that are part of our culture and they don't give a second block of the fact that one day that God that's being slain in the ways of the world.

They were enslaved in the flesh.

Also, because as Paul says in verse three are natural desire is to gratify the cravings of our sinful nature to follow its desires and thoughts.

That is we want what we want our sinful nature wants regardless of what God teaches concerning his desires what is right is what we want. That's what human nature is like and then finally, as Paul also says there were enslaved to the devil got just as we follow the ways of the world. So does he say in these verses we follow. Also, after the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now in work and those were disobedient surgical formula world the flesh and the devil describes not only source temptation.

Also the nature of our enslavement. Third thing Paul says in the fourth thing this is even worse samplers being dentists the worst possible thing thing enslaved. Perhaps the worst possible thing that the final thing Paul says in these verses that describe our past is that we are objects of God's wrath. I say that doesn't sound so bad cost because we don't think of God's wrath very much probably never think about it all. One example of what it means to be enslaved to the ways of the world pick up the New York Times on a normal day and read it. You don't find an editorial there about the wrath of God by magazine doesn't write about the judgment come world just doesn't think about these things but Paul says nevertheless that's our condition, our sin, we are objects of the wrath of God. We stand under his wrath.

One day will experiences full condemnation.

The Bible of course is a lot about the wrath of God in the Old Testament about 20 different words that are used to describe different aspects of the wrath of God. The New Testament of the Greek language which is not quite as rich as the Hebrew at this point or two works. First word is loss means rush along fiercely as in the heat of anger and one day refers to a slow building up of anger is very significant work. Thomas occurs in Revelation of the word organic is found throughout the rest of the New Testament New Testament describes the slow accumulation of the wrath of God against wickedness and ungodliness of men and women around which is going to be poured out fiercely on the last day of Revelation says Bible says, speaking of God in his mind within. I will repay, and the Lord will judge his people is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of the living God that surpass his grace of God comes in but we meet next God out of his great love for us. Save this is by grace that were saved by great but changes everything. One of the great studies that you can do in the word of God is to go through it fine significant points which you find the word God's aspirin human point of view, God God all things are possible.

That's what happens here, but how does it change everything you see, we were dead in sin.

God has made us alive in Jesus Christ.

We were enslaved to sin, but God is raising Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms are no slaves in heaven. We were objects of his wrath.

But God has made as objects of his overwhelming grace. That's a great worker's rights by grace is a simple corpse deserve nothing but burial God because of his love. Because of his grace saved us from that loss condition years ago I came across a great story with illustration of grace and one of the writings of Donald Ray Barnhouse concerns a man named Henry Moorhouse was a social worker in London in the last century was a friend of the movies one day in his work. There is poor area of London.

He was walking along the street and he saw a little girl come out of the store with a picture of milk in her hands sent store buyer family could tell from her dress was one of the poorer families of the neighborhood and he watched a little bit.

She came by, she stumbled going up over the curb stumbled her hands relaxed her grip on the picture she was carrying a fellow pavement had broken the milk ran everywhere and she began to cry over to talk to or see of calm her down. Don't cry little girl. He said she kept crying she settled my mom ill with me mommy with only said it's not as bad as all that.

So he stooped down beside her. There the sidewalk and he picked up the pieces of the broken crockery and he tried to put back together again soon as he did not stop crying. Obviously she'd come from a family in which he seemed crockery mended before this kind stranger can do something about it. So she watched while he didn't got a few of the pieces assembled, but then finally came to a moment where he was trying to attach the handle he got to Robert all fell down again and this time she cried, his heart would break couldn't get her to stop. He said little girl cry promise to your mother's not going to with Zoe picked her up in his arms. He walked down the street to a shop crockery picture.

And when he had picture carrying it in one hand girl in the other. He went back to the shop where she bought the balcony had them fill the picture then with a picture of one hand of the little girl the other. He asked her where she lives. She told him he or through the gate down the front step picture amount placed it in her hands open the door and said now little girl. Your mother with you said to him, bright smile that made it all worthwhile. No star because it's a lot better picture you had before.

Now use that of Arnaz after it was a great illustration of grace and is a good illustration of grace because you see little girl didn't deserve anything for Moorhouse have any claim upon God's favor because she was particularly good looking, and she certainly didn't pay for it. Moreover, when he helped Terry didn't even patch up the picture was just motion he went through. Show how hopeless the thing was, he gave a whole new picture just the way God saves us.

He doesn't patch up our old sinful nature gives a whole new nature in Jesus Christ sends his Holy Spirit to live within us is all of grace I don't have any claim upon them a possible claim that we have we been good.

That's the problem we haven't been that we desire his favorite. We don't even desire is favorably run away from that were struggling to get free of our sin and bondage on our quite happy in our sin and bondage.

We are objects of his wrath. And we deserve every single bit of spite of fine going to be gracious. One other thing says not only that were saved by grace also says that were saved. Faith is the channel through which this grace, somebody will say wall does not sound like a contradiction, they were saved by grace when you say were saved. Faith you can't be saved by two things simultaneously. Contradiction is only an apparent one in the works and the text makes it perfectly clear we are saved by grace through faith. And even that faith is not of yourself to God works with anyone should boast the says it's a gift of God and the incidence of grace.

What Paul is saying is that even the faith is given to us because God is gracious God was God did that. We wouldn't believe it's true that we have to believe God does not believe for us as a human action made possible because God regenerates us, which is what describes it in the sentence but made alive in him so we can believe the look of faith again next time because were going to move from Ephesians to Romans were talk about justification can talk about justification without talking about faith to come back here that are faster than we look at our present for the last verses of this section talk about our future and the two kinds of future letters and distant future and immediate future of the distant future as described his words in order that in the ages to come.

Coming ages God might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus to understand very much what that means.

The reason we don't as it has been revealed to first Corinthians 29 says no. I have seen, nor ear has heard your mind is conceive of God is prepared for those who love him stroke the next verse goes on to say, but God revealed to us by his Spirit in the context shows what he's talking about. There is the mysteries of the gospel, and not our future joy in heaven.

We don't have a whole lot of information about that we really could know there's no good thing that God will ever withhold most of whom he shows his favor. Eternity is going to be a time to enjoy the fullness of the grace of God. That's the distant future strikes me most about these verses is not that distant future is laid up for us in heaven, but rather the immediate future.

Paul talks about in these words were. He says that we are created to do good works. That's fascinating is verse immediately. For this, it says God saved us by grace, so it won't be of works, lest anyone should boast about this verse says God created us to do good works established before breast dollars that a contradiction all verse tells us that we are saved by the grace of God and works did not enter into it in the slightest second verse says that we are saved by grace entirely by grace, then we will do good works as a matter of fact we don't do good work. You chose we really are not saved by grace, something that I'm convinced the evangelical church in America very much needs as if they read Ephesians 21 to 10. Up to this point, but they leave off the end saying and I do say that they say it explicitly, you will be saved by the grace of God without any transformation in your life. What so ever go on living exactly as you live before because they suggest that it say that a person must begin to show evidence of regeneration that you're introducing works salvation.

And that's another gospel. You should be able to understand that that's not true. All you have to do is read this in sequence saved by grace, but those were saved by grace through Jesus Christ. That is much he certainly taught about grace is that the Son of Man didn't come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. That's exactly what Paul is saying here the second chapter of Ephesians is also said if anyone would come after me, you must deny himself of his cross daily and follow me and said why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say said the one who hears my words and doesn't put them into practice is like a man built his house on the ground without a foundation the moment the torrent struck that house a collapse in its construction was completed, talking about the final judgment. Jesus told the Jews of his day. Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom you put those verses together versus say not merely that good works are evidence of the life of Jesus Christ within the Christian which is obviously true says they are also necessary because of the good works are present their evidence of the fact that the person professing faith is never actually been born again mention John Gerstner a moment ago John Gerstner said, I think probably the same message that I referred to that. This is an apologetic for Christianity this reason, no human being would ever thought up a religion like that either doing one of two ways either. We would say I want to emphasize morality have to do good works because I emphasize morality. I don't want to say you can be saved by grace that makes it easy. People are saved by grace will do good works are one emphasize grace and be saved by grace. And so it doesn't make any difference whether or not to do good works, see-through Christianity is a proper combination of the two. For us emphasis on works leads to self salvation and an emphasis on grace, antinomianism, or disregard for the law of God's way of saying obeying God and doing good works are necessary true Christian religion, and emphasizes grace from beginning to assisting salvation by grace development.

No human work whatsoever in our salvation. Nevertheless, that are saved by grace, we will do good works to raise her father. If we are saved by the grace that is we are going to really claim to be Christian, and our future ones. We have this life filled with good works. Honor Jesus Christ and point others to him. Father, we thank you for this survey of what we have been article do not provide for us.

Ephesians a great chapter on grace, one that doesn't allow us by claiming grace somehow abandon responsibility or the obligation upon the followers of Jesus Christ will beg them but rather lays out in clear language.

We really do belong to and we will serve them serve them in a way that surpasses the good works that even the most righteous man of the world are able to do.

Father, we thank you for this teaching. Thank you for the truth of Christianity. And we thank you for its power because it's only the power of Jesus Christ regenerating us, leading us blessing us from within. These things can be done will be done in honor of our Lord you are listening to Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview.

Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Rankin and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution.

Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us online alliance for Canadian smell goes to 237 Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON, and 1C, two line 9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and thank you again for your continued support and for listening to Bible study

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime