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By Grace, Not by Works #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
June 21, 2024 12:00 am

By Grace, Not by Works #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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June 21, 2024 12:00 am

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Welcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. It is our joy to continue our commitment to teaching God's people God's Word. Today Don is continuing with the second part of a message we started last time.

So let's get right to it. Open your Bible as we join Don now in The Truth Pulpit. How did that great wealth come to be yours? How is it that you entered into the family of God? How is it that you entered into this heavenly realm?

Well, beloved, that's Paul's whole point here. How did it come to be yours? How was this grace imparted? It was not something that you did. It was not something that you were. It was not because you said, it certainly was not because you said enough Hail Marys to get God to pay attention. It wasn't because you became a member of a church or gave money or anything like that. It wasn't anything that you did.

There's nothing that you can take credit for here. What you brought to God was a soul that needed to be condemned. That's what you brought to God.

And so it wasn't any self-reformation that you'd done, moral improvement that you had done. You hadn't made yourself better and then presented yourself to God as someone that he could accept, that he would want to have. The truth of the matter is, my friends, is that the people who try to make themselves better in order to have God accept them, it's almost counterintuitive, but those who are trying to make themselves better so that God will accept them are actually increasing their own condemnation because they are trying to achieve salvation by their own works rather than approaching it and receiving it on the terms that God has established. What God requires is Christ applied to your soul. And if you don't approach him through Christ, you're approaching him through a false religion that only heightens and increases your judgment. And so how did this grace come to be yours? Look at it there in verse 8 with me again. For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, not because you were better than someone else.

It was through faith. Let's put it this way. Speaking to those of you that said, this is new to me. My mind is popping.

Light bulbs are going off in my mind on things that I had never understood before. Let me speak as though to you, and you say, but I don't quite get it. You enter into salvation by receiving it by faith. You receive the Lord Jesus Christ in all of his crucified and resurrected glory. You receive him as your substitute righteousness and payment for sin. He paid it all.

You paid nothing. You receive him and you rest in him for your complete status before God. It's through faith. Faith receives Christ.

It rests in Christ for a complete salvation. You understand and you confess from the depths of your heart, God, I could not do anything to save myself. I cannot do anything to save myself. I must be on the receiving end of your kindness and mercy alone. And God, I confess, you have absolutely no reason to receive me. I'm appealing to you on the basis of your mercy, on the basis of Christ alone, not because I have anything to present to you. I'm guilty, condemned.

And so I pray with the tax collector in Luke 18, God, be merciful to me, the sinner. Christ, show kindness to me because I have nothing to offer. I'm bankrupt. You have a feast.

I don't have a ticket to enter. And here I am, poor and desperate and hungry. And you with the riches of a banquet, would you let me in? Would you receive me? You promise that all who come to you, if anyone comes to you, you won't cast them out. On the basis of your promise, I come. On the basis of your death and resurrection, I come, nothing of my own. I forsake any claim to my own righteousness. I forsake any claim to goodness. And I just ask you to be merciful to me, a sinner.

That's the idea. You know, one of the lasting effects that that kind of conversion has on a person is it changes your arrogant dismissal and condescending attitudes toward others who've ruined their lives through their own sin. It softens your heart.

I'm making an application here that's really not, should come later, but I want to make it now. It softens your heart. When your heart is broken by grace, you let all of that self-righteousness go, all of that condemnation of others go, and you realize, I'm just a debtor to mercy.

And that person needs mercy just like I did. And so it humbles us as we come in this way. Now coming back to faith, you're saved by grace through faith. True faith, saving faith, has at its core a firm conviction that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God and that he alone is the Savior of the world, that he alone can save men from sin. There is an exclusivity that you recognize as you put your faith in Christ. You realize that Mohammed cannot save you, that Mary cannot save you, that speaking in tongues cannot save you.

You realize that your own works cannot save you. You realize that only Christ, Christ and Christ alone, is able to save any sinner from death, and yet Christ can save any sinner from death. You realize, you recognize that he is God in human flesh, that his work on the cross was for sinners like you, paying a debt that sinners could not pay, that God raised him from the dead. Scripture says if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you'll be saved. There's a content to this faith. Stated differently, you believe in the biblical Christ, not one that you've made up in your mind, not one that appears to you in a vision at the foot of your bed.

Someone was mentioning to me recently that, you know, for years this has been going on. There's supposedly a great awakening among Muslims, and they're all seeing visions of Christ in their bed. None of that's true. That's not true salvation.

Don't fall for that. True faith, saving faith, Scripture says very plainly, faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. And Scripture equally says that Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light. And people who are trusting in an experience like that, and worse yet, Christians who promote that as being an indication of true salvation are perpetuating an even worse deception.

It's bad enough to be an unsaved Muslim. It's multiplied times worse to think that you've been saved by a vision that is unrelated and disconnected from the word of God and what God has revealed about the gospel in Scripture. Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God.

We are not to put our hope in visions that we've seen. Colossians 2 is very clear about that. And so faith receives Christ and trusts alone in what he has done.

Now, we want to be really, really clear on what we're saying here. At this point, some, especially new Christians, you might say, who haven't yet had the time for good instruction, fuller instruction from the word of God, might think that their faith is why God saved them. I brought faith to God, and as a result of my faith, God saved me. God responded to my faith with salvation. That is exactly backwards.

That is exactly the wrong way to think about it. God did not reward you with salvation because you brought faith to him. God saved you, and in part of that saving act, he enabled you to exercise faith in him. Paul extinguishes the idea that we bring faith to God and then God saves us.

He extinguishes that possibility before it even gets started. Look at verse 8 with me again. Ephesians chapter 2 verse 8.

I love this. This is really, you know, this is a wonderful text to see in the original language. Paul says, for by grace you've been saved through faith.

What does he immediately say next? Keeping in mind what I was saying, it's not us bringing faith and then God in response saves us. It is by grace you've been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing. This is not your own doing.

Before we even have the opportunity to let a little bit of pride bubble up and say, well, at least it was my faith that saved me. No, Paul says this is not your own doing. And the construction here is really pointing to what the source is. It uses the Greek preposition ek, ek, e-k, that shows what something came out of.

It identifies the source from which something came. And so Paul says right here in verse 8, faith did not find its source in you or in anything that you had done. Faith did not find its source in you or in anything that you'd done. It was not your intelligence. It was not your morality. It was not your spiritual strength. It was not your own doing. The this here, you know, what's he referring to?

What's the antecedent of this? Could it be that the grace was not of your own doing? Could it be that the faith was not of your own doing?

Well, all of that's included. And again, I'm just using some technical grammar here that is kind of important to understand the fullness of what you have here. Grace in the original language, a feminine noun. Faith in the original language, a feminine noun. This, not feminine. It's a neuter reference. It's a neuter word there. And at first it might seem a little bit ambiguous. This is in the neuter gender like the English word it.

It does not have male or female. It's just it, you know, it's something, you know, that's what it is. And so this is not referring to faith or to grace because the grammar doesn't match.

The grammar doesn't fit. And this is all kind of technical, but the main point is simple, all right? If you've gotten through what I just said, you're able to stay right with me now. When Paul says this is not your own doing, this is the million dollar point in the whole message here today, beloved.

It's good for us to step back and realize what it is that we're saying. When Paul says this is not of your own doing, he's saying that the entire operation of salvation, including faith, comes from God, not you. The entire operation of making you alive in Christ, raising you up with him, seating you in the heavenly places, the future that we have in eternity, and the grace and the faith that saved you, all of that, all of that entire thing Paul looks at as one great big unit of grace from God, and says all of that and its individual pieces came to you by grace. It was nothing that you did. God chose you before the foundation of the world, before you were there to do anything. Think about it this way.

I like to think about it chronologically. Before time began, God chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world. Obviously, you had nothing to do with that.

You didn't even exist for him to participate in that in any way. Step into time. Two thousand years ago, when the Lord Jesus Christ offered himself up on the cross, you did not exist to contribute or to participate in that great act of redemption. When the Holy Spirit, Father choosing you, Son redeeming you, when the Holy Spirit applied the work of salvation to you, you were not alive to cooperate in the act. The Spirit imparted new life to you in the act of regeneration.

And on and on it goes. He made you alive in Christ when you were not able to respond. Beloved, here's the whole point.

Here's the whole point. All of that is from God, not from anything that you did. He says it negatively. Look at this in verse 8. Let your eyes focus on verse 8 now.

This is really one of the most magnificent passages in all of Scripture, just with its clarity and how he says the same thing over and over and over again. He says it negatively. He says it positively.

He just said it negatively. This is not your own doing. This whole colossal unit of salvation from election to glory, not of your own doing. That's what he's saying.

And then he goes on to say, now he says it positively. Look at it there in verse 8. It is the gift of God. This is not of your own doing. It is the gift of God.

We forsake any claim to credit. We give all of the glory to God because he did something as a gift. And again, in the original language, there's just all these little nuances that are sometimes edifying to bring out. In the original language, going off the ESV here, it says this is not your own doing.

What comes next in the Greek text? Of God the gift. Of God the gift.

Paul makes an emphasis and puts the fact that it comes from God as the very next thing that he says. This is not of your own doing. Of God the gift is the sense of it. He's emphasizing where the gift came from, not from you, but by emphatic contrast, it's from God.

Okay? It's by grace you've been saved. That not of yourselves. Not your own doing. The gift of God.

Up and down, one side or the other. If this was a prize fight between two championship boxers, they'd stop the fight and say, we've established who's superior here. Stop the fight. There's no need to say anything else.

Paul has made the point so clear. And so, you know, we're at the end of verse eight. For by grace you've been saved through faith. This is not of your own doing. It is a gift of God.

Whew. Now we can move on, right? It wasn't from me. It wasn't from you. It was from God. I get it.

Saved by grace. Totally, totally understand. There's nothing left to discuss.

Can we move on now? Oh, we come to our second point. Not saved by works.

Not saved by works. Look at verse nine. Remember what Paul has said. By grace, not your own doing.

Of God the gift. All of this after, you know, connected to what he's been saying in the earlier parts of chapter two. I mean, this point, if ever a point has been established, Paul has made his point through verse eight.

And then you read verse nine. Not a result of works so that no one may boast. Are you kidding me? He's making the same point all over again. He's saying it again. He had just said that salvation came from God. He had just said it's not of your own doing. And now he's saying it again, not as a result of works.

In other words, not as a result of human effort. Not of something that we have done. Paul goes to extraordinary lengths, which is another way to say that God by the Holy Spirit has gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that we do not miss this point.

The fact that he emphasizes it so many times in so many ways in such a condensed context shows us how critical this is to understand. Christian friend, brother and sister in Christ, you are saved by grace and not by anything that you have done. God's undeserved favor when you really deserved judgment. And the whole unit of salvation, including the capacity to respond in repentance and faith, it was all a gift from God. Paul makes the same point speaking about repentance in 2 Timothy 2, verses 24 to 26, that God may grant them repentance. And so it did not originate with you or me. It was not a result of our works. Salvation was God's plan, God's power, God's grace.

God's gift. Now, why do you think Paul would beat this horse to death in such a manner? You know, I use the analogy of the prize fight. Stop the fight. This is over. Not that I watch boxing, and I certainly don't watch MMA, just in case anyone's wondering.

Sometimes analogies just pop into my mind. This is over. This has been established. Why such emphasis? Look at the end of verse 9. So that no one may boast.

So that no one may boast. Would you have a Christian mind, beloved, after we've been trying to build one for the past 12 months? Would you have a Christian mind? The Christian mind operates on the principle that there is nothing good in me. There is nothing about me to boast in. My salvation came from God, and I boast in nothing about myself.

Grace makes boasting impossible. We enjoy this privileged status as a result of the good grace of God and of God alone. His grace, His glory, His goodness, His greatness. His greatness, His goodness, His grace, His glory. His goodness is great.

His greatness is good. His grace is glorious. So that we yield to Him not simply our obedience, but all of our affection and all of the glory. Not to us, O Lord. Not to us, but to Thy name be the glory. That is the way a Christian mind operates.

That is the way a Christian mind thinks about salvation. We repent of our pride, we repudiate it, and every time that it tries to bubble back up, we reject it once again. We are thoroughly committed never to let our pride diminish the eternal glory of God. Look over at Romans chapter 3. Romans chapter 3. This is a big point of emphasis in Scripture. Saved by grace, not saved by works with the outcome that we don't boast.

That we do not boast. Romans chapter 3. Just pick it up quickly in verse 26. Paul in this chapter has been speaking about justification by faith alone. In verse 26, it was to show his righteousness at the present time so that he might be just and the justifier, the one who has faith in Jesus.

Verse 27. Then what becomes of our boasting? What becomes of our pride? What becomes of me being a little bit better than the other guy? What becomes of me taking a little bit of credit for my salvation?

One percent as opposed to 99. What becomes of all of that? What becomes of our boasting? Look at it, beloved. Verse 27.

What becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. It is ruled out because this was God's doing, not ours. And in Galatians chapter 6, you don't need to turn there. But in verse 14, Paul comes back to this theme of boasting again. But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. Beloved, what is your hope of reconciliation with God?

What is your hope of going to heaven and not to hell? What is your self-perception and self-declaration in the presence of a holy God? The Christian says it was not because of my righteousness, not because of my righteousness, not because of my righteousness. Deuteronomy 9, three times, I agree with what God said. It was not by my works.

It was not my own doing. I agree with what God said. It was by grace. It was of God the gift.

It was not of my works. I agree with what God said. Beloved, what this passage has done is it has brought us to examine what is the basis of your hope in the deepest part of your heart. If the deepest part of your heart hopes in Christ and in Christ alone, then you are safe, you are secure, and God has done a marvelous work in you that can never be taken away. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You're safe and secure no matter what. But if there is something in you that rises up against this, that argues against it, well, you know, I don't like to think of myself as having been dead in sin. I've never been enslaved by Satan.

I'm someone, you know, I'm a little bit better than the next guy. Look, I say it in love. You need to reconsider whether you've been born again at all because it's by grace you've been saved. That not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works that no one should boast. Let's pray together. Father, may you take your word and apply it with great wisdom and precision to each and every heart. Thank you for the gift of salvation that was of your doing, not of ours, that is to your glory, not ours. Salvation speaks to your grace, your kindness, your mercy, your goodness, your patience, and it says nothing to congratulate us for anything good in us. And so, Lord, we gladly agree with your word. We repudiate pride. We repudiate boasting. And we give all of the glory to Jesus Christ alone. In your name we pray. Amen. That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit.

And here's Don again with some closing thoughts. Well, my friend, there is no substitute for reading the word of God for yourself and spending the time day by day going through the Bible in a systematic way so that you have a full exposure to everything that the word of God says. It's remarkable the way the Spirit of God works through the word to minister to our hearts in that way. And to help you do that, we have a couple of different Bible reading plans available on our website, thetruthpulpit.com. If you would go to thetruthpulpit.com, click on the link that says About. You'll find a sublink there that takes you to two different Bible reading plans that you can choose from.

It's free. It's there available to help you in your reading of God's Word. And I know that the Spirit of God will use that in your life if you're not used to reading God's Word on a regular, systematic basis.

Make this the day that you start something new and move in that direction. And join us again next time here on The Truth Pulpit as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-21 04:52:13 / 2024-06-21 05:02:05 / 10

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