by Gene Grant
Originally published in
The Christian Informer
IN THE LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS there are seven things the Scriptures list by which we are saved. All of these are attributed to "the grace of God." We are told that we are saved by God, by His grace, by His love, by His mercy, by Jesus His son, by the blood of Christ, and ultimately then by the gospel which proclaims all these things, and also informs us of the conditions God put upon men to receive His grace. These we must believe and obey "by faith." In searching the Scriptures we find four things that Jesus said must be done "before" we are saved.
1) WE MUST BELIEVE; John 8:24. 2) WE MUST REPENT; Luke 13:3. 3) WE MUST CONFESS CHRIST; Matthew 10:32. 4) WE MUST BE BAPTIZED; Mark 16:16; John 3:5.
Yet when we go back and read again Paul's declaration of God's grace in Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith and hat not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast," how do we harmonizePaul's inspired teaching with the commands which Jesus said must be done before we are saved?
Do the Scriptures contradict themselves? Or is the statement Paul made declaring God's grace to be "not of works" denying what Jesus said must be done before the sinner can be saved? Not at all! We will see this if we consider all that the Scriptures teach about the subject, and allow the Word to harmonize with itself.
First, the Scriptures deny that grace can be received by the "works of the Law of Moses," the Old Testament. "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident: for the just shall live by faith" (Galatians 3:11).
Secondly, God's grace and salvation is not received by anyone doing any "good religious works" which men have themselves designed and which have not been commanded or required by the Lord. Jesus said, "Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven Many will say to me in that day Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Iniquity means without law or command from God.
Both of these kinds of works are rejected by God as the "works of men" for He neither designed nor commanded them to be done in order to receive His grace.
But remember that designed and commanded by the Lord is that we must BELIEVE, REPENT, CONFESS HIS NAME, AND BE BAPTIZED, in order that we can be saved. But are these not works being done by man and are therefore rejected? Not at all, because they are "WORKS OF GOD" and not of men.
Consider the question asked and the answer given by Jesus in John 6:28,29, "then said they unto him, what shall we do that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." You see, belief on Jesus is a work of God, and not a work of man. So are all commandments which God requires of a man to be saved, by His grace, such as REPENTANCE, CONFESSION, AND BAPTISM.
So when we obey God's commands to be saved by His grace, we are not performing works of man's design for which we deserve a reward, but are simply obeying God as His creatures, and God with His infinite love and mercy bestows upon us, by His grace, that which Jesus accomplished for us all on the cross through his cleansing blood, the redemption of our souls.