Lesson 5 – Salvation By Grace
Salvation is entirely by the grace of God. The Bible tells us, “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.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). This scripture sets grace in contrast with works. In fact, salvation can’t be by a combination of grace and works because it would no longer be salvation by grace (Romans 11:6). The main idea in grace, then, is “kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved.”
Grace is also set in contrast to the law, therefore if salvation comes by grace, then salvation does not come by the individual keeping the law of God (John 1:17).
Many people say, “Yes, I believe in salvation by grace. I don’t believe that man gets salvation by his works. But I do believe that man must exercise his will and accept Jesus Christ as his personal saviour.” But the Scriptures plainly teach that salvation is not by the works of man nor by the will of man (Romans 9:16). Salvation is the work of God alone.
This has to be so because man by nature is dead in trespasses and in sin and can do absolutely nothing to save himself, to help save himself, or to even cooperate in his salvation (Ephesians 2:5).
God, in his mercy and for reasons known only to Himself chose or elected a people before the foundation of the world and determined that He would save them from their sins (Ephesians 1:4; II Timothy 1:9). Some people say that God has a book of life and that He writes people’s names in it as they accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. This is not true. God had all the names of His elect people written in the book of life before the world began (Revelation 17:8). God did not choose or elect some people because they were better than others. He simply chose some according to His good pleasure and didn’t choose others according to His good pleasure (Romans 9:11-24).
We are not to question God about this but we are to trust Him.
These elect or chosen people were still sinners so something had to be done to remove their sins from them. Jesus Christ came and paid for the sins of the elect when He died on the cross. He didn’t die for everyone. He died for the chosen or the elect only. And everyone for whom Christ died will be saved eternally in heaven. Christ is not a failure. He did just exactly what He intended to do (John 6:39; John 10:11; John 17:2; Matthew 1:21; John 8:47; John 10:26; Matthew 20:28).
Christ, in His death on the cross, provided salvation for all His people. But that salvation actually has to be brought to them. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings the elect to Christ to receive spiritual life. As the Holy Spirit calls, those who are called always come because the call is so powerful (John 6:37, John 6:44; John 3:8; John 10:27-30).
After God’s people are born again, or have eternal life, then God preserves them in grace so that they can never lose their salvation. They may stumble and fall but the Lord will always pick them up again. When they die their spirit will go to God and their bodies will return to dust. At the resurrection their bodies will be raised and glorified; their bodies and spirits will be rejoined and they will be eternally happy in the presence of God. (Philippians 1:6; John 10:27-30; Romans 8:28-39; John 6:39,44).
The gospel is not an instrument that brings about the new birth. But after a person is born again then he is able to respond to the gospel in a positive way. The gospel does not give spiritual life but it manifests spiritual life. The Lord has to touch the heart of a person before he can truly accept and embrace the teachings of the gospel (II Timothy 1:10; Acts 16:14).
To try to show the work of each person in the Trinity in the work of salvation, let us give a homely illustration:
God the Father is the architect who drew up the plan of salvation. He designed it perfectly in every detail. He did this before the world began.
God the Son was the Contractor of the work of redemption. He took the plan drawn up by the Father before the foundation of the world and built the house of salvation by coming into this world, living perfectly before the Father, and dying the death of the cross.
The Holy Spirit is the One who actually gets God’s people and puts them into possession of the house of salvation. He does this when He causes them to be born again.
In Scripture, this work of the Trinity can be seen in I Peter 1:2.
We have memorized Romans 5:12 and Psalm 51:5.
Let us now memorize Ephesians 2:1 and I Corinthians 2:14.