Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ephesians 2:8 - Salvation by Faith

Pray and Read: Ephesians 2:8-9

τη ρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον·

For by means of grace you are being saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; [it is] the gift of God.

Opening thought:

A native of interior China wanted to become a Christian but couldn't understand how Christianity was superior to Confucianism and Buddhism.

One morning he came to the missionary in a happy mood saying, "I dreamed last night, and now I understand. I dreamed I had fallen into a deep pit where I lay helpless and despairing.

Confucius came and said, 'Let me give you advice, my friend; if you get out of your trouble, never get in again.'

Buddha came and said, 'If you can climb up to where I can reach you, I will help you.'

Then Christ came. He climbed down into the pit and carried me out." It takes the Savior of man to do that. Only a Savior would stoop so low as to save a sinful soul like yours and mine.

Exposition:

1.What is grace?

a. Every blessing we have is from God’s mere grace. Free, undeserved, unmerited grace formed man out of the dust of the ground. Free undeserved, unmerited grace breathed into him a living soul. Free, undeserved, unmerited graces stamped upon him the image of God.

b. Free, undeserved, unmerited grace continues to this day, bringing life to all things, even the breath that you are drawing as you listen to me, even my the production of sound in mutually intelligible forms of language which echo off the eardrum, even the synapses which fire in your brain as you make sense (or lack of it) of my words, are expressions of God’s free, undeserved, unmerited grace.

c. If, then, desperate sinners and rebels and enemies of God, find favor with Him, it is “grace upon grace.”

2. What kind of faith saves?

a. The faith of good people is not good enough.

i. viz. that God is a rewarder of good and punisher of sin, that God should be thanked for all things, that there is such a thing as virtue, justice, mercy, and truth. There is no excuse for not believing this much.

b. The faith of the faith of the devil is not good enough.

i. viz., though it goes much farther than a pagan’s. Devils believe Jesus is Son of God, the Christ, the Saviour of the world: Luke 4:33 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, 34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. 35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.

ii. Devils believe in the infallibility of the word of God, that there is no error in it, and they know its authority and they know that it shows the way to salvation (Acts 16:16: And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

c. The faith of the Apostles while Christ was on earth is not good enough.

i. Even though they left everything to follow Him and had power to heal diseases, drive out demons, and preached the kingdom of God (Matthew 10:7: And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

d. Only faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ and God through Christ is enough.

i. It is not a hopeful faith in the general goodness of people and God’s character. It is not a pagan’s faith.

ii. It is not only a rational, speculative, cold, lifeless assent to fact. It is not a ideological system in the head. It is a disposition of the heart. It is not a devil’s faith.

iii. Romans 10:9-13: 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

iv. It is not only faith in his miracles and power, but a faith in his death and resurrection. It is not the faith of the Apostles during Jesus’ ministry on earth.

v. This faith acknowledges Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the only sufficient way of redeeming sinful men and women from eternal death and hell.

vi. This faith sees Christ’s resurrection as His personal restoration to us of life now and life eternal. “He was delivered for our sins and rose for our justification.” (Apostle’s Creed.)

vii. Christian faith is not a mental assent to the facts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but a full reliance on the blood of Christ, a trust in the merits of his life, death, and resurrection, a resting in his atonement, and a cleaving to him as our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” (1Corinthians 1:30: But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption”). Our Salvation.

3. What kind of salvation is through faith?

a. Saved in the present: “Ye are saved,” not “Ye shall be.” It is a salvation that does not wait until you die and go to be with the Lord. It is a salvation that is useful now.

b. Saved from sin. The angel said, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus because he shall save his people from their sins” (Luke 2).

c. Saved from guilt of all past sin. Romans 3:25; 8:1; Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

d. Saved from fear. Not only of punishment, but also from a servile fear which is torment, of the wrath of God. Now He is an indulgent Father. Rom 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Gal 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

e. Saved from the power of sin. Habitual and willful. 1John 3:5-6: And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

i. Process of holiness and growing in Christ includes inner healing and deliverance. The issue is control. If you are saved and there is a sin which you cannot control, then you should consider coming to your pastor for counsel and prayer for inner healing and or deliverance.

4. Summary: This salvation which is through faith saves you even in the present world. It saves you from sin, and its guilt, fear, and power and from eternal death in hell. It saves you through its rescue of you from sin through Christ formed in the heart. Once saved by faith, one is indeed born again and is hid with Christ in God. Col 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

5. No Room for Pride (Ephesians 2:9) Not of yourselves lest anyone should boast.

Application:

  • You must give up all attempts at earning your salvation or being good enough and take the free gift Jesus offers.
  • Jesus is the only way. To ensure your future, you must place all your allegiance and faith in Christ alone by faith alone.
  • You must examine your heart right now. Do you have only a cold, mental assent to facts? Has your heart known the contenting presence of Christ?
  • Salvation is not just for the future. It is for now. It is power for right living and success in this life as well as the one to come.
  • You must let go of sin and walk in righteousness.
  • You must let go of guilt of past sin and let Christ comfort you.
  • You must let go of fear. Perfect love casts out a spirit of fear.
  • You have the power to overcome that controlling sin. You might need simple prayer. You might need counsel. You might need an accountable friend. You might need deliverance from a demonic force. Whatever it is, Christ’s salvation provides the power through his death, burial, and resurrection.

Invitation:

Sources:

2000+ Illustrations, Jesus Christ: Savior, e-sword.net; Deitrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, Chap. 1.; John Wesley, Salvation by Faith, June 18, 1738.