Salvation: Received By Faith; Demonstrated By Works; Forever By Grace
Sermon shared by Jonathan Mcleod
Listen to these two verses and think to yourself whether or not they contradict each other:
"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:5).
"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:17).
So are we saved by faith or by works?
I. SALVATION IS RECEIVED BY FAITH (Romans 4:1-5).
Paul asks this question about Abraham:
"What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?" (v.1).
In other words, Paulís question was, ďWhat were Abrahamís experiences concerning this question of being saved by faith.Ē
If anyone could be saved by works, it was Abraham. But what does Paul say?
In The New Living Translation verse two reads like this:
"Was it because of his good deeds that God accepted him? If so, he would have had something to boast about. But from Godís point of view Abraham had no basis at all for pride."
Why did Abraham have no basis at all for pride? Paul gives us the reason in verse three:
"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."
Here Paul answers his question by quoting what Moses records in Genesis 15:6. What does it mean when it says that faith was counted unto Abraham for righteousness? That word ďcountedĒ means ďto put on oneís account.Ē So when Abraham believed God, righteousness was placed on his account.
Most people today have a bank account. Letís pretend you have a car payment that automatically comes out of your account at the end of each month. But at the end of this month you have only five dollars in your account, and the car payment is four hundred dollars. That means that youíre in trouble. You donít have enough money to pay for your car. But letís say someone heard of your need and gave you four hundred dollars to deposit in your account. You now have the necessary amount of money in your account to make you car payment.
The reason why God placed righteousness on Abrahamís account was because Abrahamís righteousness was not enough to save him. Just like your friend would bail you out because you donít have enough money for your car payment in your account.
For God to place righteousness on a personís account is justification. Justification is the act of God whereby He acquits a believer of the verdict of condemnation and declares him to be righteous.
Why did God declare Abraham to be righteous? Paul says it was not the result of Abrahamís works. If that was the case then it would be something he earned and had reason to boast about. Abraham was saved when he believed God. He was saved by faith.
This fact is clearly stated in verse five:
"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
II. SALVATION IS DEMONSTRATED BY WORKS (James 2:14-26).
In order to properly understand