Summary: No corpse can work his way into life. He just can’t do it. He is dead. He has got to receive the life before he works.
The Christian life is just summed up in Grace but the devil doesn’t want you to know that. The devil doesn’t want you to believe that. What the devil wants to do is to try to mix together grace and works. And when we try to mix together grace and works, then grace is not grace at all. The Bible says “And if by grace, it is no more work, otherwise work is no more work. And if by work is no more grace: otherwise grace is no more grace.” (Scripture text is incorrect) What He means is, like oil and water, grace and works don’t mix. Now some people think that they can explain it with a smug look. They say being saved is like trying to cross a stream in a rowboat. If you pull on one oar, which is works, you will just go around in a circle this way. If you pull on the other oar, which is grace, you will just go in a circle this way. But if you take both oars, you will just cross the stream. It is a wonderful illustration but it has a fatal flaw. The flaw is this; we are not going to heaven in a rowboat. (Laughter) We’re, we’re going to heaven by the grace of God. And the music tonight that we have sung about speaks of God’s amazing grace. Grace greater than all of our sin. His grace is greater.
Now having said that, we run into a problem. The problem is here in the book of James. And as we read the book of James, it almost seems as if there is a contradiction. James chapter 2 verse 14, James says this, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith and hath not, and have not works? Can faith save him? Or if a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead,” D-e-a-d (spelled out) “being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” And then, here perhaps is the hardest part of all of this to understand, verse 21. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rehab
the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
Now a careless reading of this Scripture would seem that a person is saved by grace and by works. But this is not true. Now, it would almost seem if that is not true, that the Bible contradicts itself. For example, put in your margin, and, if you have heard me preach on this before, your notes will already be in the margin. Romans chapter 4 verses 1 through 6. Here is what Paul said about Abraham. Now remember that
James says in verse 21, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works?” But now notice what Paul says. Romans chapter 4 verse 1, “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justify, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.”
Now I am telling you, a careless reading of these two verses would seem like there is a contradiction. Now, I want to say at the outset, so that there be no stutter, no stammer, no contradiction at all; we are saved by grace through faith and by nothing else. It is grace all the way. I have told you that grace, G-r-a-c-e (spelled out), is God’s riches at Christ’s expense. By the way, grace is exclusively a Christian doctrine. God has, the Lord Jesus has cornered the market on grace (amen). We have a monopoly on grace. It, it is exclusively a Christian doctrine. You cannot save yourself. Good works, a little or a lot, don’t save. They don’t help save. You could no more save yourself by good works than if you were drowning could reach up with your hand, take yourself by the hair, and lift yourself out of the water. Huh, huh, you cannot do it.