Summary: Only by grace can we be saved.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “SAVED”?
What is “grace”? Grace It is UNDESERVED KINDNESS. Someone has said, “Grace is everything for nothing to those who don’t deserve anything.”
An atheist once said, “If there really is a God, may He prove Himself by striking me dead right now.” Nothing happened. The atheist proudly announced, “You see, there is no God.” His friend responded, “You’ve only proved that He is a gracious God.”
BIG IDEA: Only by God’s grace can we be saved.
REVIEW: Why do I need to be saved? Because I was born a sinner and sin’s ultimate punishment is hell.
During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death.
The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the [commotion] about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”
The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct of humanity. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of Karma, the Jewish covenant, and the Muslim code of law—each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional (Perfect Illustrations for Every Topic and Occasion, pp. 116-117; citation: Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace?).
Bono, lead singer of the band U2 said in an interview with beliefnet.com, “The most powerful idea that’s entered the world in the last few thousand years—the idea of grace—is the reason I would like to be a Christian.”
I. I can NEVER DO ENOUGH to deserve salvation.
In 2001, Reader’s Digest asked Muhammad Ali what his faith meant to him. Ali replied, “[It] means [a] ticket to heaven. One day we’re all going to die, and God’s going to judge us, [our] good and bad deeds. [If the] bad outweighs the good, you go to hell; if the good outweighs the bad, you go to heaven.” That’s what many people believe. But that’s not what the Bible says.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith—and this not from yourselves—it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
In the Bible we find God’s moral law. The only way for me to be saved on my own would be to perfectly obey every one of God’s commands. But that’s impossible. I’m far from perfect.
“Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).
“We know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Rom. 3:19).