Saved By Grace - Not By Works
Contributed by Michael Deutsch on Mar 11, 2021 (message contributor)
Summary: A series looking at our connection to God. Today we look at the impact of sin and we can't do enough God to earn salvation.
The Gospel – 3
We can’t work our way into heaven
March 14, 2021
As I was thinking about today’s message, I was wondering if you’ve ever been to an Escape Room? I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced them or not.
There’s one in Fishers, called The Escape Room. The concept is this - You and your team are locked in a themed room where you have 60 minutes to find clues, solve puzzles, and discover keys and combinations to escape the room before your time is up! Once the door is locked you can’t get out until you solve the puzzle or the 60 minutes are up.
They come in all levels, from beginning to advanced. I’ve never been in one and I don’t think my patience would last in one. I’m not really claustrophobic, but it’s not my first choice about how to spend my money to have a good time.
Now, imagine being in an escape room that literally has NO WAY OUT. No matter what you do or how hard you try, there’s simply no way out. You work on the puzzles, you go step by step . . . and it is never ending. You can’t get out.
Sin is like an escape room that has no way out when you make that attempt on your own. Let me quickly explain - - -
You can try religion, you can try to do good deeds or good works, you can be super nice to everyone, you never say anything offensive, you don’t swear, you read the right books and listen to the right music; you make uplifting nonoffensive posts on social media; you give your money to those in need; you volunteer your time; you take care of your body as you take care of your family and get 8 hours of sleep and drink 64 ounces of water.
Honestly, I was exhausted writing that!
You can work at it all you want, but nothing matters in what we call – working out your salvation. Nothing works, because there is no way you can get out of it on your own.
That’s what we’re talking about today. It doesn’t sound like a really uplifting message. And you’re right, but if we don’t hear this, if we’re unwilling to listen and understand our sin nature and God’s nature, then we’re really going to be stuck, and that’s not what I want for any of us.
We can’t escape sin on our own. We can’t do it on our own terms, in our way. We don’t have the ability or power to do it. There is no escape from sin in our own power. Last week we talked about how our sin separates us from God.
Sadly, this week, the news gets a tad bit worse . . . . yet, if we understand it, then it can turn into good news. There are no amount of good deeds we can do that can help us escape from what we might call the SIN ROOM.
In Ephesians 2:8-10, Paul says something so many of us have heard before -
8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10
Those are great words from Paul. You see that’s really the good news. We have been saved by grace. Paul really spells it out for us. We have been saved by grace through the faith we have in Jesus.
He explains our faith is not from us, it is a gift from God to you and I. And that faith, the grace, the salvation -- is not by works. There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. If we could, we would boast and brag and talk about how great we are that God has accepted us. We would tell everyone of all the good things we did in order to earn God’s love, grace and forgiveness.
But the problem is the fact that we never know when God has accepted us if we do it all by works. We don’t have that cosmic scorecard. Oops, I got irrationally angry today while driving. Did I lose 1 point or 2; or 5? I did something nice today. How many points was that worth? What if I don’t do any good deeds? Is that a 0 or a negative. I don’t know!!
We can wrack our brains trying to figure it out. And if that’s how we base things, then it leads us to look at the motivation for what we do and why. We are called to do good works, but the good works must flow from our faith. The good isn’t because we want to earn points with God.