Summary: The second in the Back to Basic series. Covering the doctrine of salvation. How we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Back to Basics 2 (the doctrine of salvation)
By Kenny McKinley
Last week we talked about the Deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, and the reason that we need to have a correct understanding of who Jesus was and is, and about how that was an essential doctrine of the Christian faith. Today we are going to be dealing with the issue of salvation, and how we are saved by grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone. Turn with me to the book of Ephesians chapter two, verses eight and nine (read text).
Now let’s look at what Paul was saying here in Ephesians. He said, Salvation is by GRACE, “For by grace you have been saved.” Grace is the unmerited, undeserved, favor of God. It is not earned or deserved in any way. It is Gods grace that saves. Paul goes on to explain that salvation is accessed by faith. We are saved BY grace, THROUGH faith. The Paul says, “And that not of yourselves.” Now some people have said that Paul was talking about grace not being from ourselves. Of course we know that grace is not of ourselves. That wouldn’t make any sense if Paul said, “You are saved by undeserved, unmerited favor, through faith, and that undeserved, unmerited favor is not of yourselves.” What kind of person would think that they are saved by their own undeserved favor? And what kind of person would think that they give themselves grace? But you would be surprised to know how many people have thought this, whether it is because they have never taken the time to actually look at what this verse is saying, or because that just what they have been told over the years. But Paul isn’t saying that grace is not of ourselves, we already know that. He’s saying that salvation is not of ourselves, and that no part of salvation is of ourselves. Including the faith.
Now your probably saying, “Wait a minute Kenny. The Bible says that we have to have faith.” Yes it does, but does it ever say that faith is of yourself? No, in-fact it says just the opposite.
Turn with me to Romans 12:3 (read), so who gives every man a measure of faith? God does. So if God gives a measure of faith to every man, and God gives grace which saves us, then we can safely say that salvation which is by grace, through faith, is not of ourselves.
So why does it have to be that way? Why does all of salvation have to be of God, and from God? Well stay in Romans there and lets turn back a few chapters to chapter three.
(Read Romans 3:9-19) In these verses Paul is speaking about all of humanity, he says that we ALL have sinned, that we are sinners by nature and sinners by choice, In verse 23 Paul sums it up by saying, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Now I’ve heard people say that they aren’t sinners, and that they don’t sin, but 1st John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, then the truth is not in us, and we have deceived ourselves.”
In Romans chapter 5 Paul tells us that this happened because of Adams transgression. Romans chapter 5 vs. 12 Paul says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Paul goes on to tell us in the sixth chapter of Romans, verse 23 that the wages of sin is death.
Now when Paul says that the wages of sin is death, he is not only speaking of physical death, but spiritual death. Just like when God told Adam in the garden of Eden that when he ate of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil he would die. Well when Adam ate of the fruit, he didn’t immediately die physically, but he did die spiritually. That’s why when you read that account in Genesis, you see that Adam and Eve ate of the tree, then the next thing you read is God asking Adam where he is. How many of you know that God knew Adam was hiding behind a bush? God knew where Adam was physically, but Adam had been separated spiritually from God, he had died spiritually. And that is what happens to all man, due to sin, we die spiritually, and we die physically.
Now when something is dead, it cannot do anything. A dead body can’t get up and go to work, it can’t speak, it can’t move, it can do nothing but lie wherever it has been placed. And when we are spiritually dead, in trespasses and sin, we are spiritually unable to do anything. That is why Jesus said to Nicodemus in John chapter three “You must be born again.” Lets turn to John chapter three and read this, because it’s important that we understand what Jesus was saying. (Read John 3:1-4) Now Nicodemus asks Jesus a question here. He said, “how can one be born when he is old?” So Nicodemus was thinking in terms of the physical body, but Jesus clears this up in the next two verses (read John 3:5-6). Jesus says you’ve got to be born of the Spirit if you want to be spiritually reborn. Now some say that where Jesus said, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit…” He was speaking of water baptism. (And this is where you will want to throw your tomatoes at me). Now I know in the Christian Church, and the Churches of Christ that water baptism is essential to salvation. But that is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus said you have to be born of the Spirit. Water does not wash the sins away from our spirit. Christian baptism had not even been instated when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, and John’s baptism was later replaced by Christian baptism. Jesus said we have to be born of the Spirit, so turn with me to 1st Corinthians chapter 12:12-13 (read). So you see, it’s not the pastor, the minister, or the priest who baptizes us into Christ. It is the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is an outward symbol of what has already taken place on the inside. It is a sign of the covenant we have entered into with God. So you say, “Ok then, so what did Jesus mean when he said you must be born of water and of the Spirit? What was the water He was talking about?” Well turn with me to Ephesians chapter 5:25-27 (read). The washing of water by the Word. Do you remember where we read in Romans that God has given us a measure of faith? How did He do that? The Bible tells us how in Romans chapter ten. Romans 10:14-15 “How then shall they call upon Him, in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” Now look down at verse 17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” In Romans chapter one Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For it (meaning the Gospel) is the power of God unto salvation.” It is the washing of the water by the Word. That is also why Paul said in First Corinthians chapter one, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except for Crispus, and Gaius, and the household of Stephanas.”, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel…” Now I’m not trying to offend anyone, but our text says, “We are saved by grace, through faith.” And it goes on to say, “not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Let’s turn back to our text there in Ephesians, (read text).