1 And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Many people today are under the illusion that are there are many different roads that lead to the same destination. Today, it is preached that you must perform various works to either get saved or remain saved. It has been said that one should follow their heart and you can’t go wrong. Everybody has an opinion and everybody is an expert. What does the Bible teach? What does the living and Holy Word of the Lord have to say?
Scripture says that it is only by the grace of God that men and women are saved. It is impossible to be earned. This is an acceptable saying and quoted just about as much as John 3:16. But do people embrace it? Do people really understand what it is saying?
Man today has a very difficult time in letting go of authority. We like to think we are in control and we have things all figured out. If people would just listen and do as we say, then everything will be all right. Well, God has a different plan and a different system all together.
First we must understand that it is God who is in control and not us. He is the very reason the sun comes up in the morning and goes down at night. He is the one who allows our eyes to open and breathe the air that He provides us. God is the Lord and Master. Our responsibility is to submit ourselves to him and no other. This includes our own selves. The Word of God declares:“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mat 16:24-26).
The first thing we must do is to understand that it is not done our way or on our terms. It is only done through Christ. We must let go of our works and trust in Jesus and what He done for us on the cross.
With this basic understanding, we can begin to understand what this scripture and all scripture are telling us. Letting go of our way, authority or perception is the toughest thing one can do. Deep down, we still think that if we do something, it (God’s grace) will be awarded to us. Most people accept this scripture but the rest of their testimony or preaching do not match. People want to get the cart before the horse and in doing so, knowingly or unknowingly; they attempt to rob God of some glory.
We understand that Christ gives eternal life and that it is a free gift and cannot be earned by us. Yet so often we are told many different things we must do to inherit the Kingdom of God. Do these two statements match? In one breath it is a free gift and in the other breath we must work for it. That is like me saying, “I will freely give you money if you come to my house and cut my grass.” Friends, that’s called earning a living. Getting paid for a service rendered is not a free gift.
Does this mean that there is absolutely nothing we can do? Does this mean we must sit around and wait to see if God saves us? No, not at all, we sometimes mistake work with responsibility. We are all responsible for our actions and we are all held accountable for those actions. The Bible teaches us that “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). It was our fault and we are held accountable. No matter how many good things we do from that point, we still come up short. So, if this is true, what must one do to be saved? The disciples asked this very question and Jesus answered them: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Mat 19:25-26).
We must understand what we are and that we can never be good enough. When we accept these important facts, we then realize that there is absolutely no work we can do to earn forgiveness. It is also our responsibility to completely surrender to Christ.
Imagine you are on death row. The case is closed and the execution is scheduled. You understand that you are guilty and deserving of the punishment that awaits you. Some will “take it like a man”. They hide all emotions until it’s too late. Some will beg for a reprieve. They will forget what others think because they want to live. Which do you think is our responsibility to do? One of these is pride and the other is humility. Which do you think is pleasing to men and the way we think is right? Which do you think is pleasing to God and consistent with scripture?
Every true, born again Christian has faced humility and begged for forgiveness. They have not tried to be cool about it or tried to keep their composure. They came to the point were they did not care what others think about them, they desired life instead of death. A true Christian has begged for mercy. They have knelt down to the feet of Jesus and cried for Him to forgive. They may have tried many different ways but it just didn’t work.
When God freely gives His mercy to someone, there is a change. God changes their heart, their mind and their actions. Many nominal Christians say they are saved but there is no change in lifestyle. It’s still business as usual. Many nonbelievers see this and follow their example. True children of God have denied themselves and surrendered to Christ. They were chained to sin and the lusts thereof and could not break free. When they turned to Christ and asked for mercy, not deserving of it and not working for it, He freely pardoned their sins and freed them of the chains of sin by making them a new creature.
God is 100% sovereign and we are 100% responsible. It is not a 50/50 split. The Bible teaches that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion (Rom 9:15).
When God has shown mercy and freely forgives you, then, and only then, can you do begin to produce fruit and do good works. He blesses you beyond measure and gives you gifts. Only after you have been given grace do you become “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”.