Saved by Grace … Alone!
by Joseph Franks
We hear from Scripture that believers are “saved by grace.” What exactly does this mean?
In my own consideration of God’s grace, and in my writing of this morning devotional, I found myself incredibly encouraged. My hope is that you — believers in Jesus Christ — will allow the scriptural truth about God’s grace to comfort your troubled soul. Additionally, my hope is that you — unbelievers — will quit seeking to hide or excuse away your demerit, that you will cease seeking to earn your own merit, and that you will come running into the gracious arms of your only available Lord and Savior before the end of this day.
First, we discover our need of grace. Scripture teaches us that all men are conceived in sin, and we prove our wicked condition by the variety of sins we commit each and every day. All men are unrighteous. All men are totally depraved. All men transgress God’s Law in their thinking, affections, words, and deeds. All men do that which we ought not do. None of us do all we are required to do. Therefore, when any individual reviews himself i the light of God’s perfect standard, none are perfect, none are acceptable, all are declared unholy. Based upon our performance, all men are found on God’s death row awaiting his performance of his condemnatory sentance.
Second, we discover the origin of grace. Those of a Reformed or Calvinistic mindset believe God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass. Those holding a Not-So-Reformed perspective do not believe God foreordains everything, however they do believe God foreknows everything. (My interest is not to argue this point at the present time.) However, whether one holds to foreordination and/or foreknowledge, this we both know. From the sacred text, God “looks down through the corridor of time” and determines to give some men exactly that which they have earned. He is pleased to somehow give to other individuals that which they have not earned. And why does God allow a world-order in which he chooses to gloriously give some that which they have neither earned nor deserved? It is only because God is love and gracious in his character; the offended Judge is the fountainhead of grace.
Third, we see the price of grace. God is just and holy. He declares the soul that sins must die. He declares that only the holy man can climb his hill and enjoy his house. Therefore, with this in mind, a plan of substitution is engineered. For the elect (or the whosoever will), a substitutionary righteousness is earned. Additionally, a substitutionary damnation is poured out and received. Someone needs to come to earth, earn the substitutionary merit, and pay the substitutionary demerit. Friends, Jesus Christ is that one. As a perfect man who grows in wisdom, stature, favor with man, and favor with God, Jesus earns 100% of all that is needed for his substitutes. He then continues in his humiliation; he endures the wrath of man and the wrath of his Father. Out of love, out of grace, on behalf of his own, Jesus is crucified, killed, and buried. And in the process, Jesus pays it all!
Fourth, we see the application of grace. God the Father so loves the world that he sends his only Son. Jesus the Son so loves the world that he comes, submits, suffers, stays, and becomes the sacrificial Lamb of God. However, despite the love of God shown to wretched rebels, sin-filled men refuse to respond in kind. Sadly, our dull minds and sinful flesh still prefer the lordship of Lucifer. Left to ourselves, we remain largely unimpressed by the work of Jesus and with his gracious Gospel offer. However, thanks be to God, the grace of the Father and the Son is found in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We continue to get that which we cannot earn, deserve, or that which we do not even naturally desire. But as a consequence of the Spirit’s work, sinfully wretched individuals are transformed from within. The Holy Spirit plays the role of the Great Physician and performs heart surgery. Some are specially dated, courted, or wooed by God. Some are lovingly convinced to reconsider their arrogant folly. Yes, some are given the gifts of faith and repentance, and they, at this point, transition from free-willing rebels to free-willing worshipers. Yes, grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sins — including rejection — is experienced by some. Predestinating grace, shown in atoning grace, continues on in to show itself in regenerative grace.
Fifth, we see the benefits of grace. Not because of our works, but only due of the gracious labor of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, elect men and women are:
- Gifted with Imputed Justification and Positional Sanctification: They are declared holy by the Just Judge. They are declared to be saints of the Most High God.
- Gifted with Spiritual Filling: The Spirit that indwell the Tabernacle, the Temple, and the Son of God tents within them.
- Gifted with Union: They are made the bride of Christ. They are identified with him; they are one. He is their Groom; they are his special, treasured possession.
- Gifted with Adoption: They are made, called, nourished, protected, and enriched as God’s special elect children. They get to enjoy incredible intimacy with the Father. An incomparable inheritance awaits them in future glory.
- Gifted with Ongoing Repentance: They continue to see the Law. They continue to see their lawlessness. They hate their sins. They determine and endeavor to turn from that which offends their Heavenly Lover.
- Gifted with Ongoing Faith: They hear the facts. They believe the facts. They rest in the facts. They love the faith. They profess the faith. They keep the faith, at least in some degree, for the rest of their days.
- Gifted with Ongoing Faithfulness and Progressive Sanctification: As they grow in the faith, they manifest faithfulness. Slowly, sporadically, but surely, they display that which they have been declared. Throughout our days, we as Christ’s bride begin to love, think, talk, walk, and smell more and more like Jesus as he finishes that which he has begun.
- Gifted with Spiritual Ministry: We are his anointed kingdom of priests, and we are called and used by him to bring honor to his name and show love to those created in his image.
- Gifted with Glorification: One day we will see him, and on that glorious day we will really, only, entirely, thoroughly, and eternally be like him. Perfect men and women we will be as the devil, the world, and our wicked flesh trouble us no more.
Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, how ought this to affect you today? Let us pray and thank God. Let us ask the question, “Why do we believe?” Let us ask, “Why am I bothered by my transgressions?” Let us recognize that faith and repentance are impossible by man. Let us recognize that faith and repentance are gifts of the Spirit. Let our mustard-seed amounts of faith and repentance cause us to sing aloud. We love him because he first loved us. Give thanks again for the prevenient grace of our loving Lord.
Let us pray and confess our sins. Let us read the Law and see our sin. Let us mourn over our unholy thoughts, affections, words, and actions — those effects of the old man that still eek out of our pores. Yes, let us freshly be sadly humbled by God’s Law, then let us be happily humbled by the love of our God.
Let us pray and supplicate. As we pray without ceasing, let us seek the Holy Spirit’s power. Let us ask for greater success in feeding the new man and starving the old. Let us pray for hearts that more and more hate sin and more and more love God and his ways. Let us pray that we will be greatly inclined to do good works and glorify our Father in heaven.
Then, let us pray, adore, and celebrate. The Father has given us a gift; enjoy the experience. The Son has betrothed us to him in love; jump in his arms. The Spirit has sealed the deal; fan him into flame. Brothers and sisters, one of the results of grace ought to be a reverent party in God’s name and in God’s honor. Never ought we to keep ourselves from his throne. Never ought we to abstain from his table. We are his; he is ours; come into the house and enjoy the feast. Sing, shout, dance and have a merry heart. All your sins are forgiven. All your righteousness has been earned. An eternity full of grace is before you. How long will you continue to diminish the grandeur of his grace. Christians, we are saved not because we have sufficient obedience. We are saved not because we have sufficient repentance. We are saved not because we have sufficient love. We are saved not because we have sufficient faith. We are saved not because we have sufficient faithfulness.
Why are we saved? Why are we OK? Why can we smile and rejoice in the Lord? It is because we are saved by grace — by grace alone.