______________________ For more information, contact Beacon Baptist Church, 5818 Newton Road, Albany, GA.

Our phone number is 229-435-2394. We would love to pray for you and to speak with you about God‟s grace in Christ.

SALVATION IS BY GRACE, NOT BY WORKS
By Pastor Reagan Marsh, June 2011

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Scripture quotations are from The ESV Bible ® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 12

Many religious groups, organizations, and churches today teach that salvation is achieved by a combination of God‟s grace and human works of righteousness. Such teaching is foreign to the Bible. The purpose of this pamphlet is to demonstrate biblically that salvation is a gift, given through the grace of God alone, and that our good deeds add nothing to the finished work of Christ.

Christ has fully accomplished the work for sinners who will repent and turn to him alone in faith. who demonstrates his own perfect mercy by taking flesh and infinitely satisfying the demands of his holy and righteous hatred of sin. and this is not of (from) yourselves. in order to redeem us from our bondage to sin. but on God. found in Christ alone. saves sinners. and he hardens whomever he wills. and proclaims his own grace – by himself. and he has the right to deny salvation. and was obedient to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). for the glory of God alone. so that your boast and joy may always be. he has mercy on whomever he wills. Romans 9:14-16 teaches that God is not unjust. became like us. Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). the Bible declares. and that salvation “depends not on human will (a “decision” for Christ) or exertion (your own works). He has the right to save whomever he wishes. While we were still sinners. who has mercy…so then. Look in faith and repentance to Jesus. Think about Ephesians 2:8-9: “By grace you are saved. If you’ve never done this. God saves men and women simply because it pleases him to do so.The Bible is explicit that we are saved by faith alone. it is the gift of God. through God’s grace alone. Salvation is by God’s sovereign.” Salvation is God’s. He is not motivated by any deficiency or need within himself. where God reveals himself. through faith. you are saved by works – but not your own works. to give or to withhold. He is not obligated to us. in Christ. God. and he does it through the foolishness of proclaiming the gospel of Christ’s cross – the power and wisdom of God on display. not of 2 God who has an infinite fury at sin. free grace. In Jonah 2:9. “Salvation belongs to the Lord. Sinners are saved only by the works of Christ as the Godgiven substitute: he obeyed God perfectly in their place. not ours. and not to yourself. but sheer foolishness to those who are perishing in their sins (1 Corinthians 1:21). and be satisfied with all that God is for you in him. 11 . he is under no compulsion to save.” It is God’s choice to give – or to withhold – his grace. look in faith to Jesus alone today. to those who believe. Let’s look at this together. Compare Isaiah 43:11. “God did this – look at how great God is!” Friend. Salvation Belongs To God Alone: It Is His Gift.

which is found in Christ alone. not a mixture of his working with us – we are created by him. Have you truly turned to God on his terms? Or are you still trying to present yourself to God on your own terms? The cross of Jesus shows an infinitely holy 10 works. despairing of your own ability to be righteous and acceptable before God.” The whole of your salvation is God’s gift. Do you have saving faith? Or do you believe in God like the demons do? The demons tremble – knowing that they will face an eternity of the holy wrath of God. especially verses 29-31. Nothing less than this is saving faith. not righteousness or merit. and the faith in that grace (your belief in his grace). where it is “of his (God’s) doing” that we are in Christ. for everyone who will turn to him in faith – faith in Jesus’ righteousness alone. but of God. Putting It All Together So – Scripture alone teaches that we are saved by faith alone. this is God’s work. faith. Compare this with 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. and relying totally upon Jesus having fulfilling the requirements of God in your place. are the gift of God and not from yourselves. not 3 . Paul is clear about what part you played in your salvation: you were dead and rightfully under God’s holy wrath at your sins. according to the Bible. nor of a person’s attempts to improve themselves or do good things). who “became to us…righteousness and sanctification and redemption. so that no man may boast. Or look at John 1:12-13. which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. We who are Christians are his workmanship. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus has purchased the grace. who believed in his name (this is faith alone).” So God’s grace. are both his gift to you. the word “this” (from the phrase this is not of yourselves) refers to both grace and faith as one “package gift”: “this grace and faith. through God’s grace alone. who were born not of blood (not physically birthed) nor of the will of the flesh (not a father & mother deciding to conceive) nor of the will of man (not even by a person’s “decision” to get saved. In Greek. “But to all who did receive him (Jesus).” Again. he gave the right (notice God’s gift again) to become children of God. and repentance that that God requires. You do not earn it or perform anything to help out. and the whole of our salvation and lives are only for the glory of God alone. So. nor can you claim that you did something to play a part in it. together. Earlier in that chapter. So you brought death and offense to the table.” So God brought you to life – to spiritual birth – by the free exercise of his own will to do so.” So God’s gracious purposes for his own people are the basis of our salvation – we are to display in our newness of life that he has done this work in us. you cannot take pride in your salvation.ate ourselves) in Christ Jesus (being created in Christ Jesus is salvation!) for (not by!) good works. and for his own glory in and through us.

created (notice that God creates us.‟” You may not boast in your own efforts or works or attempts at being righteous. put his money where his mouth was! His point is that faith is an action verb – it is never passive. as evidenced by their continued rebellion. it does not produce obedience. James 2:24 – “you see that a person is justified” by works: it’s evident that they are justified. Saying “I believe. The Hebrew word translated here as filthy rags draws the picture of a disgusting used menstrual cloth – a dirty tampon.” Saving faith is always found walking hand-in-hand with the obedience that God demands. in spite of me. What does God think about our good intentions? Today’s psychologists teach that people are basically good. Repentance (turning away from sins) is done in faith. James’s point is that saving faith is never alone – it is always accompanied and proved by works of obedience. through Paul. Scripture is incredibly clear and consistent on this fact. Philippians 3 – an incredibly helpful chapter to consult on this question – goes even further: Paul says. It has been said that “we are saved by faith alone. „Let the one who boasts. but saving faith is never alone. “Whatever gain I had. A helpful statement of this truth is found in Ephesians 2:10. boast in the Lord. never simply agreeing with God but doing nothing about it. So. we do not cre9 . It’s actually false faith. I counted as loss for the sake of Christ… For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things (reputation.” (Philippians 3:7-8) “Rubbish” in Greek draws the picture of a pile of fresh manure.” Isaiah 64:6. says our righteous acts amount to. where Paul reminds us that “we are his (God’s) workmanship. because of their works. We tend to think that we’re not so bad. But their belief does not save them. On our own. I have faith” does not prove anything. and so their faith is worthless. The demons “have faith. James observes that his faith was proved genuine by his obedience: he put Isaac on the altar and was going to sacrifice him.) and count them as rubbish.” James reminds us in 2:19 (“have faith” and “believe” are the same word in Greek). status.” God’s Opinion of Our Good Works and Good Intentions. etc. James points out. and we can basically shape ourselves up if we put forth 4 God credits Abraham’s faith in his word as righteousness (so salvation is by faith alone). because God told him to do so. The demons do that. Abraham.ours: “so that. “God did this. so it’s not real saving faith. What does God think of our works or our attempts to make ourselves right with him? “All our righteous acts are as filthy rags. They have not repented. That’s the exact idea we saw in Titus 3. our hearts and intentions are good. that’s what our righteous deeds are before this holy God. as it is written. A pile of animal dung is what the Holy Spirit. and therefore dead (James 2:17). good works. The boast of a truly saved person is only always.

But “I. what we’re dealing with is the proof: the evidence that we’ve been born again spiritually. we have bad hearts. James 2 teaches that faith and works are two sides of the same coin: they’re heads and tails. God says here. God alone births us. In Proverbs. coming down from the Father of lights (God). no human being can fully or accurately comprehend just how sick. What does God say? The Bible says that “The heart is deceitful above all things.” James is not making the point that your works add to your faith in some saving way. God’s own covenant people. In fact. So we cannot see things as they are in reality.” (Jeremiah 17:10). what James has in view is faith that is authenticated – proved to be genuine – by our works. “folly” is wickedness and rebellion against God. “their heart continually went after idols. God alone can judge our hearts correctly. where God’s observation of our thoughts and motivations – the intentions of our hearts – is that they are “only evil continually. They think that James teaches “faith plus works. James states directly. Many people today think that James 2 is teaching that faith and works must operate together to achieve a person’s salvation. and the fool is one who acts wickedly and rebelliously.” David knew that this was true. So James does not believe in salvation by grace plus works. Isaiah would also agree. I was born sinful and wicked. the illness of sin is mortal. who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. Instead of worshiping God rightly. the Lord search the heart. He is crystal clear. James 2:18 is the key to understanding this text. So according to God. to have an accurate evaluation of its state and capacities. So in James 2. and God alone saves us. “I will show you my faith by my works. Years later. deceitful and corrupt they really are.Incidentally. In Genesis 15:6. To understand your heart in the Scripture is to comprehend it. His son Solomon later agreed: “Folly is bound up in (found in) the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15). Be very clear on this point: he’s already had some strong words for people who forget what the Bible says about the human heart in chapter 1.) Of his (God’s) own will he brought us forth (there’s the spiritual birth again like in John 1) by the word of truth” (the message of the Gospel of his grace). and desperately sick. this is exactly what James 2 is talking about. Abraham is his example. it kills and destroys. 5 . Consider Genesis 6:5. were thoroughly corrupt and wicked. with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (God does not ever change. They’re compared to a guy who looks in a mirror and promptly forgets what looks like (James 1:23-25). stating that we were rebels “from before birth” (Isaiah 48:8). In other words.” That misunderstands the passage. if we discipline ourselves. confessing that “I was brought forth in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5) – he said. 8 enough effort. wicked.” Ezekiel 20:16 echoes this: even the hearts of Israel. Our good intentions aren’t really good. because we are blinded by sin. perverted. nor does he alter the way he deals with us. “Every good and perfect gift is from above.

We have God’s approval if we are united with Christ through faith in him alone – so we now demonstrate our faith’s authenticity by “devoting ourselves” to good works. Verses 56 are explicit: “He saved us. not repentance. Here. incomplete efforts to set ourselves right with him. God. in Christ alone – not by some mixture of God’s grace and our own works. Paul explains (in much the same way as Romans 2) that salvation is God’s kindness appearing to us – coming to us. 6 Consider Titus 3:4-8. and certainly not humility. In light of salvation belonging to the Lord. In chapter 2. their failure to believe that God alone saves – is in fact showing contempt for the riches of God’s “kindness and tolerance and patience” (Romans 2:4). see Ephesians 2:1-10) and renewal (which is a picture of how he not only cleans us. So Romans 2:4 teaches us that it is the kindness of God that leads you to repentance. As we look at God’s grace. not for salvation or to somehow gain God’s approval. God saves by washing us (baptizing us with the Holy Spirit) at the moment of regeneration (the moment he makes us spiritually alive. being completely a gift of his grace. but according to his own mercy. And verse 8 says that God’s grace is the central focus of the Gospel. Therefore. Faith. through faith alone. or by a strange hybrid “faith” in God’s righteousness and my own righteousness together. opens your eyes to see his mercy. consider Romans 1-2. To think lightly of something that is actually weighty and wonderful is to show great pride and to despise that thing. How God Saves: Through Faith Alone. That is. by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. and therefore of our lives. and no ability to change that bad situation on our own. not because of works done by us in righteousness. He leads you to it. We’re saved by grace alone. Plus My Works? 7 . In Romans 1. but because he is merciful. Yet that servant despised the forgiveness his master gave him. That servant thought lightly of something that was incredibly weighty. they are told that their “disobedience to the truth” (Romans 2:8) – that is. it motivates our good works. because he did not in turn show it to others. he had pride. Verse 7 is even clearer: we’re “justified by his grace” – that is. not works. It would be wicked for a holy God accept our evil. and that every single person “suppresses the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).” So – God saves. not on the basis of our righteous works. Paul says here.bad intentions. It is his gift to you. It’s like Jesus showed us in the story of the servant whose great debt was forgiven: he couldn’t possibly repay it. in kingly authority and great grace. Paul states that every human’s heart is “darkened” by sin (Romans 1:21). but he changes our hearts so that we will now be a holy people who are eager to do good works). even your repentance is his initiative. we’re declared to be righteous on the basis of God’s grace.

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