Yes, that is a long title, but I am trying to make a very crucial point! Salvation in Jesus Christ is through grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. I can’t stress how important this is to understand. There is absolutely nothing we could do before or after we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior to earn our way into Heaven. This is fundamental to the Christian faith. You must understand this!
The Book of Ephesians is the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. In the letter he is reminding the believers of their new found life in Jesus, and reminding them that their salvation is a free gift from God that they could never earn. He teaches them that there is to be no boasting about their salvation because they did not earn it through works. There are no amount of “good works” that will get you into Heaven. If that were the case, then Jesus Christ died for nothing! Please understand that!
Here is how Paul says it:
“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.”
Did the Apostle Paul say “it is by works you have been saved?” Did he say, “it is by your own effort you have been saved?” No, he did not. He said we are saved by grace, and that grace comes from our loving God who is rich in mercy.
Paul continues his explanation regarding grace in the following verses:
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
There is that word grace again. I don’t see the word “works” anywhere in there, do you? That’s because it is not in there and we are not saved by works. People who preach salvation by works often misunderstand what the Apostle Paul was saying in another set of Scripture found in Philippians 2:12-13. Unfortunately, they use it to instill fear in people that they have to “work” their way into Heaven or they could lose their salvation. Let me be clear here, that is a lie straight from Satan!
Once you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are saved and it is finished just as Jesus said on the cross! Here is the verse people misuse. I will explain what the verse really means from the Greek context of the words afterwards.
Philippians 2:12-13 (The misused and misunderstood verses)
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
The New Testament was written in Greek. The Greek root of “work out” means pressing on toward the goal. It does not mean, nor does it say, you have to “work for” your salvation. The salvation part is set in stone because Jesus paid the price for us and our salvation cannot be lost once we are His. The Greek root of the words “fear and trembling” in this context means a great reverence and respect (fear) and awe (trembling). He is saying to press on and follow Jesus with great reverence and awe. He is not saying you have to work for your salvation. Okay? Please understand that.
Paul uses the same language when speaking about Titus in 2 Corinthians 7:15:
“And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling.”
There are the words “fear and trembling” again. You see, it is how Paul writes. It is the Greek language. He is thanking the church at Corinth for showing Titus such respect.
Okay, now that the language barrier is cleared up, let us move forward. Paul continues his explanation of salvation by grace to the church at Ephesus by writing one of the most famous verses in the Bible. Here it is:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no can boast.”
I think Paul wanted to make it very clear that we are saved by grace through faith and it is a gift from God and “not by works.” There is to be no boasting from anyone about it! Jesus saved you. You cannot save yourself through good works.
I want to make something else crystal clear. Jesus called us to repentance. Repentance leads you to salvation, which is a free gift from God. The Greek root word for repentance is “metanoia,” which literally means “a change of mind” or “change in the inner man.”
Strong’s Concordance:“metanoia: change of mind, repentance
Original Word: μετάνοια, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Phonetic Spelling: (met-an’-oy-ah)
Short Definition: repentance, a change of mind
Definition: repentance, a change of mind, change in the inner man.”
Jesus called us to change our minds about our sins, turn away from them, and turn to God and His Way, which is to believe in Jesus Christ!
“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10
You receive salvation through Jesus Christ and are saved the very moment you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior through faith. It is a free gift from God by His grace. Repentance simply leads you to salvation in Jesus Christ, which is by grace through faith, and not by works.
Paul explains this clearly as he writes to the church at Rome:
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Did Paul say, “if you run around and do a bunch of good things, you will be saved?” Did Paul say, “if you confess Jesus is Lord, believe, and then do a bunch of good works, you will be saved?” No, he did not. He said you are saved the very moment you confess Jesus is Lord and believe! Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you can lose your salvation or you have to work for it! Those are lies and that nonsense is NOT found in the Bible!
One more very important truth I want to make crystal clear is that once you receive Jesus like the above verses say to do, you will receive the Holy Spirit immediately. Here is how Paul explains it:
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.”
Is it clear now? You receive the Holy Spirit immediately upon believing in Jesus Christ and that Holy Spirit inside of you guarantees your inheritance in Heaven!! Your salvation is guaranteed when you trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and you don’t ever have to worry about losing it!
If you are a Christian and you go off and start sinning (which happens), it doesn’t mean you lose your salvation, but it does mean God is going to have to discipline you and bring you back. Sometimes Christians back slide and fall into temptation, but God is gentle with us and restores us through His discipline (see Hebrews 12). You don’t lose your salvation once you belong to Jesus!
I truly hope that clears the whole salvation by grace versus works issue right up! Jesus died for you and that gracious gift of salvation is free from God, and there is nothing we could do to work for it! Praise God for that! May we all live in the truth and freedom of Jesus Christ every day!
Grace and peace to you all!