The Lord spoke to my heart this morning about good works using the above verse in Ephesians. There is a certain phrase that I absolutely cannot stand and I hear it a lot from people who preach a works based salvation. That phrase is “cheap grace.” It makes me mad because there is nothing cheap about the blood Jesus shed on the cross for us! People who use that phrase usually follow it up with a bunch of false preaching and justifications for why they think they have to work their way into Heaven despite what Jesus did for them. I want to be very clear here. We are saved by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone! There are no amount of good works that will ever pay the price for your sin and get you into Heaven. Any good works we do after we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior are good works that God has prepared for us to do for His glory. It is not for our glory to do His good works and it is not for our salvation to do His good works. Our salvation was paid in full by Jesus Christ when He died for us on that cross. We are saved through faith in Jesus alone.
The term “cheap grace” is used by people who get angry when believers in Jesus like myself preach the Gospel using Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 10:9. They say things like, “is faith in Jesus all we really need to be saved?” The answer is YES! That is exactly what the Lord Himself taught us! We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ and nothing else!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus speaking in John 3:16
“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 one can boast.”
“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.”
Now that does not mean you can just keep on living a sinful life after you accept Christ. You will be filled with God’s Holy Spirit and the Lord will convict you to live righteously. If you don’t, then you will feel that conviction and you will be under the Lord’s discipline until you turn from it (read Hebrews 12:1-12). For example, it would not be wise to accept Jesus by faith, then try to keep on getting drunk every weekend or live a promiscuous lifestyle. Our church says, “Jesus accepts you as you are, but He refuses to leave you that way.” We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, not by works. However, after you accept Christ, the Lord will move in your heart by the power of the Holy Spirit and begin to sanctify you, which is His process of helping you live a righteous life that pleases God. You will not be able to keep living for yourself and your sinful desires after you receive Jesus by faith.
“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.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Upon believing in Jesus, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit and you will be blessed with the fruit of the Spirit, which will manifest in your life. You will be convicted of your sinful desires and you won’t want to live a sinful life anymore. God will lead you to those good works that He prepared in advance for you to do. After you accept Jesus, you will have new life in Him and He will work in you to complete the purposes He has for you!
“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, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
Take note here that it is God who works in you according to His will. Paul encourages the believers to continue to “work out” their salvation with “fear and trembling.” Many people get tripped up over these verses because they incorrectly think that it means we are “working for” our salvation and we have to “fear and tremble” that we might lose it. Listen to me now, that is NOT what Paul is saying! The New Testament was written in Greek. Paul is saying to exercise your faith and put it into action (work out your salvation) while we obey and serve God with great reverence (fear) and awe (trembling). Paul is NOT saying to work for your salvation while being afraid. No! The Lord’s perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18) and we are saved by His grace through faith in Jesus, not by works. We are not doing anything for God as if He should repay us. He does not owe us anything. We only do the good works He leads us to because of His Holy Spirit inside of us and all the glory goes to Him, not us.
“Oh, the depth of the riches
of the wisdom and
knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his
and his paths beyond
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his
Who has ever given to
that God should repay
For from him and through
him and to him are all
To him be the glory
Amen! To Him be the glory! God does not owe us anything and we have never given to God that He should repay us! The good works we do are for His glory. He saves us by His grace through faith in Jesus, then He fills us with His Holy Spirit and sends us on our way as He works in us for His will and good purpose.
It always amazes me that any believer in Jesus could talk legalistically about works they have done as if God owes them something for it. Let me be lovingly blunt. If you talk about “cheap grace” and you still think you need to work your way into Heaven, then you are living under a bondage that God already set you free from! You wouldn’t be doing any good works if you were still dead in your sins without the Holy Spirit. It is God who works in us to lead us to good works, which we complete for Him through obedience and faith and all the glory goes to God. We are not working for our salvation.
Can you imagine if I went down to Denver to help the homeless, then came back on my blog bragging about what I had done? It would be ridiculous, right? That’s right, and I don’t do that because any ministry I do is for His glory. It’s not about me and I don’t glorify myself for it. My job is to simply be obedient to His call whenever He leads me to good works He prepared for me to do. He prepared those good works in advance for me to do well before I ever knew Him. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. No amount of good works I do will ever save me and that is not why I do them. We do it to please God out of deep gratitude for what He did for us, plain and simple. We don’t do it to rack up points to get into Heaven.
A few months ago, I got tangled up with some false preachers who preach salvation by works. I asked them what they had done that God should repay them. I asked them how many points they could boast about from all the good works they had done. I also asked them to explain how they are saved if Christ’s blood was not sufficient for them. They couldn’t answer me. They just had angry rants about why their legalistic false teachings were right. I pointed them to Galatians, specifically regarding the argument Paul had with Peter for being legalistic (Galatians 2:11-21, 3:1-5) and reminded them that if we could be saved through observing the law, then Christ died for nothing.
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Jesus Christ is the perfect atoning sacrifice for our sin and it is through faith in Him that we have peace with God. Jesus died on that cross for you, for me, and for everyone in this world and there is nothing cheap about what He did for us! He died for us to forgive us of every sin and reconcile us with God, so we can stand before Him holy and pure! Does that sound like “cheap grace” to you?! Of course not! It is not a “cheap grace” that God does not require us to work our way into Heaven. It is beautiful and powerful and it is a gift to be received! We could never work for it as if we could earn salvation. All of us have sinned and there is nothing we can do to save ourselves.
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.”
So, next time you hear somebody talking about how preaching salvation by grace through faith in Jesus is a “cheap grace,” I hope you remember just how truly precious His grace is in saving you and that there is nothing cheap about it! Jesus paid the price for every one of your sins past, present, and future. If that wasn’t the case and you had to work your way into Heaven, you would see just how truly priceless His grace is. We could never bear to pay the penalty for our sin ourselves! The penalty is death, which is separation from God! Only Jesus could pay that price for us and rise victorious over sin and death!
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
Jesus Christ is Lord and there is no other way on this earth to be saved. You will die in your sins if you don’t believe in Him. If you think you can work your way into Heaven, you are wrong. All of our works are dirty rags to the Lord and there is only one work the Father requires of us and that is to believe in Jesus! Those who do God’s will enter Heaven, and what is God’s will? That everyone believes in Jesus! That is God’s will!
“Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Jesus in John 6:38-40
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Notice the disciples asked Jesus what the “works” were that God required and Jesus answered by saying there is only one work of God required and that is to believe in Him. Jesus is trustworthy and I take Him at His Word. I praise God for His priceless grace and I am so thankful that we are not required to work our way into Heaven. Our salvation is secure and guaranteed through faith in Jesus Christ and nothing else, and to that eternal truth I say, “Hallelujah!” Rest in that grace forever and remember, any good works you do are for His glory; not your salvation. Jesus paid for your salvation in full. That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that is the priceless grace I preach in His Glorious Name!
Grace and peace to you all in the saving grace of Jesus Christ!
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
Here are some of the posts I wrote regarding the truth that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus and we cannot lose our salvation in Him. God bless you all!
Salvation By Grace Alone Through Faith Alone in Christ Alone (Not by works!) (I wrote this one back in August of 2018 when I first started blogging)