“For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
We are living in a world where most men and women follow their own religious codes. Many are very moral people. Some are religious. Others are more secular.
Many of the secular folks believe that their morality, without Christ, can stand on its own before God. That their actions are what count; not their religious observances or doctrines.
Within many mainstream “Christian” denominations, many believe that God is just like an old grandfather that loves them and accepts all but the most evil characters. Others believe God is very demanding and must be appeased by a life of dedicated religious works.
We Must See Our Need
The doctrine of salvation, by faith alone in Christ, has always been distasteful to men. Men have long-contended that God requires good works in addition to faith. Many would also add religious rituals or disciplines to that mix.
However, whether those rituals include baptism, confirmation, confession, tithing, circumcision, church membership, fasting, prayers or a million other things, it is by faith alone that we find acceptance before God.
The doctrine of faith alone, is based on two foundational truths.
In the first place, we must understand that God is holy. And that His holiness is far beyond our wildest comprehension. His purity is an infinite and consuming fire.
Secondly, we must understand that man is sinful. He is completely depraved at the core of his being. God cannot look upon man as he is. There must be a complete change within man’s inner being for God to accept him. No good works or rituals can whitewash that wickedness.
The Terrible Necessity of the Blood
In the Genesis record, at the beginning of history, Cain refused to offer the sacrifice that God required. God demanded that the blood of a spotless lamb was to be offered upon the altar. Cain brought the fruit of his harvest. The work of his own hands. God rejected Cain’s work. Abel, his brother, offered a lamb with its blood; and God was pleased.
This was not about the quality of Cain’s harvest. Nor about how hard Cain had worked to produce it. This was about faith. Man looking forward to the sacrifice that one day would be provided by the perfect Lamb of God. Cain refused to come to God by faith. Instead, Cain chose to offer his own works.
Man has always wanted to offer his own works in order to purchase acceptance before God. But man has absolutely no chance at achieving that. We mistakenly compare ourselves to each other. But in comparison to the holiness of God, we are totally corrupt and dead in our sins.
So God established the need for the blood of the perfect Lamb to be offered. The law requires that “without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22) Without the blood of Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, we have nothing with which we can pay God’s price.
The Lamb of God is a GIFT for us. God, by Himself, paid the full price of our sins. But that gift is only available if we personally believe in the sufficiency of Christ.
God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense
Grace is the undeserved mercy of God. It is the opposite of works. It is God choosing to do something because He is good; because of His own love poured out for man.
This is not about man possessing something in himself that is worthy of God’s love. We make a grave error when we go down that road. The entire “self esteem” movement is based on that false assumption.
Therefore, we must cease from our own works and rest upon His amazing gift. Our good works can only earn one type of wage. Death. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Every man must believe on “him whom he hath sent.” That “him” is Christ. Belief is the key. There is no other way of salvation.
God does not grade on a curve. Our works are not compared to those of other men before God; as if God only accepts the best of men while rejecting the others.
The Clear Choice
In conclusion, we make a clear choice in this world.
Placing you confidence in the works of man. Submitting your own good works for judgment by the demands of God’s perfect Law. To stand alone before the infinitely holy God.
Resting, by faith alone, in the total sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Believing that He alone is worthy before God. That He has met the demands of the Law for you. And paid the full price of all your sins forever.
Each of us stands in the valley of decision.