“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)
There is a lot of talk about “grace” these days.
Lots of books with “grace” in their titles.
Lots of churches with “grace” in their names.
Lots of religious groups with doctrines talking about “grace”.
And a whole bunch of these same folks are lost in their sins while they talk about “grace”.
So, let’s say a Roman Catholic, a Greek Orthodox, a United Methodist, an Episcopalian, and a Baptist all get together to discuss what they believe.
Maybe over a good, potluck dinner. With a really good bacon and baked-bean casserole. And maybe some excellent, thick, macaroni and cheese dish as well.
Chances are, they can keep up an amiable discussion for some time. And they might even walk away thinking they are all in agreement on the gospel “essentials”. They may even call each other “brothers and sisters in Christ”.
Because, on the surface, they are each able to use the same language, the same phrases, and the same Bible, and sound like they are all talking about the same way of salvation.
That they are all preaching the same “gospel”; as our gospel-centered Evangelicals like to say.
But are they really talking about the same gospel?
Well, if they were faithfully representing the beliefs of their respective denomination, no.
Then, it would be obvious that they were talking about entirely different things.
IF they went below the surface.
IF they were truly clear about what they each believe when speaking of “grace” or “faith” or “salvation”.
Total Grace is Our Only Hope
True, biblical salvation is based upon the Total Sufficiency of Jesus Christ.
The sufficiency of His finished work upon the Cross; which can be neither added to nor subtracted from.
When we ADD any works to simple faith in the finished work of Christ, we have entered into another way.
We are no longer walking in that “narrow way” that Jesus spoke of. We have veered off into another path. Into another gospel.
So, if someone believes that baptism (immersion or sprinkling or whatever) is a necessary component in salvation, that is another gospel.
If someone believes that circumcision, or confessing one’s sins to a priest, or giving of tithes or offerings, of doing good works, or being a loving person, or joining a church, or regularly attending a church, or the saying of specific prayers, or the taking of communion, or the taking of the Eucharist, or in doing whatever else they think is necessary IN ADDITION TO faith and trust in the finished work of Christ, then that person is not saved.
Or if someone thinks that there is another Person we can pray to; another “saint”, or Mary, or some prophet, or anyone else but the Lord Jesus Christ alone, then that man or woman is following another gospel.
And, even though repentance from our sins is also necessary, that is a heart matter. It is a choice that the heart makes to do right. Even though we may not be consistent in doing right.
And let’s be frank, noone is.
Just look at Romans 5-7 to see the struggle that Paul himself had with his sins. He had a desire to do that which is good, but he was unable to perform those things which he desperately wanted to do.
Grace is a Gift
Grace is the undeserved mercy of God. It is not based upon our efforts or even our intent.
“So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Romans 9:16)
The gospel of salvation is based upon our faith in something specific.
We must choose to rest upon the character and work of Jesus Christ exclusively.
We must choose to rest upon the fact that God is satisfied with His Son.
As in, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:11)
We also must choose to be satisfied with His Son.
There is nothing that we can ever bring to the table here.
Other than our trust in His Son and in His Total Sufficiency.
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