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What does it mean that it is by grace that I am saved?
Ephesians 2:8-10 (Pastor Heo)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
These are the key verses of all Scriptures to all Christians. Some have memorized them – but these 3 cannot be separated. Memorize ALL 3 if you memorize any.
This Wednesday, I will preach in the Korean service on this same topic – so if you want to hear the same sermon in Korean, come along.
What does it mean that it is by grace that we are saved?
Actually, all that God wants to give us is salvation and in salvation. In OT, a saint who knew he was saved said, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23) Jesus also says, “I’m the good shepherd…”
If we are saved, we can say, “Jesus is my shepherd and I am not in want in no matter what circumstances we are in.” Acts “Believe in the Lord Jesus (once) and you will be saved (eternally).” Phil “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” 1 Peter “The final goal of faith is the salvation of your soul.”
- The beginning of the Christian life = salvation.
- Continual progress = salvation.
- Final destination = salvation.
- The Christian life = Salvation life from first to last. Salvation is the WHOLE life of the Christian from first to last.
So, what is “salvation”?
It is not easy to describe it completely with our limited human language. But, as a definition:
“Salvation is sharing God’s eternal life in Jesus Christ, by the ministry of the Holy Spirit.”
Eph 2:8-9 “It is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves so that no one can boast.”
What does it mean: “by grace”?
This WHOLE day, repeat this in your spirit and heart, walking, sleeping, thinking.
Let me share 6 facts of what “by grace” means.
#1: By Grace, Salvation = FREE
Do you know what “free of charge” means? If I have a thing worth $10 billion, but I paid $0.01 – it is NOT free. Salvation is not “almost” free, but purely, absolutely free.
All human beings were made to like “free of charge” but we are uncomfortable with this kind of thing because in this world, by its principles, the more valuable, the more we must pay to get it. But in the principle of the Word of God, the more precious, the more Free. (Ex: sunlight, moonlight, air, oxygen)
Salvation is MORE free than all these because it is the gift of God. All humans need salvation.
#2: By Grace, Salvation = EASY
It is easier than the easiest thing we can get in this world. It is too easy to understand.
You know, not all “free of charge” events are EASY. For example, today, there is an event that is free of charge in another city (Seoul) but it is not easy to get it because we are here. We do not need to GO somewhere to get it. It is always near us, with us, in us.
In the Bible there are many illustrations to teach us how to get salvation:
- Exodus: how were they saved? They killed a lamb and put blood on the door and stayed inside the house. Fin.
- Our salvation is EASIER than that.
- Wilderness: they sinned against God by complaining and poisonous snakes bit them. They only had to LOOK at the bronze snake that Moses put on the pole to be saved. Fin.
- Our salvation is EASIER than that.
- Imagine someone lost in the deep mountain and a helicopter found him and saved him. Easy or difficult? Easy for the climber…
- Our salvation is EASIER.
- Someone drowning, gets thrown a rope, he catches it and is saved – easy.
- Our salvation is EASIER.
In the Bible, a criminal on the cross next to Jesus was saved simply because he said, “Jesus!” He called out to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” and he was completely saved. The Bible does not say that only this man who called on the name of the Lord would be saved, but ANYONE who does so will be (Romans 10).
#3: By Grace = we are dead/powerless/hopeless/helpless
Can you save yourself? No.
Remember Lazarus – dead 4 days in the tomb, decaying with a bad smell, but Jesus raised him from the dead and gave him new life. But he did NOTHING (how could he?). Lazarus rising again from the dead is a picture of how WE are saved. This is not: Jesus 99.999999% power and Lazarus 0.000001% power. NO. Jesus = 100%, Lazarus 0.000000%
Before doing this, Jesus says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
Also, remember Abraham is called the “Father of Faith” – have you ever thought about WHY this is so? There are so many faithful men who lived by grace in the Bible. So, WHY Abraham? He is not Lord, God, Savior, King. So, why is HE “father in faith” and we are his children?
- He is not actually the first man who lived by faith (Able).
- He is not the first man who was saved by grace (Enoch).
- He is not the first physical father (Adam, Noah).
All lived LONG before Abraham, so WHY is he the “Father of Faith”? There are TWO meanings.
- Abrahamic Covenant – All nations will be saved and blessed through you. (World Evangelization Covenant). This covenant is being fulfilled today through US. (Heb 11:40 “God had planned a wonderful plan for us so that only through us the covenant would be made perfect.”)
- God promised to give him a son when he was 75 years old. God delayed this promise for 25 years – until he was 100 years old. God waited until Abraham and Sarah became as good as DEAD from a reproductive point of view. After they died completely, God gave them the promised son Isaac. How they got the new life/son Isaac was shown to us as a visual illustration of how we are saved by grace.
#4: By Grace = God himself paid the FULL price
- Yes, salvation = free on our part, but it is the MOST expensive on God’s part.
- Yes, salvation = easy on our part, but it is the MOST difficult on God’s part (his own, only Son).
If I give $10 billion object to Aaron, up to here it is given to him by grace, but if it is stolen (illegally), I did a bad thing and the grace it appeared to be will actually be harmful in the end.
In his character, quality, and attributes, God is absolutely holy, just, righteous, so he cannot save a sinner without the punishment of sin – who should he punish then? He can only save a sinner after ALL the punishment is paid. It would be impossible to save a sinner without punishment – he would not remain holy in this case. Thus 1 John 2:2 “Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins – for the sins of the whole world.” For the benefit of others, the most difficult thing I can choose to do is to put myself in the place of death. This is the final and most difficult thing I can do for the benefit of others.
But, to choose to put my son to the point of death is even MORE difficult than the most difficult thing I can choose. If that son is an ONLY son, this is DOUBLE difficult.
- It does not cost us anything to be saved, but it cost God EVERYTHING to save us.
“By grace” means “on my part, free and easy – but on God’s part, expensive and difficult.”
#5: By Grace = God has no responsibility to save us
He has no debt/obligation to us. He is not responsible for our salvation. Romans 9:24 Before Esau and Jacob were born, before they had done anything good or bad, in order to prove God’s divine election – “the older will serve the younger – what shall we say then, is God unjust? No, he is sovereign. Shall what is formed say to him who formed it – does not the Potter have the right to make some of the clay for noble uses and some for normal uses?”
What can we say to God? Can you complain to God? “Why did you make me like this?” NO. We have nothing to complain against God. God has no responsibility to us.
How many are saved today among human beings? 7 billion = population on earth now, how many are being saved today?
- IF God has a responsibility to save man, even if God saved all human beings, that is not grace – he is only doing his job.
- But, if God has NO responsibility to save us, yet he saves even ONE person, that is “by grace.” Thank God for his wonderful grace!
#6: Salvation = God gives us mission
We are not saved to be served, but to serve. If you are saved, you have a mission to others. Please do not forget this important lesson. ALWAYS salvation and mission go together.
- Salvation: 2 Cor 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new Creation, the old has gone, the new has come.” (Salvation = beginning of Christian life)
- Mission: 2 Cor 5:18 “All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (Mission/ministry)
Please remember all the time, salvation by grace, gives us DOUBLE grace – a mission in this world. Why must we stay in this world a little more if we are saved eternally? Mission.
- Salvation: Phil 2:12 “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Salvation = continual Christian life)
- Mission: Phil 2:13 “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Mission)
If we are saved and salvation is the END ALL – then there is no reason for us to stay here, right? Mustn’t we just depart to be with our Lord forever to be face to face with him? No, we must stay in this world longer to help others come to know him as well.
In the Christian life, there are 2 passions:
- to depart and be with Christ;
- to stay and help others
Phil 1:23 “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far (because I’m saved by grace); 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body (because of mission).”
If we are saved, God gives us DOUBLE grace, to upgrade our “level” and make us partners of salvation.
- We are not only children of God,
- We are not only servants of God,
- We are PARTNERS with God in salvation.