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Only a sinner, Saved by Grace…


Text Ephesians 2:8-9

God applies his saving work to us by regenerating us, giving us new life, so that we are born agin, by raising us up from the filth and the gutter of sin, by seating us with Christ in heavenly places, and by keeping us as his purchased possession, to demonstrate his glory for eternal ages! And, it is all of His doing, so that only he can get the praise and the glory. So, Paul summarises all of that, and reinforces our passivity in it, in verse 8 and 9:-

We are SAVED

That is a Biblical doctrine, and in the NT its Greek root or a derivation of it appears around 104 times. The idea of God stepping in to rescue – to save – sinners is all through the Bible, and the word itself is common enough. READ Acts 16:31  & Romans 10:9-10 The Greek word is σῴζω (sōzō) and it commonly means to rescue; to preserve safe and unharmed. There is nothing wrong with the word, – what’s wrong is our frequent misuse of the word! Let’s consider the difficulties that might arise in using that entirely Biblical word to describe our experience of being rescued from our sin.

  1. I was saved… Now, you will frequently hear people – perhaps in a personal testimony, telling of the night they were saved. There are even some Christians who argue that if you do not know the date of your conversion, – if you cannot point to a time and place where you were saved, then you are not saved at all. That in itself is rather questionable, there are plenty of believers, brought up in Christians homes, who simply cannot remember not having trusted Christ with a repentant heart. But for some, the experience of being saved is something that ONLY happened to them in the past. When the Bible speaks of our redemption, using the word ‘saved’ – ‘rescued’ it always does so in the three separate tenses:-
    1. We are SAVED! (Past tense) (Justification) It speaks of a day in our experience when by faith we trusted Christ. 2 Timothy 1:9  A day when our eternal destiny was settled forever. A day when the Holy Spirit regenerated us and came to dwell within us. On that day we were saved. It is a once and for all work in which God delivers a sinner from the penalty of sin. On that day we are delivered from death and sin and hell. 2 Cor. 2:15.
    2. We are BEING SAVED! (Sanctification) There is also a continuous experience of salvation. It is happening right now! It is a description of the Lord’s work every day in the life of the believer. He guides us, gives us his love, joy, peace, makes us every day more like the Lord and equips us to serve Him! Philippians 2:12-13  
    3. We WILL BE SAVED! (Glorification) There is a day coming when our redemption will be complete! That day will be the great day of resurrection, when the Lord will return, and the dead in Christ shall rise, and we shall be changed to like Him! At present we are saved from the POWER of sin, and we are saved from the PENALTY of sin, but then we shall be free from the PRESENCE of sin! Heb. 9:28  cf Romans 13:11 
  2. I GOT Saved… Evangelicals have been doing it for years. You do not “GET saved.” – like it’s something you asked for or obtained That’s an Americanism frequently used by semi-Pelagian evangelicals. God saves you. It’s clear and plain in this very verse. 
  3. I’m saved you know… Christians are different from the children of this world, – the people Paul has described as ‘the children of wrath.’ But that should make us humble, and we should never have any sense of spiritual pride about us. 1 Corinthians 4:6-7  

So, while the word ‘saved’ is a Biblical word, let us use it, as we must with all biblical words, in the correct manner. So, we are saved, rescued from our sins, and…

We are Saved BY Grace

There is a belief in Roman Catholicism, that Christ, by his death has earned a treasury of merit, out of which he dispenses his grace. That is untrue, for it separates the person of Christ, from his grace, which is part of God’s undeserved loving kindness for lost sinners. Salvation is all of grace, and Jesus himself, IS that grace of God personified. 2 Corinthians 8:9  Sin has slain us, Christ in his grace has rescued us, and given us life. So that grace, is ‘grace alone.’ No works of ours are needed, no works of ours will add anything to what Christ has done.

We are Saved THROUGH Faith

Paul emphasises that our salvation is not BY faith but THROUGH faith. Faith is the medium by which the gift is received. Our faith does not save us. That would be fideism. My faith does not make me acceptable to God, God does not save me because I am ‘A man of faith’ – for I cannot in any way earn my salvation, or be good enough, religious enough, to merit forgiveness, but faith is simply INSTRUMENTAL to my salvation. God saves sinners, who have nothing whatsoever to offer him, and he gives them the faith that they need to believe. That God given faith is the means by which we embrace Christ. Here’s Paul again in 1 Corinthians 1:30  So we don’t have faith in our faith, we have faith in Christ! Faith is a free gift from God.  Finally, 

We are Saved in a Manner that Excludes PRIDE.  

We have already learning in Ephesians that God has a plan for us. We are his jewels, his pride and joy. The apple of his eye. He is going to put us on display to the universe so that all of creation will see his glory and his love and his kindness to worthless undeserving sinners and will fall before him in worship. Ch. 2:6-7. On that day, no-one in the redeemed multitude will be able to say, “I deserve to be here!” I’m a good person. I’m a decent person. I did it my way.” Paul excludes any form of pride in 1 Corinthians 1:27-30 

But there is one thing of which the Christian can boast. It is found in Galatians 6:14, But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. We boast Jesus! We lift up his name and give all the praise and honour and glory to Him.

Can you say, “I’m only a sinner, saved by grace?” Do you know that you have been rescued from your sin, out of the mercy and grace and kindness of God alone?

© Bob McEvoy

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