- Grace Working For Us (verses 8-9)
- Grace Working In Us (verse 10a)
- Grace Working Through Us (verse 10b)
That was good singing. It's good to see you all out this evening to our Bible study here in the Iron Hall Assembly. If you're visiting with us - and there are some visitors here this evening - we're very glad to see you, and we hope and trust that as we study the word of the Lord together, that the Lord will speak to us individually and corporately as a fellowship here, and that the Lord will have a message for us all this evening.
If you have your Bible with you, we're turning to Ephesians. Ephesians chapter 2 - and we began chapter 2, last week, at verse 1 - and we went through verses 1 to 7 and we looked at the subject: 'From Death to Life'. But we'll read those verses again, and we're specifically homing in on verses 8 to 10 of chapter 2 and we're looking at the subject of: 'Amazing Grace!'. Verse 1: "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them".
Last Monday evening we looked, and we saw in verses 1 to 3 of the chapter that sinners are utterly dead - that the human being, when he is born into the world, is born in sin and shapen in iniquity. This is something that cannot be changed - and it is not the fact that man is alright and he'll be alright in the end, and we looked [at] how it's not the fact that man is mortally sick and one day he will die from the sins and the trespasses that he commits. It's not even as good as all that, but the word of God teaches that man is dead. There is the absence of life, and being dead he cannot help himself. There he is, a spiritual corpse, the spirit within him that is the part of the human being that relates to God, that is there to worship God and to know God and to have a relationship with God, is dead. If man is to know God - we saw in verses 4 to 7 - that he has to be made alive. He has to have a spiritual resurrection where God, the Holy Ghost, comes into the spirit - the inside, the inner man - of a dead unbeliever and breathes new life. He has to be born again, born from above.
We remember that we saw Paul, and he brought us to that pinnacle of faith in all of chapter 1, looking at the history of salvation - what God has done for us. There from that mountain top, in chapter 2 and verses 1 to 3, he now makes us look into the depths of the valley of death where man was before he was converted. Then, as it were, again he lifts us from that valley and he says: 'But God!' - He is the answer. We saw from that pinnacle of saving grace, and all the blessings that we are blessed with in heavenly places in Christ, we saw a journey from hell to heaven, a journey from darkness to ultimate light, a journey from bondage to total and utter freedom, a journey from wrath to glory, a journey from death unto life! From that surveying point he assesses the whole relationship that we have with Christ Jesus - how once we were dead and now we have been brought into life. And now, as it were, sitting there contemplating on the blessing of what God has done in salvation, he summarises the whole thing up in 2 verses - verses 8 and 9. Let's look at them. He tells us how this great change, this great regeneration from death to life has happened: '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'.
You could say that these two verses are the gospel in a nutshell. My friend, this is what it's all about. Paul, in these 2 verses, gives us the dynamics of salvation - how salvation happens, what salvation means, the whole process and mechanics of how you are saved, why God has saved you, what God has saved you from, what He has saved you to, and how it has all been done. It is one of the greatest declarations of the gospel of God that we find within the word of God. So many people have been converted through these verses, it's no wonder! But let me say this to you: if you're not saved tonight, you're not converted, or you're a backslider, I want you to listen very carefully to these words. Listen carefully to what God is saying to your heart about how we are saved. How are we saved?
Now I want to begin with verse 9, to clear away all the rubbish first of all. For verse 9 makes a declaration that we are not saved of works 'lest any man should boast'. How are we saved? Well, we could answer that with a negative first of all - how we are not saved - we are not saved by works! Now let me say this: that modern day Protestantism has become a religion of works, and indeed it outstrips pope-ishness at times - and the extent to which men of the cloth rely on works, and climbing a celestial ladder to God of good works, morality, theology and all that they can think of just to reach God, to be good enough to get into heaven. But yet God the Holy Spirit denounces it, and declares: 'Not by works, lest any man should boast'.
They believe and they preach the frog and the milk philosophy. I don't know whether you've ever heard of that philosophy or not. You'll not hear about it in the halls of the universities or the theological colleges, but do you know what it is? It's the wee frog that you put into a carton of milk that can't get out. How does it get out? The only way for that little frog to get out of that carton of milk is for it to start to paddle away and beat its feet, until it beats so much that it makes butter. Then it gets a little pad and it's able to jump out of that carton. That's the gospel of so many of our churches today: 'Try your best! Work for God! Work with God! Keep the commandments! Go to your church! Give to the poor! Do all you can! Be nice to your neighbour!' - but my friend, listen to what God says: 'Not of works, lest any man should boast'.
Och, if you stopped 20 people in Templemore Avenue this evening and asked them: 'When you get to the Judgement Seat, and you stand before your Maker, and you are asked why you should be let into Heaven, what will you say?'. 'Oh, I'm a good person you know. I try my best, and I do no harm to anybody, and I'm trying to do good to everyone, and I go to my church, and I give to the poor - there are much people worse off than I am. There are people that do terrible things, and I'm not like that. I'm no murderer. I'm no burglar, or terrorist, or rapist, or anything like that. I try my best!'. Now listen friends, that attitude will get the frog out of the milk, but it'll not deliver the soul from hell. God says: 'Not of works'. Listen to it! It's categoric! It's emphatic! No buts about it! You can't water it down! You'll never get into heaven by works! But do you know what the trouble is? That we have, ingrained within our very nature, something that is called pride. That simply means that the stumbling block of the gospel to many people is this: that they want to do a wee bit about it. You see, people don't want a gospel of grace where they don't do anything. They want to add a wee bit. They want, at the end of the day, for there to be a wee brass plaque where, at least, it says: 'This person - David Legge - added a little bit to his salvation'. They want some of the glory, some of the time - when they get to heaven they want to have it themselves.
Why is it not of works? Paul tells us in verse 9, in the second half of the verse - what does he say? Look at it: 'Lest any man should boast'. Imagine if you got to heaven, or I got to heaven on my own steam, imagine what it would be like. There wouldn't be enough room to keep all the celestial big heads that there were, isn't that right? Peter would have to widen the golden gates to get you in, isn't that true? 'Lest any man should boast' - that's why Paul says it, that's why the Holy Spirit made him say it, that if there are people in heaven that are glorying in the fact that they got themselves there, [then] God's not God and they are. That's what it's down to. That's what it means! God would have to play - and I say it reverently - second fiddle for a soul that is in heaven that saved himself, or added to his own salvation. My friend, this is why God has declared this.
It's interesting - if you go into the gospels, into Matthew's gospel, you see there that the Lord, on occasions describes the judgements at the end of the age. Do you know the only people at the judgements that are boasting? It's the ones that are going to hell. If you turn with me now to Matthew chapter 7 and verse 22 you see that. Matthew 7 and [verse] 22, and Jesus depicts them standing there before Him, and what is it that they're saying to Him? 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?'. 'Depart form me ye cursed into everlasting fire', is the reply that comes from the Lord Jesus. They're boasting, but no one shall boast in the face of God for their salvation. That's why it's by grace. If you turn to chapter 25 you see that the sheep that are saved, the ones that will go into eternal life and enjoy the blessings of God's salvation forever - they're the very ones that can't even remember the good deeds that they did do! Matthew 25 verse 37: 'Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?', and so on. They can't even remember! They are there, and that proves that they don't get there by their good works, because they can't even remember them!
You know, my friend, salvation doesn't come by works, and anyone that is truly saved has nothing to boast about. There's nobody boasting in heaven this evening. There's nobody lifting their head high because they saved themselves, or they did something about their salvation, but it gets worse than this. The situation of man is more tragic, because the gulf between the deadness of man and the awesome righteousness of a holy God is so far away that man can't do anything about his salvation. Maybe you don't believe that type of religion. Well, turn with me to Romans chapter 3, for we need to look at this - and I want to say that everything I'm saying is from the word of God. In Romans chapter 3 we read two things about the awful state of man. What Paul does is, he employs a rabbinical technique of writing. It used to be called the string of pearls, where he puts a whole lot of truths together, but it's not a string of pearls because they're awful pearls. It's more like a string of perils! He lists the overwhelming evidence that man - listen - is universally corrupted.
The first thing he mentions is their character. Look at verse 10. Verse 10, through to 12: 'As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God'. Now take that in my friend! When God says that there is none that seeketh after God, He means that there is none that seeketh after God. 'They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one'. Man is universally corrupt in his character! Then he goes on, verse 13 to 18, to say that man is corrupt in his conduct: 'Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes'.
It's awful, and Paul in Ephesians declares that all people, no matter whether they're Jew or Gentile, whether they're pagan or pious, whether they're pope or Protestant, they're all condemned and done under sin! This is awful! If you look at Ephesians 2, that we've taken our text from, that's why Paul does not relate these works that he talks about: 'Not by works, lest any man should boast'. Often when Paul was talking about works he referred it to the works of the law, keeping the commands of the Old Testament, but he knew that the Gentiles, those that weren't Jews, didn't even know what the commandments were of the Old Testament! He wants to make categorically clear that he's talking about every human being that has ever been born or lived, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you got it? It's an awful scene, isn't it?
Someone has said that: 'Our good works are no more beneficial than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic', isn't that right? Can you imagine being on the Titanic and when it's going down and you escape into the circumference of where the boat is about to sink? And there's a man trying to swim beside you and he gives you a dig and he says, 'You know, I'm the Olympic gold medallist winner in swimming'. And he says to you, 'Now look! You follow me and you swim with me, and if you even want to hold onto my foot you do it!' - and they're off the coast of America (you know where the Titanic sunk). Will they get there? No. Why? Because the distance is too far to reach. My friend, that's what God's distance is like! That is what the law of God is like my friend, it is beyond us. Anyway, how can a dead man do any swimming? A dead man can't do anything. The unsaved person is dead in their sins, and they're there helpless and hopeless, and all they have is hell, and all they deserve is hell, says the word of God.
My friend, this is an awful situation - and here Paul pronounces that this is why it needs to be so great a salvation. Is it any wonder that the Lord Jesus said in the Beatitudes, in Matthew 5 and verse 3: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven'? One paraphrase puts it like this: 'Blessed are those who realise that they have nothing within themselves to commend them to God, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven'. That's what it means. Do you realise that tonight, my friend? Don't come with all of your righteousnesses whatever you do - and I'm talking to both Christians and non-Christians here tonight. Because sometimes Christians get a thing about themselves, and about how much they know, and what they do, and how much they pray, and how much they preach - and they just think that God loves them for what they can do for God or even for who they are - not a bit of it! God loves us unconditionally! He loves us for one reason: because He chooses to love us, nothing else. If we are to know Him, if we are to be saved by Him, if we are to enter into the kingdom of God, we must become as little children. That means there's not to be pride about us. What does the hymn say?
'Boasting excluded, pride I abase
For I'm only a sinner saved by grace'.
You see that's what Paul said in the book of Romans and chapter 3 and verse 27. He asked: 'Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith'. You can't have faith and works together to secure your salvation - no! The word of God teaches, the book of Ephesians, the book of Romans, even the book of James teaches that faith, and faith alone will save the soul alone. You see the tragedy of religion today - and sadly much of Protestantism and a lot of evangelicalism is going in that direction - is that it blasphemes the Saviour and it castrates the cross. You see, that's what Paul talked of in Galatians chapter 2 and 21, look what he says: 'I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain'. If I could get there through my works, through inner righteousness, through a false religion or a denomination, Christ need not have died at Calvary! Do you know why He died? Because there was no other way!
Do you think God would spend so great a price for your soul if you could get there on your own steam? Not a bit of it! That's why the word of God is laying down here for us - Paul doesn't want us to miss it - as if we could already through all the verses that we've been looking at - but he wants to set down absolutely, so that there's no doubt about it in our minds, that if we are to be saved we must be saved by God, and God alone. You see, if man could save himself [then] man is his own saviour. Do you understand that? And if man could meet God halfway and help him out in the salvation then man has two saviours: himself and God. But the word of God is teaching, categorically, that there is one Saviour - and God says, Isaiah 42:8: 'I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images'.
Old John Nelson was a godless, blaspheming blacksmith until God saved him. Then what happened [was] a tremendous transformation of grace in his life, and he became one of John Wesley's preachers. One day when he was out preaching the gospel, he began a conversation with a very self-righteous man, and that man said to him - listen: 'I don't need your Saviour. My life is all that I need. I can present my own life to God and I'm satisfied He won't be hard on me. If anybody gets into heaven I'll get there because of the way I've lived'. 'Look here!', said Nelson, 'If you got into Heaven you would bring discord, because do you know what they're doing in heaven? They're singing: 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, that was slain! Worthy is He for the finished work that He has done at Calvary' - that's what they're singing. But if you went in by your own works, you'd have to sing: 'Worthy am I! For I did a good work. I tried my best and it worked. I got the goal. I achieved everything that needed to be done. I ticked all the boxes that God wanted to get me here. Worthy am I!''. And do you know what he said? 'An angel, if they heard you singing that, would take you by the scruff of the neck and throw you over the wall'.
No flesh shall glory in His sight, and if there's an inch of you that thinks you're going to get to heaven by anything to do with you - my friend, you are in trouble. For if man has to have anything to do with his salvation, do you know what it means? It means God would owe man heaven at the end of His life. Do you think you can bargain with God? If you do your best that at the end of the road God's going to have to, He's obliged to take the chequebook down and give you an eternity in Heaven? Do you know what the book of Romans says? Chapter 11 and verse 35: 'Or who hath first given to him', God, 'and it shall be recompensed unto him?'. There's nobody owes God anything, and God doesn't owe him. God is no man's debtor, and Paul teaches in the book of Romans that if we have to have, or feel we have to have, some part in our salvation - God is in our debt! But Paul says: 'Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace but of debt'. You see, if you've to work for your salvation, you're being saved because God's in your debt, and God can't be in anybody's debt. Do you understand this?
This isn't some bargain, you know. Some people preach the gospel as if it's some bargain, and you would need to be a fool to refuse it. 'Eternal life? The slate wiped clean? Everything you want - a home in Heaven when you die, and everybody at church for your friends?' - that's not the gospel! You see, the gospel costs you everything, but it cost Christ everything. I wonder, is there anybody here this evening - you know, this is something that has been argued for years, debated in the church, even from the fifth century; Palagius brought this doctrine into the church that men could help God with their salvation, that men could meet God some way, [and hold] out their hand to God heavenward some of the way, and then God would reach down and pull them up to heaven. But the word of God says this, and it's our first point: that grace is working for us. You see, that's the way you're saved. By grace! We are saved by grace. Look at verse 8: 'through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God'. By grace are ye saved!
What is grace? Grace is simply - to give a simple definition of it - is God's unmerited favour to those who are totally undeserving. Do you know what it is? It's verse 4: 'But God'. Verses 1 to 3 have been describing what a terrible pit that we're all in from birth and then, in verse 4: 'But God, who is rich in mercy'. God reaches down. It's grace, He doesn't have to do it, He wasn't obliged to do it and He certainly wasn't in anybody's debt to do it. We're all on our way to hell, and God would have been righteous and just to let us go there, but God who is rich in mercy poured unmerited favour upon us - those who didn't deserve anything. Do you know what this verse means? Look at verse 8: 'By grace are ye saved through faith'. Do you know what it literally means? You are being saved? No. You shall be saved? No. You can be saved? No. You may be saved? No. If you travel on the way that you're going, and keep the slate clean, you will be saved? No! By grace ye are saved through faith! Do you know what that is? It's in the perfect passive participle. Do you know what that means? The perfect tense describes an action which is a state of being at the present time, and Paul is literally saying this: 'By grace we are in the state of being, of having been, saved'. That's the state of being that you're in. The state of living and existence - if you've put your trust and faith in Christ - is of 'have-being' saved already. No doubt about it!
Can you say that? Are you in a state of having already been saved, so that you know in the depths of your soul that you'll never die spiritually? That you'll never lift up your eyes in hell? That you'll never smell your flesh burning in the lake of fire? That you'll never have God say: 'Depart from me, I never knew you'? Even though you've known the gospel all your life, do you know what it is to have that deep assurance: 'I have been saved'? You need to have no doubt about it. Some of you, when you go shopping you make sure you get a receipt for whatever you bought just in case it's not right, yet some of you are taking shoddy goods for an eternity. My friend, is there anything more important than that? You need a guarantee that you are saved, secured!
What is this grace? There was once a mission in the slums and there were all sorts of creatures came into that mission - drunkards and drug abusers, murderers - all sorts of sinners. One night - and there were many people getting saved every night - and one night, there at the altar kneeling down before the preacher were two men. One was a judge and one was a robber, and both of them were shedding tears and crying to God for mercy to be saved. As the pastor walked out of the church that night, he happened to walk out with the judge. The judge turned to him and said: 'Did you see who was kneeling down there beside me tonight?'. The pastor said: 'I didn't know you noticed'. 'Oh yes! What a miracle of grace,' he said. The pastor replied, 'Oh yes! A convict being saved!'. 'Oh no!', said the judge, 'I meant me. For I was brought up a gentleman. I was taught to say my prayers. I took communion regularly. My bond was my word. I went to Oxford. I got my degrees. I learnt law and then I went to the courts, and I was debating and challenging men about the right and wrong of the law, but there I was and God was able to save a self-righteous wretch like me! That's grace, my friend!'. He said, 'You know, for a convict to come out of jail - it would have been the greatest news that he could ever hear, to know that the slate could be wiped clean. But for me, I thought my slate was wiped clean. But it wasn't'.
My friend, this is the type of grace that we are preaching. This is the grace that we have in the word of God, and it takes this grace to save all. It's all of grace, and the minute, my friend - now listen to this, Christians, because there's a lot of watered down word preached in these days - immediately you begin to mix what man does with what God does, and add a little bit and you tell people that man can meet God halfway, or that God will save them and then they have to run the race themselves and keep themselves, and if they sin the next day, well, if they died they'd be in hell - that's not a gospel at all! That is not grace, it's certainly not the grace of God. My friend, salvation is not co-operation - man and God. It is absolute regeneration! Do you know what Pascal said? 'Grace is indeed required to turn a man into a saint, and he who doubts this does not know what either a man or a saint is'.
You see, if you think that you can be saved by your works, or you can meet God halfway, or that you in some way came to Christ and He was obliged to take you because you're such a good person - my friend, listen to this: you have no idea what a sinner is, because a sinner is dead and he can't even help himself. Have you any idea what a saint is? Do you know what a saint is? It's a person who is clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and unless you have His holiness - His righteous standard - you will never stand before God, because it's only that standard that He accepts. All that God asks of a sinner - not that he work his way, not that he do his best - the only work that God asks a man to do is a work of fact! Admitting a fact! Throwing the hands of rebellion down, and saying: 'Lord, You were right, I'm dead. Lord, I need You!'. For the gift of God is eternal life, and you need to admit that you can't do it, that only God can save you - and the work that God has done with Christ at Calvary, where He put Him through my hell and my judgement, where He took my place and my transgressions, and the iniquity of us all was laid on Him. Unless you are trusting on the finished work - it's completed, you don't need to add to it by the way - unless that's what you're resting on, you can never be saved. For it's by grace.
Look at the second bit, verse 8: 'For by grace are ye saved through faith'. Now what's Paul saying? He's simply saying this: that faith is the medium for this salvation. It's the condition upon which the salvation is given. But beware of something here - faith is not a quality. You'll hear people talking in our world today and they might be a Muslim, they might be Roman Catholic, they might be a dead dyed Protestant, they might be a Mormon, they might be a Jehovah's Witness, they could be anything in the whole wide world and they have faith. Now it's their own faith. It's man's faith. They have a faith in a god, but don't make the mistake that faith is a quality that men have: 'Ach, he's religious. That's just his inclination. He was born that way. I don't know whether it's a gene or something, or it ran in his family. That's just his persuasion. He likes to worship God, go to church and be good living'. Not a bit of it! It's not a virtue. It's not a quality. It's not even a faculty of the human spirit that, because of sin and because of the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, has been ignored or trampled down or neglected. My friend, listen! This response of the faith of man is by God's grace! Can a dead man have faith? No. This is something that man cannot produce.
You see, the response of faith in a man, even that very thing, must be evoked by the Holy Spirit of God. To make sure that we don't [make the] mistake of thinking that God does the grace, and then we need to work up the faith within us to believe what God is saying, Paul says, and repeats in verse 8 - look at it: 'Not of yourselves...For by grace are ye saved through faith, not of yourselves'. It is a free gift, the gift of God! And every commentator says this - listen - that Paul, when he talks about a gift here, is not only talking about a gift of faith but he's talking about grace and faith. He's talking about the whole thing that he's talked about before. He's talking about a whole gamut of salvation. That every wit of it and bit of it is by God's grace - it's a gift! A lot of people find this hard to believe because they say: 'Well, can I not even have exercise in a little bit of faith in the whole thing? Could I not do that wee bit?'. My friend, the grace and faith that we find here is the gift of salvation, and there's a lot of people, and they're in danger of making faith their saviour. Do you know what I mean by that? Friend, Christ saves you!
Can I take a bit of a digression? I remember hearing Duncan Campbell on tape. It was during the revival, and there was a mighty move of God. There was a young girl that rang him up on the telephone after one of the meetings, and said: 'Mr. Campbell, you're going to have to come down. I need to be born again. I've been praying for two weeks that God would show me the way of salvation and I still haven't got there. I know that I'm not saved'. Mr Campbell got up out of his bed and went down to the wee girl's house. He opened to her Romans 10 and verse 13, and said: 'For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved' - and that is true. You know, that wee girl turned round to him and said: 'Mr Campbell, do you think a verse of scripture will save me?'. God needs to save a man. It's not a head knowledge of scripture. It's not even an intellectual tick at the side of it saying 'I agree with that' or 'I concur with that'. It's a work of the soul in the very spirit of man. Oh, I wonder have a lot of people really got this work done within their soul. You might say: 'Well, how do I have this faith? How do I receive it?'. Well, we know! Turn to Romans 10 for a minute. Romans 10, keeping in mind that God says that even this faith is a gift from God. Paul tells us in Romans 10 and verse 8 - if you look at verse 8 you'll see there the little phrase 'the word of faith'. Do you see it? Speaking of the word of God - 'the word of faith'. Then in verse 17, a well-known verse: 'So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God'.
Do you know how faith comes? Now listen carefully! When the word of God is preached, that word of faith, and the seed of the word is sown out hither and thither and it lands on ground that has been prepared by the Holy Spirit of God. When that happens, when they come together, faith is created within the soul and the spirit of man as a gift of God. What were we singing earlier?
'I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Receiving Jesus through the word,
Creating faith in Him'.
Is it any wonder Paul could say 'by grace are we saved'? It's not works, he's already said in Romans 4:5: 'But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness'. Him that doesn't work for it, but believes in it! And you remember there the jailer - and Paul and Silas are there, and the Holy Spirit has convicted him of his need and what did he say? 'What must I do to be saved?' - 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!'. My friend, that is the message that we have: 'believe'. It's the message throughout the whole of the word of God. It's the message of the word of faith. It is to implore men to believe the gospel of Christ: 'And as many as receive Him, to them He gives the power to be called the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name'. Oh, it's wonderful, isn't it? Paul shows us the order in chapter 1 and verse 13 if you look at it. He said to them: 'In whom ye also trusted' - when? - 'after that ye heard the word of truth'. You see, it's the word of God entering your heart my friend. When you see a promise from God, that God loved you, and that Christ died for you, and something is enabled within you to say this: 'That was for me He died!' - and you believe that it was for you, and you're saved.
That's what the reformers died for. That's what Martin Luther's clarion call was: 'Justification by faith alone, by grace alone'. Sola fide - by faith alone in Christ alone, not by works but by Christ. Oh, it is wonderful, isn't it? As the carol says:
'But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still
The dear Christ enters in'.
From start to finish, Paul has been trying to show us that this is God's grace. Then we see quickly, grace working in us in verse 10a - we're almost finished. He says: 'For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them'. Now, this is by no means a postscript or parenthesis. Paul isn't putting this down as an afterthought, saying: 'Oh, I'd better tell them this: that now you're God's workmanship', but this is what Paul has been leading up to. This was what he was bringing to them - the conclusion of why he was talking about grace and faith and not of yourselves. Verse 10 is the outcome of all that came before it, and it shows us this: that salvation, the salvation of God, is for a purpose. It is intended to produce good works as the fruit of its genuineness. Don't get me wrong now! Listen! Works has no part in the securing of our salvation, but after we are saved we are to prove our faith is real by our works. Some say Paul and James contradict each other when James says that 'Faith without works is dead', and Paul says that you can only be saved by faith through grace. No. If you read James very carefully you will see that what he is saying is this: 'That by their fruit ye shall know them'. And the root is faith and the fruit is works - and we, through this grace and faith, have been created, it says, in Christ Jesus unto good works.
Do you know what that means? You, my friend, have been foreordained - if you're saved - to do good works for God. This is beautiful! He says that we are his workmanship. Do you know what that word in the Greek is? 'Poeme' (sp?). It's the word that we derive our English 'poem' from - 'poeme'. Do you know what he's saying? We are God's poem. Another translation says that we are God's 'work of art'. Used in the New Testament twice, but what he is saying is that 'we are God's poem!' Now, if you've ever seen a poem you'll know this - that you read and you think to yourself, if you're like me, 'I could never write anything like that!' You know what it's like - if I was to sit down at that piano tonight and play you a tune you would all run out! Why? Because I don't have it in me, do I? You've either got it or you don't! My friend, the only one who's got it to save you is God! He's the only one that can make a poem of your life. We, the word of God - Paul is saying - are the masterpieces of God. Think of that! There is nothing like us, not in ourselves but what God has made us. Look at verse 10 - He has created us in Christ Jesus unto good works. The Hebrew word for 'created' there is the same word that you find in Genesis 1 verse 1: 'In the beginning God created'. What he is saying is: what He did in us in Christ, the change that He has wrought in our soul when we were born again, is the new creation. We are new people in Christ Jesus! It denotes the creative energy of God, that only God has through Christ Jesus It's emphatic - just like verses 6 and 7: 'Only in Christ Jesus'. Only in Him - none other!
Then finally and thirdly he says that it's grace working through us. We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works 'which God before ordained that we should walk in them', or that 'God before prepared for us'. Do you know this life of regeneration, this life of salvation, the fruit that we are to have and show in our lives - this is amazing - has already been prepared by God! It literally means that we are to walk about for all eternity in everything that God has prepared for us. The road is already built and spread before us. You see the more I read the word of God, I realise that everything I have is nothing to do with me. It's all of God! Do you know what this means? You might have helped a wee lady across the road today and felt very good about it, but the word of God says that He prepared that for you in His eternal counsels - and He, by His Holy Spirit within you, enabled you to do that. He's not going to have one on that day standing beside the Throne with a big badge or a big smile, thinking: 'I did something' - for my friend, God did everything!
Let's bow our heads, and perhaps you're here this evening and you're not sure about how you are with God, you don't know whether you're saved or not, or you're cold. Maybe tonight, maybe you're starting to doubt whether - not whether you prayed a sinner's prayer, or whether you signed a card, or walked an aisle (and I'm not decrying those things, my friend, because many are saved by that medium) - but, you see, this salvation is a work of the Spirit in the heart of a man. Maybe you're not sure whether that work was ever done, or maybe the fruit that's in your life does not testify that you were born from above and that you're a child of God. Well, why not come to the Saviour tonight? Or come back to the Lord? Christian, rededicate your life to do those good works that have been prepared for you that you're maybe missing in your life. Why not do it now? If you want to speak to me after the meeting, I'll be at the door.
Our Father, we thank Thee for amazing grace. Lord, we can't claim any of it. Oh, sure there's times we'd love to. Oh, we've such a wire about ourselves at times Lord, that we want just a little bit that we can say: 'Well, I did this', or, 'I achieved this'. But Lord, we hear these words from the bleeding Christ at the cross of Calvary: 'It is finished!'. And before we were ever born the work was done, and we thank Thee that we can't add to it and we can't take it away. All we have to do is believe it, and trust in Him and believe the gospel, and by that faith, know Jesus Christ as our Saviour. We thank Thee Lord, we thank Thee for a wonderful Saviour, and we ask that the fragrance of His presence would go with us now. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tenth tape in his Ephesians series, titled "Amazing Grace!" - Transcribed by Trevor Veale, Preach The Word.
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