Saturday, May 07, 2016

By Grace Through Faith - WHEN?

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
It’s the greatest news ever! God saves lost people — as His free gift. We sinners cannot deliver ourselves, and we cannot earn God’s favor by works. No one can boast of having paid even the least part of the cost of everlasting life.
Many people who love God, attend church services, and hear sermons week after week, treasure these precious words – “by grace through faith.” They know that salvation is based on God’s generosity and that it is received through personal faith.
However, let's ask an important question. When does that happen?
The question before us now is not what saves us – that’s grace – or even how – that’s faith. Our question is when. When is one saved by grace through faith?
Before we see the Bible’s answer, let’s review all of Ephesians 2. It basically tells us three things: what we were, what God did, and who we are now as a result. Let's note this series twice.
Eph 2:1-3      What we were
Eph 2:4-9      What God did
Eph 2:10       What we are now
Then a second time:
Eph 2:11-12   What we were
Eph 2:13-18   What God did
Eph 2:19-22   What we are now
It is emphatically clear that we once were dead in our own sins, disobedient, following our own desires, and deserving of God’s wrath. We were separate from Christ, having no hope, without God, in the world, far from God. We were totally helpless.
It is equally clear that God, rich in mercy and love, made dead sinners alive and raised them with Christ, and even seated them with Christ in heavenly places.
The power is in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His blood purchased our forgiveness and paid our debt. His resurrection guaranteed and confirmed that victory.
Because of what He did for us, we can become God’s workmanship. Strangers once lost in sin can be transformed into fellow citizens in God’s family with all the saints! We can serve, and grow, and worship, as part of His church!
Now let’s go back to our question. When is a person saved by grace through faith?
A gift must be received. There has to be a point at which it changes hands from the giver to the recipient. What is that point of time, when it comes to being saved? When is a lost, dead sinner made alive with Christ and raised with Christ?
Ephesians 2 does not answer that question. It just does not. It tells us the why, the who, and the what of salvation, but not the when. Of course, this letter was written to those who already knew when they were saved, and they did not need to be told.
Perhaps you have heard that the “when” is the moment that one prays the so-called “Sinner’s Prayer,” or makes a “decision for Christ,” or “asks Christ into one’s heart.” Perhaps you were told that Ephesians 2 teaches these things. It does not. In fact, these popular responses to the gospel are not found anywhere in the Bible. They were invented by men who overlooked or rejected the Bible's own perfectly clear teaching.
To find the Bible’s answer, not ours, we must look for a parallel passage that tells us when one is saved by grace through faith.
We do not have to go far to find it.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians is something of a “sister letter” to Ephesians. Both are written during the same time, when Paul is in prison in Rome. Both are addressed to mainly Gentile churches in Asia Minor. Both cover many similar themes and use identical phrases.
Ephesians 2 speaks of being dead in trespasses and these Gentiles having been uncircumcised.
So does Colossians.
Ephesians 2 says we are saved by the blood of Christ through faith.
So does Colossians.
Ephesians 2 says we are made alive and raised with Christ.
So does Colossians.
The difference is that Colossians tells us very specifically when.
With an open Bible and an open mind, setting aside for a moment whatever you may have been taught before, read for yourself what the Word of God teaches.
Colossians 2:11 … and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.
According to this Scripture, when is a person saved by grace through faith? When is a dead sinner buried, raised with Christ, and made alive? Now we know. We have seen it for ourselves. It is so simple and so clear.
Here it is again, in the book of Romans:
Romans 6:3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Salvation is a gift, purchased by Christ, and free for the taking.  Yet it must be accepted as God’s Word teaches.
Perhaps you, like many others, “received Christ” in some other way, through a “sinner’s prayer” or a “decision for Christ.” Then, at some later point, you were perhaps baptized, but not as a dead, lost sinner who wanted to be buried and then raised to new life.
Now that you know what the Bible actually teaches about the “when,” will you follow it? Do you want to be saved by grace through faith, God’s way?
Questions? Please ask! God bless you.
Cory Collins
Keller church of Christ


Robert said...

Excellent lesson! Thanks for sharing!

Don Harriman said...

Superb handing of this misunderstood matter. I would like 3 copies of the tract to share with some friends who are Baptists. Thanks!