Saved by Grace through Faith (Ephesians Sermon 11 of 54)
September 13, 2015 | Andy Davis
Grace, Humility, Justification
John Newton’s Story
Amazing, amazing grace, “how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind but now, I see.” That's the beginning of the most famous hymn in the English language written by John Newton in 1779. It was a New Year's Day sermon, he was going to preach. You remember that time when King David wanted to build a house for God, and God told him through Nathan that He was actually going to build a house for him. That He was going to raise up one of his sons from his own body who would sit on his throne and ultimately, we know, he was speaking about Jesus Christ, the son of David, who would be Savior of the world, and would build an eternal house or temple for God that would last forever, and ever. And David had a glimpse of that, I don't think he fully understood it. But he was absolutely overwhelmed by this, and he sat down before God and said, "Oh Lord, what can I say? Is this your usual way of dealing with men?” Well, John Newton thought about that and he just thought about His own life and he wrote the words to Amazing Grace. He thought about what God had done in saving him. He was a man who had walked in debauchery and wickedness. He was born of a godly woman, a mother who was pious, but who died and when he was young, five or six years old, his father was godless, impious, and a man of the sea, and John Newton became a sailor and without any kind of moorings in the Gospel, he ultimately just turned his back and became an apostate, became impious and wicked, and lived a life of debauchery. You may think it harsh, what He said, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. But actually, no word, or combination of words can accurately capture how repugnant, how repulsive, how disgusting is any unconverted sinner in the eyes of a holy God. In such were all of us. So the word wretch is an understatement.
This God, “who dwells in unapproachable light,” “who is Himself light without any shade of darkness at all.” This God who sits on a holy throne who loves righteousness and justice, with a passionate zeal hotter than the sun. This God who hates wickedness, with a hatred that is beyond any words I could put to it, His love for righteousness and His hatred for wickedness is the foundation of the throne sits on. This God saw this man, John Newton, as a sailor turn away from what he had been taught by his mother, who lost all his morals, becoming openly blasphemous casting off all fear of God. No fear of reprisals, no fear of judgment. Lived the debauched life of a sailor soon involved in the slave trade, became interestingly little more than a slave himself, on an island off the coast of West Africa, Sierra Leone for almost two years. So pitiable was his state that some of the other African slaves used to smuggle him food because they were afraid he would starve to death. That's how bad was the treatment he received. Then suddenly, by the providence of God, a man who knew his father sailed by that island, came in contact with the inhabitants there, rescued Newton and took him on board his ship. Serving on another slave ship.
All of this just continuing his own life of rebellion, and wickedness against Almighty God until March 21, 1748. A storm so violent, it lasted over 36 hours, huge waves crashing over the ship filling the ship with water. Newton down below, pumping and pumping and pumping trying to just keep the ship of float running around doing various tasks the captain told him to do. Captain told him to go do something, and before he could do he changed his mind and said, "I want you to go get a knife. He needed a knife, the man who took his place immediately washed overboard and drowned. Newton saw it knew that could easily have been him who died. Should have been me, he thought. Once the storm eventually abated, he started thinking about his own mortality his own life, his own death, his soul, and he began to search out the Bible. It's interesting in the middle of that storm this godless man cried out from something inside. “Lord have mercy on us!” But where does that come from? But he knew he needed mercy, from God, but he couldn't find it, he didn't have any faith. He had no faith. Then he came to a place in Luke 11:13, which promises that God will give the Holy Spirit to any who ask Him, and he found some hope in that verse, and began to ask that God would give him the Holy Spirit. He began to see God fervently and God used those experiences to bring him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And then over the next number of years to a more and more increasingly solid theological basis.
Why Grace is Amazing
So, what's so amazing about grace? That's what we've come to this morning in Ephesians 2:8-9. What's so amazing about grace? Isn't it incredible, how easily we get bored with truly wonders things? It must be part of the sinful condition of the human heart, that we can get bored with stunningly beautiful, amazing wonderful things. I wonder, this morning, if the Park Rangers at the Grand Canyon see the Grand Canyon with the same sense of wonder at the first day, they began their job. I mean, I wonder if all over the world people come tours, and they talk to the park range is like "Yeah, it's pretty good, it's awesome." You're bored with the Grand Canyon what's the matter with you? But how much worse is it for us ever to become bored with the grace of God in Jesus Christ? I've heard this one before.
So what is so amazing about grace? Well we come to Ephesians 2:8-9, which teaches us these things. “It is by grace that you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast.” So what is grace? It's been mentioned again and again in this second chapter of Ephesians. Repeatedly mentioned. Last week, we had a whole sermon on how God, in the future, will be displaying His grace forever to us, showing us more and more aspects of it. But what is it? Well, a number of people early in my Christian life, they gave me this simple definition, it's helpful it's a starting place. Grace is unmerited favor. Have you heard that one before? Unmerited favor. “Unmerited.” What an infinite understatement! Dear friends, “favor”, what an infinite understatement, dear friends! Take the second one. Let's talk about favor, what have we already learned in Ephesians, about the favor that God has shown us in Christ?
Look back one chapter. Look at Ephesians 1:3. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms listen to this, with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” We already have them now. Well what are these spiritual blessings? Well, full forgiveness of all sins, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, reconciliation with a holy God. Not merely reconciliation, which is the repairing of a broken relationship, but that we actually are adopted into the family of God, we Christians have become sons and daughters of the living God, we have a permanent place in the family. And we have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit “as a deposit, guaranteeing our full inheritance.” We already have all of these things we have Jesus as our elder brother, our King, our Savior, our advocate at the right hand of God, interceding for us. All of these blessings are already ours in Jesus. That's now. That's present. What about the future? We'll look at Ephesians 1:18, Paul prays that the “eyes of our heart would be enlightened” so that we would know among other things, “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.” In other words, that you would know you Christians how rich, staggeringly rich you are in terms of your inheritance, what is still to come for all of you. How rich you will be when at last you see it. So that's favor. Remember, grace is unmerited favor, there's favor.
What about unmerited? Well, look at the beginning of this chapter, Ephesians 2:1-3, and we'll learn about unmerited. "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live. When you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest we were by nature objects of wrath.” So those verses say that we were dead spiritually, even while we lived, living dead. That we were enslaved to the world, to Satan who is a powerful being, and to our flesh in it's lusts and we could not break free. We were, the scripture there says, by nature, intrinsically, who we were, objects of wrath. That's unmerited. We deserved wrath, we deserved condemnation, “but God”, verse 4, “being rich in mercy because of the great love with which He loved us. God made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in our sins. It is by grace you have been saved.” So, Paul has already said this, but he comes back to it now and emphasizes it. So I want you to be amazed at this. Start with unmerited favor and then ramp it up by a million, a factor of a million, on both the unmerited and the favor side. And you will be as I've been all morning, truly happy, I mean, truly energized. Enjoy what God's done for you, that's my desire. I just want you to be amazed at God's grace for you.
Okay, I wrote all that this morning, all of that. Now we get to the real sermon. Okay, so buckle in, alright. That was all this morning. I was like God, it's not good enough, there's got to be more. Alright, but not more time. I've got my clock here, I'm aware of it, alright so. But we are saved by grace and I want you to be amazed and stunned at that. I want you to just have these things roll over you and have a sense of the greatness of it. And what we're going to do is we're going to just walk through this step by step, we're going to go piece by piece. We're going to start with the idea of saved. Alright, what does it mean that we are saved?
How Can We Saved?
“Saved? From What?”
What does that mean, saved, saved from what? And then we're going to go to how can we be saved, positively. We're going to just walk through what the scripture says about that, how we can be saved. And then negatively, we're going to look at how we can not be saved based on this text. And then we're going to begin only begin to look at why we are saved this week. We're going to finish it next week on why we are saved.
Okay, so let's start with saved, saved from what? From what do we need to be saved? Now, we need to understand the weight of that word “saved” or “salvation.” I mean we should not underestimate this. If you're sitting in a library, and your pen rolls off the table, and some passerby reaches down and picks it up, you'll say, "Oh you saved me. Thank you." And they'll look at you like you're weird, because you would be weird. We don't use that type of language for something so small. It involves some danger, some great danger when we use the words “salvation” or “saved.” Conversely, if you were swimming out in the ocean and there was some kind of a rip tide, or current and you started going under, and you knew you couldn't make it and you started to cry out, but your mouth is filling with water and you can't even get the cry, and then you black out, then you wake up and there's some person pushing on your chest. And you spit a bunch of water out of your mouth and you look up in their face. Then it would be reasonable for you to say, “You saved me, you saved my life, thank you.” So saved. So there's got to be some kind of great danger. Now, many people do not feel the need for salvation, they don't have any sense of danger. They're not afraid of death, they're not afraid of Judgment Day, they're not afraid of Hell, they're not afraid of any of the things the Bible says we should fear. They think they're fine, we live with them all the time. Later in Ephesians 2, it's going to say that they are “without hope and without God in the world,” but it also seems many of them are just without fear in the world too. They don't have any sense of concern about it. They’re totally satisfied with their lives, no sense of impending danger they fear nothing about the future, they're complacent about their spiritual condition. The essence of this attitude is a complete denial of the truths of the existence of God is a holy judge, and the coming of Judgement Day that there is something after death. Maybe they're atheists, maybe they're materialists. Maybe they're nominalists, you know, with a light veneer of religion on it. They're effectively living out daily "Let us eat and drink and be merry. For honestly I don't even know if tomorrow will even come." The mirage that may never even come. We live for today, for right now.
So, from what do we need salvation? Well we've already seen it. Verse 3 is enough for me. “Like the rest we were by nature objects of wrath,” but all of those other things, before that, we need salvation from it all. We need salvation from our own wicked, sinful tendencies. We need salvation from Satan, this powerful, invisible force. This king, this evil tyrant who will not let anyone go unless he's compelled to do so. And from this evil, seductive world system that surrounds us all the time. We need to be saved from this, and from the “wrath to come,” we need to “flee the wrath to come.” There is a wrath to come, the Bible says it plainly, and it says in Hebrews 9:27, "It is appointed to each one of us to die, after that…” See right there, die, and after that. There's something after that. Oh yes, “judgment,” “judgment.” What then? Well, Revelation 20:12-15, “and I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was open which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books and the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead they were in them and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of fire is the second death.” The first death is physical second death is eternal death in Hell. “And if anyone's name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire.” So, if you're asking, “saved from what?”. From that. Saved from that. From being condemned to eternity, in the lake of fire because of your sins that you've committed as recorded in the book of God, saved from that. So how can we be saved from that?
The World’s Answer: Works
Well, I am going to immediately go borrow from the latter part of the sermon, and bring it up here. Now then, the most immediate answer given by people is “works.” They may have some sense of danger, some sense of the sinfulness of their lives but their answer is good works. Every religion in the world that's not Christianity, is a religion of work, really just works. All of them.
Islam follows the five pillars of Islam, they're all spiritual works. Buddhism seeks enlightenment, freedom from karma by ascetic practices, good deeds, the prayer wheel. Hinduism is a religion of works. Cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons are just feeding people a series of religious works that they have to do. Many Roman Catholics throughout history, even up to this present day, have not understood the true Gospel of grace have not understood justification by faith alone apart from works, and are seeking to be justified by a combination of Jesus and their own religious works, but in the end, their own works are more important than what Jesus did as proven by the Doctrine of Purgatory and the indulgences that can get you out. Jesus wasn't enough. If you had some money, that'll be enough. Works!
Gandhi’s Works Righteous Theology
Other people think that perhaps it's maybe one big, seriously good work that pays for it all. So like the spiritual quest, like the Knights of the Round Table going to find the Holy Grail, the cup Jesus drank from. And if you can find it and drink from it, you'll have eternal life. And it represents that quest for the one good work that pays for all of your sins. The Crusaders would do that. You know, almost like, a little bit like the Christian, so called Christian version, of the Jihad. You know, if you could go and die in fighting the infidels in rescuing Jerusalem, you could go to Heaven. So it's the one good work that supposedly pays for it all. Maybe some of you have seen the movie Gandhi which came out a number of years ago, and in that it tells a story about Gandhi. After the Indian subcontinent became one nation, it was ripped apart by Hindu-Muslim war and fighting. And Gandhi, who was just revered by everybody in India, started a fast unto death to try to put the whole nation at peace.
And it seemed to be effective, but toward the end of the fast, a man came up, a Hindu man came up and threw him some bread and demanded that he eat. He said, “Here, eat! I'm going to hell for smashing the head of a Muslim boy, but I don't want your death on my soul, as well, so eat.” “Why did you do it?” asked Gandhi. “Well, because the Muslims killed our son.” Gandhi sees the man's unbearable guilt, remorse over killing the Muslim child, and so gently tells him this, "I know a way out of Hell. Go find a young boy, make sure he's a Muslim boy, and raise him up as your own son. But be sure you raise him as a Muslim." Well, that's Gandhi's theology. I disagree that that's the way out of Hell. I disagree that any works you can ever do are the way out of Hell. What I'm here is to preach the works of another, of a savior, of Jesus and by Him, there's a way out of Hell. By His works, not by ours. That's the way out.
How We Are Saved
So the world says, "We are saved by works." We'll get back to that concept later on, I'll just mention that point in passing. How then are we saved? Well, first, just the grammar here is powerful. “For by grace are you saved” or “you have been saved.” You see, either of those translations, they're both valid. But I like the idea of, have been saved. It's a little clearer of something that's happened in the past that has present implications. It's a done deal for you, oh Christian. You have been saved, you're saved. Now that's powerful. And this is incredible, because he's writing to these Ephesian Gentiles who were raised up in paganism and who were there frequenting the cult of Artemis of the Ephesians, and all of the immorality and sexual impurity, and all of the wickedness that went with that lifestyle and some of them involved in black magic, black occult side, and all kinds of things going on. They were saved out of that, out of that paganism and out of that wickedness, they have been saved from that. Now, here I believe it's important to know Paul is not giving that comprehensive view of salvation that we know is Biblical, that salvation comes to us in stages, justification, sanctification, glorification. But here we've got that past tense language, “you have been saved.” Other times, you'll talk about, you are being saved, and then other places you will be saved. There's this ongoing work of salvation. But we could really zero in on justification and everything that happened at the moment of conversion. All of the spiritual blessings you got when you trusted in Christ. And you've been set free from death, even set free from sin. You are guaranteed to go to Heaven.
You've been adopted into the family of God. You have been saved. I love what it says in John 5:24, Jesus speaking these words, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life." Not will have it, has it now. "And will not be condemned, he has crossed over from death to life." You have crossed over now, and you'll never go back, you'll never slip back from life to death, that cannot be, you have been saved. How sweet is that?
How We are Saved and How We are Not
Now, meditate on that. Well, how did that happen? Well, Paul tells us how it did happen and also how it did not happen. So there's a positive and a negative side. So I'm going to give you a quick summary of what he says, how it did happen. It happened by God, it happened by Christ, it happened by grace, it happened through faith, it happened as a gift from God, it happened by the workmanship of God on you and it happened by the creation of God.
So, first by God. God, the Father, is the initiator of your salvation. He determined to save you. So I believe that everything starts with God the Father, it all flows from Him. God saved you. God stepped in as we saw in verse 4 a few weeks ago. But God, that's God the Father, God determined to save you.
Secondly, by Christ, he determined to save you by Christ, and not apart from Christ. Apart from Christ, there is no salvation, there's no other way to be saved. “No other name under heaven given to men, by which we must be saved,” Acts 4:12. But look, just at Ephesians 2:5-7, look how Christ saturated those verses are. “God made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in our transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved, and God raised us up with Christ, and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” Verse 7, “in order that in the coming ages, He might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressing his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” That's five times in three verses. Strongly emphasized. So God the Father saved you by His son, Jesus Christ, and no other way. And so, by the shed blood of Jesus, the work on the cross, His substitutionary atonement in your place, that's how you have been saved. And there is no salvation apart from Christ. And if I can just say, dear Christian friends who live here in this country, we need to batten down the hatches on this one, because the storms coming, on the exclusivity of Christ. We are going to be assaulted by the pluralists that surround us, and the post-modernists that surround us to say, there are many different ways to get to Heaven, and there aren't. Jesus is the only way.
Thirdly, we are saved by God, by Christ, and by grace. “By grace are you saved by faith.” Now, we've already said grace is unmerited favor. Unmerited favor is, you go down to the mall and you take a $20 bill out of your wallet and give it to a total stranger, that's unmerited favor. What we have in Christ is infinitely bigger than all of that, as I've already said. This is the way I define grace. Grace is the settled determination in the heart of God to do you good, infinite good, you who deserved infinite punishment. Kind of covers it. And I would add now, I've added to that, all of the blessings that flow from that settled determination. In other words, just putting it simply, God's determined to do you good, and He's going to show you a river of blessings in order to get that good done to you. Isn't that incredible? I mean, that God has that disposition toward you when you deserved wrath and judgment? That's grace. And so, it is by that, “by grace you have been saved.” And we should never get tired of grace, never get tired of talking about it. Paul never got tired of it. In 1 Corinthians 15:10, he says, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” I just want you to say that, I want you to say that day after day. “By God's grace, I am what I am.” And only that, but to see God's grace in everything that happens to you, everything that you might even call difficult or an affliction, or even every blessing. All of these things are rivers of grace that are coming to you to get you saved, finally, in the end to finish the salvation, as I mentioned earlier.
And next he says, it is “through faith,” “through faith.” It's not on account of faith, okay? That would make faith something that God rewards with salvation. Some people have that faulty view, that basically faith is the thing that God's looking for and he rewards it or merits it with salvation. That's not what's happening here. Faith is not meritorious. You don't deserve anything because you have faith. What is faith? Well, I've said before, faith is the eyesight of the soul by which you receive spiritual light and blessings, the grace that God's given you, like sight receives light, right? So you have the eyes of your heart enlightened or opened to see what is true. So you see the truth about God, you see who He is, His holiness, His righteousness, His love, His wrath, all of it, you see that, and you see Christ in your mind's eye, you can see Him crucified, dead, buried, raised on the third day, you can see that, you know, it's all true. You can see yourself in the light of God's law, you know you're wicked and a sinner and you need salvation. So you see it all, you see it.
And by that the blessings flow into your life. It's seeing the blessings of God. But I think it goes beyond that. There's also an appropriation of those blessings to yourself. Like here's the feast now you're eating of it, you're taking it into yourself, like light coming into your body. Jesus said, “if your eyes are good, your whole body will be filled with light.” So if your faith is good, your whole life is filled with blessing. So by faith, you receive these blessings. And there's nothing meritorious about it at all. Next he says, it's a gift of God. It's a gift of God, it's just a free gift. God wants to give you all of this as a gift, free of charge, he'll pay for it all. Now, it's not clear grammatically, what exactly is the gift of God? One of two possibilities. Either it is the whole thing, which is salvation is a gift of God, it is a gift of God, not by works, or it's specifically the faith that he immediately mentioned. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this not of yourselves, is a gift of God." I don't think we need to choose. I'm about to choose in a minute.
But in general, I don't think we have to choose because it's both true. Salvation is a gift of God, the whole thing and faith is a gift of God. And so, like John Newton said, "I once was blind, and now I see. The ability now to see is a gift of God. It doesn't come by your works, you couldn't do anything to make it happen. So I do think that it's good and helpful to think specifically here, my faith has been given me specifically given to me as a gift from God. He gave me faith. I didn't have it before I once was blind, but now I have it. And so, God gave me faith, I didn't drum it up. It wasn't laying dormant and I suddenly used it, I didn't have it, it was given to me as a gift. And I think we know it comes at the moment of hearing God's Word, doesn't it? Romans 10:17, "Faith comes by hearing the Word,” the Word of Christ. So as you hear the Gospel, faith comes. The eyesight of the soul pops up, and you can see Christ crucified, and yourself as a sinner and you see it, and you've been seeing it ever since. And what's so beautiful, faith has a gift of God, the same God who gave you the faith to begin with, will most certainly sustain the faith inside you, until you don't need it anymore, when you finally see him with your own eyes. You won't need faith in Heaven, you'll just see Him. Faith is all about seeing invisible things, but God's going to sustain your faith every day, until the day you die or Christ returns, isn't that wonderful? I think what it means, “He who began a good work and you will carry it on to completion.” He who gave you faith will keep sustaining your faith. So it says in Hebrews 12:2, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." Or as he says to Simon, "Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail." And it won't. So he's going to sustain your faith as a gift of God.
By the Workmanship of God
Next, as a workmanship of God. Now, we're going to get more into verse 10, next week, God willing. But it says, "For we are God's workmanship.” You are most certainly saved by works. There's no doubt about it. But they are the works of God, you’re God's workmanship. He has crafted you, He has shaped you like a craftsman. He has gotten your soul ready for salvation. He was working on you before you were converted. He knew what you needed, he was putting things in place. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" "Who are you, Lord?" He said, "It's hard for you to kick against the goads. There's prompting Saul. I'm pulling on you, I'm drawing you, I'm working on you." He's working even before you're converted, He's working and working and doing things around you. Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him," and he's drawing the individual working on the person and He is a craftsman of your soul. He is that painter who knows how to mix just the right pigments and hues and then knows how to do that painting. He's the sculptor that knows exactly what to carve so that he can make you look exactly like what He wants you to be. He is crafting you, He is working on you, you're His workmanship.
By the Creation of God
And then finally by the creation of God, look at verse 10, again, "we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus." You are a new creation. Like God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. He was saying to you, let there be Christianity in your life, let there be faith, let there be salvation, and there was. And “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come,” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Well, that's how we are saved. How are we not saved? Well, we're not saved of ourselves. “For by grace you have been saved through faith and this not from yourselves” or “up out of yourselves.” You did not originate your salvation, you do not up and save yourself. You didn't pull yourself up by your bootstraps, saying “Well, I'm in trouble with God. I better do something about that.” “You were dead in your transgressions and sins.” This didn't come from yourself, it didn't originate with you. As it says in Romans 9, "It does not therefore depend on the man who wills, or on the man who runs." It doesn't depend on your will and it doesn't open on your effort, “but on God who has mercy.” So, it's not of yourself, and it's not by works. Your works cannot save you as I said in the Bible for Life class this morning. You know what's a shock to non-Christians? To find out not only will God not accept your good works to pay for your sins, you don't have any. You have zero, even if He did. “There is no one righteous, not even one. No one who understands, no one who seeks God, there is no one who does good, not even one.” Jesus said, "No one is good but God alone." So it's not by works. And it's always works that people bring forward. Sinners bring it forward, like that Pharisee when he's praying near the tax collector. Pharisee prays, Luke 18, "God, I thank you that I'm not like other men, like, you know, prostitutes and sinners, and like this tax collector over here. I fast twice a week and I give a tenth of all I get.” See it's work, that's what people always tried for, the works. Not by works.
How We Are not Saved
Not of Yourself
Alright, so that's how we are saved and that's how we are not saved. Why are we saved? Two things quickly, first, so that we may boast not in ourselves, but in God. And so that we may work for the rest of our lives for His glory, not for the forgiveness of our sins. Now, we're going to talk much more about the lifetime of good works God has for you to do, God willing next week. I love Ephesians 2:10. So there's just too much to do in one sermon, so we'll do that next week. But God saved you so that you would not boast in yourself, as inevitably you would have done if you were saved by works, inevitably you would have boasted forever, and God just didn't want to hear that from a multitude greater than anyone could count. “I'm not listening to that forever.” As it says in 1 Corinthians 1:31, "Let him who boast, boast in the Lord.” You'll have your mouth so filled with praise for Jesus, “to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.” You'll be saying that forever, “let him who boast, boast in the Lord." That's why he saved you, so that you would worship Him, and so you would work for him. And we'll talk more about that next week.
Come to Christ
So applications quickly before the Lord's Supper. I plead with you to come to Christ. I plead with you to come to Christ. I plead with you as I've done many times this morning to “flee the wrath to come.” You may not have thought when you came in here, that there's a wrath to come, but there is most certainly a wrath to come, flee it by faith in Christ, not by works. I say that most tenderly to you. We're about to celebrate the Lord's Supper. Do not come, if you're not a believer, if you haven't testified to your faith in Christ by water baptism, don't come. Don't come to the Lord's supper, it's for Christians. But I'm pleading with you instead to come to Christ. You don't have to move, you don't have to get up or come forward to do anything, you just have to believe, close your eyes, look at Christ crucified in your mind's eye and say, "I deserve to die, but Jesus died in my place, I trust in you Jesus."
Be Instructed Again on the Gospel of God’s Grace
Now, to you who are Christians, just go back again to the Gospel, and stop trying to save yourself by works. It's just amazing how seductive works is. Whenever we feel guilty, inevitably we revert to works first. Shut it down. It is only “by grace through faith” that sins are forgiven. That's it. Only the blood of Jesus can wash away sins, not works. So understand, just understand, Christianity, and then understand how grace results in thankfulness, just thank God for saving you. And how it results in humility so that no one can boast, just be humble then, be a truly deeply humble person. And worship Him, praise Him, just praise God more than you do, just sing to Him, and just live a life of praise and thankfulness, and understand the security and assurance you have in Christ. This is a secure thing, you are secure in Christ, forever, and rejoice in that.
And this should make us far more gracious to others, don't you think? Far more gracious. In 1997 Philip Yancey wrote a book, What's so Amazing about Grace? Which I quoted earlier, without giving him credit, but what's so amazing about grace? He wanted the rest of the title to read this: “And why don't Christians show more of it?” So that's really what the book seems to be about. Why are we so harsh in our presentation to the sinning world? John Newton was one of the most incredibly gracious people to the lost that I've ever read about in church history. He never forgot how lost he had been, and he put it in one sermon, this is amazing, he said, "Imagine you're part of a group of people walking along the road and all of you fall into a pit, and you can't get out. Suddenly a well-wishing passerby sees you down there, all of you, and reaches down and pulls you up out first. Imagine you then turn and start criticizing the people who are down in the pit, because they're in the pit." How does that make any sense? They're in the pit, they're “without hope and without God in the world,” show them kindness without letting up on the Law and the Gospel that will save them or use another analogy. Suppose blind Bartimaeus now having recovered his sight goes and gets a stick and starts to beat all the blind people he meets. That's what it looks like when we don't show grace to the as yet unconverted. Let's show them love. God draws us by the bands of human kindness. We need to just be a loving church, without giving up on the truth of the Gospel, and of the law that backs it up. And then toward other Christians. We just need to remember that other Christians are saved by grace, just as we are, and be forgiving. We have been forgiven 10,000 talents, don't choke one another over 100 denari.
And finally, evangelism and missions, we get to share this good news to this community, amen, and to the ends of the earth. We need to be active. So if I could just urge you, get into a grace conversation with somebody that you think is a non-Christian, you may find out that they're Christian, then you can have fellowship. But if you find out that they're not Christians, just let's get into grace conversations with people, let's talk to them. Let's tell them what happened to us and how glad we are that Jesus saved us.
Now, we have an opportunity to celebrate the Lord's Supper now, which is fantastic. We get to do this periodically and this is a time for us to come together as Christians and to remember, look back at what Jesus has done, and to look around at the Body of Christ and the grace He's showing us now. But then, look ahead at the feasting we're going to do it in the Kingdom. So let's pray, and then we'll have the Lord's Supper. Father, thank you for the chance we've had today to celebrate your amazing grace. O Lord, I pray that you would please now, just give us more grace, give us the grace of a rich experience in the Lord's Supper by the Holy Spirit, and we pray in Jesus' name, amen.