Text: Hebrews 4:16
Reading: Ephesians 2:1-13
Subject: The blessedness and efficacy of God’s saving grace.
Date: Sunday Morning - April 20, 1997
Almost all professing Christians profess to believe that salvation is by grace. The Bible states the fact of salvation by grace alone so often and so clearly that you can hardly find any who claim to be Christians who openly deny it. The trouble is that the vast majority of men and women and the vast majority of preachers talk about grace in such a way that they frustrate it. The grace they talk about is not grace at all, but works and freewillism! It is therefore needful that we be constantly and clearly instructed in the doctrine of the grace of God. I want to talk to you today about Grace, that grace that comes from God who sits upon, and sovereignly rules this universe from his lofty “throne of grace.” This message is important for four reasons.
1. Salvation by grace destroys all room for human boasting.
“Boasting excluded, pride I abase;
I’m only a sinner saved by grace!”
If your idea of salvation allows you to boast that the difference between you and other people is something you are, something you have done, something you decided, or something you willed, you do not yet know the gospel of the grace of God. You have not yet been taught of God. You do not yet know God. No man, no flesh, can glory before God! God’s people know better than to boast even of their repentance and faith. We know that even these things are the gifts of God and the operations of his grace in us (Acts 5:31; 11:17; Rom. 2:4; 1 Cor. 3:5; Eph. 1:19; 2:8; Phil. 1:29; Col. 2:12). All the graces that are in God’s saints are the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
2. Salvation by grace alone means that God gets all the praise, honor, and glory for it. God the Father gets all praise for planning it. God the Son gets all praise for purchasing it. And God the Holy Spirit gets all praise for performing it (Eph. 1:3-14). “As it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord!”
Here is a litmus test for all doctrine. If it makes you swell with pride, if it causes you to look to yourself and say, with regard to any aspect of salvation, “There, I did that,” it is heresy. It is not the doctrine of grace. However, if it causes you to bow humbly before God and say, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory,” then you can be sure it is according to the doctrine of the grace of God.
3. This message is important because any mixture of works with grace, any mixture of merit with mercy, any mixture of what you do with what God does is not only a terribly evil thing, but utterly damning to your soul. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Grace plus anything is not salvation, but damnation. Faith plus anything is not salvation, but damning. Christ plus anything is not salvation, but damnation (Rom. 11:6; Gal. 5:2, 4).
4. Once more, as I said at the beginning, this message is important because very few people, very few professing Christians, very few preachers, and consequently very few people in this world know what grace is. Most people imagine that grace is a passion, or desire in the heart of God to save sinners, or that grace is something God offers to men, or that grace is something God gives men a chance to use to workout their own salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible never talks about grace like that. Grace is both an attribute of God and the work and operation of God by which he saves sinners. Whenever you think about grace, or talk about it, always remember that as it is described in the Bible, grace has four distinct characteristics. Any definition of grace that violates any of these four characteristics is in direct opposition to the Word of God.
· Grace is eternal (2 Tim. 1:9).
· Grace is immutable (mal. 3:6; Rom. 11:29).
· Grace is sovereign (Rom. 9:11-24).
· Grace is effectual (Eph. 2:8-9).
Wherever God bestows his grace, salvation is the result. Grace is not the offer of salvation or of an opportunity to be saved. Grace is the accomplishment of salvation.
Now let me show you how God’s grace is described in the Scriptures and what it is said to do. Follow with me through the Word of God. I am going to show you seven things the Word of God reveals about divine grace. The Bible shows us that God’s grace is...
1. Covenant Grace!
2. Prevenient Grace!
3. Regenerating Grace!\
4. Justifying Grace!
5. Sanctifying Grace!
6. Sufficient Grace!
7. Keeping Grace!
I. First, the grace of God, by which we are saved, is setforth in the Word of God as Covenant Grace (Eph. 1:2-6; 2 Tim. 1:9).
Salvation is the result of a covenant made between the three Persons of the Holy Trinity before the world began. In that blessed, firm, and everlasting covenant of grace four things happened...
A. A people were chosen unto salvation (2 Thess. 2:13-14).
B. A ransom was found (Job 33:24; Rev. 13:8).
C. A seal was pledged - “Hurt not the earth till we have sealed the hundred and forty and four thousand” (2 Pet. 3:9).
D. The salvation of God’s elect was secured (predestination) (Rom. 8:28-30).
Saving grace is covenant grace. You cannot understand what the Bible teaches about grace unless you begin in eternity, in the everlasting covenant.
II. Secondly, “The grace of God that bringeth salvation” is Prevenient Grace.
Preachers do not talk about it much anymore because preachers, for the most part, know nothing about the grace of God; but a common theme of meditation and preaching in earlier times was God’s prevenient grace.
The word “prevenient” means preceeding. Prevenient grace is the secret operation of grace tht precedes and prepares the way for God’s saving grace. Prevenient grace is illustrated in many ways in the Word of God. I will call your attention to just three aspects of it. Prevenient grace is...
A. Formative grace (Gal. 1:15; Jer. 1;5; 2 Tim. 3:15).
B. Restraining grace (1 Sam. 25:13-26; Gen. 20:6 - “Hitherto shalt thou go and no further!”
C. Overruling grace (Philemon 15).
Illustration: Gomer! - The Prodigal! - Peter!
How I rejoice and give thanks to God for his free, covenant grace and for his secret, prevenient grace. It is this prevenient grace that keeps and prreserves God’s elect throughout their days of rebellion unto the day of their calling. Prevenient grace gives the angels their charge (Heb. 14).
III. Thirdly, the grace of God by which we are saved is REGENERATING GRACE (Eph. 2:1-10).
The newbirth is a regeneration, a resurrection from the dead, a new creation. It takes something more than the choice and decision of your freewil to accomplish that! It takes the grace of God. Ephesians 2:1-10 describes God’s regenerating grace.
· Verses 1-3 show us The Condition of Man.
· Verses 4-6 talk about The Call of God.
· Verse 7 demonstrates The Cause of Mercy.
· Verses 8-10 display The Character of Grace. It always operates alone!
The grace of God does not offer eternal life. It produces it! The grace of God does not advise sinners to be born again. The grace of God is tht by which sinners are born again!
IV. Fourthly, the grace of God by which sinners are transformed, saved, and made to be saints is JUSTIFYING GRACE (Rom. 3:24).
I realize that justification was accomplished long before regeneration is experienced.
· We were justified in the purpose of God eternally (Rom. 8:29) in the Lamb slain.
· We were justified by the purchase of blood at Calvary when our Savior died for us and paid our debt.
However, in our experience of things, justification comes to us and is known by us after regeneration, after we are born of God, as the result of our faith in Christ’s blood atonement (Rom. 3:24-28).
All who trust the Lord Jesus Christ are justified freely by the grace of God, without the works of the law. That means three things:
A. We are completely forgiven of all sin by the blood of Christ. (Redeemed.)
B. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. (Justified.)
C. “We shall not come into condemnation!” (Accepted.)
Thank God for that grace that freely justifies helpless, guilty sinners!
V. Fifthly, God’s grace is SANCTIFYING GRACE (1 Cor. 6:11).
Many are sadly confused about sanctification. Many who really do believe that salvation is by grace alone, when they come to the subject of sanctification make it to be a work of God and man together! But the language of the Bible clearly declares sanctification to be a work of grace alone. God’s sanctifying grace is threefold. We are sanctified...
A. By the decree of God from eternity (Jude 1).
B. By the blood of Christ in redemption (Heb. 10:10).
C. The the Holy Spirit in regeneration - By the imparted righteousness of Christ (2 Thess. 2:13). “Made partaker of the divine nature!”
Like every other aspect of salvation, sanctification is...
· By grace alone!
· In Christ alone (1 Cor. 1:30).
NOTE: Though our sanctification in Christ is perfect and complete, not partial and progressive as many imagine, sanctification is a continual thing that causes every believer to...
1. Grow in grace (2 Pet. 3:18).
2. Pursue righteousness (Rom. 6:18).
3. Consecrate himself to Christ (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).
VI. Sixthly, God’s grace is SUFFICIENT GRACE (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
There is an infinite, super abounding, overflowing sufficiency in the grace of God to meet all the needs of all his people forever. No matter who you are, no matter what your needs may be, no matter what circumstances you are in, if you are a believer, if you trust the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord God says to you - “My grace is sufficient for thee!” And I am here to tell you it is so!
A. His grace is sufficient to sustain you in your trials (Isa. 43).
B. His grace is sufficient to uphold you in temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).
C. His grace is sufficient to enable you to do his will - “The Spirit of God will never lead you where the grace of God will not keep you.” “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it!”
D. His grace is sufficient to uphold, sustain, provide for, and protect his servants and to make their labors effectual to the souls of men.
E. In your last hour, when you come to the swelling of the Jordan and are about to cross over to the other side, you will yet hear him say, “My grace is sufficient for thee!”
I have been talking to you about the grace of God. I have been trying to show you how the Bible defines, describes, and illustrates grace. God’s saving grace is...
· Covenant grace!
· Prevenient grace!
· Regenerating grace!
· Justifying grace!
· Sanctifying grace!
· And sufficient grace!
VII. Now turn to 1 Peter 5:10 and understand this one last fact about God’s saving grace - It is KEEPING GRACE.
He will keep me till the river
Rolls its waters at my feet;
Then He’ll bear me safely over,
Where my Savior I shall meet.
The grace of God is grace that cannot be altered, destroyed, or taken away, not even by anything we may do - So that every true believer should be able to confidently sing with Augustus Toplady...
“A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing:
Nor fer, with Thy righteousness on,
My person and offering to bring.
The terrors of law and of God,
With me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.
The work which His goodness began,
The arm of His strength will complete:
His promise is yea and amen,
And never was forfieted yet.
Not all things below or above
Can make Him His purpose forego,
Or sever my soul from His love.
My name from the palms of His hands,
Eternity will not erase:
Impressed on His heart it remains
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven!”
If you are a believer, God’s keeping grace is as sure to you now as his covenant grace was before ever you were born (Phil. 1:2-6).
The grace of God alone is that which distinguishes one sinner from another (1 Cor. 4:7).
 See Sermon #1147. Preached Danville, KY - Sunday morning - May 15, 1994; Houston, TX - April 13, 1997; Wichita Falls, TX - April 15, 1997.