Charles Stanley - Saved by Grace
Why is it that so many people who've trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior spend their entire Christian life struggling and feeling defeated in their Christian life? Well, probably one of the reasons is, they don't understand what happened when they were saved. In fact, if you were to ask them what is a Christian and how do you become one? Many people who claim to be one couldn't even answer that question adequately, even to their own sense of satisfaction, because somewhere along the way, even though they trusted Christ as their Savior, nobody sat down and explained to them exactly, here's what took place, here's what you can expect.
Now, this is the way you can live according to God's Word and the promises of his Word. And so as a result of that, they live their life struggling, trying to figure out, "Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing the wrong thing? Am I pleasing God? Am I not pleasing God? Am I saved? Am I still saved? Am I not saved"? And so, all kinds of confusion and all kinds of things we hear about people struggling with their Christian life because somewhere along the way they never understood what it was all about. Well, the most comprehensive passage in the Word of God is in Ephesians chapter 2, those first 10 verses. It's all right there in those ten verses what it's really all about. And this is the second message in our series, "The Truth About Grace". And last time we talked about "God of Grace" and this morning "Saved by Grace".
And so I want you to turn to Ephesians chapter 2, if you will, and let's read those first 10 verses. And you may be a Christian this morning, and I certainly hope you are, but I want you to listen carefully because I want to ask you the question. If somebody said to you, what is a Christian? Could you give them a clear definition? And secondly, if they said, what is salvation? Could you answer that? If they ask you, what is the grace of God all about? Could you answer that question? Because if you and I are gonna be the lights and the salt that God speaks of in the Scripture, then we have to have some very clear answers to people who are looking for clear answers about life. And that is people who are troubled going through difficulty and hardship, they don't want some phasey kind of answer, they want what is the truth? Give me some clear understanding so I can know what to expect if I place my life in the hands of God.
So look in this second chapter of Ephesians, and Paul begins by saying, "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formally walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the Spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them too we all also formally lived in the lust of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature, children of wrath even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with Him, seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace and kindness taught us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you've been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of work so that no one may boast, but we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them".
Now, that is a big mouthful from the apostle Paul. Here it is in all one big section. And what did he mean by being lifted up with the Lord Jesus, and so forth? So I want us to understand clearly this morning you may be saved, but I want you to be able to say to someone else, this is what it means and this is how it happens because there's only one way that it can happen and it can only mean one thing. So look what Paul says. He begins here by giving us a viewpoint, God's viewpoint of a person who is unsaved. And oftentimes you'll talk to people and they'll give you all of their excuses and they'll give you their defense for the way they're living and say, "Well, I know that I'm not all that ought to be, but I'm sure that God understands". No, this is exactly God's viewpoint of a person who's never trusted Christ as their Savior. Listen to what he says. He says, "First of all, their life is a life of death".
Notice what he says here. He says, "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins". That makes it very clear, there are three kinds of death, there is physical death, separation of the body from the spirit. There is spiritual death, which is separation of the spirit from God. And then there of course is eternal death, which is death eternally separation from God. And so when he says, we were walking in death, we were in death, we were dead in our trespasses and sins, he means exactly that. Now if you think about it, a person says, "Well, how can I be dead and still, look at me, I'm alive"? Because they do not understand spiritual things. And until the Spirit of God comes into person's heart, you can't expect them to understand things from God's viewpoint. What we are getting is God's viewpoint of a person who's lost and he says, first of all, they're dead. A second thing he says here, they are walking in trespasses and sin.
Notice he says, "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins". That is, that's their way of life, doing what they choose to do, being disobedient to God, rebelling against God, living against the principles of Scripture. And so he says walking what? In trespasses and sins after the course of this world, that is what is the world's lifestyle? The world's lifestyle is living in the flesh. What is the flesh? Living after our natural tendencies, that is those things that are natural, our humanness. That's the way the world lives. Why? Because that's the only way they know how to live. That's the only power they have to live, is to live with the flesh. But they'll tell us how good they are and how good their works are, but what they need to ask is this: How does God's see me? And oftentimes we can quickly rationalize what's God's viewpoint? The only thing that really matters is what is God's viewpoint?
So they're walking in death. They're walking in trespasses and sins, and they're walking. Listen, they're living a life, they're spending their life, listen, with the disobedient of the world. But notice how he says it, he says, "Among them we too all formally lived in the lust of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest". Now, the lost person doesn't understand it because they look around they say, "Well, what's different? You just think you're better than I am". No, we are talking about God's viewpoint, listen, spending your life in death, spending your life in trespasses and sins, spending your life in disobedience, and spending your life what? Under the wrath of God, because this is what he says. He says not only that, he says we were children of wrath even as the rest. God's viewpoint is they're dead spiritually. God's viewpoint is that they're walking in trespasses and sins. God's viewpoint is that they're living under the power of Satan, and God's viewpoint is that they're living under the wrath of God.
So Paul lays it down very clearly, and what all this comes to the conclusion of is this, man needs something besides himself to be made acceptable in the eyes of God. Because if you notice how Paul says it here, he says, "We formally walked according to the course of this world, the prince of the power of the air in disobedience, lust of the flesh, desires of the flesh, and were by nature children of wrath". Listen, by nature, that is the person's nature, disobedience, and rebellion toward Almighty God. Rejection and all kinds of denial and defense. That is God's viewpoint of the lost person. No matter what they think of themselves, the issue is what does God think? Because who's gonna judge us ultimately is Almighty God. Now, on the basis of that, let's look to see what the apostle Paul says here. He says, "This is God's viewpoint of a lost person no matter who they are and what they may see about themselves".
So the question is, what's God's motivation? That is certainly God does not want anyone to live that way. So what's God's motivation for changing us? So listen to what He says in the beginning, in verse 4, God says, "This is the way man is without Him, but God being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us even when we were dead in our transgressions, dead and living under Satan and under wrath, He made us alive together with Christ (by grace you been saved), and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus". Now, think about this man in his sinful, awful condition, dead, separated, rebellion, and under the wrath of God. But God did what? God motivated by what? By His mercy.
Now, two things are necessary to have mercy. One of them is to be able to see the need, and the second one is to be able to meet that need. God seeing man as he is, helpless, hopeless under the power of Satan, spiritually dead, cannot help himself, under God's wrath. He says, but God seeing all of that, seeing the need, the desperate need of mankind, but God in His mercy did what? In His mercy, He reached down. And notice what He says, not only in His mercy, but He says He's not just His love, but His great love with which His love does. Now watch this, listen to what He says. He made us alive once and for all. He raised us up once and for all. And listen, He seated us once and for all. It's completed from God's viewpoint. Now, what I want you to see is this, when you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, he forgave you, paid your sin in full on the cross, wiped away the penalty of your sin.
Now you're a child of God. What did He do? He made you alive, He raised you up out of the life that you have lived and will one day raise you completely and has seated you in the heavenlies, that is in God, From God's viewpoint, it is a completed action. This is why we have no business living any kind of a life, but a holy godly life. We are temporarily citizens of the USA or wherever you come from. We are permanently citizens of the kingdom of God, and this is what he's talking about here. Now, how many of us deserve any of that? None of us. The grace of God is the goodness and love and mercy and kindness of God, listen, given to us without merit on our part, without the sense of whether we deserve it or not, we are unworthy of it is because He loves us and because of His mercy toward us.
So listen to what He says. "This is who you were, dead and trespasses, sins, and under the power of Satan, living in transgression just like the rest of the world, formally like the rest of the world, but now being rich in mercy". Isn't it wonderful how He says these things? He didn't say just merciful, He says rich and merciful, abounding and merciful, overflowing in mercy. So great a love He loved us. And so what did He do? Took us, He gave us a brand-new life, raised us out of that, and listen, and set us in the kingdom. Your name and my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, we are already citizens of the kingdom of God. That's what Paul said in Philippians chapter 3, verse 20. He says, our citizenship is now, he didn't say would be after you died. He said our citizenship is now in heaven.
So the next time somebody says, where do you live? Ask them, which address do you want? They'll say, "Well, do you live in two places"? "Yes, I do". Watch this. We do live in two places. We live on this earth and we live in the heavenlies. Your hope, your assurance, your eternal life. Where are you going to spend eternity? On this earth? If it's a part of heaven, which I think it will be a part of heaven after it's transformed and made like it once originally was in all it's perfection. I think that'll be a part of heaven, but when we think in terms of this earth as it is today, where do we live? Our citizenship is here and it's there. That's what God says. You say, "Well, now wait a minute".
Now, what you have to ask is, do I want God's viewpoint or my viewpoint? I want God's viewpoint and God's viewpoint says, that's the way you were. And as a result of My grace, this is what I've done for you. Now this is how I did it. Listen to what He says. "For by grace you've been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of work, so that no one may boast". Now God has done it all. Remember, dead people can't, they can't do anything about themselves, so it has to be a work outside of them. So here's what He says. He says, so this is the way it happened. He says, "My viewpoint is that's who you were. Here's what I've worked, here's what I've done for you and this is the way I did it".
By grace, by God's goodness and love and mercy and kindness, He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to the cross for the purpose of bearing all of your sin, all of your guilt, all of your punishment, all of your condemnation, placed it upon Him, and then the Father had Him crucified to pay your sin debt and mine in full, the perfect Son of God, the only one who could pay that sin debt. And as a result of that, He flung the doors open to the world that all who will accept His payment will be forgiven of their sin. For by grace, you've been saved. Now what is grace? Watch this now. God's goodness and kindness and graciousness to us without merit or without worth and in spite of the fact that we don't deserve it. So it had nothing to do with anything good within you, then He makes that very clear. So that's the grace of God, it is something He does for us we couldn't do for ourselves.
Now watch this, "For by grace you've been saved through faith". That is your part and my part is one simple thing, response. Somebody says, "Well what about confession and repentance"? All right. Now watch this. When you genuinely place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, first of all, you wouldn't do it if you weren't aware you were a sinner. Therefore, you are confessing the fact that you're sinful. And repentance means when you place your life in His hand, you give yourself to Him. What are you doing? You're saying, "This is where I've been walking, but now I'm trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior and I intend to walk this way". Confession, repentance, and faith all go together, two sides of the same coin. You listen. You can't have faith, true genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ without confession and repentance, because listen, what motivated you to even come to Him?
The confession within your soul, your spirit that you're a sinner, that you don't want that in your life. You want a change of life, you want a new life. And repentance means something's turned or something's changed, something's turned around. Does that mean you're gonna be sinless? No. But it means simply this, that God, listen, God is responding to your faith, but even that faith is the gift of God. And you can translate this or interpret it several different ways, but this is a primary way. "For by grace, you've been saved through faith, that not of yourselves, it's the gift of God, not of works less than a man should boast". Now listen, the trusting wasn't of yourselves. The faith itself was a gift of God. Everything about redemption, about salvation, everything about it is a gift of God, it's God's grace. It's His goodness and love and mercy, it has nothing to do with anything good on the inside of us or anything that we have done or ever we'll do, it's all God's love, goodness, and mercy.
Listen, so somebody says, well, but now wait a minute, and here's a key question we always have to answer. How could God who is holy and just, how could God look down upon me then see me walking in sin and disobedience, see me spiritually dead, see me under the power of statement, and see me under His wrath, and at the same time, how can He be a just God and forgive me for all of that? This is the only way He could have done it. Either all of us would've had to have died in that position and condition we were in under the Satan's power, dead, trespasses and sins, under wrath, or somebody would have to pay the debt for us. So this is why Jesus came, and this is why there can be no salvation apart from Jesus Christ.
Now you think about this. If you and I had to stand before God in the condition that He describes, we'd be hell bound, amen? We'd all be hell bound. Therefore, how can God being just and a righteous holy God look down and wipe out all of that when He said the soul that sin that shall die, the wages of sin is death. There's the only way He could have done it. Somebody had to take my place and your place. His Son, Jesus came, the perfect Son of God. John the Baptist identified Him as the Lamb of God. He came for the purpose of dying on the cross, bearing all of your guilt and mine and our sin and our shame and all the rest. He died in our place, paid our penalty, and in the death of Jesus, here's what He did.
Listen carefully. He satisfied, he satisfied the demands of justice. Justice says sin must be penalized. Jesus was penalized in your place and my place, therefore, the grace of God is all wrapped up in the cross of Jesus Christ because God the Father could not be a just, holy God and just wipe away our sin. I'm gonna give you another chance, I'm gonna forget all that because He said the soul that sin that shall die, the wages of sin is death. How can you be just and do that? Somebody took our place.
Now think about this. It is so far removed from truth that a person could say, "Well, I may not be the worst person in the world or I may not be the best person, but I believe there's enough good in me to get me saved". Absolutely, I'm telling you, forget it, it cannot be true. There is no way when you look at the scriptures according to what God says, dead in trespasses and sins under the power of Satan, living in the transgression of those trespasses, and all the rest, under the wrath of God where's men absolutely hopeless. So God rich in mercy and His great love did what? Sacrificed His only begotten Son as full payment for our sin. And when He died, He died, it made it possible. He satisfied God's demands of justice and therefore now God can reach down to the most wicked, vile person in the face of this earth and say, "You're forgiven". "How can I be forgiven when I've been so wicked"? "Because My Son paid your sin debt in full".
That's why we should worship the Lord Jesus Christ, follow Him, walk in holiness, walk in obedience. Look what He did for us, He did for us something that no one else on the face of the earth, or all the people on face of the earth together could never have done what one person did, Jesus Christ. But by grace you're saved through faith. He didn't say through faith and a bunch of other things, through faith only. Somebody says, "Well, does that mean if I just believe in Him"? "Well, I've always believed in Him". No, you've believed about Him. To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that New Testament word, listen, 'cause I went through the whole New Testament, you go through the New Testament. Every time somebody believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, something happens. There's an action that always follows. So when somebody says, "Well, I believe in Him". No, no, no, no, no. Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is automatically followed by an action, and that action is confession and repentance of sin.
Just, I can believe about a lot of people, I can believe about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, you name it. What does that mean? Doesn't mean anything. But if I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, it means I'm placing my trust in Him as my Savior, my Lord and my Master. For by grace you're saved through faith. In other words, man's part is to trust Him. Not trust Him and do works, or listen to this. Not trust Him and works, and the two of those together get me saved. Watch this now. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and works for the Lord Jesus Christ do not go hand in hand. I am saved by faith. As a result of my faith in Him, my transformed life lifted me up, changed me, give me a whole new destiny, a whole new sense of life.
Now what I wanna do? I wanna do exactly what He said. And what's that? Not as a result of works, so that no one can boast, but we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good work which God prepared beforehand and we could walk in. Now watch this. Salvation and works have no, listen, have nothing to do with each other. It is faith only, not by works, and here's the reason. Exactly what you and I see when people say, "Well, I'm not the worst guy in the world and I'm not the best, but I think I have enough". You know what he's doing? He's already doing exactly what Paul said, boasting. "Well, I do do some good things, and there are some good things about me, and I'm an honest person". You know what all that...? That's boasting.
Remember this, when it comes to salvation, the only thing you and I have, the only thing you and I have, we are absolutely totally helpless before holy God. We have nothing but to stick our head in the mud. There's nothing within us that is worthy of anything of the grace of God. So what do we do? We respond to the faith that he gives us. He says, "For by grace you're saved through faith that not of yourselves". Listen, if faith isn't even, it isn't something you came up with, it as a gift of faith he gives, that not of yourselves, not of works, lest any person should boast because that is exactly what man does, boast. Then notice what He says, "Here's the place of works". He says, listen, the only works going on is His workmanship and all of us who are saved will have to admit He's still working on us, right? He worked on us when He got us saved, He's still working on us.
And about time we think He's got us worked up pretty well. What happens? He shows us some area He's gotta work on, but we are His workmanship. Listen to this. Created, that is He, listen, He created you in Christ Jesus, that He made you this new person. And He says when He comes, He says we're gonna be like Him when He comes. What's He doing? God is in the process right now as He says in Romans chapter 8:29, He says that He foreordained that you and I should be what? Be conformed to the likeness of His Son. He's gonna work on us till the day he calls us home. Now, there's one point here I deliberately skipped over to the end, let's go back to it. We said... now watch this carefully. Listen and say amen. Here's who you are, here's what God's done for you, this is the way He did it.
Now, the big question is, why did He do it? I love this verse. Let's go back to this. Let's start with verse 5. "Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you've been saved), raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus". Watch this. What is God's ultimate purpose for saving us? Listen to what he says, "Raised us up with Him, seated up with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. So that," in order of that, "in the ages to come," that means age upon age upon age in the future. "He may show the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus". You know what He says? His ultimate purpose for saving us is not keeping us out of hell and making us happy. His ultimate purpose for saving us, think about this, is that God wants, listen to me, God wants to declare, to proclaim, to show forth the riches.
Listen, the surpassing riches that is you cannot even compare the riches of his grace. That is he want... listen. For all eternity, the Father wants to declare and show forth to not only the angels above but all on the earth, all the things He's done for us, all the expressions of His grace. You know what His purpose is? His purpose is, He wants to see us for the person He is. This awesome indescribable God who's full of grace and mercy and love and forgiveness and kindness. There are not enough words in the dictionary, there's no way to explain the goodness and love and the grace and mercy of God. He says, "You know what? That's who you were. Here's what I've done for you. This is how it happened. And you know what I did all that for? Because I want you to see how loving and gracious and kind and good I am".
Now, how in the world can anybody justify living in sin when God has done that much for you? And when I hear people talk about falling from grace and all the rest, which I'm gonna get on that series pretty soon again, it's been a long time, it's about time we got on it again. And when I think about this, you mean this God who's full of grace and mercy and love, goodness and kindness, who took me out of that, did this for me. This is how it happened and His whole purpose was to demonstrate how awesome His grace and power is. And then He's already seated me in the heavenlies, but then He is gonna let me be jerked down from the heavenlies right back where I was before. There's not a verse in the Bible that even implies such a thing. What I want you to see is how good God is. He is a God of goodness and love and mercy that's absolutely indescribable.
Now, the only way for a person who's heard the gospel to die and go to hell is to trample upon the most awesome truth ever known to man, and that is the God of grace and mercy has paid the ultimate price in giving and in sacrifice by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to pay our sin debt in full and make it possible for His demands of justice to be satisfied and then to fling the door of salvation open to the whole world and make it possible for anybody anywhere under any condition to walk through by simple faith. That's why a five-year-old can be saved and a 95-year-old man can be saved. You know why? Takes the same thing. And I want to ask you this morning this, you may have been a Christian a long time.
Do you understand what God has done to you when He saved you? Listen, by an act of His grace and mercy, He delivered you from the penalty of sin and endowed you with a gift of eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ, period. And it was all His work and none of yours because you were dead and couldn't do anything about it. He gave you the gift of faith and you responded to Him. Have you ever trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior? And secondly, now that you are saved, can you tell somebody this is what Jesus Christ did for me, this is what He can do for you. This is who you were, this is what He's done, and this is how you can enjoy the same gift of eternal life that I have. Can you tell somebody else? You see, God's not satisfied of just saving us, He wants us equipped to share it with somebody else. The clearer your understanding, the more boldness, courage, and passion you're gonna have to tell somebody else, amen?
And Father, we wanna say thank you this morning for Your grace and love in mercy towards us. We can never even think about beginning to think up enough words if we had 1,000 dictionaries to express our love, our gratitude, and when we think about how little understanding we have of how awesome You are, thank you for loving us anyway. Now I pray for somebody here today who's never trusted Jesus as their Savior. Father, grant them the wisdom right now, grant them the wisdom to understand. It's all a dead-end street without Christ, but with You, it's a big wonderful parade. We love You and praise You and thank You in Jesus's name, amen.