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Chuck Smith :: Sermon Notes for Ephesians 2:8

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A. Here is where a long time controversy in the church comes together.
1. The sovereignty of God and the human responsibility of man.
2. Both concepts are correct for they are both taught in the scriptures.
3. Where man errs is to teach one to the exclusion of the other.
B. For by grace are you saved. That is the sovereignty of God.
1. I do not deserve to be saved.
2. I surely cannot save myself.
3. Salvation comes to me through the grace of God, there is nothing that I have done to deserve it, and certainly nothing I can do to earn it.
4. This is something that God has done for me, He has saved me.
C. The "through faith" is my part, just believing the promises of God concerning my salvation. That if I will confess with my mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, God has promised that I would be saved.
1. Peter shows the place of faith in the work of God on my behalf.
1PE 1:3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1PE 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
1PE 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
a. I have been born again. You really had nothing to do with your first birth, and you have little to do with your second birth. John said, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
b. I have a living hope.
c. I have an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled, and it doesn't fade away, and it is reserved in heaven for me.
d. I am being kept by the power of God.
e. Through faith.
D. God's part saving me, my part believing in God.
E. What does it mean to be saved? Neg. 1. I am saved from being dead in trespasses and sins.
2. I am saved from being controlled by the ways of the world that are being directed by Satan.
3. I am saved from being a slave to the lusts of my flesh and mind.
4. I am saved from my sinful nature that was destined for the wrath of God. Pos. 5. I have been raised from that state of death in my sins to being alive in Christ.
6. I have been seated with Christ in heavenly places.
7. I have been saved for a glorious future, an eternity of blessings from the grace and kindness of God toward me.
A. Does the "That not of yourselves it is a gift of God" refer to the faith, or to the being saved?
1. Those who would hold to the absolute sovereignty of God to the exclusion of the responsibility of man would relate it to the faith.
2. They assert that your faith, is not of yourself, it is faith that God has given to you to trust His promises, and if that faith was not given to you, you could never be saved.
3. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.
4. In Romans 12:3 Paul tells us that God has dealt to every man a measure of faith.
a. God has given unto us a measure of faith, what we do with it is up to us.
b. I have the choice to believe or not to believe, else all exhortations to exercise that choice are meaningless.
DEU 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.
JOS 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
PRO 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
PRO 3:31 Envy thou not the oppressor and choose none of his ways.
ISA 56:4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose [the things] that please me, and take hold of my covenant;
ISA 65:12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose [that] wherein I delighted not.
c. Elijah's call to the people on Mount Carmel implied a choice.
1KI 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD [be] God, follow him: but if Baal, [then] follow him. They had the choice to follow the Lord or to follow Baal.
5. The question as I see it is, how could a just God punish a man for a choice that he did not make, nor even had the power to make, but that God made for him?
B. There are those that believe that the "That not of yourselves, it is a gift of God." refers to the word saved.
1. This definitely seems to fit better with the context, for in the next verse he says, "Not of works, lest any man should boast."
2. Salvation is not of yourself, it is gift of God. Paul wrote to the Romans that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
3. John wrote, "And this is the record, that God has given unto us eternal life, and this life is in the Son."
a. As we said earlier, there is no way we can earn it and certainly there is no way I deserve it.
b. I definitely cannot purchase it. Peter rebuked Simon the Sorcerer for thinking that the gift of God could be purchased with money.
c. I must just believe God for this wonderful gift, therefore all of the praise and glory goes to God for His glorious gift to us.
C. "Not of works lest any man should boast."
1. As we know man is very prone to boasting.
2. The Bible says that no flesh should glory in His presence.
3. If works could save me, then I would be looking for praise and glory for my efforts.
ROM 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
ROM 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
ROM 3:25 Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
ROM 3:26 To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
ROM 3:27 Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
ROM 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath [whereof] to glory; but not before God.
4. Paul taught that grace and works are mutually exclusive.
ROM 11:6 And if by grace, then [is it] no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if [it be] of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
5. The reason that God had Gideon cut the size of his army was "lest Israel vaunt themselves against Me and say, my own hand hath saved me."
D. So often we hear exhortations concerning the work we should be doing for God. We hear men extolled for the mighty work they have done for God.
1. We are prone to emphasize the great sacrifices our missionaries have made in taking the gospel to the third world countries.
2. What about the great work that God has done for us and the tremendous sacrifice He made to bring us the gospel?
3. If we emphasize the work that man has done for God or extol him for the sacrifices he is making, then we are encouraging man to boast in man rather than in God.

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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