I. WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH.
A. That means that there is no way by which you could earn your salvation by your works.
1. In the first three verses of this chapter he shows us our moral and spiritual bankruptcy.
a. We are by nature the children of wrath.
b. We can't change our nature, Jeremiah asked
Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? [then] may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
c. Peter as he speaks of those who had escaped the pollutions of world only to return back to them again says, "The proverb is true, as a dog returns to it's vomit, and a pig that has been washed to it's wallowing in the mire."
d. Why do they do that? Because it is their nature.
e. That is why Jesus said, "You must be born again." You must have a new nature.
f. Self reformation will never work.
2. There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves. Speaking of our salvation Paul declares "And that not of yourselves."
3. There are no laws that we can keep that would make us righteous before God.
B. Salvation comes to us as a gift from God.
1. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
2. A gift cannot be earned. You earn wages.
3. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
4. Salvation is not something that God owes to me.
5. Salvation is not something that I deserve.
6. Salvation is a free gift of God to me through His grace.
C. There are so many today who emphasize what you should be doing for God.
1. David the Psalmist asked the question, "What shall I render unto God for all of His benefits unto me?"
a. He concluded that there was nothing that He could do for God except accept what God had done for Him.
b. I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.
2. We talk of the free gift of salvation, however it is only free to us. It cost God dearly. The sacrifice of His only begotten Son.
3. I was bankrupt spiritually, I had nothing to pay, He purchased my redemption for me.
They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;
None [of them] can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:
For the redemption of their soul [is] costly, and no payment is sufficient.
4. We have been hearing recently of how Ted Turner has pledged one billion dollars to the United Nations over the next few years. Had he given that for the work of the kingdom of God, it could in no wise purchase his redemption.
5. They say that the wealth of Bill Gates is upwards of 30 billion dollars. If he would give all of that for the work of the Lord, he could not purchase the forgiveness of his sins.
6. God has given as a free gift to you that which you could not purchase though you owned the wealth of the world. Elihu said to Job, "Will He esteem your riches: no, not gold or all of the forces of strength."
7. God owes us nothing, nor will He ever be a debtor to man. Paul asked, "Who has given to Him and not been recompensed again."
D. It is not my works for God that earn me a place in heaven. Paul said "Not of works lest any man should boast."
1. Paul declared that if Abraham had been justified by his works he would have something to glory in but not of God.
2. If we could be saved by our good works, then we could boast in what we did for the Lord. But our salvation is so completely of the Lord that we have nothing to boast of in ourselves.
3. To God be the glory, great things He has done.
4. Because He has done it all, to Him be all of the glory and praise for His grace.
II. "FOR WE ARE HIS WORKMANSHIP."
A. It is not my work for God that has any value, but God's work for me.
1. You are His workmanship.
2. God is working in our lives today.
B. The work that God is doing in our lives today is preparing us for the good works that He has before ordained that we should accomplish for Him.
1. It is a comfort for me to know that God has my life all planned out.
2. From the beginning, He knew just what He wanted me to accomplish for the kingdom of Christ.
3. He has before ordained the work that I should do for Him.
4. Paul writing to the Philippian church declared that he had not yet apprehended that for which he was apprehended by Jesus Christ.
5. When Jesus apprehended Paul on the Damascus road, He had a special work in mind for Paul to accomplish. Paul was years in special preparation for that work.
6. It is interesting that when the Lord apprehended Paul he revealed to him the things he would suffer for the name of Jesus. I do not know if the Lord also told him of the glorious work he wanted Paul to accomplish for the kingdom.
7. Paul spoke of being separated by God from his mother's womb for the work of the gospel.
C. We are often puzzled by the events that are happening in our lives. Sometimes we even feel that God has forsaken us. Like the Psalmist we cry, "Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, and hearing my cry?"
1. Have you ever taken just one piece of a puzzle and tried to figure how it fits into the whole picture? It is next to impossible, if you have just started to work the puzzle and you do not have the picture on the box before you. But if the whole puzzle has been put together and this is the next to last piece, there is no problem in seeing where it fits. God is putting together the pieces of the puzzle in your life it may be that you can't understand the present piece that He has put in.
a. You may have even been complaining about your present circumstances because you can't see how the pieces fit.
b. You wonder why God hasn't listened to your prayers to remove the piece.
c. It is hard to see how all things are working together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
d. In your mind you may have even challenged God by asking, "What good can possibly come from this?"
2. There are many advantages to coming to the stage in life that I have arrived at where most of the pieces of the puzzle have been put together and the picture is becoming quite clear.
a. I frankly confess that there were many of the pieces of the puzzle that I complained loudly about as God was preparing me for the work that He had before ordained that He wanted me to accomplish for Him.
b. There were many a time when I thought God had forsaken me.
c. Things that at the time I looked on as a curse, but have now discovered that they were great blessings. They were necessary preparation.
3. Those lessons where God is teaching us trust, and faith are not easy lessons. It is not easy at 4:00 in the afternoon not to know where the evening meal is coming from. It is not easy when your kids come and show you their socks showing through the holes in the soles of their tennis shoes, and you do not have the money to buy a new pair of shoes which you know they will have to have before they go to school tomorrow.
a. Through all of these experiences God was teaching us of His faithfulness to provide for our every need just as He promised.
b. He was teaching us that He had resources that we knew nothing about.
4. It is not easy to discover you are nothing when you thought you were something. To realize that you were not doing God a favor when you offered to Him your services.
5. Not easy to give it your best fleshly efforts and see them fail.
6. Not easy to give the best 17 years of your life to something that seems to produce so little fruit.
a. As I see it now, it was all a part of the necessary preparation for the work that God had in mind for me to accomplish for His glory. Had the success come earlier I would have been tempted to take the glory.
b. Through all of the difficult experiences he was teaching me important lessons of who He is, and how He wanted His work done.
c. Lessons that I would one day be able to teach others so they could perhaps escape some of the pitfalls I had to struggle through.
d. I think of the words of Paul to those of Galatia, "Be not weary in well doing, for in due season, you will reap, if you faint not."