INTRO: The best known hymn in the western world is probably Amazing Grace. It is a hymn which is heard from bagpipes to the country and western world. I have even heard a rendition of it from the Boston Pops Orchestra. As widely known and recognized as it may be, I am still wondering if the western world really has any understanding of and appreciation for Gods amazing grace. This hymn is used almost as a talisman which is waved over every sort of event, person or situation in a way which gives approval to events and lives which are lived totally outside of the realm of Gods will! Amazing Grace has become a human attempt to say that God will probably accept any and all comers in whatever condition they come before Him upon death.
I. SALVATION IS MOST ASSUREDLY BY AND BECAUSE OF GODS GRACE
A. Grace: the unmerited favor of God
1. there are no doubt numerous definitions of grace given
2. but this simply statement seems to cover the subject very well
B. What do we mean by unmerited?
1. just that ... humanity has not, cannot merit, earn the favor of God
2. the story of humanity is one of rebellion against God, of violation of Gods law and will, of unappreciativeness for Gods blessings - He owes us nothing!
C. While it is unmerited, grace is still conditional
1. the unmerited undergirds Gods decision to provide a plan for redeeming
2. the conditional underpins each individuals reception of redemption and sanctification
II. AN ILLUSTRATION OF THIS UNMERITED, CONDITIONAL GRACE - JOSH 6:1-5
A. At v. 2 - See, I have given into thine hand Jericho...
1. Jericho was a strong city - well fortified militarily
2. Israel was not accustomed to warfare, to conquest - weak by comparison
3. recall Deut 20:1-4 ... God was the key to any victories of Israel
4. Jericho was a gift from God to Israel
B. But look carefully vv. 3-5 - And ye shall compass the city...
1. Israel did not have the strength to militarily conquer Jericho - it was a gift
2. but the grace was conditional ... and it was God Who set the conditions
3. the conditions probably looked very strange to any observers
4. but they were the conditions God set for the reception of the gift - and the gift did not become theirs in fact until the conditions had been met (Josh 6:15,16)
C. Was Jericho any less a gift because the Giver made it conditional?
1. some would, I suppose, say that it was no longer a gift if conditional
2. however, that is simply not the case ... Israel could not have taken the city; Israel had done nothing to merit the city; the conditions did not earn the city
3. this is simply an illustration of Gods grace and mans faith meeting in obedience to the specified will of God
4. should we refuse a gift from God simply because we insist on no conditions?
III. SO, WHAT OF EPH 2:4-9?
A. Salvation is the gift of God
1. no human being on earth is deserving of it, merits it, earns it!
2. the unmerited favor of God has extended it to humanity
3. never, never would I suggest otherwise - I revel in this great gift
B. Salvation is by Gods grace through faith
1. if there was not another word in all of scripture on the subject, this passage clearly tells us that the individual reception of Gods gracious salvation is conditional
2. at v. 8 the condition of faith is explicit, inescapable
3. now, at Acts 6:7 something about faith is noted which we cannot overlook ... it is obedient faith (note, too, Rom 16:26)
C. Is there something here we need to see?
1. perhaps it would be helpful to read Mk 16:15,16
2. if salvation is the aim (and this passage clearly says it is), both faith and baptism (obedience to the faith) are personal conditions with which one must comply to receive the gift offered by God
3. this is certainly compatible to the circumstances of the Joshua passage
4. nothing has been merited; nothing has been earned ... but the conditional nature of Gods gracious salvation has been recognized and satisfied
CLOSE: I can only ask you to consider that Gods amazing grace calls for more from us that so many have been willing to recognize. To comply with Gods specific terms of the gift of salvation is Biblical and consistent with all of Gods dealings with humanity ... and reflects in no way on the gift.
Cecil A. Hutson
06 April 2003
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)