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Saved From, By, For What?

The Lord’s Day
Morning

October 16, 2005

Ephesians 2:8-10

“Saved From, By, For What?””

Dr. J. Ligon
Duncan III

Turn with me in your Bibles to the second chapter of
Ephesians as we continue our study in this great book together. The last few
weeks we’ve been looking at Ephesians chapter two, and in the very first verse
we see Paul’s diagnosis of all fallen humanity. That is, he estimates that we
are dead in trespasses and sins, spiritually dead, alienated from God, justly
under His judgment, following the urgings desirings of the world, the flesh, and
under the dominion of Satan.

And from that particular circumstance, from that
situation of life, God has, in His rich mercy Paul says, in verses four to
seven, made us alive, saved us by grace. And he pauses here in verses eight to
ten to elaborate on that, to make sure that we understand what it is that we
have been saved from, and how it is that we have been saved, and to what end or
for purpose or to what goal we have been saved. Those three questions are on
his mind in this whole passage. What is it that we were saved from? We use
that word saved, most of us have grown up in church communities that have
spoken of being saved all our lives. What does that mean, what does it mean to
be saved, what have we been saved form? Paul’s concerned about that question,
it’s a biblical category, and it’s a biblical question. What is it that we’ve
been saved from? Paul wants us to understand that. We’re going to think about
that for a few moments today. But how is it that it comes to pass that we are
saved? By what means have we been saved? Through what instrumentality have we
been saved? It’s a vitally important question. We’ve just sung, in Horatius
Bonar’s hymn, “Not What My Hands Have Done,” about why it’s so vitally important
to understand how it is that we’re saved. Paul wants us to think about that.

He also wants us to think about what we’re saved
to. That’s the source of that rather cryptic sermon title that I’ve given you
today, “Saved From, By, and to or for What?” Those three questions are on
Paul’s mind and we’re going to think about them together today. But before we
read God’s word and hear it proclaimed, let’s look to Him in prayer.

Lord God, this is You word. It’s a lamp to our feet
and a light to our way. It always deals with the ultimate questions, the
ultimate questions of life, in this age and in the age to come, and especially
this passage, Not implicitly but explicitly, with the utmost urgency and
clarity, deals with the first and prime and most important things of life. Give
our hearts then a reverent solemnity as we approach these words. Lord, do not
let their familiarity blind us to how radical they are. But by Your Spriti
enable us to believe, to trust Your word, to trust Your Son, so that these
realties spoken of here would be true of us, in Jesus name, Amen.

Hear the word of God:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it
is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may
boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for
good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Amen, thus end this reading of God’s holy, inspired and inerrant word. May He
write its truth upon our hearts.

In this passage the Apostle Paul explains to us from what we have been
saved, and by what we have been saved, and to what we have been saved. He is
concerned to make sure that we understand what God has saved us from, how God
has saved us, and to what end God has saved us. And I’d like you to think for
just a few moments with me on those very issues.

I. Paul wants us to understand what God has saved us
from.
Let’s begin with the very first words of verse 8, where Paul
addresses this very issue of from what we have been saved. He says, “For by
grace you have been saved.” Now Paul has said those words already in this
passage, in fact, if you’ll look back at verse five, he has said, “By grace you
have been saved.” He just couldn’t hold on any longer, he just had to blurt it
out, but look at the context in verse five, “even when we were dead in our
transgressions.” Now, how has this passage started? Go back to verse one: “But
you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” So, Paul’s context for saying that
we have been saved by grace is his context that all fallen human beings, men,
women, boys and girls, Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, every
person in this world, from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, but one, is
dead in sins, is dead in trespasses, is dead in transgressions, and that is why
we need to be saved. The One who is not dead in sin is Jesus Christ, and He was
dead for sin, and raised for our justification, the Apostle Paul says in Romans
chapter four. And so Paul says that we are saved by grace because of the
reality that we are dead in sin. So when Paul reminds us that we have been
saved by grace he is reminding us because he wants us to know what we have been
saved from, from what we have been saved. And in this passage he’s given us a
catalog of that. You can look back in verse one and see that catalog.
He tells us, first of all, that God has saved us from spiritual death,
and there are many things subsumed under that rubric of spiritual death, but one
of them is certainly this: that we are alienated from God. If God is life, if
Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, we
recognize that God is the source of real life. To really live, you must know
God, so if you are dead in sin and separated form Him, you are spiritually
alienated from God, you cannot have life. That’s why using the term, “you are
dead,” is such an apt description of those who are apart from Christ. Because
to know God is to really live, and thus not to know Him is to be dead, even
though you’re walking, even though you’re breathing, even though by the
estimation of the world you may have all the things that other people desire.
You may be esteemed in the eyes of your contemporaries, you may have flocks of
friends, you may have lots of money, but you’re dead, you don’t have life,
because you don’t know life; His name is God. He’s the One who is the source of
real life, of real pleasure, of real love, solid joys and lasting pleasure, none
but Zion’s children know. Because God is life, in Him is life. So what have we
been saved from? From death, from alienation from God.

But Paul goes on. We’ve been saved from rebellion against Him.
Remember how he puts it in verse two: You formerly walked according to the
course of this world. You were in rebellion against God. When the opportunity
to follow God or follow the world came, we took the world.

But we’re not only in rebellion against God, but we’re enslaved to the world.
We thought we were free when we chose the world not God, we thought we were
exercising free will, when we liberated ourselves from the rules of Christianity
and we chose to live however we jolly well please, but in fact, we were
deluded, because far from free, we were enslaved. We were enslaved to the
influence of the world. Whatever the world said, we did. It’s so interesting,
all around us are people who think they are nonconformists, and they are the
most conformist people that ever walked. They have to have their clothing
styles just like the world tells them to dress, and by the way, there’s every
category of these, from all of those dressed in Coco Chanel all the way down to
pre-ripped, torn, and splintered jeans. It doesn’t matter, fill in the blanks.
They may think they’re all as totally different from one another as can be, the
one in the pre-ripped, faded and torn jeans may think that he or she is really
rebelling against the Coco Chanels of the world, but they’re doing the same
thing as those who are bound up with the fashions of Madison Avenue. They
totally conformed by the world; they think they’re free, but they’re totally
conformed.

And they there are those who are utterly, utterly consumed with their
own desires. Their own desires are taking them down the tube, but they can’t
let go. Their desires are destroying them from the inside out. They think
they’re free, they’re doing what they want to do, and it’s killing them, and
they cannot let it go.

And there is the influence of the evil one who prowls about like the
roaring lion seeking to devour whom he will. And so, we are saved, Paul says,
out of that slavery to the world, and to the flesh, and to Satan, and we’re
saved from the just condemning judgment of God, God’s rightful judgment on us.
These creatures that He has made for His glory, and designed for them
everlasting good, have rebelled against Him, have sought life apart from Him,
have said, “Thank you Sir, we don’t need You. We’ll do it our way. There’s
life apart from you. We can be our own gods.” Those creatures deserve to
judged by God, as they destroy one another, as they harm one another, and as
they dishonor God. They deserve to be condemned, every last one of us; not just
some, but all.

And the Apostle Paul says, my friends, remember, you have been saved.
That’s not just the language of fundamentalists from the late nineteenth
century; that’s the language of Paul, that’s the language of the Bible, and
that’s the language of God. That’s how God describes those who are believers.
They’ve been saved from death, from rebellion, from slavery, and from God’s just
judgment.

And in the final analysis, we’ve been saved from God, from falling
into the hands of God, from falling into the hands of an awesome and just God
when we do not have a defense. When there is no defense attorney in the world
who would take our case into that courtroom. So ultimately we’ve not simply
been saved from our sin, saved out of rebellion and slavery, we’ve been saved
from falling into the hands of God without a defense. We’ve been saved from God
and from His just judgment. The Apostle Paul knows that if you don’t understand
that and if you don’t believe that, nothing else he says is going to make
sense. So, let’s just stop there for a second.

Christian salvation does not make sense unless you understand that
reality. And of course, that reality itself explains to us why there can be so
many nice, intelligent and wonderful people on this planet that are utterly deaf
to the message of the gospel. We may marvel at their wisdom, we may marvel at
their skill, we may enjoy their friendship, we may be amazed at how they receive
blessing upon blessing in this life. We may grieve with them in their trials,
and yet they are deaf to this message. Why? Because they’re living in
alienation to God and they think that life is found in God and the message that
life is found in God is something that’s absolutely to get through to them.
They may be so filled up with the good things of this life that they think
they’ve found life apart from God. They may be disappointed that they’ve not
found the life, and they may refer to their life as their “so called life.”
They may be frustrated with their lack of fulfillment in this life, but
absolutely certain that real life is not found in God. But whichever category
they’re in, they don’t even realize their alienation from God. They don’t
realize their slavery. Like the people in the Matrix, they think that’s
the real world. They don’t realize their slavery, so it doesn’t surprise us at
all that they don’t heed the message of salvation because if you don’t
understand this, you don’t understand the rest of the message of the good news
that God gives through Paul and through all the apostles in the New Testament
and brings into reality through Jesus Christ. So Paul wants us to understand
what we’ve been saved from. We’ve been saved from sin, from death, from
rebellion, from slavery, from God’s just condemnation and ultimately from God
Himself.

“It is a terrible thing,” the author of Hebrews says, “to fall into the
hands of the living God.” That’s where Jonathan Edwards got the idea of that
part of his message Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. That’s again
not something that’s been conjured up from the mind of a psychologically
tormented preacher who’s read too much Dante. That’s coming right out of the
Bible–and by the way, my friends, not out of the Old Testament; right out of the
New Testament and right out of Jesus’ teachings. The Apostle Paul is saying here
‘My friends, we need to understand what God has saved us from, if we’re ever to
fully appreciate His grace.’

But we’ve not only been saved from God, we’ve been saved by God.
Notice how he puts it in verses 8, 9 and 10: Paul is focusing us now on the
questions, “If you’ve now been saved from sin and death, rebellion, slavery,
God’s just judgment, ultimately from falling in the hands of God without a
defense, how is it that you have been saved?” Paul wants us to concentrate on
that question, how have we been saved, by whom have we been saved? Paul knows
it’s vital for us to understand that it’s God Himself who has saved us, so look
at what he says in verses 8, 9 and 10: “For by grace have you been saved by
faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of
works so that no one can boast, for we are His workmanship.”

First of all, notice he says “You were dead in your trespasses
and sins.”
In other words, you are spiritually alienated from God. If God
is the author of life, if God is life and light and all the life that we enjoy
is something that comes from God–and you remember Jesus said, “I came that you
might have life and have it more abundantly.” He’s the one that gives life. If
God is the author of life, if Jesus is the One who gives life, then those who
are not living in relationship with Jesus, in saving relationship with Jesus,
have no life even though they’re breathing…even though they’re walking, even
though they’re talking, even though they’re choosing, and even though some of
them are prospering and enjoying what they think of as life. And the Apostle
Paul is saying here when he says that we were dead in trespasses and sins and
that we have been saved out of this, he’s saying that we have been saved from
going through this world without ever really having lived. We’ve been saved
from a so-called life that is without God. We’ve been saved from an eternal
alienation from God who is life. That’s one thing that we have been saved from.

He doesn’t stop there; he goes on to say that we
have been saved from rebellion against Him.
We have been rescued out of the
ranks of the insurgency against God. You know, many of you will not remember
this now, but as a teenager I can remember the shock of seeing the camera
pictures of this well-heeled socialite, Patty Hurst, who had been brought up in
one of the most prominent families in America, serving (apparently with her own
consent) in the Army of the Symbionese Liberationists. Do you remember that day
when she was shown as a part of this Symbionese Liberation Army, perpetrating
crimes against the citizens of her state? And we were shocked by this! We were
absolutely agog that this well-heeled, well-educated young woman could be a part
of this insurgency. I don’t want to get into all the in’s and out’s of how it
came to be that she was there, and whether she was in full agreement with it or
not, but it shocked us all to think of that.

My friends, the Apostle Paul is saying that’s
actually the case for all of us in this world, apart from Christ. You are part
of an insurgency against God. We’ve been holding our breath that the insurgency
would not raise its ugly head and snuff out the opportunity for democracy in the
country of Iraq during this great election that was held yesterday. And the
Apostle Paul is saying ‘My friends, that’s the condition you’re actually in.
You are insurgents against God, apart from Christ. You are in rebellion against
Him.’

And Paul doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say
that we were also enslaved.
It’s not only that we were spiritually
alienated from God, not really enjoying life as it was intended to be lived and
enjoyed, and not only were we rescued out of rebellion against God, but we’ve
been saved out of slavery to our own desires and to the world’s influences and
to Satan’s lies and temptations. Notice what he says:

“…in which you formerly 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 we too all formerly lived
in the lusts of our flesh….” (Eph. 2:2-3).

In that passage, the Apostle Paul makes it clear that apart
from Christ we are enslaved to our sinful desires. We may think we are free; we
may think that we are throwing off the shackles of those fundamentalist
Christians, and we’re throwing off the shackles of this oppressive,
authoritarian, Christian religion, and we’re doing just what we want to do. But
the person who is in that position is actually enslaved to his own desire. He’s
not free. He may think he’s free, but he’s actually enslaved to his desires,
and he’s enslaved to the influences of this world.

You know, it’s so interesting. You look around, and
we live in a world of people who think of themselves as non-conformists. They
think that they are not conforming to the standards of this world. They’re real
individuals. And so they go out and they buy their pre-ripped, pre-faded jeans,
so that they can stand against the army and rage against the machine and be like
tens of millions of other non-conformists out there. And then there are the
non-conformists that are going to wear their Coco Chanels, like the hundreds of
thousands are wearing the Coco Chanels. And the ones who are wearing the
ripped and pre-faded jeans think they’re non-conforming with the ones that are
wearing Coco Chanel, but they’re all conformists! They’re being conformed. The
world is setting the pace for them. What they long to be is what the world wants
them to be. And the Apostle Paul says that’s slavery, that’s not freedom. They
might think they’re free, but they’re bound by what the world thinks. They’re
going to do exactly what the world thinks, because the world is their great
influence.

And ultimately, they’re under the control of Satan’s
lies and temptations — “…the prince of the power of the air…who is at work
in the sons of disobedience…” the Apostle Paul says.

And so what have we been saved from? We’ve been
saved out of that slavery which presents itself as freedom into real freedom, so
that we are no longer bound to our sins and to the world’s influences and
Satan’s lies and temptations.

And not only that, Paul says we’ve been saved
from the judgment of God.
We were by nature children of wrath; that is, we
deserved the just judgment, anger, and wrath of God. If God had poured out the
full force of the penalty of the law on us due for our sins, He would have been
completely justified in doing so. We were justly under His condemning judgment.
We would have gone into His courtroom without a defense. And so, we’ve been
saved from the just judgment of God, and because that just judgment is the
ultimate infliction of the penalty of spiritual alienation from God, in the last
analysis we can say we’ve been saved from God. We’ve been saved from falling
into the hands of a justly offended, righteous, sovereign, awesome God. Without
a defense against His just judgment and righteous anger, we’ve been saved from
God.

So Paul wants us to understand that. He knows that
if we don’t understand that, the rest of the gospel doesn’t make sense. If we
don’t understand the situation in which we were, the dire circumstances in which
we were apart from the grace of God, we will never understand grace. And so he
begins by saying ‘Friends, in the final analysis, you have been saved not only
from your sins and spiritual death, rebellion against God, slavery to this world
and to the flesh and to the devil — just condemnation — but in the final
analysis, you’ve been saved from God.’

“It is a terrible thing,” the author of Hebrews
says, “to fall into the hands of the living God.” That’s where Jonathan Edwards
got the idea of that part of his message Sinners in the Hands of an Angry
God.
That’s again not something that’s been conjured up from the mind of a
psychologically tormented preacher who’s read too much Dante. That’s coming
right out of the Bible–and by the way, my friends, not out of the Old Testament;
right out of the New Testament and right out of Jesus’ teachings. The Apostle
Paul is saying here ‘My friends, we need to understand what God has saved us
from, if we’re ever to fully appreciate His grace.’

II. Paul wants us to understand
that God Himself has saved us.

But Paul’s not done. He wants to tell us a
second thing, and we see it in verses 8, 9, and 10. He wants us to see how we
have been saved; not only what we have been saved from, but how we have been
saved…by what we have been saved…or, more specifically, by Whom we have been
saved. He wants us to understand that it is God who has saved us. Notice what
he says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may
boast. For we are His workmanship….”

Notice how the Apostle Paul manages in five
distinct ways in two and a half tiny little verses to tell you that your
salvation is not due to you.
Notice how he does it. Let’s look at it
together.

First of all, notices that he emphasizes… You
want to understand your salvation? Don’t look in; look up to God.
Look at
what he says: “For by grace you have been saved.” In other words, Paul
says you have been saved…you want to look for the source of your
salvation…you have been saved by the grace of God. Look at that: the
unmerited favor of God shown to you. You want to understand how it is that you
were saved? Don’t look at yourself; look at God’s free grace that He gave. He
showed you favor that you didn’t deserve. In fact, He not only showed you favor
that you didn’t deserve, He showed you favor that you had positively
disqualified yourself from by your rebellion against Him, by your alienation, by
your insurgency, by your walking according to the world, and the flesh, and the
devil. And yet He lavished His favor on you.

Secondly, notice what he goes on to say: Your
salvation has been received by faith
— “For by grace you have been saved
through faith
….” So, your salvation is not something that you have
attained by doing, it is something that you have received by believing. Paul is
emphasizing your passive reception of something from God. It’s not something
that you went out and pulled yourself up by the bootstraps and got. It’s not
something that you accomplished by your own might and main, by staying up late
at night and working hard and keeping your nose to the grindstone. It is
something that you simply received from God. Your salvation was received by
faith rather than gained by doing something. In other words, you were saved
through the instrument of trust. You just trusted God. You had to throw your
hands up and say ‘Lord God, there is nothing that I can do. Nothing in my hands
I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling.’ And so, you’re saved not by your doing,
not by your worthiness, but by God’s grace received by trust.

Thirdly, Paul goes on to say that salvation is
God’s gift.
Look at what he says: “For by grace you have been saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God….” His
emphasis is this: the whole of your salvation is God’s gift to you. It’s not
your gift to yourself. It’s not a little happy that you bought while you were
out getting the kids Christmas presents. It’s not a little happy that you got
for yourself while you were out doing that. It is a gift that God has given to
you; you haven’t given this gift to yourself. It’s God’s gift. So he says ‘You
want to know how your salvation was accomplished? Look at God’s grace, received
by trust, a free gift and grant of God to you.

And then he goes on to say — notice, fourthly —
it is “…not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Now
negatively he’s going to say ‘And by the way, just in case you’re missing my
point, your salvation is not due in any way to your works, to your doings. Your
salvation is not the result of your works in any way.’ In other words, if you
want to look at how you were saved, don’t look at yourself; don’t look at your
works.

And then he says, finally (you see this in verse
10), “For we are His workmanship….”
Isn’t that an extraordinary
statement? The point is this: Your salvation is not the product of your
workmanship; your salvation is the product of His workmanship. You were saved
because of His work, not because of your work. And your whole salvation in life
is the product of God’s workmanship.

So, five times in two and a half little verses Paul
can stress you were saved by God’s unmerited favor. You received that favor
through trust. You didn’t do anything to earn it or deserve it, you just
reached out your hand and you trusted God to give you something that you didn’t
deserve. It was God’s gift, not your gift. It was not done by yourself or by
your works, and your life, your work as a saved sinner, is the result of God’s
workmanship, not your own.

You see what Paul’s point is: that you have been
saved from God, by God. It is God’s grace that has saved you,
and, my friends, that is absolutely essential for the Christian life.

First of all, if we don’t trust in God, if we don’t
place our faith in Christ as He is offered in the gospel, our faith is
misplaced. If we place it partially in God and partially in ourselves, our
faith is misplaced. That is an eternally devastating mistake to make.

But secondly, for believers to mix our works and His
grace is to utterly undercut our assurance of salvation, because when are we
ever going to be fully confident of anything that we have done. If we have
contributed just a little bit to that salvation, can that salvation ever be
sure?

And furthermore, how will we rightly praise God if
ultimately what we are saying when we get down on our knees to pray about our
salvation is ‘Lord, I thank me that I have saved myself.’ Have you ever heard a
Christian pray like that? Do you ever find a prayer like that in the Bible?
No! Paul always thanks God for salvation, not people.

Our hymns sing about this, don’t they? Turn back
with me to that hymn that you just sang, No. 461, and see how Horatius Bonar,
the great Scottish Presbyterian minister, puts it:

“Not what my hands have done

Can save my guilty soul;

Not what my toiling flesh has borne

Can make my spirit whole.

Not what I feel or do

Can give me peace with God,

Nor all my prayers and sighs and tears

Can bear my awful load.”

There’s Paul’s part of “…not by works, lest anyone can
boast.” Now here’s the other side:

“Thy work alone, O Christ,

Can ease this weight of sin.

Thy blood alone, O God,

Can give me peace within.

Thy love to me, O God,

Not mine, O Lord, to Thee,

Can rid me of this dark unrest

And set my spirit free.”

“Thy grace alone, O God,

To me can pardon speak.

Thy power alone, O Son of God,

Can this sore bondage break.

No other work save Thine,

No other blood will do;

No strength save that which is divine

Can bear me safely through.”

And so he attributes the whole of salvation to God.

Now you say ‘Oh, yeah, but that’s a Calvinistic
Scottish Presbyterian.’ OK. Turn back just a few pages to No. 455. Let’s go to
a good Methodist, OK? A good Methodist who was deeply suspicious of Calvinists,
one of my favorite hymn writers…we sing him all the time, because though he
was a Methodist and an Arminian in his theology, when he started singing and
praying, he was a Calvinist! It’s Charles Wesley, one of our favorite…in fact,
we’ve probably got more Charles Wesley hymns in our hymnbook than any other
single author. It’s And Can It Be? It’s one of our favorite hymns, and
look at what he says in the fourth stanza of this hymn:

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night.”

[What’s he talking about? Being dead in trespasses and
sins. And what does he say? ‘And then I freed myself…’ Nope! That’s not
what he says. What does he say? “Thine eye…” Who’s he talking to? God.]

“Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light.

My chains fell off, my heart was free!

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”

What happened? God sovereignly changed his heart.
God sovereignly broke in and woke him from the death and sleep of sin, and
brought him into His marvelous light. And what’s he doing? He’s praising God
for His grace…that’s good, Pauline, biblical theology. And the Apostle Paul
is saying ‘Christian, you need to understand that you’re saved by God, because
if you don’t understand that God and God alone saves, you’ll never ever be
assured of your salvation, because if there is any of you mixed in it, there
will be plenty of room to doubt.’

Go back and look at Bonar’s words sometime and look
at how he says “His cross dispels each doubt that I bury in His tomb.” Now, you
see, if your salvation is partly you and partly God, that doubt can never ever
be dispelled. But if His cross is the only and completely sufficient basis of my
salvation, then every doubt of mine can be dispelled by the grace of God.

And, unbeliever, if you don’t understand that God
saves, then you will not be saved.
If you think that you’re in a position
where you can help yourself, then you do not understand the gravity of the
condition that you are in. The only hope you can have is to renounce yourself
and to cry out to God and say, “Lord, have mercy on me!” Cast your burden on
Him. Trust in Him and receive from Him something that you can’t give to
yourself, something that you can’t do for yourself.

III. Paul wants us to understand
to or for what God has saved us.

But Paul just doesn’t want us to know what we’ve
been saved from and how we’ve been saved, he wants us to know to or for what we
have been saved, and that’s what he talks about in verse 10. Look at how he
puts it:

“We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we would walk in them.”

In other words, Paul wants to us to understand to
(or for) what God has saved us — to what end He has saved us, for what purpose
He has saved us.

Now, he’s said previously that we’ve been saved so
that we can be “the display of God’s grace.” We’ve been saved so that God can
say ‘Look at that multitude of men and women and boys and girls from every tribe
an tongue and people and nation, all who deserve to be condemned, and I showed
them grace. Anybody here believe that I’m not a gracious God?’ So we’re going
to be the display of His grace, but we are also going to be those who show our
love to Him in responding to His grace by joyfully embracing His will as taught
in His word. And so we are going to be saved not by our good works, but
to good works.

We are not saved because we’ve done good works; we
are saved because God would have us do good works; and so, the good works are
the result and not the cause of our salvation. It is not that God will save us
if we do enough good works, or that God will save us if we do enough good works
to balance out against our bad works, or that God will save us if we are sincere
enough in wanting to do good works, or that in addition to God’s grace some of
our good works compound together so that we are saved. No. It’s that we are
saved wholly and only by the grace of God through the work of Christ, so that we
would be obedient, joyfully obedient, Christians delighting in the Law of God,
loving to do good works: to love God, to love neighbor, to care for one another,
to look after one another, to show the love of Christ in every facet of life, to
show real gospel humility, to show an intrepid love of sinners. We’re saved
for
that, not by that!

If we’re saved by that, we’re all in trouble! We’ll
be meeting for a very big convention in a place that we don’t want to meet
forever, if we’re saved by that. If we’re saved by our love, if we’re saved by
our goodness, if we’re saved by our obedience, we are undone. But when we
realize that our salvation has freed us now from slavery to sin so that we might
finally do what is pleasing to the heavenly Father, it’s the most freeing thing
in the world, and we can say with the Psalmist, “How I love Thy law, O Lord,”
because the Apostle Paul is teaching us here that we’re not only saved from
God by God, but that we are saved for God. He saves us so that we
might commune with Him and walk with Him.

And isn’t that interesting? Look at verse 2, and
then look down at verse 10. This passage began by our doing what? Walking
according to the influences of this world, according to Satan, and indulging the
desires of the flesh. Now look how it ends. It ends with our doing good works
and walking in them. Now, that’s a description of a manner of life. Our old
manner of life apart from Christ was — what? Walking in the way of
unrighteousness and disobedience. Our new manner of life is a manner of life,
because of the grace of God, walking in obedience, doing good works, loving God
and loving neighbor, because of the grace of God. Let’s pray.

Lord God, thank You for Your word. Renew us and
transform us by it, and draw those who know You not savingly to Yourself through
this word. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Congregational hymn: Lord, with Glowing Heart
I’d Praise Thee
]