What is Salvation?, Pt. 4

Scripture: Ephesians 2:8-10, James 2:14-17, Matthew 7:16
This is the fourth in a series on salvation. We can have the assurance of being saved, but we've learned the Bible teaches we have the freedom to change our minds. While no person can take us away from God, the Lord does not force us to stay with him. It is a free gift, not a forced transaction.
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry, as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's word.

John Bradshaw: Hi friends and welcome again to Bible Talk. I'm John Bradshaw. With me is Gary Gibbs. Gary welcome. Glad to have you with us here today.

Gary Gibbs: Thank you John I'm looking forward to our discussion today because I think it's a really practical one.

John: A good subject we're studying more about salvation. Lately we've been talking about how one's salvation is entirely in Jesus Christ. But even when a person comes to Jesus and has the assurance of being saved, it remains possible that should that person change their mind, they can turn their back on that salvation.

Gary: I think you've made that really clear. Even in the context of the text of the Bible, text that are usually used to teach what is called once saved always saved like John 10:28-29. That Jesus says, "Those who come to Him will not be plucked out of the Father's hands."

John: Sure. No one can separate us from the love of Christ but I think we need to understand that at anytime a person can of themselves choose to no longer follow God. It wouldn't be a wise choice but even the Bible is replete with examples of people who have made that choice.

Gary: Now John one of the concerns when we talk about something like this is we can't diminish the relevancy and the role of Jesus Christ. Salvation has to always be all of Christ and it always has to be a free gift.

John: And we need to remember that. I would hope that no one takes the impression from anything that we are saying that we would think otherwise. Salvation is free and it is full and it is available only through Jesus and what He does.

Gary: Now let me give you a test, John, that I would give you if I believed in once saved, always saved. I tell you that this teaches us that my works do not impact my salvation whatsoever. It's in Ephesians 2:8.

John: Your works don't impact your salvation at all.

Gary: No because salvation, I would say, is in what Christ does and not in what I do.

John: Now are you talking about getting salvation in the first place or hanging onto salvation after you've come to Jesus?

Gary: Both because both are a gift from God. OK?

John: OK.

Gary: Now I'm telling you what a lot of my friends who believe in once saved, always saved would say to this.

John: OK.

Gary: All right so let's look in Ephesians 2:8. There we read, "For by grace are you saved through faith." Now you know what grace is?

John: Sure the great goodness of God. Some have called it unmerited favor, power of the holy living. It's a broad term that covers a lot.

Gary: Something that He gives that we don't earn. That's what you meant by unmerited favor.

John: Unmerited only a gift all from God.

Gary: So, "For by for grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God."

John: No doubt about it. Salvation is a free gift. Now what's the point here? What point can someone possibly make from that verse?

Gary: The point is this, the point is this. Is my salvation then a gift initially when I accept Christ but now I have to maintain it by my works? Well as soon as you do that, then salvation becomes of works people say. Now it's salvation by works. Salvation was a gift when I first accepted, but now it's salvation by works in order to maintain salvation. Is that what we're saying?

John: That's a very good question. To answer the question very distinctly, no that's not what we're saying. We come to Jesus... Listen we understand that everything involving this thing is a gift. Grace is a gift. Faith is a gift. It's all a gift from God. Any good thing that we can do is only because of the power of God working through us. But we come to Christ and Christ saves us freely by grace through faith and then staying with him and staying in Christ is maintained in exactly the same way. God's grace and we exercise faith in Jesus Christ.

Gary: But just because I do, and I agree with all that. But just because I do bad works after I've come to Christ, why am I now lost? Because it's not of works, it's of Christ. Just because I stray a little here and there, why am I lost? Or maybe I stray far. But why am I lost now? Because it's not of works because it's what Christ did when I gave my heart to him.

John: I would say that when a person...

Gary: John that's what this text says. Ephesians 2:8.

John: Well listen then. Let me answer you this way by going just a little further. Have you ever noticed, Gary, that when a person is trying to make a point from the Bible and when the point gets contentious, often you will discover that people, some people are very adept at this, they'll take one verse and then ignore what the rest of the Bible says. Take it right out of context. Maybe even ignore the very verse that follows. I would say that's just what you, in behalf of your friends, doing right now. That's ignoring the very rest of the passage that your Ephesians 2:8 was taken from.

Gary: Well I do ask the question yes I have met people who have done that. In fact I was studying, I'd met a lady and we were looking at studying together. I forget what we were even talking about, but whatever it was I was showing her a text in the Old Testament. She said, "That doesn't count."

I said, "What do you mean, that doesn't count?"

She says, "That's Old Testament. That's old covenant, Old Testament, doesn't apply to us today."

John: So all that whole Old Testament thing is gone?

Gary: At least half the Bible.

John: Wow!

Gary: Just rip it out of the Bible.

John: Sure.

Gary: So I said, "Well New Testament says the same thing. Let's go over here to the writings of Paul." Got in the writings of Paul, read it. She said, "That doesn't count."

John: Now why didn't that count?

Gary: Because it was the writings of Paul. It wasn't the writings of Jesus.

John: Paul wrote the bulk of the New Testament.

Gary: So there went all that part of the Bible. So I said, "What counts? What's inspired? What's important?" She said, "The words of Jesus."

I said, "Just the red letters?"


You have a very small Bible there. You know the Bible says that the word of God is like a two-edged sword.

John: Yeah.

Gary: She didn't have a sword, she had a little pen knife.

John: A very small one. She had the smallest Bible on the planet. Funny though that you would say that because someone calculated that 10% of everything Jesus spoke he was just quoting from the Old Testament. So how can you do away with the Old Testament when Jesus made his practice of quoting it, practically every time He opened his mouth?

Gary: Well, you were asking the question about the Bible. You're telling me I'm reading too little of the Bible here in Ephesians 2:8? That's a powerful text, John. That one text I think says it all.

John: Well, that one text is also connected to another text, the one right after it. Hey, let me tell you what I think about it. A friend of mine was working in a hospital in Washington, D.C. And he was making a visit to one of the hospital beds, and he noticed the man in the bed was reading his Bible. And then he noticed that in that Bible there was black marker pen marking out certain sections of the Bible.

Gary: [laughs] You mean he was crossing out text in the Bible?

John: Crossing out the Word of God.

Gary: He was wiping them out?

John: Yeah, he was doing more than that. He would even take scissors and cut out sections and cut out whole pages!

Gary: Now, you said he was in the psychiatric ward of the hospital?

John: No! He was in the general ward. Maybe his pastor might have wanted to consult with the professionals in that ward. Because when my friend said to this man, "What are you doing? Explain this Bible to me. It's a holey Bible if you'll allow me to put that way."

Gary: [laughs] He created all sorts of holes in the pages.

John: All kinds of holes! This guy said, "Well, my pastor practically every week will tell us that a certain part of the Bible doesn't apply anymore. And I was having a hard time keeping track of what applied and what didn't so I just decided to mark it out or tear it out or cut it out." He had the most anorexic Bible on the face of the planet.

Gary: Now, this has to be an apocryphal story. It can't be real.

John: That is absolutely the truth. Now, your friends are doing that with Ephesians 2:8, "by grace are you saved through faith that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God". Verse 9, "Not of works, lest any man should boast." That agrees with you, right?

Gary: That does.

John: But what about Verse 10? "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Turn over to James two if you've got a James in your Bible.

Gary: So, as we're turning there, what you're saying is salvation is a gift and we don't earn it by our works...

John: True.

Gary: ...but once God comes into heart, once we're born again, then He creates us to good work. He puts it within our heart to do what is right.

John: If that's not true, then what you are saying is that the God of the universe can enter a person's heart and make no impact in his or her life.

Gary: Well, I know He does make an impact.

John: He's got to.

Gary: When I accepted him, he changed my life. Man, I was out there in the world doing things that were illegal and wrong. But when he changed my heart, I didn't want to do those things anymore.

John: The Bible says if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creature. And I think St. James was making the point over here. Follow along with me, Gary. James 2. Oh, I'll ask a question. Saved by grace through what?

Gary: Through faith.

John: OK. Now, is that real faith or phony faith?

Gary: Oh, it's real. I didn't know there was a difference.

John: James will tell us that there's a difference. He says in James 2:14, "What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, and does not have works? can faith save him?" It goes on to make the scenario someone comes who's hungry and needs food. If you say, "Go in peace", but you don't help that person, what good is it? Now he says in Verse 17, "Even so faith, if it does not have works, is..." What's that word?

Gary: Dead.

John: It's "dead, being alone." Now, that means that if you were saved by grace through faith but you are not manifesting Christian works in your life, you've got dead faith. Dead faith cannot save anybody. True faith is going to be revealed by a changed life. Your heart is changed. Your life will be changed.

Gary: So you're saying that true faith is revealed that way, and you're saying it's evidence of salvation. So the truly saved person will have the evidence in his life or her life of good works.

John: That's right.

Gary: But let me ask you a question. How much evidence do you need to be saved? I mean, that's what we're really talking about here. If I am saved, isn't it what Christ did and not what I do? This is what people are going to say. So how much evidence does the person need to say they're saved? And who are we trying to convince anyway with all this evidence?

John: Well, listen, everyone is getting evidence that they're serving someone. Jesus said no one can serve two masters. So your life is revealing that you're either serving Jesus or you're serving the enemy of souls. In Galatians five it talks about the fruit of the spirit, and it talks about the works of the flesh. Followers of Christ will be manifesting the fruits of the spirit not in order to get saved but because they have been saved.

Gary: Now, I like what Jesus said in Matthew 7, John, where he says, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." Matthew 7:16, "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit." So if we are really connected with Christ, then the good works naturally flow out of it.

John: What's going on in your life reveals who you are the servant of. Friend, if you're a servant of Jesus Christ, it's a privilege. Jesus will dwell in your heart by faith. And it will be revealed in your life that you are His servant because your heart has been touched. Your heart has been changed. [music]

Gary, great subject today. Thank you for your time.

Gary: I am so thankful that, even though we're sinners, we can have the assurance of salvation. And we know that God who began the good work will complete it in us.

John: Friend, thanks for joining us today. See you next time on Bible Talk. [music]

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