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    Mar 09, 2016

    Class 4: Salvation by Grace, Not Works

    Series: Explaining Christianity

    Category: Core Seminars, Faith, Grace, Repentance, The Gospel, The Law



    • Purpose of class…
    • I want to begin by asking a question, and I’d like you to write the answer down. Do you know for certain that you would go to heaven if you were to die this very instant?  I understand that some of us think of ourselves as Christians and would answer “Yes” to this question.  However, others of us may answer “No”, or “I’m not sure.”  Be thinking of this question as we go through today’s study.



    • What are we using as our original source and why? Gospel of Mark.  Why Mark? First Gospel written.  Short and concise.  Gospel of action.
    • What does Gospel mean? Good news, particularly the “good news about Jesus Christ the Son of God” – Mark 1:1. To review, Christianity, as the name implies, has Jesus Christ at its core.  Therefore, any thoughtful and thorough study of Christianity must begin with the person of Jesus Christ.
    • Who can summarize what we learned about Jesus’ authority?  Jesus was the Son of God, the divine King of the world, who has unique authority:
      • As teacher (taught as one with authority, not as teachers of the Law (1:22))
      • Over evil spirits (evil spirits recognize Christ as Holy one of God capable of driving them out – as occurred in the synagogue in Capernaum (1:26))
      • To forgive sin (2:1-12)
      • Over sickness (heals paralytic by His word!(2:11))
      • Over nature (calms storm in Sea of Galilee, again by His word. (4:35-41))
      • Over death (raises daughter of Jairus (5:21-43))
      • Over people (calls Simon and Andrew (1:16-20))
    • Q: How would you define sin? An attitude of rebellion against God in thought, word or deed.  It involves a failure to conform to and a breaking of the moral law of God. We don’t do the things we should do and we do the things we ought not to do.
    • Q: Could someone explain the significance of the crucifixion – substitution and reconciliation? Remember, on the cross God, who is perfectly loving and perfectly just, was punishing sin.  His death also served to reconcile us to God by being our ransom.  By dying on the cross he paid the penalty for the sins of believers in every age in order to set them free from God’s just judgment.
    • Q: What is the significance of the resurrection? Jesus was raised from the dead declaring victory over sin once and for all. The resurrection showed that death had been defeated and that just as Jesus was raised from death to life, so too will all those who believe in him. Believers in Jesus will be spiritually raised out of darkness into light here in this life, as well as having a guaranteed resurrection into heaven in the life to come. We also learned from the passage in Acts that Jesus is our living Lord and Judge.  Someday, we will all be resurrected and judged by Christ in heaven.  At that time, those who know him now will enjoy eternal fellowship with him; while those who reject him now will be condemned for their sin and suffer eternal separation from him.
    • What we want to do in our last three weeks is begin a three-part study of how we may know God now; how we may be certain that we have eternal life in heaven with God, our creator.


    How We Can Be Saved from Sin

    • Suppose you were to die tonight and give account of your life before God.  On what basis would He “save” you from His righteous and just judgment that we thought about last week, and allow you to enter into heaven, His eternal kingdom?  What is your case before God?
    • Q: What would you say are some common responses to this question?
    • One response is that we are saved by the merit of our own good works. This is commonly referred to as salvation by works.
      • The thought is that in some way God will honor my good works and deeds, or at the very least, he’ll recognize and give me credit for all the bad things that I could have done, but didn’t do. For example, you might rationalize: I don’t lie (well at least not about the most important matters), you might say: I don’t steal (well, I did claim more than I should of on my last travel voucher at work). You might say:  I don’t sleep with my girlfriend or boyfriend (although we do pretty much everything else). Basically the idea here is, “I’m not as bad as the next guy.”
      • If we are honest, many of us would define sin as doing one more thing beyond what we’re willing to do.
      • But in addition to all the bad things I’ve avoided, there are all the good things I do. I give to charities, read my Bible, go to church, was baptized, and so forth.
    • The second response would be pleading the merit of another, rather than pleading my own merit - pleading the merit of the perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ.  It’s been said that every religion except Christianity is a religion of “do.”  Islam says “do” the five pillars and you’ll be OK.  Humanism says “do” a lot of good stuff and you can feel good about yourself.  Roman Catholicism says “do” a bunch of stuff so that God’s grace can complete your works and you can be saved from your sin.  Buddhism says “do:” follow the noble eight-fold path to enlightenment and you can escape the pain of this world.  Whether a religion believes in a God or not, it’s prescription for the mess humanity is in is essentially something we can “do” about it.  But Christianity is the religion of “done.”  It’s not about doing things so that God will save us; it’s about trusting what Jesus Christ has already done as the reason God can forgive us.  And what did Christ do?  Well think of our past three studies.
      • (1) Jesus descended to earth as God’s divine Son who lived a perfect life in our place,
      • (2) Jesus died on the cross in our place as our substitute, bearing God’s wrath to bring reconciliation between a Holy God and sinful men, and
      • (3) He rose from the dead as our living Lord and Savior, glorifying himself and giving us hope in the present and future.

    In that sense, Christianity is more pessimistic than the other religions (or more realistic, I’d say as a Christian)—because it sees the problem as deeper than we can solve.  But it also tells us that God has already “done” everything in Jesus that is needed for us to be saved!


    Am I Saved by What I’ve Done?

      • So we’ve said, one way we might seek salvation is to plead our case before God based on our own merit or good deeds, what we’ve done, or not done.  We’re going to spend a good bit of time talking through this idea today. 
      • However, if you believe that, the Bible says you’re wrong.  There’s nothing we can do to make ourselves right before God.  Not one good work or all of my good works combined over a lifetime can atone for my sin or qualify me for heaven.  Let’s look at scripture to see what God says.  We’re going to read through several passages, and then I will ask you what the Bible says about God’s standard.
        • READ Matt 5:43-48.  Repeat verse 48.
        • READ Rom 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Remember our book, our record of sins, however large or small, separates us eternally from our holy/just God.
        • READ Gal 3:10: Apostle Paul says the same thing: “all who rely on works of the law are under a curse.”
          • Deut 27:26: And why did Paul think that? Well he was quoting from Moses, who said, in reference to the God’s law: “Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.”
        • READ James 2:10:  Jesus’ brother James wrote:  “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”
      • Q: After reading these passages, what would you say is God’s standard?  100% perfection
      • Now let me be clear, I’m not saying that some people aren’t morally better than others relatively speaking.
      • Q: Who is someone that people generally hold up as a morally great person?
        • So Evangelist Billy Graham is considered to be one of the most trusted men in America, even by those who have no religious beliefs. On the other hand, history is filled with brutal leaders who are universally reviled as evil men. We would all agree that Billy Graham is morally superior to Hitler or Stalin.
        • But while nearly everyone would agree that Hitler has earned a spot in hell, the Bible says that Billy Graham has earned a spot in hell, too. And so has all of humanity because of their sin against God. The standard we will be judged against is not the lowest common denominator of human goodness, but rather the perfect standard of God’s holiness and righteousness expressed in his law.
        • Swim Analogy: To help underscore this point think about a swim race from San Francisco to Hawaii. Competing in the race are you and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. Phelps would probably get closer to Hawaii then you would, but that fact is, you would both drown. The same is true of God’s law. Certain people will keep more of the law than others, but all have broken it and deserve God’s punishment.
      • READ Mark 7:20-23.  Jesus said: “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.  For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
        • Understanding this failure to meet God’s standard becomes clear when we recognize that sin is not just a matter of doing, or saying, or even thinking wrong things.  No, it’s much more fundamental than that.  Sin is in our hearts.  All the evil things we do come from within us.  It’s not that we’re sinners because we sin. It’s that we sin because we are sinners.
          • Bandaid Analogy: Think of it this way, if you went to the doctor to be treated for measles, and he tried to cure it by placing band-aids over the spots, you would call the attempt ridiculous.  He’s just treating the symptoms, and not even very well.  Trying to heal the spots is a pointless and useless endeavor.  Why? Because the real illness is inside.  Sin is the same way.  When we say or think wrong things, these are only symptoms of the sin within us
        • The central problem is that we each want to run our lives our own way.  We want to live apart from God and ultimately trust in ourselves.  We want to follow our heart, follow our instincts, assuming, as we’re so often told, that they will lead us in the right direction.  But the Bible is clear that there is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God, all have turned away.  This is the essence of sin – to live our way as opposed to the way God has commanded us to live.
        • And this is something that we all know about ourselves. We know that we’re guilty.


    • If the Bible is right about human nature, that we have all sinned against God, then you can see why pleading our own good works will not get us very far when we make our case before God. The judge demands perfection and we are far from it.
    • So, in summary, there’s a few problems with the “I’m good enough” way to be saved:
      • The standard is perfection, and none of us are perfect.  And it’s right for the standard to be perfection.  God wouldn’t be good if he didn’t punish sin.
      • Even if I lived a perfect life from here on out for the rest of my existence, what am I to do about the sin I’ve already committed?  Where is there justice for that?
      • The problem isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am.  I want what I want, regardless of what God wants—and that rebellion against him seeps into my thoughts and my speech and my actions.
    • Q: Questions?


    Am I Saved by What Jesus Did?

    • So let’s go back to our question. Why should God let us into his holy presence in heaven?
    • Right Answer: Christianity teaches that we are saved, forgiven of sin, made right with God, not by our own merit or righteousness, but by God’s GRACE alone. 
    • Q: So I used the word grace.  How would you explain what the word grace means?
      • It means an undeserved free gift.  Grace is unmerited favor.  Grace is receiving the opposite of what we deserve. Given what we’ve already seen about the effectiveness of our good works, God’s unmerited favor towards us is the only hope we have.
    • As we read the following passages, I’d like us to take special note of what the Bible says about how we are justified before God, or in other words, how we are saved by God.  After a few of the passages, I’ll ask us to talk about what we notice.
      • READ Romans 3:21-31: 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, althoughthe Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.  27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”


      • Q: What does this passage say about how we are justified?

    Point out that we’ll talk a lot more about faith in two weeks.  But a good synonym for faith is trust.  To become a Christian, we need to trust in Christ’s death on our behalf rather than our own attempt to live a good life—as the way we can please God.

      • READ Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
    • Q: Questions?
    • So does God care that I’m a generally good person when I come to him for salvation, trusting in Christ?  Why / Why not?
    • You’re telling me that if I become a Christian, all the good things I’ve ever done don’t contribute a bit to God accepting me?  Why would God do it that way?


    Good Works

    • Even though we’re made right with God by Jesus’ blood and righteousness, this does not mean good works aren’t important.  If salvation through faith in the finished work of Christ is a free gift, that does not mean I can live any kind of life I want. Too often those who claim to be Christians make light of their sin by saying, “well, I know I shouldn’t sleep with my boyfriend, or get drunk on the weekends, or look at pornography, but it’s OK because God will forgive me.” Such an attitude cheapens the grace of God and presumes upon his forgiveness.
    • READ: Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
      • Going back to our passage in Ephesians, after the Apostle Paul declares that salvation is by grace alone in verses 8-9, he says in the next verse that we are, “to do good works.”
      • It is helpful to think of it this way - we are justified by grace alone through faith alone, but never by the faith that is alone. (Repeat.) 
      • Again, look at the order of the Ephesians passage: good works do not produce salvation (2:8-9), but true salvation will exhibit itself in a life of good works (2:10).  The evidence of true Christian faith is not a decision once made, but the fruit of a faithful life.
    • Questions?
    • So once I’m a Christian, does God think I’m better than other Christians because I do more good stuff than they do?  Why / Why not?



    • So to summarize, religions tend to fall into one of two categories, “Do” and “Done”.
    • Forgiveness of sins and communion with God must be received as a gift; it cannot be achieved by human effort; only be received by those who know they are helpless and sinful, w/o their own merit
    • Let’s close with the following quote from Jerry Bridges found on your handout:
      • “Every day of our Christian experience should be a day of relating to God on the basis of His grace alone...Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace.  And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace.” – Jerry Bridges



    iY�!ot`�0� bold'>Enables believer justification

    ·         No more atonement is needed

    ·         Sin is dealt with completely

          • God’s wrath has been fully satisfied
      • READ Romans 6:4-14, 23 – We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.  12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.  AND verse 23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


        • Q: What do we see scripture teaching about the significance of the resurrection?

    ·         Christ was raised by God’s glory

          • Believers are united to Christ
          • Believers have been (union with Christ) and will be (eternal life) raised to a new life – Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:23)
          • Victory over sin
          • Victory over death
          • Perfect sacrifice, needed only once – no more sacrifice required, no more guilt
          • Resurrection is eternal
      • We'll now turn to the book of Acts in Chapter 10.  Peter’s teaching to a group of non-Christians.  This is the same Peter who confessed Christ just before Jesus’ first prediction of his death and resurrection. Peter has been speaking to Cornelius, a centurion in the Roman army, and his relatives and close friends.  Peter is recounting things Jesus commanded him to teach.
      • READ Acts 10:39-43 – 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him onthe third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
        • Q: What do we see scripture teaching about the significance of the resurrection?
          • Judge of the living and the dead
          • Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name
    • Implications of the Resurrection on our Lives [Note to Teacher: Focus on Acts 10 and Mark]
      • All people will be raised
        • *Acts 10:42 refers to “the living and the dead”.  The Bible looks to a day when all people living and dead from all ages will be raised.  And this isn’t necessarily good news. 
        • Acts 24:14-15:  Paul is on trial before the Roman Governor Felix and says, “I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”
        • In John 5:28-29, Jesus says: “28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
      • All people will then be judged by Jesus
        • *Mark 8:38 reads, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
        • *In Acts 10:42 we see that Jesus has been appointed by God to act as judge over the living and the dead.  We are not simply free agents on this earth.  Someday we will give an account to God for our lives. 
        • Romans 2:6 states that, “He will render to each one according to his works.” In this day and age we can be so focused on the here and now.  We avoid talking about death and remove it as far from our lives as possible. But the resurrection of Jesus Christ challenges us to consider our own death, because death is not the end. All of us will be judged by Jesus.

    o   All people will be divided into two groups

        • *Mark 8:38 reads, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

    §  *Acts 10:43 - “Everyone who believes” implies there are some who believe and some who do not believe.  Once judged by Jesus, people will be divided into two groups: (1) those who believe in Jesus now and are forgiven at judgment, and (2) those who reject Jesus now and will be rejected by Jesus at judgment.

    o   The division is forever

    §  In the Bible there is no concept of a second chance after death.  Hebrews 9:27 says, “just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

    §  Matthew 25:32-46 – Jesus teaches: “Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.… Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels… And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

    o   The life we have now is our one and only opportunity to believe in Jesus.  Know that your attitude to Jesus in this life is the same as His attitude to you in the next.  If you accept Him now, He will accept you then.  If you reject Him now, He will reject you then.


    • Clearly, the resurrection has tremendous significance for it ensures that; (1) we will be raised, (2) we will then be judged by Jesus, (3) we will be separated into either the wicked, or the righteous, and (4) that division is eternal.
    • When Christ rose from the dead, God the Father was in effect saying that he accepted Christ’s work of suffering and dying for our sins, that his work was completed, and that Christ no longer had any need to remain dead.  There was no penalty left to pay for sin, no more wrath of God to bear, no more guilt or liability to punish – all had been completely paid for, and no guilt remained.
    • So in the resurrection, Christ is victorious over sin.  He conquered sin and death on the cross so that we who repent of our sin and trust in him are forgiven and will receive eternal life.
    • So there is the final pillar of the Christian faith: (1) Jesus is the Son of God, (2) Jesus substituted himself for our sins by dying on the cross, and (3) Jesus got up from the dead to declare victory over sin and to be the judge of the world.
    • Any questions?


    • Romans 6:6-9 – “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”