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By Grace Through Faith - Ephesians 2:8-9

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  • By Grace Through Faith - Ephesians 2:8-9

    Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

    "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:8–10

    In these three verses the apostle summarises the great argument which he has been conducting in the first seven verses of this chapter. He brings it all to a focus. I suppose that in certain respects we can say that there is no more important doctrinal statement anywhere in the Epistle. Of course it is all packed with doctrine, as we have seen; but certainly from our standpoint, and in order to have a true and a clear understanding of what it is that makes us Christian, there is nothing that is more important than this particular statement. And therefore, obviously, it is equally important in a practical sense.

    Here is a statement, surely, that must be determinative in all evangelism. In the same way it must determine our entire practice of the Christian life, because belief and practice cannot be separated. You cannot separate finally a man’s view of these things from his whole relationship to them. That is why I say that we are here face to face with one of the most crucial statements that is to be found anywhere in Scripture, and that is obviously why the apostle puts it in this particular form. For the same reason also he has already prayed in the previous chapter that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened. We can never repeat that too frequently. This great Epistle, perhaps the greatest of all the Epistles in some senses, packed as it is with profound theology and doctrinal statements, nevertheless was written primarily in order to help people in a practical and pastoral manner. In other words, we must not think of it as being first and foremost an attempt on the part of the apostle to write a theological treatise. The apostle was not a professional theologian—I wonder whether there ever should be such a thing? The apostle was a preacher and an evangelist. Such a man, of course, must be a theologian—if he is not he cannot be a true evangelist—but it was not a professional matter. The apostle’s approach is not academic, it is not theoretical; he was concerned to help these people to live the Christian life. That was why he wrote to them. But he knew that no person can live this Christian life unless he first of all has a true understanding of what it is that makes us Christians at all. Therefore as Paul writes to them he must start with this great doctrine and then go on to its application.

    That is what he is doing here, and his prayer for them is that the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened, that they might know the hope of God’s calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and, perhaps most important of all, the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward that believe. That was their trouble; they did not realise that power. And this is our trouble—our failure to realise the exceeding greatness of the power of God in us who believe. So he has gone on to unfold it and expound it and to put it clearly before them. He has stated it in great detail: the negative description in verses 1 to 3; the positive in verses 4 to 7. Having stated it in detail he says: Now then, it all comes to this … You notice that he starts with the word ‘For’—‘For by grace ye are saved’. It is a continuation; he is looking back to what he has been saying, and then he puts it all once more in a manner that we should never forget.

    This is a description of what it really means to be a Christian. More and more am I convinced that most of our troubles in the Christian life really arise at that point. For if we are not right at the beginning we shall be wrong everywhere. And it is because so many are still confused at that very first step that they are always full of problems and difficulties and questions, and do not understand this and cannot see that. It is because they have never been clear about the foundation.

    Well, here it is for us—and, as I have said, there is no clearer statement of it anywhere in the Scripture. Why then the confusion? The confusion often arises because people turn these great statements of the apostle into matters of controversy. And they do that because they will insist on bringing in their philosophy, by which I mean their own ideas. Instead of taking the plain statements of the apostle they say: But I cannot see this. If that is so, then I do not understand how God can be a God of love. In other words, they begin philosophising, and, of course, the moment you do that you are bound to be in trouble. We either accept the Scriptures as our only foundation, or else we do not. Many say that they do accept them, but then they bring in their inability to understand. Now the moment you do that you have left the Scriptures and you are introducing your own ability, your own understanding, and your own theories and ideas. That has constantly been the trouble, and especially with these three verses that we are considering. What I propose to do, therefore, is just to put these statements before you, and ask you to consider them and meditate upon them. Here is the whole foundation of our position as Christians. It is here we are told exactly how we have ever become Christians.

    What does the apostle say? He says that we are Christians entirely and solely as the result of God’s grace. Now surely no one can dispute that. ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.’ Notice the apostle’s method here. The whole statement is in three verses, and in a sense we can take the three verses as our divisions, our headings. He first of all makes a positive statement, in verse 8. He follows it with a negative, in verse 9; and the purpose of the negative is to reinforce the positive. It is just saying the same thing negatively. And then in the tenth verse he seems to combine the two, the positive and the negative.

    Let us look first at the positive statement. Here is his assertion positively, that we are Christians entirely and solely as the result of the grace of God. Let us remind ourselves once more that ‘grace’ means unmerited, undeserved favour. It is an action which arises entirely from the gracious character of God. So the fundamental proposition is that salvation is something that comes to us entirely from God’s side. What is still more important is this, that it not only comes from God’s side, it comes to us in spite of ourselves—‘unmerited’ favour. In other words, it is not God’s response to anything in us. Now there are many people who seem to think that it is—that salvation is God’s response to something in us. But the word ‘grace’ excludes that. It is in spite of us. The apostle, as we have seen, has already been very much concerned to say this. You notice the interesting way in which he, as it were, slipped it in in the fifth verse. He interrupted himself, broke the symmetry of his statement, and was guilty of a serious blemish from the standpoint of literary style. But he was not interested in that. Listen to him: ‘Even when we were dead in sins, he hath quickened, us together with Christ’, and then, instead of going on to the next step—in parenthesis ‘(by grace ye are saved)’. Here, he puts it a little more explicitly. Salvation is not in any sense God’s reponse to anything in us. It is not something that we in any sense deserve or merit. The whole essence of the teaching at this point, and everywhere in all the New Testament, is that we have no sort or kind of right whatsoever to salvation, that the whole glory of salvation is, that though we deserved nothing but punishment and hell and banishment out of the sight of God to all eternity, yet God, of His own love and grace and wondrous mercy, has granted us this salvation. Now that is the entire meaning of this term ‘grace’.

    We need not stay with this because we have been dealing with it in the previous seven verses. What is the point of those verses? Is it not just to show us that very thing negatively and positively? What is the point of that horrible description of man by nature as the result of sin in the first three verses, if it is not just to show that man, as he is in sin, deserves nothing but retribution? He is a child of wrath by nature, and not only by nature but by conduct, by his behaviour, by his whole attitude to God—living according to the course of this world, governed by the prince of the power of the air. That is the sort of creature he is; dead in trespasses and sins, a creature of lusts, lusts of the flesh, ‘fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind’. There is no more appalling description possible than that. You cannot imagine a worse state than that. Does such a creature deserve anything? Has such a creature any right at all in the presence of God? Can he come forward with a plea or with a demand? The whole point of the apostle is to say that such a creature deserves nothing at the hands of God but retribution. And then he works it out in his great contrast—‘but God’—which we have already considered in detail. And the whole purpose of that, surely, is to exalt the grace and the mercy of God, and is to show that where man deserves nothing at all, God not only gives him, and gives him liberally, but showers upon him ‘the exceeding riches of his grace’.

    That, therefore, is the first principle, that we are Christians solely and entirely and only because of the grace of God. I have referred to that fifth verse because it is extremely important in this whole argument. Notice the way the apostle inserted it there, slipped it in, as it were, insinuated it. Why did he do so? Notice the context. He says that it was even ‘when we were dead in sins’ that God quickened us. Then at once—‘(by grace ye are saved)’. If you do not see it at that point you will see it at no point. What he has been saying is this. We were dead, which means without any life at all; without any ability, therefore. And the first thing that was necessary was that we should be given life, that we should be quickened. And he says that that is the very thing that God has done to us. Therefore, he says: Can you not see it? it is by grace you are saved. So he puts it in at that particular point obviously for that reason. It is the only conclusion one can draw. Creatures who were spiritually dead are now alive—how has it happened? Can a dead man raise himself? It is impossible. There is only one answer, ‘By grace ye are saved’. We come, therefore, to this inevitable conclusion, that we are Christians at this moment only and entirely by the grace of God.

    The apostle was never tired of saying this. What else could he say? As he looked back on that blaspheming Saul of Tarsus, who hated Christ and the Christian Church and did his best to exterminate Christianity, breathing out threatenings and slaughter; as he looked back at that and then looked at himself as he now was, what could he say but this, ‘I am what I am by the grace of God’? And I must confess it passes my comprehension to understand how any Christian looking at himself or herself can say anything different. If when you get on your knees before God you do not realise that you are ‘a debtor to mercy alone’, I confess I do not understand you. There is something tragically defective, either in your sense of sin or in your realisation of the greatness of God’s love. This is the running theme of the New Testament, it is the reason why the saints of the centuries have always praised the Lord Jesus Christ. They see that when they were utterly hopeless, indeed dead and vile and foul, ‘hateful and hating one another’ as Paul puts it in writing to Titus, then God looked upon them. It was ‘while we were yet sinners’, more, it was ‘while we were enemies’ that we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son—at enmity; aliens in our minds, utterly opposed. Surely we must see that it is by grace and by grace alone that we are Christians? It is utterly undeserved, it is only as the result of the goodness of God.

    The second proposition, as I have indicated, is put by the apostle in a negative form. He says that the fact that we are Christians gives us no grounds whatsoever for boasting. That is the negative of the first proposition. The first is that we are Christians solely and entirely as the result of the grace of God. Therefore, secondly, we must say that the fact that we are Christians gives us no grounds whatsoever for boasting. The apostle puts that in two statements. The first is, ‘that not of yourselves’; but he is not content with that, he must put it still more explicitly in these words, ‘lest any man should boast’. There we have two vitally important statements. Surely nothing could be stronger than this, ‘Not of yourselves’: ‘lest any man should boast’. This must always be the crucial test of our view of salvation and of what makes us Christians. Let us then examine ourselves for a moment. What is your idea of yourself as a Christian? How have you become a Christian? What is it dependent upon? What is the background, what is the reason? That is the crucial question, and according to the apostle the vital test. Does your idea of how you have become a Christian give you any grounds whatsoever for being proud of yourself, for boasting? Does it in any way reflect credit upon you? If it does, according to this statement—and I do not hesitate to say it—you are not a Christian. ‘Not of yourselves: lest any man should boast.’ In the third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans the apostle puts it still more plainly. He asks his question. Here, he says, is God’s way of salvation, and then he ask in verse 27, ‘Where is boasting then?’ He answers by saying, ‘It is excluded’, it is put out through the door and the door locked on it; there is no room for it here at all.

    It is not surprising that the apostle Paul is so fond of putting it in that particular way, because before his conversion, before he became a Christian, he knew a great deal about boasting. There was never a more self-satisfied person or a more self-assured person than Saul of Tarsus. He was proud of himself in every respect—proud of his nationality, proud of the particular tribe into which he had been born in Israel, proud of the fact that he had been brought up as a Pharisee and had sat at the feet of Gamaliel, proud of his religion, proud of his morality, proud of his knowledge. He tells us all about it in the third chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians. He would boast. He would stand up and say, as it were: Who can challenge this? Here I am, a good and a moral and a religious man. Look at me in my religious duties, look at me in my life, look at me in every respect; I have given myself to this godly, holy living, and I am satisfying God. That was his attitude. He was boasting. He felt that he was such a man, and had lived in such a way, that he could be proud of it. It was one of his great words. But he came to see that one of the biggest differences that becoming a Christian made to him was that all that was put out and rendered irrelevant. That is why he used rather strong language. Looking back on all that in which he had boasted so much, he says ‘It is dung and loss’! He is not content to say that it was wrong; it is vile, it is filthy, it is foul. Boasting? Excluded! But the apostle knows the danger at this point so well that he does not content himself with a general statement; he indicates two particular respects in which we are most liable to boast.

    The first is this question of works. ‘By grace are ye saved, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast.’ It is always in connection with works that we are most liable to boast. It is at that point that the devil tempts us all in a most subtle manner. Works! That was why the Pharisees were the greatest enemies of Jesus Christ; not because they were mere talkers, but because they really did things. When that Pharisee said (Luke 18:9)—‘I fast twice in the week’, he was speaking the truth; when he said ‘I give tithes of all that I possess’, it was strictly accurate. The Pharisees were not merely talkers, they really did these things. And it was because of this that they so resented the preaching of the Son of God and were most responsible for His crucifixion. Is it going too far to say that it is always more difficult to convert a good person than a, bad one? I think the history of the Church proves that. The greatest opponents of evangelical religion have always been good and religious people. Some of the most cruel persecutors in the history of the Church have belonged to this class. The saints have always suffered most acutely at the hands of good, moral, religious people. Why? Because of works. The evangelical gospel always denounces reliance upon works and pride of works and boasting about works, and such people cannot stand it. Their whole position has been built up on that—what they are and what they have done and what they have always been doing. This is their whole position, and if you take that from them they have nothing. They therefore hate such preaching and they will fight it to the last ditch. The gospel makes paupers of us all. It condemns us every one. It strips us all naked. There is no difference, Paul argues everywhere, there is no difference between the Gentile who is outside the pale and the religious Jew, in the sight of God—‘there is none righteous, no not one’. So works must go out, they must not be boasted of. But we tend to boast of them—our good living, our good deeds, our religious observances, our attendance at services (and particularly if we do so early in the morning), and so on. These are the things, our religious activities, these make us Christian. That is the argument.

    But the apostle exposes and denounces all that, and he does so very simply in this way. He says that to talk about works is to go back under the law. If you think, he says, that it is your good life that makes you a Christian, you are putting yourself back under the law. But that is a futile thing to do, he says, for this reason. If you put yourself back under the law you are condemning yourself, ‘for by the deeds of the law shall no man be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin’. If you want to try to justify yourself by your life and by your works, you are walking straight to condemnation, because the best works of man are not good enough in the sight of God. The law has condemned all—‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God’. ‘There is none righteous, no, not one.’ So do not be foolish, says Paul; do not turn away from grace, for in so doing you are turning to condemnation. No man’s works will ever be sufficient to justify him in the sight of God. How foolish, therefore, to go back under works!

    But not only that, he explains further in the tenth verse that it is to put things the wrong way round. Such people think that by their good works they make themselves Christian, whereas Paul says, it is exactly the other way round. ‘We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’ The tragedy is that people think that if only they do certain things and avoid certain things, and live a good life and go out and help others, in that way they will become Christian. What blindness! says Paul. The way to look at good works is this. God makes us Christians in order that we may do good works. It is not a question of good works leading to Christianity, but Christianity leading to good works. it is the exact opposite of what people tend to believe. There is nothing, therefore, that is such a complete contradiction of the true Christian position as this tendency to boast of works and to think that, because we are what we are, and are doing what we are doing, we are making ourselves Christian. No; God makes Christians, and then they go on to do their good works. Boasting is excluded. ‘Where is boasting? It is excluded. By what law? by the law of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.’ We see that works are excluded in the matter of becoming Christian. We must not boast of our works. If we are in any way conscious of our goodness, or if we are relying upon anything that we have done, we are denying the grace of God. It is the opposite of Christianity.

    But alas, it is not only works and deeds that tend to insinuate themselves. There is something else—faith! Faith tends to come in and to make us boast. There is great controversy about this eighth verse—‘For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God’. The great question is, what does the ‘that’ refer to? And there are two schools of opinion. ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that (faith) not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,’ says the one school. But according to the other view the ‘that’ does not refer to the ‘faith’ but to the ‘grace’ at the beginning of the sentence: ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that (this position of grace) not of yourselves; it is the gift of God’. Is it possible to settle the dispute? It is not. It is not a question of grammar, it is not a question of language. You will find, as usual, that the great authorities are divided between the two schools, and it is most interesting and almost amusing, to notice the sides to which they belong. For instance, if I were to ask you what was the view of John Calvin on this, I am sure you would reply at once that Calvin said that the ‘that’ refers to faith and not to grace. But actually Calvin said the exact opposite, that it refers to ‘grace’ and not to ‘faith’. It is a question that cannot be decided. And there is a sense in which it really does not matter at all, because it comes to much the same thing in the end. In other words, what is important is that we should avoid turning faith into ‘works’.

    But there are many people who do that. They turn their faith into a kind of works. Indeed there is quite a popular evangelistic teaching at the present time which says that the difference which the New Testament makes can be put in this way. In the Old Testament God looked at the people and said: Here is my law, here are the Ten Commandments, keep them, and I will forgive you and you will be saved. But, it goes on to say, it is not like that now. God has put all that on one side, there is no longer any law, God simply says to us, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ’, and if you do you will be saved. In other words they say that by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ a man saves himself. But that is to turn faith into works because it says it is our action that saves us. But the apostle says ‘Not of yourselves’. Whether the ‘that’ refers to faith or to grace, it does not matter; ‘you are saved’, says Paul, ‘by grace, and that not of yourselves’. If it is my belief that saves me I have saved myself; but Paul says that it is not of yourself. So that I must never speak of my faith in a way that makes it ‘of myself’. And not only that. If I become a Christian in that way, again surely it gives me some grounds for boasting; but Paul says, ‘Not of works, lest any man should boast’. My boasting must be entirely excluded.

    As we think of faith we must be careful, therefore, to view it in this light. Faith is not the cause of salvation. Christ is the cause of salvation. The grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ is the cause of salvation, and I must never speak in such a way as to represent faith as the cause of my salvation. What is faith then? Faith is but the instrument through which it comes to me. ‘By grace are ye saved, through faith.’ Faith is the channel, it is the instrument through which this salvation which is of the grace of God comes to me. I am saved by grace, ‘through faith’. It is just the medium through which the grace of God bringing salvation enters into my life. We must always be extremely careful, therefore, never to say that it is our believing that saves us. Belief does not save. Faith does not save. Christ saves—Christ and His finished work. Not my belief, not my faith, not my understanding, nothing that I do—‘not of yourselves’, ‘boasting is excluded’, ‘by grace, through faith’.

    Surely the whole point of the first three verses of this chapter is to show that no other position is at all possible. How can a man who is ‘dead’ in trespasses and sins save himself? How can a man who is an ‘enemy and alienated in his mind’, whose heart is ‘at enmity against God’ (for that is what we are told about the natural man), how can such a man do anything that is meritorious? It is impossible. The first thing that happens to us, the apostle has told us in verses 4 to 7, is that we have been ‘quickened’. New life has been put into us. Why? Because without life we can do nothing. The first thing the sinner needs is life. He cannot ask for life, for he is dead. God gives him life, and he proves that he has it by believing the gospel. Quickening is the first step. It is the first thing that happens. I do not ask to be quickened. If I asked to be quickened I would not need to be quickened, I would already have life. But I am dead, and I am an enemy, and I am opposed to God, I do not understand, and I hate. But God gives me life. He has quickened me together with Christ. Therefore, boasting is entirely excluded, boasting of works, boasting even of faith. It must be excluded. Salvation is altogether of God.

    That brings us to the last principle, which I summarise in this way. Our being Christians is entirely the result of God’s work. The real trouble with many of us is that our conception of what it is that makes us Christian is so low, is so poor; it is our failure to realise the greatness of what it means to be a Christian. Paul says: ‘We are his workmanship’! It is God who has done something, it is God who is working; we are His workmanship. Not our works, His work. So, I say again, it is not our good life, and all our efforts, and hoping to be a Christian at the end, that makes us Christians. But let me go further. It is not our decision, our ‘deciding for Christ’, that makes us Christians either: that is our work. Decision does come into it, but it is not our decision that makes us Christians. Paul says we are His workmanship. And thus, you see how grievously our loose thinking and our loose speaking misrepresent Christianity! I remember a very good man—yes, a good Christian man—whose way of giving his testimony was always this: ‘I decided for Christ thirty years ago and I have never regretted it’. That was his way of putting it. That is not Paul’s way of describing becoming Christian. ‘We are his workmanship!’ That is the emphasis. Not something I have gone in for, not something I have decided, but something that God has done to me. He might better have put it like this: Thirty years ago I was dead in trespasses and sins, but God began to do something to me; I became aware of God dealing with me; I felt God smashing me; I felt the hands of God re-making me. That is Paul’s way of putting it; not, I decided, not, I went in for Christianity, not, I decided to follow Christ, not at all. That comes in, but that is later.

    We are His workmanship. A Christian is a person in whom God has worked. And you notice what kind of work it is, according to Paul. It is nothing less than a creation. ‘Created in Christ Jesus unto good works.’ The apostle is very fond of saying this. Listen to him saying it to the Philippians: ‘Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (1:6). God! He has begun a good work in you! It is God’s work! He came when you were dead and He quickened you, He put life into you. That is what makes a man a Christian. Not your good works, not your decision, but God’s determination concerning you put into practice.

    It is here we see how our ideas of what the Christian is, fall hopelessly short of the biblical teaching. A Christian is a new creation. He is not just a good man, or a man who has been improved somewhat; he is a new man, ‘created in Christ Jesus’. He has been put into Christ, and the life of Christ has come into him. ‘We are partakers of the divine nature’, says the apostle Peter (2 Peter 1:4). ‘Partakers of the divine nature’! What is a Christian? A good man, a moral man, a man who believes certain things? Yes, but infinitely more! He is a new man, the life of God has come into his soul—‘created in Christ’, ‘God’s workmanship’! Had you realised that that is what makes you a Christian? It is not attending a place of worship. It is not doing certain duties. These things are all excellent, but they can never make us Christians. (They could make us Pharisees!) It is God who makes Christians and He does it in this way. He created everything out of nothing at the beginning, and He comes to man and He makes him anew and gives him a new nature, makes a new man of him. A Christian is ‘a new creation’, nothing less.

    If you are interested in works, says Paul, I will tell you the sort of works that God is interested in. It is not the miserable works that you can do as a creature in sin by nature. It is a new kind of work—‘created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them’—God’s good works! What does he mean? He means that our trouble is not only that our notion of Christianity is inadequate, our notion of good works is still more inadequate. Put down on paper the good works that people think are good enough to make them Christian. Get them to put them all down on paper, all those things on which they are relying. Put them on paper, and then take them to God and say, This is what I have done. The thing is laughable, it is monstrous. Look at what they are doing! They are not the good works in which God is interested. What are God’s good works? Well, the Sermon on the Mount and the life of Jesus Christ provide the answer. Not just a little negative goodness and morality, not perhaps doing an occasional kindness and being very conscious of it. No, disinterested love! ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross’—giving Himself for others without counting the cost. Those are God’s good works. ‘Loving God with all the heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves!’ Not doing him an occasional good turn, but loving him as yourself! Forgetting yourself in your concern for him! Those are God’s good works. And those are the works for which He has created us.

    A Christian, according to this definition, is one who has been made anew after the image and the pattern of the Son of God Himself. The apostle puts it in the fourth chapter of this Epistle in verse 24 thus, ‘And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness’. Not a little bit of goodness, but true holiness, ‘holiness of the truth’, and utter, absolute righteousness! And already in the first chapter Paul has put it like this in the fourth verse: ‘According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love’. In writing to the Romans he puts it like this: ‘Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son’! What is a Christian? Just a good man? Somebody who is just a little bit better than somebody else? Not at all! He is like Christ! Conformed to the image of God’s Son! How can a man who is dead in trespasses and sins raise himself to that? It is impossible. ‘By grace ye are saved;’ ‘not of yourselves’, ‘no boasting’. No man can attain to this, no man can raise himself to this. It is God’s work, and God’s work alone. The Christian is one who is meant to be like Christ. He has the life of Christ within him. ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ What is Christianity? It is ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’; ‘Made after the image of God’s own Son’. Thank God it is of grace! If it were not of grace we would all be hopeless, we would all be undone, we would all be condemned. But because it is by grace, because it is God’s work, because I am God’s workmanship, I know that, in spite of myself, in spite of the sin that yet remains within me, I shall be made perfect. If it were left to us there would be no hope at all. Who are we to face the world, and the flesh, and the devil? But thank God it is ‘by grace’. We are His workmanship. We are in His hands—and if He has started working in us He will go on with the work until it is complete. If you will not submit readily and willingly, He will chastise you, He will knock those corners off you, He will chisel them away. If you are in His plan, if He is making you after the image of Christ, He will go on with His work until every ‘spot and wrinkle and any such thing’ shall have been removed, and you will stand in the presence of God ‘faultless and blameless’ and ‘with exceeding joy.’

    Thank God it is not of works; thank God it is not my believing; thank God there is nothing of which I can boast. ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified unto me and I unto the world.’ ‘By grace, through faith!’
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