This or that

Most religionists teach that man is saved by works. The idea being that a person must produce enough good works to outweigh his bad ones. A tiny minority of teachers insist that we are saved only by God’s grace — without any regard for our own merit or demerit. A third group, comprising the vast majority in Christendom, hold that salvation is achieved through a mixture of God’s grace and human merit — God contributing part, and we contributing part of our salvation. This third view is called Galatianism — the attempted admixture of Law and Grace.

What does the Bible say? Actually the Bible teaches two ways of salvation — an impossible way and a possible way. Man’s merit, or salvation by works, is the impossible way, and this was made clear by the giving of the Law which no person, except Christ, ever kept. God’s grace, or salvation through the cross- work of Christ, is the possible way; possible because God, through the cross-work of His Son, provided a perfect righteousness which He gives us freely in response to faith. He will not refuse any person who comes to Him in the only way that He has given us to come.

To be saved by works, one would have to keep the Law perfectly because Law works are the only works that God could accept, the Law being the only works program that He ever instituted. Religious men mistakenly contrive works programs for their salvation that omit all or part of the Mosaic Law, forgetting that sinners who wish to meet God on the ground of their own righteousness must submit that righteousness to God’s test — and that test is the perfect Law of the Lord. Is your righteousness good enough to qualify you to stand accepted in the presence of an infinitely holy God? The only way to find out is to test your righteousness on the ground of God’s own choosing…Law ground!

Before God instituted the Dispensation of Grace the Jew was “locked up” (Galatians 3:23) under the Law…not any law, but the Law that God had given at Sinai; and the Jew was the only one with access to God! (Ephesians 2:11-12).

Most professing Christians today are seeking to be justified, or have a right standing with God, by keeping — or attempting to keep the Ten Commandments; but Law-keeping can neither produce righteousness nor give life. A perfect Law becomes a death sentence to imperfect sinners. A holy Law can only condemn unholy people. A just Law can only slay the unjust. A good Law is bad news for bad people. A spiritual Law is infinitely beyond the reach of the flesh to keep. Because a just law cannot mark on a curve, but must demand absolute righteousness (James 2:10; Galatians 3:10; 5:3), the Law of the Lord can never give life (Galatians 3:21), but must always pronounce doom (2 Corinthians 3:7,9). A law that could overlook even one small sin would not be perfectly just — it would be imperfect and unjust.

The Law shows man what he must be in order to be acceptable to God according to his flesh — perfect. God has a right to demand perfection of man. That man cannot produce perfection is not God’s fault. God made man perfect. It is man who made himself imperfect and consequently unable to meet the just demands of God. This is why man needs a Savior. We dare not stand before the bar of Heaven on Law ground…the ground of our own merit. The last thing that a criminal needs is a day in court!

If the Ten Commandments cannot save me, it is certain that I cannot save myself. It is here on the ground of God’s Moral Law that the flesh must sink or swim. Standing condemned by the only perfect law, I cannot move over to the new ground of a law of my own making. God recognizes no law but His own. Nor can any church save me, for no church can diminish the Law’s demands once I stand on Law ground. Nor is any church needed once I stand on Grace ground, for on Grace ground God does everything necessary for my salvation leaving no more for a church to do than He has left for me to do.

In view of man’s abject ruin, his totally lost condition, God must do all the saving and man must “do” only all the being saved. Scripture says that we have been “saved by Grace through faith.” Grace is God doing all the difficult part of our salvation and leaving us to do the only thing that we can “do” — without “doing” anything. Grace is God fully meeting our need at Calvary without any help from anyone. Faith is simply our trusting in what He has done. Faith is actually our ceasing to do anything by beginning to trust Him for all of it. It has to be one or the other…either Christ died my death, as the Bible says, or He didn’t. There is no middle ground here, no gray area. Either He saves me completely by His death on the cross, and that alone, or He leaves something additional for me to do. If He left something for me to do, then I am unsaved until I do it, and, when I have done it I have saved myself. If He did not do all the saving on the cross, then He left me unsaved. It was impossible that He should save me part way by that death that He died. To be even 99% saved would be to be 100% lost.

God is not glorified by a way of salvation that any sinful man could concoct. Man’s reason tells him that good works on his part can offset his bad works; that he can “buy” his way out of Hell and into Heaven with his merit. One large and ancient church tells us that if a man in deadly sin does a good work God will respond by giving him grace. Now, having received grace, he can do another good work that puts God in his debt, making it necessary for God to give him eternal life. The first good work caused God to give the sinner grace because of Who and What God is; the second required God to give him eternal life because of who and what the sinner had become. What horrid trashing of the cross-work of God’s Son! What a trampling of the Son of God underfoot! What despicable treatment of the Holy Spirit and His message of Grace! All of it is not only foreign to Scripture but militantly opposed to the Word of God.

If I am perfect, a law for righteousness can give me life. Since I am not perfect, but totally ruined by the Fall and completely lost in sin, I can neither win grace by my works nor, having won it, put God in my debt and so merit eternal life.

The Law condemns! Christ saves! I must come hat-in-hand to Calvary!


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: