(This is an excerpt from my book entitled Once Saved Always Saved concerning the doctrine of Eternal Security. The book is available here.)
We are Saved by Grace, Not by Works
“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.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Please pay careful attention to this very important passage of scripture. The Bible is clear that we are saved by the grace of God. We are not saved by works. To believe that a born-again Christian can lose his salvation is to misunderstand the grace of God that brings salvation.
What is grace? Grace is favor. When God saved us He did us a favor.
When I ask someone to do me a favor, I am asking for help. Obviously, the help that I need is something that I cannot do for myself at the moment. Otherwise, I would do it. But for whatever reason, I can’t do what needs to be done now. It is possible that I will never be able to do what needs to be done. Therefore, I need help. So, I ask someone else to do it. I am asking him to do me a favor because I recognize that he can do something for me that I cannot do at the moment (or perhaps ever).
If the person agrees to help me and then does it, what he did for me was an act of grace. He did me a favor. That was very gracious of him.
So basically, grace is doing someone a favor. Grace is doing something to help someone. Grace is doing something for someone that he cannot do for himself. Also, grace is doing something for someone even if he doesn’t deserve it. It is unmerited favor.
As sinners, we are in desperate need of God’s help. Why? There are eternal consequences for our sins. Sin results in death. After death, sin results in eternal damnation. We cannot escape death. But the Bible tells us that we can escape eternal damnation. Therefore, we need to be saved from eternal damnation.
That is the definition of salvation. Salvation is being delivered from the eternal consequences of our sins. Romans 5:8-9 says “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
We deserve to suffer the consequences of our sins because we are guilty. However, despite our guilt, we desire for God to be merciful and show us grace. We desire God’s grace even though we don’t deserve it. We recognize how desperately we need God’s grace.
The favor that we need from God is something that we cannot do for ourselves. We cannot save ourselves. We need a Saviour. Since God loves us, He provided us a Saviour. The Saviour is the Lord Jesus Christ. God sent His only begotten Son to save us from our sins. This was an act of grace. God did us a huge favor!
There is another aspect of God’s grace that is very important to understand. The salvation that God offers us by His grace is free. It is a free gift (Eph. 2:8).
What is a gift? It is something that someone gives you for free. It is an act of love and an offering of grace. It is a favor.
Favors are free. If I must pay for it or do something to earn it, it is not a favor anymore. Thus, it is not a gift anymore.
You cannot earn salvation. It is a gift in the form of the Lord Jesus Christ. God in his love offers salvation to you freely. You don’t have to work for it. You don’t have to live a good life to try and earn it. You don’t have to go through a series of steps, or sacraments, or some special program to achieve it. Salvation is not religion. You don’t have to do anything. It is free. Just receive it! John 1:12 says “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”.
When God saves a sinner, it is an act of grace. It is something that God does for us. It is not something that we do for ourselves. Salvation is not of works, lest any man should boast. If I could do something to earn salvation, I could boast about myself and brag about what I did. But since there is nothing I could do to save myself, I can only glorify God. Only He is worthy of all praise, glory, and honor!
Our Sins Are Not Stronger than His Grace
To deny the doctrine of eternal security is to manifest a lack of understanding concerning God’s grace. Think about it.
If there is something I can do to cause me to lose my salvation than that would mean that my salvation depended upon me instead of God. That would mean that salvation IS by works instead of God’s grace. The idea that my good works are what keeps me saved contradicts Ephesians 2:8-9 and many other verses. Also, the idea that my bad works cause me to lose salvation contradict those verses.
That is not how grace works. If salvation is the result of God’s grace, yet I could do something to cause me to lose my salvation, then that would mean that my evil works are stronger than God’s grace.
The belief of those who oppose eternal security is that when we sin, we lose our salvation. If this is true, then I am in big trouble…and so are you! We are miserably doomed. Let’s be honest with ourselves. If this is so, then we would be losing our salvation constantly, maybe daily! 1st John 1:8 says “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
If sinning causes me to lose my salvation, then my sins are more powerful than God’s grace that saved me. That’s impossible! I am not more powerful than God and neither are you. Our sins are not more powerful than God’s grace. Romans 5:20 says “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”
Our sins are not more powerful than God’s grace. Romans 5:20 says “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”
This was the whole reason why I trusted in Christ to begin with. I realized how weak I was and how powerful He is. Romans 5:6 says “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Salvation is of the Lord. It is not of us, or our efforts, or our “holiness”, or our abilities to stop sinning. That is why the prophet Isaiah stated that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Those who are trusting in their goodness to be saved and to remain saved are relying upon something totally worthless in the eyes of God. They are wasting their time. All the personal holiness and good works that one could muster up in a lifetime would still be too puny to qualify for God’s eternal salvation. We can never do enough good to outweigh our bad. Job said “How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:16)
Therefore, we need something greater than us for salvation. We need God’s grace. We need Jesus.
Jesus Christ did for me what I could not do for myself. I was too weak to save myself from the condemnation of sin. I was too weak to change my life and make it good enough to obtain God’s eternal favor. I was too weak to break the chains of wickedness and escape the bondage of iniquity. Therefore, I turned to someone stronger than me. I put my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Almighty! He saved me by His power.
I recognized that His power is stronger than mine. That’s why I trusted him with my eternal soul. I trusted Him because I realized that I couldn’t trust in myself for salvation. Salvation is a divine work that only God can do.
This does not mean that there are no consequences for the Christian that sins. There are many consequences! Severe consequences. We will talk about those consequences later. The point is that a loss of salvation is not one of those consequences.
Salvation is an act of God. Salvation is the result of His power in my life. That power changed my life. It transformed me and made me a new creature in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” That’s powerful! It would be blasphemous to believe that something I could do, especially sin, would be greater than God’s grace and saving power in my life.
Romans 5:20-21 “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
If sinning causes me to lose my salvation, that would mean that my salvation depends upon what I do. If that’s so, then the verses that say that salvation is by God’s grace, and not by works, are false.
Which is it? Does my salvation depend upon me and my personal ability to stop sinning? Or does my salvation depend upon God’s grace and what Jesus did for me on the cross?
My salvation doesn’t depend upon me. Thank God! It depends upon the Lord Jesus Christ. He is faithful. He will never fail me, especially in the matter of salvation. It is by His grace and power that I am saved. Therefore, it is by His grace and power, not my works, that I will stay saved.
It is by His grace and power that I am saved. Therefore, it is by His grace and power, not my works, that I will stay saved.
Titus 3:3-7 “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
(To read the book Once Saved Always Saved in its entirety, you can purchase a copy here.)