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Sermon #30 — Ephesians Sermons

 

      Title:                                 Saved through Faith

 

      Text:                                  Ephesians 2:8

      Subject:               Faith — The Channel of Salvation

      Date:                                Sunday Evening — February 7, 2016

      Readings: Rex Bartley and Mark Henson

      Introduction:

 

Let’s open our Bibles to Ephesians chapter 2 — Ephesians 2. — We will begin reading at verse 1.

 

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

 

4 ¶ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:1-8)

 

Our text is verse 8. —. The title of my message is Saved through Faith — (Ephesians 2:8).

 

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

 

By grace are ye saved. — The grace of God is the fountain, the source, the cause of salvation. It is because God is gracious that sinful men are chosen, redeemed, forgiven, converted, justified, sanctified, and saved. It is not because of anything in them, or anything that ever can be in them, that they are saved; but because of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion, mercy, and grace of God.

 

Look for a moment then at the great source and cause of salvation. Here is a rich fountain. Look at the pure river of the water of life that flows from the throne of God of the Lamb. What an abyss the grace of God is! Who can comprehend it? Like all the rest of the divine attributes, the grace of God is infinite. God is full of love, because “God is love.” God is full of goodness, because God is good. The very name “God” is but a shortened form of the word “good.” Unbounded love and goodness are the very essence of the Triune God. It is because “His mercy endureth forever,” that men are not consumed. It is because “His compassions fail not” that sinners are drawn to him and forgiven.

 

Get a firm hold on this statement, “By grace are ye saved.”Otherwise you might fall into the error of supposing, as many do, that your faith is the source of eternal salvation. Faith is the work of God’s grace in us. No man can say that Jesus is the Christ, but by the Holy Ghost. “No man cometh unto me,” says our Lord, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” — That faith by which we come to Christ is the result of the creative, effectual, drawing power of God’s omnipotent grace. Grace is the first and last cause of our salvation. And faith, important as it is, is only a part of the machinery which grace employs. We are saved “through faith,” but it is “by grace.” Let us sound forth those words with a clarion voice, “By grace are ye saved.”

 

Faith is the channel, or conduit pipe of grace. I have frequently stood at a large dam and watched the water rush with great power through those huge pipes at its base. The rush of the water is frightening because of its power. At other times, I have gone and looked at the pipes when there was no water in them. And any child can perceive that the power which I had seen was not in those pipes. Why? The pipes are only the channel through which the water flows. All the power is in that great lake on the other side of the dam. So it is with faith.

Š      Grace is the great lake, the great reservoir, of salvation. — Faith is only the pipe by which we receive salvation.

Š      Grace is the fountain of life. — Faith is the channel by which divine mercy flows to the thirsty sons of men.

 

Faith is not the fountain and source of salvation. It is only the channel through which salvation flows. Faith is a precious gift of God’s grace. But we must never so highly exalt faith as to make it the cause of salvation. That is the grace of God alone. Never make a savior out of your faith. Do not think of faith as though it were the source of salvation. Life is found by looking unto Jesus, not by looking unto our faith. By faith all things become possible to us. Yet, the power is not in faith, but in the God upon whom faith relies.

Š      Grace is the great locomotive; faith is the train that is pulled by it.

Š      The righteousness of faith is not the moral excellence of faith, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which faith appropriates.

Š      The peace we enjoy is not derived from our faith. It comes to us from him who is our Peace, the hem of whose garment faith touches.

 

The words of the apostle show us the source of salvation, “By grace are ye saved.” And they show us the channel of salvation, “Saved through faith.”

 

Proposition: Here is the doctrine of our text. Salvation is bestowed upon sinful men freely by God’s rich grace; and we receive this gift of life by faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Divisions: Thus far, as I have tried to preach to you through the Book of Ephesians, we have looked at the many beauties and riches of God’s grace, the source of our salvation. Though I have only skimmed the surface of that great reservoir, I think it is needful for us now to look at the channel. I pray that God will enable me to speak clearly on this important subject.

 

I am always fearful of confounding rather than helping you. May it please the Lord to prevent that. Perhaps the simplest and clearest way for me to approach this subject is to try to answer some very basic questions about faith. Here are four questions I want to answer in this message. As I raise the questions before you, I will show you the answer to each in the Word of God.

  1. What is faith?
  2. Where does faith come from?
  3. How can I get faith?
  4. What is the result of faith?

 

1.    WHAT IS FAITH?

 

Today we hear much talk about faith. People are urged to believe. Men, women, and children are urged to make a profession of faith. Men place bumper stickers on their cars saying, “Keep the faith.” But what does all that mean? What is faith?

 

Perhaps it would be helpful, first of all, to show you what faith is not. Satan has substituted many kinds of faith for saving faith.

  • Some people have what might be called a human faith. That is, what they believe is founded upon the authority and testimony of men.
  • There are men who make a profession of religion intellectually, because they have a historical faith. They give mental assent to the historical truths revealed about Christ in the Scriptures (James 2:17).
  • There is a faith produced in men as the result of witnessing miracles (John 2:23; 6:66).
  • Others have only a temporary faith. There are the people who give assent to the truths of the gospel. They find them, for a time, both interesting and desirable. But, after a while, when the privileges and advantages of religion are crowded out by the cares of the world, they leave the profession of their faith (Luke 8:12-14).

 

What we call saving faith is something more than this. Saving faith is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is wrought in the heart by God. God the Holy Spirit persuades us that Christ is the Messiah, and gives us a desire and expectation of the promises of the gospel in him. Saving faith is dependent upon the blood and righteousness of Christ for all blessings; and it is obedience to his commands.

 

Saving faith is made up of three things: knowledge, assent, and trust. —— The knowledge of Christ is necessary for the exercise of faith (Romans 10:13-17). — You can’t trust an unknown Savior any more than you can come back from somewhere you’ve never been!

  • The knowledge of Christ comes through the preaching of the gospel.
  • Man must be taught and convinced of his sinfulness, so that he will know his need of Christ.
  • Man must be taught and convinced of his impotence, so that he will feel his need of Christ.
  • Man must be taught and persuaded of his sin and impotence, and he must be persuaded of the fulness and ability of Christ to save.

 

(Romans 10:13-17) “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:13-17)

 

But knowledge alone is not faith. There must also be an assent, or agreement, with the testimony of God concerning his Son (John 6:45). Being taught of God we believe that Jesus is the Christ (Daniel 9:24).

 

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24)

 

Along with knowledge and assent, there must be trust in Christ.

 

Lo! The incarnate God ascended,

Pleads the merits of his blood.

Venture on him, venture wholly,

Let no other trust intrude.

None but Jesus, none but Jesus,

Can do helpless sinners good.

 

Perhaps He will hear my plea,

Perhaps will hear my prayer;

But if I perish, I will pray,

And perish only there.

 

I can but perish if I go,

I am resolved to try.

For if I stay away I know,

I must forever die.

 

Saving faith is believing that Jesus is the Christ, that he is what he is said to be, that he has done all that the Book of God declared the Christ must do, that he will do what he promised to do, and expecting this from him…

  • We believe that Christ is God in human flesh, and that he died and rose again to save sinners.
  • We believe that Christ will save all who come to him in faith and repentance.
  • We expect everlasting glory at his appearance.

 

Saving faith is looking to Christ (Isaiah 45:22). — Saving faith is coming to Christ (Matthew 11:28). — Saving faith is fleeing to Christ (Hebrews 6:18). — Saving faith is laying hold of Christ (Isaiah 27:5). — Saving faith is clinging to Christ (Song of Solomon 3:4). — Saving faith is leaning upon Christ (Song of Solomon 8:5). — Saving faith is receiving Christ (John 1:12).

  • We receive him as Christ our Prophet to teach us the will of God.
  • We receive him as Christ our Priest to intercede for us before God.
  • We receive him as Christ our King to rule over us as God.

 

Saving faith is feeding upon Christ, living upon the Bread of Life (John 6:54). — Saving faith is not an experience of yesterday, but the present reality of the believer’s life (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38; 11:6).

 

Faith in Christ is one of the three abiding graces of the Holy Spirit. “Now abideth faith, hope, and charity.” Faith is a most precious gift of God’s grace.

  • It may sometimes be but weak faith.
  • True faith, weak or strong, once it is bestowed will never be taken from us.
  • Faith renders to us the reality of God’s promises.

 

2.    WHERE DOES FAITH COME FROM?

 

The answer to this question is given in the Book of God with utmost clarity. Faith is not the work of man. It is the work of God in man. Faith does spring from man’s imaginary free will, but from God’s omnipotent, sovereign will and irresistible grace and power. Listen to the Scriptures. — “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: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). — “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29). — “Ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God” (Colossians 2:12). — Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians was this — “That God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power” (2 Thessalonians 2:11).

  • God the Father must draw you to Christ, or you have no faith and will not come (John 6:44-45).
  • God the Son is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
  • God the Holy Spirit produces faith in chosen, redeemed sinners by the Word (2 Corinthians 4:13; John 6:65). Saving faith is a revelation of Jesus Christ in the heart causing men to trust him. — “It is the gift of God.”

 

O gift of gifts, O grace of faith!

My God, how can it be,

That Thou, who hast discerning love,

Shouldst give that gift to me?

 

Oh, grace! Into unlikeliest hearts,

It is thy boast to come,

The glory of thy light to find,

In darkest spots a home.

 

God has chosen to save men through faith, that the whole work might appear to be of his grace (Romans 4:16), for faith gives all the glory to God alone.

 

“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.” (Romans 4:16)

 

3.    HOW CAN I GET FAITH?

 

This is a great question to many. They say they want to believe, but cannot. Now a great deal of nonsense is spoken and written on this subject. I want to be very practical in my answer to this question: How can I get faith? What must I do in order to believe? You must do nothing. You must look for nothing. You must simply believe.

  • Think much upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Seek the Lord. — In His Word! — By Prayer! — The Preaching of the Gospel!
  • Yes, you must seek the Lord. — But you will never seek him until you are sought of him.
  • Yes, you must believe! — But only God can give you faith in Christ.
  • Yes, you must turn to Christ. — But only God can turn you.

 

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew

He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.

It was not I that found, O Savior true;

No, I was found of Thee.

 

Thou didst reach forth Thy hand and mine enfold;

I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea.

‘Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold,

As Thou, dear Lord, on me.

 

I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole

Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee!

For Thou wert long beforehand with my soul;

Always Thou lovedst me!

 

4.    WHAT is THE RESULT OF FAITH?

 

The result of faith is salvation, eternal, free, everlasting salvation by the grace of God. — “By grace are ye saved through faith!

  • Faith receives justification.
  • Faith receives adoption.
  • Faith receives redemption.
  • Faith receives peace.
  • Faith receives sanctification.
  • Faith performs nothing; but receives everything!

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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