Saved by Grace

Just what does this really mean? Does it mean that you do nothing and something happens? 

 

Amazing!

The statement is true, but it certainly deserves a bit more investigation to find out how it is applied and when it is applied.

Where it comes from.

Ephesians 2:4-10

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 show 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:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Please Explain

OK. We can do that.

There are a number of things that need to be understood.

Who this is directed at? 

Why is this verse or statement made to only one group of people?

What cultural conditions existed and can the same ones be applied to us today?

What were they experiencing that they needed to have this explanation in the first place?

Who is it directed at?

Ephesians 1:1
The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the
EPHESIANS
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
We see here that the apostle  Paul was writing to the “saints” at Ephesus. The word “Saint” in the original language (Greek) means set apart or made Holy. So he is writing to a group of people that were already “saved”. He understands that the Saints make up the church as he prefaces a number of other letters to the other saints by saying “to the church at….” Bear in mind that Paul is not telling people how to get saved,  but rather it is an admonition on what not to do, to stay saved. 

Paul is giving a clear explanation of the difference between the works of the Old Testament law (salvation by works of the Law) and the Grace of God (receiving the Holy Spirit, with the accompanying evidence of speaking in tongues)

The Culture of the Day

Ephesus was an important city in Asia Minor where the temple of Diana (Artemis) was built so it was the center of pagan worship. There was also a large population of Jews living there, and when the Gospel reached Ephesus a number of the local Jews were converted and became a part of the church alongside the converted pagans. 

The Jews however were reluctant to let go of their old life completely and hung onto some of their old Jewish ways. Not only did they hang on to them, but they tried to introduce into the church the keeping of the Old Testament Law. Obviously this created a conflict of interests. The Jews were adamant that only by keeping the Law plus receiving the Holy Spirit could one be saved. This mixture of Law and Grace was never going to work because the “works” of the law did not save anyone. So Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus to clear up the problem. God could not have chosen a better person to do this.

The Letter

Most of the letters too the churches were in response to a question or questions that were written to Paul in his travels, or while he was under house arrest in Rome. The Ephesian letter is one of those letters in response to a complaint or a question, which is how we end up with the statement 

Ephesians 2:8,9

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The Jews were proud of their ability to keep the Law (or not) and it was more than likely pride that caused the problem. However Jesus’ sacrifice ended the force of the law amongst the saved (Spirit Filled). The statement by Paul was relevant then according to what was going on then and in some respects is still relevant today.

Some people still tell us when confronted with the real salvation message, that they keep the 10 commandments. That can never be true because in today’s world it it an impossible thing to do. Even the jews today can’t do this, so how does a non jew think they could?

Context

Ephesians 2:15
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

This verse is the key to understanding what Paul is writing about, and puts the statements about “grace’ in context

Ephesians 4:14
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

The above verse adds depth to the previous one. 

Jews were in the habit of trying to mix the law and grace together, and in other letters to the churches he speaks of this in plainer terms. Paul warns the new Christians that have come from pagan backgrounds to not be deceived by that thinking. Pagan religions are notoriously controlling and immoral, so Paul warns about those things as well

Who Read What

2 Peter 3:15
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Peter implies that he has read all of Paul’s letters.

Colossians 4:15
15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

These churches were encouraged to share their letters from Paul, and eventually all the letters Paul wrote were share amongst all the churches.

Of course we have the Bible, which is the ultimate vehicle for sharing Paul’s letters as well as many others.

Obviously God wants us to know everything we need to know.

Today we have problems with the non scriptural churches diluting the message of salvation, which does in fact cause people to expect to be saved by their works. It is not said, but it is implied.

Are you saved by Grace?

Absolutely, but you will know you are. It will be a defining moment in your life. You will remember the moment it happened. You will know that you have received the Holy Spirit. You will also know that it was by grace you received the Holy Spirit, and that it was by nothing you could have done except ask. Absolutely no works that you could have done could have given God any more incentive to fill you with the Holy Spirit apart from showing your repentance by asking.

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