Grace or Work

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. ~ Romans 11:6

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. ~ Romans 11:6

Is there any glory for man in salvation?

We considered that salvation is of the Lord in a previous post. The biblical sum on the subject ascribes all glory to God in the salvation of men. So, accepting that salvation is God’s work, is there any room for man’s work in the salvation of his own soul? Does he contribute? Does he get any credit?

The Bible answers that question in three key ways.

  1. God will not divide or share His glory with any other.

    Paul states three times in Ephesians 1 that God’s work in salvation is to the praise of His, God’s own, glory. In verse 3, Paul blesses God who has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings . . . in Christ.” The spiritual blessings are enumerated in verses 4-5. These include being “chosen . . . in him before the foundation of the world,” in order that “we should be holy and without blame before him in love;” and being “predestinated . . . unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.” All these are “To the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6).

    Several blessings are further enumerated in verses 6-12. “He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” “We have redemption through his blood,” and “the forgiveness of sins.” He has “made known unto us the mystery of his will.” “We have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him.” These also are “That we should be to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12).

    Furthermore, the saved have been “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.” This is so that we will ultimately come into the full inheritance of the “purchased possession,” and this also is “unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:14).

  2. Man cannot boast of anything before God.
    Salvation is a particular display of God’s grace, mercy, and love to fallen, human sinners. Paul wrote, “For by grace are ye saved through faith . . . not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). So God does the “work” of salvation and applies that work as a gift of grace to a fallen, incapacitated sinner. Man is left without any boast before God.

    But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe:for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness:that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

    Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay:but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid:yea, we establish the law.
    - Romans 3:21-31

    God has so ordered salvation that man has nothing to boast in himself and his glorying is only rightly in the Lord. “That no flesh should glory in his presence . . . That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:29, 31).

  3. Salvation cannot simultaneously be of grace and of works.
    Words mean things and, like matter, cannot be and not-be at the same time. Genesis 1:1 declares, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” As Francis Schaeffer put it, “The God who is there.” 1 The Bible begins with a distinction—God creates. So you have God and creation; God and not-God. God is the Creator, not the created. The creation is the created and not the Creator.

    The Bible points out just such a distinction between grace and works for salvation.

    And if by grace, then is it no more of works:otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace:otherwise work is no more work.
    - Romans 11:6

    The distinction is made between salvation by works and salvation by grace. It cannot be both at the same time. To make it so does violence to the very meaning of the words—”grace is no more grace” and “work is no more work.” Paul explains this distinction in Romans 4:1-8. To work is to earn a wage, or payment. When the payment comes for work done, that payment is settling a debt. It is a sum that is owed. It is not a gift given.

    Salvation is described as an undeserved gift. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Salvation is an overwhelming gift of grace that gives us what we do not deserve and removes from us what we do deserve, namely death or judgment for sin.

So the answer is, No. There is no glory for man to take to himself in the salvation of his soul. Salvation is start-to-finish of God, and, therefore, all glory belongs to Him.

Notes:

  1. Schaeffer, F. A. (1970). The God who is there: speaking historic Christianity into the twentieth century. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Write to Learn

And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites ~ Deuteronomy 17:18

And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites
~ Deuteronomy 17:18

Writing is one of the most important elements to learning.

Writing has two aims. You write to forget and you write to remember. You write to forget when you hurriedly scribble a name, address, or other information on the back of an envelope or some torn scrap. You hurry to get it down before you forget and so you can forget as soon as you get it down. You do this because you may need this information at some point, but you don’t won’t to commit it memory. The problem I usually have is that I can’t remember where I wrote that name and number, or what I did with the paper.

You write to remember when you write deliberately. When you write deliberately, you write thoughtfully. You are not just jotting down some info you may or may not need. You are writing about events, experiences, concepts, theories, relationships, feelings, reactions, truths, and so on. You are thinking about things, considering, and learning. Writing facilitates thinking and is vital to learning.

Sermon Notes
Hearing a sermon well is a disciplined skill. Writing, note-taking, is an important part of hearing a sermon well. Sermon-hearing methods vary for people. Some do not take notes during the sermon. They rather listen and soak it up and then reflect and write some things later. Some take notes during the sermon. Others listen passively like they are watching some sporting event or media entertainment.

The last group above will likely find expository preaching boring and hard to follow. They are mostly interested in the effect of the moment and do little to no reflection in what was preached. They tend to seek the more superficial, immediately practical, entertaining type of “preaching.” I’m straying just a bit from the point of this post. Let me just say then, this practice is dangerous to the soul though gratifying to the flesh.

For those who use writing as a part of their sermon hearing, whether during, afterward, or both, I have a recommendation for you. I realize that most people have their own systems and that is fine. This is just a suggestion.

Journibles are produced by Reformation Heritage Books. They are fairly inexpensive, good quality, hard bound books. They don’t yet have books for every book of the Bible, but they have most of the New Testament and some of the Old Testament. They are laid out to go through a whole book from beginning to end. The right side page has room to write out the verses of the Bible book. The left side page has a few questions from those verses and space for notes. At the end of use, you will have written every verse of that book and answered questions and written notes on the whole book.

One helpful use for these would be to use them in your sermon note-taking. As your pastor preaches verse-by-verse through a book of the Bible, you could take notes in the Journible. You could write out the verses covered either before the service or afterward during reflection. By the end of the study, you will have written out every verse of the book and have notes throughout. So you will then have your own commentary for future reference and study.

Disclosure
I have no connection to the Journibles or RHB. I do not make anything off the sale of these. I have bought some myself and plan to buy more as they become available. They are good quality and should hold up well to use. They will also look nice on your shelf. Using a book like this will make organization easier. I believe these can be helpful and I pray that God blesses your study of His Word.

Cancer and Cashews

"Creationism is not Appropriate for Children" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHbYJfwFgOU

“Creationism is not Appropriate for Children” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHbYJfwFgOU

Ken Ham hosted Bill Nye on February 4, 2014 at the Creation Museum for a debate over the thesis: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” The origins of this debate, however, began with Bill Nye’s YouTube video: Creationism is not Appropriate for Children, in which he condemned the teaching of the biblical account of creation.

Al Mohler posted a deft assessment of the debate here. The debate was more equal-time presentations with a little interaction. I was hoping for more interaction, but I am thankful that faithful, biblical truth was presented well and respectfully.

In response to Bill Nye’s original video, the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church of Northport, AL asked a few pastors to respond to the video for a page on their website. You can find that original page here: here. I have included my response to the video below.


Cancer and Cashews
A Brief Response to Bill Nye’s Video
By
Jeff Short

September 8, 2012

Bill Nye’s major premise in this clip is, “Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology.” In his estimation, evolution is what enables people to live consistently “with everything we observe in the universe,” and without it you cannot do science, “You’re just not going to get the right answer.” He also deems evolution necessary for a stable developing society with “scientifically literate voters and taxpayers . . . engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.” From this, Bill Nye draws a moral imperative that children should not be taught the biblical account of creation, but rather they should be taught evolution as truth and fact.

Nye refers to the “intellectual capital” we have today and believes evolution is necessary for building that capital in the future. This is historically untenable. The capital we have today was contributed to significantly by professing Christians, believers in the Bible. If evolution is the only way to get the right answer, how can we account for the work of Francis Bacon, William of Ockham, Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, Robert Boyle, Gottfried Leibniz, George Boole, or Michael Faraday to name a few? Did these men and others like them get the right answer?

When anyone does empirical science across all the branches, biology included, it is not on the basis of evolution. Why do we not treat cancer with honey-roasted cashews? Why not? If we are doing science on the basis of random processes, matter in motion, unobserved and unrepeatable events, then cashews, malted milk balls, and chemotherapy are all just as likely to “work,” or not.

We don’t do science on the basis of evolution, but rather on the basis of order, cause and effect, and uniformity. We use observation, experimentation, and reason while presupposing the order and uniformity of natural laws, which are a part of the Christian worldview. No part of the empirical process is dependent on a theory of origins that is itself ever evolving.

Further, why should we treat cancer at all? In a materialist universe, evolution does not care and offers no basis for the judgment: it is good to save life. In a Christian worldview, we have the basis for development of treatments and the moral imperative to do so. Random processes and matter in motion just do not care and do not provide any reason for anyone to care.

I am not impugning his character nor questioning his motives. I believe Bill Nye wants to see the advancement of science, engineering, and technology and that he wants this for the good of the human race. But if evolution is the fundamental idea by which he lives life in consistency with the universe, he has no foundation to care about any of this nor what parents teach their children. Evolution does not care. If there is no design or motive, then it simply does not matter what happens.

So Great Salvation

Salvation is of the LORD. ~ Jonah 2:9

Salvation is of the LORD. ~ Jonah 2:9

Who merits glory in salvation?

Salvation is the rescue and deliverance of a person from sin and condemnation by grace, through faith, unto righteousness and eternal life. Salvation was accomplished through the infinite expense of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son. Every sinner who receives this salvation passes from the sin-condemnation death to the gift-of-God eternal life (John 5:24; Romans 6:23).

So, to whom does salvation belong? And, whose is the glory and praise for such an incalculably gracious gift? Jonah testified, “Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). The Bible supplies us with two undeniable proofs that salvation is indeed of the Lord. The Bible ascribes salvation unto the Lord in whole and in parts. If the all the parts are ascribed to the Lord, then the sum of the parts, or the whole, is ascribed unto the Lord.

The parts of salvation
What do I mean by the “parts” of salvation? I am referring to the different aspects of salvation taught in the Bible. Aspects of salvation can be divided in various ways, but for sake of our thoughts, these would include the new birth, repentance, faith, forgiveness, justification, adoption, perseverance, and glorification.

  • Regeneration, or the new birth, is the work of God solely. Man cannot effect it nor direct it. We are born of God. Without it, we will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.

    Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
    - John 3:3

    Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth:so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
    - John 3:7-8

    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

    Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
    - James 1:18

  • Repentance is confessing, forsaking, and renouncing all our sin before God. It is turning from sin and self unto Christ alone. Repentance is a gift from God and the work of God in the soul of man.

    In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
    - 2 Timothy 2:25

    When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
    - Acts 11:18

  • Faith is believing savingly and trusting fully in the person and work of Christ alone for the full payment of our sin-debt, imputed righteousness before God, deliverance from God’s wrath, and eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord. Faith is also a gift from God and the work of God in the soul of man.

    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

    All things are delivered unto me of my Father:and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
    - Matthew 11:27

    For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
    - Philippians 1:29

  • Forgiveness is the full pardon and deliverance from the condemnation justly due all our sins. We are all unquestionably guilty before God and rightly condemned to death by God’s just and holy law. Apart from full forgiveness of all transgressions of God’s holy law, we will suffer eternal punishment apart from God. Forgiveness is unquestionably from God based on the atoning work of Christ in our place. He is the judge, law-giver, and the offended by our sin.

    And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
    - Ephesians 4:32

    I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake,
    and will not remember thy sins.
    - Isaiah 43:25

  • Justification means being declared righteous before God. Justification is by grace through faith based on the perfect sacrifice of Christ for our sins and the perfect righteousness of Christ for our life. Justification is of God.

    Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness:that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
    - Romans 3:24-26

  • Adoption is being engrafted into God’s family. We are aliens by nature, the children of disobedience who are cut off from God. God adopts us into His family giving us full status as heirs and joint-heirs with His only begotten Son. Adoption is the gracious work of God.

    For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint- heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
    - Romans 8:14-17

    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: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
    - Ephesians 1:4-5

  • Perseverance is the continuance in the Gospel unto the end through the gracious preservation of God. Those who are truly saved do not fall away, but persevere and endure, being faithful unto death. Perseverance is a work begun, continued, and finished by God.

    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:
    - Philippians 1:6

    Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
    - 1 Peter 1:5

    My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
    - John 10:27-29

  • Glorification is the full redemption of the purchased possession where man’s soul and spirit are joined with his resurrected, perfected, immortal body to dwell with Christ for all eternity. Glorification is likewise the sole work of God.

    Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
    - Romans 8:30

    For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
    - Philippians 3:20-21

The above is a sample of how the Bible ascribes the various aspects of salvation to God. It is simple to conclude that if the parts are all ascribed to God, then it follows that the whole is then ascribed to God. Jonah testified to the truth.

If salvation is truly of the Lord, then all the glory is only to God. Paul writes as much to the church at Corinth.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
- 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

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