Those who twist the Scriptures, to put their own meaning into them instead of what God says, have misled many people. It is important for us to have a clear understanding of the term “salvation” as God defines it in the Bible.
With the start of a new ABC year, I want to cover a topic today that’s a basic topic that will help, hopefully, all of them, also help to educate, instruct and edify all of us. Over the years I think many had been misled by certain topics in the bible, in the scriptures and a lot of times there are scriptures you find that have been written in such a way that people can take them and twist them or pervert them or put their own meaning into them instead of what God says.
Now let me read you a list of scriptures quickly and how would you answer these scriptures if somebody were to pull his bible out, start thumping on it and say, “O.K., give me an answer.” In other words, there’s a certain way or twist that those who do not want to keep God’s law, God’s commandments, put on these particular scriptures and I’m going to give them to you in sequence if you want to follow in your bible, you can. But I’d just like to run through them very quickly.
Romans 3:20 Romans 3:20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
American King James Version×— Therefore by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in His sight. So the reasoning goes, that you don’t have to keep God’s law in order to be justified, all you have to do is believe.
Romans 3:27-28 Romans 3:27-28 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? No: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
American King James Version×— Where is boasting? It’s excluded by what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. They would reason that this scripture says that all you need is faith, you don’t have to have any works, any deeds, you don’t have to worry about keeping the commandments, all you have to do is just have faith. Then that would lead us to:
Romans 4:1-8 Romans 4:1-8 1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found?
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he has whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what said the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
6 Even as David also describes the blessedness of the man, to whom God imputes righteousness without works,
7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
American King James Version×— What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he’s something to boast of, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now this scripture was used seven years ago quite extensively to say that all you’ve got to do is believe and if you believe, then that means you’re righteous, you don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to worry about the commandments.
Romans 4:15 Romans 4:15Because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
American King James Version×— Because the law brings about wrath…and the concept here is that the God of the Old Testament was a wrathful God, He was a God who if you stepped out of the line would go “zap,” send little bears out to destroy children, things of this nature, so they try to put down God, anything dealing with the Old Testament.
Romans 6:15 Romans 6:15What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
American King James Version×— What then? Shall we sin because we’re not under the law but under grace? So the twist or the reasoning would be, we’re under grace and if you’re under grace, you’re not under the law, you don’t have to keep the law, all you have to do is just be thankful you have grace now.
Romans 7:4 Romans 7:4Why, my brothers, you also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God.
American King James Version×— Therefore my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ. So when you accept Christ, the law is dead and all you have to do is live to Christ. Now again, I’m not saying what I believe, I’m just giving you the interpretation, the twist that would be put on this.
Romans 10:4 Romans 10:4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.
American King James Version×— Would be a key one — For Christ is the end of the law…The interpretation there would be Christ came to end the law, He did away with it.
Now we’ll switch books, sorry to do this to you, but the book of Galatians:
Galatians 2:16 Galatians 2:16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
American King James Version×— Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified in Christ and not by works of law, for by the works of the law, no flesh would be justified. So again, if you want to become a Christian, if you want to be justified, you want to be in right standing with God, don’t worry about the law, all you’ve to do is believe.
Galatians 3:10 Galatians 3:10For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
American King James Version×— This is one that they would hop all over! For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse…so the reasoning would go like this — do you want to be cursed? Do you want to be under a curse? Don’t keep the law. If you keep the law, you’re going to be under a curse.
Galatians 5:1-4 Galatians 5:1-4 1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.
American King James Version×, just the last sentence of verse 4 — you have become estranged from Christ, you who attempted to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace. And so they would say if you want to try to keep the law you are fallen from grace and none of us want to fall from grace.
O.K., that’s the set of scripture that too often or quite often are used to say that we do not have to keep the law, that all we have to do is just simply believe. Now how would you explain those scriptures? I mean, what would you do to explain those? O.K., let me show you another set of scriptures. I’ve given you one set, let me give you a second set. This is set number two. Romans 2:13 Romans 2:13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
American King James Version×, we’ll go back to the book of Romans again.
Romans 2:13 Romans 2:13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
American King James Version×— For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified. Now Romans 2:13 Romans 2:13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
American King James Version×seems to say that you have to do the law in order to be justified. Is there a contradiction here between these two? Also verses 19-29, Paul is talking basically to the Jews and he showed them that they claimed to be the preserver and the ones who obeyed the law and yet notice in v. 21:
Romans 2:21 Romans 2:21You therefore which teach another, teach you not yourself? you that preach a man should not steal, do you steal?
American King James Version×— You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make the boast in the law, do you dishonor God…notice, there’s a way of dishonoring God — how…through breaking the law? So here he’s implying that the Jews were dishonoring God by their disobedience.
Verse 25 — For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law, but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Therefore, if the uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law…notice there is a righteous requirement…will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?
Verse 27 — He will not be physically uncircumcised if he fulfills the law, judge you even with your written code and circumcision? In other words, you who are a transgressor of the law. Then you notice in verse 29 it talks about:
Verse 29 — A Jew is one inwardly who is circumcised in the heart in the spirit.
This section of scripture seems to indicate that Paul was indicating the Jews because they failed to keep the law and that there is a responsibility to keep it in the spirit, not just in the letter. That brings us to Romans 7:6-7 Romans 7:6-7 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. 7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet.
American King James Version×.
Romans 7:6 Romans 7:6But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
American King James Version×— But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the spirit. Now Paul says here a Christian should serve in the newness of the spirit, not just in the oldness of the letter.
Verse 7 — What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Is there something wrong with the law? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except the law, for I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You should not covet.”
So here Paul is explaining we should keep the law and keep it in the spirit. What about Romans 7:12 Romans 7:12Why the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
American King James Version×?
Romans 7:12 Romans 7:12Why the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
American King James Version×— Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just and good.
It doesn’t say therefore the law is bad and the law is unholy. Anything holy comes from God.
Verse 14 — We know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, physical, sold under sin.
So we find that the law is a spiritual law.
Verse 16 — If then I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
So what do you do with all of these scriptures that say that the law is spiritual, holy, it’s just, it’s good. What about verse 22, same chapter?
Verse 22 — For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. Then:
Verse 25 — I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God…
So here you have Paul who said, Look, I delight in God’s law, I serve the law. In one final scripture, I Cor. 7:19:
I Cor. 7:19 — Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
O.K., now here are two separate lists and seemingly one contradicts the other but we know that the bible does not contradict itself, so, therefore, there has to be a logical explanation. How would you go about explaining these two sets of scriptures? Why do we find so much confusion in the minds of some people? Especially many theologians, when it comes to Paul’s writings. Paul wrote fourteen books of the bible and why do you find that there is so much misunderstanding of what he had to say? Well let’s go back to II Peter 3:15 and I want you to notice what Peter says here about the writings of Paul. I think this was quoted by Dr. Kirkpatrick the other day in a bible study, but let’s notice it.
II Pet. 3:15 — An account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation, as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you as also in all of his epistles, speaking in them of these things in which are some things hard to be understood…so Peter acknowledges that some of the things Paul said were not too easy to understand…which those who are untaught and unstable, twist to their own destruction.
That’s why I use the word that sometimes people twist some of these scriptures, because that’s what Peter said. Therefore I thought I was on good grounds! Same grounds that Peter was. But he said:
V. 16 - Look, there are those that twist this to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the scriptures.
So not only do they twist Paul’s writings, but they twist others also. What you find as a principle, that the bible is written in a way so that people could read it, be deceived, stumble over what is written. Did not Jesus Christ say that He spoke in parables? Why? So that, hearing, they would not understand, seeing, they would not see. That people would not understand. Now one of the things that I have found over the years in trying to understand especially Paul’s writings, that tends to lead to confusion in people’s minds, and why I think several years ago a lot of people became confused, is that there are a lot of words translated in the bible that people do not understand the full implication of and they read them and they sound like a religious term.
I remember years ago, there was a Sunday school teacher who used to teach a Sunday school class and he would come to a term like this and he would just say, “Hard word.” And he’d go on. And when somebody would ask him, “Well what’s the meaning of that?” Well, “hard word” and he would proceed on! He never would explain the meaning of it. The words such as law, grace, atonement, anointing, justification, redemption, reconciliation, sanctification, consecration, propitiation, salvation, election and on and on. What do those words mean? A lot of times we read over those words and because we don’t have a full grasp of what they mean, then the scriptures do not become clear.
I think some of the confusion and understanding Paul’s writings and the rest of the scriptures, comes from not properly understanding these terms, and how they relate to one another. In order to understand the plan of salvation and how grace and law relate to salvation, we need to understand these terms and their relationship to one another. These are not isolated terms that stand alone, they all intertwine with one another and they all help to explain the plan of salvation.
Now if you can understand the relationship of these words, of these terms, you should be able to explain “any” so-called difficult scripture because you will have the ammunition to know what it means and if somebody comes up and says, Well, what about this scripture, you can say, O.K., I understand that scripture and you will be able to explain it. When I get through today, there’s not one of these difficult scriptures that you should not be able to open the scriptures up and say, Yes, I have the confidence that I can explain what that means. So let’s start off with the sermon today in a logical way, let’s start with the very basic, the very foundation of why we are all here. Why do we need salvation? What is salvation? What do you need to be saved from? Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×, and again, we’ll spend quite a bit of time in the book of Romans today, but Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×says this, it’s a scripture I’m sure most have memorized.
Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×— The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
O.K., the wages of sin is death and that’s talking about eternal death, the second death and the lake of fire. Wages are what you earn, you earn wages. You go out and you work, maybe forty hours a week, get paid 6, 8, 10, 20 dollars an hour and you bring home your wages. The wages of sin, in other words, what you earn by your works of sin, what are the wages you get from sinning? It’s death, that’s what you come up with. Hebrews 9:27 Hebrews 9:27And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:
American King James Version×states: It is appointed to all men once to die. All of us, by the very fact that we are human, will die. Wages, according to Thayer’s Lexicon, the word in the Greek means, a soldier’s pay or allowance. In other words, his wages for what he did. Metaphorically it means “wages, hire or pay.” God has not promised that you and I will live forever in the flesh. I think most of us are very glad about that — right? From the time you start turning 60, 70 and 80 and the body starts falling apart and the hair falls out and the eyes go, hearing’s gone, teeth disappear, body sags, subcutaneous deposits appear all over the body, you begin to say, I don’t want to live forever in this flesh and God has not intended that we live forever in the flesh. Flesh is not conducive to living forever — but you know what is? A spirit body is. A spirit body can live forever without all of the frailties of the human body.
Eternal life, you find here, is a gift from God. Eternal life is salvation from sin, in other words, sin brings death, so God has to give us life, it is a gift from God. There is nothing you can do to earn eternal life. Let me ask you —what could you do possibly in your lifetime, from the time that God calls you, maybe He called you at age 10, 20, 40, 60 — what could you do for the rest of your life until you died, that would earn you a spiritual body and the ability to live forever?
You see, there is nothing you can do to earn that, that’s something free, that’s something that God will give to us. It is His free gift as it says here, that the gift of God is eternal life. The word gift in the Greek is charisma and it means a gift of grace, a gift involving grace on the part of God as the donor. Eternal life is God’s gift to us, it’s something He’s going to give to us. Sort of like you as a parent, maybe…day of graduation. Now this did not happen in my family, to me, hasn’t happened to any of my sons either, but I’ll just use it as an illustration. You graduate from high school and after graduation, your dad and mom come up and say, We want to give you a gift, graduation gift — here are the keys to the Jaguar. Now what did you do to earn that? Well you can say, I earned it because I went through four years of school and made good grades and all of that. No, you don’t earn a $40,000, $50,000 vehicle. That was what was expected of you, you were supposed to do those things.
Well the same thing is true here of God. God wants to share something with us, He wants to share His life and God wants to give us eternal life. Now Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×, if you remember…if the wages of sin is death…and we’re talking about eternal death, Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×says:
Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×— All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
So every human being finds themselves in that boat. And what does sin do to a human being and God, in our relationship with God? It cuts us off from God. Isaiah 59:2 Isaiah 59:2But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
American King James Version×. I won’t turn there, but it says that our sins separate us from God, so that God doesn’t hear. So those who sin then, and who are practicing and living in sin as a way of life, as the bible says, all have sinned, are cut off from sin and sin leads to death. Salvation then is God saving us from eternal death and giving us life eternal. That’s what the plan of salvation is all about, God is going to save us from not having to die forever and He’s going to give us eternal life.
Now if all of that’s true, how can we have access to God? If sin separates us from God and all have sinned, how does a human being ever make contact with God? If we’re cut off from God and God isn’t out there just listening necessarily to sinners, how do we make contact with God? Well, let me give you a little secret. God is the one who initiates the process, God is the one who starts the ball rolling, He is the one who begins to work with us. In John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×, if you go back, notice what Jesus Christ said:
John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×— No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me, draws him. And I will raise him up in the last day. Same thing is said in v. 65:
V. 65 — And He said, “Therefore, I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
So God has to initiate the process, He looks down and He calls somebody, He draws the person, He begins to open their mind, He begins to work with them through His spirit so that they might understand His way of life. Now it’s interesting though when you tie this in with John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
American King James Version×, what Christ, later on, had to say.
John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
American King James Version×— Jesus said to them, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
So God has to draw you, but you can’t come to the Father except through Christ, so both of them are intricately involved in the plan of salvation, to bring us into their kingdom. Now if God draws or calls us, is there anything that He expects us to do? In other words, when God begins to work with a person, illuminates their mind, begins to open their understanding, is there anything that God requires of us? Well Acts 2:36 Acts 2:36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
American King James Version×puts it as clearly as anything I know of. This was on the Day of Pentecost; Peter was inspired by God to deliver this powerful sermon:
Acts 2:36 Acts 2:36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
American King James Version×— “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” O.K…that’s the question, I ask, what is it that God wants us to do?
V. 38 — Peter said to them, “Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit.”
So it’s a formula — repent, be baptized and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit. Why should we repent? Repent of what? Why be baptized? Well verse 38 says, For the remission…the word remission means forgiveness…for the forgiving of our sins. God wants us to forgive us, but He cannot forgive us, or will not forgive us until we repent. We have to be sorry for our sins, we have to be sorry for what we’ve done wrong. We have to ask for God’s forgiveness and then at baptism, after repentance, God covers those sins and they are forgiven and through the laying on of hands, we receive the holy spirit.
Now the question is, if we’re going to repent of sin, what is sin? I John 3:4 John 3:4Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
American King James Version×, you all know that, let me read from the New American Standard Bible.
I John 3:4 John 3:4Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
American King James Version×— Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness and sin is lawlessness. Or as the King James Version says: Sin is the transgression of God’s law.
So what we find is a very basic scripture, there is no way you can become confused about this scripture — it says sin is breaking God’s law, it’s transgressing the law of God. Now with that in mind, let’s notice two very interesting scriptures in the book of Romans. Romans 4:15 Romans 4:15Because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
American King James Version×says:
Romans 4:15 Romans 4:15Because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
American King James Version×— Because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law, there is no transgression.
If there is no law, you have not sinned. If there is sin, by the very fact that there is sin, there is a law. So it says here, when there is no law, there is no transgression. You know there are some states where there are no speed limits. So if you want to do 75, 80, 85, as long as…the only rule they have is if you drive according to conditions and if it’s safe, if it’s a good clear day, the roads are straight as an arrow and you’re doing 85 or 90, you’re not breaking any law, whereas try that here in Ohio and you will find out you will be pulled over very quickly because there are laws here that you would transgress. You’ll notice here in v. 15 also, the last part here, well the first part says:
V. 15 — Because the law brings about wrath…
Why does the law bring about wrath? What’s wrathful about the law? Well because disobedience to the Ten Commandments brings about a penalty, that’s why there’s wrath. You disobey it, there’s a penalty that will come back on you. Conversely, obedience brings about blessings that come from God. In other words, there’s cause and effect. You disobey it, there’s a cause, there will be a penalty. Turn over to Romans 5:12 Romans 5:12Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned:
American King James Version×.
Romans 5:12 Romans 5:12Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned:
American King James Version×— Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because all sinned…so again, we find that everyone has sinned…for until the law sin was in the world.
Now he’s talking here about the fact that even prior to the time of Mt. Sinai where the law was given in a codified form, there was sin in the world. So there was sin in the world prior to that time, there had to be a law. But notice, he goes on to explain that:
V. 13 - …sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam… So what that tells us is there was a law in force from the very beginning when God put man on the earth.
With that in mind, what is the purpose of the law? Why did God give the law? When I mention the law, I’m talking about the eternal spiritual law of God, the Ten Commandments, the way of love, as outlined in the Bible, to love God with all your heart, to love your neighbor as yourself. In Romans 3:20 Romans 3:20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
American King James Version×we find out one of the purposes of the law.
Romans 3:20 Romans 3:20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
American King James Version×— Therefore by the deeds…or the works…of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
So the law reveals to us what sin is. How do you know what sin is unless God tells you? The problem with humanity is everybody’s trying to decide for himself what is right and wrong, where God has to be the one who tells us. Its purpose is not to forgive. Now notice again, it says, By the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in His sight. God did not create the law as a vehicle or a means for forgiveness. The law shows us what sin is, it reveals right from wrong. It was not created to forgive sin. That would be like me saying that an airplane was created for the purpose of flying under the water. No, a submarine was created for that purpose. If I said a submarine was created to fly in the air, you’d start shaking your head and say, Well, I know it has a purpose, but that’s not the purpose. Same thing is true of God’s law. In Romans 7:7 Romans 7:7What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet.
American King James Version×, we read this earlier:
Romans 7:7 Romans 7:7What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet.
American King James Version×— What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said you shall not covet.
So the law reveals to us what is sin. It shows us God’s standard of conduct for us as human beings. It explains how we’re to love or worship God, how to love and have a proper relationship with other human beings. Matthew 22:36-40 Matthew 22:36-40 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
American King James Version×, I referred to that earlier. For we love God with all our heart and our neighbor as our self. It reveals God’s nature to us, that He is a God of love. It shows us how to approach God. Obedience to any law, I don’t care what it is, does not forgive past sins, I don’t care if you perfectly keep the law from this day forward, never sin, which is impossible, but if you could do that, it does not forgive your past sins, so that again is not the purpose of the law. James 1:22-25 James 1:22-25 22 But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like to a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. 25 But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
American King James Version×says that the law is a mirror to expose what we are, who we are. It talks about looking into the perfect law of God and that if you go away and you forget what you saw there. See most of us look into a mirror for what purpose? Do we look into the mirror to just admire the mirror and think the mirror — isn’t this great? I love looking at this mirror! No, you look in the mirror because there is a reflection in there and it reflects something back to you, you look at yourself and you think, Uh-oh, what am I going to do? I’m having a bad hair day! Or, I’m having an ugly sick day! Or whatever it might be, you look at yourself and you realize that, “I need to do something.” So you comb your hair, you get yourself dressed. A mirror reveals to us what we see in it, what’s out there. It takes the holy spirit of God working with our minds to reveal and convict us of sin and to show us what our true nature is, our wrong thoughts are, our wrong attitudes and approach.
With that in mind, why do we need grace? Why do we need grace, or how does grace figure into the picture? We need grace because we break the law, we sin, we have incurred the death penalty, the wages of sin is death. In the book of Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×, let’s notice:
Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×— Since for by grace, you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself; it is the gift of God.
Salvation revolves around grace. We are saved, as it says here, by grace. The faith that it takes to save us comes from God; it also is a gift from God, just as grace is.
V. 9 — Not of works, lest anyone should boast.
See if it were of works, if it were a matter that you could obey God forty or fifty years flawlessly, then you could go to God and say, “O.K. God, I’ve done what You said, now you are required to give me eternal life, I’ve earned it.” No, there’s no way you can do that, you don’t earn it, it’s a gift, and even the faith that it takes to obey God, to serve God, is a gift. The purpose of works, again, is not to earn salvation. We earn the death penalty by our works of sin, remember? What is the purpose of works? Well Revelation 22:12 Revelation 22:12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
American King James Version×says we are rewarded according to our works — right?
Our reward, our position, our responsibility in the kingdom, how many cities we rule over, how much responsibility we have, how many people we’re able to serve and help hinges on our works today, we are rewarded according to our works. So that has to do with the responsibilities that we will have in the kingdom. Now in Ephesians 2:10 Ephesians 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
American King James Version×, notice:
Ephesians 2:10 Ephesians 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
American King James Version×— For we are His workmanship…God is working with us, He’s fashioning His character, Himself in us, His mind, His nature, His outlook, His heart, so we are His workmanship…created in Christ Jesus for…for what — for what purpose? …for good works, which God prepared before Him that we should walk in them.
So we’re His workmanship, He’s shaping and fashioning us and then we are to have good works so that we might serve others. Our works are either good or bad. We’ve been created for good works, God has created us for good works — not for bad works, not for evil works, not for terrible works, He’s created us to have good works, to be able to serve and to help others.
So when we find that we’re saved by grace…what is grace? The term for grace in the Greek language is charis and according to the Enhanced Strongs Lexicon’s definition, means, “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness, grace of speech or graciousness. Goodwill, loving-kindness, favor, of the merciful kindness of God.” Grace describes God’s divine nature, His willingness to forgive, His willingness to extend mercy and to pardon us if we repent. We used to say; you know it’s the short definition of grace, that it was God’s unmerited pardon. Unmerited means something you don’t deserve. God is willing to pardon us and when we repent, because of His nature, His graciousness, His mercy, His kindness, He is willing to forgive us. And so without that, we would be dead in our sins. Our good works again, cannot earn forgiveness but God will not forgive a sinner and give him the holy spirit if he continues to live in sin. See here’s the difference — I read you a scripture that says God will justify those who have good works — well the good works don’t justify you but is God going to forgive somebody who’s still a murderer, who’s still committing adultery, who robs banks every other day, who beats his mother up, who commits adultery against his wife, who’s out stealing and lying and cheating, is God going to say, O.K., I forgive you. Not as long as he continues to do those things.
You have to repent, so repent means to depart from evil, to stop sinning, to the best of our ability. We know we don’t completely, but we don’t want to continue in a sinful way. What God is looking for when a person repents is that you make a change and you turn around 180 degrees, if we were going this direction at one time and we turn around and we go that direction. We have made a course change. Yes, we still sin, but we’re not living in sin, practicing sin, doing sin as a way of life. You see, if you today were a murderer sitting on death row and could promise the Governor, the warden, everybody on the pardon board, everybody that you could think of, that you will not murder anybody else in the future, that you will not do this dastardly deed again, that you will not be a murderer, now the Governor could give you a reprieve, but you don’t deserve it. Just because you don’t murder somebody in the future doesn’t forgive what you did in the past. See that’s where God’s mercy and grace comes in. God promises to extend mercy to us if we repent. Part of repentance is stopping sin or practicing sin. Now in Romans 3:20 Romans 3:20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
American King James Version×, notice, we read this earlier, but I want you to notice:
Romans 3:20 Romans 3:20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
American King James Version×— Therefore by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in His sight.
How does grace and justification — or justify, tie in together? I think you’ll see as we go through this sermon that all of these terms actually revolve around what God is doing in the plan of salvation. So what does grace and justification mean?
Well the word justification in the Greek denotes the act of pronouncing righteous justification or acquittal. The term in the Hebrew and Greek means acquit, declare righteous, the opposite of condemning. Justifying is the judge’s act; it means to get the verdict. When the bible says that we are justified in God’s sight, it means that we are brought back into a right relationship with God, that we have had our past justified. Justification has to do with being made right in God’s sight. In other words, we’re made righteous or right with God, whereas before we were wrong with God. Before we were His enemy, we were disobedient. We’ve had our past sins forgiven; the barriers that stood between us and God had been removed. We have now been reconciled to God, brought back into a right relationship with God. Let’s notice Romans 3:21 Romans 3:21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
American King James Version×:
Romans 3:21-22 Romans 3:21-22 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and on all them that believe: for there is no difference:
American King James Version×— But now the righteousness of God, apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Even the righteousness of God, which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference.
What you find is that the word righteous here in the Greek and the word justification, come from the same root word and have the same basic meaning. The word righteous here in a broad sense, means “the state of him who is as he ought to be.” How ought we to be when it comes to our relationship with God? Ought we not to be doing what God says? Ought we not to have the same mind, the same attitude, the same approach? Ought we not to be doing what’s right, what’s good as opposed to what is evil? So it’s the state of him who is as he ought to be, righteous, the condition acceptable to God. God doesn’t accept sin; we have to repent of that. He will accept the person doing what’s right. It has to do with integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness, of thinking, feeling and acting. So notice, it covers all of those. How we think, how we feel, how we act, all of that is covered under righteousness. Vines gives this definition, actually there are two different words here, very similar, but Vines says, “it is the character or quality of being right or just. It was formerly spelt ‘rightwiseness’ which clearly expresses it’s meaning.” When it’s used of God it means essentially the same as His faithfulness or His truthfulness, that you can trust God, you can rely upon God. Now notice v. 24 here:
V. 24 — Being justified freely by His grace…
If you would put this in common English, it simply means we have been made right with God, the barriers between us and God have been removed and it was done by God’s grace or by His unmerited pardon, something we don’t deserve — He did it freely, He was willing to do it, of course, based upon the fact that we were willing to repent. So we are justified or made right or righteous by God’s grace, His pardon or His forgiveness. As sinner’s, we’re not right with God. This is accomplished again through the redemption of Jesus Christ. Notice the last part of V. 24:
V. 24 - …being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
See again, there is one of those words that you tend to read right over. The word redemption in the Greek simply means “a ransom.” Somebody’s been kidnapped, you pay a ransom to get them back and you have bought them back. Mr. Armstrong used to say that the whole world has been kidnapped by Satan the devil. The ransom that was paid was Jesus Christ’s life; He gave His life so that we could be ransomed. Hold your place here because we’re going to come back, but Mark 10:45 Mark 10:45For even the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
American King James Version×says this:
Mark 10:45 Mark 10:45For even the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
American King James Version×— “For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.”
So Christ gave Himself, His life as a ransom. Ephesians 1:7 Ephesians 1:7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
American King James Version×, I’ll just refer to that, says that we have been redeemed through His blood. In other words, through His sacrifice. He gave His life when He sacrificed Himself and it is through that ransom that you and I then have grace extended to us, our sins forgiven. Now back in Romans 3:25 Romans 3:25Whom God has 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;
American King James Version×, it’s nice that most of these terms are used right here in this one chapter.
Romans 3:25 Romans 3:25Whom God has 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;
American King James Version×— Whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness…again, same word here for righteousness, in other words, to demonstrate God’s faithfulness or His truthfulness, that God will do what is right, He is true to His word, He is faithful in what He says, because…in His forbearance, God has passed over the sins that were previously committed.
God is willing to pass over; He is willing to give us forgiveness. Propitiation simply means the removal of wrath by the offering up of the gifts. The removal of wrath. What gift was given so that the penalty of sin could be removed from us? Well it was Jesus Christ’s sacrifice again, is what it is talking about. He was propitiation, in other words, His life that He gave, His sacrifice, was a gift. The word in the Greek has a meaning; it means “a means of appeasing or expiating.” Something that expiates our sins. It’s only used twice in the New Testament and once its translated propitiation, that’s here, the other time it’s translated mercy seat. Now why would it be translated mercy seat? It is used as the cover of the Ark of the Covenant in the holy of holies and I’m quoting here from Vines, “which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiation victim on the annual Day of Atonement.” In other words, the blood was brought in and was sprinkled on the mercy seat, showing that mercy comes from God because the mercy seat is a type of the throne of God in heaven and that Christ’s blood was brought there so that it could be applied to our sins and that our sins might be forgiven. So what you find here is that propitiation is just simply talking about that gift and that gift was Christ’s life that He gave.
Now again, I asked the question earlier, why does God’s wrath come on man? Romans 1:18 Romans 1:18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
American King James Version×, I sort of gave a summary then, but notice Romans 1:18 Romans 1:18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
American King James Version×, it says:
Romans 1:18 Romans 1:18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
American King James Version×— For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
So God’s wrath comes against those who sin, disobey, who break His law, who are unrighteous. Now Ephesians 5 also explains this.
Ephesians 5:5 Ephesians 5:5For this you know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
American King James Version×— This you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
V. 6 — Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things, the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
So God’s wrath comes on those who disobey, who break His laws and His commandments. So what you’ll find is that God is willing to forgive us. If you back up again to the book of Romans 4:2 Romans 4:2For if Abraham were justified by works, he has whereof to glory; but not before God.
American King James Version×, we read this again about Abraham. Notice:
Romans 4:2 Romans 4:2For if Abraham were justified by works, he has whereof to glory; but not before God.
American King James Version×— If Abraham were justified by works, he has something which to boast, but not before God.
So we cannot make ourselves right with God by our good works, as we very clearly have seen and as V. 15 says, the law brings wrath because man disobeys it, it brings a penalty on himself and all have sinned again and come under the death penalty. Now let’s notice in Romans 5:9 Romans 5:9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
American King James Version×.
Romans 5:9 Romans 5:9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
American King James Version×— Much more than, having now been justified by His blood…O.K., you and I have been brought into a right relationship by Christ’s sacrifice, that’s what that’s talking about…we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
So through Christ you and I can be saved from wrath, we don’t have to die, we don’t have to come under the wrath and be thrown in the lake of fire. He died as a sin sacrifice for us, He paid the penalty. Now let’s notice v. 10:
V. 10 — For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
We have salvation because Christ lives in us. Christ’s sacrifice forgives our past sins, but we have salvation because God comes and lives within us and through His spirit, we will have eternal life. But I want you to notice; we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. What does the word “reconciliation” mean? It simply means “to change from enmity to friendship, to reconcile.” There are two Greek words for reconciliation or reconcile in the New Testament and the other means “to remove all enmity and leave no impediments to unity and peace.” It means to “bring back into harmony or to adjust.” It has to do with throwing away the enmity that comes over a quarrel. It implies that one party has been reconciled that was formerly hostile to the other. The Bible always talks about us being reconciled to God — you know why? Who has to change? Does God change? God says, “I change not.” You and I have to change, we’re the ones who have sinned, we’re the ones who have been at disharmony, our sins have cut us off from God, it is our sins that have separated us from God, so therefore you and I are the ones who are brought back into harmony with God. So what reconciliation means, it means the same thing we would talk about a husband and wife who are not getting along, who have arguments, who are hostile and they reconcile with one another, their differences are settled and now they’re lovey-dovey. Same thing is true here; you and I are to be brought back into a right relationship with God.
So if there is enmity, where did the enmity come from? Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×says what?
Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×— The carnal mind is enmity against God…
The natural mind of man, influenced by Satan, influenced by the around, influenced by his own nature, uncontrolled puts him at enmity to God. So when we repent, we have to come to recognize that we have to overcome Satan, have to overcome our own nature and the world and in so doing, then we can be in a right relationship with God. We are reconciled to God, we are the ones who have to change, we’re the ones who have been hostile and not subject or obedient to God’s law. Now in the King James Version, verse 11 - Romans 5:11 Romans 5:11And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
American King James Version×is translated in the King James Version, atonement. And it’s the same word as reconciliation. In the New Testament, atonement comes from the same root word as reconciliation; it means “to thoroughly change from one position to another.” You and I have to change from our carnal position to God’s position. We have to change completely. Man is reconciled to God, we’ve been enemies in the past.
In the Old Testament, as you know, the word “atonement means,” “to cover over.” So that word implies our sins are covered over and once that happens, then we are made right with God or we’re reconciled with God and we can be at peace with God. In I Corinthians 6:9 it says:
I Cor. 6:9 — Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, or sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. In other words, those who break God’s law.
V. 11 — And such were some of you. But you were washed and you were sanctified and you were justified.
What does the word “sanctified” mean? God says you were like this at one time, but now you have been sanctified. The word sanctified simply means “to separate or set apart.” You and I, when we have been sanctified, you know people talk about sanctification and it simply means that God has separated us, He has set us apart. In the Old Testament it implies being a part, in the New Testament we have the added meaning of holiness and consecration. Sanctification implies separation from evil and from the unclean. We are to be set apart, to be holy. The word “saint” comes from this primary root word and what it means is, a saint is one whose been set apart by God to be holy, to have God living in him. Remember in I Corinthians 7, if you’ll just turn over the next chapter, verse 14.
I Cor. 7:14 — For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife…that means where one is converted in the family, that the unbelieving member is set apart…and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband…same thing…otherwise, your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.
Brethren, we are only made holy by coming in contact with something that is holy. To be sanctified, to be set apart, you and I have to come into contact with God, in other words with His holy spirit and it is called the holy spirit that imparts God’s very nature to us. Now once that happens, you and I have been consecrated. We find the word consecration in Hebrews 10:19-20 Hebrews 10:19-20 19 Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
American King James Version×, I won’t read that but you can just jot it down. The word consecrated, you and I have been consecrated, the word “consecration” means “initiated or inaugurated a new way for us.” It means to be “anew, to do anew again, to initiate or to consecrate.” When the bible talks about that there is a new way that has been consecrated, it means there is a way. Christ said, “I am the Way.” A new way to come before Him. In the Old Testament, if you wanted to worship God you had to go to the temple, offer up sacrifices, you went through the physical priesthood and you went through all of that. John 4:23-24 John 4:23-24 23 But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
American King James Version×says that today you and I can worship God in spirit and in truth. Not just through a physical temple, you and I become the temple, we are the spiritual temple of God in which God lives and in which God walks.
So to be consecrated, we’re talking about consecration, means something that is new and we also become God’s elect or the election of God. One final scripture here, Colossians 3:12 Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;
American King James Version×.
Colossians 2:12 Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead.
American King James Version×— Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness and longsuffering, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so also should we do.
So you and I find that we, as the elect of God are to take on the very nature, attributes, mind, approach, heart of God. The word “elect” simply means, “picked out or chosen.” Christians are called, we are chosen. The Messiah is also called the elect, He was appointed, selected by God for an extremely important job responsibility and you know what that does? It brings us back to where we started and I asked, How do you make contact with God and I said God has to initiate the process, right? He has to call, He has to select us, He has to bring us to that point.
So brethren, salvation is something that God is wanting to give to His people. God initiates the process; He is the one who does the calling. God is calling us to salvation. Some now, ultimately He will offer that to all. Salvation, God has an overall plan whereby He wants to bring many sons to glory. He wants us to be a part of His divine family, the kingdom of God and all of these scriptures and terms that I’ve gone through today just simply help to explain that. I have a handout in the back if you’d like to pick it up, it goes through all of these terms that I’ve covered today and puts them in layman language. When I say layman language:
Salvation is to be saved from eternal death, given eternal life.
Eternal life is to live forever.
Spiritual law - the law of love, the Ten Commandments.
Sin is the transgression of the law. (I’ve just tried to give a one or two word, simple definition.)
Grace is graciousness, favor, merciful kindness.
Justification - acquittal, made right with God.
Righteousness is right wiseness, the state of doing right, faithfulness.
Redemption means to be ransomed.
Propitiation - appeasing, expiating, covering over.
Reconciliation — removing the enmity, changing to friendship.
Atonement — to change positions, to cover over.
Sanctified means to be set apart.
Consecration — to renew, do anew.
Election — to be chosen.
So brethren, I think if you will take that handout and take the simple definitions and if you ever come across some of these scriptures that seem a little difficult, try substituting what we would be using today, a word that we understand clearly in English and see if it doesn’t help you to understand that God has a wonderful plan of salvation and instead of that plan being muddled, it is really crystal clear and very inspiring when you understand all of the scriptures of God.