- Ephesians 2:8, 9
- "By grace are ye saved . . . it is the gift of God . . . not of works, lest any man should boast."
- This passage is used by Evangelicals to justify their doctrine of "eternal security" when "Jesus comes into the heart". This "eternal security" is said to be independent of subsequent works.
- Let it be said at the outset that one cannot obtain salvation as a return for works done. The law taught this lesson. (Gal. 2:21; Rom. 3:21; 5:21).
- There are two sides to salvation. The divine side which is grace and the human side which is obedient faith. Evangelicals argue that if one "works" for salvation then the reward is paid as wages rather than a gift. This is an over-simplification. God gives us food, but we must work for it. God gave Joshua the city of Jericho, but he was still commanded to march around the walls for seven days. (Josh. 6:2, 4). Likewise salvation is the free gift of God, but man must comply with the conditions.
- It is true to say that no man can ever be saved without the grace of God, but there are other characteristics required in the receiver of grace, for salvation. The following is a representative list:
- "For we are saved by hope." (Rom. 8:24).
- "Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God . . ." (Rom. 5:1).
- "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all men that obey him." (Heb. 5:9).
- "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us . . ." (1 Peter 3:21).
- "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:7).
- ". . . Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil. 2:12).
- "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." (James 2:24).
- "Save yourselves from this untoward generation." (Acts 2:40).
- "By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you . . . " (1 Cor. 15:2). Grace involves three things: a giver, a gift, and a receiver. From these passages it is clear that the receiver must evidence hope, faith, obedience, baptism, works, and that he also saves himself.1
- Ultimate salvation is not now a present possession. The following passages indicate this:
- ". . . he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matt. 10:22).
- ". . . the gospel . . . by which ye also are saved if ye keep in memory what I have preached unto you . . ." (1 Cor. 15:1, 2).
- ". . . give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall." (2 Peter 1:10).
- "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God . . . lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end." (Heb. 3:12-14).
- Evangelical logic has a superficial impressiveness. When examples are cited of "saved" members who have fallen away (e.g. drunkards, who will be excluded from the kingdom, Gal. 5:19-21), Evangelicals reply by stating that such individuals never were really "saved". This is sheer logical emptiness. Security has been purchased at the price of truth.
- Almost without exception, those who are quick to stress Eph. 2:8 are the very ones who dismiss baptism as a mere outward sign of an inward change. When such occasions arise Gal. 3:27 ("For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ"), should be emphasized. It is also impressive to cite the baptism of Paul, since it can be shown that a man can be "converted" (Acts 22:10), but does not have his sins washed away until baptized. (Acts 22:16 cf. Acts 2:38, 41).
- The question as to which single characteristic saves the man is an abstraction. An illustration is helpful. A man who has fallen into the river screams for help. A man on the bank runs with a rope and throws it to the man in the river. He catches hold and is pulled to safety. What saved him? Was it his scream? Was it the rope? Was it the man on the bank? Did he save himself? Or was it all of these working together? Return