Text: Ephesians 2:8a - For by grace you have been saved through faith.
In a world of confusion in which long-established customs are rapidly changing, and in which all beliefs and values have been discarded. People are anxious to listen to a voice of authority and conviction. There is only one such voice. It's the voice of God, speaking through the Bible.
When Paul and Silas in their missionary journeys came to Berea, and as strangers preached to the people who heard them, the people received the Word of God with readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so. In matters of Christian faith and life, the deciding question is what does the Bible say?
That is one of the main principles of the Reformation and a necessary part of the foundation for freedom under God. One of the great truths of the Bible emphasized by the Reformation is the grace of God. Man is not only totally dependent on God, but also altogether undeserving of everything He receives from God. The friendly sunshine and the refreshing rain, life and its opportunity for happiness -- these are not rewards given to man by a God who craves man's friendship. There are 100-percent gifts, generously bestowed by a gracious God.
If man has in no way earned the many blessings with which God enriches his life, how much less is he deserving of the great spiritual gifts that are his for the taking: courage, faith, hope, and heaven itself? St. Paul wrote, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24).
Another great Bible truth emphasized by the Reformation, and an essential part of the foundation for freedom under God, is the fact that salvation is by faith alone. God owes no man anything. And He can under no circumstances be obligated to man. Heaven and an eternity of joy in the presence of God cannot be earned by man. By the grace of God, it can only be accepted by faith.
In perhaps the best-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16, Christ told the searching Nicodemus, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." The frightened jailer at Philippi asked Paul and Silas life's greatest question: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Their ready answer was "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household" (see Acts 16:25-34). That was a recurring theme of Paul's epistles. In Romans he said, "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the Law" (Romans 3:28). In Galatians he wrote, "We know that a person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Jesus Christ" (Galatians 2:16a).
And in Ephesians the apostle sums up God's gift to us beautifully: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, remind us each day of the faith-gift You have given us. We believe because You have called us to faith in Your Son. Thank You for Your mercy. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
From "Faith, Then Freedom" a sermon excerpt from Armin Oldsen, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
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