Grace Baptist Church Decatur, IL


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Plain and Simple Sermon

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Salvation:  Plain and Simple

"But God..."

Ephesians 2:1-7


Quote John 3:16—It really is that easy!  Salvation plain and simple!  But Eph. 2 is a helpful passage…still simple, but with more eye-opening detail.


v. 1-3       Past Guilt

4-6           Present Grace 

7-10         Future Glory


H.A. Ironside followed R.A. Torrey as pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago.  One day he rode a passenger train/gypsy woman sat down beside him, and said, sir, if you cross my palm w/ some silver, I’ll tell you your future!/he said, before you do that, let me show you what God says about my future…opened Bible/she said, that’s ok, I’ve had quite enough/he grabbed her arm: no, I want you to see this/showed her past guilt/she said, that’s quite enough/present grace/quite enough/future glory/quite enough!!…and she ran down the train crying out, “I picked the wrong man!”


You can call Madame Zonga, Miss Cleo, or Dionne Warwitch and the Psychotic Friends Network if you want to, but when it comes to my future, I prefer the Word of God!


Salvation exists in the past, present, and future.

        (past-penalty / present-power and pollution / future-presence)


Being “saved” is not a Baptist thing/Pentecostal…not a term we’ve made up…it’s a Bible term!


No other Name given under heaven among men whereby we must be _________ (saved!)

Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be _______

Have you been saved?  How do you know?  Put it into words…what’s the answer (predominantly I or God?)


Salvation is of the Lord…too many people are trying to save themselves/trying to earn it/be good enough/save themselves!  It’s not about us…it’s about God!


2 of the most precious words in scripture, v. 4:  “but God”

Ps 49:15 -

But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.

Mr 2:7 - … who can forgive sins but God only?

Lu 16:15 -

And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Ro 5:8 -

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

1Co 3:6 -

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Eph 2:4 -

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us…


It doesn’t say “but you”, it says, “but God!”


Ill.—garden of Eden/Adam and Eve sinned…lost innocency, realized they were naked / tried to cover it w/ fig leaves (a picture of man trying to cover his own sinfulness) / but God came along and shed the blood of an innocent animal and clothed them w/ the skin of it (first demonstration of blood being shed for sin/innocent dying for guilty)


Are you trying to cover yourself?  You cannot do it.  Our righteousness is as filthy rags.

        Are you wearing fig leaves?

Baptism/confirmation/church attendance/offerings/good works/keeping 10 commandments/mommy told me I’m saved/asked Him in my heart??


but I’m a good person”… “no, but God


Not but baptism (etc.)


Salvation is of the Lord…you cannot save yourself

        (may as well try to blow back a hurricane w/ an electric fan/dam up Niagara falls w/ toothpicks)


1.     Who Saves?  God alone!


2.               Why does God save us?

v. 4  love and mercy!

Hard to understand the depths of His love!

(easy to love someone who’s lovable/loving/lovely…but God loved us while we were yet sinners!)


May not understand it, but let’s thank God for it!


Ill.—P.P. Bliss wrote many hymns including “O How I Love Jesus”… “because He first loved me”

(this he wrote at a young age, later in life he wrote:

I am so glad that my Father in Heaven tells of His love in the book He has given…(etc.)…now he’s impressed w/ God’s love!)


Ill.—great theologian teaching at a seminary/students came to him and said, we’d like to know the most profound truth that’s ever occupied your mind? (expecting some deep doctrine)/he said, it was on my mother’s knee as she sang: Jesus loves me this I know…!


Why does God save us?  Because of Love! 

Why does God love us?  I don’t know!


Also because of His mercy (v. 4)

        Mercy is not receiving the punishment you rightfully deserve!

Ill.—Kimberly getting out of a ticket in PB

Joke—lady went to photographer/do me justice!/you need mercy!

Mercy is not receiving the punishment you rightfully deserve!

What is it that we rightfully deserve?

        Death and hell!…if you only committed 1 sin, God could not allow you into heaven!  We’re all painfully aware of what sinners we are!  Some don’t believe they CAN be saved from all they’ve done:

Ill.—poor woman from slums of London/taken on holiday by friends to the ocean/arrived…just gazed out…started crying/they wondered why on such a nice day/she said, “it’s the first thing I’ve ever seen that there’s enough of!”

        There’s enough mercy in God’s little finger to wipe away every sin you’ve ever committed!


Who saves?  God alone!

        Why?       Love and Mercy

3.               How does God save?

v. 5      grace  (not by love “I believe in a God of love that would never send anyone to hell”…Jn. 3:16—God so loved that he saved or gave [then we have to choose])

v. 8      grace 

It’s the opposite of mercy…grace is receiving something good that you don’t deserve

GRACE=God’s Redemption at Christ’s Expense


What does God give us that we don’t deserve?

        Heaven (yes, but what now that makes it possible?)

The righteousness of Christ!


We’re not only saved FROM something but TO something…not only are we saved from sin (forgiven), but we become the recipients of Christ’s righteousness!…clothed in His righteousness!!

(imputed righteousness [“I don’t live very righteous sometimes”…not imparted—that’s sanctification] /positional righteousness [justification…a legal standing)


God looks at the saved, born-again Christian and sees:  not just a forgiven sinner, but a justified one [just as if I’d never sinned!]  That’s Grace!


Who saves?  God alone!

        Why?       Love and Mercy

How does God save?  By Grace!


4.               When does God Save?

v. 8      When true Biblical faith occurs


Notice it doesn’t say we are saved BY faith, but THRU faith…we’re saved by Grace, and Faith is the vehicle that gets us there!

FAITH=Forsaking All I Trust Him

    Too many people have missed salvation because they trust in Christ + something else…true Biblical faith is Jesus Christ + nothing – nothing.


Ill.—pew/put one leg on it (am I trusting it?) No, part of my faith is in the pew but part is in the floor [picture of one trusting Christ + themselves, baptism, good works, etc.]

    True Biblical Faith is in Christ alone… Forsaking All I Trust Him

Don’t think you’ll make it there on your own

        Not How Great I Am, but How Great Thou Art!


You have to trust in Jesus alone and His death in your place, His blood in your stead!

        In and of yourself, you cannot make it to heaven…realize you NEED to be saved/CAN be saved only because of Jesus!


Who saves?  God alone!

        Why?       Love and Mercy

How does God save?  By Grace!

When does God Save?

        When true Biblical faith occurs


5.               Where does that leave us?

v. 6      I’m not the smartest in the world, but not the dumbest either!  “has raised” … is that future or has it already taken place?

    If I’m saved, then in the mind of God, I’m as sure of heaven as if I’d already been there a million years!

Eph. 1:3 (read)

    We’re already there!  “do you know you’re going to heaven”  most say, “I hope so”…well, if you’re saved, you’re already there!


That’s good to know, because it means I can view every circumstance of life from a heavenly perspective.

    “How you doin’?”… “well, ok, under the circumstances”

            God doesn’t want us to live under there!  He wants us to view it all from a higher perspective!!  What does it matter next to eternity?

    Your salvation has a present tense…you might have hard circumstances…but God…!/down in the dumps but you’re in the heavenlies/may think you’re pretty low/it may appear Satan has you by the throat sometimes…but God has you somewhere else!…in the heavenlies!


Ge 31:7 -

And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me. 

Ge 48:21 -

And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you…

Ge 50:20 -

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good…

1Sa 23:14 -

And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand. 




2Ch 20:15 -

And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.

Ps 64:7 -

But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded.

Ps 73:26 -

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

1Co 10:13 -

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Php 2:27 -

For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.


Who saves?  God alone!

        Why?       Love and Mercy

How does God save?  By Grace!

When does God Save?

        When true Biblical faith occurs

Where does that leave us?      In heavenly places!



Lord, thank you for the simplicity of salvation…

You cannot face God someday w/ anything less than Jesus as your Savior…you cannot save yourself…no ifs, ands, or buts… “but God!”



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