Saved By Grace Alone?

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Where could the idea of "Saved by grace alone" come from? Can we work and earn our way to Heaven? Are there any works we have to do to be saved?



The idea of grace is the idea of “unmerited favor.” In this lesson we are talking about the idea of God’s grace toward our salvation.
In this lesson we will look at two things:
Why the idea of Saved By Grace Alone?
Is the idea of Saved By Grace Alone biblically correct?

Why the Idea of Saved By Grace Alone?

Total Hereditary Depravity

The idea of Total Hereditary Depravity is the idea that we inherit the sin committed by Adam and Eve.
We inherit the sin of Adam and when we are born we are totally depraved.
We are sinners.
We are in rebellion against God.
We are morally corrupt.
Wholly inclined to do evil.
Unable to turn to God and obey Him.
Since we are unable to turn to God, God must turn us to Him.

Irresistible Grace

Since God allegedly decreed that some would be saved, but all are depraved and cannot turn to Him, then God must force His grace upon those elected to be saved. That means His grace is irresistible.
Allegedly, the Holy Spirit will force a person to change and turn to God.


Total Hereditary Depravity says that mankind is incapable of turning to God or obeying Him.
Unconditional Election says that God decided to condemn some and save some, called “the elect.”
Limited Atonement says that since some are destined to be condemned, Christ did not die for them. He only died for the elect. His atonement was limited.
Since God decided to save the elect, but they are unable to turn to Him, God must force them to be saved through a direct operation of the Holy Spirit. This is Irresistible Grace.
But the elect are totally depraved and totally unable to be righteous. They will remain sinners and evil until the day they die.
Therefore, God will send a direct operation of the Holy Spirit to drape the righteousness of Jesus over the elect. The elect are not righteous, but will be counted, or imputed, as righteous.
In short, because Jesus lived a perfect life, the elect get to go to Heaven.

By Grace, Not of Works

On top of this the Bible does say something about our salvation being by grace and not being of works.
Romans 3:24 KJV 1900
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 2:5 KJV 1900
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Ephesians 2:8–9 KJV 1900
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.

The Need for Grace Alone

Based on these premises, we can see the idea of the need for grace and grace alone to save. We are incapable of coming to God to be saved, we are incapable of being righteous, therefore, God must force His salvation upon us, He must “disguise” our evil by imputing the righteousness of Christ upon us, and since He is doing everything, it is His grace, and that grace alone, that will save us.

Is the Idea of Saved By Grace Alone Correct?

In order to answer the question, we will begin by looking at the premises upon which the need for salvation by grace alone was based. In other words, are the founding ideas for being saved by grace alone correct? If not, then we may see that there really may not be a need for salvation by grace alone.

Total Hereditary Depravity is False

It violates God’s definition of sin.
1 John 3:4 KJV 1900
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
Sin is a transgression of the law, not a hereditary trait.
It violates God’s word on the personal responsibility of sin.
Ezekiel 18:19–20 KJV 1900
Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
It violates the words of Christ
Jesus held up children as a good example.
Luke 18:15–16 KJV 1900
And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Are we to be like those who are wholly inclined to do evil?
Jesus taught that we should teach the Gospel to other people.
Matthew 28:19–20 KJV 1900
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Why would we bother teaching people about God’s commandments when they are incapable of turning to God?
Consequences vs. Guilt
Total Hereditary Depravity is false because it does not properly separate the consequences of sin and the guilt of sin.
We suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin but we do not suffer the guilt. The sin of Adam is not imputed on my record.

Irresistible Grace is False

The Holy Spirit does lead men to salvation. The question is “How?” Is it a direct operation of the Holy Spirit, or is it the Holy Spirit using a medium?
Acts 16:13–15 KJV 1900
And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
The Lord opened her heart.
She was already worshipping God. According to Calvinism, she would have never turned to God had not the Holy Spirit already forced her to do so. But notice that she was already worshipping God, but then she heard the things spoken by Paul and the Lord opened her heart and she attended to what he said.
The Holy Spirit opened her heart by the word of God and led her to salvation through the word.
Without the word, there is no belief and salvation.
Luke 8:11–12 KJV 1900
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
The Holy Spirit does not come upon us directly separate and apart from the word and cause us to believe and be saved. Belief and salvation is impossible without the word.
James 1:21 KJV 1900
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
The Holy Spirit uses the word as its medium to lead men to salvation.
Ephesians 6:17 KJV 1900
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
The word is the Sword of the Spirit. The sword is not the Spirit as the sword is not a soldier. However, the sword is used by the Spirit as it is used by a soldier. It is the medium by which the Spirit and the soldier accomplishes their tasks.
Anything you see in the Bible that the Holy Spirit does, you can also find Scripture that says that the word does the same thing.
1 Corinthians 6:11 KJV 1900
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Acts 11:14 KJV 1900
Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
If on one hand the Bible says that the Holy Spirit does something, but then on the other hand it states that the word does the same thing, it might sound as if the Bible is contradicting itself. However, if the Holy Spirit is accomplishing the task and is using the word as His medium to do so, then both statements could be true. Both the Holy Spirit and the word are accomplishing the task. The Holy Spirit is just using the word as His medium.
We would say the same things in modern times.
a. The axe split the wood.
b. I split the wood.
c. Both statements are true if I used the axe as my medium to split the wood.
The Holy Spirit changes lives, but He uses the word to do it.
Acts 2:37 KJV 1900
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
This wasn’t a secret miracle of the Holy Spirit forcing someone to change. This was an open proclamation of God’s word.
Romans 1:16 KJV 1900
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
The word that the Holy Spirit delivered is all-sufficient. No extra direct operation of the Holy Spirit is required.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 KJV 1900
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Peter 1:3 KJV 1900
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Jesus’ Righteousness Is Not Imputed to the Elect

The Bible says we can be righteous.
We are made righteous thanks to the blood of Jesus.
Romans 5:19 KJV 1900
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Without the perfect life of Jesus, there would have been no perfect sacrifice for our sins. So, we are able to be made righteous because of the righteousness of Jesus.
We are also made righteous by obeying righteousness.
Righteousness is defined as the commandments of God.
Psalm 119:172 KJV 1900
My tongue shall speak of thy word: For all thy commandments are righteousness.
1 John 3:7 KJV 1900
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
The Bible says that the one who does righteousness, the commands of God, is righteous.
We are able to be righteous because of the righteousness of Jesus, but we also need to be obedient to the commandments of God to be righteous.

By Grace and Works

The Bible does teach that the grace of God is involved. We were lost and unable to restore back to God the perfect man He had lost when we sinned. God showed us grace, unmerited favor, when He offered Jesus to leave Heaven and come to Earth and live as a perfect man, and die for our sins. This was something God offered as a way to pay the penalty for our sins and we did not deserve it.
Ephesians 2:8 KJV 1900
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
However, since God gives us freewill, we must choose to either accept the gift of salvation or reject it. He will not force it upon us.
Joshua 24:15 KJV 1900
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
But, if we can only be saved because of the grace of God, how do works fit in the picture, or do they?
We need to notice there are different kinds of works that we can read about in the Bible:
Works of the law - the things that the old law said to do. Galatians 5 shows us that salvation does not come by them.
Works of the flesh - evil works.
Galatians 5:19–21 KJV 1900
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
3. Works of merit
Ephesians 2:8–9 KJV 1900
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.
4. Works of salvation/obedience
Acts 2:37–42 KJV 1900
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Acts 10:34–35 KJV 1900
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
God through His grace offers us the free gift of salvation.
Romans 6:23 ASV 1901
For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God offers the free gift of salvation through His Son. We can accept it or reject it. Jesus makes it clear that many will be lost in the end.
Matthew 7:21 KJV 1900
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Didn’t God offer salvation? Yes. But many will be lost. Why? Because they chose not to do the works God wanted them to do. Were they works that would have earned them a spot in Heaven? No, because we can’t do enough works to earn our way into Heaven. Therefore, they must have been works of obedience.
Therefore, you cannot do enough meritorious works to earn your salvation, but you have to do works of obedience to obtain the salvation that is offered by the grace of God.


Since the Bible teaches that we are saved by grace and works, then we conclude the idea of saved by grace alone is incorrect.
God’s grace offers us the free gift of salvation.
Ephesians 2:8 KJV 1900
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
We could not and cannot do enough meritorious works to earn our salvation.
Ephesians 2:9 KJV 1900
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
But we can do works of salvation/obedience, which are obeying the commandments of God, to accept the free gift of God and obtain salvation.
Acts 10:35 KJV 1900
But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
God has His part in salvation and we have our part. God has done His part and now you have to choose whether or not to do your part.
Acts 2:40 KJV 1900
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
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