Last Sunday’s message was A Remnant (Romans 11:1-10). Here are some sermon notes reflecting on Paul’s emphasis on free grace, centered on the phrase “otherwise grace is no more grace” in Romans 11:6:
We should pay special attention to the final phrase in Romans 11:5. We are a remnant “according to the election of grace.” Paul never tires of stressing the fact that salvation is all of grace and not of works. He follows this theme up in v. 6 by writing, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
Once your eyes open to the grace-code in Scripture you see it on every page. The formula for salvation is not God’s grace plus our works equals salvation.
It is not grace plus personal piety;
grace plus church attendance;
grace plus the sacraments;
grace plus church membership;
grace plus service to the poor;
grace plus conservative politics;
grace plus Sabbath keeping;
grace plus moral purity;
grace plus homeschooling; etc.
In gospel math it is only grace plus nothing equals salvation. We can be just as pharisaical as the most pharisaical Pharisee of the Christ’s day.
Paul makes this clear for those who still don’t get it in v. 6: “And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace….” This is a verse I so want to share with my Arminian friends who somehow do not see the contradiction when they say, “I believe that salvation is conditioned on my free will response to Christ, but I still believe in God’s grace and his sovereignty.” Do they not see that they have not only watered down Biblical grace, they have washed it away? “And if by grace, then it is not more of works; otherwise grace is not more grace…” A few Wednesdays ago we were looking at the account of the raising of Lazarus in John 11 and discussing it as a picture of salvation. Lazarus did nothing to raise himself. Dead men cannot even extend their hands to receive a gift! Biblical salvation is not about beggars extending their hands to get alms; it is about dead men coming to life!
The second half of v. 6 further emphasizes the point, though modern translations wrongly remove it: “But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is not more work.” Let’s call a spade a spade, Paul is saying. Let’s call a work a work. Let’s not hide behind pretty words. Do you think you can save yourself or do you understand that if any man is saved it can only be due to the work of God alone? Only he can reserve to himself those who bend the knee at the cross of Christ and not to Baal.
Again, once you eyes open to this truth you see it everywhere. Let me throw out just one passage for your contemplation:
2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
Let me challenge you to be a Berean. Sit down and read the NT and mark each time the emphasis is on free grace. Rightly done you will nearly mark down every line and every word on the page.
Jeffrey T. Riddle, Pastor Christ Reformed Baptist Church Charlottesville, Virginia www.jeffriddle.net