At What Moment Were The Ephesians Saved By Grace Through Faith?

Salvation comes to us BY grace THROUGH faith, and that is a GIFT of God, not something we earn or deserve (Eph.2:8).

“BY grace” means that God did not have to save us at all, but due to His own mercy and grace, He provided a way for sinners to be saved. “THROUGH faith” means that this saving grace comes to us THROUGH this channel. The condition we were in before this channel was created was that we were “children of wrath” (Eph.2:3). Why? Because we were “dead” (separated from God) in trespasses and sins (v.1). What we earned was “wrath.” But God’s great love provided a means to make us “alive together with Christ” (v.4,5). So, by grace we are saved!

Well, how did this channel of faith connect us back to God by grace? “You first TRUSTED in Christ,” he said to the Ephesians (1:12), and you first “trusted” AFTER you heard the word of truth (1:13), “the gospel of your salvation.” You see the “gospel” is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom.1:16). This church first “trusted” in Christ and were “sanctified” (set apart to God) and “cleansed” (Eph.5:26), but notice, “with the washing of water by the word” (5:26). So there was a “washing of water by the word” that was involved in their faith. No, it was not faith alone, but faith WITH the washing of water by the word. Jesus said “he that believes AND is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). The word moves people to believe and be baptized (washing of water — Acts 10:47-48; 22:16) BY the word. Except the word had instructed this, the Ephesians would never have been “baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 19:6). By the word they were baptized in the name of the Lord wherein they experienced “the washing of water” by the word.

This is the way it happened to the 3,000 Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2:36-41). The word cut them to the heart. They had been “dead in trespasses and sins” just as the Ephesians. They cried, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). They were told to “repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins” (v.38). Peter exhorted them further to “be saved” from this perverse generation (v.40). They were not saved just by being convicted, but if they repented and were baptized they would have “remission of sins” or be “cleansed with the washing of water by the word.” Those that gladly received his word were baptized (v.41). So, what happened here? They were saved by grace through faith, sanctified by the word (John 17:17), “cleansed with the washing of water by the word.” You see, “through faith” we must repent of sins, and through faith we FIRST TRUST Him to cleanse us when we go down into the water with Him in baptism. We are “buried with Him” in baptism (Rom.6:3-6; Col.2:12), and we have “faith in the operation of God,” not in the power of the water, but this is where God promised to cut our sins away, and we believe what God says. We first TRUST in Him in this way.

This is not trust in the water, but trust in Jesus who told us to be buried with Him in baptism. We trust Jesus who said, “he that believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). We trust in Jesus who promised to cut our sins away when we are baptized in His name (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Baptism in his name is in “water” (Acts 10:47-48), thus the cleansing “with the washing of water by the word” (Eph.5:26). The Ephesians as well as the Jews on Pentecost and all others we read of in Acts were all saved by grace through faith WHEN by the word they were baptized in the name of Jesus to receive the washing of water by the word. THROUGH faith there comes a specific moment when our sins are removed from our record. That moment in faith is when we repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom.6:3-5; Col.2:12-13; Gal.3:26-27). If faith stops short of this, it is not “TRUST.” The Ephesians first TRUSTED and received cleansing “with the washing of water” (Eph.5:26; Acts 19:6). Have you actually TRUSTED Jesus in regard to when our sins are washed away?

— Terry W. Benton

Calling On The Name Of The Lord

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preaches his first sermon. Peter’s explains how the prophesied day had come when the Lord would save His people. He quotes the prophet Joel saying, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…That whoever call on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Acts 2:17-21). First, God’s Spirit had just been poured out on the apostles. They received the power of the Holy Spirit and many could hear the different languages that the apostles could now speak. After seeing that the “last days” or last time period had come, confirmed by the giving of the Holy Spirit, then the second part of the prophecy was also fulfilled. “And it shall come to pass…That whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

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The Resurrection of Jesus Is The Ultimate Evidence

The historic crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection that followed three days later is the ultimate verification of the truth of His deity. It was predicted in the Jews’ own scriptures (Psalm 16; Isa.53), and that is no small thing to deal with. If Jesus’ body could have been kept in the grave, the church of Christ would never have gotten started. Peter spoke in Jerusalem just 50 days after the crucifixion had taken place. There could be no credibility in a man like Peter talking about a resurrected Jesus if it were not for the fact that the Jews’ own scripture predicted it, the tomb was empty, the body of Jesus was missing, and witnesses were willing to testify to having seen Jesus alive again. In Acts 2 we find the presentation of evidence, and no Jew was able to refute any of the evidence Peter presented. Miracles were also adding credibility to Peter and the other apostles. The evidence stood that day and every day since.

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The Lord of Heaven And Earth

When Paul traveled to Athens, he was shocked by the large numbers of idols in the city. Athens was a place where there were countless idols dedicated to the many gods created by the human imagination. He even saw one that was called “The Unknown God.” When Paul got an opportunity to speak a large group of Athenians, he referred to the “Unknown God” as being the one true God that the Athenians worshipped but were very ignorant about.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. (Acts 17:23-25)

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The Prophesied Time For God’s Messiah To Come

An amazing feature of the Old Testament is that it was written by the Jews, and the Spirit of God guided prophets to write some amazing prophesies about a Messiah-Savior who would come in their future. But they gave some specifics about that time when the Messiah would come.  Daniel interpreted a dream for the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, and the dream was of an image made of four metals. Daniel 2:32-33:  “This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.” (NKJV)

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The Prophetic Credentials For The Messiah

The prophets often wrote about the coming Christ in the Old Testament. They explained His general characteristics, His mission, His plan, and even the way He would die and be raised from the dead. They wrote these prophecies down so that when the Messiah did come, God’s people could recognize Him. Also, by having these prophecies, God’s people could recognize a false messiah claiming to be the Christ. All God’s people had to do was compare that person with the credentials set forth by the prophets. Jesus Christ matched these credentials perfectly. If He had missed just one, there could be an argument made against Him for not being the Son of God.

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Do I Need The Gospel?

As just established, the gospel is the power of God. It is the good news that Jesus died for us, was buried, and then raised. First, the Bible convicts us of our sins. Next, the gospel informs us that Jesus has created a way to forgive us of those sins. Our sins have ultimately separated us from God. While carrying the guilt of sin, we will never to be able to have a relationship with God.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” (Is. 59:2)

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The Power Of The Gospel Of Christ

How did Christianity survive even one day in Jerusalem? The leader, Jesus, had been crucified in Jerusalem before many witnesses. His tomb was guarded. There would be no possible way for the followers of Jesus to claim Jesus was God or the prophesied Messiah. A dead Jesus could only lead to one logical conclusion: He was not God, was not the Messiah, and believers were all wrong. With the tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem, the memory of his crucifixion still fresh, there is no way that the church of Christ could ever get started in that hostile environment. But, it did get started and it thrived because something powerful happened in that city.

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Purposed In His Heart

A young man named Daniel was taken into captivity. King Nebuchadnezzar had just conquered the kingdom of Israel and Daniel was enslaved and sent to Babylon as spoils of war. Daniel knew that his life was going to become very difficult. However, Daniel had already “purposed in his heart” that he was going to serve God no matter the situation.

Daniel was to be trained to become a teacher and servant for the Babylonian nobles. He was trained by Ashpenaz who after some time would have to present Daniel to the king as a ready servant. Ashpenaz tried to feed Daniel food that would make him look as healthy as possible for the king. Unfortunately, Daniel could not eat the food given to him. Daniel, being a Jew living in the Old Testament, had to abstain from certain foods that were forbidden in the Law of Moses. Christians today are not under the Law of Moses, but Daniel was.

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A Heart Must Be Prepared to Go to Heaven

Because “all have sinned”(Rom.3:23) and the “wages of sin is death”(Rom.6:23), no one deserves to go to heaven. There is a way for us to go to heaven, but it will not be on the basis of our own merits. The means of getting to heaven will be through the forgiveness of sins offered in Jesus Christ.

He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”(John 14:6). Jesus came and died on a cross to give you the means of salvation from the condemnation your sins demanded. We earned our condemnation by sinning. But, how do we come to enjoy the salvation that Jesus wants us to enjoy?

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