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Lesson Six • Salvation Through Faith

Patrick Bicknell

Tim Keller wrote this story that illustrates our inability to get to Heaven by ourselves:

If you put three swimmers on the coast of California and ask them to swim to Hawaii, the Olympic swimmer might swim 500 miles before she dies. The second swimmer might be a good swimmer, and swim 25 miles before he dies. And the last swimmer does not know how to swim very well and swims only one mile before he dies. So you might say that the Olympic swimmer is 500 times better as a swimmer than the third one. Who is more dead? Nobody can get to Hawaii on the basis of their own swimming ability. The Bible says we are supposed to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. Nobody gets there. The unique message of Christianity is that you “get there” not because of your own effort, or your own good works, but because you put your trust in what Jesus did for you on the cross.

As a follower of Christ, we must know that salvation comes from faith. There is absolutely nothing we can do to achieve salvation. It does not matter how “good” a person you think you are. No amount of good works can outweigh our sin. We will always deserve death. It is only by believing and trusting in Jesus that one can be saved. He alone did what we cannot do by taking the punishment for our sin. We only benefit from it if we choose to believe.

Read Ephesians 2:1-10.

  1. What does it mean to be dead in our trespasses?
  1. Why is God full of mercy? Do we deserve His grace and mercy?
  1. How does He make us alive in Him?
  1. How is one saved? What are they saved from?
  1. Why is salvation a gift from God? How come we cannot earn our salvation?

If we look at this passage (Ephesians 2:1-10), it is obvious that before we believe in Jesus we are spiritually dead. Our sin has killed us. However, we can be made alive through one thing only. There is absolutely nothing you can do but believe in what Jesus Christ did by dying on the cross for the payment of your sin. He alone takes our punishment of God’s wrath for our sin if we choose to believe in our Savior.

Read John 14:6.

  1. Can our works or righteousness get us to God?

Read Isaiah 64:6.

  1. What are our works to God?

Read Romans 10:9.

  1. How is one saved?
  1. How does learning that being a “good” person (or someone who is full of good works) does not mean you are going to Heaven change your view on life? How many people believe good people go to Heaven?

Therefore, we have learned that our works can do nothing to achieve salvation from sin. This means being a good person does not do anything if you do not have Jesus. Jesus alone saves. However, that does not mean we throw works out the window and forget about them now that we have Jesus.

Let us look at James 2:14-26.

  1. Does faith alone save? How is faith dead without works?
  1. How do you think faith and works go together?

Faith produces works. If we believe in Jesus and everything He did, then our life becomes a life of gratitude to Him. We no longer are doing good works to be good people, but now we do good works because of our faith in Him. Works are the by-product of our faith. If our faith is not changing our lives and hearts, then is it faith? Our works prove our faith. We need to always remember that without faith, those works are dead. You cannot have one or the other, they go together.

  1. What did you learn from these passages?
  1. Are you producing works in your life? Are they dead works? Are they completing your faith?
  1. What kind of works should our faith be producing?
  1. What kind of works is your faith producing?