When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.Matt. 19:25-26
In this Bible study called, with God all things are possible, these six words from Jesus represent one of the most profound truths and distinctions of the Christian faith. The question is asked by the disciples of Jesus, who then can be saved and Jesus starts by telling them with men this is impossible. That one word is worth repeating, impossible, because despite man’s best efforts, good works, or good will, it is absolutely impossible for him to be saved on his own; it is only through the power of God.
Exploring the Scriptures
To further explore this far reaching statement from Jesus, we will explore many verses from the scriptures starting with a noted apostle’s writings. In this scripture, John highlights a significant point by saying, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” [John 1:12-13] Notice the harmony in scripture where the power to become the sons of God is something that God bestows upon us through new spiritual birth in him. All we have to do is receive him and believe in his name!
Consider the apostle Paul’s writings from his letter to the church in Rome, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” [Rom. 1:16] Again, it is reiterated that the gospel is the power of God to everyone who believes in what Christ has already done for us on the cross. It was his sacrifice through his shed blood on the cross that atoned for your sins. No one else could have done this because it required someone who had no sin in themselves to be the sacrifice once and for all to atone for the sins of humanity.
Let us continue on with Paul’s letter by exploring the very next verse in this important passage of scripture, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” [Rom. 1:17] This is where the gospel message really starts to take hold in the scriptures. The righteousness of God is revealed by faith and this faith translates into believing in the Lord Jesus Christ for his saving grace. Quite often, people fail to see the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:30) and try to overcomplicate salvation by introducing some other criteria or methods of works like cult religions.
Saved by Grace
This is why Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians to explain and clarify how salvation takes place, “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.” [Eph. 2:8-9] What a statement! We are saved by the grace of God. People need to stop trying to save themselves through their own efforts and false religions. Paul says it is a gift of God!
We don’t pay for gifts we receive, they are gifts and there is no greater gift in the world than to receive salvation by the grace of God. Further, Paul states it is not work. Works is an all encompassing word meaning it has nothing to do with our own effort, good deeds, upright living, self-imposed penance, etc. This is why Paul states, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” [Rom.3:20] It is by grace, it is a gift, it is through the power of God Amen!
Let us continue on to explore four collective verses from Paul’s letter to the early Roman church, for in these scriptures he builds the case for saving grace through faith. Paul continues on now with a very pivotal statement in his letter by saying, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” [Rom. 3:21-24] Note the pivot point in that the righteousness of God is now coming to us, or rather imputed upon us through Christ and not the law, or works, effort, will, etc.
Christ, the end of the Law
In this passage of scripture, Paul is explaining to the early church that Christ is the turning point in their religion of the past, “For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” [Rom. 10:4] Without delving too much into the Old Testament, there was a time when commandments and laws were given to mankind from God known as the Mosaic law but they were never intended to be a means of salvation.
Notice how Paul seeks to explain this further in one of his other letters, “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” [Gal. 3:23-26]
Do you see the congruence in Paul’s writings? At one time in history there was the law, but Christ is the end of the law. At one time, the law was like a schoolmaster but in reality, humanity measured against the law could never measure up to the law. Instead it was intended to bring us to Christ by letting us see how futile our efforts were in trying to keep the law. Now that Christ has come, we are justified by faith and therefore we are no longer under the old schoolmaster of the law. Praise God, we are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus!
By Grace Alone
During the early church period, the majority of believers in Christ were converted Jews but as time went on some of them started reverting back to the old ways of the law. In short, they were combining elements of the Mosaic law with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, this was not Christianity and Paul wrote to them in a rather chastising manner to clarify their error.
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?Gal. 3:1-3
Do you see what Paul is saying to early believers in the church? First, the truth is in the gospel message of Christ crucified and by believing in Jesus for salvation we are then given a new spiritual birth. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus how to be saved when Nicodemus approached him one night and Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” [John 3:3] Being born again is another way of saying being born from above, not born again physically, but spiritually.
A New Creature
This harmonizes with Paul’s statement from another letter to the early church when he said, “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” [2 Cor. 5:17] When people come to saving faith in Christ, they are born from above, they are a new creature in Christ. This is why Paul was asking the people, did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? It was a rhetorical question because the Spirit comes through Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They were now thinking they still had to do all of the old things the law commanded them to do to be perfect, but they did not realize they were already perfect in Christ through his imputed righteousness upon them.
This is the blessed gospel message for seekers of faith, this is what Jesus stated in the famous verse when he said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16] The Bible is God’s love letter to mankind. He loved us so much that he sacrificed his only begotten Son to redeem us from the penalty for our sins. Just think, from a sin filled life to an everlasting life in Christ!
Let us close off this Bible study called with God all things are possible. We will explore the message from Jesus a little further from the book of John. Consider his next statement when he continues on by saying, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” [John 3:17] Read this verse carefully. Jesus is not condemning us. Why, because we are already condemned in our sins, we are guilty before the holy God of the scriptures (Rom. 3:19).
Jesus states this in the next passage of scripture, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” [John 3:18] You see, condemnation results from unbelief, from not believing in the name of the only begotten Son of God. There is a reason why this happened and why it still prevails in the world.
Love of Sin
It is because humanity is in love with their sins, they are steeped in them so deep they cannot see or find a way out. Jesus continues on by saying, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” [John 3:19] Did you ever notice how most sin takes place in the darkness of night? Not only that but Jesus proclaims that people in their sins literally hate the light of the truth, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” [John 2:20] But thanks be to God because Jesus concludes his message to seekers of faith by stating this promise for whosoever will come to him, “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” [John 3:21]
Christ living in you
We shall conclude with this last verse from the apostle Paul in one of his letters to the early church for in it he sums up the believer’s position in Christ, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” [Gal. 2:20] Is this your heart’s desire, dear reader, to have Christ living in you, living a new life by faith in the Son of God? Why not come to him now in prayer, repent of your sins, and believe in his holy name for eternal life today!
Bible Study Questions
- In this Bible study can you name the six words that are very profound from Jesus?
- Who gives us the power to become the Sons of God?
- Can you explain the difference between the law and grace for salvation?
- What does it mean when the Bible says we are not saved by works?
- What does it mean when the scriptures say that Christ is the end of the law?
- Is there a particular sin that you find you have cherished over the years? If so, how could you seek help from God in prayer?
- If your desire is to have eternal life with God, will you make a decision to believe in Jesus and place your faith in him?