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It Cannot Be Both Ways

by Curtis Pugh


            The great questions that divides Christendom are these: Is salvation by works or by grace? Or, is it by some kind of hybrid thing – a combination of works and grace? Is a person saved in the first place by something he does? Is he kept by being  faithful in good works? Is a person saved by praying the right words? Is he saved by being baptized? Is he saved by making a decision? What about what some people call “accepting the Lord as Saviour?” Is salvation by works or by grace? Our title says, “It Cannot Be Both Ways,” as we shall show.

            Remember this fact: while the Bible teaches that a sinner must be born again in order to be saved, the Bible nowhere tells us what it is that a sinner can do in order to be born again. The reason? Because there is nothing a sinner can do to bring about his own spiritual birth. The new birth is a work of the Holy Spirit of God as Jesus said: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again,” (John 3:6-7). Notice that the statement is passive. Jesus did not say you must do something to be born again. He said you must “be born.” It is the action of another which accomplishes the new birth. A baby does not go into labor and birth itself naturally and neither can the sinner birth himself into the family of God. While a baby is a participant in its birth, it is passive not causative. So it is in the new birth!

            In dealing with the Bible doctrine of election or God's choice of those sinners whom He would save, Paul wrote: “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,” (Romans 11:6). In this verse he lays down a principle: the new birth and everything related to it (including election) must be either by grace or by works. It cannot be both. Salvation is either deserved because of something the sinner does or is – or salvation is by grace. If by grace then the actions of the sinner have nothing to do with the new birth. Nothing the sinner does can cause or bring about his new birth. In another place Paul wrote: “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,” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Do not believe it if someone tells you “do this” or “do that” and you will be saved. If you are interested in salvation, know this: salvation is a gift bestowed by God. It is “not of works lest any man should boast.”


Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726

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