Bringing radical thoughts worth pondering (A blog of poriruachurch.com)
This is the second series in dealing with the subject, “Salvation by Grace through Faith.” The first gave emphasis to Biblical teaching concerning the importance of grace, faith, and obedience in our salvation. All are essential, as well as other things that are related to these three. Attention was given also to the relationship of these three concepts as taught in the scriptures. The reader is encouraged to examine the first article (Enduring Words, April 1982) for background study to this article.
That salvation from sin comes through the grace of God is a matter that is believed and taught by most all theologians in Christendom. But the relationship that grace has with faith and works is a subject of great dispute and controversy. We must define our subject as we begin. Just what is grace? A simple definition many have learned and accepted is “unmerited favor.” When God looks upon sinful man with mercy, love and kindness and bestows undeserved favor upon him, this is the grace of God. The blessings conferred by grace are unearned. No human achievement is given any consideration whatsoever. Grace is free, or it’s not grace. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:24)
Sinful man’s position is either to accept or reject the grace of God. He cannot return the favor. He can only receive the favor he does not deserve. As a result of sin man is in debt to God, a debt which is humanly impossible to pay. Grace cancels that debt. An obedient faith is the condition.
Salvation by grace means that God himself, not man, paid the price for our salvation. Christ’s death was a propitiation for the sinner. “And his is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) Propitiation is defined as a means of appeasing. Sin has been committed against God. Sin offends God and justly calls forth his wrath against the sinner. But through his grace, God sent his Son to die in the sinner’s place, thereby making satisfaction for sin. The wrath of God against the sinner was appeased. The death of Christ became the sufficient cause for withdrawing his sentence against the sinner. On the one hand, if man rejects Christ, then he will die eternally as the penalty for his own sins. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23)
“For by grace are ye saved through faith.” (Eph. 2:8) “Therefore it is by faith that it might be by grace.” (Rom. 4:16) The scriptures tie the two together. Without faith grace will not act; without grace faith cannot act. Grace is the act of God in providing our salvation. Faith is the act of man in accepting it. Faith means “to believe in”, “trust”, or “reliance on another.” Since Christ died for us, appeasing the wrath of God against our sins, we must respond by placing our trust in him and his atoning blood. By this faith does man stand justified before God. (Rom. 3:38; 5:1; Gal. 3:24) Such a system removes entirely the sinner’s own merit or personal achievement. His works then becomes works of faith (1 Thess. 1:3), or his faith becomes an obedient faith. (Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; 16:26) By his obedience grace is not earned, but faith is made complete. (Jam. 2:22) Paul gives us a picture of the whole system in Ephesians 2:8-10, as he deals with the proper relationship of grace, faith and works. “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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Richard Harp, Enduring Words, May 1982