Should we have faith in Grace?
Trust - yes. Faith - No. Here's why...
The hymn composer John Newton, a former slave trader, saved from sin, saved from himself – had a moment in life that turned him 180 degrees and set him on a course to love man and glorify God. A touch that will change even the most hardened heart, maybe yours? A touch that breaths new purpose into our old wineskins.
Jesus explained this to the pharisee Nicodemus in his time as being “born again.”
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be “surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:5-6).
How can this be? - the discourse continues:
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness (the law for those born of the flesh), so the Son of Man must be lifted up (Grace – for those born again by the spirit), 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
After John Newton, met face to face with the intimate love and Grace of God in 1779 the hymnist penned the song Amazing Grace. More than 200 years later its Truth proclamation is a favorite even in today’s post-modern society.
When one comes to the end of one’s self and sees God as He reveals Himself;
“merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6–7).
The only natural response to turn from ourselves as we recognize unmerited Grace as truly Amazing.
The late Billy Graham simply puts it this way “Grace is the unmerited favor of God towards us.”
"Grace," translated from the Greek is charis, and describes as the result of God’s loving-kindness towards men, the result of which is His unearned and undeserved favor.
Dr. Maclaren's (Blue Letter Bible Commentaries writes): "Grace—means, first, love in exercise to those who are below the lover, or who deserve something else…Then it means the gifts which such love bestows; and then it means the effect of these gifts in the beauties of character and conduct developed in the receivers."
Dr Alexander continues - Love may exist between equals, or it may rise to those above us, or flow down to those in any way beneath us. But Grace, from its nature, has only one direction it can take. GRACE ALWAYS FLOWS DOWN. Grace is love indeed, but it is love to creatures humbling itself. A king's love to his equals, or to his own royal house, is love; but his love to his subjects is called grace. And thus, it is that God's love to sinners is always called GRACE in the Scriptures. It is love indeed, but it is love to creatures, and to creatures who do not deserve His love. And therefore, all He does for us in Christ, and all that is disclosed to us of His goodwill in the Gospel, is called Grace." (Rev. Thomas Spurgeon)
If we Return for a moment to Paul’s letter to Ephesus, I am drawn to an illustration by “the voice of one crying community fellowship who writes this:
The sacred mantra of institutional Christianity is "For by grace are ye saved; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." And if you can read that and not see that there’s something wrong with it, then you’ve been lulled to sleep with the rest of them.
Salvation is God’s free gift, they say. Works of any kind are not acceptable, they say. The preacher trying his best to manipulate and tempt people to respond to his invitation tells his potential converts to simply stretch out their hands and receive what God has to offer. Implying, of course, that nothing is required of them. Just believe. Just receive. It’s so simple, so easy.
Did you see anything wrong with the quote of Ephesians 2:8,9 above. I quoted it like most evangelicals and fundamentalists quote it to me. Which means I left part of it out. And, it is my contention that they leave out the part they don’t want to deal with or don’t understand. What part is that, you ask? It’s the part that mentions faith. The first phrase of verse 8 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith". Now, if I understand anything at all, it seems to me that Paul is expressing something here that connects the concepts of grace, faith and salvation. Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t think this verse says that it’s grace alone that saves us.
(Do not overlook the words “through faith” in this Epistle,” as so many messages do – inferring that salvation is by grace alone, a free gift – unable to be obtained by works, as the battle cry goes.)
Remember that Grace comes “through faith,” not to be confused with salvation in itself. It is God’s grace that puts us in the right position to experience salvation. Something we could never earn or surely do not deserve. Without His grace, we have no hope because we all have sinned and fall short of His glory - but notice that it is not God’s grace that saves us (Rom 3:23). Grace is in fact the provision that gives us the opportunity - to be saved – Through Faith!
A young boy asks you what he must do to make it one day to the NFL. You say, good favor, belief or confidence, and A LOT of practice. Good favor on one end is in our case is a free gift of grace now by Our creator. Belief – is an active faith demonstrated by obedience which leads to a lot of practice. In our case this practice was the law or righteousness – now fulfilled once and for all through Jesus Christ – for all those who believe.
Notice however, that favor did not get the boy to the NFL any more than Grace guarantees salvation. Hear that again – Grace itself does not exclusively infer salvation. Even Paul described in Ephesians 3:8-10 a grace to be able to preach the Gospel. Because grace, as the unmerited provision of love that it is, may accomplish many things, 'including,' but not exclusively, salvation. Paul Tripp ministries describes at least 6 types of Grace, others describe 2, 3, or 5 types of grace. Mark Driscoll, preacher and author of Bestselling, “Purpose Driven Life” positions 15 different types of Grace, and not all are related directly to salvation. The point is Grace is amazing, and incomprehensible yes, but it is not exclusively related to salvation.
One must be careful not to conclude that the 'favor' that makes faith possible is itself our salvation, aside from faith. Without saving faith, a belief in our heart, our soul and our mind
in the finishing works of our Lord Jesus Chris, we will perish (Matt 22:37). Many will say, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, …. And then [Jesus] will declare to them, ‘I never knew you (Matt 7 sum).
Before many will find peace in the security of the Truth of the Gospel, they must reexamine their understanding of Grace. So, the question becomes, “Is your salvation by grace through faith, in Christ – or have you mistakenly placed your faith in grace?”