To my brethren who have been called to be saints;
May the Grace, mercy and peace from God, our Father, and from Christ-Jesus our Lord be with you. We live in a time where there seems to be a sudden reawakening of the churches to the unmerited, divine favor of God, otherwise known as Grace.
Grace is everywhere now. Every congregation would like to be known as being in the Grace of God. They rename themselves to reflect it, revise their mission statements to highlight the unmerited, divine favor of God. Grace is like our newfound friend, we cannot get enough of it. Every day it seems, a new song is released to celebrate that Grace of God. A Youth conference here, a concert there, and yet another T-Shirt. Oh that God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son to die for me! It is not about what I have done, or will ever do, but about what He (Jesus) has done. Who can resist Grace? Looking around, it seems that we love it, and cannot get enough of it. Grace seems to have no limit, able to save even the worst of sinners, promising them glory with Jesus, for God knows their name. We have a place in heaven, by God’s side, and that is all thanks to His Grace.
But the very same cornerstone verse that speaks of the saving power of that Grace of God throws in…a wrench…
Ephesians 2:8,9 – For by Grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
In all its portrayed all-encompassing power and glory, Grace seems to have a seriously limiting factor in its ability to save us…it can only save us through faith. Why? Why didn’t the passage say… “For by Grace you have been saved”, period! No, it says… “For by Grace you have been saved through faith”. It seems clear that unless faith is there, the Grace we have fallen so much in love with simply can’t save us. But why? Why is it so?
The Grace of God saves through Faith because Jesus HAS TO BE Glorified
We understand that the faith in question is faith in Jesus-Christ.
Acts 20:20-22 – I [Paul] did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
It seems therefore that it is by God’s Own design that His unmerited favor (His Grace) can only be accessed (for salvation) by those who have faith in His Son. The love of the Father for His Son is such that unless one honors His Him (the Son), one cannot experience His saving Grace. Having faith in Jesus is how we honor Him (Acts 4:12). Having faith in Jesus is how we submit to His Lordship (Luke 6:36, James 2:1). Elsewhere (Hebrews 11:6), God also makes it clear that it is impossible to please Him without faith. Unless one honors the Son, one cannot benefit from the saving power of that Grace.
Yet, there is also a very practical aspect to why Grace only saves through faith, and what it means to have faith in Jesus. The answer lies (at least in part) into HOW Grace saves through faith.
Grace saves us through what it teaches
Titus 2:11 – For the Grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age
The Grace of God does not manifest itself through some kind of feel-good sensation or divinely appointed fragrance that God has poured over the earth. No! The Grace of God manifests itself through a specific message that not only informs us, but also teaches us to renounce our current lifestyle. And when we read Titus 2:11 carefully, we see that what Grace trains us in, is in nothing else than living the very lifestyle that Jesus Himself taught us to live.
Faith in Jesus therefore, in the context of salvation, is believing and accepting the message and training of Grace. One must believe in the message of Grace to be saved by it. In other words, one must believe that he must renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. One must believe that he should live self-controlled, upright and godly lives today! AND one must believe that Grace HAS the ability to train him to become such a person!
Recognizing that by their own effort, they could never be saved, the disciples asked Jesus in despair…
“Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25). How did Jesus respond? “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” What did He mean? Well, if we look at Titus 2 again…He meant that we will have the best teacher to get us there…we will be taught how to be holy, and we should believe in that teaching! And if we do, we will see the results that are otherwise impossible for man to achieve. The question is…do we believe Jesus when He says it? Who can transform us but God Himself? Do we believe that if we follow the training of Grace, it will produce the intended results? This is what it means to believe in Jesus, without which, even Grace can’t save us, for we would not believe its message, let alone follow its training.
My friend. I exhort you to pray, and to pray in earnest. If you feel that you have been missing on this training from Grace, either because of not understanding the scriptures, not being properly taught at your church or whatever other reason, pray…pray my friend! God, your Father, will hear you. He will hear your imperfect, but honest and sincere prayer. And He knows how to give good gifts (Matthew 7:11). He will not ignore such a request.
May the Lord Jesus be glorified in our lives. AMEN.