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"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast". (Ephesians 2:8-9)
GOD'S GRACE IS VITAL:
There are at least 162 references to the Grace of God in the Bible, 22 of these occurring in the Letter to the Romans, wherein is revealed the Gospel of God that , "the just shall live by faith". In Romans 11:5-6 the word 'grace' appears five times, where, speaking of Israel, God's people whom He foreknew, the Apostle Paul says, "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 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".
What the Apostle appears to be saying is, though Israel has nationally been unfaithful to God, there are still a few who are elected for salvation by God's grace. God's grace and man's works are mutually exclusive. If salvation is by man's working to earn it, then the gift-element of God's grace is excluded.
So, in the Bible, GOD'S GRACE IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL TO SALVATION. Though, indeed, "justification is by faith", and ."without faith it is impossible to please Him", it is also true that a person's faith in God implies that it has come in response to God's grace having first been shown, then received and then responded to. (See also Romans 3:24, 4:16, 5:2, 15:21).
GRACE AND FAITH ARE RELATED:
The relationship between God's grace and man's faith is clearly established by Romans 4:16: "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace: to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all". Faith in God implies and depends upon the grace of God. Without God first displaying His grace to a person, there can be no faith by that person.
Continued faith always depends upon God's continuing grace. We believe in God because He has been kind, loving and merciful to us: because of what he has done for us in the past and doing for us NOW, and what our faith convinces us He will do for us in the future.. We must never think that we can earn God's salvation, for it is the gift of His grace- even though God requires our faith in Him for salvation.
In His teaching, Jesus was careful to emphasise both grace and faith, though sometimes He uses illustrations which use other words, for example in Revelation 3:20 "Behold (1) I stand at the door and knock: (2) if any man hear my voice (3 )and open the door, (4) I will come in to him and I will sup with him, and he with me"
1. The grace of God in Christ is in being there, and in speaking to us through His Word.
2. The mental and moral stages of faith. The person listens carefully to the words of Christ; is convinced He is speaking to him and is overjoyed to hear the Shepherd's voice.
3 The action stage of faith. The person opens the door of his heart and life to be a friend of Christ, who is " the Way, the Truth and the Life' (See The Truth About Faith.)
The result of listening to, feeling for and accepting the Word of Christ, is that there is a true fellowship between the believer and Christ.
THE MEANING OF GRACE:
The Greek word charis, translated "grace", means the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in one's life, including gratitude. The word is translated variously in the Bible as 'acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(s), thank(s)(-worthy)' (Strong's Concordance.)
However, God's grace is probably best understood as GOD'S MERCY AND HELP, for that is how the writer to the Hebrew Christians (Hebrews 4:16), interprets it. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find GRACE to help in time need". God is gracious to us when He forgives us our sins. He is gracious to us when He helps us to overcome trials and temptations; when He supplies our needs (both natural and spiritual); when He providentially guides our lives until at last , He may grant us His marvellous gift of eternal life in His coming Kingdom on earth. (See The Truth About the Kingdom of God)
WHAT 'SAVED BY GRACE' MEANS:
The quotation at our heading, Ephesians 2:8-9, is a beautiful and important one. The William Barclay translation renders it "For it is to grace that you owe your salvation through faith" The whole process does not come from anything we have done or could do; it is God's gift. Any achievement of ours is ruled out, to make it impossible for anyone to boast".
With God's help we can now be saved from our past and present sins With God's help and mercy we will, in the future be given salvation from death and a place in Christ's kingdom on earth--If we are in God's "Way". And we will be in that "Way" IF we respond to the grace that God has poured out upon us all----accepting His Fatherhood, the Gospel of His promised Kingdom to come, His provision in Christ for forgiveness, reconciliation and ultimate redemption and His providential guidance of our lives
FROM BEGINNING TO END, SALVATION IS BY GOD'S GRACE THROUGH OUR FAITH IN GOD AND IN HIS WORD.
WE LIVE BY GRACE:
We are called by God's grace. We believe by God's grace. We are baptised by God's grace. We live by God's grace and we will gain salvation by God's grace. We are not the initiators of anything, but the respondents to everything that comes to us by God's grace. That is why Paul goes on in Ephesians 2:10 to say.
" For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
Today, through His GRACE and mercy, the long-suffering God withholds His complete judgements for man's sins, but, by His word He encourages us to strive for perfection, through a life dedicated to His precepts and principles.
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