by Paul George
“For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
All the blessings which God has bestowed upon mankind flow from His grace or favor; His free, undeserved favor. We can not lay claim to the least of His mercies. There is nothing we are, or have, or do, which can deserve the least of the gifts we receive from the hand of God. Whatever righteousness may be found in us is a gift from God. The greatest gift we can receive from God is salvation. A gift that was given to us “while we were yet sinners.” By grace we are saved through faith. Grace is the source, faith the condition, of salvation.
In order that we do not fall short of the grace of God we need to know:
I. What faith is it through which we are saved.
II. What is the salvation which is through faith.
The faith by which we are saved is not the belief God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him and that He is to be sought by glorifying Him as God, by giving Him thanks for all things, and by a careful practice of moral virtue, of justice, mercy, and truth, toward our fellowman.
Secondly, it is not the faith of demons. Satan and his demonic force believe there is not only a wise and powerful God, gracious to reward, and just to punish; but also, that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the Savior of the world. We find demons confessing, “I know who You are, the Holy One of God” (Luke 4:34). The great enemy of God and man believes, and trembles in believing, that God was made manifest in the flesh; that He will “tread all enemies under his feet;” and that “all Scripture was given by inspiration of God.”
Thirdly, it is not the faith the Apostles had while Christ was yet upon earth; though they believed on Him and left all to follow Him. Although they had the power to work miracles, to “heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease;” even “power and authority over all devils;” and, were sent by their Master to “preach the kingdom of God.”
What faith is it then through which we are saved? It may be answered; first, in general, it is a faith in Christ and God through Christ. It is the faith that is sufficiently, absolutely distinguished from the faith of the Apostles while Christ was on earth and from the beliefs of demons. It is the faith that is not merely a speculative, rational thing, a cold, lifeless assent, a train of ideas in the head. It is a disposition of the heart. It is written in the Scripture, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness;” and, “If thou shalt confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, You shall be saved.”
This is the difference of the faith which the Apostles themselves had while our Lord was on earth, that it acknowledges the necessity and merit of His death, and the power of His resurrection. It acknowledges His death as the only sufficient means of redeeming man from death eternal, and His resurrection as the restoration of us all to life and immortality; inasmuch as He “was delivered for our sins, and rose again for our justification.”
Christian faith is then, not only an assent to the whole gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the blood of Christ; a trust in the merits of His life, death, and resurrection; a dependence upon Him as our atonement and our life, as given for us, and living in us; and, in consequence hereof, a relation-ship with Him, and cleaving to Him, as our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” or, in one word, our salvation.
II. What salvation it is, which is through this faith, is the Second thing to be considered.
First, whatsoever else is implied it is a present salvation. It is something attainable on earth, by those who are partakers of this faith. The Apostle told the believers at Ephesus, and the believers of all ages, not, you shall be (though that also is true), but, “You are saved through faith.”
We are saved from the consequences of sin. This is the salvation which is through faith. This is that great salvation foretold by the angel, before God brought His First-begotten into the world: “You shall call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins.” And neither here, nor in other parts of the Bible is there any limitation or restriction. All His people, or, as it is elsewhere expressed, “all that believe in Him,” He will save from all their sins; from original and actual, past and present sin, “of the flesh and of the spirit.” Through faith that is in Him, all mankind are saved both from the guilt and from the power of sin. We are delivered from the guilt of all past sin, for all the world is guilty before God, insomuch that should He “be extreme to mark what is done amiss, there is none that could escape the guilt of sin for “by the law is” only “the knowledge of sin,” but no deliverance from it, so that, “by” fulfilling “the deeds of the law, no flesh can be justified in his sight.” Now, “the righteousness of God, which is by faith in Jesus Christ, is manifested to all that believe.” Now we “are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.” God has sent Him forth to be propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of the sins that are past. Now has Christ taken away “the curse of the law, being made a curse for us? He has “blotted out the judgment that was against us, taking it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. “There is therefore no condemnation now to them which” believe “in Christ Jesus.”
Being saved from guilt, we are saved from fear. Not indeed from a filial fear of offending; but from all servile fear; from that fear which has torment, from fear of punishment, from fear of the wrath of God, whom we now no longer regard as a severe Master, but as an indulgent Father. We have not received again the spirit of bondage, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father and the Holy Spirit also bears witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God. We are also saved from the fear, though not from the possibility, of falling away from the grace of God, and coming short of the great and precious promises. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, through the Holy Spirit which is given to us. And hereby we are persuaded (though perhaps not at all times, nor with the same fullness of persuasion), that neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Through this faith we are saved from the power of sin, as well as from the guilt of it. So the Apostle declares,
“You know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abides in Him sinneth not” (1 John 3:5ff.). Again, “Little children, let no man deceive you. He that commits sin is of the devil. Whosoever believes is born of God. And whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” And, “We know that no one who is born of God sins, but He keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him (1 John 5:18).
Those who are by faith is born of God does not sin, by any habitual sin; for all habitual sin is sin reigning in the heart and sin cannot reign in any that believe. Nor by any willful sin: for his will, while he abides in the faith, is utterly set against all sin and abhors it as deadly poison. Nor by any sinful desire; for he continually desires the holy and perfect will of God. Nor does he sin by infirmities, whether in act, word, or thought; for his infirmities have no concurrence of his will and without this they are not properly sins. Thus, “he that is born of God does not commit sin”: and though he cannot say he has not sinned, yet now he does not sin.
This then is the salvation which is through faith, even in the present world. A salvation from sin, and the consequences of sin, both often expressed in the word justification; which, taken in the largest sense, implies a deliverance from guilt and punishment, by the atonement of Christ actually applied to the soul of the sinner now believing in him, and a deliverance from the power of sin, through Christ formed in his heart. So that he who is thus justified, or saved by faith, is indeed born again. he is born again of the Spirit to a new life, which “is hid with Christ in God.” And as a new-born babe he gladly receives the sincere milk of the word, and grows in the might of the Lord his God, from faith to faith, from grace to grace, until at length, he comes to “a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Now, thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, forever and ever. Amen.