Faith and Grace

The following is from Donald C. Stamps, Life in the Spirit Study Bible, pp. 1748-9:

“Our salvation comes as gift of God’s grace and is appropriated by the response of faith.  To understand the process of salvation, we must understand these two words.

Saving Faith.  Faith in Jesus Christ is God’s requirement for receiving His free gift of salvation. Faith is what we believe about Christ and our heart’s response of trust that causes us to follow Him as Lord and Savior (cf. Mat 4:19; 16:24; Luke 9:23-25; John 10:4, 27; 12:26; Rev 14:4)  

(1) The NT conception of faith includes four main elements:

(a) Faith means firmly believing and trusting in the crucified and risen Christ as our personal Lord and Savior (see Rom 1:17, note).  It involves believing with all our hearts (Rom 6:17; Eph 6:6; Heb 10:22), yielding up our wills and committing our total selves to Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the NT.

(b) Faith involves repentance, i.e., in true sorrow turning from sin (Acts 17:30; 2 Cor 7:10) and turning to God through Christ.  Saving faith is always a repentant faith (Acts 2:37-38; see Mat 3:2, note on repentance).

(c) Faith includes obedience to Jesus Christ and His Word as a way of life inspired by our faith, by our gratitude to God and by the regenerating work of the Spirit (John 3:3-6; 14:15, 21-24; Heb 5:8-9).  It is an ‘obedience to the faith’ (Rom 1:5).  Therefore, faith and obedience belong inseparably together (cf. Rom 16:26).  Saving faith without the commitment to sanctification is impossible.

(d) Faith includes a heartfelt personal devotion and attachment to Jesus Christ that expresses itself in trust, love, gratitude and loyalty.  Faith in an ultimate sense cannot properly be distinguished from love.  It is a personal activity of trust and loving self-giving directed toward Christ (cf. Mat 23:37; John 21:15-17; Acts 8:37; Rom 6:17; Gal 2:20; Eph 6:6; 1 Pet 1:8).

(2) Faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour is both the act of a single moment and a continuing attitude that must grow and be strengthened (see John 1:12, note).  Because we have faith in a specific person who died for us (Rom 4:25; 8:32; 1 Thes 5:9-10), our faith should become greater (Rom 4:20; 2 Thes 1:3; 1 Pet 1:3-9).  Trust and obedience develop into loyalty and devotion (Rom 14:8; 2 Cor 5:15); loyalty and devotion develop into an intense feeling of personal attachment to and love for the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil 1:21; 3:8-10; see John 15:4, note; Gal 2:20, note).  This faith in Christ brings us into a new relationship with God and exempts us from His wrath (Rom 1:18; 8:1); through that new relationship we become dead to sin (Rom 6:1-18) and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:5; 4:6).

Grace. In the OT, God revealed Himself as a God of grace who showed love to His people, not because they deserved it, but because of His own desire to be faithful to the covenant promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see Ex 6:9, note; see articles on The Passover, p. 112, and The Day of Atonement, p. 190).  Justice is getting what we deserve; mercy is being spared what we deserve; grace is being given what we do not deserve.  The NT emphasizes the theme of God’s grace in the giving of His Son on behalf of undeserving sinners.  God’s grace is multiplied to believers by the Holy Spirit, imparting forgiveness, acceptance and power to do God’s will (John 3:16; 1 Cor 15:10; Phil 2:13; 1 Tim 1:15-16).  The whole movement of the Christian life from beginning to end is dependent on God’s grace.

(1) God gives a measure of grace as a gift (1 Cor 1:4) to unbelievers so that they may be able to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9; Tit 2:11, 3:4).

(2) God gives grace to believers to be ‘made free from sin’ (Rom 6:20, 22), ‘to will and to do of his good pleasure’ (Phil 2:13; see Tit 2:11-12; see Mat 7:21, note on obedience as a gift of God’s grace), to pray (Zech 12:10), to grow in Christ (2 Pet 3:18) and to witness for Christ (Acts 4:33; 11:23).

(3) God’s grace must be diligently desired and sought (Heb 4:16).  Some of the ways (i.e., means of grace) by which God’s grace is received are: humbling ourselves before God (Jas 4:6, 10); studying and obeying Scripture (John 15:1-11; 20:31; 2 Tim 3:15); hearing the proclamation of the gospel (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8; Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:17-18); praying (Heb 4:16; Jude 20); fasting (Mat 4:2; 6:16); worshiping Christ (Col 3:16); being continually filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18); and participating in the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42; see Eph 2:9, note on how grace works).

(4) God’s grace can be resisted (Heb 12:15), received in vain (2 Cor 6:1), put out (1 Thes 5:19), set aside (Gal 2:21) and abandoned by the believer (Gal 5:4).

Stamps, Donald C. (2003: Zondervan), Life in the Spirit Study Bible

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