(Article for publication week of 2-27-AD 2013)
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
God saves sinners in such a way as to exclude all human boasting. All the glory for salvation is to God Alone Who saves men graciously from first to last. Every part of salvation, from first to last is all of the Lord. You can claim no credit for your own, or another's salvation. Our text says that salvation is all of God's free and sovereign grace.
It is interesting, delightful, and enlightening to note that salvation is said in this place to be "by" grace, "through" faith." We have been considering in our Narrow Way articles for about a year now the doctrine of justification, the "heart of the gospel" (Elder Jimmy Barber). Having shown the ground of justification as the Imputed Righteousness of Christ, and the procuring Cause of justification as God's free and sovereign grace, we are now considering the Instrument of justification, as being faith alone. It is not the sinner's faith which saves him, but rather it is the object of faith, the Lord Jesus Christ that saves. The justifying righteousness of Christ is received by faith alone. There is no other way that it comes to us. The Imputed Righteousness of Christ comes to us through the channel, or conduit of faith, so our text here in Ephesians says that we are saved "by grace", "through faith".
Now I will ask you who are believers, "why did you believe in Christ, while others refuse so to do?" Well our text gives us the Biblical reason- God gives the grace of faith to some, and withholds it from others. Our text plainly says that faith is a gift of God. The lost sinner, being "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1) has no power to believe, repent or comply with gospel terms, or do anything to save himself or help save himself. By nature it is true of all men that they "have not faith" (II Thessalonians 3:2). If you are believing in Christ for your Whole and Sole Righteousness, it is not because you are a smarter sinner than some others, but because God in mercy drew you to Himself. Our Lord Jesus Christ plainly declared in John 6:44, "no man can come to me, except the Father which sent me draw him." God makes His people willing in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3) to repent and believe and so they come to Christ most freely. If you have come to Christ as a poor sinner trusting in Him Alone for salvation, it is because the Lord drew you to Himself.
You see how the Bible way of salvation excludes all boasting by sinners? You can claim no credit for any aspect of salvation, including your faith in Christ, for even faith itself is entirely of God's grace. If God had not shown mercy to you, you would still be in unbelief, and apart from the Saviour. Salvation is a free gift, including the faith to believe in Christ. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!