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What Does The Bible Say About The Role Of Grace In Salvation?

August 21, 2011

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Last week: What Is God's Design For The Family?.

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." Here Paul clearly sets forth the fact that grace is a necessary component of salvation. What is grace? Who's grace is Paul talking about, and, what role does grace play in salvation? What does the Bible say?
What is grace? The word translated, "grace," in the King James Translation of the Bible (Ephesians 2:8), is defined as, "good-will, loving-kindness, favor." Another word which is translated, "free gift," used in the context of grace, is defined as, "of grace; a favor which one receives without any merit of his own1." So, grace is a favor which one receives without any merit of his own, a free gift. Paul writes in Romans 5:15, "But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many2." So, it is by the grace of God that we are saved.
Paul writes in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." He writes in Ephesians 2:5, "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)." The sinner is dead in his sins. He is "quickened" (made alive) by grace. Paul writes, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). So, we are all sinners in need of God's grace.
Now, go back to Ephesians 2:8-10. Notice that Paul says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith." By the grace of God, He sent his son to die for us (See John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-11; Romans 5:15). To accept God's grace one must have faith. Faith, here, means:
1. conviction of the truth of anything, belief Heb 11:1.
a. when it relates to God, pistis is the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ: Heb 11:6.
b. in reference to Christ, it denotes a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God3.
Paul says we are saved by grace through this conviction. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). So, we are saved by God's grace and our faith.
But, if grace is a free gift, how is it that we must do anything? It is not uncommon for a free gift to come with conditions. Often an advertiser requires a potential recipient of a gift to fill out a form and mail it in. Other conditions are often required. Consider this example: Suppose I offered you a gift of $1 million (I said, suppose). If I said, "I will give you $1 million if you will come to my house and get it." Will you get it if you don't come to my house and get it? No! Will you get it if you come to my house and get it. Yes! Is it still a free gift? Yes. Why? Because you did not pay for it, and did nothing to earn it! The same is true with salvation. It is a free gift to those who have faith. Faith is not a payment for salvation, neither does one earn salvation by faith. Faith is a condition of salvation. If fact, one cannot earn salvation. Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-10, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves..." He continues, "Not of works, lest any man should boast" (verse 9). Salvation is not by works, by by grace through faith.
But, Paul does not stop there. He continues, in verse 10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Through God's grace, and our faith, our sins are taken away, and we must replace those sins with good works! James says, in James 2:17, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." James goes on to say that we must show our faith by our works, and, a faith without works is no better than the devils' faith! What are Paul and James saying? One cannot be saved by works, but one cannot be saved without works, either! Salvation comes to one who has faith in God and His Son, and who turns from a life of sin to a life of good works.
What role does grace have in salvaion? Grace is the good-will, loving-kindness, favor of God. Faith, is the conviction of the truth that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ, and that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God. By grace through faith the sinner is saved from his sins to live a life of good works. For further reading, I urge you to read What Does The Bible Say One Must Do To Be Saved?.
We at the Strasburg Church of Christ would like an opportunity to assist you in your study of God's Word, the Bible. We offer a free Bible Correspondence that you may study in your home. Write us at PO Box 321 Strasburg, VA 22657, or email us.

Last week: What Is God's Design For The Family?.

L. John Bost

1Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.
2All italicized emphases within scripture references, are mine, LJB.

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