Summary: Grace is God's role in His plan for man. Faith is Man's responsibility. This lesson examines how each of these roles function in man's redemption, salvation and relationship with God.
God's Grace and Our Faith
As I travel across this nation working in various places, I meet a lot of people who claim Jesus Christ as their savior and when you engage them in conversation about their beliefs, they have this notion that grace and faith are the tickets to heaven and in a sense they are right. But their understanding of just what grace and faith is as a comprehensive Biblical term is not always in line with reality. They know that grace and faith is there but they really don't have a clear understanding of just what grace and faith are and how each one of these functions in our justification and subsequent salvation.
For the purpose of this lesson, we are going to examine these two vital and essential elements that play such an important role in our lives as Christians and try to gain a better understanding of them from an overall Biblical perspective.
First of all, what is Grace?
Most people have no idea what grace really is and how it functions in the life of a Christian. Several people, especially those among our denominational neighbors have this belief that God's grace is some kind of mystical, magical thing that transforms an all powerful, perfectly holy, just and omniscient God into Santa Clause. You know, that red suited jolly character that promises children a bucket of coal or a bundle of switches if they haven't been good but when its all said and done nice presents are received anyway?
I did not deserve the nice things I received. I certainly did not earn them, Santa was under no obligation whatsoever to give them to me. Now while there are some elements to this little illustration that parallel God's grace, we are overlooking one very important fact.
When you strip all the layers away and get down to the facts, Santa lied to me. I had not been a good little boy for the past year and I knew it. Santa promised me something that he did not deliver on. While that was perfectly fine with me at the time, the fact remains that Santa promised me a bundle of switches and I got candy, clothes and hot wheels. Santa gave me grace, but Santa did not keep his word.
God is not Santa. And Santa most certainly is not God. Inspiration teaches us in Titus 1:2 and other places in scripture that God cannot lie. One thing that we can be absolutely sure of is that neither grace or faith rightly applied in our lives will ever make God out to be a liar. God does not say things that He does not mean. God doesn't make promises that He does not keep.
Santa told me that a certain level or standard of good behavior was required in order to receive the good gifts. In other words, I was expected to obey my parents if I wanted the good stuff. God certainly has grace, but unlike Santa, when God promises bad stuff for bad behavior, God is going to deliver bad stuff for bad behavior, no matter how much grace He has. God's grace will not cause God to violate His honest nature or His principles. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 teaches us that God cannot deny His holy nature: 2 Timothy 2:11-13
"11 For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.
12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful;
He [God] cannot deny Himself. " NKJV
One thing we can be absolutely sure about is that God's grace will never cause God to act in a way that is in conflict with Himself or His standards. God is going to be faithful to His covenant even when we are not faithful to Him. In other words, God is going to keep his promises and do what He said He would do no matter what we do.
So what is this grace that God has towards us? Someone who is gracious has certain qualities which stand out. Those who are gracious are benevolent, meaning they do things for others that they are not necessarily required to do. Those who are gracious are indulgent or beneficent to others, especially inferiors. And those who are gracious are merciful and compassionate. Does this sound like some of the qualities that our God possesses?
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), which means eternal separation from God. Sin is a violation against God and causes mankind to lose fellowship with God. The only way man can regain that fellowship is if he pays the penalty for that sin. Man sinned, man incurred a debt. The problem is, the payment for all sin is loss of fellowship with God forever. It doesn't matter what that sin is, the penalty is the same. We have lost our fellowship with God and that cannot be restored unless we pay the penalty in full.