Saved by Grace!
“For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8)
“...God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Roman 12:3)
I can not read the above quotes and not become excited, thanking God with enthusiasm and peace of mind. A gift - an undeserved thing, given to one without anything required in return - is a very good deal, indeed. And this faith spoken of by Paul, the very thing by which we believe the Good News, is provided by God, as well. Faith, a belief in something without proof, without tangible evidence, and in some cases, in spite of evidence, is an amazing gift, itself. It is a gift we receive via the Holy Spirit, and much in the same way the gift of life was received from our parents, a gift we could not approve, understand or acknowledge until after it was received and we became self-aware.
It is like this for me, I sort of compare these present gifts of grace and faith and the future gifts of salvation and eternal life, to how my first, physical birth was realized. This life I was born to was a gift to me from my parents. Obviously, I had no say in my conception. I wasn’t asked if I wanted to join their family, or the human race for that matter. I simply had no part in my conception and birth other than the fact of experiencing them. Moreover, I was not asked or given the opportunity to accept or reject Adam’s nature, identifying or not, or joining or not, with his human, sinful state. I inherited it without any action or consent on my part. My existence and condition was the work of others. Likewise, my second birth is also the work of others...the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world...he predestined us for adoption to sonship…” (Ephesians 1:4-5)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you...” (Jeremiah 1:5)
It is a comfort, at least for me, and a liberation to be sure, to know that I do not bear the task of managing my rebirth and salvation. That God predestined me to sonship by His work through Christ is a biblical fact. That God chose me in Him through Christ before the creation of the world is a biblical fact. My rebirth is, as was my physical, first birth, the work of others greater than me, and not in anyway of my own doing (lest I should boast.)
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
My part in my rebirth is in the living of it, engaged in, among other things, the good works God previously provided for me to carry out now and in the future - for Christ, for the church and for myself. It is obvious that God has already provided us with everything in existence to fulfill what it is He planned for us.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it..” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Like our parents before us, my wife and I tried to guarantee as best we could the successful and healthy conception, birth and lives of our children. Would God do any less for his offspring? Would not God perfectly guarantee the perfect rebirth of his children? Now, whereas my wife and I could not give our children an ironclad, perfect guarantee (far from it, in fact) God can - and has. He has given us, whom he has also given faith to believe, a perfect guarantee - the Holy Spirit! It’s not a “maybe”, not a “might be”, not a “could be, should be”; it is a Guarantee. That he chose us in Himself before the creation of the world is so simple in its massive implication. He chose us - before we were us. And, I do not believe God’s choice can fail. God doesn’t make bad choices. God is not running about the universe fixing the things of his Perfect Plan that didn’t quite work out as originally designed. Our adoption as sons is sealed with a guarantee. And our adoption as sons is, once more, simply not our doing. For again: “For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8)
Paul’s words ring clearly for me. They give me great comfort when my mind and heart once again convict me of my human and less than perfect nature and remind me of my quilt. What he writes above often brings me back to where I wish to be, in confident assurance of my relationship with God and his Christ, worked out on my behalf by God, through Christ. Now, that is truly a wonderful gift and unquestionably very Good News!