Someone recently told me that we are “saved by grace through faith.” Let’s read Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…it is a gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ok, sounds great, but how am I (you) to understand the words “grace” and “faith?” In the Greek language, “charis” is the noun form of grace and “charitoo” is the verb and means to endow with Divine favor, or as more commonly understood, to be blessed by God with unmerited favor.
Titus 2:11 reads, “For the grace [unmerited favor] of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” Since grace is unmerited favor and it has appeared to all men/women, it would seem that Titus is telling us that all mankind is going to be saved and enter heaven, correct? You say no? Why do you say no? Haven’t we just read that grace is unmerited and that it has appeared to everyone? Why would unmerited favor be given to you and not me, or vice versa? If it is unmerited, neither you nor I have actually done anything to earn it, so isn’t God showing favoritism if He saves just one of us but not both of us?
Since you said that not all mankind will be in heaven, I did some additional research and found that you are correct, not all mankind will enter heaven. Matthew 7:21-23 is very clear, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Unfortunately, even though we now know that not everyone will enter heaven, we still do not know why unmerited favor does not cover everyone so that we can all go to heaven.
Even though God’s grace is a gift and gifts are never earned, we must be misunderstanding something about grace. Here is what I mean... Assume your friend is holding a gift in his hand and while speaking to you says, “please accept this gift from me,” but you never reach out to accept or take it. Will the gift that is intended for you, ever be yours? No. In a similar manner, God is offering each of us the gift of grace that will save our souls for an eternity. Could it be that it is imperative that we reach out and access or accept this gift from God just like we must reach out and accept a gift from our friend? If so, how do we reach out to God and gain access to the gift of grace? What does the Bible say? Romans 5:2, “through whom [Jesus] we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Ahh, we have gained access by faith into grace but have we accepted it? A key to the lock on a door only gives you access to the contents of the room behind the door; you must step inside the room to acquire the contents. So faith, according to Romans 5:2, gives us access to grace but have we reached out and accepted it? In other words, faith is like the key to the lock on a door, it gives us access to grace.
Stay with me, let’s read more Scripture. Romans 1:5, “…to call people from among the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” According to this Scripture, if we claim to have faith but do not obey or do what God tells us, do we really have faith? Hebrews 5:9, “He [Jesus] became the source eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” Notice that this Scripture is stressing obedience, not faith. The last sentence of the book of Romans, verses 26-27 states, “…so that all nations might believe and obey Him.” Another Scripture that we need to consider in this regard is II Thessalonians 1:8, “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” These Scriptures inextricably tie faith and obedience together. You cannot have one without the other. As a key unlocks the door to a room, so faith expressed in obedience to God’s commands, grants to us the grace of God.
Oh my, I’ve come to the end of my allotted space for this month. As you can tell, we have so much more to discuss. Next time, among other things, we need to examine the word “faith” more in-depth. What was the Greek word translated into our English word “faith” and what was its original meaning? Also, we need to delve deeper into the concept of obedience.
Ed Nill is the author of the book: “Christianity – Why I Believe What I Believe – Why Do You Believe What You Believe?” In the book, some 40 pages are devoted to the subject of grace. See: www.BossPublishing.org for additional information about the book.