Q29: How can we be saved?
A: Only by faith in Jesus Christ and in His substitutionary atoning death on the cross; so even though we are guilty of having disobeyed God and are still inclined to all evil, nevertheless, God, without any merit of our own but only by pure grace, imputes to us the perfect righteousness of Christ when we repent and believe Him (Crossway, 2017, p. 129).
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
The Vertical Truth in Faith – What does this truth mean in my relationship with God?
Notice the qualifying statement of being saved through faith, “For by grace.” This sets the tone for the entirety of both verses. It is clear that there can be no room for pride in our salvation. Paul makes it clear to us that it is by grace through faith that we may be saved, and he further bolsters this fact four more times, stating it’s “ 1) not your own doing, 2) it is the gift of God, 3) not the result of works, 4) so that no one may boast.” Our God is a jealous God, which includes jealousy for the attention and acclaim we give other things but also for the attention and acclaim we give ourselves. Secondly, this passage indicates the justice of God. Our sin debt, so great it cannot be paid by result of works, was paid for by Christ’s death. Since God is a just God, there is no double payment for our sin once we’ve accessed the gift of salvation through faith in Christ. While judgment is often harshly looked upon, let us not discount the justice demonstrated by the gift of salvation as paid for by Christ. To remember one without the other is to take away from the righteousness of God. Through faith in Christ, this imputed, or credited, salvation is a gift which makes us joint heirs with Christ. The gift of salvation should warrant humility in our lives and adoration toward our Savior.
- James 4:6“But He gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”
- Romans 6:23“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’”
- Romans 8:32“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?”
The Horizontal Truth in Love – What does this truth mean in my relationship with humanity?
The application of this passage is significant in the areas of pride and love as it relates to humanity. First, all of mankind is separated from a holy God by sin, which makes no man better than another. Since there is nothing man can do to earn salvation, we are all in need of the gift of Christ’s salvation – no one is capable of doing enough to cancel their own sin debt. Secondly, we should be burdened for our fellow man to know of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and burdened to love one another – even if they are living a sinful lifestyle. Even Jesus during death on the cross granted grace to a repentant sinner. How then, should we cease to love anyone?
- Romans 12:3“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
- I Peter 1:22“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brother love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”
Practical Truth in Action – How can I put this truth into action?
It is important to practically remember the account of the thief on the cross. The thief had lived a life full of sin and offense to God and others. Nailed to the cross, he had no chance for redemption of his own. There was no chance for him to pay restitution to others or God. Yet, Christ, through grace, was enough to grant salvation to a believing thief. With his resume full of wrong and his future full of hopelessness, Christ stepped in and intervened with the free gift of salvation so that by accepting this gift, the thief (and all who believe) are imputed or credited with righteousness. When we remember this, and live under this conceptual understanding, we are more prone to live graciously, humbly, gratefully, and lovingly.
- Luke 23:40-43 “But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”