Grace: the Gift of God 

54.0 The Faith Relationship

by Hubert F. Sturges, www.144000.cc, October 2009

Topics

Faith

The Faith Relationship

By Grace Alone

Grace is the supernatural power of God by which He will renew your life in righteousness. This gift is received by faith and with your consent. God always respects your free will choice.

Faith

How can motives be changed? At Eden, every man was given a spark of faith -- and a desire to do good (Gen 3:15; John 1:9). If you choose to do good, you will be led step by step to Christ. The more you see of the perfection of Christ, and the more you see of the Cross of Christ -- the more you are motivated to follow Him.

Faith is your part in taking hold of grace! Definitions of faith include trust, belief, commitment, and willingness to obey God. These are all true, but do not fully explain faith. In fact to understand faith you must include an intuitive relationship (an emotional commitment?) with God. This too is a gift and a choice, an understanding given by God.

   "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9).

   "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17, KJV)).

   "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 (KJV)).

So while faith is a gift from God, it is also an action that comes from within man. It is by faith that we trust Christ, and reach out and take hold of the grace of God.

".. Prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven's storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence." White, E.G.: Steps to Christ, 94-95

"Amazing grace, how can it be, that Jesus came and died for me!"

The Faith Relationship that God Desires?

Adam and Eve in their sinless pristine state lived in perfect surroundings. They were visited regularly by God and the holy angels. This was their life. They thought about God, spoke of Him, made the Garden of Eden beautiful for Him. All their creativity in song, art, word, and action was to bring praise to His name. They were created in the image of God! They had a love that we, as sinners, only dimly appreciate. Sin did not even enter their thinking.

God intends that you have no knowledge of sin. When you are born again (John 3:3-21) in Christ, you are a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) and all things are become new. As you realize what Christ has done for you, your motives are changed. You now love God, and want to live for Him. The sinful nature is now covered with the robe of His righteousness.

By exercising faith and choosing the grace of God, He gives you power to obey the law and become more like Him. The memory of sin begins to fade.

This is the purpose that God still has for you. When you are born again (John 3:3-21) in Christ, you are a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) and all things are become new. As you realize what Christ has done for you, your motives are changed. You now love God, and want to live for Him. This is the "new creature."

There are still steps to take, besetting sins to overcome. These are the habits of the past life, and the tendencies of the sinful nature. Why does not God take all these away too? Remember, God gave you free will and He regards this as a sacred gift. He will never over ride your power to choose. You will be tested to reveal your weak points. This gives you the opportunity to confess and ask for the grace of God to overcome those tendencies. This prayer God is always glad to answer with a YES!

Is this process ever complete? Are all sins ever overcome? The answer is that Jesus Christ stands for you in the judgment, and you are accounted perfect in Him. Your trust and faith takes hold of the perfection of Jesus as your own. But that does not mean that you can sit back and "let Jesus do it all." Jesus has said that "Without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Heb 11:6).

It is in exercising that faith, choosing the grace of God, that He gives you power to obey the law and become more like Him.

By Grace Alone

In a magazine article several years ago a well known author stated that "We’re justified only by what Christ did for us, apart from us, outside of us." As long as you strictly limit this statement to the meaning of justification, it is correct. But one must ask, is a person who is justified made a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17)? Is being made a new creature something that involves faith or consent, and something done inside of us? To ask the question is to come to the obvious answer.

Salvation includes more than justification. Can a person be saved who is not also sanctified? Is a faith that is silent or inactive, genuine (James 2)?

If anything, God is practical. Jesus did not use words like justification and sanctification. He said much about faith, but He also said, "Follow me." That sounds like action. If a person refused to "follow" Jesus when bidden, he was not a Christian plain and simple (Luke 18:18-24).

In Matthew 5 Jesus emphasized commandment keeping, enlarged upon it, carried it right to the heart of our attitudes and motives. He seemed to think it was important.

The first four of the ten commandments help define commitment, love to God. The last six deal with your relationship to your fellow men. Lacking love to our fellow man, you are selfish. Lacking love

to God, you show unbelief and price. It is only by the grace of God that you can be lifted out of pride, unbelief, and selfishness. Is salvation possible if you have refused or neglected the work of grace in your life? Can you person be saved if you are not also a "new creature?"

I was privileged to attend fellowship meetings of Christian business men while I was living in Colorado Springs some years ago. These men freely and joyfully witnessed to how they came to Christ. I was inspired. But I kept waiting for the "and then," which never came. I believe that these were born again Christians, but they had not recognized that their commitment to Christ had also consented to the work of grace to change their lives.

The reason that people make a statement like justification being "what Christ did for us, apart from us, outside of us" arises out of the Protestant Reformation. It was in reaction to the common Catholic teaching on the "merit" of good works. Many present day Protestants today still make that statement. They believe that a completed atonement on the Cross included an assurance of salvation that would not be changed.. Growth in grace was foreign to their thinking.

But there has been new interest in the ten commandments. As Jesus Coming is approaching, we must consent to the work of grace and choose to overcome sin. The "ten promises" must become real in our lives. We must become ready to meet Him when He comes.

As to the Roman Catholic belief in the "merit" of good works, we remain worlds apart from them on that belief. While works are an evidence of faith, and where works are a necessary evidence of faith, there is no merit in those works. It is only by faith through grace that salvation (justification and sanctification) is effected.