By Grace Through Faith

by Mike Ratliff

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

In our last few discussions we have looked at what constitutes Justification. In other words, what is it that causes God to justify believers. What is justification? I heard a definition a long time ago where the preacher said something like this, “Justification is what happens when we are born again, it is ‘Just as if I had never sinned’” Of course, those of us who are Reformed in our Theology believe that our regeneration, our quickening, our New Birth takes place prior to belief because that is what enables ungodly, spiritually dead people to repent and believe. Justification follows that. Let’s look at an example.

1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:1-3 ESV)

Our justification then is God counting us as righteousness. This is God declaring us righteous. Therefore, Justification is God imputing Righteousness to our account. It is Jesus Christ’s Righteousness that God imputes to us. Why does He do it? Abraham believed God. For this reason he is called the Father of Faith. Notice it doesn’t say that he believed in God, but that he believed God. God had covenanted with him, making several wonderful promises. Abraham believed Him and God justified him. This is justification by faith. Now let’s look at what God does to bring us to this point.

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-7 ESV)

What is our condition before salvation? We are dead in our trespasses and sin. Dead is dead. It isn’t sick or weak. It is dead. All people before salvation are spiritually dead. They walk according to the ways of the world following the prince of the power of the air. This is Satan. All people who are not believers are in this state. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. Salvation then involves becoming alive with Christ because God had mercy on us when we deserved none. When we are regenerated by God we are made spiritually alive with Christ. That means that we now have spiritual life like Jesus Christ.

What is missing from those 7 verses? Is there any mention of faith? No there isn’t. But in v8, which is at the top of this post and below, we see that we are saved by grace through faith. In other words, those verses prior to v8 are describing how wonderful our salvation is because of what we were like before we were saved. Then in vv8-9 we see that, like Abraham, we are saved through faith by believing God.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

In these verses we see that our salvation, our justification, comes to us by grace through faith. It is God’s grace that we are saved through the conduit of our faith, but that is all a gift of God. It is our regeneration which enables us to believe God and it is as we believe Him that we exhibit the same saving faith that Abraham had. As a result, we are saved.

10 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 ESV)

Verse 10 tells us that our salvation is God’s good work. We are newly born in Christ Jesus. Why? We are newly created for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. That means that Christians are new creations and not simply religious people who have made some decision to do religious things. NO! We who were formally dead in our trespasses and sins are now alive in Christ, reborn, remade, quickened, Born Again so that we can now obey our Lord in all things to walk according to His will for His glory alone.

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8 thoughts on “By Grace Through Faith

  1. “I heard a definition a long time ago where the preacher said something like this, “Justification is what happens when we are born again, it is ‘Just as if I had never sinned’””

    I’ve heard Paul Washer quote that also, but he then discusses why that’s not a good way to describe justification… but I wouldn’t do it justice to try to retell it here. =)

  2. Right on target and you’re right…doctrine is tiring because our small brains are learning about an infinite God! Just think of how wonderful it will be when we sit at His feet and He gives us the ability to understand everything He teaches us…for eternity!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Without getting caught up with the exact chronology, you are right, we were dead. Now God wasn’t so impressed with our ability to figure it all out that He saved us, no, we were enlightened by God Himself and everyone that believes on Christ is saved.

  4. Mike, this is an interesting take on regeneration. I don’t know how, but I had never heard it before. I think as Henry said, I may differ on the exact chronology, but in the end we agree that a supernatural God spoke to each of us who are born again, and we would still be dead had He not chosen to do so. :-)

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