Salvation By Grace Through Faith
By J. L. Hall
The concept that salvation can be earned by meritorious service, by keeping the law of Moses, or by living a decent, honest life does not find support in the Bible. On the contrary, salvation is offered as a free gift on the basis of God’s grace and our faith: “for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Only by a faith response to the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ can we experience forgiveness of sins and power over our inherited sinful nature.
Salvation by grace through faith, however, does not exclude the need of repentance, water baptism, and the infilling of the Spirit. Rather, faith includes these steps, for they are the proper faith response a person makes to the gospel. By faith in Jesus Christ, a person repents of his sins, by faith he submits to water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and by faith he receives the Holy Ghost with the sign of speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance. The goal of God’s grace is not faith by the reconciliation of sinners to God through forgiveness of sins and by the regenerative work of the Holy Ghost.
Reformation View of Grace and Faith
The Protestant Reformation correctly contrasted the scriptural teaching of salvation by God’s grace with the various sacraments, good works, and indulgences emphasized in Roman Catholicism. But in their zeal to defend justification by faith, the Reforms (Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and their associates) overlooked the plan of salvation preached by the apostles and recorded in the Book of Acts. Moreover, to defend the doctrine of grace, they rejected even the slightest human effort to receive the gift of salvation. Today, their doctrinal view is sometimes expressed with the saying, “Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone.”
While salvation is by grace and through faith, the Reformers added the word alone to give grace and with a distinct meaning to support their views on justification by faith and the doctrine of predestination. For example, Reformed theologians typically interpret “through faith alone” to reject water baptism for the remission of sins. In like manner they usually interpret “by grace alone” in such a way to deny man’s free will in salvation, contending that God in His sovereignty has already decided who should be saved and who should bee lost. Although believers may feel that they exercised freedom to believe when they accepted Christ, Reformed theologians attribute their feeling to an illusion, saying there is no human choice in the matter of salvation. They argue that God grants to those who are predestined to be saved the grace that causes them to believe. All others are not given this grace and are there predestined to suffer eternally in hell.
Although the Bible teaches that salvation is freely given by the grace of God and cannot be earned by our goodness or good deeds, free grace does not mean that are totally passive in the salvation experience. Freedom to respond by obedient faith does not negate or detract form God’s grace. Indeed, we recognize grace by our response. Since grace means unmerited favor, it is a free gift bestowed upon us without any provision, but for grace to be active in our lives we must respond to its influence and instruction.
Theologians often interpret the phrase “through faith” to exclude from the salvation experience the command to repent and be baptized in water. The of our foolishness…who assures us, “Satan may tell you you’re useless. But I say you’re my joy!”
It’s our unwillingness to believe his word–to accept and lay hold of the marvelous revelation of his glory–that keeps us from communing with him!
It’s Not Possible to Have Communion or Intimacy With the Lord Until We Believe and Receive Him as Being Full of Love, Tenderness and Kindness Toward Us!
At this point, you may be thinking, “Surely the Lord doesn’t rejoice over someone who’s still in his central theological principle.
It is interesting to note the difficulty Reformation thinkers have in distinguishing between faith and repentance, faith and regeneration, and faith and sanctification. They are not sure in what order they occur or if any elements other than faith are essential aspects of salvation. Most Reformed theologians hold that regeneration is essential to the salvation experience, and most contend that it happens at the moment of faith. The next problem is to identify its impact in the person’s life that is different from the impact of faith.
Moreover, if regeneration is a part of the salvation experience, then it is no longer faith alone but faith plus regeneration.
It must be admitted that most Reformed theologians insist that faith is more than a mental assent to the truth of the gospel. For some the experience of faith includes the illumination by the Spirit and an inner witness of Christ’s presence. Others include the necessity of repentance; Luther believed that is, do we fully trust his love to us? Have we seen his love revealed and laid hold of it? Is his love for us settled in our hearts?
I must ask you–are you able to say, “My heavenly father is in love with me! He says I’m sweet and lovely in his eyes–and I believe him. I know no matter what I go through, or how tempted or tried I become, he’ll rescue me. He’ll hover over me through it all, never allowing me to be crushed. He’ll always be kind and tender to me!”
This is when true communion begins. We assign to eternal destruction, apart from human choice.
While one can admire the elaborate and tight logic of this theology, it has scant biblical support and in fact contradicts the expression of God’s desire to save everyone.
The Bible states that God is not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9), a truth that is echoed throughout the Scriptures. The Reformed doctrine of predestination also indicates that God’s offer of salvation to “whosoever will” is deceptively false and therefore casts a moral shadow on His character. If we cannot trust God’s open offer as genuine, then we should ask what teaching or promise we can trust.
The doctrine of predestination also violates man’s free will as we encounter it in Scriptures. Further, it conflicts with the biblical statements that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, advocating that He died only for those predestined to be saved. Moreover, the concept that God has already determined the destiny of every person before his birth reduces preaching of the gospel to a facade, or perhaps even a sham. In this scheme, preaching at best has only a marginal role in the salvation drama. Finally, in spite of disavowals to the contrary, the teaching of predestination leaves an uncertainty in the heart of a believer. With predestination, no one can be absolutely sure that he is saved until the judgment.
The Above Material Was Published By The Pentecostal Herald, March 1999, Pages 18, 19. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study & Research Purposes Only.