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Christian Biblical Studies
GRACE BEFORE FAITH
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
— Ephesians 2: 8, 9 —
All Scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV)
IT IS one of the most abundant resources in the world. It accompanies lone sailors across vast oceans, lifts great buildings to the sky, impels the Olympic athlete to a gold-medal win, and astronauts to ‘boldly go’ into space. It is the confidence and the courage to conquer, to subdue the inner demons and emerge victorious from the endeavour.
It is the stuff of heroes.
It is Faith.
But it is the object of Faith which is of paramount importance.
Self-sufficiency is, in many ways, a laudable goal, and no doubt confidence in one’s own abilities and competence can inspire to great deeds. However, the Christian strives to be dependent on God.
As defined by Scripture, faith is the quality of ‘being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’ (Hebrews 11: 1). It is a faculty common to all mankind, but it fills its highest role only when it is fastened on God. In this sense, not all have it. In fact, it may be safe to say that most people do not.
Faith without God’s grace is dead, empty, little more than the worshipping of sticks and stones, an exercise in superstition and ignorance, with nothing behind the veil of mystery.
It was God’s Grace that planned and provided for our deliverance from sin. The instrument by which Grace is made known to us is Christ, and His death is the object of our Faith. And not only the death of Christ, but His resurrection. By such a Faith we are justified, that is, counted as righteous, and cleared from the condemnation of sin against us.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
— 1 Corinthians 15:17-19
This act of God’s Grace begets gratitude in the heart of the believer and moulds his or her attitude to life. From this response should flow acts of kindness and charity, and general goodwill for all those around us. But these works cannot, in turn, augment our justification. How could they, when they are themselves the products of the Grace of God? So, ‘no one can boast’.
Grace makes Faith effective!
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