It is by Grace You Have Been Saved

 Ephesians 2:8 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--

These few words represent the mechanics of salvation for the believer.  It was this phrase that fueled the stance for Reformation by Martin Luther.

However, it seems today as if some individuals have gotten the words jumbled up a little bit… some teachings today seem to be saying that it is by faith you have been saved through grace. 

Well what’s the difference you might ask?

In speech, it is a very subtle difference, almost an excusable slip of the tongue, in practicality though the differences are quite profound, bordering on everything that opposes the Gospel message.

Let’s take a look at this.

First let’s examine the phrase as the Bible defines it: It is by grace you have been saved through faith.

In this Biblical model, Faith is only able to operate in the framework that Grace provides for it.

 Faith only has as much power as Grace allows, and it is Grace that gives Faith whatever power it possesses.

 Without the framework of Grace there would be no power in Faith to do or accomplish anything.

Because God is Merciful, he extended His Grace, to create a system where Faith in its proper context becomes the means of our salvation.  By proper context of course we mean Faith in the substitution sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf, incurring the wrath of God in our place.

 Faith is the vehicle we use to travel to the destination of Salvation in, but Grace is the road we are traveling on to that destination, and the vehicle cannot travel where the road doesn't go.

Train Imagine a subway or electric train.

 The train sits on the track connected to the electrical power source.  While the train is on the track it is able to operate and travel from one location to another as designed by the architect of the tracking system.

 Passengers can get onto the train and travel about on it.  However the destination of the passengers is limited by where the track has been laid.  The train can be forced off of the track but without the tracking system and the electricity it wouldn’t be able to travel anywhere.  The passengers can rebel against the system and get off the train but then they will not end up at the same destination where the train goes.

 This is similar to the way that Grace and Faith work.  God the Great Architect built a tracking system, because of His Mercy.  That tracking system is Grace.  Faith is the railway car.  We the passengers participate in the system that God created by using faith to board the system of Grace that will take us to the destination that God has pre-determined, Salvation.

 If God’s Merciful Grace had not provided the framework for Faith to operate in we could have all the Faith in the world and it wouldn’t do any good or be of any value whatsoever, in the light of eternity.  We would be sitting around in railway cars, not going anywhere.

 Faith would not have the power to save if God’s Grace, the tracking system, hadn’t given it that power.

 Faith then is limited in power by the system of Grace that God has extended to it.  Although God has granted a lot of leeway to Faith, still it is not limitless.  In fact Grace itself has limits, God’s Grace is limited.

 For example, no amount of Grace can effect the eternal destination of an individual who has already died, having rejected Christ and is awaiting judgment.

 Grace does not extend to provide a means of salvation to all individuals regardless of the choices they have made in this life.  Salvation is limited by the restrictions that God’s has placed in the Grace He has extended by His Mercy.

In Acts 3:16, Peter states: 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

Peter declares that Faith in the name of Jesus has been granted the power of physical healing in at least some instances.  Again this power of healing through Faith in the name of Jesus is only present because the framework of Grace has granted such power to this Faith.  If God had not allowed Faith to be used as an instrument of healing, (the limits of Grace), then healing would not be possible through Faith.

In Acts 15:8-9, Peter recalls his experiences in Cornelius’ house with these words: 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

The framework of Grace has extended to Faith, in its proper context, the power to literally change the nature of an individual’s heart, from sinfulness to purity.

So Faith, while it is a powerful and necessary element of Salvation, only works because of Grace.  That is why God gets all the “credit” for salvation and we get none, since we are only participating by taking advantage of the system that God provided for, set-up and put in place through the life and crucifixion of Christ.

Train Door We did not create the Track or the Train, the Road or the Car, Grace or Faith… we simply stepped aboard when the train stopped for us.

 Contrary to this system of Grace and Faith, many teachings today seem to suggest that the model has been turned around to say that it is by Faith we have been saved through Grace.

 When the words have been interpreted or understood in this manner, a completely different and ever changing system of Grace and Salvation is established.

 In this non-Biblical model, Faith is providing the framework for Grace to operate under.

 Grace then possesses as much power as our Faith will allow it to, since our Faith is providing the power that Grace possesses.

 Such a system would grant unlimited power to individuals that wield it.  When Faith becomes the framework that Grace operates in, than my Faith has the power to force God’s hand to perform whatever task my will believes in, causing God’s Grace then to be subject to my desires.

 In this Model, the believer becomes the Great Architect, Boarding the train of Grace and then creating the tracking system as we roll.  The train then is able to travel to any destination we so desire since Grace is now determined by an unlimited power source of the believers Faith.

 From such thinking come many different kinds of false ideas that are rather arrogant in nature.

 For example I have heard it taught by some that by Faith you and I have the same creation power of God.  That we are able to create with the Faith that God employed when he formed the earth and all of creation in 6 days.

 Such an idea might be erroneously developed out of a scriptural reference such as the words of Jesus in Mathew 17:20 : MT 17:20 He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

 Let’s consider this idea of using God’s creation faith for a moment.

 Notice in Hebrews 11:3 we are told: HEB 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

 Notice here it is Faith that gives us understanding of how the universe was created… but it does not say the universe was created by Faith, and that is an important distinction.

 God doesn’t have faith, He doesn’t use faith and He doesn’t need faith.

 He didn’t create by use of faith, anymore than you and I use faith to be certain if we drop a rock it will fall to the ground.

 Nowhere in the scriptures are we told that God uses Faith for anything.  Actually, the idea of faith is specifically omitted in the telling of the creation accounts.

 An all knowing and all powerful God has no need of Faith, and in fact it is preposterous to suggest that He would.

 When Faith is the framework by which Grace operates, then by Faith you and I should be able to pray for departed souls who have rejected Christ, forcing Grace to be extended to them.

 Such a system practically makes Faith superfluous for most of us.  We would only need a select trustworthy few individuals in any given generation, to employ such Faith, shaping Grace as seems best for them and ensuring Salvation for the rest of us.

Faith then becomes a tool more or less for personal power and gain, advancement and influence in this life, paving our road to Salvation with one material blessing after another.  In essence we all become god’s, at least in our own minds.

Such thinking opposes the Biblical model of Mercy, Grace, Faith and Salvation and complicates it beyond the simple Gospel message reverberated in the words of Curtis Mayfield...

 “People get ready, Theres a train a-coming
You dont need no baggage, You just get on board
All you need is faith, To hear the diesels humming
Dont need no ticket, You just thank the Lord.