But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; ) for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: ~ Ephesians 2:4, 5, 8
In Ephesians Paul is addressing the Christian Church, those who have repented and been born again, and he informs us that our faith, our very ability to believe, is a gift from God.
Some individuals as well as churches and denominations ignore the context of the verses in Ephesians and using those same verses, claim they are literally
saved by grace. Somehow a good many of those folks have come to believe that God suspended everything else He said about repentance, forsaking sin, obedience, and the narrow way. God suspended nothing and it is the blood of Christ, not Grace, that in reality saves our souls. Grace is the forbearance of God and it is that grace that allows the substitution of Christ’s blood to act on our behalf.
[Jesus said] For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. ~ Matthew 26:28
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. ~ Romans 3:24-25; Hebrews 9:22
Forbearance as is mentioned in Romans 3:25 means the patience, long-suffering of God A refraining from the enforcement of what is due. That is His grace, that He held off instead of striking us down the moment we sin or for past sins. This is Gods period of grace toward man His patience and long-suffering while we go one way or the other. Notice in the verses quoted at the beginning of this message from Ephesians 2 where the key word is
by. Grace is the staying hand of judgment and
by that act or delay, we are given time and space to repent that we may be saved! Therefore we can truthfully say that we are
saved by grace but it was not grace that saved us. It is the shed blood of Jesus Christ that has saved us.
To restate what we have said thus far we can then say the fact that the Lord provided a way for rebellious and sinful men to be saved is His GRACE! It holds back the judgment due each of us and it says to us that, if you will believe, follow, and obey, then I have made a way for you to escape what is due you because I love you and want to see you saved from the wrath and eternal destruction to come!
There are many people who say they believe in God or Jesus and that nothing else is needed in order to be saved because we live in a time of Grace. Some confess sins, some do not. Others confess sins and repent, taking a new direction in life. If we were to talk with these folks, or observe them in their day to day lives we would see that very few, if any, live any differently than those who do not profess to be Christian. In our conversation or observations we would be hard pressed to find any whose patterns and habits had not converted back to the place where they were before their profession of Christ. Yet, all of these folks are adamant that they are Christian in heart and in practice. One thing they all have in common is that they disregard what the Word of God tells us and choose another way which in essence this very act is a denial and a rejection of Christ.
Can one be saved if their sins are not confessed and forgiven or can one be saved without believing in the power of the blood shed by Jesus Christ on the cross? According to the Bible one cannot be saved without belief in the blood and without confession of sins.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; ~ Romans 10:10; Acts 3:19
We refer again to Romans 3:25 quoted earlier, and point out the necessity of believing in the atoning power of Christ’s blood. It goes without saying that if one is to believe in the blood of Christ they must first believe in Christ, that He is Immanuel,
God with us in the flesh. If we fail to believe that Christ lived a sinless life then we cannot believe He is who He claims to be nor can we believe in the power of His blood. To profess to be a Christian while doubting any one of these facts is to merely speak empty words that do us no good in this life or the one to come.
Christ redeemed us from the automatic penalty of our sins and through the forbearance (there’s that word again) of God He bought us time to hear the Gospel, to repent, and to follow Christ in obedience. This was His promise to us, that the Grace of God would give us a chance for Christ to apply the blood so we could receive salvation.
Despite what many believe and teach today we still have a battle ahead of us if we are to be counted among the righteous on Judgment Day. The difference is that now, being saved, we have help, we have the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to enable us to follow Christ and to live a holy life if indeed we are truly saved.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; ...But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls...Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. ~ John 8:31 ~ Matthew 24:13; ~ 1 Peter 1:9 ~ James 2:24
The Bible teaches us that it takes more than just
Grace to be saved. It takes the right kind of faith and it takes actively living that faith that was once delivered to the saints of old.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. ~ James 2:26
Grace has not saved us, but it has paved the way, and made it possible for the blood of Jesus to act as our atonement. In the meantime we have to want Salvation and we have to stay on the right path until the end in order to receive the promise and be eternally redeemed.