Weekly Encouragement 11-18-19 A by Product
A short time ago, a Christian brother posted the following blog; “Ignorance about how we get right with God has weakened the church. We must reassert that we have been saved by faith alone.” To this we agree, all who come into a right relationship with God does so by faith. Faith however is a by-product of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. That is, faith is not originated with man, but with God.
There are those who believe otherwise holding that God is a responder to man’s faith; that God looks for men (and women) who have the faith necessary for salvation, and then moves on their behalf regenerating them to newness of spiritual life. Scripture however does not agree with them. The following passages confirm this truth.
John 3:1-8. “1There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ 3 Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’4 Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ 5 Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’”
The apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian Church, wrote: “9 But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1st Corinthians 2:9-14).
And, he wrote to the Christian’s at Ephesus: “1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10).
So yes, one is saved by faith, but one must be spiritually alive before one can do anything spiritual, even to have the faith necessary to be saved. The danger of not understanding this, in many cases, lessens one’s appreciation for what God has done on his or her behalf. A lesser appreciation leads to a lesser commitment, hence, a weaker church. Faith is certainly a necessary part of salvation, however, according to Ephesians 2:8 faith is God’s gift to those He rebirths. “For by grace are saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” The words “and that” point back to the grace of God. Thus, the verse is saying that salvation is by grace. It can’t be otherwise, or faith would be by self-effort. Self-effort is work, but verse 9 says “9Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Paul adds in verse 10 of this passage: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
The writer of the book of Hebrews informs us that: “Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
In truth: God the Father purposed our salvation, God the Son purchased our salvation, and God the Holy Spirit called us out of Spiritual darkness rebirthing in us newness of spiritual life. As a result we believe and are able to experience and exercise saving faith. As we come to understand this truth, our appreciation for what God has done on our behalf should be greatly increased, and therein lies the strength of the church.
Thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for your work of grace in our lives.
Transforming power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man