“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
From The Second Half of the Cross
A biblical journey of faith through the second half of the cross as described in this book is integral with and dependent upon the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. It is the security of eternal salvation that allows the new believer in Christ the initial encouragement and confidence to step out into the risk of following Jesus Christ into the as-yet not fully revealed circumstances of our individual callings (Romans 8:1-2).
No matter our station in life, our talents, or our cultural or geographical location, God has a unique and individual plan for each and every believer in Christ. Like the value of the security that is put forward in a financial business transaction, the value of the blood shed by Jesus on the cross and the seal of the Holy Spirit given to the born-again believer, is God’s security put forward that backs His appeal to trust Him fully as we follow His lead. God’s appeal to the believer to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:12), to live a surrendered life (Romans 12:1-2), to walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1), to live a life of purity (1 John 3:3), and to “be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58), are all based upon the eternally unchanging value of the security of our salvation promised by God Himself.
The great biblical doctrines of grace (John 10:27-29; Titus 2:11-12; 2 Cor. 5:14-18; Romans 1:17; 3:22; 4:24-25; 5:2; 5:17; 5:21; 6:14; 8:1) that support the promise of eternal security allows Christians to launch out into a God-led journey of faith, free to make mistakes and to learn hard lessons through life experiences without placing our salvation in jeopardy.
A journey of faith is a bold and daring adventure out into this broken and often tempestuous world, with Jesus Christ leading the way. The teaching that a saved person can lose their salvation limits what people are willing to venture. It confines the Christian experience to the relatively safe parameters of mere church attendance and church activities alone. The teaching that a saved person can become lost contributes to a lower standard of Christian living because a vibrant and life-transforming journey of faith following God according to the pattern of the biblical narrative stories of faith is replaced instead by standardized, risk-averse, and programed activities based narrowly upon church needs.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 tells us that every new covenant believer from the least to the greatest shall all know God personally. This requires personal interaction based upon some measure of a mutually shared journey of faith, secured by the promise of salvation through the blood of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within the believer. This is the solid rock of God’s word that allows Christians to venture out into their individual journeys of faith, following the leading of Jesus Christ through the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Salvation is a divine work completely of God. It fully accomplishes for mankind what mankind cannot accomplish even partially for itself. If salvation were a mix of God and self, if merit and demerit on man’s part contributed to salvation, then it would be partially conditioned upon man’s spotty, uncertain performance. Salvation based upon our merit would rely upon a capacity for continuously perfect righteousness that we do not possess (Romans 5:8-9). Salvation would then be limited, reversible, ineffective, and falling short of its divine intention to once and for all time set the captives free from bondage to sin. Salvation is by God alone because this is the only way it can be absolutely perfect and complete as the sole cure for sin.
Divine grace is likewise one-hundred percent pure grace, or it is not grace at all. Salvation as the “gift of God” can truly only be a gift if it requires absolutely nothing in exchange from us. This is because some hybrid of grace plus works leads to an uncertain outcome (Romans 4:16). Salvation cannot be a process dependent upon man’s continued performance and progress, because salvation would then be forever in doubt. Salvation is a divine act producing an eternal outcome because it is a work of God and therefore perfect in its entirety.
In the same way that salvation is divinely perfect, a God-composed journey of faith is perfect in all of its details. The positive narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible do not present a picture of perfect people. But the life-plans themselves are perfect, because they are created by God (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).