We can become so familiar with a certain passage of scripture that we don’t really know what it says. We don’t pay attention to it anymore because it has become so common to us. Ephesians 2:8-9 has become one such passage for many believers.
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.
There are some profound truths revealed here, one of which is that we are saved by grace through faith.
The body of Christ is basically divided into two groups: Those who emphasize grace (what God does) and those who emphasize faith (what we do).
One group preaches that everything is totally up to God. They say, “Everything is determined by the sovereignty of God. It’s whatever He chooses.” The other group teaches, “No, you have to do this and that, and this and that.” Those who preach man’s responsibility will normally say that those who teach that it’s just all up to God are totally wrong. Those who preach that it’s all up to God will teach against those who say man has some responsibility in the matter.
You might phrase this issue differently, but it all comes down to the question, “What do I do—what part is God’s part, and what part is mine?” God’s Word clearly teaches a balance between grace and faith.
Appeared to All Men
Even though the body of Christ typically divides into two camps—one emphasizing what God has to do, and the other emphasizing what we have to do—Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace through faith. We aren’t saved by one or the other.
Now, to be technically correct, there is a parenthetical phrase in this passage in the last part of Ephesians 2:5, which says:
…by grace ye are saved.
I’m not arguing that it’s wrong to say that we are saved by grace, but technically, it’s not grace alone that saves us. It’s really important that we understand this point. God has done so much for us by grace, but for us to receive what He has done there must be a positive response on our part, which is what the Bible calls “faith.” There has to be a combination of both grace and faith.
You aren’t saved by grace alone.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.
Grace is what God does for you. It’s His part. It is something that was done for you before you existed. Grace has nothing to do with you. By definition, it is “unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor.” If grace is something that God does and if grace alone saved, then every person would be saved because Titus 2:11 reveals that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
God’s grace is the same towards everyone. God has been exactly the same toward every person who has ever lived. You may be wondering, Then why did so-and-so get healed and I didn’t? Why did God touch them and not me? The problem is, you think that when you see something happen that God has done something or provided something for that person that He hasn’t provided for you. God’s grace is the same towards everybody because it’s not based on, or tied to, what you do. God, by grace, has already brought salvation to every person on the face of this earth. (Titus 2:11.)
This is not something that is commonly understood. Most people believe that it’s their performance that earns them extra pull and favor to get the power of God operating in their life. The truth is, the moment you begin relating God’s blessing—the manifestation of His power in your life—to anything that you’ve done, then you have just voided grace. You’ve made God’s blessing and manifestation in your life proportional to something that you’ve done. If you think that way, then you don’t understand the grace of God.
God, by grace, already provided everything for you before you ever needed it. Take, for instance, salvation. Many people think that you have to ask God to forgive your sins and ask Jesus to come into your heart to receive salvation. They will pray, “Jesus, would You please come into my life?” They tell others “Just ask Christ to come into your life.” That’s not what salvation is.
Acts 16:30-31 provides a scriptural example of someone receiving salvation. Paul and Silas were in the Philippian jail, and the jailer came to them and asked:
Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
They didn’t answer by saying, “Ask Jesus to come into your life,” or “Repent of your sins, and quit doing this and that.” They simply responded:
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.
Believe what? This does not mean just believe that Jesus existed, or that He came.
Jesus didn’t just die for the people He knew would accept Him someday.
He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 2:2
Jesus died for every sinner who has ever lived on this earth. And He died for our sins two thousand years ago, long before we had ever committed them. The Lord doesn’t wait until we ask Him, “Please come into my heart,” to forgive us of our sins. The radical truth is, the sins of the entire world are already forgiven.
God forgave your sins before you existed. Before you were ever born, all of your sins were forgiven. Before you had ever committed a sin, God forgave them. Your sins are forgiven. Sin is actually a nonissue with God.
Already Been Forgiven
This is not the message of the Church today. The Church is basically preaching that every time you sin, it’s an affront against God. They say, “You have to get that sin forgiven and under the blood before God can move in your life.” That’s not what the scriptures teach. The Word reveals that your sins are already forgiven. You don’t have to ask God to forgive your sins or to come into your life. What you have to do is believe the Gospel—that Jesus has already come, He’s already died and forgiven the sins of the world.
Someone might say, “Well then, if that’s true, then everybody’s saved, right?” No, this is not the case because grace alone doesn’t save you. God, by grace, has made the provision and paid for every person’s sins. People aren’t going to go to hell for sexual immorality, murder, lying, or stealing. All of those sins have been paid for. The sin that is going to send people to hell is the singular sin of rejecting Jesus as their personal Savior. This is what the Bible reveals in John 16:
When he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
In verse 9 of this same chapter, Jesus explained that the sin the Holy Spirit would reprove the world of is the sin of not believing on Jesus.
Of sin, because they believe not on me.
The Church has been misrepresenting the Holy Spirit by saying that He’s here to nail you every time you lie, cheat, and steal. That He’ll get you every time you don’t study the Word, or do this and not that. This preaching has made us sin-conscious. It has magnified sin. The truth is Jesus has already paid the price for all that. The Holy Spirit is only dealing with this one issue: Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? If you have made Jesus your Lord, then all of your sins—past, present, and even future sins—have already been forgiven.
Identical Toward Us All
Preaching that truth would get me kicked out of most churches. That is why my citywide meetings are normally held in a neutral venue, like a hotel or conference center. There aren’t very many churches that will let me share these truths because they’re just so radical.
Sin has already been dealt with by grace. (Heb. 9, 10.) Because it has been dealt with by grace, that means it isn’t dependent on whether you’ve asked Him to forgive you or not. The truth is, God provided salvation for the entire human race by grace.
Again, Titus 2:11 says:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.
God’s grace is extended exactly the same towards everybody—not only to you, but to every person on the face of the earth. Adolf Hitler had as much grace extended towards him as you and I have had extended towards us. Jesus loved every person who has done terrible things in the history of the world; He died for them and paid for their sins exactly the same as He did for all of the people who have received Him, love Him, and seek Him. The grace of God is identical toward us all.
God, by grace, has already provided healing for everybody. One of my staff members who works at our citywide meetings used to be a quadriplegic. Now he’s up walking around and doing great. He was supernaturally healed. Every quadriplegic has had the same exact grace extended towards them. God isn’t different toward any of us.
The moment you start saying, “Well, why did God heal him? Why did God do this for him, yet He hasn’t done it for me?” and you start thinking in those terms, you have to factor in your performance. You begin to acknowledge that you maybe haven’t prayed enough or haven’t done enough of this, or enough of that. You think your failures are why God hasn’t done it. That’s totally wrong thinking.
The grace of God is consistent. He’s the same towards everybody. God is no respecter of persons. (Rom. 2:11.) He doesn’t love one person more than He loves another. He hasn’t provided more for one person than He’s provided for another. By His grace, God has forgiven the sins of the entire human race. Grace is what God does for us, independent of us. Does that mean that everybody is saved? No, because not everybody has put faith in what God did by grace.
Prior to you existing, before you even had a need, God had already created the supply. Before you ever get discouraged, God has already blessed you with all spiritual blessings. He’s already abounded towards you in love. You don’t have to ask the Lord to give you joy and peace, to heal you, prosper you, and save you. He’s already provided before you ever had the problem. That’s awesome!
God, by grace, has already done everything. He anticipated every need that you could ever have, and He already met all of those needs through Christ. Through Jesus, God intervened in the affairs of men. He’s provided everything, and that happened two thousand years ago. Jesus hasn’t died for a single person’s sins since. He hasn’t healed a single person since He took our stripes on His back two thousand years ago.
Salvation, healing, and deliverance have already been provided. When people today hear this truth and believe, all of a sudden what God has already provided by grace becomes a reality to them. As they mix faith with the Word of God, what He has already done by grace begins to manifest in their life.
You’re saved by grace through faith, not by one or the other exclusively. Understanding this foundational truth will make a huge difference in your life.
The balance of grace and faith is like sodium and chloride. Both sodium and chloride are poisons. If you take either one of them by themselves in sufficient quantity, they’ll kill you. Yet if you mix sodium and chloride together, you get salt, a mineral necessary to sustain your life.
If all you do is emphasize faith, “You have to believe, and do this and that,” that’ll kill you spiritually. True Bible faith is simply your positive response to what God has already provided by grace. Faith only appropriates what God has already provided. Faith doesn’t move God or make Him do anything.
If you don’t recognize that faith is simply the way you appropriate and receive what God has already provided by grace, then the law and legalism will kill you. There are people who emphasize, “You have to pray, study, and believe God. You have to do something.” They get so wrapped up in their performance that they think their “doing” is making God move. They see their faith as a pry bar—twisting God’s arm and making Him perform. This begets legalistic thinking, and it’ll destroy you. An inappropriate view of faith puts the entire burden on your shoulders. Faith or grace—independent of each other, not mixed together properly—will kill your walk with God.
This is the kind of background I came out of from previous churches I attended. We thought we had to do many different things in order to earn God’s blessing. I didn’t understand that the Lord had provided everything by grace. In fact, we used to have a little poem that said, “Mary had a little lamb, it would have been a sheep. But it joined our local church and died from lack of sleep.” We just worked ourselves to the bone, doing all sorts of these things thinking our performance would move God’s hand. Since then, I’ve realized that’s not the way it works. There has to be a balance between grace and faith.
On the other end of the spectrum, many people in the Church emphasize grace alone saying, “It’s just totally up to God.” They say, “God is sovereign. Whatever He wills will be. Que sera, sera. It’s just up to God.” That kind of belief will kill you. I can personally name people who have died because of this belief system. They were just waiting on God to heal them, not understanding that they, too, had a part to play in receiving their healing.