For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
People use this verse to say that grace is not of ourselves, but yet seem to think that faith is of ourselves entirely. This is perhaps why many Christians "blame" non-believers themselves(rather than God) for not having faith before they died. But if faith is of ourselves entirely, and is not a gift of God, then wouldnt we have something to "boast" in as believers? If us mustering up the faith to believe, is what makes salvation applicable, then we are doing something to save ourselves; we are in effect, saved by a work of ourselves!
That seems to be against everything Paul is saying here though. He says,
for by grace you have been saved through faith. and this...
This what? This grace? No...this grace through faith. And so what about it? It is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God. Grace comes with faith, and vice versa...Paul doesnt seperate the two components to salvation and say that one is of ourselves, and the other is not. So perhaps faith is like the vehicle, by which grace comes to us FROM God to execute salvation within us.
some might object however and say,
Well you have to accept that gift
And I think thats true to an extent, but again if that ability to accept something is entirely of ourselves, it is us that is doing a "work" to be saved...not God and His grace. So I think God has to make someone able to accept grace through faith, if it is truly not of themselves. Simon Peter didnt believe that Jesus was the Son of God all on his own, he believed because God revealed it to him. In Matthew 16:15-17, Jesus says
"But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
If you get nothing else out of this blog, get this: Grace is what enables us TO have faith!
I think this more or less blows a hole in the mainstream christian theology that says that faith is up to us and our "free" will. Because these verses seem to say that it is not up to us to save ourselves or give ourselves faith; it is of God and his dispensation of revelation to people individually. And if that is so, then it is logical to say that if someone dies without having received said grace through faith, that it is not they that are ultimately responsible...but God.
But wait, God cant be to blame for the sinner that rejects Him! you may reply.
Yes, God is totally responsible for our salvation, if it is truly not by our own works. That includes our acceptance and rejection of it. Paul testified to this too in a sense, in Romans 9:18,
So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills
Did you catch that? He wills, not our wills. It is His will that some(probably most) will be hardened from the gospel this side of the grave.
But this is only disturbing though, if we think that Gods title as "Savior of All Men" will never truly be fulfilled. This is only disturbing, if we constantly beat every bible verse and thought against the doctrine of "free" will. We need to realize that God has a plan that wont fail.
The end result of those people that are hardened, will not be eternal separation(which according to what we've examined, would be Gods fault basically). They too will come to God, when He allows them to. Because it is true that no one can come to faith in God, unless God draw him (John 6:44). But it is also true that God will draw all men to himself (John 12:32). What time table God decides to do that under I will not limit him, but I will say that it is not limited merely to this short human existence we have been granted.