For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:…
I. THE NATURE OF FAITH. Faith, in ordinary language, means the assent of the understanding to some statement as true — propounded upon the authority of another. It seems, however, in Scripture to be most commonly used in a somewhat more extensive sense, as comprehending what in strictness (metaphysical correctness) might be regarded rather as consequences of faith than as faith itself. Saving faith, according to the views of it given in Scripture, may be described as such an assent to the doctrines of the gospel as leads men to receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation, and to submit themselves entirely to His authority.
II. HOW FAITH IS PRODUCED. Faith implies certain objects presented to our minds — a capacity to perceive, and a disposition to attend to them, and to act under their influence. Now, in regard to the faith of the gospel, God both given us the objects, and enables us to perceive them. Faith, therefore, is His gift, not merely in the sense in which any other ordinary exercise of our faculties is His gift, but in a higher and more peculiar manner. It is God who sets before us those objects which faith embraces, and without which it could never have existence. We had known nothing of God unless He had chosen to reveal Himself to us. We have no certain knowledge of His character except what He is pleased to acquaint us with. We could have known absolutely nothing of Jesus Christ, who is the great Object of Faith — of all that He has done and suffered for us — of the whole scheme of redemption that is founded upon His work, and of the covenant of grace that is sealed with His blood — of the authority which He now exercises, and of the great and glorious purposes to which the exercise of that authority is directed — unless God had seen fit, not only to bring all these important results into existence, but to transmit them to us in His Word. We could have learned nothing of the future and unseen world, unless God had undertaken to remove the veil that conceals it, and open it up to our view. Thus there would have been no objects for our faith; and of course faith could never have existed unless God had made revelation of Himself, of His character, and ways — unless He had brought certain events to pass, and then made them known to us. But faith appears still further to be God's gift, from this, that men are naturally indisposed to attend to the objects set before them in the sacred Scriptures, and, according to the principles of our natural constitution, there can be no clear knowledge of anything without some degree of attention being directed towards it; whilst without clear knowledge there can be no sound and rational faith.
III. THE EFFECT OF FAITH AS UNITING US TO CHRIST, AND THUS SAVING THE SOUL. Now, when a man believes in Christ, he is, according to God's appointment, united to Him. There is a union formed between them. God regards him as if he were Christ, and treats him as if he had suffered the full punishment for his sins which Christ endured in his room — as if he had in his own person performed that full and perfect obedience to the Divine law which our Saviour's conduct exhibited. It is this imputation of Christ's sufferings and of His righteousness — or, as it is often called, of His active and passive obedience — it is this communion of suffering and of merit, in which the union of believers with Christ mainly consists; and this union and communion with Him is the foundation of their salvation, in all its parts and in all its aspects. Viewing them thus, as united to Christ, as one with Him — God bestows upon them the blessings which Christ purchased for all who should believe on His name; they obtain through faith the forgiveness of their sins, acceptance with God as righteous persons, the renovation and sanctification of their natures, and, finally, an inheritance among them that are sanctified. Christ is the great Head of Influence; all spiritual blessings are the fruits of His purchase; it is only by abiding in Him that we are enabled to bring forth fruits unto eternal life: as it is written (John 15:5), "I am the Vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit." You see now the great importance of faith in the salvation of sinners. It is the instrument by means of which we receive everything necessary to our peace. None can be saved without it, and every one who has it will assuredly be saved.
(W. Cunningham, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: