For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:…
We see a golden thread of grace running through the whole of the Christian's history, from his election before all worlds, even to his admission to the heaven of rest. Grace, all along, "reigns through righteousness unto eternal life," and "where sin aboundeth, grace doth much more abound."
I. THIS DOCTRINE SHOULD INSPIRE EVERY SINNER WITH HOPE.
1. If salvation be of mercy only, it is clear that our sin is by no means an impediment to our salvation.
(1) This prevents the despair which might arise in any heart on account of some one especial sin. Undeserved mercy can pardon one sin as well as another, if the soul confess it. The great sinner is so much the fitter object for great mercy — a black foil to set forth the brilliant diamond of the Master's grace.
(2) If the sinner's despair should arise from the long continuance, multitude, and great aggravation of his sins, there is no ground for it. For if salvation be of pure mercy only, why should not God forgive ten thousand sins as well as one? "Oh," sayest thou, "I see why He should not." Then thou seest more than is true; for once come to grace, you have done with bounds and limits.
2. Remember, too, that any spiritual unfitness which may exist in a man should not shut him out from a hope, since God deals with us in mercy. I hear you say, "I believe God can save me, but I am so impenitent." Yes, and I say it again, if thou wert to stand on terms of debt with God, thy hard heart would shut thee out of hope. How could He bless such a wretch as thou art, whose heart is a heart of stone? But if He deal with thee entirely upon another ground, namely, His mercy, why I think I hear Him say, "Poor hard-hearted sinner, I will pity thee, and take away thy heart of stone, and give thee a heart of flesh." Do I hear thee confess that thou canst not believe? Now, the absence of faith from thee is a great evil, yea a horrible evil; but then the Lord is dealing with thee on terms of grace, and does not say, "I will not smite thee because thou dost net believe," but He saith, "I will give thee faith," for faith is "not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
II. THIS DOCTRINE AFFORDS DIRECTION TO THE SINNER, as to how to act before his God in seeking mercy. Clearly, O soul, if salvation he of grace alone, it would be a very wrong course of action to plead that thou art not guilty, or to extenuate thy faults before God. Take care that all your pleas with God are consistent with the fact that He saves by His grace. Never bring a legal plea, or a plea that is based upon self, for it will be an offence to God; whereas, if thine argument be based on grace, it will have a sweet savour to Him. Let me teach thee, seeking sinner, for a moment how to pray. Plead with God thy miserable and undone condition; tell Him that thou art utterly lost if He do not save thee. Show Him the imminence of thy danger. Then argue with Him the plenteousness of His grace, Say to Him, "Lord, Thy mercy is very great, I know it is."
III. A FULL CONVICTION OF THIS TRUTH WILL RECONCILE. OUR HEARTS TO ALL DIVINE ORDINANCES WITH REGARD TO SALVATION. I feel in my own heart, and I think every believer here does, that if salvation be of grace, God must do as He wills with His own. None of us can say to Him, "What doest Thou?" If there were anything of debt, or justice, or obligation, in the matter, then we might begin to question God; but as there is none, and the thing is quite out of court as to law, and far away from rights and claims, as it is all God's free favour, we will henceforth stop our mouths and never question Him. As to the instrument by whom He saves, let Him save by the coarsest speaker, or by the most eloquent; let Him do what seemeth Him good.
IV. A MOST POWERFUL MOTIVE FOR FUTURE HOLINESS. A man who feels that he is saved by grace says, "Did God of His free favour blot out my sins? Then, oh, how I love Him. Was it nothing but His love that saved an undeserving wretch. Then my soul is knit to Him forever."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: