Balancing Grace and Faith
by Pastor Darrell Alexander
How do I receive the blessings of God in my life? This is a common question I hear a lot. When people are saying this to me and others normally the next statement is, “I have been reading my Bible, and I’ve been going to church and I tithe, and I have been praying, but still I am not seeing any results”
Well, 'question asked question answered' because the whole root of the problem is right here: They have somehow gotten the idea that God’s response is linked to their performance. And the reason they have this idea is because they do not understand the balance of grace and faith and the relationship of the two.
What does grace mean? The definition of grace is unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor. So, what does that mean? That means we have some really good news, grace has nothing to do with you. Grace existed before you ever came into the picture. Here’s another way of saying it, grace is God’s part.
Now that we have a good definition of grace, what about faith,? I like to define it this way, 'a positive response to what God has already provided by grace'. In other words, faith is your positive response to God’s grace. You see faith only appropriates what God has already made available to you and to anyone who will receive through faith. Therefore, faith is our part.
Grace and faith work hand in hand with each other, and they must be in balance.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, '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.'
Often we read very familiar scriptures and we don’t really read them. We start reading and then, subconsciously, we think “Oh, I know this.” But in this verse a very strong and great truth is revealed. It says, 'we are saved'. That word alone is huge, but we are saved 'by grace through faith', not just by one or the other. It takes both working together, grace (God’s part) and faith (our part) to receive salvation. This word salvation is a tremendous word that effects every detail of your spiritual life. (I have a whole teaching on the word salvation.)
But let us go on. It must be understood that salvation is not dependent on grace alone. This type of thinking breeds universalism, because if salvation was dependent on grace alone then everyone would be saved and going to heaven, because God’s grace is the same towards everyone. God has given His great gift of salvation to everyone through the Lord Jesus Christ. But, it is by faith that a person receives that which Jesus has done on the cross. That is why he said, "It is finished." (to read more see my teaching "tetelestai")
The popular teaching today is that we need to ask God to forgive us of our sins in order to be saved, but that really is not what the Bible teaches. I know that is the most popular belief but let’s believe the Bible regardless of how we have always believed or been taught.
To believe that we need to ask God to forgive us our sins in order to be saved then we must believe that Jesus did not die for the whole world. If we look at 1 John 2:2, we can readily see it states that Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for the whole world. Jesus didn’t die for just a few or for only the ones He knew would accept Him, He died for every person who has ever lived, every drug addict, prostitute, liar, every sinner and He did it before you or I ever committed one single sin...'while we were yet sinners Christ died for us' (Rom. 5:8).
Here is a radical truth and it will rub some the wrong way, and this truth would probably keep me from going into most churches and teaching: Sin is not an issue with God! How can I say that you may be asking. Well, the Lord is not waiting for us to ask Him to forgive us of our sins. I’ll just let that sink in a minute because I know that is a radical statement.
extended to them! Jesus loved them and paid for their sins just as He did for you and me. God is not a respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11).
God has already done all that He is going to do. He has done His part and it is now up to each individual to do their part. Paul didn’t tell the Philippian jailer to ask Jesus to forgive him; Paul told him to believe on what Jesus had already done and he would be saved (Acts 16:31). We confess the Lord Jesus, not our sins, to receive this gift of salvation (Rom. 10:9).
You may be asking at this point, "are you saying then that everybody in the world is already saved?" Certainly not. We have to receive forgiveness by faith, but I am saying, The Lord has already forgiven everyone's sin, (1 John 2:2). That’s grace. And now we have to put faith in what God has provided by grace to be saved. (Eph.2:8)
Our part is to receive that truth by faith and make it real in our lives. In other words you need to open your gift and say with your mouth "I receive Jesus as my Lord and I receive His forgiveness of sin"
Jesus is the lamb of God, the one that John the Baptist spoke of in John 1:29 who came to take away the sins of the world!
Do you know that people do not go to hell for committing adultery, stealing, or even murder. Those sins and all sins have already been paid for. But the church often misinterprets John 16:8 and teaches that the Holy Spirit is here to convict you of all your sins. Well, I am here to tell you that that is not what the Holy Spirit is here to do. He is here to convict you of the single sin of not receiving Jesus as your Savior. The only conviction is that of believing in Jesus Christ.
The Bible plainly teaches in John 16:8-9 that the only sin that is going to send people to hell is the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. So, stop magnifying sin in your life, and start magnifying the righteousness that He brought. The message that much of the church is teaching does only one thing, it causes people to become sin-conscious instead of conscious of righteousness or as I like to say righteousness consciousness. Being sin-conscious causes us to link our performance.. Bible reading, praying, going to church.. to all the other blessings of God. See Rom. 3:19-22
Look at this statement by Andrew Wommack:
God’s grace has provided not only for salvation but also for every need of your life. That provision is not based on whether you are reading the Bible enough, praying enough, going to church, or even paying your tithes. Before you ever had a financial need, God created the provision. Before you were sick, God, through grace, provided your healing (1 Pet. 2:24). Before you ever became discouraged, God blessed you with all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). God anticipated every need you could ever have and has met those needs through Jesus before you existed. That’s grace.
In truth Jesus hasn’t done anything to save, heal, deliver or prosper anyone, not a single person, in the last 2,000 plus years. I say that because what God provided by grace over 2,000 years ago, when mixed with faith, becomes a reality in the believer's life today. Remember our definition of faith, Faith appropriates what God has already provided. I say over and over again, faith does not move God, faith does not make God do one thing for anybody. But grace and faith work together. Our part is to accept what God has already provided by grace, just like we did when we were born again. When we were born again we did one thing, we accepted what God had done through Jesus on the cross and received the gift of salvation. Grace must be balanced with faith.
It is not the truth that sets you free; it’s the truth you know that will set you free (John 8:32). What truth am I talking about? The fact that we must put our faith in what God has already done, not in what you think you need to do. Healing, forgiveness for sin, prosperity and everything else provided for in the atonement must be appropriated by one thing and one thing alone, Faith.
God has finished His part, all He is going to do. His part was sending His son, Jesus. His grace has provided for whosoever will (John 3:16) through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. No mixed signals here, no hidden meanings in this message and in what God has done. The news that every person needs to hear is in fact Good News. Actually Paul said it was “almost too good to be true news” because there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn it and nothing we can do to lose it. We are not talking about the act of rejecting Christ, we are talking about losing something like a one loses a set of car keys.
It is very simple: We respond to God’s grace by faith and receive what He has already accomplished for us. But as simple as that is and as simple as it sounds, most Christians don’t understand it. They still want to fight and do spiritual battle or perform some good work. They want to tie reading the Bible, praying, going to church, or even paying their tithes to appropriating God's favor and blessing, when clearly we can see that God has freely provided every provision for this life and the life to come:
2 Peter 1:3 (KJV) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Ephesians 1:3 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.
Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Many emphasize grace and that is their focus. Others look at only faith and put the emphasis on that, but we balance grace and faith. Very few do that. Grace with a positive response of faith won’t save you, and faith that is not in response to God’s grace will bring you into condemnation. But if we put our faith in the things God has already done (finished) for us, then we have the victory that overcomes the world.
1 John 5:4 (KJV) For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Look to your future and not to the past, learn to live in the grace of God and love much, forgive always and hold no bitterness toward anyone.