Grace and faith are totally dependent upon each other. These verses in Ephesians 2 show us that we are saved by grace through faith, not one or the other. I’ve heard many people who have centered their teaching on grace or on faith, but God’s Word teaches us that they must be combined. Failure to do this has been the reason for much frustration.“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of ourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
First we have to have a common understanding of what these terms, grace and faith, mean. It is most commonly accepted that grace literally means God’s unmerited favor. It is something God has accomplished for us totally without our help and independent of what we deserve. You can’t earn God’s grace.
Faith has many facets, and many, many books have been written trying to define it. In its simplest terms, faith is your positive response to God. Many sincere Christians have made a major mistake in thinking that faith is something that we do to earn or gain a positive response from God. God does not move in response to your faith. God has already moved through His grace, and your faith is simply your response to what you believe God has already done.
Let’s take an example. Ephesians 2:8 says that we were saved by grace through faith. God, by grace, made an atonement for our sins. It was not based upon something we had done to deserve it. Quite the contrary, God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). It was totally God’s grace that provided salvation.
But God’s grace alone doesn’t make salvation a reality in us. Ephesians 2:8 says it is by grace through faith. God’s grace doesn’t change us until we respond to it in faith. As we mix faith with what God has already provided by grace, then the miracle of the new birth takes place. But there must be grace (what God has already done) plus faith (your response to God’s grace).
Titus 2:11 says that God’s grace has appeared, or come, unto all men. If grace alone saved, then all men would be saved. But, you see, all men have not responded to God’s grace in faith.
Your faith didn’t make God move to provide salvation for you. It was provided by grace before you were ever born. This is the reason you were able to believe for forgiveness of sins so easily. All of the burden to produce was upon God, where it should be. Your only requirement was to believe. Your believing didn’t move God. Rather, it moved you.
By His grace God has already blessed us with everything we’ll ever receive from Him (Eph. 1:3). Faith changes us and circumstances and demons and puts us in agreement with God. But faith doesn’t change or move God.
Many people who are becoming aware of faith today have made this mistake of thinking that God beholds our faith, and when it reaches a certain level, then He moves to answer our prayers. They think, “Lord, I’ve been fasting and praying. I’ve gone to church, and I’ve paid my tithes. Will you heal me now?” They are actually putting faith in what they have done instead of what God has already done through grace.
If we had approached forgiveness of sins that way, we would have never been born again. We came to God not on the basis of what we had done or with a bargain to present to Him about what we would do. But we came just as we were and put our total dependence on His grace (unmerited favor), and we received the biggest miracle we’ll ever receive, the new birth. If we would continue to keep our faith in Him the same way, then we would continue to see the same results (Col. 2:6).
When it comes to prosperity or healing, most Christians think, “I know He can provide this need, but I haven’t prayed enough, or I haven’t been living the way I should.” Well, let me ask you this: When you came to the Lord for forgiveness of sins, had you been living the way you should? Had you fasted and prayed enough to earn God’s unmerited favor? Of course not. Galatians 3:3 says, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” If we would just continue to put faith in God’s grace, we would see every answer to prayer manifest in the physical realm.
God our Father has already provided everything by His grace. If you need healing, God won’t heal you. He has already done it! First Peter 2:24 shows that we were healed by the stripes that Jesus took on His back. When you pray to be healed, Jesus doesn’t get off the throne and take more stripes so you can be healed. It’s already been done. That’s grace. All you have to do is respond to that grace in faith, and your body will manifest what Jesus has already provided. Joshua 1:8 tells us that when we meditate in the Word day and night and observe all that is written in it, then we make our way prosperous, and then we have good success. God, by His grace, has already released His prosperity upon every person on the face of the earth (Titus 2:11). But as we get in God’s Word and act on it, it changes us so that we can receive by faith. God doesn’t need to be changed; He’s already on our side!
If you will put faith in God’s grace, you will always overcome the world (John 16:33 and 1 John 5:4).