WHAT WE BELIEVE – GOD’S PURPOSE OF GRACE
The good news of our salvation from sin and restoration to God in Christ by the Spirit is the central focus of the Bible, the heartbeat of our faith. And it’s all of because of God’s grace, his love and favor toward us that we could never earn and don’t deserve. God chooses to love us, to accomplish salvation for us, and to offer salvation for us that we might receive it.
Remember the key components of the gospel, and consider how they all flow from God’s grace:
• God created us to know him and live for him. (We didn’t create ourselves, God made us, and he made us for a reason.)
• We have separated ourselves from him and his purposes through our sin, bringing death and hell upon ourselves. (We have willfully cut ourselves off from God through our sin, and justly deserve the consequences of our sin.)
• In order to bring us back to himself and rescue us from sin and death, God the Father sends God the Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life in our place, die the death we deserve as a just penalty for our sin, and rise from the dead to bring us life. (Jesus paid it all! All to him we owe!)
• When we believe that Jesus did this for us, turn from all other ways of living, and follow him as our Savior and King, our relationship with God is restored and we are rescued from sin and death. (God saves us, and the only way we experience that salvation is to receive what he has done by faith.)
• We then become citizens of God’s kingdom, meant to live with him and for him in all things. (God is the one who brings us into his kingdom, and he is also the one who continues to work in our lives so that we can live for his kingdom.)
Our church’s statement of faith says this about what we believe concerning salvation, stressing the role of God’s grace: “We believe that salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, received through repentance of sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Following Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. We believe that every person who has truly received salvation is eternally secure in the Lord Jesus Christ and will persevere in their salvation until the end of their life.”
The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states this concerning our understanding of God’s gracious purposes in salvation, describing two precious doctrines: election (God’s gracious choice of us to receive salvation), and the perseverance of the saints (God’s gracious power in keeping us saved):
• Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
• All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Two wonderful truths are evident throughout Scripture concerning our salvation: God is sovereign over it, and we must freely receive it. We see these two truths held together in many Scriptures. Ephesians 2:8-10 is one example: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” God saves us by his grace, and we experience his grace through our faith.
Having chosen us to receive salvation, God accomplishes his salvation in us and through us as we walk with him. Our assurance of salvation is based upon the promises of God, the assuring ministry of the Holy Spirit, our trust in Christ for salvation, the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work in our lives, and a long-term pattern of growth and sanctification in our walk with God in Christ through the Spirit.
As Romans 8:37-39 states, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Praise the Lord for his amazing grace!