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Why are we Saved by Faith?
All the passages below are taken from Charles H. Spurgeon’s book “All of Grace,” published in 1981 by Whitaker House.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
(Ephesians 2:8 KJV)
Why is faith selected as the channel of salvation? No doubt this inquiry is often made. "By grace are ye saved through faith" is assuredly the doctrine of Holy Scripture and the ordinance of God, but why is this so? Why is faith selected rather than hope or love or patience?
Faith Is Naturally Adapted as the Receiver
It becomes us to be modest in answering such a question. God's ways are not always to be understood, nor are we allowed to presumptuously question them. Humbly we would reply that, as far as we can tell, faith has been selected as the channel of grace because faith is naturally adapted to be used as the receiver. Suppose that I am about to give a poor man some money. I will put it into his hand. Why? Well, it would hardly be fitting to put it into his ear or to lay it on his foot. The hand seems made on purpose to receive. So, in our mental frame, faith is created on purpose to be a receiver. It is like the hand of a man, and there is a fitness in receiving grace by its means.
Let me put this very plainly. Receiving Christ by faith is as simple an act as when your child receives an apple from you because you hold it out and promise to give him the apple if he comes for it. The belief and the receiving relate only to an apple, but they make up precisely the same act as the faith that deals with eternal salvation. What the child's hand is to the apple, your faith is to the perfect salvation of Christ. The child's hand does not make the apple nor improve the apple nor deserve the apple; it only takes it. And faith is chosen by God to be the receiver of salvation because it does not pretend to create salvation or to help in it, but is content to receive it humbly. "Faith is the tongue that begs pardon, the hand that receives it, and the eye that sees it; but it is not the price that buys it." Faith never makes itself its own plea. It rests all its argument on the blood of Christ. It becomes a good servant to bring the riches of the Lord Jesus to the soul because it acknowledges from where it drew them and admits that grace alone entrusted it with them.
Faith Gives All the Glory to God
Faith is again selected because it gives all the glory to God. "It is of faith, that it might be by grace" (Romans 4:16 KJV), and it is of grace that there might be no boasting, for God cannot endure pride. "The proud he knoweth afar off" (Psalm 138:6 KJV). He has no wish to come nearer to them. He will not give salvation in a way that will suggest or foster pride. Paul said, "Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:9 KJV). Now, faith excludes all boasting. The hand that receives charity does not say, "I am to be thanked for accepting the gift"; that would be absurd. When the hand gives bread to the mouth, it does not say to the body, "Thank me, for I feed you." It is a very simple thing that the hand does---though very necessary---and it never designates glory to itself for what it does. So God has selected faith to receive the "unspeakable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV) of His grace. It cannot take any credit to itself but must adore the gracious God who is the Giver of all good. Faith sets the crown on the right head. Therefore, the Lord Jesus was accustomed to putting the crown on the head of faith, saying, "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace" (Luke 7:50 KJV).
Faith is a Sure Method of Linking Man with God
Next, God selects faith as the channel of salvation because it is a sure method of linking man with God. When man confides in God, there is a point of union between them, and that union guarantees blessing. Faith saves us because it makes us cling to God and therefore connects us with Him. I have often used the following illustration. Years ago, a boat was upset above Niagara Falls. Two men were being carried down the current when people on the shore managed to float a rope out to them. Both seized it. One of them held on to it and was safely drawn to the bank. However, the other, seeing a great log come floating by, unwisely let go of the rope and clung to the log, for it was bigger and apparently better to cling to. The log with the man on it went right over the vast abyss because nothing connected the log and the shore. The size of the log was of no benefit to him who grasped it; it needed a connection with the shore to produce safety.
So when a man trusts to his works or to sacraments or to anything of that sort, he will not be saved, because there is no junction between him and Christ. However, faith, though it may seem to be like a slender cord, is in the hands of the great God on the shore. Infinite power pulls in the connecting line between God and faith and thus draws the man from destruction. Oh, the blessedness of faith because it ties us to God!
Faith Touches the Springs of Action
Faith is chosen again because it touches the springs of action. Even in common things, faith of a certain sort lies at the root of all. I wonder whether I am wrong if I say that we never do anything except through faith of some sort. If I walk across my study, it is because I believe my legs will carry me. A man eats because he believes in the necessity of food. He goes to his business because he believes in the value of money. He accepts a check because he believes that the bank will honor it. Colombus discovered America because he believed that there was another continent beyond the ocean. The Pilgrim fathers colonized it because they believed that God would be with them on those rocky shores. Most grand deeds have been born of faith. For good or for evil, faith works wonders by the person in whom it dwells.
Faith in its natural form is an all-prevailing force that enters into all manner of human actions. Possibly he who mocks faith in God is the man who in an evil form has the most faith. Indeed, he usually falls into a credulity that would be ridiculous if it were not disgraceful. God gives salvation to faith, because by creating faith in us He thus touches the real mainspring of our emotions and actions. He has, so to speak, taken possession of the battery, and now He can send the sacred current to every part of our nature. When we believe in Christ, and the heart has come into the possession of God, then we are saved from sin and are moved toward repentance, holiness, zeal, prayer, consecration, and every other gracious thing. "What oil is to the wheels, what weights are to a clock, what wings are to a bird, what sails are to a ship, faith is to all holy duties and services." Have faith, and all other graces will follow and continue to hold their course.
Faith Draws the Heart to God
Faith, again, has the power of working by love (Galatians 5:6 KJV). It influences the affections toward God and draws the heart after the best things. He who believes in God will beyond all question love God. Faith is an act of understanding, but it also proceeds from the heart. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness" (Romans 10:10 KJV). Hence, God gives salvation to faith because it resides next door to the affections and is closely related to love. And love is the parent and the nurse of every holy feeling and act. Love for God is obedience; love for God is holiness. To love God and to love man is to be conformed to the image of Christ, and this is salvation.
Faith Creates Peace and Joy
Moreover, faith creates peace and joy. He who has it rests and is tranquil, glad, and joyous, and this is a preparation for heaven. God gives all heavenly gifts to faith for this reason, among others: Faith works in us the life and spirit that are to be eternally manifested in the upper and better world. Faith furnishes us with armor for this life and education for the life to come. It enables a man both to live and to die without fear; it prepares both for action and for suffering. Hence, the Lord selects it as a most convenient medium for conveying grace to us and thereby securing us for glory.
Certainly, faith does for us what nothing else can do. It gives us joy and peace and causes us to enter into rest. Why do men attempt to gain salvation by other means? An old preacher said,
A silly servant, who is told to open a door, puts his shoulder against it and pushes with all his might, but the door does not stir, and he cannot enter, whatever strength he uses. Another comes with a key, easily unlocks the door, and enters immediately. Those who would be saved by works are pushing at heaven's gate without result, but faith is the key that opens the gate at once.
Will you not use that key? The Lord commands you to believe in His dear Son. Therefore, you may do so, and in doing so you will live. Is this not the promise of the Gospel: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16 KJV)? What can your objection be to a way of salvation that commends itself to the mercy and the wisdom of our gracious God? [77-84]
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