The Initial Grace of God
I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more . . . For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Jeremiah 31:34; Ephesians 2:8-9)
Again, we have the opportunity to compare justifying grace and sanctifying grace, initial grace and ongoing grace. This is always an edifying and valuable exercise, since we tend to forget that we are sanctified through the same means that we are justified.
The initial grace that impacted our lives forever was the justifying, forgiving grace of God. The prophets of old proclaimed this hope. The apostles of the church age applied it to us today. "I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:34; also in Hebrews 8:12). When we repented of our sins and called upon the name of the Lord, we were forgiven and justified, declared not guilty and righteous in His sight.
This saving work of God on our behalf was all accomplished by the grace of God. "For by grace you have been saved." The saving grace of God is applied to lives as they trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. "By grace you have been saved through faith."
None of this process originates in man. All of it comes from God. "And that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." No aspect of salvation derives from the efforts of man, so no one will ever be able to brag about their contribution in being saved. "Not of works, lest anyone should boast." All glory, now and forever, will go to the Lord Himself. "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:31).
Yes, even faith does not source in man. Jesus is "the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). When we believed upon the Lord Jesus, it was in response to an authoring, revealing work that He was doing on our behalf. Jesus manifested Himself to us through the gospel as One who was able to save us sinners. The Holy Spirit was convicting us of our need. We trusted in His saving work for us. Thereby, He authored faith in us. "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing" (Revelation 5:12).
As we have seen previously, and will have opportunity to examine again and again, the grace of God of which we partook for new birth and justification is the same grace that must continually be at work in us for growth and sanctification.
O Lord God of my salvation, I clearly see the full extent to which my being saved depended upon Your saving grace! Thank You for this priceless gift of grace. How glorious it is to stand justified in Your sight. Now, that I might grow daily in a life of sanctification, I look to You and Your necessary grace, Amen.