Welcome to another episode of Exploring God. We are currently doing series on God’s immeasurable grace.
Today, we will consider that our response of faith in the truth of the gospel is grounded in God’s grace. In Acts 18:27, we read:
And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed.
Why did the Holy Spirit inspire these two words: Through grace? What does it mean to believe through grace? Would it not have been perfectly fine if Luke had written: “When he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed”? Yet, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke included through grace.
To believe that salvation is by grace alone doesn’t only mean that our salvation is by grace alone, without any human addition; it also means that our faith in the truth of the gospel is by His grace alone. To believe through grace means that grace produced the faith we have.
As an illustration: not only was God the one who made “garments of skin” for Adam and Eve, He was also the one who “clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). He is not only the one who gave Jesus; He is also the one who gave us the faith to receive Him.
According to Isaiah, our great joy in God isn’t because He provided the “garments of salvation” and the “robe of righteousness,” but because He clothed us with them—He made the effectual application: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10).
After his famous confession of faith, Jesus told Peter: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17). That is synonymous with what Jesus said in John: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).
Jesus restated that truth in that same chapter: “’But there are some of you who do not believe.’ (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him). And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father’” (John 6:64-65).
To come to Jesus, which is here synonymous with believing in Him, is a grant from the Father, not something that He foresaw you or I would decisively do. Paul wrote the same: “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should . . . believe in him” (Phil. 1:29). If saving faith is an effectual grant from the Father, election cannot be based on foreseen faith.
By the way, this granting does not contradict or undermine any of the gospel invitations throughout the Bible.
What it does mean is the fact that anyone who does favorably respond to the gospel has been granted to do so by the Father, as Luke also wrote: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). They believed through grace.
Are these two inspired words only applicable to the disciples in Achaia, or are they also applicable to every other believer? I hope you’ll agree that they are also applicable to every other believer, including you and me.
I hope you’ll join me next time as we will have a purposeful and necessary interjection in our series on God’s immeasurable grace. When you sign up for my blog, you will receive the transcripts of these episodes and also a free copy of my first book.
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