On Ineffectual Man and the Grace of God

Written by Phillip Nicewaner

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”[1]

It is not by man that man could be saved, writes Paul, but the gift of God alone, for, as Jesus spoke, He so loved the world that He provided the way – the reconciliation of man to Himself. That man is hopelessly lost within himself and the sinful flesh which binds him to destruction should come as no mystery, for this is the ascribed affliction called out through the Scripture that was handed down from the very Word of God. Paul, being in the Spirit, quoted the Psalmist, writing that “there is no one who is righteous, not even one” and that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10-11; 23). There is, then, no hope for the sinner, for God’s Law is absolute and the transgression against the eternal God merits an absolute and eternal recompense, of which God shall certainly have.

Yet, there is most certainly hope! For while, by his own power, man is completely and utterly ineffectual at arriving to the acceptance of the most basic concept of God’s love, while man wallows in darkness, there is the Messiah, Jesus, who died for us. This gift, though, remains valueless to the sinner, whose heart has been hardened and, by God’s grace, the heart is softened to submit and confess, “Jesus is Lord.” It is by grace you have been saved, through faith. The sin of man has rendered him unable and wholly incapable of achieving the eternal piece of everlasting communion with God and accepting the salvation which is offered so freely. And this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Man’s deeds achieve naught, but ruin at best and, still, God crossed the eternal and unfathomable chasm to reach us. Not by works, so that no one can boast.

Should not one’s heart be filled beyond capacity? That those counted among the saved were once hopelessly blind, but now see the truth should pour outward from the heart joy and peace to the world as beacons of that blessed Savior Lord who secured salvation for the fallen. Are not the saved to be unendingly grateful, eternally thankful? Yes, eternally so, in such a way that praise would fill the heavens, if such things were possible, always remembering that they, individually, were wholly condemned for their deeds, that every act wrought about the path to destruction, and, despite this hopelessness, God acted. Let those in Christ’s fold never forget how great a salvation they were given and the cost of such a sacrifice, that He who was blameless received what was undeserved to give to a people that which they did not deserve. Blessed hope! Through Christ Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, there is hope indeed as the perfect expression of God’s grace and love toward mankind. Amen.

[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Eph 2:8–9). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.


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