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From Faith to Faith: do not fall from Grace

The christian life is from faith to faith. Many believers easily get caught up in the alternative “from faith to works” without realizing it.  Faith is the “hand that receives” grace, while  works ( our human efforts) is the “hand that repels” it.  It is important we understand the concept  of “faith to faith” to maintain the uninterrupted flow of grace in our lives.

Grace, faith and works

In His infinite wisdom and love, God has decided to save mankind by His grace-His unmerited and undeserved favor  through the Person and the sacrificial work of Christ Jesus. He has rescued and freed us from sin and brought us into His very glory all by His favor. We do not deserve it, do not merit it and do not need to work for it. All that  we need to do to do is to stretch forth our hands and receive the favor His shows us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (Eph. 2:8 NAS)

The hand that receives

There are two ways God can give us what we need. He can either have us work  and earn it, in which case He is giving to us what we deserve. Or, He gives it to us by  showing  kindness through His favor. In this case, it will be by grace, and we do not need to work for it or try to earn it. These two-works or grace, are mutually exclusive. You either  earn it by trying hard to work for it or you receive it by  favor. There is no “part grace and part works”.

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. (Rom. 11:6)

Grace is received by faith. When  God  gives  us  any gifts by His favor, the spiritual device for receiving that  grace is faith. It is our response, which can be compared to stretching our hands out to someone who has a gift to give to us.

We are saved by grace, through faith. Faith therefore is the means by which we access the treasures of grace.

Through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. (Rom. 5:2 NET)

The hand that repels

As faith receives grace, our works repel it.  The meaning of “works” in this context is clearly shown to us in Ephesians 4 above

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, that no one should boast. (Eph. 2:8-9 )

Works are the things we do in  and of ourselves in an attempt  to earn or get salvation, or God’s gifts.  In grace, God  does the work , while in works, we do it  ourselves. There are few things in our lives that can neutralize the power of grace like our works.

It is important to make a distinction between this “works” which is also called the “works of the law”  and what the bible calls “good works”. In the same chapter of Ephesians 4 above, the 10th verse gives us a completely different kind of works.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)

“Good works” are works. These are works we do after we have received God’s grace,  and as a result of it. They are not to impress God or try to earn something. They are simply the result of what God has done. Righteous living, for example, is good work, which is a result of God’s working inside of us. These works simply  tell  God “see what you have done!” It is like a dove flying not to show us it can fly but because it was made to fly! Grace will make you abound in good works.

The works of the law however are the things we do with the intention of earning something from God.

From Faith to Faith-the concept

The phrase from “faith to faith” describes the course of our christian life in time, from its beginning to its finish line and everything else in between. These phases are clearly portrayed in Paul’s letter to the Galatians

Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort? (Gal. 3:3 NET)

Notice these two phrases “you began” and ” you now trying to finish”.

From Faith-the beginning

We all came to Christ, and began our walk with the Father at some definite point in time. None of us was born a “believer” by our parents. We all got saved, received the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of  righteousness and eternal life by faith. We did not work for these, we believed, and received. The same is true of the gift of the Holy Spirit as Paul told the Galatians.

This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? (Gal. 3:2)

They began  by faith, and not by works.

To Faith-the finish

The christian life is towards a goal-christlikeness, which Ephesians 4 calls the ” mature or perfect man”. On this earth, our christian life is supposed to move from    the starting point to this finish line.

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God– a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. (Eph. 4:13 NET)

The way we started will be the way we finish. We started by receiving all God has given to us by faith. God wants us to know, and know it well,that we will finish this course in the same way-by faith-absolutely dependent on God. We should move from faith to faith, from start to finish.

From Faith to Faith-how it works

From “faith to faith” is  a spiritual attitude-where we  see ourselves completely dependent on God and not  having any confidence in our own ability. When we were lost and about to receive salvation, we looked solely  to Christ’s mercy and grace for His gift of forgiveness and eternal life. We couldn’t even count on our ability to tithe, evangelize, pray or study the bible. When we are 15 years in the faith, and are in need for a miracle, a healing or some gift from God, we still look to Christ’s grace and not counting on our works.

You overcame sin at conversion by looking unto Christ. You will overcome sin today by still looking unto Christ in faith, and not counting on your own spiritual ability. It is from faith to faith.

You overcame Satan at conversion when you got born again by faith in Christ and not counting on your own strength. You will overcome Satan today by that same faith, and not by your own spiritual abilities. It is from faith to faith.

God accepted you and loves you   at conversion by faith in Christ.  He still accepts and loves you  by that same faith, and not by your degree of holiness, righteousness and good behavior. It is from faith to faith.

The list continues of pertinent real life examples. The unifying thread in all these is that we started by dependent completely on God and we will end by depending completely on Him. We  not outgrow  our need for God.

Perverted spiritual maturity

Something  tragic sometimes happens to us as believers after we become saved. We start stumbling at the same stumbling block Israel stumbled on. Our  religion and spirituality blinds our eyes from depending on God.

Spiritual maturity and natural growth and development have a lot in common but there is one basic difference that is critical to grasp.

Faith to faith is not growing out of our need for God
Natural growth

As a child ages, from infancy to adolescence and adulthood, their dependence on their parents( the caregivers) gradually wanes off. We will all be alarmed if we find a 40-year-old adult who is dependent on the parents to  tell him what to eat!  Natural maturity should come with independence. But this is where things might go awfully wrong if we bring this idea into our relationship with God.

Spiritual maturity is not growing to the point that we no longer need God. A mature believer is not a self-sufficient believer, but rather one who is perfectly one with Christ and allows His life to flow uninterrupted through him or her. It is rather the point of complete and perfect dependence on God.

Resist this temptation

In all your ability, resist the temptation to outgrow your dependence on God as you learn the “things of christian  religion”.  When you were a young christian, you did not know how to fast and pray. Do not feel that now that you have learned how to do these, you can  have your  own way. This is where we can get caught up in this snare. After a few years in the faith, after learning the routines and drills of christianity, we should not take our eyes away from Christ and start looking on our spiritual abilities.

The Galatians were in this spot.The Galatians were the prototype church in Bible days that  were on their way off that platform. I usually encourage believers to read the entire Book of Galatians in one sitting when dealing with this subject, in a simple translation they can easily understand.  It will take about 10-25 minutes only. It is worth it.  You can also  listen to it being read- it will take only about 3 to 5 minutes! Honestly, I will encourage you to do so now if you haven’t done so before.  YouVersion   provides a great place to start.

The Galatians had  received the Holy Spirit by faith when they were “young converts”. But later in their walk, they had grown “deeper”, learned some “Hebrew and Greek words”, and also learned  some deeper “hebrew things” like  circumcision and their mindset shifted drastically. They began to  trust that God probably loved them and will bless them because they  were   “circumcised”. They were falling from grace, without knowing it.

This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Gal. 3:2-3)

From Faith to Faith-the fall

When we start by faith and try to finish by works, the paradigm is shifted from  “faith to faith” to  from “faith to works”.  We have moved from faith to works when Jesus was our all when we  became born again but no longer “our all” after  we  have learned the drills of  the church life or  christian routines, so that we  start counting on what we  can do rather than His favor. The Bible calls this “fallen from grace”.

Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Gal. 5:2-4)

From faith to faith. Avoiding the fall
When we fall from the platform of grace

You stand on the platform of  grace by faith, and you fall off  that platform by works-the works of the law.

Through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. (Rom. 5:2 NET)

Our christian walk is from faith to faith. We depend  completely on Him in faith when we are “young converts” and we also depend completely on Him in faith when we are “generals in the faith”.

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