By grace through faith we are saved
By grace through faith we are saved. By grace through faith we are justified; by grace through faith also we are sanctified. I can’t be justified by grace, and then try to work out my sanctification on my own. Once grace saved me, I can’t go back to relying on my own efforts to be accepted by God. In this journey of life, what is it that carries me through? It is grace alone. Even if it needs countless times to be reminded of this fact, let it be so. For I tend to trade my merits with God’s acceptance of me. But can God’s acceptance be bought with good works? Our good works are just filthy rags; it is way too cheap and unworthy of God’s acceptance. Am I to add on what God has worked in me? No, rather let God continue His work in me.
The dying thief, what did he have in order to amend the past crimes he had committed? He had the cross and three nails. But God was willing, by His sovereign will, to use those to put him, unable to walk away, at the side of our Lord. And it was in the final moments of his life that God was willing to turn his heart to Him. He was justified, and sanctified, even if he didn’t have any chance to work out his salvation. God declared him righteous and imputed the merits of Christ upon him.
The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in his day;
and there have I, though vile as he
washed all my sins away.
It is a fact that the Spirit is in us. If I don’t really believe this as a reality, I am just as dead. “For in [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” (Rom. 1:17), i.e. beginning and ending in faith. What was begun in faith, shall I end in my own efforts? I need to be humbled always. Only the absolute sovereignty of God allows all-out doxology to Him, for all is His grace. We can’t see God as fully gracious unless we see Him as absolutely sovereign. That my life which is nothing, is regarded as worthy of His death and life, and made worth living.