Why do we need to be justified by faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8)? “It is as though God had committed to our trust a perfect crystal vase, and had said, ‘if you keep that whole, and present it to me, you shall have a reward.’ But we have cracked it, chipped it; ah! my brethren, the most of us have broken it and smashed it to pieces.”[1] This is why Paul wrote, “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, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

All the blessings of the Christian life are received by faith. Look at the way the Bible described how faith shapes the believer in Galatians 3:24-29. The promise of justification by faith in verse 24. The power of faith in verse 26— “for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.” The moment God accepts the faithful in verse 27— “For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.” The subsequent restored fellowship through faith in verse 28— “you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Finally, the result of faith in verse 29—”And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.”
The faith that saves is never alone. Faith is the blessed union of belief in and submission to God (James 2:24, 26). If either belief or submission are absent, then faith is not present. “Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?….You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete” (James 2:20-22 CSB). Are you justified?

We submit to Christ in faith. We obey because of faith. We are saved by faith. “As all mankind are, in the sight of God, lost sinners, we hold that Christ is their only righteousness, since by his obedience, he has wiped off our transgressions; by his sacrifice, appeased the divine anger; by his blood, washed away our stains; by his cross, borne our curse; and by his death made satisfaction for us. We maintain that in this way man is reconciled in Christ to God the Father, by no merit of his own, by no value of works, but by gratuitous mercy. When we embrace Christ by faith, and come, as it were, into communion with him, this we term, after the manner of Scripture, the righteousness of faith.” (John Calvin).

[1] C. H. Spurgeon, “Justification by Faith,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 60 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1914), 64.

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