Is there a difference between knowing that God is capable of saving us, and being assured of that salvation? Paul talks about assurance, not capacity. We are not waiting to see if Christ is capable of being victorious. Christ is victorious! He lived a perfect life in our sinful flesh. He died the second death. He was resurrected and taken to Heaven in glory. Christ endured all that we will experience, and He has given us that which made His victory possible: the Holy Spirit and His power. Christ has assured salvation for us all, that is, the whole world, on the cross. His resurrection is the proof of this. Are we still at war? A look at prophecy will remind us that we still are. But do not fear. There is provision for this too. Salvation is in three stages.
Have you noticed the verb in the verses dealing with salvation or deliverance is in three different tenses: Past, present, future? That is because salvation is in three stages. On the cross Christ paid the world's penalty for sin. As the scripture states, "the wages of Sin is death." But thanks be to God, we can be assured that Christ's blood paid the price. Titus 3: 5-6 says,
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Titus 3:6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
We are thus justified. In other words, the cross allows for the Righteousness of Christ to be imputed to us. We are declared Righteous through the merits of Christ (Romans 5:1).
The next stage is in the present tense. We are currently being saved.1 Corinthians 1:18 is a good example,
1Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
This stage of salvation imparts His righteousness to us. It sanctifies us. It saves us from the power of sin. That is why 2 Peter 2:9 says, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations…" We are thus assured that not only will we not die eternally, but that in our sinful flesh we can have perfect and sinless characters, as Christ did.
The last stage of salvation is in the future tense. We will be saved. Matthew 10:22 states, "…he that endureth shall be saved." Other examples are Mark 16:16, John 10:9, and Acts 15:11. This is glorification. This shall happen at Christ's second coming. When "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1Co 15:52). And we shall be saved from the presence of Sin.
Christ went through these three stages and was victorious. He assures those who believe by faith, that His grace is sufficient and complete, and that they too, are being, and will be victorious.
Now let us look further on grace. Why do we need it? Let us start by reading what Paul says in Romans,
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Romans 3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
Romans 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
We do not have ways of producing inside of us what we need to rid ourselves of Sin. So, the cure must be supplied. We need a daily dose of God's grace. This is what Christ has done. We read in Romans,
Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
So, only Jesus can supply it. And, He has supplied grace to every man, "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Ephesians 4:7). (A measure of faith is also given to every man – Romans 12:3). And, it is by faith that we accept it (Romans 5:2). You can try to ignore the problem or even misdiagnose it; you are still a sinner in need of grace. Remember, we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
So, what is grace? The dictionary defines it as: a. the free and unmerited favour of God shown towards man, and b. the divine assistance and power given to man in spiritual rebirth and sanctification. Strong's concordance defines it as: the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. Both definitions agree that beyond just unmerited favor, or undeserved mercy – which implies that it is a gift - grace is a power or influence from God given to man to transform man into His likeness. Paul elaborates on this concept in Ephesians 2: 1 – 5 and 8,
Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
It is grace that provides the right "spiritual nutrients" to rid us of Sin and fill us with the Love of God. Ellen White says,
"We are naturally inclined to desire our own way and will, but when the transforming grace of Christ takes hold upon our hearts the inquiry of our souls is, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" When the Spirit of God works within us, we are led to will and to do of the Lord's good pleasure, and there is obedience in heart and action...." (That I May Know Him, p. 150).
The question is: will we by faith accept the grace of God?