We are saved by grace, but through faith. I draw attention to the second preposition. We are sometimes inclined to talk as if human beings are saved by a religious disposition, as if the basic Christian requirement was that we should whip ourselves up into an appropriate religious emotion called faith, by which we might be saved. Nothing could be more misleading. We are not saved by anything in ourselves at all. We are saved only by the gracious activity of God. Faith is not a human mechanism which we apply in order to produce our salvation. What is it? It is simply the human response to God’s grace, the human recognition of God’s love for us, and our reliance upon it.
But note what this means, if it is to have any meaning at all, it must be my response to God’s love, not my father’s, not my minister’s, not the church’s. Of course I do not deny for a moment the benefits that come to us from such sources as these, but they can no more have faith in your place than they can marry your wife for you. Important as the Church is, it cannot do everything for you.