“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:16-18).
Ever notice how we call hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and hail “acts of God,” but not sunshine, rainbows, or gentle breezes? How often have you heard someone blame God for every trial or mishap in life, only to neglect to thank Him for every blessing? The common church prayer meeting sounds like a cross between a tale of woes and Christmas wish list. We tell God everything we want to have or to be fixed, changed, or taken away, but how much time do we spend just thanking God for His endless blessings?
James rightly noted that, God tempts no one to evil, but He does give good and perfect gifts, especially to His children by grace. He causes it to rain on the just and the unjust (Mt. 5:45). The vilest reprobate receives common grace from God. Yet, His children – those who are saved by grace through faith in Christ – receive the best gift from their heavenly Father, which is sanctification unto eternal life in Christ (Rom. 6:22-23). James said, “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth” (v. 18). God literally birthed us in Christ by the power of the gospel as an act of His will, not ours.
To think that Christ only made salvation possible, and that we actually accomplish it on our own, falls into what James said was to “be deceived,” that is, to err, to misstep. To take credit for that which God alone does is to rob God of the praises due His name. Those who are truly born again desire no praises for themselves, but give glory to God alone for His gift of salvation.
Paul agreed with James that we’re: “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). God did so to demonstrate His righteousness “so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (vv. 25-26). To those who insist on sharing in the credit for their salvation, Paul said that faith excludes our boasting (v. 27).
Today, many preachers talk as if faith means choice, to believe is to decide. It doesn’t and it isn’t. Genuine saving faith never looks at itself. Faith only has eyes for Christ. It trusts Christ and loves Him and praises Him for His good and perfect gifts. Faith stands firmly fixed on Christ’s righteousness by His grace alone. When someone says, “we each have to do our part to make salvation happen,” faith answers, “Christ alone is all my righteousness.”
To seek to add to Christ’s finished work of atonement exposes a lack of faith in Him. To call God a monster (as some do) because He doesn’t save everyone, belies His infinite holiness and goodness and denies faith in Christ, which is deception.
But those who delight unreservedly in God’s sovereign, saving grace are truly blessed. The joy of the Lord is their strength (Neh. 8:10). Those who hope in the Lord are renewed in strength (Isa. 40:31). Those whom God has caused to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ obtain an imperishable inheritance as He protects them through faith for salvation (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
To God be the glory.