“Show me a person who despises Bible reading, or thinks little of Bible preaching, and I hold it to be a certain fact that they are not yet born again.” ~ J.C. Ryle
I read that quote the other day online and I glanced through the comments afterward knowing I’d see it, the one comment I knew would pop up. Sure enough, I found it, “We’re saved by GRACE!!”
The comment was made to thwart the idea that people do something to get saved, it’s all grace. If Ryle says people are only saved if they read their Bible, then he is ruining grace.
This is typical thinking about grace. We are saved by grace, but there is still something that determines who is saved and who is not. I wouldn’t call it merit, no one deserves salvation, but I would call it “fulfilling conditions.”
The Bible does say we are saved by grace, but it also doesn’t just say that. It says we are saved by grace through faith. God shows grace, we respond to it with faith. Without faith, you have no saving grace.
If faith is our part, it seems important we know what faith is. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Ryle is saying that the saved man esteems God’s Word, because that is what faith is and it is by faith we receive grace!
If a man does not esteem God’s Word there is no way that man has faith, and if he does not have faith, he has no basis to claim he has God’s saving grace.
Furthermore, our faith is placed in Jesus Christ, who is called The Word. If we claim to be saved by Jesus Christ we can’t help but esteem The Word. If we do not esteem the Word, we do not esteem Christ and thus there is no way you could claim to be saved.
We need to be careful with our treatment of the word “grace.” It has come to mean so much that the Bible does not say. There are other words in the Bible besides grace and those other words are there on purpose.