Grace = God’s gift “given” OUTSIDE OF TIME.
Faith = a personal responsibility “chosen” IN TIME.Note: “faith” is NOT a work, it is spiritual and the ability to believe God, for all who “hear and respond” to the gospel. When “works” are used in the New Testament it is ALWAYS speaking about “the Law of Moses”. So, we are saved by faith (a choice to believe) and not by “works of the Law”.
Those two definitions for showing the difference between grace and faith will help in understanding what follows:
First, this is an “attempt” to reconcile first for myself, then for anyone else, who recognizes the apparent contradictions in the various passages in the Bible where these subjects are discussed.
So, I personally believe the very beginning of the first chapter of Ephesians (which is just one of the many places where these subjects are addressed) is describing “all humanity” before time began, was in Christ, designed to be Holy and blameless, originally, in the same way that we all were in Adam (Holy and blameless originally) until he sinned. Then we were “all” unholy and unrighteous”. However, God had His backup plan, pre-seen in the skins of the first animal slain by God Himself in the garden of Eden to “cover” Adam and Eve. So, outside of time, by grace, all people were in Christ. However, IN TIME, each human has received the opportunity to ACCEPT this “outside of time reality” of grace … BY THEIR OWN FAITH (which God has provided all people through hearing and accepting the gospel of Christ, in time) Read that again, slowly. Now, I believe the issue of predestination is NOT “personal” meaning, “specific individuals chosen before time began” because predestination is a “grace/outside of time” subject. But the “receiving” part of this reality, meaning, the acceptance by our FAITH, would require “personhood” and that is something which is “in time” meaning, one must be “alive already” to accept their predestination by faith. So the “predestination” is IN CHRIST BEFORE TIME began. However, as the Old Testament says, Israel “alone” was foreknown by God in a personal way, and alone, out of all nations, chosen by God. BUT, Paul goes on in Ephesians to say that “they” the “first ones to hope in Christ” those of Israel who were the Apostles, were “downloaded” this message about God’s mystery of Christ and the Church, to “extend” to those who were second to believe, meaning us Gentiles. So, God “individually”, even from the womb (as the Old Testament says) “chose” those of Israel, especially those in the line of Messiah, before time, and in time, to bring about God’s plan of Redemption. This is seen in Genesis 3 where “the Seed of the Woman” , meaning first, Eve, then Sarah, then Israel as a whole, which was described as a Woman through which Messiah would come, and who would crush the head of the Serpent (Satan’s) Seed being Cain and his descendants, then in a “spiritual” way also applying to unbelieving Israelites and to those “of the World” which is controlled by Satan (as the Apostle John would explain it). So, Israel was predestined and foreknown, and the Gentiles though being added later to the “Vine of Israel”, were predestined “in Christ as a whole” OUTSIDE OF TIME, by grace. But, in order to “receive” the reality of being predestined in Christ for salvation a person must accept this Redemption by “faith” (and faith is IN TIME). Remember, grace is the “gift of salvation outside of time” and faith is the “choice to receive this gift, in time”. Because faith can only be accepted by a person (in time). And faith is NOT the gift. The gift is salvation/Redemption by grace for….“ALL WHO WILL BELIEVE” So, can you lose this? No. Can you “choose” to leave this? Yes. Because faith is “your response in time” to the free gift of Christ outside of time, by grace. You are God’s child and saved by your faith in the good news of the gospel. And ONLY by “denying” this gospel of salvation would you be considered “leaving your faith” So, this is why we see warnings throughout the New Testament for Christians who are tempted to compromise their faith, or for those who are accepting a “different gospel” Or a gospel of “Law” instead of grace. Or when we see the warning in Hebrews, that “if you hear His voice…do not harden your heart” by ignoring God’s correction. Because we are saved by our own response to the gospel. This response is done “freely” by us, by a “choice to believe”. And even once we’re saved we do not lose our “free-will” to stay saved (by our faith) nor do we lose our choice to reject our salvation through hardness of heart, which eventually leads to denying the faith normally. And the “security” of our salvation is evidenced by our fruit. And by our changed hearts to “be able to” love God and love others. And the Holy Spirit in us “confirms” with our own spirit that we are sons and daughters of God … through Christ
I am trying so hard to explain this, but it is difficult. And you may completely disagree with this view, and that is just fine. But due to my own struggle to make sense of what scripture said on these subjects and because there are conflicting and contradicting views from various theological and scholarly camps out there who I did not see able to “truly” be able to honestly deal with what the text of scripture said when read plainly and in its original context. So, if this is all just for my understanding, then fine. But hopefully it helps someone else too.
[Later addition: “the elect” or “election” when used by Jesus in the gospels specifically, in its original setting and context is normally, if not completely, talking about promises found in the Old Testament, for example in Daniel, and regarding the “elect of Israel” who were prophesied in the Old Testament to receive the Messiah and “endure to the end”. One example of this promise is seen in Revelation regarding specifically the 144,000 Jewish Christians in the last days. However, “election” can be used in a broader sense depending upon what Peter, John, or Paul is writing and who specifically they are talking to. Both John and Peter were the apostles to the circumcision (Israel) Acts Chapters 10-15 for reference, and Paul mentions this in Galatians (I think that is the Book?). And Paul was sent to the Gentiles and yet he addresses many things to both Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians seeking to set things straight in the churches. This does NOT mean that the Holy Spirit is not talking to us through Peter or John! He uses all scripture to speak to all His children! But what I have written above is helpful for understanding things that “appear” to contradict themselves in the scriptures regarding election and salvation.]