In last week’s bulletin we established the fact that grace is more than just a gift. It is the very means by which God enables man to have eternal life. Without God’s grace we are destined for destruction and there is nothing that we can do to avoid this tragic condition. From the moment you sin, you are no longer deserving of God’s grace for the wages of sin is death, not physical death, but spiritual death (Rom. 6:23). As I also mentioned in last week’s bulletin, God’s grace is greatly misunderstood. Many assume that God’s grace is a “get out of hell free” card. That is, once God’s grace is given, nothing can remove a person from God’s grace. They are convinced that such teaching creates a legalist approach to salvation and that salvation is something you earn, which clearly goes against the teaching of Rom. 4:4. One must examine the complete word of God to fully understand the nature of God’s grace.
Let us begin by reading John 3:16-17. John 3:16 is a verse that nearly every nominal Christian is familiar with. “For God so loved that world that he gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Christ, however, does end his point there. He goes on to say, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” While grace is not specifically mentioned here, we established in the last article that God’s grace is inseparable from Christ and salvation. According to this verse, God’s grace is not guaranteed to save everyone. God gave Jesus to the world that the world might be saved. This does not mean that God is not capable of saving some, but I contend that some will reject salvation. As Christ goes on to say in John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Coming to the light (Jesus Christ) is necessary in order for one to receive salvation. Refusing to do so, and continue to do wicked deeds results in ones condemnation. Jesus clearly taught that receiving salvation required you to “come and get it.” So, how does one receive the gift of God unto eternal life?
The penalty of sin has to be paid. As Rom. 6:23 teaches, the wages of sin is death. In order for God to remain a just God he still has to punish sin. His grace enabled Jesus to pay that price for us. “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone (Heb. 2:9).” See again that word might appears. Jesus might taste death for you, but it again is not a guarantee. This means there must be more to the grace of God!
The gospel has to be preached. Paul told the elders of the Ephesian church, “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” The word of grace, of the Gospel of Christ is capable of giving your eternal life. If a person never hears the message how could they come to know of the grace of God? And if they never hear, then grace cannot possibly be bestowed upon them from this text. This is why we teach others. Ignorance of God’s grace is not a good thing. It is fatal condition.
The gospel has to be obeyed. In Rom. 1:5 Paul teaches that we were given grace for the purpose of obedience. “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith…” This is something that many lose sight of when they read Rom. 6:14 “ …for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Paul went on in Rom. 6:17 to write, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” He did not just thank God for allowing Christ to pay the price for sin. He thanked God that the Romans were willing to be obedient, not just by going through the outward motions, but through the inward man. The Romans did not obey because some tradition bound them to follow an arbitrary law. They were obedient because their faith moved them to keep the commandment of God. But isn’t obedience in opposition to a grace based salvation? No. Even the largest of doubters recognize that faith is needed. What they fail to recognize is that salvation requires a responding faith. (Incidentally any one who teaches the sinner’s prayer teaches a responding faith. They teach that your faith in God because of his grace should respond with a prayer confessing Jesus as Lord and admitting your faults). But, the bible teaches us how one should respond with their faith… baptism. Read Acts 2:38, Acts 8:37-38 and Acts 22:16. Each convert was made by their faith because of the grace of God. Each convert responded with baptism. This does not nullify God’s grace. Brethren, it is a faithful response to it!!!
Grinnell church of Christ
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Be Ye Faithful Until Death Part 2
Volume 3 Issue 35 July 29, 2012