By Fred R. Coulter
To understand the GRACE of God as revealed in the New Testament is to comprehend one of the most wonderful attributes of God; and is the KEY to a deep, personal relationship between God the Father and every Christian, through Jesus Christ.
The GRACE of God expresses the GREATNESS OF HIS LOVE and the richness of His mercy! To live within and under the GRACE of God is to experience and appreciate the fantastic LOVE of God and His merciful kindness.
Contrary to religious speculations, grace is not just a theological tenant or topic of argument; drawing denominational battle lines; in fact, the GRACE OF GOD means LIFE ITSELF! Without grace there would be no salvation, NO CHRISTIANITY... NO ETERNAL LIFE!
Indeed, GRACE IS THE FOUNDATION of true Christianity. The New Testament reveals that God the Father’s GRACE is an ALL ENCOMPASSING quality.
The GRACE of God has tremendous meaning to those who really understand it. Through, Jesus Christ, God’s gift of GRACE is granted so we may spiritually GROW UP unto Him, Jesus Christ---the SON OF GOD---who is the HEAD of God’s Church, in ALL THINGS.
The Scriptural TRUTH is that God the Father, through His GRACE and salvation, will share His eternal life, existence and glory with all human beings who truly love Him with all their hearts, and minds and beings.
The potential of our destiny to become the literal sons of God through the GRACE of God is the most INCREDIBLE and least understood TRUTHS of the Bible. The apostle John wrote, “Behold! What glorious love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God! On account of this very thing, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be; but, we do know that when He shall be revealed, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him exactly as He is” (I John 3:1-3, AT).
This is why Peter was inspired to admonish us to GROW in THE GRACE and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “But grow in the grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever” (II Pet. 3:18).
GRACE IS BASED ON LOVE
Love is the basis for the relationship and fellowship between God the Father, Jesus Christ and the person who has been called to salvation. GOD IS LOVE. “The one who is not loving, does not know God, because GOD IS LOVE! In this way, the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this act, is THE LOVE! Not that we have loved God, rather, that He loved us and sent His Son as a propitiation for our own sins. Beloved, if God so loved us in this manner, we also are duty-bound to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; If we should be loving one another, God is dwelling in us and His own love is perfected in us” (I John 4:8-12, AT).
Our relationship with God MUST be based on LOVE! “You shall LOVE the Lord your God with ALL your heart, and with ALL your soul, and with ALL your mind, and with ALL your strength: this is the first [that is, the PRIMARY] commandment” (Mk. 12:30). LOVE is the FOUNDATION of grace and without this foundation there is NOTHING!
As such then, GRACE is the primary quality or attribute; the first extension or expression of GOD’S LOVE. Therefore, GRACE, is the primary quality and function of the spiritual relationship and the fellowship between God the Father and the person He calls through Jesus Christ.
THE NEW TESTAMENT
DEFINITION OF GRACE
GRACE, as revealed in the New Testament, has a broad meaning and application. GRACE comes from the Greek word, “CHARIS”, which means: “God’s divine, gracious, favor and blessing; gracious care, help, goodwill, benefit, gift, goodness, benefaction and endowment” (Arnt & Gingrich, Greek Lexicon) Grace, therefore, is a multifaceted word, showing many aspects of God the Father’s gracious LOVE as mercifully manifested through Jesus Christ.
GOD THE FATHER’S GRACE
ONLY COMES THROUGH JESUS CHRIST
The GRACE of God, as revealed through Jesus Christ, was prophesied by the prophets of old. “In this, you are greatly rejoicing yourselves, but if it is necessary, at the present time, you have been distressed, for a little while, by various trials. In order that, the proving of your faith, which is much more precious than gold, which is perishing, even though it is being tested by fire, that your faith may be found unto praise and honor and glory, at the revelation of Jesus Christ!
“Whom having not seen, you are loving; even though at the present time you are not seeing Him, you are believing Him, and you are rejoicing with unspeakable joy, and you have been praising Him. You are receiving the fulfillment of your faith, even the salvation of your souls; concerning which salvation, the prophets who have prophesied of THE GRACE which should come to you, have diligently searched out and intently inquired, searching into what way, and what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them was indicating, and testifying beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and those glories which would follow.
“To whom it was revealed, that not for themselves, but to us, they were ministering these things, which now have been announced to you by those who have preached the Gospel to you by the Holy Spirit, sent from heaven, into which things the angels are desiring to look. For this reason, have your minds prepared for action, being self-controlled, be completely hoping in THE GRACE, which is being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:6-13, AT).
The first coming of Jesus Christ was an expression of love by God the Father revealing His grace and salvation through the birth, life, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. that is why John wrote that “By this act IS THE LOVE.”
“For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him [the Greek: pisteuon eis, the one who is believing into Him. This belief is a profound interacting, dynamic faith and belief. This kind of belief is more than a mental concept, it is a spiritual interaction between the believer and Jesus Christ] should not perish, but may have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
Jesus Christ is the full expression of God’s GRACE and truth. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, (and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of GRACE and TRUTH...and of His fulness we all received, and grace upon grace... THE GRACE AND THE TRUTH came into being THROUGH JESUS CHRIST” (Jn.1:14,16-17 AT).
A host of spiritual blessings flow to each Christian as a result of God’s LOVE AND GRACE! It is like being under a protecting cover or a sheltering umbrella. The blessings of God’s grace include: God the Father’s personal calling, love, repentance, forgiveness, justification, sanctification; the receiving of God’s Holy Spirit, mercy, compassion, blessings, hope, faith, joy, salvation, redemption, keeping the commandments and laws of God in the spirit of the law, and finally God’s gift of eternal life as a very spirit son or daughter of God the Father born into the Family of god at the resurrection!
WE ARE CALLED THROUGH GRACE
God’s calling is the beginning of His grace in our lives. God the Father personally initiates our calling, spiritually drawing us to Him with His Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ.
“No one is able [Greek, dunamai to have the power or ability within oneself] to come to me (Jesus Christ) unless the Father who has sent me DRAW him [to reach down and draw out, to select]...” (Jn. 6:44).
Paul understood this and explains it very clearly: “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning CHOSEN you to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and the belief of the truth: whereunto He CALLED you by our Gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ...now our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through GRACE, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work” (IIThes. 1:13-17).
In Galatians 1:6, 15 he shows that he was called by GRACE. “...[God the Father] called me through the His GRACE.”
Here, the apostle Paul is showing that God’s calling is accomplished through the operation of God the Father’s GRACE. It is one of the functions of His mercy and gracious intervention in our lives.
WE BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST
Throughout the New Testament, belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is shown as absolutely necessary for salvation. John was inspired to write, “..these things have been written, so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, The Son of God, and that believing you may have life through His name” (Jn. 20:3 1, AT).
From where does this belief in Jesus Christ come? Do we have it or possess it ourselves? How is it that we come to believe? Do we work it up? No we do not!
In fact, we cannot work up this belief on our own. We believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior through God’s GRACE! “[Apollos]...when he was come [to those in Achaia], helped them much which had believed THROUGH GRACE” (Acts 18:27).
So we see, that it is through God’s GRACE, His blessing and goodness, which makes this belief possible.
REPENTANCE AND GRACE
God’s grace is magnanimously bestowed upon us by leading us to repentance. “Are you despising the riches of His kindness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the GRACIOUSNESS OF GOD LEADS YOU TO REPENTANCE?” (Rom. 2:4, AT).
So, it is through God’s grace that we are lead to see the vile wickedness of our own human nature. We are able, with God’s Spirit, to comprehend the enormity and consequences of our sins!
Through the grace of God, He leads us to understand to the depths of our being what sin really is! The apostle John wrote a clear definition of sin: “Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” A more literal translation is as follows: “Every one who is practicing sin, is also practicing lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness” (I John 3:4).
When we, through God’s GRACE, realize that our sins caused the death of Jesus Christ; He grants us repentance. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then has God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).
This kind of godly repentance is a result of God the Father’s personal intervention into our lives. While it might not be as direct as it was in Job’s life, where God personally talked to Job, nevertheless we can learn from his example and repentance.
“Then Job answered the Lord, and said, I know that You can do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from You...I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees You ‘[to understand God’s greatness, goodness, mercy and grace as compared to his own sinful wretchedness]. Wherefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 41:2,5-6).
This kind of deep, sincere repentance is part of God’s grace, and He alone can grant it to us.
GRACE AND THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS
When we, upon repentance, in faith, accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as full payment for our sins, those sins are put upon Him, because He alone paid the price for our sins through His crucifixion, death and resurrection. When through the grace of God we are led to this repentance, we must then be buried into the death of Jesus Christ through water baptism.
Paul wrote of this death, “Or are you ignorant that as many of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were co-buried with Him by the baptism into the death, so that, just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, in exactly the same way also, we should walk in newness of life. For if we have become co-joined together in the likeness of His death, so also shall we be in the likeness of His resurrection.
“Knowing this that our old man was co-crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that we should no longer to be enslaved to sin. Because the one who has died to sin has been justified from sin. Now if we died together with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him” (Rom. 6:1-8, AT).
At that point, every sin we have ever committed is totally and completely forgiven through God’s wonderful “GRACE”!
“In whom we have the redemption through His blood the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of HIS GRACE” (Eph. 1:7).
The apostle Paul wrote, “Because all have sinned and they are falling short of the glory of God; we are being justifiedgratuitously by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; Who God has displayed publicly as a propitiation through the faith in His blood, for a public declaration of His righteousness, in the respect of the passing over of the sins which had taken place before” (Rom. 3:23-25, AT).
However, because we are still in the flesh and have the weakness of the flesh, temptations and the pulls of human nature are still active, so that we still find ourselves sinning, although we don’t want to sin. But because we are still standing in this grace and have imputed to us the gift of the righteousness, God leads us to repent of our sins so that we may have forgiveness.
The apostle John wrote that we continue walking in God’s way, the GRACE of God is mercifully and unselfishly extended when we repent and confess our sins. “However, if we should be walking in the Light, as He is in the Light, we are having fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His own Son is cleansing us from every sin. If we should be saying that we do not have sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the Truth is not in us.
“If we should be confessing our own sins, He is faithful and righteous, in order that He may forgive us our sins and that He may purify us from every unrighteousness..., and yet, if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. Even He is the propitiation for our sins; and not only for our sins, but, also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 1:5-2:2, AT).
This merciful pardon and forgiveness of our sins, through the blood of Jesus Christ, reveals the goodness and graciousness of God the Father toward us. This is why we are not to continue to live in sin.
The apostle Paul wrote, “What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin, so that grace may abound? MAY IT NEVER BE! We who died to sin [through the GRACE and MERCY of God], how shall we live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2, AT).
JUSTIFICATION THROUGH GRACE
Justification is the act of God the Father by which we as sinners are justified of the penalty of sin. This process is called “the law of faith” (Rom. 3:27). Jesus Christ’s life and His sacrifice are imputed to those who are called by God! Upon true, heartfelt repentance, baptism by full immersion in water, the laying on of hands for the receiving of the Holy Spirit, He forgives our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. We are then accepted individually as if each one of us were Jesus Christ Himself! This justification means that we have been put into right standing spiritually with God the Father in heaven above. God the Father Himself imputes, meaning He is granting to us the very righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is the gift of righteousness which we receive through the abundance of the Father’s grace (Rom. 4:24; 5:17).
This is how a repentant sinner is justified from sins and put into RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD THE FATHER!
Of all the aspects of the, manifold GRACE of God, JUSTIFICATION with the subsequent gift of spiritual righteousness is most important, as long as we are living in the flesh. “For we ourselves, also, were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving different lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to HIS MERCY He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit-, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that BEING JUSTIFIED BY HIS GRACE, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).
This is the free gift of grace through Jesus Christ. “But shall not as the offense was, even so shall the free giftbe? Because if by the transgression of the one man many died, much more profoundly did the grace of God, and the gift of grace, which is by the one man Jesus Christ, abound unto many” Rom. 5:15, AT).
He alone was perfectly righteous in the spirit of the law, in perfect love and perfect devotion to God the Father. He alone qualified. Here is a profound spiritual truth: NOTHING CAN EVER SUBSTITUTE FOR THE LIFE, SACRIFICE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST--NOTHING! That is why justification comes through grace by Jesus Christ.
JUSTIFICATION BRINGS RECONCILIATION
The justification of past sins, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, reconciles us to God the Father. Not only does He forgive our sins, but God the Father actually imputes the RIGHTEOUSNESS of Jesus Christ to us.
“And all things are of God [the Father], who has reconciled us to HIMSELF by Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of THE RECONCILIATION. How that God [the Father] was in Christ [John. 14:10] RECONCILING the world to HIMSELF, not reckoning their trespasses to them, and having committed to us the message of reconciliation...we beseech you on behalf of Christ, BE RECONCILED TO GOD! For Him [Jesus Christ] who knew NO SIN, He [God the Father] has made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, so that WE MIGHT BECOME THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD in Him [Jesus Christ]” (II Cor. 5:18-22 AT).
God the Father alone can extend this gracious reconciliation to us. It is a gift of grace! Such a special relationship of having the righteousness of Jesus Christ freely imputed to us cannot be earned through any kind of works whatsoever. Jesus Christ has earned it for us! It is God the Father’s free gift through His GRACE!
“But God is demonstrating His very own LOVE to us, because that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, much more! Having been justified now by His own blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
“For if, while we were still enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His own Son, still greater yet, after being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Now not only this, but we are also boasting in God through Our Lord Jesus Christ by Whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:8-11, AT).
Through the operation of God the Father’s love and grace He redeems us from the death of sin and through His grace and Holy spirit expands into eternal life, through Jesus Christ!
ADAM’S SIN BROUGHT DEATH
GOD’S GRACE BRINGS ETERNAL LIFE
Paul contrasts the sin of Adam with the justification of God through His GRACE. The sin of Adam brought death to all men; the GRACE of God will bring ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ. “But shall not as the offense was, even so shall the free gift be? Because if by the transgression of the one man many died, much more profoundly did the grace of God, and the gift of grace, which is by the one man Jesus Christ, abound unto many. And the free gift [of grace] is not like that which came through the one who had sinned. Because on the one hand, judgment was by one unto condemnation. But on the other hand, the free gift [of grace] is to the justification of many offences.
“For if by the offence of one man [Adam’s sin] death reigned by the one, how much more profoundly shall it be to those whoare receiving the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, that they shall reign in life by the one Jesus Christ:). So therefore, just as by the one transgression, there resulted judgment unto condemnation to all men, exactly in the same way also, by the one act of righteousness [the life, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ] shall result in the justification unto life of all men.
“Because even as by the disobedience of the one man, many were made sinners, in exactly the same way also, by the obedience of the One many shall be made righteous. Moreover the law entered so that the transgression might abound; but where sin abounded, the grace did superabound, so that even as sin reigned unto death, in exactly the same way also, the grace might reignthrough righteousness unto life eternal through Jesus Christ” (Rom.5:15-21, AT).
In God the Father’s plan and in His time, as portrayed by the holy days, He will extend an opportunity to every person to receive the gift of forgiveness and grace unto eternal life.
CHRISTIANS STAND IN GRACE
Christians actually stand in a “continuous” state, or condition, of GRACE before God. “Therefore, after having been justified by faith [that is, put into right standing with God through the forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus Christ], we have peace with God through Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom also wenow have the access by faith into this grace in which we now stand, and we are boasting in the hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but now we also boast in tribulations, all the while we are realizing that tribulation brings forth endurance, and the endurance brings forth character; and the character brings forth hope. Now the hope of God never makes us ashamed, because the love of God has been poured out into our own hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given to us” (Rom. 5:1-5, AT).
Being in this continuous state of grace, the free gift of God, is how we are able to stand before God in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
“BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED”
The New Testament reveals that there are three phases or steps of salvation. All three phases of salvation are through GRACE, because “by grace you have been saved.”
The first phase is being saved from our past sins as revealed in Ephesians the Second Chapter. What is being discussed is not the resurrection aspect of salvation, but the beginning phase of salvation; being saved from our sins.
“And you has he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the children of disobedience; among whom also we all had the conduct of our lives in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind: and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in MERCY, for His GREAT LOVE wherewith He LOVED us, even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ, (by GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED)” (Eph. 2:1-5 AT).
From what had they been saved? The context gives the answer! They had been saved from “being dead in their sins”, from “the wrath of God” and from “the prince of the power of the air”--Satan and his influence in their lives. This is the FIRST phase of the process of salvation, through God’s grace.
It is true, Paul projects forward to the completion of salvation, in anticipation of being in the Kingdom of God, but he shows clearly that it is to occur in the ages to come, and NOT then or now.
Continuing in verse 6, “And has raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” But WHEN will this occur? Was it then, at that time? Is it now, at this time? When? The answer is given in verse 7! “That He might show in THE AGES TO COME, the surpassing riches of HIS GRACE in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (verse 7).
Jesus told the apostles that they would sit with Him at his table after He returned and brought the Kingdom of God. “And I appoint to you a kingdom, as My Father appointed to me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and may sit on thrones, [sitting in the heavenlies], judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Lk. 22:29-30).
Christians after the resurrection will actually sit in the heavenlies with Jesus Christ after his second coming. “And I saw thrones, and they that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: ..and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection: Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with HIM a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4-6).
Paul wants us to understand that we cannot save ourselves by any other means whatsoever, it is the gift of God. “For by grace you have been saved [from your past sins and trespasses and Satan the Devil] through faith; and this was not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, so that no one might boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should be walking in them” (Eph.2:5-10, AT).
The GRACE of God OBLIGATES US to live and walk in those GOOD WORKS. What are those good works? Jesus clearly defined them for us in the sermon on the mount as found in Matthew Five, Six and Seven.
The second phase of salvation is the process of Christian growth and overcoming. As we live GOD’S WAY of life, by every word of God, through the power of the Holly Spirit, we are developing godly character.
Paul told the Corinthians that they were being saved if they held fast and lived by the teachings of God! “But I am making it known to you, brethren, the gospel which I announced to you: which also you received; in which also you are standing, through which also YOU ARE BEING SAVED [Greek: soozesthe, “are being saved”] if you are holding fast the message [of the gospel] I preached to you...” (I Cor. 15:1-2, AT).
This is the part of salvation which is to be worked out by the individual with the power of the Holy Spirit in them. This is done daily as he or she grows in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and lives in God’s way. “Wherefore, my beloved, as you have ALWAYS OBEYED, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, BE WORKING OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION with fear and trembling. For it is God Who is working in you both to will and to work according to His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13, AT).
Once we are under God’s grace, we are to strive to do God’s good pleasure. “Wherefore, also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the GRACE of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thes. 1:11-12).
The third phase of salvation is the resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ when we “shall be saved.” “Therefore, when we were still without strength, at the appointed time Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will anyone die for a righteous man; and perhaps someone might even have the courage to die for a good man. But God is demonstrating His very own love to us, because that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. “Therefore, much more! Having been justified now by His own blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, while we were still enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His own Son, still greater, after being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:6-10, AT).
Paul further clarified it when he wrote “..and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:28, AT). At the resurrection the process of salvation will be complete. “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain THE SALVATION, which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (II Tim. 2:11, AT).
Just before he died, the apostle Paul knew his salvation would be completed at the resurrection. “Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day [the day of the resurrection]: not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (II Tim. 4:8).
We receive salvation through the grace of God. As we have seen the process is accomplished in these three phases. One, “You have been saved.” Two, “You are being saved.” Three, “You shall be saved.”
The ULTIMATE blessing of God’s GRACE is ETERNAL LIFE through the resurrection. This can only be comprehended as Paul expressed it, “The SURPASSING RICHES OF GRACE”!
We need to deeply appreciate God’s LOVE and His GRACE with all our hearts. We need to draw close to God the Father and Jesus Christ in prayer, in worship, in thanksgiving for His gracious GOODNESS and His loving KINDNESS. We need to rejoice in God’s salvation which He extends to us.
CHRISTIANS WHO ARE UNDER GRACE ARE TO BE
KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD
With a partial knowledge of what Paul wrote in the book of Romans, most Protestants make the fatal mistake of assuming that law and commandment-keeping are no longer required. Hence, they wrongly reason that because the “righteousness of God” is imputed as a gift of God, that all the laws and commandments of God “have been done away with, abolished, nailed to the cross, or that Jesus Christ so perfectly fulfilled the law for us, that as Christians we have absolutely no laws or commandments whatsoever to keep—Christ did it all for us.”
But such is not the case at all! The apostle Paul made that abundantly clear! He wrote, “Since indeed it is the one God Who shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith, ARE WE THEN ABOLISHING THE LAW [or making the law of no effect, or nailing the law to the cross] THROUGH FAITH? MAY IT NEVER BE!! WE ARE ESTABLISHING LAW” (Rom. 3:27).
Here is how we are establishing law through faith and grace. As bond servants of Jesus Christ, standing in the grace of God, we are to live in this righteousness of God and conform to a higher spiritual standard in keeping the laws and commandments of God. No longer are we to keep the laws and commandments of God in the letter of the law--God requires that of everyone in the world. He requires a higher standard for us! We are to “serve in the newness of the spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (Rom. 7:6). Jesus said, “If you LOVE me, BE KEEPING my commandments” (John 14:15). The Greek is even more emphatic! The with the proper emphasis it should read, “If you are loving Me, BE KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS, NAMELY MINE”! Jesus continued on to show the basic spiritual condition of those who do not keep His commandments. “Anyone who IS NOT LOVING ME, does not keep MY WORDS and the message is NOT mine, but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:24, AT).
The apostle John further amplified how we are to keep the commandments of God based on love. “In this way, we are knowing that we are loving the children of God, when we areloving God and keeping His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we should be keeping His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:2-3, AT). The truth is that none of God’s commandments are burdensome, because they are based on love (Mat. 22:37-41).
The Book of Revelation shows that commandment-keeping and the faith of Jesus actually go hand-in-hand. “Here are they who are keeping THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD AND HAVE THE FAITH OF JESUS” (Rev. 14:12 AT). this is a prophetic description of the true believers in God at the end of the age just before the return of Jesus Christ--the very days in which we are now living!
When it is properly understood, in the light of the New Testament, keeping the commandments and laws of God are part of God’s GRACE! Just as the apostle Paul wrote that through faith by grace “we are establishing law.”
Think for a moment! One of the aspects of the GRACE of God is to have Christ in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Additionally, we are to have the mind of Christ. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).
What does this mean?
The answer is found in Hebrews. We are to have the laws and commandments of God written into our hearts and minds. “This is the covenant [the New Covenant through Jesus Christ, the covenant of grace] I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR HEARTS, AND IN THEIR MINDS WILL I INSCRIBE THEM” (Heb. 10:16, AT).
Conversion of the mind, through the grace of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, removes the hostility and enmity of the carnal mind towards the commandments and laws of God. Then the laws and commandments of God can be inscribed upon the tables of our hearts. “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who are not walking after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For those who are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh: but those who are after the Spirit are minding the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity [an enemy] against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God, dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His” (Rom. 8:4-9, AT).
Regardless of what men profess with their lips, those who are not doing as Jesus said, DO NOT even belong to Him. “Not every one who is saying to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but the one who is doing [practicing] the will of My Father which is in heaven.
“Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? And in your name have wenot cast out devils? And in Your name have we not done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from me, you who are working lawlessness [the transgression of God’s commandments]” (Mat. 7:21-23, AT).
As we can see from the Scriptures that the GRACE of God obligates us to keep the commandments and the law of God in the spirit and the full intent of God’s laws and commandments as magnified by Jesus Christ. This is how grace truly establishes law.
There is a final blessing of God’s grace for those who are keeping the commandments of God. “Blessed are they who are keeping His commandments, that they may have the right to the TREE OF LIFE, and enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14 AT).
GOD GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE
Grace cannot be earned, but God willingly and enthusiastically gives it to the humble; those who seek His will. “But, He is giving greater grace, and this is the reason, it says, God sets Himself against the proud, but, He is giving grace to the humble. Therefore, subject yourselves to God! Resist the Devil! And he shall flee from you.. Draw near to God, and He shall draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded! Be grieved and mourn and weep, let your laughter be turned into grieving, and your joy into gloominess. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He shall exalt you!” (Jas. 4:6-10, AT).
As we yield ourselves to God in repentance and humbly seek His will and His way, God’s grace will be poured out to us. This happened with the early Christians and apostles as recorded in the book of Acts. “When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness, and the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul...and with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and GREAT GRACE was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).
This is the kind of GRACE we all need in our lives—individually and collectively.
GOD’S GRACE CAN BE PERVERTED AND REJECTED
Contrary to the teachings of some theologians and religionists, a person can reject the GRACE of God. Such a rejection can happen in two ways.
The first way one can fall from GRACE through sin and the rejection of God’s salvation, his birthright in the kingdom of God. “Looking diligently lest any man fall from the GRACE of God; [by not yielding to God’s correction], lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For you know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he WAS REJECTED; for he found no place of repentance [no way to change his mind], though he sought it carefully with tears” (Heb. 12:15-17).
The second way one can reject God’s GRACE is by turning grace into license to do evil and sin. It is a PERVERSION OF GOD’S GRACE.
False teachers entered stealthily into the congregations of God in order to pervert the grace of God and turn it into licentiousness—indulgences to sin. Notice Jude’s warning when he wrote to the brethren: “Beloved, when personally exerting all my diligence to write to you concerning the common salvation, I was compelled to write to you, exhorting you to fervently fight for the faith, which once for all time has been delivered to the saints. For certain men have stealthily crept in; these are the ones who a long time ago have been written about, condemning them to this judgment. They are ungodly men, who are perverting the grace of our God into licentiousness, and are denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3-4, AT).
This is a lawless grace, which denies the need to keep the commandments of God. This is the same kind of grace that Catholics and Protestants believe and teach. The leaders of Christianity today need to remember the words of warning that Jesus spoke to the scribes and Pharisees during His ministry. Like these self-righteous leaders of the Jews, the leaders of the Christian churches have adopted traditions and dogmas that conflict with the commandments of God. A close examination of the history of Christianity will show that the traditional doctrines and practices of the churches of this world are not the teachings of Jesus Christ. True Christianity, as originally taught by Jesus Christ and His apostles, was subverted from within by false teachers of lawlessness. The teachings of these “ungodly men” that Jude and Peter wrote about were passed down in the writings of the “early church fathers” and were accepted by the Roman church as authoritative traditions. Through the centuries the Roman church grew in power, using its influence to stamp out every remaining vestige of the true teachings of Jesus Christ. After a power struggle between the bishop of Rome and the bishop of Constantinople, the church split into the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches.
As the influence of the Orthodox church dominated the East, so the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church molded the thinking of the entire Western world. The authority of Catholic doctrine and tradition was not seriously challenged until the time of Martin Luther. When Martin Luther rejected the corruption and lawlessness of the Roman Catholic Church, he appeared to be seeking the truth of God. He labored diligently to translate the Scriptures into the German language so that the common people could read and learn from the Word of God. But the religion that developed as a result of Martin Luther’s teachings, known as Lutheranism, did not restore the true teachings of Jesus Christ. The reformation that Martin Luther initiated was never completed, because he rejected the Second and Fourth Commandments. As a result, the new religion that he founded began to promote another form of lawlessness.
Luther taught that a person who had been saved through the grace of God could not lose salvation, regardless of the degree or intensity of the sins that might be committed. This perverse teaching is clearly expressed in a letter written by Luther: “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your faith in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where righteousness can exist….No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery a thousand times each day” (Martin Luther, Saemmtliche Schriften, Letter 99, 1 August 1521, translated by Erika Flores in The Wittenberg Project, The Wartburg Segment, as published in Grace and Knowledge, Issue 8, September 2000, Article “Ecclesiasticus: The Wisdom of Ben-Sirach,” p. 27).
The words of Martin Luther reveal the depth of lawlessness to which many religious leaders have descended. This teaching is the epitome of the perverted “grace” that Jude condemned, which rejects the commandments of God and grants license to commit sin with no limitations whatsoever. Luther’s teaching concerning murder and adultery is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ, Who magnified and greatly expanded the application of the Sixth and Seventh Commandments.
The promoters of lawlessness have succeeded in deceiving the vast majority of professing Christians into accepting a false grace. As the New Testament shows, this distorted view of grace does not lead to salvation. In the Judgment Day, the teachers of lawlessness, who have been honored as religious leaders and have even done noteworthy deeds in the name of Jesus Christ, will be rejected: “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy through Your name? And did we not cast out demons through Your name? And did we not perform many works of power through Your name?’ And then I will confess to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who work lawlessness’ ” (Matt. 7:22-23, AT).
The workers of lawlessness will depart into the lake of fire to suffer the judgment of eternal death, from which there is no resurrection: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8, AT).
HOW WE ARE TO LIVE IN GRACE
Because God’s GRACE and blessings lead to eternal life, how then should we be living? God inspired Paul to write the answer for us in Romans the sixth chapter. He shows the complete way of life we are to live in absolute, loving dedication to God the Father and Jesus Christ walking in obedient faith through grace.
- What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin, so that grace may abound?
- MAY IT NEVER BE! We who died to sin, how shall we live any longer therein?
- Or are you ignorant that we, as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into His death?
- Therefore, we were buried with Him by baptism into death; so that, just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, in the same way, we also should walk in newness of life.
- For if we have been conjoined together in the likeness of His death, so also shall we be in the likeness of His resurrection.
- Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that we should no longer be enslaved to sin;
- Because the one who has died to sin has been justified from sin.
- Now if we died together with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
- Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has any dominion over Him.
- For when He died, He died unto sin once for all; but in that He lives, He lives unto God.
- In the same way also, you should indeed reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God through Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Therefore, do not let sin rule in your mortal body to obey it in the lusts thereof.
- Likewise, do not yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin; rather, yield yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
- For sin shall not rule over you, because you are not under law, but under grace.
- What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? MAY IT NEVER BE!
- Don’t you realize that to whom you yield yourselves as servants to obey, you are servants of the one you obey, whether it is of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
- But thanks be to God, that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you;
- And having been delivered from sin, you became the servants of righteousness.
- I speak from a human point of view because of the weakness of your flesh; for just as you once yielded your members in bondage to uncleanness and to lawlessness unto lawlessness, so now in the same way, yield your members in bondage to righteousness unto sanctification.
- For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness.
- Therefore, what fruit did you have then, in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end result of those things is death.
- But now, that you have been delivered from sin, and have become servants of God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end result is eternal life.
- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:1-23, AT).
Now we can clearly see how we are to live our lives before God the Father. We are to do so as if we were alive from the dead; in willing, loving yieldedness to God to live according to the will and grace of God.
The fullest expression and description of the manifold GRACE of God, which bring out every facet of God’s glorious GRACE, is found in Ephesians the First Chapter. Every thing that the apostle Paul speaks of in this chapter is part of and is an expression of God the Father’s GRACE through JESUS CHRIST!
- Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.
- Grace and peace be to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly things with Christ;
- According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, in order that we might be holy and blameless before Him in love;
- Having predestinated us for sonship to Himself through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His own will,
- To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us objects ofHis grace in the Beloved Son;
- In Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins, according to the riches of His grace,
- Which He has made to abound toward us in all wisdom and intelligence,
- Having made known to us the secret of His own will, according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself;
- That in the divine plan for the fulfilling of the times, He might bring all things together in Christ, both the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth;
- Yes, in Him, in Whom we also have obtained an inheritance, having been predestinated according to His purpose, Who is working out all things according to the counsel of His own will,
- That we might be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in the Christ;
- In Whom you also trusted after hearing the Word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation; in Whom also, after believing, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
- Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
- For this cause, I also, after hearing of the faith in the Lord Jesus that is among you, and the love toward all the saints,
- Do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
- That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
- And that the eyes of your mind may be enlightened, in order that you may comprehend what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
- And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the inner working of His mighty power,
- Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
- Far above every principality and authority and power and lordship, and every name that is named—not only in this age, but also in the age to come;
- For He has subordinated all things under His feet, and has given Him to be head over all things to the Church,
- Which is His body—the fullness of Him Who fulfills all things in every way” (Eph 1:1-23, AT).
For those who are living under the grace of God, he or she is to continue to love God the Father and Jesus Christ, live in His grace by faith and live by every word of God as magnified by Jesus Christ. Then at the resurrection each faithful person will receive the greatest gift of God the Father’s superabounding grace--eternal life in glory and splendor.
What a wonderful blessing that God has granted this magnificent gift of righteousness--the very own righteousness of Jesus Christ through His grace--being written into our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit of God the Father! What a tremendous expression and demonstration of God’s love and grace for us! May this inspire us to love God the Father and Jesus Christ even more and to make our calling and election sure!
For those who desire to be under the true GRACE OF GOD, then you need to repent of your sins to God the Father, asking His forgiveness! God the Father will extend His GRACE to you, if you seek Him with ALL YOUR HEART. Then you need to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and accept His sacrifice as full payment for your sins, asking God to blot out your sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. Next, you need to be baptized, according to the biblical command, and be buried by baptism into the death of Jesus Christ! Only then can God’s saving grace be imputed to you for eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
God the Father, and Jesus Christ, are waiting to extend grace and eternal salvation to you.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
Now that you understand the GRACE of God, WHAT WILL YOU DO?
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you desire further information concerning repentance and baptism, please direct your request to:
Fred R. Coulter
Christian Biblical Church of God
P.O. Box 1442
Hollister, California 95024-1442 USA