The Works of Grace | Grace of God Series #7
by Fred R. Coulter—April 13, 1985
- | Audio | [Up]Track 1 or Download
This is the last in the series of the Grace of God in the Bible, and I want to review just a little bit to mention that the grace of God needs to be the whole umbrella under which everything that God does fits. Everything. And it emanates from the love of God and how God deals with us. And I think that too many times people get all involved in things relating to law more than it is to grace. You see, what the Bible has is this: you have the grace of God and everything is under that. Then you’ll have many limiting factors so that you don’t go out on a limb and turn the grace of God into licentiousness.
Let’s just review a couple of things. Let’s go to Ephesians 2, and this is really the heart and core of the central theme of being saved by grace. Now let’s understand something that we need to look to in relationship to the grace of God, the salvation of God, and so forth, and that is the meaning of grace is God’s goodness and kindness. God’s gracious gift. And whatever we have from God is a gift. And you stop and think about everything that we have that we receive from God, it is all a gift. We don’t earn a thing. We didn’t earn to be born. We didn’t earn to be called. We didn’t earn anything as far as salvation is concerned. Now we didn’t earn to be born here verses being born in Africa. We didn’t earn to be either a man or a woman. All of that came without any of our say so or input. When God calls us it is with God’s grace. He chooses us. That’s why there are a lot of people running around seeing if they can find God, and seeing if they can choose God. But unless God calls them then there is no choosing of God. And when God calls us it isn’t by our own works, though God requires works that we are to do, and certainly we need to have them. And once you understand the grace of God and understand why God has done the things that He has, and the way He has, then who would want to go out and sin and break the laws of God? You see, it becomes a whole internal motivating moving way of living.
“And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;…” (Eph. 2:1). Now quicken means to be made alive. When you are in a state of sin you are as good as dead. That means everyone walking around living in a state of sin, they are as good as dead. Because unless God calls them, which God is merciful to call us. The wages of sin is death. And that is what is going to happen.
“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:…” That’s interesting. The prince of the power of the air. Who’s one of the famous singers now? What’s his name? Prince. And he’s the most pornographic retched person around as far as music goes. Anyone that listens to that they need to have their head examined. “…The prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our [conduct] conversation 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 [has] loved us,…” Now you see the operation of love then transmits down to us in the form of grace. “Even when we were dead in sins, [He] hath quickened us together with Christ…” In other words the minute that Jesus sacrifice was accepted by God the Father it was accepted as far as God is concerned for the sins of the whole world. But they can’t be forgiven to each individual unless three things happen:
- God forgives them.
- God calls them.
- They repent of their sins.
All of those have to take place. Now it says here, “…(by grace ye are saved;)” (vs. 2-5). Now this means by grace you have been saved. Now a person, in the way that the Baptists would take it, they say once saved always saved. That is only true if you remain in grace, because we will see a little later you can fall from grace through sin. And salvation is a three-fold thing:
- You have been saved from your past sins. And that’s what it’s talking about here. When you’ve repented and been baptized you have been saved from your past sins.
- As long as you are walking in the Gospel of God you are being saved from your sins.
- And salvation ultimately will be at the resurrection.
It’s interesting on this tape that you’ll be getting about salvation that salvation, redemption, and deliverance all are part of an operation of God, and describe the same thing of salvation.
“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places [or that is, in heavenly things] in Christ Jesus:” (vs. 6). Now that’s not something that takes place now. We are not in the heavenlies right now in the sense that we are with God. However, we in having God’s Spirit then have the Spirit of God which comes from God. And where is God? God is in heaven, isn’t He? And He sends His Spirit. So that means that when we have the Spirit of God, God looks upon us as if we are there already though we are not, because the operation of God that calls things that aren’t as though they were.
But here’s the key, verse 7, it shows us when. “That in the ages to come [that’s when Christ returns] He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Now Christ Jesus means the Anointed Savior. “For by grace [have you been saved] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves…” Now that is one lesson that we are all going to learn. It is though we can have desire, though we want to do the things that God wants, it is still not of ourselves. We can’t walk up to God and say, “Well God, I’ve never done this, or I’ve never done that, and I’ve never done the other thing so therefore You need to give me salvation.” No, there is not one thing that we can do to earn it because it is eternal life and salvation comes from God. However we are to have good works. We’ll see what they are here in just a minute. “…It is the gift of God” (vs. 7-8).
Now notice verse 9. “Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship…” We’re the workmanship of God. And I think that that would help us all understand each other a whole lot better if we would realize that. We are all the workmanship of God. “…Created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Now, living under the grace of God includes keeping the commandments because Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” It includes the good works, which God said that we should do, which come under the umbrella commandment of “love your neighbor as yourself.” And the good works of loving God, the good work of helping and serving each other, those are all the things that God wants. But the best work that can be worked in us is the inner working of God’s Holy Spirit. And that’s the best good work that can be done and we are to walk in them. And you know, our way of living is a walk of life, and is typified by the Days of Unleavened Bread that we walk out of sin, we walk out of Egypt, we walk out of the things of this world and walk toward God and walk toward the light.
Now let’s continue on where we left off last time. Let’s go to James 4:6. Now there’s something that’s very interesting that God does. The principle is: he who has shall receive. Remember the one who went out and worked with the talents, developed them and doubled them? One got five with the five, and the other one got two with the two, and the other one with one got nothing. And to whom did God give the one? He gave it to the one that had developed the five. In one parable it’s five and in another parable it’s ten. So, likewise once we receive of the grace of God we are to receive more of God’s grace on a continual basis. As I mentioned it is a supply of grace that God gives to us.
Now let’s come here to James 4:6. “But He giveth more grace.” That is to overcome the things of the world, the sins that are listed up here above. “Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” In other words God’s gracious gift of love and mercy and forgiveness. And most of the time when you ask people, “What is the grace of God?”, they will say, “The forgiveness of sin.” That’s part of it. It is also the blessings of God. It is everything that God does for us. So He’s willing to give us more grace if we come to God in the right way.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (vs. 7). Well how then are we going to be able to resist the devil and temptations? By drawing close to God, receiving more of His grace. And that grace in the faith will then cause the devil to leave us. I know, just by experience, and I can say it is true, I hope that you find it so, the more that you draw close to God in this attitude the less you are going to find yourself sinning, and sinning, and repeating the same sins, the sins of the mind and all that. Things will fall into place much better because God is giving you more of His grace so you won’t end up doing that.
Now let’s go to 1 Peter 1:6, and we’re going to see here about grace and salvation, where they come together. You can’t have salvation without grace, and you can’t have grace without salvation. “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold [trials] temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold than perisheth…” And I think we can all live those things in our lives, can’t we? And we can all look back and see how those things work out that way. “…Though it be tried with fire, might be found unto [the] praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls [that means your whole life, your whole being]. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you” (1 Pet. 1:6-10). Now the grace of God and the way that God deals with us is absolutely fantastic. And I think if we understood it more we would treat each other a whole lot better, I’m sure of that.
Now down to verse 11, “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy [Spirit] Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (vs. 11-12). So at the resurrection if we see some of the angels we can ask them, “Well what was it that you were desiring to look into?” When we’re resurrected and meet Christ and all the saints we’re going to have a lot of questions that we’re going to ask them. “Well, what was it like at this point?” You know, “What happened there?” It will be very interesting. We will see some of the angels and we’ll ask them what it was they were desiring to look into.
“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (vs. 13). Now we can see with this that the grace of God has, as I mentioned before, a broad application. The grace of God to be given to us. And it brings hope, and it brings salvation, and it brings truth.
Now just in passing, let’s go to 1 Peter 5:5. This is the parallel account that we have in James 4:6-7 that we just covered there. But it says the same thing here, that we are to yield ourselves to God. He gives grace to the humble, and how we are to resist the devil in that particular way. There are some other categories, I realize this is kind of a potpourri if you haven’t followed through all of the other series on it this will not be exactly the easiest thing to follow.
All right, now there is another aspect of the grace of God, which is very important for us to realize, and that is the grace of God as it refers to a ministry or work that a minister is doing. Now let’s go to Acts 14. And it is by the grace of God that we are able to preach the grace of God. In other words whenever… And I’ve seen this as a minister, I have seen that when I really prepare and do the things I need to, that God gives an extra amount of His Spirit to do the things that are necessary as far as preaching. And that is part of God’s grace. Here, Acts 14:25, “And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalie: and thence sailed to Antioch from whence they had been recommended…”, or that is committed. The word recommended means “to be given to”. Given to, committed to. Not must recommended. They have been committed to or given to “…the grace of God for the work which they [should fulfill] fulfilled.” Now there it shows very importantly and gives a greater degree of understanding of serving and teaching and ministering and things like this. It is of the grace of God for the work which they were to fulfill. So, “When they were come, and gathered the Church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples” (Acts 15:25-28).
Now let’s go to Romans 5:1. Here again we find concerning the grace of God and the ministry in preaching and teaching and things like this. Ok, let’s back up here just a bit so we can get the story flow. Romans 1:3, “Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:” (Rom. 1:3-4). And that’s the key thing. Remember in the Feast of Unleavened Bread it is not just the Passover but it is the whole feast. It starts with the Passover and then you have the whole feast, and remember that the resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred during that time. And if, it says in 1 Corinthians 15, that if Christ is not raised then you are dead in your sins. So He declared then to be the Son of God with power “…according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
Now notice verse 5. If you carry the authority and the weight of what he just said into verse 5, “By Whom we have received grace and apostleship…” So there grace and apostleship in teaching and preaching are tied right together. We’re going to see one place where Paul says, “You were saved by my grace.” Now does that mean that Paul gave grace? No, that means by his ministry. By the grace of his ministry, which is part of the grace of God. He says, “By Whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name.”
Now let’s drop down to 1 Corinthians 15:10. “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” Now let’s go back and see that he is talking about the apostles. Here in verse 7 he says, “After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not [fit] meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain…” And so he’s talking about his work of the ministry. And of course there has to be a tremendous amount of grace, doesn’t it? Because he understood what he was doing after he did it, that he was persecuting the Church of God and causing people to be killed. And he thought for sure he was doing what was right. He was getting letters from the high priest. Now you can’t have any greater authority than letters from the high priest.
Let’s liken it to owning property. If you have title to property you go take it and possess it and own it and no one can deny you. Well here, he had authority of the high priest. Well didn’t the high priest know what he was doing? No, but he thought he did. Weren’t they trying put out “the way” of the Christian life? Yes. And he caused people to be killed. All right, now Paul didn’t do that after he was converted. But he said, “By the grace of God…” How much will God’s grace cover? It will cover an awful lot. How bad can a person be before conversion? I don’t know. That is God’s judgment. We’ll look and see what part of the unpardonable sin is. I might have to give a whole sermon on that sometime, the unpardonable sin, because people can get to the point that they think they have done it, and they may have not committed the unpardonable sin, they may be knowingly living in sin and really not wanting to, but really not wanting to change. But that is not he unpardonable sin. You really haven’t rejected God, but nevertheless, tremendous thing, I don’t know of anyone who has killed people in the Church of God that God has subsequently called, except Paul. So he says, “By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all [that is all the other apostles]: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” So then he goes on explaining about the resurrection.
Let’s go back to Romans 15:15. We’ll see that the apostle Paul had an awful lot to say concerning the grace of God and his preaching, and the grace in his apostleship. “Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God.” Now he says it a little more directly here to who is he writing. What is he writing? He’s telling them what they should be doing. And it’s interesting that in the book of Romans there is more discussion concerning the grace of God than any other book, and showing why we need the grace of God, why human nature is the way it is, and why we need that forgiveness. And so he says that he is writing this to them because of the grace of God that was given to him.
Now verse 16. “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles…” So you see that’s why a ministry cannot be, just because people appoint them or people elect them, or because a friend of so and so, or because there may necessarily be whatever other circumstances, but it is definitely a calling by the grace of God. He said clearly here, “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy [Spirit] Ghost.” And as you know the whole purpose of going through this in-depth is so that we can cover all the aspects of grace and to cover as many scriptures as possible. Now I’m going to have all these scriptures in these different categories, and when this final tape comes out everyone will receive a typed copy of all the listing of grace in the New Testament, because I’m not going to cover every one. I won’t have time to do that.
Let’s go to 2 Corinthians 1:12. Here again he’s referring to the ministry that he had and the work that he was doing. “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God…” So Paul looked at everything that he did, which is true, in his life as being part of the grace of God. His ministry, his life, what he was doing, and everything. And it says, “…We have had our [conduct] conversation in the world, and more abundantly [toward] you.”
Now let’s turn to Ephesians 3. This study is a little bit different than just going through in a sermon type thing, but it is to go through and look at all of the scriptures covering a certain aspect of it. So here we are looking at the aspect of grace in relationship to the ministry of the apostle Paul, and as it refers to a ministry then to all of the other ministers of God who are truly ministers indeed.
All right, Ephesians 3:2. “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.” So that grace of God came from God to Paul, and then to the people. Not that Paul was dispensing God’s grace, in other words that everything had to go through Paul in order for them to get to God. No, that is not true. But the ministry that he had in teaching and preaching to them was the dispensation of the grace of God, which was given to him.
Now we can just continue right on down to verse 7. “How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery…” That could well be translated “secret”, the secret of God. It is kept secret from the world. It’s not a mystery in the sense that the Catholics think of a mystery or the mystery of whatever they are supposed to be doing, see. It is the secret of God not revealed to the world. “…(As I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the [secret] mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace…” (vs. 3-7). Now that’s an interesting statement, the gift of grace.
Now what is the gift of grace? I’ll just review it. The gift of grace is the gift that God gives to each one of us, which is the righteousness of Christ. In order to qualify for eternal life it can’t be on our righteousness. Because even though we are keeping the commandments of God from an internal point of view, because we have the law of sin and death, we cannot be truly righteous. Now for example: if you had a gold coin, and if you’re doing like a lot of them are now, so if you buy any gold coins be careful. Buy one of these things to test it, because in Syria and Saudi Arabia they are making South African kugerands just a little bit bigger than the regular South African kugerands but they are made with an overlay of gold and inside is lead. Now we can liken that counterfeit to human nature. It may look good on the outside but it’s got lead on the inside. There is no way that that can ever, ever, ever, ever, ever qualify to be 100% pure gold. It is an impossibility. So, with human beings. We have the law of sin and death in us so it is impossible for us to ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be wholly righteous on our own. Cannot be done. So the gift of grace is the giving to us by imputing to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ. So when God views us He views us as He views Jesus Christ. Now we didn’t earn it, any more than you can change that counterfeit coin, that the inside is lead, into 100% gold. Nor did we earn anything that God gave to us. He gave it to us. It is His gift. Now that is the gift of grace.
Now also he’s referring to the gift of grace referring to his ability in preaching. And as we just saw, in writing, where he was writing to them by the grace of God. So it is the gift of grace of God, which is “…given unto me by the effectual working of His power.” And then here again he says, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints…”, and so forth, “…is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…” (vs. 7-8). And there again he makes it very clear concerning his ministry based on grace.
Now let’s just go to one more scripture, Philippians 1:7, and here’s the scripture that I mentioned concerning Paul’s grace. I know the first time I read that I thought, “Boy, I wonder if that’s a mistranslation.” See, because once you have any understanding of God’s grace you know it has to come from God. Must come from God, otherwise it’s not God’s grace. So when I read this, I kind of did a double-take. You know, you’re eyes kind of cross and you think about it, and you go on. You can know this for sure. There is nothing in the Bible that is wrong, so therefore there is a proper explanation of it. And we’ll have a proper explanation of it here.
Let’s go back to verse 6. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you…” Who’s doing the works in us? God is, through the Holy Spirit. The inner workings of God’s Spirit. The good work in us. “…Will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” So have no doubt, God is not going to give up on you. He’s performing it until the day of Jesus Christ, if we be willing. “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel…” Now notice this last phrase. “…Ye all are partakers of my grace.” Now that means they were partakers of his ministry, is what it means. They didn’t partake of grace because God gave it to Paul, and then Paul gave it to them. No, Paul came preaching the gospel of the grace of God. Through grace Paul was given the ministry. Through the grace that God gave them, coupled with the ministry of the apostle Paul, then they had their standing in salvation through the gospel. So that’s what that means in Philippians 1:7.
Now let’s go to another category. And this is the grace of God, which is the calling of God. The grace of God and the calling of God. Let’s go Romans 11:5. God is the One Who does the selecting. That’s why you see all these great revival campaigns on television, and they all come screaming down and they all give their heart to the Lord. They’re all emotionally stirred up, and I’m sure a lot of them are really wanting to do what is right. And I’m sure that many of them are totally sincere in what they’re doing, but why is it that it never follows in a lasting way? Well, because God didn’t do the calling, the preacher did. He said, “You all come.” You have to answer the call of God, not the call of the preacher.
Verse 5, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” Now strange as it may seem, you go back and you analyze all through the Bible, it’s been hard for people to understand it. Let’s just stop here and we’ll take a little diversion, and we’ll come back.
Everything that God has done in the calling of people and working of people is an election of grace. Every bit of it. You go back to Abraham. Go back to Genesis 12. When God called Abraham, it was God’s choice to call him. So it is by grace. Now it doesn’t say it exactly that way, but that’s what it is because everything God does is by His grace, even the getting rid of the wicked from the point of view that it spares the righteous. So here’s how God called him.
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee” (Gen. 12:1). So they had to get up and just leave everything. God didn’t call Nimrod. So Nimrod wanted to go his way, see, and become the great lord. These people over here in Genesis 11 said, “Well, we’re going to build a tower and make us a name.” And God didn’t have any part of that. He destroyed the tower of Babel, and He calls Abraham, and He says, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great [see, so it’s not what men will, but what God does]; and thou shalt be a blessing: and [by grace God says] I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee…” (vs. 2-3). And that’s exactly the way it is.
Then by grace Isaac was born, isn’t that correct, at the time God chose. That was by grace. And then Isaac, when he had his two sons Jacob and Essau, by grace God chose Jacob rather than Essau. And then when you come down, God by grace chose Joseph. By grace chose Ephriam and Manasseh. Now that means every blessing that flows from there, it’s by God’s grace by promise, which He cannot break, so therefore people are receiving the things by grace undeservedly. Do we live in this land because of the grace of God then? Yes, we do live in this land because of the grace of God. Did we earn it? No. Did we deserve it? No, we don’t deserve anymore than the Aborigine living down in whatever place, wherever in the world, plague infested, either the jungle or the desert, it doesn’t make one bit of difference. God did not choose them. Because God chooses us does that mean we are better than the other person? No. It is God’s choosing, so it is all in God’s plan. Then you just go right on down. The Exodus was an act of grace. The giving of the Ten Commandments was a act of grace all the way through. Those things are of the grace of God.
Now let’s go back to Romans 11, and you can study all of the Bible with that in mind, that everything that has been done is by the grace of God. Now, we have an example here in Romans 11:5. Back in verse 4 he’s talking about, remember when Elijah, and Elijah said, “Oh, God I’m all alone and there is none.” And so He said, “No”, in verse 4, “I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.” God has a lot more going than we think.
“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no more of works…” (Rom. 11:5-6). Now this is a famous scripture that all Protestants like to use to show you don’t need to do anything because if it is by grace then it can’t be by works. Now that’s not what it’s saying. It’s talking about the election of grace is not a result of your work. Now do you understand that? So in other words, because God calls you does not mean that He does it because you have done something to deserve it. That’s God’s election of grace. It’s not of a work that you do. So therefore, salvation is by the grace of God, but that does not mean that you do not have works to do. These works which it’s talking about here has nothing to do with the good works reference earlier in Ephesians 2. This is the merit badge work. See, if you, like my son David going through school, if he passes the grade he earns the promotion to the next grade. They cannot deny him that. So his works earn him that promotion, it will be the 11th grade next year. But because you were good growing up, because you are able to do all of these things and you knew about God’s work, therefore then, God has to, God is impelled to, God must give to you a calling because of that. No, God is not impelled by any of our works. Now, maybe God will have mercy and understanding, and God will hopefully call, and I hope God does call all my family, but it has to be that God does the calling. It is not by works.
“And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. In other words the grace of God for calling is no more grace. But you can line up and if you qualify, just like welfare, if you qualify. If by the lack of work and if by the lack of income you qualify, you earn welfare. So people work for welfare by not working. That’s sort of turning it around a little bit, but I’m sure you can see the example very clearly. “…Otherwise grace is no more grace.” So now let’s look at it the other way. If when we are called by the grace of God, and if we receive the Holy Spirit by the grace of God, and if we repent by the grace of God, and if we are walking in the works that God has given us to do, the right works that are included under this umbrella of grace, what if then we start relying on the works rather than the grace? Then we turn it in reverse. We turn it in reverse, and that’s the whole problem of the book of Galatians. They received the Holy Spirit, how? By grace. So then they ended up saying, “Well now we have this, so let’s go do whatever we want to.” And then they fall from grace and depend on their works. Now, you see Sunday keepers have salvation by works. Their works of Sunday keeping. Now we are to keep the Sabbath because God says so, but that’s what God requires. That is a requirement. We can’t go to God and say, “God, I’m so much better than everybody else because I’ve kept the Sabbath all my life.” Well the high priest could say that. He was born into the family of Aaron. He was due by birth, the high priest at a certain age. Not now, not under grace. So I hope you see the difference there.
“But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then: Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded…” (vs. 6-7). Well, I won’t get into a full dissertation on that. So that the grace of God by election is a calling.
Now let’s go to 2 Thessalonians 1:11. If we have it by our works, what we do then, we go along and we do something and say, “Oh God, I did this. Put your approval on this.” Well, maybe God didn’t want it in the first place. God’s approval is not going to be on it. I can go back and see there are a lot of things that I used to do. I’d go along and I’d do, hey, and have to look back and say, “Oh God, yes this is good, oh approve this, by the way I prayed in your name.” No, it doesn’t work that way.
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling…” I want to emphasize “calling”, and that Greek word is “election”, or “selection”. It is not election as we think of as voting but it is God’s choice, His election then, which is selection. “…Worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith [so that’s the kind of works we are to have, works of faith] and power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 1:11-12). So there’s the operation of grace through God’s calling and through God’s bringing us to that.
One other scripture I want to mention, Galatians 1:16 where Paul talks about his calling, even his birth, yes everything he did as part of the grace of God. I won’t go through it and go through the scripture. I’ll just mention that.
Acts 13:43, and here it is even just a little more than the grace of God as a message, but also the grace of God as a way of life. The grace of God as serving our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s go back up to verse 38. I’ll just summarize. He came into the synagogue and then he was teaching about Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead. Then in verse 38 Paul says, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses.” And then you know what happens. Then the Jews kicked him out, the Gentiles came and said, “Well, come and preach to us the next Sabbath.” And here verse 43, “Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” That has to do with the message of God, the way of living. It is the grace of God. So you can see how all encompassing the grace of God really is.
Now one other one that we want to catch here over in Romans 14:3. Here again Paul went into the synagogue and the unbelieving Jews, verse 2, stirred up the Gentiles. Verse 3 now, “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord…” Now it doesn’t say how long they were there, but I’m sure that they were there several months. “…Which gave testimony unto the word of His grace…” There it is. “The word” means “message”. Now, let’s follow through. What is one of the names of Jesus Christ? The Word. Through Whom do we have grace? Through Jesus Christ. So here we can expand this even more. It has more meaning than just the word or a preaching or a message, but it has to do even with everything concerning Christ. “…The word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”
One other place where it talks about the grace of God is 2 Timothy 1:8. “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us…” Notice we’ll put it all together here see. “…And called us [there it is, all with the grace of God, you see.] with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace…” (2 Tim. 1:;8-9). So we see God’s purpose and grace does what? It is the calling, it is the saving, it is everything to do with God interacting in our life according to God’s purpose and grace.
Now let’s just read a couple more verses here. Verse 10, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who hath abolished death…” Boy that is tremendous. You know people really understood that. “…Hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles” (vs. 10-11). And so all of this then is by the grace of God.
Now let’s just briefly look at some of the things concerning Jesus as He was growing up. Luke 2:40. How was Jesus able to do the things that He did? By the grace of God. That’s how He was able to do it. Mary was selected to bare Jesus by how? By the grace of God. The angel came and said, “Hail Mary, you are well favored.” And favored means you have received grace from God. There can be no more graciousness given to a person than that. That’s quite a mighty thing to be chosen to bare the very Son of God.
Ok, Luke 2:40, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him.” Jesus whole life, everything that Jesus stood for was the epitome of grace. And He needed the grace of God and it was upon Him.
Now down here to verse 52. That is after the incident there at the temple, and they found Him and brought Him back home and so forth. Let’s just start here in verse 51, “And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but His mother kept all these sayings in her heart.” Now I just wonder what Mary thought at the resurrection. And remember when they were all gathered in that room where 120 of them were. I wonder what was in her mind, what was in her heart, because all these things were going on. Several places Luke said, “And she kept it in her heart.” In other words she remembered it. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature [that is age], and in favour…” Now this is an unfortunate translation. This should be, “…and in grace…”. He grew in grace. Not that He was ever lacking in grace. Because just like God is always perfect, but God is also growing in knowledge, Jesus was perfect from the time that He was conceived. But at His conception He was not a perfect 20 year old. So this is why He grew in wisdom stature and in grace “…with God and man” (vs. 51-52). Shows us quite a bit about the life of Christ as He was growing.
Now let’s go to Hebrews 2 and let’s look at the end of His life, because that was also by the grace of God. Now while we’re turning to Hebrews 2 let’s understand one of the verses that we covered in 1 John 1 where it says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Which means then that everything that Jesus did was directed by the grace of God. Everything, from the time that He decided to become a human being. And that is by God’s Own choosing. God’s election. Everything that we see, God has reached down and He is the One Who has done it. Lots of times we like to think God does something because we’ve done something, and it’s the other way around. We do something because God has done something. So therefore we don’t need to get all uppity-uppity about what we do or do not do because God is the One Who does it. James said don’t say that we will do this or we will do the other thing tomorrow. You say, if God will. Why? Because if it isn’t with the grace of God you may not do it.
Hebrews 2:8, it talks about Jesus. “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet [that is, mankind in general]. For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death [for the purpose of suffering death], crowned with glory and honour…” Now notice this next statement here. “… That He by the grace of God…” That’s a tremendous thing. By the grace of God. How much does God want us to receive eternal life. So much so that He sent His Son so that our sins could be forgiven. “…By the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:8-9). So that’s a tremendous gracious act that God would give His Son. That’s why it says there in John 3:16, and this is where we started the series on grace when we came in the book of John, John 3:16, that God gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. So it’s by the grace of God. Verse 10, “For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
Now let’s go to Hebrews 4:16. Do you remember how I mentioned that the reason that Jesus sits at the right hand of God is because the right hand is symbolic of salvation and Jesus is our Savior. Now add that together with what we need here in chapter 4, and let’s pick it up in verse 14. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities…” In other words He can. He feels it. He understands them. He knows them. Yes, He has lived them, see. “… But was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Now notice verse 16 carefully. “Let us therefore come boldly…” Now that doesn’t mean come barging up like a charging pit bull, or elephant. It means that you come confidently, courageously. That you come knowing that you can trust in Christ, see. “Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace…” So Christ is there. That grace is to be given. We are to live in that grace, and walk in that grace. And as it says here continuing in verse 16, “…that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help…” The grace is given to help. That means then we get an extra supply of grace “…to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16). Now that doesn’t mean just run to God whenever things get so bad you’re ready to squeal Uncle, because there is not a time that we don’t need the grace of God. Can you think of a time that you don’t need the grace of God? I can’t think of one time when we don’t need the grace of God. I mean, we need the grace of God in every thing we do. So we need to come to God in that time of need, and of course that is every day.
Now let’s look at another section. The grace of God and power. Let’s go to Acts 4, and I know I’ve heard many ministers talk about, and I’ve heard people talk about, “Well why aren’t there miracles? If we could only do better things there would be miracles. If you only had faith there would be more miracles, because Jesus said if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed you can say to this mountain, ‘Be removed’, and it will go into the sea.” So therefore we all run around and condemn ourselves because God is not doing the things because we’re not doing them. Is that true? No, that’s not true because when God gives grace for power, God is the One Who decides to give it. If we go to God and by our works we earn it then it’s not grace. You don’t earn a miracle. Ministers can’t earn the privilege of God using them for miracles. And I’ve known ministers that have fasted, I’ve known ministers that have prayed. I’ve even heard them bragging, “Oh, I’m fasting and praying so we can have more miracles”, and let everyone know. Well, God could care less. God will do it when it’s His time, and He will do it in His way.
Acts 4, and let’s see exactly what was happening here. This is after they were released from prison. They were all praying together. Let’s pick it up here in verse 29. “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word [and that’s what we need to have, that kind of boldness and confidence], by stretching forth Thine hand to heal…” See, they’re asking God to stretch forth His hand. Not asking God that they could have good works so that God would have to work miracles through them. No, they asked God that by the stretching forth of Your hand to heal; “…and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of Thy Holy Child [and that should read “servant”, the word is dulos, which means servant] Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy [Spirit] Ghost, and they spoke the word with boldness” (Acts 4:29-31). So God decided that He was going to give that power, and that He was going to give that grace, as we’ll see here in just a minute.
“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common” (vs. 32). Now just stop right here. This is not communism, or that we all run off someplace and sell everything and give it all to the preacher and he puts in the bank and you all go live out here and when the communal fails then he’s got the money in the bank and you have nothing. No, they were there together because this is an extension of the time from Pentecost and they all stayed together through that time after Pentecost. Rather than going home they stayed in Jerusalem. So that’s why they had all things in common. It would be like if we all had to stay here for a while, well then we would have to share and give and things like that. That’s what it’s talking about.
Verse 33, “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” So here it is, remember where I started out that God gives more grace? Well, here it is. More grace. It’s called great. In this sense it’s not great in what we think of as a great person, but great in the sense of the amount of grace that God gave, or the quantity that God gave. There are several areas in the New Testament where grace is translated “favor” or “gift”, or “acceptable”.
Now let’s go to Luke 6 and let’s see one of these instances. I’ll just refer you to the notes on grace so you can look them up if you desire to look up those different areas where the word grace from the Greek charise is used in a different translatable way. Luke 6:32 says, “If ye love them which love you, what thank have ye?” Now the Greek there is charise, which means “what grace have you”. In other words, if you only do the things of loving those that love you, there is no grace from God. That’s what it’s talking about. What grace have you? Obviously you have thanks. I mean the people that you love thank you, and you thank them. But it is, “what grace have you”? And that means what grace have you from God because you love those that love you. “…For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what [grace] thank have you? For sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye?” What grace have you? See, that’s why another instance, the gift that was sent by the Greeks down to Jerusalem, the gift of grain and dates, and things when there was the famine down in Jerusalem, it was called a gift. It was also called grace. So could refer just to the physical giving. So if you just give to them what grace have you? “…For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again” (Luke 6:32-34). And in many cases because of interest, a whole lot more.
Ok, verse 35. “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great…” See, because God will count it the way He will through His grace, not through your way of doing things. Now how many times has some political mucky-muck been on some board of whatever. It think a lot of them are on United Way, and they are the big this and the big that, and they are giving their time and donating. Then you find out later they’re nothing but crooks under the skin anyway, so you see that’s why God has it so that we don’t plan it. “Well, I will join the United Way and I will donate my time and services and I will be noted in the community and then I will run for Mayor and I will be elected.” See, that falls into the category of doing things that you hope a return for. “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” And if He weren’t there wouldn’t be anyone left alive.
Now let’s look at the category of grace and gifts. Let’s go to 1 Corinthians 2:12, grace and gifts, because God gives certain gifts and of course that all ties in with, you can just put in your notes there 1 Corinthians 12 about the gifts and so forth. This is a word which means freely given. So even our understanding of God’s word, even our understanding of the things that we have of God, verse 12, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given…” Now the phrase “freely given” means God has graciously given them to us. Now “freely” means with no charge. There is no charge. That’s why it says that you can’t buy your way into the Kingdom of God. You know Simon Magus tried that, to buy the Holy Spirit. It is freely given unto us.
Now, Romans 12:6 talks about the grace of God that is given to us in reference to the gifts differing one from another. Let’s pick it up in verse 3 and we’ll see how this ties right together and also Paul speaking here of the grace that was given to him. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you…” So this is part of God’s giving of grace to the apostle Paul for the effect of preaching as we covered before, so he is speaking to every one that is among you. “…Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us…” So the giving of this gift, whatever it is. Some people have one gift one way. Some have a gift another way. That is all from the grace of God. It is given to us. “…Whether prophecy [which means speaking or preaching], let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth…” (Romans 12:3-7), and he goes right on showing that all of these things then are exercised through the gift of a grace of God.
One more place. 1 Peter 4:10, “As every man hath received the gift [that’s cheritos, which means the gift], even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” So there are the giving that God gives to us, the calling that God gives. All of it has to do with the grace of God.
Now there’s one other section that is important that we need to understand that has to do with the grace of God and each of us individually. Let’s go to 1 Corinthians 1:3. This kind of flows into one of the other sections that I have. There is a whole section that I’m not going to cover except just a few scriptures, which has to do with the opening and closing of each of the epistles, having to refer to the grace of God.
Here, verse 3 it says, “Grace…unto you, and peace…” Now that’s very important. When we understand the grace of God we have more peace. And I think that we have really begun to understand that and learn that and we are going to preserve that peace by the grace of God. “Grace…unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:3-4). So you think of it in a personal way. Christ is the One Who has given it to you. So that shows how active God that is involved in our lives.
Colossians 4:6, now here it talks about with our speech. Here, let’s just pick it up in verse 5 so we can get the thought flow here. “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace [in other words in a good and positive and kind way], seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” It just becomes part of our way of life, the way we walk, the way we talk, and everything then reflecting the grace of God.
Now there’s one other very important section, which has to do then with affliction and suffering. Let’s go to 2 Corinthians 12. Now sometimes you will see someone who is afflicted with something and God does not intervene to do anything for them. God does not heal them, though they pray, though they’ve been anointed or whatever. And God has another purpose in mind for them. Now we have one such a lady, Esther Greisinger, who is much that way. And she has done more to help people in her state of weakness than she could have done any other way because of the grace of God that is given to her for that very purpose.
Now in 2 Corinthians 12 Paul is talking about his affliction that he had. Let’s begin in verse 5. This is when he had the vision and he didn’t know if he was in the body or out of the body, and he didn’t know. But he says in verse 5, “Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh…” (2 Cor. 12:5-7). We know that he had this terrible eye condition. Terrible eye condition, where in Galatians it said that they didn’t even want to look upon him. And when he wrote the book of Galatians it was with such large letters so that they could read it. It says, “…a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me…”
Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a demon because obviously Paul was not bothered with demons. A messenger comes from the word angelos which is also translated angel. This has to do with a messenger or probably was a messenger from Satan…bam…just like Job, the disease was upon him. But that doesn’t mean that it was there on him, or that he was demon possessed, or that he was demon bothered. In other words God allowed that messenger to afflict him with this affliction, and then obviously left him. Just like during the affliction of Job, was Satan there with him all the time? No, only to afflict him. When the affliction was gone it was Job and his three friends and then God up there listening to what’s going on. Satan was not there. So there are some people who thought that this means that Paul had a demon with him all the time, just to kind of correct him. No, he had an affliction which was a messenger from Satan. Once he received it then it was to buffet him, “…lest I should be exalted above measure.”
“For this I besought the Lord thrice [that is three times], that it [now notice “it”, see, not he, it, what ever the illness was] might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee [God’s grace is sufficient]: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (vs. 8-10). So understanding fully the grace of God he understood what it meant to be afflicted.
Now there are several scriptures that we want to cover in the opening and closing of some of the epistles. Let’s go to 1 Peter 1, and it’s interesting that if you go through and study it, Paul and Peter talk more about the grace of God then any of the others. Here, 1 Peter 1:2. I’m only going to cover just a couple and then we will end the series with the grace of God with this. But it is very important for us to understand that when they wrote their epistles, and when they wrote these letters and they said the grace of God be with you. Grace and peace, and love and mercy of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, there is an actual blessing that comes with that. See, it’s a very important thing that they put in there.
Here the apostle Peter says, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” Now that is quite an introduction and lots of times we go studying along and boy we want to get to the important things so we cut out the first verses and we cut out the last verses and we don’t realize how important that is for us. So you go through and you study those and you read those and they are important to us. and I’m just trying to conserve time rather than go through and just repeat every one of them.
Let’s go to Romans 16:20 and we will see one of the closings of the apostle Paul. Ok, it does it twice here in Romans 16. Verse 20 says, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” Now Amen means “so be it.” So if he says the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, Amen. It means that he wants the grace of God with you.
Down here to verse 24 now. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” And that’s one of his more powerful endings.
Let’s go to 2 Corinthians 13:11. “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect [that means to be spiritually mature], be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with an holy kiss. All the saints salute you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy [Spirit] Ghost [that is the fellowship, the inner fellowshipping of the Holy Spirit with you], be with you all. Amen” (2 Cor. 13:11-12). That’s almost one of the best endings that you could have, right there.
Galatians 6:18, it says, “Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Now notice what this says, “…be with your spirit.” That is, in the spirit of your mind. “Amen.” That’s a significant verse, isn’t it? And here it’s the last one. And I don’t think we’ve read that one very many times.
Let’s finish here and we’ll close by going to Ephesians 6:23. “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love [see, grace and love go together] our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen” (Eph. 6:23-24).
And that will be a good place to end the series here and concerning the grace of God, and I will have this all typed up and sent out to you so you will be able to study through all the other scriptures. But it might be very inspiring for you to read through… just set a goal and read through the first three or four verses, and the last three or four verses of every one of the epistles of Paul and I think you will see how much the grace of God is involved actively, just like it said there, “and the grace of God be with your spirit.”