"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11
| The True Grace of God by David Servant|
Thanks to all for the feedback, as well as questions, which I received in response to last month's e-teaching titled, Five Modern Myths About Jesus' Conversation with the Rich Young Ruler. Over the next few months, I'll address some of those questions. This month, I'd like to tackle the most common one, which could be paraphrased, "How does what you taught last month harmonize with the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace and not works?"
Allow me to begin by rephrasing that question to, "How does what Jesus said to the rich young ruler harmonize with the doctrine of salvation by grace and not works?" I didn't write the Bible, and it wasn't me who had a conversation with that rich ruler 2,000 years ago. All I did last month is take Jesus at His word, something that consequently exposes the myths so commonly believed relative to His conversation with the rich ruler.
This is to say that it is every Christian's burden, not just mine, to reconcile what Jesus said to the rich ruler with what apparently seems to contradict what Scripture teaches about salvation by grace. The fact is, it is because of that apparent contradiction that Jesus' words to the rich ruler are so often twisted. Twisting Jesus' words, however, is the job of the devil.
If you read last month's e-teaching, you know how I reconciled that apparent contradiction. The reconciliation I offered doesn't require that we completely ignore entire passages of Scripture that make it irrefutably clear that "works" are essential for salvation. Moreover, the reconciliation I offered stems from an understanding of grace that harmonizes with every verse in the Bible, rather than just a few.
In a nutshell, the grace that God is offering in salvation is conditional, not unconditional. It is not a license to sin, but a temporary opportunity to repent and believe so that one can be forgiven, born again, and walk the narrow road that leads to eternal life. The Bible itself describes God's grace in this way:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:11-14).
It couldn't be more clear, could it? God's grace is anything but a license to sin, as it instructs us to live righteously. Any other portrayal of God's grace is a perversion, against which the Bible also warns:
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 4, emphasis added).
Thus, when God's grace is portrayed as eliminating the necessity of our holiness, it is an incorrect portrayal.
The idea that, if something is offered by grace, there can be no conditions attached to the offer, simply is not true. If a judge were to graciously forgive and set free a convicted murderer, but at the same time warn him that, if he continues to murder people, he will receive the justice he deserves, who would claim that the murderer was "saved by his works"? It could only be said that the murderer was saved by grace, but not a grace that allowed him to continue murdering others. The judge's continued grace would be dependent upon the murderer's continued behavior.
Here is an indisputable fact: Grace need not be unconditional. God has never offered anyone an unconditional saving grace. Never has He said to anyone, "I extend to you My grace, so you can continue sinning without worry."
Jesus did not say, for example, to the woman caught in adultery, "I don't condemn you for what you've done, and neither will I condemn you for anything you might do in the future." Quite the contrary. He said, "Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more" (John 8:11, emphasis added). That is salvation by conditional grace. Had she not repented of her adultery, Jesus would have ultimately condemned her with all adulterers (see 1 Cor 6:9-10). When modern preachers proclaim, "Jesus died for all your sins, past, present and future, so there is nothing you can do to remove yourself from God's grace," that is a gross perversion of God's grace, and those who preach such a perverse gospel should be branded as heretics.
Here's another example of conditional grace: Remember Jesus' parable of the unforgiving servant (see Matt. 18:21-35)? His master forgave him of a mountain of debt. That was grace in action. But that forgiven servant refused to forgive his fellow servant. When his master learned of his unforgiveness, he reinstated his servant's formerly-forgiven debt and handed him over to the torturers until he would repay what he could never repay. Clearly, the master's grace was conditional. Jesus concluded that parable with a promise that most professing Christians do not believe: "So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart" (Matt. 18:35).
Who would argue that God's forgiveness does not stem from grace? Yet His forgiveness is conditional:
If you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions (Matt. 6:15).
The only kind of saving grace that God has ever offered anyone is conditional. Consider the following familiar passage from Isaiah. Does it convey conditional or unconditional grace?:
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon (Is. 55:7).
Jesus similarly declared that "repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations" (Luke 24:47). That is conditional forgiveness. Peter obeyed, preaching, "God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him" (Acts 10:34-35). That is conditional acceptance. God "resists the proud but gives grace to the humble" (Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5, emphasis added). That is conditional grace. Conditional grace is still grace.
Think about it: If God was extending "unconditional grace" to everyone, then everyone would be automatically destined for heaven. There would be no requirement to repent and believe. Everyone, including the most perverse, wicked and unrepentant among the human race, would be guaranteed eternal life. No one would perish.
Grace Versus Works
Some, by quoting scriptures out of their context, try to pit grace against works, hoping to prove that the two are always mutually exclusive and that there is no such thing as conditional grace. Paul's words found in Romans 11:6 are often used to that end:
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
If that were the only sentence in the Bible, we might conclude that grace and works are mutually exclusive. However, Paul also wrote:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
Clearly, Paul believed that the salvation God offers on the basis of grace does not nullify the necessity of some degree of holiness.
So how do we reconcile what Paul wrote in Romans 11:6 with what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10?
Note that in Romans 11:6, Paul was specifically writing about grace, rather than works, being the basis of salvation. Of course, the basis for salvation cannot be anything but grace, because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). If sinners are going to be saved, it will have to be by grace.
The reason Paul contrasted grace with works in Romans 11:6 is clear to anyone who reads that verse in the context of his letter to the Romans. It was because of a Jewish objection to the gospel that he preached, and particularly that his gospel offered salvation to sinful Gentiles. Of course, if the basis of salvation is works, as was so commonly believed by the Jews in Paul's day, no dirty Gentile had hope of salvation. But Paul argues that the basis of salvation is grace. In fact, Paul argues, if the basis of salvation is not grace, then not only can no Gentile be saved, but neither can any Jew, because they, too, are sinful like Gentiles. Moreover, if the basis of salvation is works, there was no need for Christ to die (see Gal. 2:21).
Paul accuses Jews of attempting to "establish a righteousness of their own" (Rom. 10:3) by their feeble attempts to keep a few minor requirements of the Law. And he argues that there cannot be true righteousness in people without God's grace as the foundation, a grace that forgives and transforms sinners, both Jew and Gentile.
Paul makes this same point in his letter to the Ephesians:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8-9).
Clearly, God does not save us based on our merits. Contrary to what so many Jews in his day believed, salvation is a gift, and no saved person can boast that it was his works that saved him. But God's grace offers more than forgiveness of sin. It provides deliverance from sin and transformation. Which is why, in the very next verse, Paul writes:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Eph. 2:10).
God's grace makes us new creations, children of God who are spiritually reborn, who long to please our Heavenly Father.
Paul certainly did not believe that God's grace was unconditional or that it furnished a license to sin. In this very same epistle in which he declared that salvation is a gift from grace, he also wrote:
But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Eph. 5:3-6).
Once we grasp the simple principle of conditional grace, we understand how easy it is to harmonize what the Bible teaches about salvation by grace with what Jesus required of the rich ruler if he was to inherit eternal life. Not only that, but we also understand how easy it is to harmonize what the Bible teaches about salvation by grace with so many other scriptures that so plainly reveal that some degree of holiness is required of those who would inherit eternal life (see, for example, Matt. 7:21, 25:41-43, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Gal. 5:19-21, Eph. 5:3-6, Rev. 21:8).
It is no exaggeration to say that, if the concept of conditional grace were rightly understood by all professing Christians, it would result in a repentance and revival worldwide within the church that would alter the eternal destiny of millions and change the course of history. However, as long as preachers and teachers continue to propagate the unbiblical idea of unconditional grace, they pervert the gospel itself, reducing it to a deceptive promise and a license to sin. Those preachers become unwitting agents of the "father of lies," as they broadcast what is perhaps his most damning deception. May God help us to turn the tide.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
| 2013/5/17 9:38||Profile|
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11
| Re: The True Grace of God by David Servant|
important quote from the article:
When modern preachers proclaim, "Jesus died for all your sins, past, present and future, so there is nothing you can do to remove yourself from God's grace," that is a gross perversion of God's grace, and those who preach such a perverse gospel should be branded as heretics.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
| 2013/5/17 12:03||Profile|
| Re: |
That seems to be a very big teaching today to the Church, Greg. I only see the fruit of it as creating a false security and licentiousness.
2Co_13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
We cannot declare one righteous until we see the fruit of his faith. (Just like you declare Abraham is righteous. You see the fruit of his faith). We can only tell one is a Christian by the fruit he bears (works of the Holy Spirit). So James is not contradicting Paul, but complementing him.
Paul is fearful of dead works without a living faith.
James is fearful of a dead faith that produces no good works.
If no works are produced, faith is a mere dead thing, good for nothing. One who produces no good works proves he has not received the Lord Jesus and obeyed Him, and should not be declared righteous by man.
This is the position of some today who assent mentally to certain doctrinal creeds, but manifest no spiritual life or fruit from a New Heart.
| 2013/5/17 12:22||Profile|
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
| Re: The True Grace of God by David Servant|
Whilst this argument sounds clever its wrong. I have to say that this term conditional grace, does not appear in the bible and neither does unconditional grace. Grace is Grace and should interpreted as such.
From what I can understand Christianity is about a person Jesus Christ. From A-Z!He is the Alpha and Omega of our faith!
He is the vine, he is the gate, he is the stairway to heaven, its all about him.
Its his life in me by the power of the Holy Spirit that makes we walk as he walked.
Everything we do(acts wise) is born out of him first being in us.
Certainly in my mind we interprut the quoted scriptures looking from earth up to heaven whilst the bible was written with God looking down to earth. Presuming that we uderstand fully waht God the Father, through Jesus' death burial and resurrection, accomplished when he came to earth.
The bible is written from this point of view, If Christ is in you then this...
Its all about him, everything in Christianity is about him, he is our all sufficient one, Jesus Christ.
I no longer live anymore but Christ lives in me, I consider or reckon myself dead to sin but alive to God through the Lord Jesus.
He has become 'for us' our righteousness, holiness and sanctification. He lives in me now, not me and as I put my trust that Jesus is enough, that the Father has done it all, that sin no longer has a hold on me, I live loving him, worshipping him.
The work of God is this to believe in the one the he has sent. believe that he is enough!
You see my dear friends Grace is a person, Truth is a person, Love is a person, Holiness is a person, Righteousness is a person, Jesus Christ. All he asks of me is believe.
God is so incredibly good, that once we see his Son as he truely is sin will no longer have dominion over me.
I can tell you that anyone who carries on sinning after they have encountered Jesus, does not know God and has know concept of Grace, and quiet has not seem God for who he really is.
Grace is only grace to one that knows, truely knows, that he doesn't deserve any better. As much as the rich young ruler had all these possesions jesus was addressing not his possessions or lack thereof but whether he trusted Jesus to be everything he needs.
Friends, do not add ideas and concepts to scripture because of error. Error occurs because scripture or rather the full work of Christ is not properly understood. And preacers and teachers don't tell the people the full gospel.
If we are saved by grace through faith, we live by grace through faith. Its about Jesus' life in my body, by the Holy Spirit. once we see that he is everything we need, we think, speak, act in a way that honours the Father because thats what Jesus did.
Jesus was completely obedient to his father, and in him we are the same. Jesus was completey loving, and in him we are the same.
If I'm not doing these things its because I do not believe Gods testimony about me and what he has done at calvary.
This statement by Joseph Prince really makes sense. 'Right living doesn't make right believing, its only right believing that makes right living.'
In reading this article I can see what he is saying, but he is missing the point.
God did not wait for me to find him. He came and found me, now this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for my sins.
Its an act of Gods sovereign Grace that I am even able to become born again.
This concept of grace versus works, what a load of rubbish, grace works, in fact its so powerful that it transforms men destined and deserving of hell into Saints fit for heaven and only because of Jesus.
If anything the only condition God the Father places on us is this - believe that I have given you everything you need for life and Godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and grace.
| 2013/5/18 0:55||Profile|
| Re: |
Amen and Allelujah Zekio
The Grace of God is Grace indeed. The Love of God is True Love. Not as men know it, but as manifested in Jesus Christ, who came for me, even me.
| 2013/5/18 4:09||Profile|
| Re: |
James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.
| 2013/5/18 9:47||Profile|
| Re: |
Could we maybe look at a few things and please consider them carefully ?
* Jesus came bringing the 'Good news',..but what is that 'Good news' ?
The Good news is He who is the Way,made A Way,for us though His Blood and by His Grace,
Would satan distort WORD's for his deceptive purpose ?
SURELY, he would not distort a Word,in order to promote his cause,...
Would he ?..well isn't he a deceiver ? And doesn't the Word say,'he Deceiveth the whole world ' ?
Haven't we noticed many words that,as time has went along,the meaning
Of a words ,gets distorted,and grows from there,...on and on.should't we rethink many word's,and allow the Spirit o help us find their true meaning ?
Seek His face,so we can see through His eyes ? Lest we be deceived ?
But please,let us look at this VERY IMPORTANT Word: Grace
Sure we are undeserving,and it is mercy,but it came with an enabling
to help us to know and to do the rightious things that He draws us to,through the / His Spirit.,...if we do not throw His Word to the ground and
replace His Word,with our word.
Didn't He tell Paul,'My Grace is suffencent for thee' ?
( it is like : My Grace IS your helper,...showing you,and helping you,
That is all you need)
Grace: the Devine effluence upon the heart,and it's reflection in the Life
* The Devine effluence upon the heart,...( the hearing of the Word)
* And it's reflection in the Life,...( the doing of that Word )
Jesus came to bring forth His Father' Word,..( Who is the WORD )
In the last chapter of John18:36-37, Jesus said," My kingdom is not of this world,............ .............but NOW is my kingdom NOT from here.
.....Thou sayest that I Am a king.To this END,came I into the world,....
...To this END,..So now, After His death,He is our our King,who rules,...is Lord over His NOW,Spiritual Kingdom,.....the King is Drawing us, to do His will,in His Kingdom.
* the Kingdom of God, is " The resurrected Lord in us"
Meaning He is not a dead God!,but is Alive/ Life,...offering us Life.
* " For as many,as are led by the Spirit of God,THEY ARE,....they are ,...
they are,...the sons,( children) of God.
We are children of the resurrection.
I will stop for now.
| 2013/5/18 23:13||Profile|