Lucia's Blog: HOW DO WE LEARN ABOUT THE GRACE OF GOD?
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, January 23, 2020

HOW DO WE LEARN ABOUT THE GRACE OF GOD?

"And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified."
Acts 20:32


It is disturbing to see how the doctrines of men about Grace overflow with speculation.  Our friends affirm that the Holy Spirit acts directly on man's heart, over and above the power of the Gospel, to give him "irresistible Grace."  Others say, "Surely the Grace of God will cover the sins" of a person or group  or "I just can't bring myself to believe that a God of grace would condemn such a person."  I wonder how do they know that to be true?  Do they have a Scripture to support what they believe to be so?  Yet even when they are unable to provide a Scripture to support their argument, they still speculate endlessly.  So, how do we know what Grace will or will not do?  Do we have the right to declare that God's Grace will cover certain sins even when we cannot find any Scripture to support that?  


  • The Gospel is Our Only Source of Knowledge About The Grace of God:
    • The Grace of God and The Gospel Go Hand in Hand:  

Grace gives us the revelation, the Message of God, the Gospel that was preached by the apostles, and that was passed on to us.  God's Grace is revealed through the Word which serves as a channel for God's Grace,
"11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age"  (Titus 2:11-12).  

Thus, the Grace of God that brings salvation is that which teaches us to deny ungodliness so that we can live righteouslyIt is the Message of God where Grace is found.
"6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed"  (Galatians 1:6-9).

Here in this passage, Paul is contrasting the "grace of Christ" with a "different gospel."  That is the Gospel of Christ with a different Gospel.  Hence, Grace is a term used as an expression of revelation.  Acts 20:24  speaks of "the grace of God."  Acts 14:3, as well as 20:32, refer to "the word of His grace."  Acts 18:27-29 states that some had "believed through grace" which is explained by the statement "showing by the Scriptures."  This definite article is found in the Greek Text, "believed through the Grace," to stress something special about the word "Grace."

Grace also includes obedience to God (Titus 2:11-12).  It involves the standard of God's Word and our obedience to it.  Indeed, this is the Grace of God that saves!  Romans 6:1ff states the same about God's Grace and our obedience to it. God's Grace teaches!  So to know about Grace, we must first be taught.  How can one be taught?  By God's only revelation, His inspired Word (Col. 1:5,6; 1 Peter 5:12; 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:2; Gal. 6:16; John 1:17; Acts 4:33; Eph. 3:2-8).
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin"  (Romans 6:1-6).

So if Grace abounds where sin is, then the more we sin, the more Grace there is.  That is not what Paul is saying!  Paul says we must not continue in sin, and we must die to sin.  Baptism is an analogy of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  We are joined together with Christ in the likeness of His death, burial, and resurrection in baptism.  Baptism is that likeness.  When we die to sin, we rise to walk in newness of life.  This is salvation by Grace through faith (Colossians 3:1ff).  It harmonizes with Titus 2:11-14.  You see, the Grace of God that saves teaches us what we must do to be saved and live in all godliness and righteousness.  These are things we must do to be saved by Grace.  Without our obedience to God's will and conforming our lives to His will, there won't be any understanding of Christ's sacrifice.  When we Christians sin, Christ's blood and that same Grace of God gives us forgiveness.  But of course, not without godly sorrow, which leads to real repentance and a change of behavior which is called the new life in Christ Jesus (1 John 1:6-2:1-2).  The only way that God’s Grace can be brought together with our faith is by our full acceptance of Jesus’ Gospel and by putting it into practice. So there is no other way to know God's will, according to His Grace.

Ephesians 1:5-11 says that we become sons of God according to God's will (verse 5).  We receive forgiveness according to His Grace, which He made to abound to us, having made known the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself (verse 9).  So we inherit according to God's purpose, for He works all things according to His will (verse 11).  I want to stress that in all these things, God's Grace is working according to His will and purpose.  God is the one who extends favor, and He has every right to choose how and to whom to extend it (Ephesians 3:3-5).  Paul stresses in verse 9 that the mystery of God's will is already revealed in the Scriptures.  Thus, the only way for anybody to know about God's Grace is through His revealed Word!

In 2 Timothy 1:8-10, God saved and called us according to His purpose and Grace, which is revealed in Christ, who brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.  So God's Grace works or functions according to His purpose.  The Gospel reveals God's purpose to all men.  So if we want to understand Grace, we must study the Gospel!!  We have no right to teach or assume that God's Grace will do anything else without obeying the Gospel or doing what it commands to be saved.  In Acts 15:11, the Jews and the Gentiles were saved by God's Grace in the same manner, for God's Grace saves in a certain manner.  There is a way Grace operates.   So how do we know the manner in which the Gentiles (all men) were saved?  Simply by hearing and believing the Word of the Gospel (Acts 15:7). 
"Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God"  (Acts 13:43). 

It is undeniable that the Grace of God and the Gospel are inseparable.  Why?  Because "we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus”  (Acts 15:11).  Moreover, Paul declared in Romans 1:16, that the Gospel is "the power of God for salvation."  As we can see from Acts 15:11 and Romans 1:16, the Grace of God and the Gospel are inseparable. Those who teach a certain "Grace" without connecting it to the demands of the Gospel are but false teachers that preach a false Grace.

In Acts 11:14, Peter spoke to the Gentiles words by which they were saved (cf. 10:33-48).  I must stress that no one will be saved by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit above and beyond the Word of God, the Gospel.  Grace can only save through the Word!  

In Acts 20:24, 32, we read that the Grace of God is manifested to all men through the instruction or teaching made  possible only through the "Gospel."  Paul's ministry was to testify about the Gospel of the Grace (verse 32).  We must understand the connection between Grace and the Word, the Gospel.  The only way to understand Grace well is to learn it through the Gospel (verses 20, 21, 25, 26; 14:3).
"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God...  And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified"  (Acts 20:24, 32).

Galatians 1:6-9 declares that we are called in Christ's Grace.  If we follow or preach another Gospel, we are cut off or removed from God, who called us in Grace. We are also accursed.  So to receive the benefit of God's Grace, we must first hear and obey the Gospel, for if we follow a different Gospel, other teachings, we are automatically removed from Grace (Gal. 5:4).  Take note that those who desire to receive the benefits of the Grace of God must obey His instructions found in the Gospel.  The Grace of God does not annul man's obedient faith, but rather it demands it.  The Grace of God is conferred only through the Gospel and is inseparable from it.  For this reason, all who reject the Gospel reject the Grace.  At the same time, the one who perseveres in the Gospel continues in the Grace of God.  To persevere in the Gospel is to continue in the Grace.  It is the same thing.

Paul and Barnabas urged the congregation in Antioch of Pisidia "to continue in the Grace of God," which means that they had begun to enjoy the favor of God as they listened to the Gospel that Paul preached and believed. Paul intended to continue teaching the rest of his message as the Grace of God permitted.  The apostle Paul defines, describes, and thoroughly explains "the Grace of God."  He points out two fundamental constituents of Grace:
  1. The teaching or instruction of the Gospel of Christ  (Titus 2:11-12) and 
  2. Christ's sacrifice on the cross (Titus 2:14).

The Bible teaches the will of God to all men (Titus 2:11), but not everyone will be saved (Matt. 7:13-27).  It is through God's Grace that men receive instruction on how to live godly and holy to be saved.  The Grace of God is a gift that man must accept by responding to it with obedience to God's commands.  All men can easily understand the Gospel of the Grace of God.  On the contrary, Calvinism speaks a lot of the "enabling Grace," but this is NOT the Grace of God, the one the Bible speaks of.  And according to this same theology, God's Grace is miraculously and irresistibly bestowed upon man without any effort whatsoever on man's part, even without man's desire to receive it.  This false doctrine arises out of another false doctrine called “original sin” or "total hereditary depravity," i.e., man has been utterly and hopelessly depraved since Adam's fall in the garden. Thus, it is impossible for man to even desire to be saved.  They also assert that man is depraved (corrupted) of all good and is not able to believe. This, of course, contradicts the Bible passages that teach that the Gospel must be preached to all men and that all men must obey it to be saved.  The Gospel of the Grace of God is not obscure and mysterious or something inexplicable.  On the contrary, the Gospel must be preached to all men so that they can be saved (Matt. 28:19).

Thus, the Gospel cannot be separated from the Grace of God with which He teaches all men (Titus 2:11-12). So much so that the Gospel is called the "Gospel of the Grace of God" (Acts 20:24). Man cannot find favor (grace) with God without obedience by faith in Christ. To reject the Word of God is to reject "the word of His Grace" (Acts 20:32). To be saved by faith is to attain the mercy of God by obedience to the Gospel of Grace. All this has been possible through the blood and cruel death of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20-21).

Salvation by faith in Jesus is founded on the Word of God (Romans 10:17) that leads the sinner to obey the Gospel of Christ (2 Thess. 1:8). There is no justification without obedience to Christ, His Gospel. Why? Because,
  1. The sinner needs to hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to have faith (Acts 8:35).
  2. The sinner needs to believe in Christ (Acts 16:31-34).
  3. The sinner needs to repent of his sins since Jesus will judge him one day (Acts 17:30-31).
  4. The sinner needs to confess his faith in Jesus (Jesus as Lord), (Acts 8:37; Matt. 10:32).
  5. The sinner needs to obey the Gospel of our Lord and Savior and be baptized for the forgiveness of his sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37-38).
  6. The sinner must persevere in the doctrine of Christ to live a pure, godly life and have an abundant life of good works (Col. 3:16; Eph. 2:10, 4:20-21).

So, it is through the preaching or teaching of the Gospel that God teaches us how to be saved. It is the Gospel Truth that compels us to obey the Father since the One who heard the Father (Jesus) tells us that all who hear the Father and learn from Him can come to Christ (God, the Father, gives them to Christ). This also explains John 6:39All who obey the Gospel will not be lost by physical death, but rather Christ will raise him up on the last day. Verse 44 makes mention of the word "draw." So, How is it that God draws man to Himself? We are drawn to Him simply by Christ's death (John 12:32-33). The Gospel teaches us that Jesus Christ died, was buried and raised on the third day.

Therefore, it is only through the Gospel that we are drawn to the Father and given to Christ. The Gospel is all that we need for our salvation. We are not drawn by "irresistible Grace" as Calvinism claims. But rather, we are drawn to God by our own enlightened will when we learn who God is and desire to obey Him from the heart through His Gospel. Romans 8:30 explains this by saying, "and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." Those who are called through the Gospel (2 Thess 2:14) as revealed by the Holy Spirit and recorded in Scripture and later obey it are the ones that are destined to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. We are not called by the "irresistible" Holy Spirit entering our heart to countermand our "corrupt nature" miraculously!

  • What Grace Does, It Does Through The Gospel:
God’s Grace has already provided the blood of Jesus, the Sacred Scriptures, and faithful brethren who teach and edify one another in the church. What God's Grace does for men now is carried out through the Gospel. Consider the connection between what the Grace of God does and what the Gospel also does.

    • Calling:  
      • We are called according to the Grace of God (Gal. 1:6).
      • We are called through the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14).

    • Teaching:
      • The Grace of God appeared to teach and train all men to live godly and righteously that they might be saved (Titus 2:11-12).
      • The Grace of God, the Scriptures, instructs us and equips us for good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

    • Produces Faith:
      • We believe through Grace.  In Acts 18:27, the disciples believed through Grace.
      • Faith comes by hearing God's Word. By believing we have life in Christ (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).

    • Saving:
      • We have been saved through the Grace of the Lord Jesus, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and Grace (Ephesians 2:5-8; 2 Timothy 1:9; Acts 15:11).
      • The Gospel is God's power (the implanted Word, the Message) to save our souls (Romans 1:16; James 1:21; Acts 11:14).

    • Strengthening:
      • We are strengthened by the Grace that there is in Christ Jesus through His Word that we may be equipped for good works (2 Tim. 2:1; 2 Thess. 2:16-17).
      • The Word of God's Grace can build us up and sanctify us so that we might receive our inheritance.  We are filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that we can walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him and bearing abundant fruit in every good work (Col. 1:9-11; Acts 20:32; Rom. 16:25, 26).

    • Giving Eternal Life:
      •  We are justified by His Grace that we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  His words are spirit and life.  They are words of eternal life!  (Titus 3:7; John 6:63, 68).


CONCLUSION:

The Gospel of Grace is where we stand (1 Corinthians 15:1-11), and we must stand in the Gospel, for we were saved through the Gospel.  Thus we must hold fast to that Gospel Message!  Our whole life is declared on this Message.  Our past (before we obeyed the Gospel), our present (we're presently standing on the Gospel Message), and our future (we are being saved, eternal life) are founded in the Truth of the resurrection of Jesus.  Thus we must not lose our grip and neglect to stand in the hope of the resurrection of Jesus.  The foundation on which we stand,  is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures and finally that He made many resurrection appearances.  The Gospel Message compels us to see ourselves for who we really are, for we are nothing, have no life within us, our sins are overwhelming and beyond.  Indeed we are unworthy!  The Gospel Message demands humility, for it causes us to see the wretchedness of our sins.  The Gospel changes who we are, for God takes us from our state of unrighteousness and ungodliness to being declared righteous when we obey the Gospel of Grace from the heart.

May we learn Christ through Grace so that we may walk in the likeness of God, in His righteousness and the holiness of the Truth.  May we also abide in the Gospel of Grace with all perseverance.  May we be on guard for false doctrines as well as their false teachers, always abiding in Christ's Truth, striving with all of our heart and soul so that our Father in heaven can perfect our work.

Luci



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