Rudy provided us with a wonderful lesson this Sunday (6/3/18) on the power, pursuits, and conditions of grace. I would like to follow up on that. Grace can be a tricky thing; or rather, the world’s interpretation of grace can be a tricky thing. Grace (G.od’s R.iches A.t C.hrist’s E.xpense) is a simple concept. It is the gift of God, the wonderful blessings of His favor, because of Christ’s death. It is an umbrella of protection and promises we have but to step under. This is where the controversy begins.
How do we obtain the grace of god?
Some believe we are predestined and that man has no free will to choose. They cite Romans 8:28-30. We know this cannot be the truth of God’s grace. We know God has provided us free will to choose and He earnestly yearns for us to choose Him. What Paul is saying in this passage is that those who live like Jesus (the predestined), those who adhere to the criteria that has been expressly provided; these are the called (those that hear the Word, those that follow and believe the good message, the gospel news).
Consider a class you have chosen to enroll in. The criterion is set in place and a standard established for passing the class. Students understand what it takes to pass and recognize that those who pass the class (the predestined) are those who adhere to the requirements set before them (the definition of the called). In this sense grace is not predetermined. Free will is not taken out of the equation. Rather, grace is provided in full to those who are the called, or to the predestined, or to those under the fold of God.
Some believe grace is a gift that can never be lost. We know that grace is conditional. It is freely offered by God at all times but we must accept the terms or conditions of that offer. We can certainly fall from grace (Galatians 5:4, Romans 9:32, John 3:35-36).
What divides a true Christian from the rest of the world is in understanding Ephesians 2:8. We are saved by grace through faith. But this is not the end of the story; rather, the beginning. See, faith is a work (James 2:14-26). Not a work of the flesh, but a work of the spirit, a work of our belief. Our faith is an action and that action is obedience. So in order to fall under the grace of God we must first and continually obey the commands of God (Hebrews 11: ff). This should naturally lead us into the Bible, the Word of God, to find what it is He asks of us. If we don’t know the Bible, then we don’t know what God asks of us, then we cannot obey God’s commands, thus our faith is empty and without action, and without faith how can we have grace if we are saved BY grace THROUGH faith. Thus we would stand unjustified (Romans 10:1-4) before God (without Christ) and are proven unqualified for His grace.
What we need to understand about grace is that, first and foremost, grace requires faith. Faith is derived from obedience and obedience comes from… hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, being baptized, and living faithfully unto death. Simple, right? Don’t let the world’s muddled uncontextualized false derivation of grace confuse you. Take strength in knowing that God is consistent, truthful, and above all desires for us to understand His word that we might be saved (…wait for it…by His grace through our faith).