True Grace

What does the grace of God mean to you? It is our belief that many professing Christians either misunderstand grace or just plain take advantage of it and we want this Bible study to encourage you and make you really think about how you view the grace of God and what change it has made in your life. Many people today think that because they simply "believe" in Jesus then they are saved and cannot be lost. And there are many who just continue to live worldly sinful lives, while professing Christ Jesus. I'm sure you've heard people say "Oh! I'm under grace now, not under the law". This is receiving the grace of God in vain, just as the apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 6:1 .....'We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive NOT the grace of God in vain.'

This is such an important issue. You can see that Paul is pleading with those in Corinth who have accepted Christ and His grace, but they are still walking in sin. And Paul knows that if you have accepted God's grace but continue to live a worldly life, thinking that you are " covered" by His grace, then you have received His grace in vain and in reality, you are not under grace, but still under sin and condemnation. Think about it, the devils even believe in Christ Jesus and tremble in fear of Him (James 2:19), and yet they are lost

The reason we believe that this is such a misunderstood issue is because of the dangerous teaching of once saved always saved. So many professing Christians believe that once they have accepted the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus, then they become justified before God (which is correct), but then they believe, in error, that they cannot lose their salvation. So many people come to the cross and stop right there. They accept the teaching of justification, but ignore the important work of Bible sanctification, ie. the putting away of sin from their lives.

Now we fully accept the Bible truth that the grace of God is a free gift and we cannot work to attain it, as it is only through faith that we can receive it, which Paul confirms in Ephesians 2:8-9, because if we had to work for grace, then it wouldn't be a gift would it?

Grace and Works

Now here is the problem. Many people today say that we just need faith to be saved, but James comes along and says that faith WITHOUT works is dead!

James 2:14,19,20 .....'What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?'

James 2:18 .....'Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.'

Do you see that word "vain" again? Paul was pleading with the Corinthians not the receive the grace of God in vain, and James confirms that if you believe that faith alone can save you without works, then your faith is in vain. But surely, if grace is received only through faith in Christ Jesus and not by works, then James has contradicted the teaching of grace right? No. You see, if we TRULY accept what Christ Jesus has done for our sin, then we should have such a love for Him that we would WANT to do good works for Him and turn away from the world and our sinful ways.

What James was saying was, how can you say you have faith in Christ and are covered by His grace and yet you do no good works, and don't make any effort in turning away from your sinful nature? This kind of faith is dead and in vain. You see, we don't do works TO BE saved, we do the works because WE ARE saved, and we allow the grace of Christ Jesus to transform our lives and characters. James says, " you show me your faith without your works and I'll show you my faith BY my works". You see, it's not the works that saves us, but it's the works that PROVES our faith to be true. You will know if someone has true faith by their FRUIT.

Just take a look at the following selection of Bible verses concerning the way we should live AFTER we have received the grace of God. Please pray over these verses and ask God for wisdom:

1 John 2:15 .....'Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.'

Hebrews 12:14 .....'Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.'

Romans 3:31 .....'Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.'

1 Peter 1:16 .....'Be ye holy; for I am holy.'

Hebrews 6:1 .....'Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.'

2 Corinthians 7:1 .....'Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.'

Can you honestly read and meditate upon those Bible verses and still think that once we believe in Christ and accept His sacrifice for us, that we are free to continue living the way we want? Does the grace of God allow us to continue in sin, carelessly saying that we are now under grace not law? Is the grace of God this big cover up that allows us to continue living a worldly life and still be saved, just because we " believe"? Certainly not. So what change should happen in our lives?

What Does Grace Do?

Romans 12:2 .....'And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.'

We do not transform ourselves into holy people, because our hearts are inherently sinful. It is only through the grace of God, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us that we are transformed. But we must be open and willing to enable Christ Jesus to change us into His image of holiness, otherwise it will not happen. Think about it, if you accept the grace of God but you WANT to carry on living a worldly life of sin, then you will be shutting the door to the power of Christ and you will not be transformed, and your faith will be in vain. This is why Paul above tells us NOT to be conformed to the world, but instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds through the grace of God. We cannot have both, we either choose the world, or choose Christ.

2 Peter 1:3 .....'According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.'

No one who goes to heaven will be able to say "Oh, I got here because I did this or that", because it is only through the perfect life and sacrifice of Christ Jesus, and only through His transforming power in our lives that we will get to the kingdom. And as you can see above in 2 Peter, He will give us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and holiness. Do you know what this means? It means that those who are ready and willing to follow their Lord and Saviour wherever He goes, He will give them the power to turn away from worldly things. He will give them the power to understand His Word in the Bible. He will give them power to be great witnesses for Him. And He will give them the power to overcome ALL sin. All things is all things. There will be nothing that Christ can't do in our lives if we let Him. This is the true grace of God.

Matthew 10:38 .....'And he that taketh NOT his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.'

Matthew 16:24 .....'Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.'

Jesus is calling us to Him, to receive of His grace. But we need to be ready and willing to take up our cross and follow Him, and then He will transform our lives and we will begin to look more like Him as we follow Him each day. But remember, sanctification which is the process of Jesus setting us apart for holy use, isn't going to happen in a moment, it's a day by day process of turning from sin and this world. But He will perform it if we are willing.

Now there will be two classes of "Christians" at the end when Jesus returns. There will be those who used the grace of God as an excuse to be able to continue living a worldly life and continue in sin, these will be lost. The following verse describes these people:

Hebrews 10:29 .....'Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified A COMMON THING, and insulted the Spirit of grace?'

And then there will be those who were willing to be changed by Christ. They "worked out their salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). They "showed their faith by their works" (James 2:18). And they "made every effort to be holy" (Hebrews 12:14). These are the saved. They are the one's who once they realise what Christ has done for them, will study His Word to find the truth and then live by it and will be willing to allow Christ to change them. Remember, Christ said "FOLLOW ME". Let's do it!

I hope you can see that the TRUE grace of God isn't just this big cover up, enabling us to continue living worldly sinful lives, but it's the "power of God unto salvation" . The power to help us turn from sin and live holy lives for our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus.

CLICK HERE for more about the grace of God and how to worship.