Grace

Clyde White

Defining Grace

The word Grace is used more than 130 times in the New Testament. Its synonyms are used almost twice as much as that. You can see that grace is a very important word in the Bible.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

When we think of grace, we first think of saving grace: coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior (Ephesians 2.8-9.) While this is true, grace does not stop at salvation. Nor does it begin there. Grace began long before and continues long after the moment we are saved.

God's Grace is not God treating a person as he deserves. Honestly, we do not want God treating us as we deserve to be treated. Grace is not based on man's worth. It is based only on man's need and God's provision. We certainly have a great need!

So, how do we define Grace? Basically, grace has been commonly defined as God's unmerited favor. This statement, like so many, has in it a little bit of truth – but there is so much more truth that is not in that statement. God’s unmerited favor is a good place to begin, a good handle to hang onto, but it is not the totality of what grace means.

Every blessing, every heartache, every discovery, every vital moment, every sickness, every life resurrection, every death demonstrates the grace of God (Romans 8.28-29; 1 John 3.1-2; Psalm 139). It is the expression of His Essence and His Person. It is not something He does, it is something He is.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,

This saving grace which is available for all is God’s grace. This grace is infinite – simply because it is God’s grace and God is infinite. This grace is Christ.

Essence of God

In order to better understand the grace of God, we need to have a basic understanding of the doctrine of God and the doctrine of man. In other words; Who is God and who is man?

Please understand that any teaching or illustration that I give will not be the total picture of God. The terms and illustrations I use are only for the purpose of helping us get a handle on the Biblical concept of God. We must have the totality of the Word of God, taught by the Holy Spirit, to have any real concept of God and His work.

It all begins with God. God has revealed Himself to mankind, therefore, it is His desire that we know Him as best the human mind can.

The study of God, like any other Biblical subject, cannot be found in one book or one Scripture passage. We must gather all the information about God from Genesis to Revelation. Then, we must compare that information with all Scripture, rightly divide that information (or properly categorize it), and then harmonize those truths.

There are many ways of presenting the essence of God, sometimes called God’s attributes. Even the most extensive presentation of the essence of God will seem very small compared to the infinite capacity of God’s person.

Genesis 1.1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

There is only one God. The Bible tells us "In the beginning God…" Not gods but God (Genesis 1.1). Yet in personality, God is three. These three are separate entities, yet one in essence. There are three persons of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These are descriptive titles taken by the persons of the Trinity as to their role in the plan of redemption. The doctrine of God, or the essence of God, is what makes up God in His character: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All three fully possess all of these attributes.

For our study, I have summarized the essence of God by eleven terms. These eleven terms do a fair, but very limited job of describing God’s essence as presented throughout Scripture.

God is Sovereign
one that exercises supreme, permanent authority
God is Righteous
upright, virtue, without guilt
He is Holy
the opposite of and apart from all that is evil or wrong
He is Just
moral rightness in actioand attitude
He is Love
non-egocentric tenderness, affection and kinship
He is Eternal Life
always existed and always will: the ultimate source of all life
He is Omniscient
is all-knowing, literally the source of all knowledge
He is Omnipresent
is present everywhere at all times
He is Omnipotent
has and is the source of all power
He is Immutable
does not change
He is Absolute Truth
true in motive, thought, and action; the source of all truth

Each aspect of the Essence of God must operate in concert and harmony with all other aspects of His Essence. No one aspect can operate alone or in opposition. God is love, but He is also righteous and holy and just. God loves, but He loves righteously, He loves in a holy aspect, He loves in a just manner.

Grace is God's love working in harmony with all aspects of His Essence. God will not give grace unless all the aspects of His Essence are satisfied: His Sovereignty, His Righteousness, His Holiness, His Justice, His Love, His Eternal Life, His Omniscience, His Omnipresence, His Omnipotence, His Immutability, and His absolute Truth.

The sinner is never forgiven because God is some big- hearted teddy-bear that says, “Oh, it all right. I will just over-look it, this time. After all you didn't mean to be bad, your environment and your upbringing caused you to be like you are." The righteousness, the holiness, the justice, the immutability and truthfulness of God demand that sin have its punishment.

This is just a brief explanation of Who God is for the purpose of understanding His grace. There is so much more to know about the Essence of God. These are things of which we have little understanding. But as we understand more about God and His character, we find it more difficult to reject Him and His ways. Therefore, it is important to continue finding out Who He is as you read and study on your own!

Nature of Man

Man was made in the shadow image and likeness of God. But God is everything we are not: He is Holy, we are sinful. He is Love, we are self-centered. He is Just, we constantly try to justify our actions. How did we get to be so different from the One in Whose image we were created?

Fresh from the hand of God, our original parents were in a state of perfect innocence. They lived in a perfect environment: the beauty of a garden made by God. They had perfect food at anytime, every bit of it healthy. There was no toilsome work. They had perfect fellowship all day. They never had a fight or argument nor did they lie to each other. Christ, Himself, came and taught Bible Study every evening. They knew God through a very direct relationship. What more could they want? (Genesis 1 and 2)

Being in the Image of God, God gave man a volition. Volition is a shadow image of God’s Sovereignty: this was not sovereignty itself. Man did not have an unlimited right to choose as God does. Man had limited volition. In His Sovereignty, every choice God makes increases the choices God can make. But man is the opposite: every choice man makes limits the choices he can make. Look at Adam. Before he chose to eat from the one tree forbidden by God, he could have eaten anything he wanted (Genesis 2.15-17). But when Adam chose to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he was removed from that garden (Genesis 3.22-24). It limited every choice he had after that. And every one of our choices today limits us.

In order to get them to go against God’s will, Satan needed to change their minds about God’s character by getting them to doubt the truth of what God said. Eve did not fully understand the character of God and she let Satan’s words make her doubt God’s Character.  She and Adam rejected God and acted on that doubt. This was a sin against God and had dire consequences that would last throughout all the history of mankind. (Genesis 3.1-7)

The sin of rejecting God comes when we do not understand who God is. We doubt His words and His character.

In Genesis 3.3-13, God comes to the garden and Adam and Eve hide then whey hear Him. When God calls out to Adam, Adam says he hid because he was naked and afraid. Then God asks Adam two questions: Who told you that you were naked? And did you eat of that tree I commanded you not to eat? Adam answers, “The woman you gave me, gave me of the tree and I ate.” The woman answers, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.” Neither of them answer God’s questions and neither of them take responsibility for their actions.

1 John 2.15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Our choices are our responsibility and are not determined by our past; they are determined by our nature. God choices are determined by His divine nature: His righteousness, His love, His truth, His justice and so on. Our choices are determined by our fallen nature: lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, pride of life.

By an act of their own volition they rejected God and destroyed their relationship with each other, their relationship with God, their environment, their fun, and their future. All of this was changed immediately. (Genesis 3.14-24)

They were no longer in the image of God – they had rejected Him. They tried to establish their own righteousness: self-righteousness. Notice the first thing that sinful mankind did after the Fall – they tried to cover themselves up and have their own work make them acceptable to God. Up to this point God had provided all for man. Now man tried to provide for self - He became self-righteous or humanly righteous. This obviously didn’t work. They knew that God was coming in the evening and when they realized their self-made coverings were not sufficient, they hid themselves. 

Not only are they are no longer in the Image of God -- they are just the opposite of God. They are as different from God as they can get and the very best they ever can be: is human. They are totally depraved of any Spiritual life or the ability to acquire it: they had been cut off spiritually; they had died.

We know what they did: they rejected God. Think about what they didn’t do: they had not robbed anyone; they had not killed anyone; they hadn't even cheated on the income tax. They simply rejected Christ. That one act destroyed their eternal future. A sobering fact, indeed. We often think of sins against our comfort and safety as the worst possible sins. In our thinking, we perceive that those sins which someone has done against someone else to be worse than sin against God. We elevate man above God. We do not realize all He is and what that means in our lives. And while murder, rape, and violence are all bad, we don’t realize that the greatest sins are sins against God and His Character. This demonstrates how unlike God we are. And how much in need of His Grace we are!

Redefining Grace

Now that we have a little information about the character of God and the character of man, let’s refine our definition of Grace.

We began with a very simple definition: God’s unmerited favor. Knowing little else, this was a good starting point. But since that time, we have learned a bit about Who God is, who man is and their relationship to each other. With that in mind, we can expand our definition of Grace.

Grace is the action of the totality of God's Essence (His Sovereignty, Righteousness, Holiness, Justice, Love, Eternal Life, Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Immutability, and Truth), demonstrating Himself in mercy towards mankind, who deserves to have God's Judgment.

Grace is the plan and provision of God for sinful man.

What Grace is... and What it is Not

Man’s reception of God’s grace is based on several things: his total inability to have any part in the execution of grace, his total inability to receive God’s grace on his own, and his total inability to lay claim to the smallest detail of God’s provision. There is nothing we can do to cause God to give us more or less Grace. We do not deserve it. If there is anything I can think, if there is anything I can say, if there is anything I can do to cause God to give me less or more grace, it cannot be grace. Grace is not dependent on any aspect of human merit because any human merit derived from the human nature is not divine. Man is eliminated from this process because he is totally deprived of divine nature. We do not measure up to God’s character and we all fall short of God’s glory.

Romans 3.9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.”

There are several aspects of God's grace, His provision for sinful man, we need to understand. First, grace must be produced through and of God Himself. No one else had anything to do with it: God, alone, did it all. Secondly, there is no way God can give us grace while overlooking a law or requirement which He has constituted. Every aspect of the physical and the divine law must be totally and completely satisfied in grace. God must be true to Himself. And finally, this provision must be offered equally to all. There is no such thing as selective grace. God has made it available to all. It doesn’t matter whether you are good or bad, God has made grace available to every person.

Grace is God's action and provision for man, based upon the harmony of all aspects of His Essence. Unless He acts in harmony with all aspects of His character, He cannot give us grace. Grace is God providing all that He is to all that man needs without any merit or recompense on the part of man. It is based on man's total spiritual bankruptcy and God's infinite provision

Grace finds its greatest glory in the realm of human helplessness.

Romans 5:20 "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more"

Romans 5.20 tells us “Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound.” This was one of the purposes of the law. The law was there so that people would recognize sin as sin. And to realize that every action of man was sin. He was incapable of doing anything that was not sin. No human kept even one part of the law. Romans 5 goes on to say, “…where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” This does not mean that we should sin so that we can get more grace, but should realize what sin is.

Grace is not Grace if it is dependent on man's success or failure, or his goodness or sin. It is not based on the slightest degree of human merit. It makes no matter how much or how little a person has sinned, for Grace is not measured by a weight. Grace is measured out according to need. God’s grace is available as we have need and is available to all who will accept this provision, based on the merit of Christ – not on the merit of self.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Believers can find grace in time of need. It is because of Christ’s merit, not their own, that they can approach God. This is a grace given to the Christian.

There are also graces offered to those who don’t believe.

Romans 5:18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

Grace and Sin and Salvation

Saving Grace is offered to all men and can only be given by God when there is absolutely no degree of merit on man's part. If God detected any merit or spark of divinity in man, He would, because of His Justice, have to allow man to use that human good or spark of divinity to satisfy the debt of need.

Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 4 Now to him who works [for his righteousness], the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.

Abraham believed God and God gave him righteousness. It was that simple. No work on Abraham’s part: he believed and God gave him righteousness.

Now there are wages for doing good works, but they are only doing human good. The only merit they can have is human merit, not divine merit. The only divine merit you can have is by grace. If you want human merit, stay with the human process. If you want divine merit, it comes by grace alone.

The phrase not counted as grace, but as debt is hard to understand

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

All our human righteousness are like filthy rags. Compare this to God’s righteousness which is like a white linen garment that glows so brightly you can’t even look at it.

Allow me to further illustrate. I am now sixty-eight years old. Let’s say at age eighteen, I began doing the very best I could do at everything I did. I have worked for fifty years doing the very best I could at all times. According to Isaiah 64.6, what do I have? A fifty year pile of filthy rags. I had less debt at eighteen than I do now after fifty years of trying with all of my energy to do the best I can. My best works are totally depraved of any spiritual quality. (https://vimeo.com/107499324)

God has concluded that all mankind is without spiritual merit and therefore all qualify for God's Grace. You are without any merit and because of that, you qualify for God’s grace. God’s graces does not come to us because we are good, but because God demonstrates His mercy towards those who deserve judgement.

Until we understand that, we cannot understand grace.

Romans 4.5 But to him who does not work [for his righteousness] but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted (to him) for righteousness,

My faith in what God has done is counted for righteousness.

John 3:18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Once God has taken care of the sin question through Christ, He does not confront us with it again. Condemnation is based not on whether or not we sin, but on the rejection of the Son of God. Those who believe, do not have to worry about condemnation any longer. Condemnation is reserved only for those who have rejected Christ.

Romans 11:32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

Romans 3:9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.

Galatians 3:22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

God showed us that we all were committed to disobedience so that He might have mercy on all. How vast is His grace!

The Scripture shows us that we are all under sin that the promise of faith in Jesus might be given to those who believe. God went to great lengths so show us that we have nothing divine in us. We are totally depraved. Many think that total depravity means that we are the worst we can be. But total depravity means we have been deprived of all that is divine. This means we are without of any goodness that could make us acceptable to God.

Man, whether believer or non-believer, is totally incapable of doing any divine or spiritual work by or through his own efforts. He can only produce human work.

The grace God offers us is not based on anything we have done, or what others think of us, but because of His love for us.

Man could not nor is he allowed to have any part in his salvation. We are dead in trespasses. The dead cannot participate in life; they are dead. Salvation is not of us; we are dead in trespass and can do nothing. Salvation is not of our works; all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. There is nothing we can do to gain salvation. This is God’s work alone.

Saving Grace is God’s infinite Love expressing itself through infinite Goodness, made possible because of His infinite Righteousness and Justice.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

He loved us even when we were dead. That is when it started. There is nothing you did that caused His love.

He made us alive when we were dead. We had no ability to do anything spiritual in our spiritually dead state. We could do nothing beyond a human level and that, according to Isaiah 64.6, results in filthy rags.

He raised us up far beyond where we were when we were depraved. We were without any goodness that could make us acceptable to God, yet through Christ, God raised us up.

He made us to sit together in heavenly places. This is because of our position in Christ.

This salvation is a gift of God.

We are His workmanship. That statement should tell us that grace comes no other way. It is from God alone.

We are created in Christ for good works. This is our life purpose.

Salvation is, and must be, the work of God for man and it is always by grace.

Receiving God's Grace does not obligate us to any type of debt or pay back. Any past, present or future obligations attached to Grace would make it no more Grace but a debt. Just because God loved us does not obligate us as believers to do anything in return.

Grace is a gift. A gift cannot be a gift if paid for before, at the time, or after receiving it. Otherwise it is not a gift. To attempt to repay God for His Grace, frustrates the process of grace. It lowers this infinite act of God to the level of barter, trade or bribery.

1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

Christ, the Lamb of God, paid for the sin of the whole world on the cross, thereby removing the condemnation of sin - any sin - forever.

With God's righteousness and justice satisfied on the cross, God is now able to forgive, and as with any work of God, He forgives perfectly and infinitely. It is not a matter of if you quit sinning, it is a matter of receiving His provision.

On the cross all sin, whether it is the sin of a saint or sinner, has been righteously judged and the ransom price paid, this satisfies every demand of infinite Holiness.

How Grace Works

Man can only do one of two things to appropriate the forgiveness of sins, or saving grace: believe or confess.

The unbeliever needs to believe to be saved. For the forgiveness of sins there is no greater demand imposed upon the unsaved than that to believe. There is nothing we can do to gain it. God has provided it, we can either accept it or reject it (Luke 8.12; Romans 10.9; Acts 16.31).

Luke 8:15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Acts 16:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

The believer needs to confess. There is no greater demand imposed upon the believer than to confess and walk in the Spirit. The believer needs to confess his sin. To confess means to agree with God about your sin.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The salvation of a sinner is union with God through believing. The believer is restored constantly into communion with God through confession. Both are examples of the grace of God.

The Believer makes no disposition for his own sin; he does nothing to put his sin out of the way. Christ has already taken care of that problem. As we grow in Christ, we will sin less, but we will not be sin-less.

Christ, our Advocate does not make excuses for the sinning of the Believer, nor does He plead for clemency of the Father. He does not try to make us look good before the Father. He simply presents the sufficiency of His own blood which is more than adequate to provide payment for the penalty for any sin. The Father acts in faithfulness (the same every time) and forgives – not on the basis of your confession, but on Christ’s sacrifice for you. This is grace.

In the restoration process of a Believer, the Father may chasten His child. It is for correction, not punishment. The purpose of this correction is to restore the Child of God to the place of fellowship.  This is also a part of God’s grace.

Hebrews 12:7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?

Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

All this happens within the family of God. Never is there any chance that the erring child of God would or could be expelled from the family because he sinned. This security is the greatest incentive for a holy life!

God can deal with sin and be true to His Essence by no other means than through the finished work of Christ. It has nothing to do with any works on our part. If God were ever untrue to His Essence, He would no longer be God. Because of God's Righteousness and Justice through His Love, He gave us His Son. He could do no less – there was no other way. Now in Grace He gives us all things.

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Rewards are the result of man's faithful service, empowered by the Holy Spirit - after and only after a person experiences God's Saving Grace. Before salvation, there is no reward. Only through His Spirit can our works be profitable.

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

God's action towards man in Grace is threefold: that which is accomplished in man – the gift of our salvation, that which is accomplished for man – He has seated in the heavenlies, and that which is accomplished by man – through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In creation, the Son spoke. That is a powerful thing. God spoke and the worlds were formed. It only took a little effort on God’s part for creation.

In Salvation, the Son died. It took all that God was to find a cure for man’s sin.

Man... More Than a Created Being

All creatures possess a life; whether angels or animals.

Leviticus 17:11 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.'

All earthly creatures possessed a life that was taken from the chemical elements. The animals were taken from the elements of creation and therefore could not be like God. Their life was in the blood.

Isaiah 14:13 For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.'

The angelic creatures could not be like God because they were created beings. Satan fell and tried to be like God through his own efforts, apart from God. Notice the times Satan says “I will”. Because Satan set his will above God’s sovereignty, he was cast down.

In a real sense, the beginning of man was more of a birth than a simple creation. Yes, man was created from the elements, but God also breathed into him the breath of life. There was a transmission of the very breath of God to man. His real life was passed to him from the very being of God. He was formed in the Image of God.

Of all of the created beings, Man alone was able to be like God. Man, alone, was created to have intimate fellowship with God. For that fellowship to grow and extend eternally, man had to choose his source of life: from God or from another source. Remember the tree in the garden? He chose the natural against God’s will. The only thing God said he couldn’t do in the garden was eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And man chose to eat from that very tree.

Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'

The soul lives and matures on information. Spiritually, we live and mature only on God’s information: His word.

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Man chose the words of Satan as his directive for living, rather than the word of God. Without God’s saving grace, his only source of life would be the natural, his only hope was self-righteousness, he would suffer spiritual death, and his existence would be temporal at best.

How to Live in Grace

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Salvation was not easy. Remember, it took all of Who God is to produce for us salvation. All we must do is believe in His provision. Even if getting out of hell was the only reason for salvation - that would be good enough. But there is so much more to salvation.

There is a great advantage to the person who receives Christ as Savior. John 3.16 tells us that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Everlasting life is not just length of life, but also quality of life: the life of God Himself.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Never is a sinner created in Christ Jesus by good works, but he is created in Christ Jesus for good works.

After the Fall, Adam and his wife tried by their own effort to do good works to make up for what they had done. They failed. (Gen 3) When we try through our own efforts to imitate what God would do, we do not receive reward for that, but suffer loss. (Isaiah 64.6)

Once we are in Christ Jesus, we are good works. That is the natural production of a new life in Christ.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

The grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and shows us how to live Godly in this present age. How? By trying not to sin anymore? By doing only good things? No! We are to look to our Hope, Our Savior, Christ Jesus!

Psalm 119:9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.

Psalm 119.9 asks, ”How can a young man cleanse his way?” Isn’t that what we all want to know? The writer then goes on to answer that question, “by taking heed according to Your word.”

We stop sinning only as we take in the word of God, and walk in the Spirit. As we live by His word, our way will be cleansed. We must take the word of God onto our soul. As this happens, as we look to Jesus, our Hope (Titus 2.13), He purifies us for His own and then we will desire good works. This is a process that begins with God, not us.

The results our working toward our own righteousness and God working righteousness through us (by grace) may appear the same to the human mind, but we are not interested in how things appear. Instead, we are interested in what God says.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Man sees man as justified by our works alone. We, in truth, are justified before God by faith alone. God does not looks at the works, He looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16.7). If the heart is right (taking in the word of God, walking in the Spirit), the works will be there.

Under the Law, works were required. It was man doing what God had commanded as a demonstration of obedience.

Divine blessing was given as a result of obedience in doing some physical work or ritual. The very character of the law-relationship was to do work to receive divine blessing. But the purpose of the law was to point out sin. Man never kept the law, and didn’t even realize that he didn’t. If we had to rely on keeping the law to receive blessing of God, no one could do it.

1 Samuel 15:22 So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

God tells us he would rather have obedience than sacrifice. We need good works – desperately. But we are not to conjure them up on our own. Good works are an outflow of our focus in obedience.

Under Grace we do good works as a result of divine blessing, not as a means to get those blessings. As believers, our good works are not a part of our gaining salvation, but a result of it. While we don’t have much trouble believing that our goodness will get us saved, we live as though we believe that our goodness will keep us saved. That defies all logic!

Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

In some presentations of being saved unto good works under grace, God is often made to appear as a heartless taskmaster directing the affairs of the eternal state. His only interest in mankind is the service they can perform for Him. If their production for any reason be diminished, He will cast them aside just as a worn tool.

Happily, this is not the nature or program of God. God’s goodness is what draws us to Him. Being saved unto good works, is only one phase of the purpose of salvation. In addition, the good work that we do through His Grace is rewarded. But that is a lesson for another time.

Grace Reveals God's Glory

Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Colossians 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight--

All things, including Salvation, are by and for Christ. It pleased God that Christ should reconcile sinful man to himself through the blood of the cross.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Christ died for the salvation of sinners and so that every knee would bow to Him. Christ humbled Himself and God exalted Him. It may not seem this way now, but eventually every being in creation will acknowledge Christ as Lord.

Jude 1:24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

Not only is salvation for the purpose of showing to all creatures His wisdom and glory, but also that He may present before the presence of His glory the redeemed and kept saint. He is our strength and will one day present us faultless before God.

Revelation 13:8 And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Of all the eternal aspects of Christ's person, the fact that He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world is central.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Those who are to be redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb are referred to as chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. This was part of God’s plan all along. Even the good work of the redeemed is said to be foreordained

1 Peter 1:18–21 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Grace and Redemption were in view before the fall, even before creation. It was not a reaction to man's failure or just the best of the available remedies at hand.  God purposed His grace and His redemption before sin entered the world.

God's Grace could not have been demonstrated in the world except and until sin entered.  We should not confuse the fact the God permitted sin to enter with the notion that God licensed man to sin. A world without sin would have been magnificent with unlimited celestial glory and terrestrial beauty.

But God's eternal purpose is to reveal His grace.

Romans11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

Acts 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.

Romans 4:4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Conclusion

The centuries of human struggle are for one purpose: that mankind be redeemed by God’s grace alone. God’s purpose is to demonstrate before all principalities and powers in heaven and on earth the exceeding riches of His grace. He does this by showing how the depraved sinner is transformed to be like Christ even in the depth of sin and the hopeless state of the mankind. This amazing transformation is only accomplished through the exceeding riches of His grace. Christ’s death and resurrection provided the atonement needed for man’s salvation. How marvelous is His grace!

Many will view history as what mankind has or has not accomplished. But when this age is completed and smoke has cleared, all will see that redemption, and all of history, was by grace alone.

Romans 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 And not only they, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

Ephesians 3:8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,

Grace is the plan and provision of God for sinful man.

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