By Grant B. Caldwell
The subject of grace is one of the most talked about subjects in the religious world. Yet, I am persuaded that it is one of the most misunderstood subjects in the Bible. Some think that grace brings miraculous manifestations from God. Others believe that it caused the salvation of the soul without any obedience on the part of the individual. You will hear it said that grace eliminates the worry of hell-i.e., “God is just too good and too gracious to send anyone to hell.” Even in our Lord’s body, we are hearing that grace creates some kind of an all-inclusive fellowship in which we worry not about another’s activities whether right or wrong, but we simply concern ourselves with the (arbitrary) appropriation of the righteous life of Jesus Christ.
Grace is not, however, so terribly difficult to understand if we would but go to the word of God and consider the matter. As is the case too many times and in too many matters, we are prone to take a subjective look at the matter instead of an objective view. What does the word of God say about the doctrine of grace?
Taught by Grace
In Titus 2:11-12, Paul said that “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us”. The Apostle says that grace teaches us. But notice that the Bible says that we are taught by the gospel or by the word of God. In Mark 16:15-16, Christ said that his apostles were to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Matthew’s account says to teach all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). Teach all nations what? Why, the gospel, of course.
Saved by Grace
These same verses in Titus 2, also teach that it is “the grace of God that bringeth salvation.” “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). Thus, the Bible says that we are saved by grace. But notice, the Bible also says that we are saved by the gospel. Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation.” The same writer said in 1 Cor. 1:18, “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” While we are saved by grace, we are also saved by the gospel.
Called By Grace
Paul teaches in Gal. 1:15 that it pleased God to call “me by his grace”. The inspired preacher tells us that we are called not only by but into the grace of God (Gal. 1:6). Consider, however, 2 Thess 2:14, where the same writer said, “Whereunto he called you by our gospel.” Was Paul called by one thing and the Thessalonians called by something else? Are you getting interested now? We are called by the grace of God, but we are called by the gospel.
Grow In Grace
Peter explains in 2 Peter 3:18 that we are to “Grow in the grace . . . of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Grace is something in which one may grow. But in 1 Peter 2:2;, he said, “As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” In fact, in the verse in 2 Peter 3:18, he said, “Grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Continue In Grace
In Acts 13:43, Paul in Antioch in Pisidia “persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” But Christ had said in John 8:31 that we were to “continue in my word.” And again, “whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein” (James 1:25). Our brethren like to talk about grace but do not like to talk about continuing in law. “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them” (1 Tim. 4:16). We are to continue in grace, but my brethren, we are to continue in the word.
Fall from Grace
Finally, Paul said in Gal. 5:4, “ye are fallen from grace.” Peter shows, however, in 2 Peter 1:10 that it is possible to fall from something else. If you consider verse 8 (“barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge) and verse 12 (“be established in the present truth”), it will be seen that he is saying we may fall from the gospel. We may fall from the grace of God and we may fall from the gospel of Christ.
Now, what does all of this mean? Does it mean that the grace of God and the word of God are the same thing? No! But it does mean that they are inseparably linked together. Somewhat like “love and marriage” and “a horse and carriage”, you cannot have one without the other.
Look at Acts 14:3 where Luke records that Paul and Barnabas “gave testimony unto the word of his grace.” You cannot separate the word and the grace. In John 1:17, John said, “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Not just grace. Not just truth. But “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The grace of God prompted the giving of His Son and His Son shed His blood for the gospel (Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20). The sole purpose of the preaching of Paul was “the ministry . . . of the Lord Jesus, . . . the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). As members of the blood-bought church (Acts 20:28), we have been commended to “the word of his grace” (Acts 20:32). We know the “grace of God in truth” (Col. 1:6).
Thus, we need not look for miracles, or salavation without obedience, nor heaven for all. We need not expect to have a “brotherhood-wide fellowship” without respect to the word or proper conduct. I know of no one who does not believe in the grace of God. Nor do I know of anyone who teaches we may be saved by law alone. However, by the grace of God, we have the gospel of our salvation (Eph. 1:13) and we must-again I say, must-accept it (2 Thess. 1:7-9).
When a man accepts the word of God, he receives the grace of God. If a man has the grace of God, it is because he is committed to His word. Our brethren would have us believe that it does not matter about doctrine. In an underground paper from Boston, Massachusetts, published by Vance Drum, dated April 1975, we hear, “But the Good News is that our salvation no longer depends on our measuring up to the holiness of God by doing the works of law. (Romans 3:21, 28) Rather, our salvation lies in Christ.” It seems strange to me that those who espouse this position like to quote verses like Romans 3:21 and 28 (never really understanding them) and cannot seem to see verses 26 and 27. They forget that our Lord said only those who “do the will of my father which is in heaven” would be the recipients of the blessings (Matt. 7:21) and that He is “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” You have the wrong idea about Romans 3:21 and 28 when you discount the rest of the New Testament because of them. The whole point of the Roman letter from beginning to end is the point of “obedience to the faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26).
Drum further states, “Law in the New Testament is never referred to as being Good News. Law does not bring salvation, impart peace, produce regeneration, or destroy death. Nor does Law give life, immortality, or hope.” What about Romans 8:1 and the “Law of the Spirit of Life.” Is that not the same as “the gospel of Christ . . . the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16)? Pauls said law frees us from the law of sin and death. It is time to cut this cancerous Calvinistic approach to the Roman letter from our spiritual bodies.
Do not mistake my words. I would not minimize the righteous life of Jesus. I do not believe that law alone will save. I believe as firmly as I believe in anything that we are “saved by grace.” But that grace may be had only in the law or gospel of Christ. When we receive, remember, and stand in the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-2), then and only then do we have the grace of God.
Just one more thought in closing. In Gal. 2:21, Paul said, “I do not frustrate (make void, ASV) the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in’vain.” How could a man “frustrate” or “make void” the grace of God? Paul’s next statement explains, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth” (3:1). Even the American Standard which leaves out these words says in verse 2 that the receiving of the Spirit is by the “hearing of faith” (cf. Rom. 10:17). When we refuse to obey the truth or hear the faith, we frustrate the grace of God and thus, have no part in it. Brethren, let us return unto God, unto His grace. and unto His word.
Truth Magazine XXI: 43, pp. 684-686
November 3, 1977