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Grace AND Works?

The concept of "grace" has long been misunderstood and misapplied in Christian living. True grace is unmerited, undeserved and unearned forgiveness because of the blood of Christ through His sacrifice of His life, to death, to pay the penalty for our sins, which is death of our lives forever. If we pay for our own sins, we cannot live again. No human being can pay for His own sins without dying and ceasing to exist forever. Death MEANS death. Grace and forgiveness are the greatest gifts we can receive, but grace has been subverted to mean something else to the world's Christianity.

Grace has become, essentially, what is a "license" to sin because, and most presume, Christ died for us and did it all FOR us, therefore sin is no longer an issue in our lives. Is this true? What exactly is a "license" anyway? Here are several definitions for "license" from various court cases:

  • "The object of a license is to confer a right or power, which does not exist without it."
  • "The permission, by competent authority to do an act which without permission, would be illegal, a trespass, or a tort."
  • "Leave to do a thing which licensor could prevent."

Most traditional Christianity assumes that believing in Christ's sacrifice and accepting it relieves them from the penalty for sin, and allows them to continue (licenses them) as a sinner BECAUSE of that sacrifice, and that all others NOT accepting that sacrifice (not licensed) are still under the law, and sin is still over their heads... or, in other words, a Christian believes they have a license to sin which relieves them from the penalty of sin, while the rest of humanity has no such license, or "get out of jail free" card, yet while still sinning and not changing.

Is grace a license to sin with impunity? What did Paul say about this belief?

Rom 6:1-3 "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin (practicing sin, and not changing) that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?"

Paul stated that grace did NOT issue a license to us to continue sinning. Doesn't this indicate that there is more to the "grace" picture, and to sin, and what God expects of us? Is Grace "all" there is to salvation, or is there more to the picture that most traditional Christianity is missing? In truth, to become like Jesus Christ, who is exactly like the Father, involves a two-fold process of "Salvation and Sanctification!"

Consider 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ..."

If Grace is ONLY undeserved and unearned pardon and forgiveness, how does one "GROW" in that? Is forgiveness just partial forgiveness, and that we somehow have to "grow" into a complete forgiveness, or is there MORE? Is there more to salvation than being forgiven (Grace) and more than what you believe right now?

We understand from God's word that a person's works cannot give anyone salvation. Without grace/forgiveness, which is given as a free gift because of Christ's sacrifice and blood, no one can obtain salvation, regardless of how many works one does all through their lives.

However, to stop there in spiritual understanding, and ignore the dozens of scriptures which clearly teach that grace has more to it, and, alone, is NOT all that is necessary to being completed in Christ Jesus, is to allow Satan to deceive you into inaction, and therefore, to possibly prevent (or abort) the whole growth "process."

The premise being considered here is that grace alone is NOT all that is required for the completion of God's salvation. Salvation is a process, not an instant event which has no "qualifying" factors that are intimately involved WITH this process. God cannot create perfect, spiritual, righteous character instantly. Hard to believe? Christ Himself was "perfected" by the things He went through... things which were "required" for Him to become our faithful high priest. If Christ had "perfecting" requirements on Him, how much more do we, who yet have sin in our lives?

The important issue is that the members of the true Church of God are to be doing what God requires them to do...

  • Eph 4:15 "...Christ - 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."

This essentially means that every member has something to contribute to the Church, based on the parable of the talents...

  • Matt 25:15 "And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability;"

Christ expects us to use these talents/gifts...

  • 1 Cor 12:4 "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:"

If we are not "so doing" ...

  • Matt 24:45 "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing..."

... we could be the unprofitable servant who buried his talent and did nothing with it. We should be doing what we would do if we were living in God's Kingdom right now... doing what God has given us to do and contributing, leading, teaching, serving or whatever our hand finds to do as God leads us. The ministry of the Church is to serve the body as we all should and are NOT the liaison between you and Christ. This work is my humble attempt to share God's truth with others as I am able.

The following scriptures will either directly relate to the question at hand, or they will clearly infer/imply that they are connected to salvation, God's will for humanity and our necessary response to Him.

First, we must understand what human kind really is, of ourselves...

  • Jer 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

  • Rom 8:7 "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

  • Gen 6:5 "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

Mankind, without access to God and actually having His Holy Spirit within, can NOT reach the level that God exists in. That is, just receiving the Holy Spirit does NOT remove the carnal, evil heart we all originally have. Neither does Christ's sacrifice or forgiveness remove this heart. It takes God's correction and molding of our character and mind, and our responding in repentance, overcoming, enduring, etc., to eventually reach the "perfection" He wants us to reach.

  • Jer 31:33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

This is at a future time, in the second resurrection when God will actually intervene in opening their minds to understand what they cannot today. Realize that if today, in this age, was the "only" day of salvation, why would God NOT do what He states He will do in Jer. 31:33 above, NOW? Why not write His laws (which are NOT Done Away with) into their hearts today, all across the planet? That is because not everyone is Called in this age, and will have their day of salvation and calling in a later age.

Next, just having a casual relationship with religion or the bible is far from what God desires...

  • Matt 24:4 And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

This isn't saying that many would come claiming to "BE" Christ, but that many would come claiming that Jesus "IS" the Christ, and yet would be deceiving many. How can it be that people can actually claim that Jesus is the Christ, the savior, be speaking in His name, and yet deceive people with that message? If this form of "Christianity" can actually deceive people... how does this happen? How can people who "accept Jesus," or are "won to Jesus," or believe they are born again or "saved" possibly be deceived and what are they deceived about?

  • Matt 7:21 Not every one that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity (lawlessness).

Many alleged "Christians" will be professing Christ, speak in His name, do His "works," and yet Christ states that He never knew them and that they were "lawless." Surely these "Christians" believed they accepted Christ, were baptized, believing in "grace" and that grace is all they needed for salvation, so why would Christ possibly deny even knowing them?

Is grace more than forgiveness?

Let's take a look at scriptures that show us that there is a process that a genuine Christian is in, (which is a mystery to most people), IF God has called you and you are responding to His calling and understand and act on His plan. Remember that "many are called, but few are chosen." (Mt 22:14).

It first must be realized that most believe that "grace" is purely unmerited pardon for sin, alone, but this is not true. Let's look at a few scriptures that will help expand this concept of "grace."

  • Luke 2:40 "And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him." NIV

  • John 1:14 "We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." NIV

If "grace" is strictly unmerited pardon for sin, how is it that Jesus Christ had "grace" from God as well? Did Christ sin and need "grace"? No, of course not, so "grace" must have a much fuller meaning, as we will soon see.

What of the Old Testament mention of grace? The word "grace" throughout the Old Testament is often translated as "favor", such as with Moses, Joseph, and all the people of Israel themselves...

  • Jer 31:2 "The people who survived the sword Found grace (favor) in the wilderness - Israel, when I went to give him rest." NKJV

  • Grace = OT:2580 chen (khane); from OT: 2603; graciousness, i.e. subjective (kindness, favor) or objective (beauty): KJV - favour, grace (-ious), pleasant, precious, [well-] favoured.

How does this "grace" manifest in human beings?

  • Ps 45:2 "You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever." NIV

  • Ps 84:11 "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor (grace) and honor; NIV

  • Prov 1:8-9 "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. 9 They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck." NIV

  • Prov 3:34 "He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble. NIV

  • Prov 4:9 "She (wisdom) will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor." NIV

  • Zech 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication." NIV

In the scriptures above, we see that "grace" is something that God grants which involves something other than "forgiveness" of sins. Speaking graciously, instruction and teaching is receiving grace, humility, wisdom, spirit of grace and supplication (able to come directly to God to ask for help).

What of the New Testament period? Begin to look for grace being something else received from God by those God is working being called, preaching the gospel, opportunity to teach, belief, faith... similar to the Old Testament period...

    Grace = NT:5485 charis (khar'-ece); from NT:5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): KJV - acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).

  • Acts 4:33 "With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all." NIV

  • Acts 11:23 "When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts." NIV

  • Acts 13:43 "Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God." NKJV

  • Acts 14:3 "Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands." NKJV

  • Acts 14:26 "From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed." NKJV

  • Acts 18:27 "And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; NKJV

  • Acts 20:32 "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified." NKJV

  • Rom 1:5 "Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name..." NKJV

  • Phil 1:7 "Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace." KJV

Notice that Paul is speaking that the brethren are "partakers of my grace." This obviously isn't Paul "forgiving them of sin." It is the fact that the brethren received benefits from the grace God gave to Paul to minister, teach, etc. Notice...

  • Eph 4:29 "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." KJV

Just as Paul's grace from God was ministered to the brethren, we also can minister grace to those around us in many ways.

Now, is grace all that someone needs for salvation?

Eph 4:7 "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." NIV

If grace is unmerited pardon for sins alone, then how is it that Christ is "apportioning" forgiveness in different measures? Is forgiveness not total, of all sins past? Yes, it is, but the "grace" being mentioned here is the grace (one could say gift, talents, etc...) that is to help the growth of the gospel, the body of Christ and in shining a light to the world.

So, is there MORE that is necessary for the salvation process?

  • Eph 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that (faith) 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."

Faith is a gift, which is part of the salvation process. It states that salvation (being forgiven the death penalty) is NOT of works that we could boast about, yes, BUT... notice verse :10...

  • "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

"Created in Christ Jesus for good works...that we should walk in them." Walk in grace alone? NO! We are to be walking in good works.

  • Rom 10:17 "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

Faith comes from hearing God's word. This does NOT mean just hearing biblical words, but actually hearing like Christ meant in Matt 11:15 and many other places regarding "understanding" His words and acting on them: "He that has ears to hear, let him hear." Only God can give ears... or "Call" someone to understand His true plan.

Faith is involved with grace. Faith is a gift from God, however, notice it says that this faith and grace are both involved with being "saved." Faith comes by being able to hear God's word... Being called... having access to God's spirit, but it doesn't stop there...

  • James 2:14 "What does it profit, my brethren, though a man says he has faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?"

This is a clear inference that faith alone, and thereby, "grace alone" (because you MUST have living faith to have genuine, forgiving grace) cannot save anyone. If someone has no living faith, then they have no grace, either.

  • James 2:17 "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yes, a man may say, you have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 20 But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"

Is it possible to have faith (and grace), which is a dead faith, (and a vain grace) and still receive salvation?

  • 2 Cor 6:1 "We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain."

The Grace of God can be received in vain (to no good useful purpose)? How can that be if grace (forgiveness) is all we need? A grace that someone actually receives that could be vain? Doesn't this mean something else MUST be necessary?

Is anything else required? What about the commandments and God's other laws?

  • 1 John 2:4 "He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
  • Rom 7:12 "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good." (NKJV)
  • Rom 7:12 "So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good." :14 We know that the law is spiritual...:25 So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." NIV

This is not saying the law is of no effect or is done away with. ALL of God's laws are important and relevant to salvation...

  • 1 John 3:22 "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight."

  • 1 John 3:24 "Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us."

  • 1 John 5:2 "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments."

  • 1 John 5:3 "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome."

  • 2 John 1:6 "This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it."

  • Revelation 12:17 "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."

  • Revelation 14:12 "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."

  • Revelation 22:14 "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city."

  • James 2:21 "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Sees how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 24 you see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

Abraham acted... beyond saving grace. He obeyed God. Grace helped him with talents and gifts. He chose to do something with that grace that made a difference in His relationship with God and His own salvation. Grace didn't force him to do it and grace wouldn't have made up for what he did NOT do had he decided to NOT do it.

  • 1 Tim 4:16 "Take heed to yourself, and to the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and those that hear you."

Paul tells Timothy to "continue..." Continue in doing certain things that, what??? That Timothy would save himself... But if grace already saved him, why this scripture?

  • James 1:23 "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a glass; 24 For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. 25 But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues in it, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."

The hearer alone doesn't make it. The DOER is the one blessed... but doing WHAT?

  • 1 Cor 9:24 "Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain."

Obtain WHAT? Why do we have to "run" if we have already achieved salvation prior to this running?

  • 1 Cor 9:25 "And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."

"Striving..." for what? An incorruptible crown... Paul clearly talked about action, works, effort, personal choice and diligence. He even describes the possibility of being cast away for NOT fighting his own lusts and weaknesses. And to achieve WHAT? Eternal life and NOT being cast away.

  • Heb 10:26 "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 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?"

This is clearly telling us that those who reject God's laws... (Law has been done away as some claim) and who do NOT overcome and change, are showing great disrespect toward Christ's sacrifice and are "trampling the Son of God underfoot." Their attitude is that the sacrifice which provides "grace" is enough and they don't have to work on their own sins, or do "works," or anything else to receive salvation.

  • Matt 25:25 "And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent (God's spirit) in the earth: lo, there you have what is yours. 26 His lord answered and said to him, you wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I sowed not, (in other words, God provided the power, but this servant did nothing and paid a stiff price.) and gather where I have not strewn: 27 you ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with interest. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents. 29 For to every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

The parable of the talents is clear evidence of more requirements for salvation; The "goods" given to the servant is obviously God's Holy Spirit. This servant who received God's Holy Spirit, DID NOTHING once he received God's spirit... Grace was sufficient in his opinion, yet what was the result? He lost everything... Sounds like there is more to the picture than grace...

  • Matt 7:13 "Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it."

Straight and narrow... WHY is it "straight and narrow" if grace covers the whole process? Why strive? What makes it a "straight" gate? Grace is enough, isn't it? MANY strive to enter this gate but don't... believing grace saves them and they don't have ANY other requirements. How can people actually seek to enter... seek to have a relationship with God... and NOT be able to?

  • Rom 12:21 "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

Overcome evil... But I thought grace took care of that? Who is involved with this overcoming? Is God doing it all and we are just passive passengers?

  • 1 John 2:14 "I have written to you, fathers, because you have known him that is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one."

John speaks of these church members "overcoming the wicked one." Or was that just talk and it was actually God who did all that and these members just puppets? Was it, as many believe, "grace" alone that "overcomes" the wicked one?

  • Matt 24:13 "But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved."

  • Mark 13:13 "And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved."

Christ's own words... He that shall (future tense) endure to the end, the same SHALL (future tense) be saved. Doesn't sound to me like it is a done deal, but that enduring, by personal involvement makes a difference.

  • 2 Thess 1:4 "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure: 5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer:"

What? Being counted worthy? Why? Patience, faith, persecutions and tribulations... Sounds pretty personal and involved to me.

  • 2 Tim 2:3 " therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."

Endure hardness... WHY? If Grace is enough, why endure, and endure what?

  • 2 Tim 2:10 "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."

"That they may also obtain the salvation..." Future tense... Something that is ongoing... human effort IS involved...

  • 2 Tim 2:11 "It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:"

"IF..." If we suffer. OK, let's put it this way and see if it makes equal sense... "It is a faithful saying... if we don't suffer, we will still reign with Him, because we have grace." Does that ring true? IF, IF, IF... Big words that carry a LOT of meaning.

  • Heb 12:7 "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not?"

How about this: "If we do NOT endure chastening, we are still saved and God deals with us, regardless, as sons." Does this still make us His genuine sons, as compared to bastards?

  • Heb 12:8 "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."

  • Heb 12:23 "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect..."

Spirits (Spirit in man) of just men MADE perfect...? Yes, we are molded and shaped over time through responding, overcoming sin, enduring...

  • Heb 10:35 "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompence of reward. 36 For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise."

  • 2 Tim 2:5 "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully."

No crown... except he strive for perfection. Why doesn't grace crown us and allow us to NOT have to strive?

  • 2 Tim 4:7 "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing."

Paul fought a fight... Kept the faith (personal effort) and he states that because of THIS effort, he has a crown of righteousness. Why keep the faith if grace, once received, provides salvation? The word "henceforth" clearly indicates a relationship between his fight and his crown.

  • 1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you."

Why such warnings? Resist, afflictions, suffering, for what??? To be made perfect, established, strengthened and settled... AFTER we go through a process.

Parable of the 10 virgins...

  • Matt 25:12 "But he answered and said, Verily I say to you, I know you not."

Christ teaches that half of these were church members... virgins... who had what? A little oil in their lamps, oil signifying God's Holy Spirit. They, perhaps, felt "grace" was enough and coasted on that. Christ claims He didn't even know them because of this inattention to His word and commandments.

  • Matt 25:34 "Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:"

  • Matt 25:41 "Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was hungry, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink:"

This parable clearly defines doing something or NOT doing something. Did those who were on the left hand feel grace was enough for them? God clearly makes it plain that something was required of these people and some did it and some did NOT do it.

  • Luke 13:6 "He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit, and found none. 7 Then said he to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why encumber the ground? 8 And he answering said to him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: 9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that you shalt cut it down."

This parable proves that God expects growth in us or we will not make it - be "cut down." The "certain man" is God the Father, the "dresser" is Christ and "we" are the fig tree." If grace is all that is necessary, the fruit should be there because God would produce it in us. The "dresser/Christ" is the one who works with us once we are called by the Father, and Christ is the one who tries and tests us, molds and shapes us, corrects us, so we DO produce fruit, and this is because we have God's spirit in use as power to respond to and accomplish what we should be accomplishing.

How many scriptures discuss "bearing fruit," or "works," or other action words directly tied to salvation, such as overcome, endure, resist, fight, study, pray, repent, conform, examine, submit, humble ourselves...

  • John 15:8 "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

  • John 15:16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last."

  • Rom 7:4 "So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God."

  • James 3:13 "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom."

  • 2 Cor 10:15 "Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand..."

  • Eph 4:15 "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."

  • 1 Peter 2:2 "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation..."

  • Rom 10:1 "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge."

Consider... Most people believe "grace" is unmerited pardon for sin, and it is, but they then just leave it there. If this is the case, once again, how does one "grow" in grace, or unmerited pardon and forgiveness? Do we go out and sin even more to be able to receive MORE grace? (Read the article on this topic at the link above). Paul clearly stated that people can have a zeal for God, but it can be wrong knowledge about God or salvation. This should make us sit up and take notice.

  • 1 John 2:3 "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that says, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him."

  • 1 John 5:2 "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."

Keeping the commandments!!! Grace covers all sins... past, present, and future... right? So what law prevents us from sinning? Why keep the commandments if grace is all that is needed for salvation? I realize that the argument is that if you have "grace," you will "want" to obey God's commandments, and that this "want" somehow is enough "good" for salvation to occur.... but what is it that makes this possible??? If personal effort isn't involved, then it is God who does it all and then we are right back to creating righteous character by fiat, except it is through a vain process that doesn't involve personal effort and choice, and a LOT of suffering.

If our mind, thoughts, consciousness and will are NOT with this process, what is it that is going to be resurrected? Will God be opening our minds and taking out the character that is there that is evil and give us new character? This flies in the face of God's whole plan and how He has to MOLD and SHAPE us into His own children.

  • 2 Tim 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.

  • Heb 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

  • James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

  • Matt 5:48 Be (become) you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

  • Becoming perfect like God is NOT an instant process. Our hearts and minds MUST be changed to be like God's mind in order to be granted eternal life and be trusted to not rebel or ever sin again.

  • Heb 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.

Find grace... It seems that grace is something that comes to us in a time of need... BASED on our coming boldly before God. If grace is once for all, why this scripture?

  • 1 John 3:3 And every man that has this hope in him, purifies himself, even as he is pure.

  • Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

Purifying himself??? Wait, I thought grace was all that was necessary? What good is it to purify yourself if grace already saves you? Doing... through Christ. Grace begins the process but we have to act and use the power of God to accomplish the things we must do.

  • 1 Cor 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

Purge out... Isn't this something we are being asked to do? Unleavened Bread is an entire festival devoted to OUR actions to put sin out of our lives... something God expects us to be working on throughout our entire lives.

  • Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Armor? Standing against the wiles of Satan? Wrestling? And WHY? That we may be able to stand...!!! But I thought grace did that for us? Do we NOT have to stand because we have grace?

  • Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Through MUCH tribulation, we what? Receive eternal life! Why, if grace alone is what saves us?

  • 1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

IF... IF anyone sins... present tense... we have what? We have Christ who stands as our High Priest and who intercedes for us to the Father... AS WE CONTINUE IN A REPENTANT ATTITUDE AND SUBMIT OUR MINDS AND ACTIONS TO HIS WILL. It is our present existence that is submitting to God's will as a way of life and is conscious of our actions, and bring those wrong actions to God as His spirit convicts us... It is LEARNING to think like God thinks, respond like God/Christ would respond, and being changed by our personal, willful involvement in the process. If grace were all that was necessary, then we essentially have no mental process involved with any of it... and it all becomes vain.

  • Rom 3:25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Remission of sins that are what? PAST!!! This isn't telling us that every sin we have committed or will commit is already forgiven. That is cheap grace and a slap in God's and Christ's face. God isn't playing a game that involves some mysterious, and vain, process that essentially leaves our personal efforts out of the picture.

  • Col 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 8 But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have "apprehended": but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

This series of scriptures has a LOT of personal activity... Mortify... put off... Put on... Paul even states that he doesn't count himself to have made it as yet... but his attitude is to press on in the fight and toward the prize, eternal life. Grace wasn't mentioned here as being sufficient to allow him to NOT be personally involved with the sanctification process.

  • Heb 12:4 you have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin.

  • 2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

There is personal effort involved with fighting and overcoming sin.

  • Phil 2: Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

  • 2 Tim 1:6 Wherefore I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Are these "grace is sufficient" scriptures? God is the one who makes possible both the desire and power to act, but it is US that has to act... we have to stir up this power and USE it in personal choice and action in order to learn HOW to think and act like God. If we do NOT do this, does grace make up for it all?

  • Phil 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.

Christ HAD to be involved. He HAD to do MORE than just exist and be covered by God. He HAD to obey. He HAD to learn...

  • Heb 5:8 though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

He HAD to submit to this. He HAD to wait there hanging on the cross, pushing Himself up to remain alive so His blood could be shed and His life ended by the spear in His side. He COULD have simply gone limp and died of asphyxiation and prevented a few hours of agony... but He DIDN'T. He acted... He was INVOLVED, as WE are to be because we know what the end result is to be.

  • Phil 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

What is this "work" which was begun in us and which continues till Christ's return? It isn't simply grace. Notice even Paul told us that he, himself wasn't completed as yet... wasn't "saved" at this point in his life...

  • Phil 3:7 "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

  • 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Notice Paul states clearly he has NOT attained the perfection we are all to be moving toward... and that he was working toward the "resurrection from the dead" and being completed in the resurrection. How does this happen?

  • Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.

This scripture itself clearly shows the personal submission and involvement by "every joint" which is to spiritually support the Body... and for what? TILL... we come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is PERSONAL involvement here... INSTRUMENTS in God's hands, yielded, submissive and driving ourselves toward Him... BECAUSE of grace, yes, but it isn't grace that provides the perfect character. The very purpose of the church, leadership and membership of human people is to work together toward perfection... spiritual maturity such as Christ had...

So, grace, as awesome a gift as it is, is NOT all there is to the salvation process...

  • Rev 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready.

The Church HAS to be involved with the salvation process...

  • Gal 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

In due season... we, what??? REAP... IF, IF, IF we faint not. Why doesn't grace allow us to reap even though we faint? Reaping is related to NOT fainting. If grace is sufficient, we wouldn't ultimately faint, plain and simple. God provides all of the elements of grace, and it is His power that makes it all possible, but we have to take part in the process.

  • 1 Cor 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

This is speaking about the Passover service which Christ commanded all true Christians to keep once each year at the Passover time. Notice what we are to do at that time (especially, not exclusively)... Examine ourselves??? This is a member of God's church... with his Holy Spirit... doing what? Possibly drinking damnation to himself BECAUSE he didn't judge himself and his relationship with God. Grace doesn't prevent this damnation. We are to JUDGE OURSELVES as to our relationship with God and our growth in character... meaning we are involved and this makes a MAJOR impact on the sanctification process.

  • 2 Cor 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Our warfare... Powered by God... but it is a battle that involves US. WE are to cast down imaginations... and bring EVERY thought... That isn't grace doing that, it is US being involved with God's power and acting and learning to use HIS power like HE uses it. If we don't learn this, we won't be in His kingdom.

  • 2 Cor 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

This shows that grace isn't all that is necessary to bring us the eternal weight of glory... Afflictions WORK in us... AS we respond to God...

  • Matt 16:24 Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Denying ourselves!!! That is personal. That takes work. That is involvement and it is NECESSARY in order to be Christ's disciple. Taking up a cross is a willing step. We've received grace, but if we do NOT take that cross, what good is grace/forgiveness? Thinking we are saving our life by believing grace is all we need??? Losing our life, our choices, our desires, our whole existence... if necessary... takes personal effort, is lonely, painful, a struggle... and yet may be necessary.

  • Isa 64:8 But now, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we all are the work of your hand.

  • Jer 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? says the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in mine hand, O house of Israel.

God's handiwork... a process... that begins with grace and forgiveness but continues throughout our lives in action.

  • 1 Cor 1:26 For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

God calls us "losers", but He does NOT expect us to remain losers. No truth or understanding can possibly come from anything but God. He has to open minds and provide us power to act, but WE have to respond to His leading, be sensitive to His spirit and "that still small voice (1 Kings 19:12) within," and WORK toward His nature and answer our calling... OR we will fail. The grace alone deception short circuits the process if we allow it to take root.

  • Rom 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 be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Action on our part...

  • Rom 6:13 Neither yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin: but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

We are NOT to yield ourselves to sin... This involves personal involvement using God's spirit.

  • Rom 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life:

Patience continuance in well doing... Seek what...? This doesn't say they have it made already without something other than grace. They plod on to the goal... knowing the prize and being in relationship with God and using His spirit to conform to His very nature.

  • Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him;

Eternal salvation comes through obedience because Christ is the "author..." of the obedience, and power behind us.

  • Heb 12:2 Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Christ is the author of our faith, and the finisher... a process...

  • Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Christ is the beginning of our creation and the ending of it. It is Christ who brings us to perfection... to be married to Him later on. Christ isn't going to have a wife that is lawless and unable to think like He thinks... unable to be "ONE" with the other members of His body, the Church, and ONE with He and the Father.

  • Matt 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

God expects us to take ALL scriptures together and apply them as He provides them to us. They are all tools, as are such things as the 7th day Sabbaths, God's Holy Days, the commandments, and every word of God. For any of us to ignore any portion risks spiritual malnourished and losing understanding of His purpose.

Lastly, we have Christ speaking to the various Church (eras?) and He states throughout Revelation 2 and 3 His messages to ALL the Church congregations...

  • Rev 2:2 "I know your works..."

Works are important to Christ (and us) or He wouldn't mention them to the entire Church, and likely church "eras," throughout this age.

This is enough to clearly show that there is FAR more to salvation than grace alone. There are MANY more scriptures that could be gleaned ... these are just the most obvious ones. I feel that anyone who views these scriptures in light of the big picture, and doesn't allow scattered scriptures taken alone that suggest anything else other than an intimate relationship between God and His creation... US... is not rightly dividing scriptures and creating a false Christian gospel that is now deceiving the world.

We are certainly saved by grace, because without grace, nothing would be possible, however, grace simply does not and cannot change our character into God's character. Grace/forgiveness for our sins, and "grace" as gifts, talents, strength...

    Heb 4:16 "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." NIV

... and this grace is something we minister to others...

    Eph 4:29 "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." NKJV

    2 Cor 8:7 "But just as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in this grace of giving."NIV

... as an ongoing blessing... our works along WITH submission and responding to God's spirit as He molds and shapes our minds to be like His. Stop responding... quit growing... become lukewarm or lose our first love... and we are in danger because grace does NOT make up for lack of spiritual growth and development.

Grace, in all its forms, along with faith, works, and a host of other verbs are all indicated throughout God's word as being absolutely necessary for becoming eternal beings in God's kingdom. To suggest or teach otherwise is to undermine God's word and plan... but it will NOT stop God's truth or plan from going to the world.

Godkind web pages created and material written by Jeffrey T. Maehr. Common Law Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved. Reproduction allowed if credit to is listed with material. All other authors or copyrights listed accordingly.