"Let Us Have Grace"
The writer of the Hebrew Epistle cogently wrote, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Heb. 12: 28). The author of Hebrews had abundantly labored throughout the epistle to dissuade those to whom he wrote from attempting to find justification by the Law of Moses. He had shown that that system was temporary and that God's Kingdom is permanent. He then urged the receiving and maintaining of grace, that quality and state that results in acceptable service to God. Grace, I submit, is particularly and peculiarly associated with Jesus Christ, not Moses (Jn. 1: 17, 2 Cor. 8: 9, 13: 14). The word or gospel is the vehicle through which God's grace is extended to man (Acts 14: 3, 20: 24, 32, notice, "word of grace"). Salvation is not a mixture of the meritorious works of the Law of Moses (any law) and grace. In such a case, grace would not be needed and would not be grace (cp. Rom. 11: 6). Christians are urged to continue in grace (Acts 13: 43). Hence, God's grace is not irresistible, either in its reception or maintenance (2 Cor. 6: 1). Of great importance is the biblical fact that grace reigns in and through righteousness or man's humble submission to the will and teaching of God (Rom. 5: 21, cp. Ps. 119: 172). The disobedient have no hope of grace (Heb. 5: 8, 9). When God's people turn from him, they "fall from grace" (Gal. 5: 4).
Notwithstanding all the foregoing simple and intelligible Bible facts about God's grace, there is no small amount of confusion regarding grace today. A person who has made use of the articles in Bible Truths pertaining to grace and who has been influenced by the false teaching of denominationalism asked the following:
"My church emphasizes greatly God's Grace and I noticed that this teaching does not really coincide with what you have written on God's Grace and Grace Alone. Our teaching is that we must not mix grace and law. All our sins are forgiven, past present and future. I am told that we do not have to work hard and try to qualify ourselves but instead must labor to rest. Is this right?"
Notice the teaching of not understanding works of merit versus simple compliance involved in the acceptance of grace; sins even of the future and not yet committed or repented of are automatically forgiven as a result of grace (doctrine of "once saved, always saved"); and in view of grace, man is to sit back and do nothing or "rest." God's grace has since it was expressed through Jesus been abused, even to the point of being a license for the commission of sin (cp. Rom. 6: 1ff., Jude 4). Notwithstanding the abuse of God's wonderful grace, for the faithful Christian, grace remains very valuable, pure, and precious.
Let us have grace in order to be justified. The scriptures could not be plainer regarding ultimate justification being through grace and not through the earning of being right through law keeping (Rom. 3: 24, Gal. 3: 11, 24, 25-29). Paul who so often wrote as to the fact that grace does not relieve man of any duty, wrote the following:
"But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident; for, The just shall live by faith .Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Gal. 3: 11, 24).
Without God's favor, man would be irretrievably lost. This is the case because at best, all sin and fall short of God's glory (Rom. 3: 23, I Jn. 1: 8-10).
Let us have grace in order to find help. The writer of Hebrews who presented the thought of, " let us have grace," severely rebuked those people due to their lack of appreciation of Jesus and his once for all sacrifice. Yet, he also often encouraged them. Consider his words:
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4: 16).
Man desperately needs God's grace (2 Cor. 12: 7-10). Grace transcends our own sense of need. Grace is needed at all times, but especially in times of trial, bereavement, and sickness (Acts 20: 22-24; I Thes. 4: 13-18; Jas. 5: 10-13).
Let us have grace to have quality of life. Many do not view God's grace as instructional and that this instruction leads to a higher, qualitative life. However such is the case:
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world ." (Tit. 2: 11, 12).
The doctrine that influenced the person who submitted her question about grace that believes God's grace has done it all to the extent that man is to simply sit back and rest, having no challenges or responsibility, frustrates the instructive nature of grace and denies its uplifting influence. In the case of the full, spiritually developed life of a Christian, grace is the precipitating influence (cp. I Cor. 15: 10, 9).
Let us have grace in order to stand. Again, I stress, biblical grace is not simply a sweet sounding platitude. Consider Romans 5: 2:
"By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
Notice how grace causes the Christian to stand. "Stand" is antithetical to fall or be defeated. Grace provides the ability to stand because in supplies the virtue and courage needed by the Christian (cp. 2 Pet. 1: 5-11 with Tit. 2: 11).
Let us have grace to receive the gift. Grace itself is suggestive of a gift, a matter that has not been earned (Rom. 4: 1ff.). Paul compounds the idea of that which cannot be merited and its value in his statement in Romans 5: 15.
"But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many."
We have seen that grace came through Jesus (Jn. 1: 17). It was through Jesus' atoning sacrifice that all men can have access to his sin remitting blood (Matt. 26: 28). Notice, now, the compound idea of grace seen in the following: "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift" (2 Cor. 9: 15). The "unspeakable gift," the gift that is so immeasurable that words cannot fully describe or exhaust it is Jesus Christ.
Let us have grace in order to be saved. Without grace, salvation is an utter impossibility. This is because no man, save Jesus, perfectly kept law (Heb. 4: 15). Since man is in a situation of not flawlessly keeping God's law today, notwithstanding his genuine efforts to do so (Jas. 1: 25), man would be doomed without grace to address the deficiency. The Bible says:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2: 8-10).
The obedience that God has required in this system of grace in which we live is not such as to bring glory to man, but to God (cp. Tit. 3: 5, notice the obvious reference to water baptism). After man has obeyed God, man remains an "unprofitable servant" (Lk. 17: 10).
Again, one wonderful aspect of God's saving grace is the fact that God has extended it to unworthy man (Rom. 5: 8ff). Also, the fact that grace is available to "all men" (Tit. 2: 11). However, man must appropriate God's grace or it is vain as far as he is concerned (2 Cor. 6: 1).