There is no greater theme that can occupy man’s
attention than salvation. As one begins to focus, one
sees both God and man involved in man’s salvation.
Paul is addressing man’s role when he wrote, “…work
out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phili.
2: 12). Paul then turns his attention to God’s part
when he penned, “For it is God which worketh in you
both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (vs. 13).
Man brings the “faith” (humble acquiescence) and
God provides the “grace,” Paul states another way
(Eph. 2: 8-10). No man can be saved without
accepting in simple obedience God’s grace and no
man can be saved without God’s essential grace
(Heb. 5: 8, 9, Tit. 2: 11-14).
“…moreover, the word charis contains the idea of
kindness which bestows upon one what he has
not deserved….the New Testament writers use
charis pre-eminently of that kindness by which
God bestows favors even upon the ill-deserving,
and grants to sinners the pardon of their offences,
and bids them accept of eternal salvation through
Christ…” (Greek-English Lexicon of the New
Testament, Thayer, pg. 666).
Grace is especially
associated with Jesus:
“9: For ye know the grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ, that, though
he was rich, yet for your sakes
he became poor, that ye through
his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor.
Moses’ system required flawless obedience in
order to obtain salvation through that system
and there was no immediate provision of
grace to cover any short comings. Some
reasoned that the solution was to combine
their traditional religion (Law of Moses) and
Christianity. Romans 11: 6 is emphatically
saying that such is not possible. If one could
earn salvation by perfect law keeping, then,
there would be no need for grace. On the
other hand, provision for a condition short of
sinlessness cancelled out “work” or earned
A biblical fact that appears hard for some to
understand and accept is that Christianity is a
system of combined “law” and “grace” (cp. Gal. 6:
2, Eph. 2: 8). Hence, “…the perfect law of liberty”
(Jas. 1: 25). Associated with Moses was “law,”
which implied perfect law keeping to be justified
and associated with Jesus is “grace” (John 1: 17, 2
Cor. 8: 9). Since all men sin, salvation only
through law is not possible. There is the
circumstance of essential grace (I John 1: 7-10,
Tit. 3: 5). Jesus stressed the plight of man not
being able to earn his salvation (Luke 17: 10).
Grace must have a certain requisite environment in
order to flourish and produce salvation. Grace
never reigns in a climate of disobedience (Rom. 2:
6-9). In fact, we are told that grace reigns in the
milieu of righteousness (Rom. 5: 21). The
“righteousness” in which grace reigns is not Christ’s
personal righteousness, which some teach is
arbitrarily and unconditionally imputed to the sinner,
but man’s humble submission to Jesus’ teaching
and Lordship (Luke 6: 46, cp. Ps. 119: 172).
The plight of Joe:
“I have studied the scriptures and
learned that I must obey God’s
commands in order to be saved.
Regardless of how sincerely and
determinedly I attempt to live
sinlessly, I still sin on occasion. What
am I do? Am I eternally doomed to
hell due to my lack of ability to
flawlessly keep God’s laws?”
Joe manifested a good attitude and respect
for the commandments of the New Testament
(cp. I John 2: 1-6). However, Joe had not
properly considered God’s part, His essential
grace. Any teaching relative to salvation that
omits the role of either man or God, is
patently false. Joe was omitting God.
God has promised that, “If any man will do his
will, he shall know of the doctrine…” and, “Let
us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus
minded (striving for perfection, vs. 14, dm):
and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded,
God shall reveal even this unto you” (John 7:
17; Phili. 3: 15).
Grace is essential for a number of
1. ”Justified by grace” (Rom. 3: 24).
2. God’s grace makes man better in lifting him
up out of the mire of sin (I Cor. 15: 9, 10).
3. The service of the Christian is “made
acceptable” by grace (Heb. 12: 28, 29).
The practicality of grace:
1. It is by grace that the gospel, God’s power
unto salvation, is effected (Gal. 1: 6-9).
2. Man is initially called to God by grace (cp.
Gal 1: 15).
3. The heart is “established by grace” and
grace can be sufficient for the many trying
experiences life offers (Heb. 13: 9; 2 Cor. 12:
4. Moreover, we can have “everlasting
consolation” and “good hope” by or in God’s
grace (2 Thes. 2: 16).
I think all would agree that if the just
mentioned benefits of grace were removed,
man would be in a hopeless state of spiritual
despair. However, which individual benefit
could be excluded? Could we spiritually
flourish without “justification” (being
pronounced pardoned, Rom. 3: 24)? How
about the absence of just being able to render
acceptable service to God? (Heb. 12: 28, 29).
One great truth associated with God’s essential
grace is the fact that it is made available to all
“11: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared
to all men, 12: Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and
worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in
this present world; 13: Looking for that blessed hope, and the
glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus
Christ; 14: Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us
from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people,
zealous of good works” (Tit. 2).
Notice, God’s grace has “appeared to all men,”
hence, essential grace is universal in design and
availability. It is understood, though, man must
appropriate grace. Otherwise, we would have
universal salvation, which is not the case (cp. Matt.
7: 13, 14). Grace “teaches us,” a concept lacking in
most theologies. God’s grace teaches the
implementation of a certain lifestyle and the
avoidance of another, ungodliness and worldly lust.
Not by “grace alone:”
Salvation by grace alone was popularized by the
reformers in their cry, "Salvation is by Christ alone, faith
alone, and grace alone." Consider some contemporary
statements regarding grace only or grace alone:
"The plan of salvation then is seen as an all-embracing divine plan
which gives the credit for man's salvation to God alone. No glory,
not even a reflected glory, may accrue to man in the matter of
salvation. He brings nothing, not even the will to be saved, to God"
- Jay Green (Five Points of Calvinism, pgs. 2, pg. 28).
"Salvation is a free gift from God to certain individuals. We
exercise faith in order to be saved, but even our faith is also a
gift of God. Faith is the result of regeneration. Unless the Holy
Spirit energizes the sinner, that sinner cannot exercise saving
faith. Unregenerate man is not capable of turning to God" -
William Cox (Amillennialism Today, pg. 33).
"We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of
grace…Justification, the pardon of sin, and the promise of
eternal life…are solely though faith" - Baptist Church
Manual, Art. 4, pg. 47, Art. 5, pg. 48).
Regarding grace being essential, perhaps no
stronger verse anywhere can be considered
than Titus 3: 5:
“But after that the kindness and love of God our
Savior toward man appeared, 5: Not by works of
righteousness which we have done, but according
to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of
regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
In striving for perfection, a good goal, Matt. 5: 48,
Joe lost sight of God’s essential grace. If we are not
careful, we, too, can by so totally focusing on man’s
part, forget about God’s part.
“4: Now to him that worketh is the reward not
reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5: But to him that
worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the
ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness”
The intent of this study is not to eliminate or
even de-emphasize man’s obedience and way
in which he accepts saving grace or to use grace
as a means to justify sin (cp. Rom. 5: 19-6: 6,
15). However, we must also remember that
without grace, salvation would not be obtainable!
The matter must not be, “How much can I fall
short and still have grace to cover my
imperfection” but, rather, “I shall sincerely try
with all my heart and ability to serve God the
best I can and then look to God’s grace to
address the shortcomings.”
“9: For I am the least of the apostles, that am not
meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted
the church of God. 10: But by the grace of God I
am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed
upon me was not in vain; but I labored more
abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of
God which was with me” (I Cor. 15).
“21: I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if
righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead
in vain” (Gal. 2).