Copyright 2018 - Custom text here
Player needs JavaScript turned on.

 

A Grace that is not Grace

 

The grace that America’s Christianity teaches today, is not grace at all. But, it is a perversion, that is the result of the unholy marriage of grace and works; or the result of the imagined and inherent worth of man incorporated into the plans and purposes of God. Because the grace that the world teaches places a premium on the perceived merit of men and exalts the works and efforts of men, it is far more palatable to the world of unbelievers, then what the true grace of God is. Therefore, in order to please the world; and in order to gain a following; and in order to be considered successful in their ministries; Christianity, for the most part, espouses a grace that is not grace, and proclaims a salvation that is attainable, based merely on the worth and zeal of men.

 

This heresy concerning the grace of God is not unique to our generation, nor are we the first to witness and even allow such preposterous and offensive teachings concerning the grace of God and the Gospel of salvation. Consider the words of Jude: Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4) I suppose that the first and highest degree of heresy – the failure to contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints – will be found in man’s willful and purposeful distortion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When men teach and proclaim a grace that dishonors God while appealing to man’s sense of self-worth, this is the height of heresy, and the beginning of a falling away from God. Such teachings are the foundation of all earthly religions of men, meant to bring God down from His Sovereign Throne, and exalt man to the point of self-determination, and grant him the ability to enter (or not) Heaven as he pleases. This is a form of turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness.”

 

Today, I want us to think about some ways in which the grace that much of Christianity teaches, is not grace at all. I want us to think about three aspects of this so-called grace, taught in Christianity, that are clearly not taught in Scripture, nor evident in human history: first, the “Universal Application of Grace” as preached by Christianity and other religions; second, the “Universal Effectiveness of Grace” as imagined by some in Christianity; third, the unholy “Mixture of Grace and Works,” which is the cornerstone of evangelical teaching in the world of Christianity, and the basis upon which many false churches have been built and maintained over the centuries.

 

Universal Application of Grace

 

So much of the world believes in a grace that comes from God, that is universal in its scope. This is not the grace that the Bible teaches us. Perhaps we can say that many are confusing God’s natural mercy and longsuffering with His grace. I know that sometimes we have difficulty, ourselves, in making the distinction between the natural mercy of God and the grace of God; or, the mercy of God in natural things, as opposed to the grace of God in the forgiveness of sins and granting of eternal life. Look at it this way: if any man who is not saved has the breath of life in him, then it can only be because of the mercy of God, and because that God is merciful unto him, and longsuffering in regards to that individual, or to others of humanity. But, we can see from Scripture that though God is merciful and kind to many, naturally speaking, in that men live and move and have health and prosperity; still, we see from Scripture that God does not deal in a saving way with all men, after the same manner. All who are living have some benefit from God – even one breath of mortal life is because God makes it so. But not so with the salvation that comes from God. Some are saved, but not all. This is evident by simply noticing our surroundings, and examining human history. Therefore, at least as far as the grace of God in salvation goes, we cannot, and we must not, contend that the grace of God is universally available, or that it is demonstrated on a universal and indiscriminate level. Logic demands that if the grace of God is universally applied, it is not any longer grace. If all of mankind is the recipient of God’s grace – even the grace of God that is evident in salvation – then His grace becomes something that every single man will expect by virtue of his birth into the world of men. Therefore, salvation becomes an expectation, from man’s perspective, and not a function of the grace (unmerited favor) of God. The grace of God, when viewed from this perspective, becomes more of a right or an inherited favor, instead of the true unmerited favor of God, which is the Scriptural definition of God’s grace.

 

Let’s read some verses that relate to us the natural mercy (grace) and goodness of God that men, everywhere, benefit from to some degree. Paul the Apostle told the Athenians about God, 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.” (Acts 17:26-29.) It is in (or by) God’s mercy and protection that all men live and move and have our being. I think that it is extremely interesting that the Apostle Paul even quotes some poet of the Athenians. The quotation and poet that he refers to, proves that even the Athenians believed that they were the offspring of a god or gods. We owe our mortal lives and our mortal abilities to someone other than ourselves. All men have had this knowledge (to some extent) in them, as they are born into the world. And, in truth, we are all of us the offspring of God. Paul confirms this when he says, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God…” As His offspring we do, indeed, owe our existence to Him and to His mercy and goodness.

 

And we read in the Psalms of David, 8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. 9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” (Ps. 36:8-9.) The Goodness of the Lord is felt by all who have life. None of mankind would have life at all, if it did not originate with God – in the fountain of life. Elihu told Job, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job. 33:4.) Again, in the next chapter, Elihu told Job concerning God, 14 If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; 15 All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.” (Job 34:14-15.) These verses in Job make it clear that the breath and the life of every man depends upon the goodness and mercy of our God. And finally, read in Is. 42:5, “Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:” Surely, no man who would claim to believe the Bible, could doubt that God is responsible, and God is to be thanked, and God is to be praised, for the life and breath and spirit of any and every man, woman, boy, or girl, that has ever lived on this earth.

 

I have said all of these things, to make us think about how that our Sovereign God is in control of all things natural, even life itself. This is true whether men acknowledge Him or not. Isn’t it amazing that so many educated (yet foolish) men and women, are aware of the many blessings that they have, but, instead of giving God the praise as they should, they would rather ignore Him and give credit or praise to themselves or some god of their own making? Or, that wise men have been so indoctrinated with false science, that they will credit their very existence to a set of incredible, impossible, and ludicrous coincidences and circumstances, that lead to the universe – and humanity – existing as it does today? I mean, God has poured out unthinkable and unimaginable and miraculous blessings and goodness upon all men and women – and yet they refuse to acknowledge Him as God, and repent of their sins, and believe in His Son. O, how guilty, worthless, and depraved, every man is! The measure of God’s goodness and mercy bestowed upon men, will be a standard by which men will be held accountable, and judged guilty, who have not given Him the glory as they should!

 

We imagine that it was only the ignorant heathen of past generations who have despised God’s goodness and God’s mercies that are poured out upon mankind in this life. However, as we can see, the attitudes that afflicted the Athenians in the time of Paul, are the same attitudes that exist today – often, even within the ranks of so-called Christianity. They discount God’s goodness by imagining His mercy and grace as something that all men deserve, or can expect at any time. Even in the case of salvation, God is reduced to a God Who is subject to the whims and desires of men – and He cannot refuse men. Today, men preach and teach that the grace and mercy of God in salvation, is as readily available to all men, as what the natural goodness and mercy of God might be. In other words, Christianity presents a grace of God that is indistinguishable from His natural bounty and goodness that He bestows on all men. This is not the case, nor the reality of man’s relationship with God. If it were the case, then we would not have verses such as Deut. 7:6-8, “6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. 7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” Now, before I say anything else about this verse, can’t you see your own self and the salvation that God has bestowed upon you in this verse? Isn’t it true, that you and I were not any persons of note or goodness, and yet God chose us and redeemed us out of the house of bondmen? I believe that God was a choosing and a loving and a discriminating God in the OT, when it comes to salvation – both in the spiritual salvation of individuals, and the national survival of entire peoples. If this is true of God in the OT, then can’t we expect that this is true of God, even today? What is once true of God, must be always true of God. Remember, God does not change. He told the Israelites, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal. 3:6.) The Israelites could take great comfort from these Words of God, and could therefore trust that the Lord would not cease to love them as the sons of Jacob. We can take great comfort in these Words of God, and trust that He will not cease to love us who are called unto Him in the salvation of our souls.

 

We can learn even more from these verses. Certainly, it is true that God does not change. Therefore, if He exhibited a certain (particular) grace and love in the OT, we can be sure that He has not changed, nor has He changed His attributes of love and grace and mercy. He still gives life and breath and blessings (naturally speaking) to millions and billions of people. And, He still loves a peculiar and separate people. We can see this demonstrated in 1Pet 2:9. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” In this verse, Peter takes the OT teachings of Deut. 7:6-8, and he applies them to the NT saints. There can be no doubt that our God does not change, and His grace that was demonstrated in the OT, is certainly consistent with the grace of God in the NT.

 

We can see this also proved in Rom. 9:11-13. “11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” And then we read in v. 15 of this same chapter, “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” These verses, and the doctrine of the sovereign grace of God, do not teach us that certain men and women are more worthy than others. Indeed, Jesus Christ said, 12 …They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mt. 9:12-13.) Those that are saved, are those that are saved by the mercy and grace of God – not those that seek to be saved by some sacrifice that they might perform, or some inherent righteousness that they think they might have.

 

So, what I have tried to make clear, is that the grace of God in salvation is not something that is universally applied, or universally available. Though some of His mortal benefits are felt universally – and even the spiritual benefits of being amongst a people who are known and loved by God may result in even more blessings in this life – it is clear and it is obvious that the grace and mercy that is found in salvation is bestowed upon only certain, undeserving individuals – and is not reserved for all.

 

Universal Effectiveness of Grace

 

In this second point, we are covering nearly the same ground as what we covered in the first point. What I want to make clear now, however, is that if the grace of God is universally applied; then, in order to be Scriptural concerning the sovereignty of God, men must go on to believe that the grace of God is universally effective. In other words, if God is sovereign and the undisputed Lord of Creation, then how could we expect anything less than universal success when a grace unto salvation is universally applied? Why else would He universally distribute grace, if it were not with the intention of that grace being also universally effective?

 

So, let us ponder for a moment – “What would be the result of the grace of God, if it were universally applied as so many seem to believe today?” Shouldn’t that grace administered by a sovereign God – a God Who grants mortal life as He pleases; a God Who gives the joys and pleasures of this life as He pleases – shouldn’t that grace unto salvation be delivered and received in the same manner and on the same scale as the mortal blessings which come from God?

 

Well, in order to satisfy the desire to exalt men, while at the same time admitting the obvious truth that all men everywhere aren’t saved; today’s Christianity proclaims a Gospel, and presents a grace unto salvation, that is universally effective – but only when men will accept and believe the power of such grace. (When compared to God’s mercy and kindness in mortal things, this is like saying that the sun will shine, or the clouds will bring forth rain – but only when men will demand it!) Men and women in Christianity have found a way to (from their perspective) make the grace of God into something that, while it is available to all and effective to all, it is yet contingent upon the reaction (or might we say, action?) of those who are the recipients of that grace. In other words, they believe and teach that the grace of God is everywhere – and of course it is effective, but only if men will partake of it.

 

My point is simply this: If the grace of God is universally available unto the salvation of men; and if the grace of God is universally effective and able to save; and if God is sovereign; then why aren’t all men everywhere saved? Perhaps some who believe in the universal effectiveness of the grace of God do also believe that all men everywhere are eventually saved – either in this life, or in the world to come. Perhaps there are some religions, and even some aspects of so-called Christianity where folks do believe in the final salvation of all men. Maybe, this is more logical and consistent with a distorted understanding of the sovereignty of God, than to believe that God’s grace is universally applied and distributed, universally effective and capable of salvation, and yet all men are not saved. At least in the former premise, God in some measure seems to retain His sovereignty. In the latter premise, God is obviously not sovereign because it is apparent that His desires and intentions have not come to fruition.

 

I am sure that folks that preach and teach a universally applied, and a universally effective grace of God, turn to such Scriptures as 1Tim. 2:4. “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” If you lift this verse out of context; and if you ignore many other plain passages of Scripture; I suppose that you could mistakenly understand this verse to be speaking of God’s intention or desire to save every member of Adam’s race. But, when we compare Scripture with Scripture – such as many of those that we have already read – we gain the understanding that God does not intend to save every human being. (He is sovereign. If He intended to save every person without exception, then He would certainly do so. And no power on earth or in Heaven could prevent Him.) His saving grace is present only in the lives of those that are the elect unto salvation. Therefore, in 1Tim. 2:4, when Paul mentions all men, he must, necessarily, be referring to all men that are ordained unto Salvation. We read in Acts 13:48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” God has ordained some, in every place and time, to be saved by the grace of God. This grace is absolutely and invincibly effective – only as the Lord provides it.

 

In reality, the grace of God in salvation that Christianity presents today, is not really grace at all. They present a grace that is universally applied, and it is capable of being universally effective. However, it is actually effective only if the consent and cooperation and good intentions of man are coupled with it. The grace that much of Christianity preaches, is a grace that is universally effective when it is accompanied with the permission and participation of man. To me, this is a non-grace, or a merited favor, rather than an unmerited favor. To me this is a salvation and a grace wherein success is contingent upon man’s participation – even when it might only be 1% man and 99% God – so that, in the end, God’s grace is belittled to the extent that it requires man’s permission, in order to be effective.

 

Grace and Works

 

Finally, if a person believes in either of the two graces that I have mentioned above, then he must necessarily believe also in this concept of grace and works, and some sort of cooperation or unity between the two. How else can he explain the fact that not all men are saved? If God’s grace were distributed to every individual, then how come every individual is not saved? If God’s grace is universally effective (or, universally capable of salvation), then how come every individual is not saved? Well, the answer or problem (or solution) must lie with the individual. Any time that a doctrine concerning the sovereignty of God comes down to the individual – at least it comes down to the individual in order to make it effective – then we know that the doctrine has been compromised, and can no longer be called a doctrine of God. Instead, that doctrine becomes – at least in part – a doctrine of men. The conclusion is this: if the grace of God depends upon the individual in order for it to be effective, then it is not grace at all.

 

Listen to what Paul told Timothy: 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” (2Tim. 1:8-11.) In this brief passage, Paul makes some very plain observations concerning salvation. In v. 8, Paul tells Timothy that the Gospel and the Power of God are inseparable. Then, in v. 9, Paul is even more plain when he says that God “…hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” Obviously then, Paul felt that his salvation (and Timothy’s) depended upon the holy calling of God, and did not depend upon our works. Further, this salvation was strictly according to God’s own purpose and grace. The purpose to save was and is His; the grace to fulfill that purpose was and is His. Even further, this purpose and grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Then, in v. 10, Paul reminds Timothy that this amazing grace of God became evident (made manifest) through and by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the One Who has abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. This Gospel, then, must be all about Jesus Christ and the grace of God which is manifest through Him. And, in v. 11, Paul affirms that this is the Gospel and grace that he would be forever preaching and teaching.

 

Men in most of Christianity teach that God is gracious, and it is up to men to decide to partake of that graciousness. This is definitely not the sovereign grace of God that we believe in; and, I think that we will find that it is not grace at all. We read in Rom. 11:5-8, “5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. 7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.” True grace cannot be mixed with works. Paul tells the Romans that if the remnant exists at all, it is according to the election of grace. But, if salvation is according to grace, then it cannot be of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. However, if you (or any man) will insist that salvation is of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. Israel, in large part, trusted in works and self-worth. Therefore, they could not obtain salvation, because salvation is of grace. There are two different salvations presented here: one depends upon man and his worth and abilities; the other depends upon God and His grace as given to us through and by Jesus Christ. Do you want to trust in works? Then depend upon yourself for salvation. Do you want to trust in the grace of God? Then depend upon God and His Son for your salvation.

 

Quite simply, Paul lets the Romans (and us) know that, if your salvation depends on works, why do you need grace? If you can save yourself, then do it! However, if you understand that works cannot save you, then trust in the grace of God. True and genuine salvation cannot be a compromise between the two. When you trust in the grace of God, do not attempt to incorporate your works into that salvation – or else the grace of God is no more grace.

 

Conclusion

 

The grace of God is very evident in the Scriptures. The mercy and the longsuffering of God is very evident in this Creation, and His grace is evident in the history of the unworthy yet redeemed souls of men. The grace of God is very evident in humanity, in that some are saved, and the longsuffering of God allows mankind to continue, until the elect unto salvation are saved by His grace. The grace of God is all around us, even today. And yet, man, in his natural condition, hates to acknowledge the purity and the glory of the grace of God. As human beings, we insist on incorporating our own works, desires, and twisted logic into our understanding of the grace of God. When we do this, we make this grace to be no more grace. God gives us grace in salvation – give Him the glory. Spend your time and your efforts in learning more and more of Him, and seeking to exalt Him in the sight of all that you can witness unto. Contend for the faith – exalt the grace of God and the Lord Jesus Christ! Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)

 

 

 

Search

f t g m