In Matthew 28:20, Jesus tells us that we are to teach only what He has commanded us to teach. Teach only what He has taught us. We have no authority to add to, or subtract from the teaching of Christ. Not one prophet, or Bible writer has added or subtracted from the original plan of salvation. That includes Paul.
Since we are to teach only what Jesus taught, we have a real problem with grace. You see my friend, Jesus never taught grace for salvation. In fact, nowhere in all the Bible will you find the phrase, “Saved by Grace”.
OK - what's all the fuss about grace if Jesus doesn't think it is important for salvation? Just this, if we do not speak truth, we will be bound by sin. You can never be set free if you do not believe truth. Truth sets us free. We must learn the truth about grace so we can be set free from errors and false ideas and teachings.
"For the time will come
when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2 Timothy 4:3,4
In the Christian world, the teaching of grace-myth goes something like this. "We are saved by grace." Sound familiar? The general perception is that grace:
1) began at the cross, and
2) saves us eternally.
There are two basic texts that are used to support these concepts. John 1:17, "...grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." And Ephesians 2:8, "For it is by grace you have been saved..."
But as with any study, we must study to show ourselves "approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15. Let's begin to correctly handle the word of God.
Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, not at the cross, but from eternity. "This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time." 2 Timothy 1:9. As we have already pointed out, Jesus is from eternity. He is from everlasting to everlasting, the beginning and the end. All of this is the same for grace. Jesus is "The same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8.
Therefore grace is not a new power bestowed at the cross, but an old power from the beginning of the world. Grace was known in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious (grace) God… " Exodus 34:6
What about grace saving us eternally?
Since Jesus never mentioned grace for salvation, we need to put it in its proper place. Never did Paul or any of the New Testament writers state that grace "saved us eternally".
The first thing we recognize is that grace is unmerited favor. As it is unmerited, it must be given to everyone equally. If not, it becomes merited and worked for. If it is given to everyone equally, it cannot save for eternal life. If it could save eternally, then all would be saved eternally. This we know is not the case. We know that the wicked will be destroyed.
Hebrews 11 is not about grace, but faith. Romans 1:17 tells us that righteousness is by faith from first to last: no mention of grace. Galatians 3:11 tells us that the righteous will live by faith. Hebrews 10:38 states that the righteous will live by faith. In Luke 7:50 Jesus told the lady that it was her faith that saved her. Over and over again in both the Old and New Testaments it is the element of faith that works for our salvation, not grace. The righteous will live by faith: Hebrews 11: the whole chapter.
The question then is, what is the purpose of grace since it doesn't save us eternally? How does it fit into the plan of salvation for us? The answer is quite simple when we are willing to humble ourselves and accept the total Word of God and put aside the teachings of the pagan worldly churches.
God is a gracious God - Exodus 34:6. He is so gracious and abounding in love that He does not want anyone to perish. It is His will for "everyone to come to repentance". 2 Peter 3:9. Even Jonah understood this. "I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." Jonah 4:2. But that poses a problem. "The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23.
God told Adam that if he ate of the forbidden fruit, he would "surely die". Genesis 2:17 They were to die, physically, the moment they disobeyed God. Sin is the separation from God, the Source of Life. Without life, man cannot live since man is mortal, not immortal. Genesis 6:3 "For dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19 Adam and Eve were to drop dead immediately after biting into the forbidden fruit.
Why didn't they?
Because if they did, they could never have come to repentance and would have been eternally lost. In God's great love to them, and to us, He supplied an alternative power source to keep them alive: grace. Something like an Eveready Cell battery to keep us alive physically while separated from God's main power supply. God loved us so much that He didn't want us to die eternally. He wanted us to have time to return to Him through repentance. He wanted us to develop faith in Him, which would lead us back to obedience and eternal life.
"Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness." Isaiah 26:10. The sad fact is that the wicked refuse to learn the righteous requirements of eternal life. Even though grace is poured out upon them and sustains them, they refuse. "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassion's never fail." Lamentations 3:22 God has given grace to everyone so we can learn His righteous requirements and have eternal life; yet the wicked refuse to learn. "We urge you not to receive God's grace in vain." 2 Corinthians 6:1 It is through the wonderful gift of grace - given to all men equally without merit and undeserved – that we have the opportunity to have salvation. Titus 2:11.
The circle represents the unmerited favor of God given to each of us as grace. It encircles us from birth. You can do nothing to earn it. It is given. Grace can’t save you eternally, but you can’t live eternally without it. It gives you probation. Whether you are living in sin before the cross or after the cross, grace is the same. It just keeps you alive: physically.
Romans 1:5 brings out this truth even clearer. We receive grace so we can call people "to the obedience that comes from faith." That is how grace and faith work hand in hand for our salvation. Grace saves us from immediate death so we can learn obedience that comes from faith to have eternal life. Both save us. However, both save us in DIFFERENT ways.
Romans: 5:20 makes it even plainer. "Where sin increased, grace increased all the more." Every time you sin you are to drop dead. Praise God for His Eveready Cell battery of grace that keeps us physically alive. Because of it we can develop faith and learn how to live obedient lives to the teachings of Jesus and “get” eternal life.
But there also comes the time when we will forfeit our grace. Ananias and Sapphira are examples of this forfeiture. The Israelites are another example of this forfeiture. There comes a time when God can no longer tolerate sin. "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." Jonah 2:8.
Now we can revisit Ephesians 2:8-10. Let's put it in its proper place to agree with the rest of the Bible and Jesus. Remember that there were no punctuations when the original Greek was written. All we are going to do is punctuate it to make sense, and be in harmony with the Bible.
"For by grace (keeping us alive physically), you have been saved through faith (obedience that comes by faith) - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works (yourselves works) so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (obedience from faith), which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ten Commandments)."
The truth sets us free. When you know the truth, the whole Bible will fit together without contradictions. If you believe the lies taught by the worldly churches, then you will find the Bible contradicting itself.
So where did the modern concept of grace come from? It came from the Catholic Church. Tetzel, the great seller of indulgences for the Catholic Church explained the Catholic position as such:
"Four precious graces were promised to those who should aid in building the basilica of St. Peter. 'The first grace that we announce to you,' said the commissaries, in accordance with the letter of their instructions, 'is the full pardon of every sin.' Next followed three other graces: first, the right of choosing a confessor, who, whenever the hour of death appeared at hand, should give absolution from all sin, and even from the greatest crimes reserved for the apostolic see: secondly, a participation in all the blessings, works, and merits of the Catholic Church, prayers, fasts, alms, and pilgrimages; thirdly, redemption of the souls that are in purgatory.
To obtain the first of these graces, it was requisite to have contrition of heart and confession of mouth, or at least an intention of confessing. But as for the three others, they might be obtained without contrition, without confession, simply by paying... Such was the doctrine taught by the Archbishop of Mentz and by the papal commissaries." D-Aubigne's History of the Reformation: Published 1846
As you can see, the Protestant churches kept the concept of grace which came from the Catholic Church, and simply did away with the idea of payment (unless you include all those requests for money). None of it is correct in a Biblical sense.
Many claim that the God of the Old Testament is a God of vengeance, hate and "law", while the God of the New Testament is a God of grace, love and compassion. The truth could not be farther from that teaching. The greatest examples of God’s grace are found in the Old Testament. Over and over again the Israelites deserved to be destroyed, but God’s grace kept them alive. "The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion." Psalms 116:5
Let me give you an example of how the worldly churches respond to the gift of grace. You have had a heart attack. You go to a world-renown doctor and he tells you that since you are his friend, he will treat you for free (grace). He tells you that if you don’t want to die, but live long, you must change your life-style. You must exercise, eat healthier and get plenty of sleep. But you tell him, "Doc. You are my friend and a renowned doctor. You save thousands of lives each year. I know I can "believe" you because you are doing this as my friend and for free (grace). Therefore, I will just "believe" you to save me while I go on living my old way."
What do you think that doctor would think of you? That is what Jesus thinks of you. Please, follow the instructions given by our Doctor Jesus. Work out your salvation with great fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
Some may say that salvation is a "free gift" and that God will not nor would He ever take it back. "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." Jonah 2:8 Do you see? The "gift" can be forfeited.
If I give you $100 and tell you that I will never take it back, but it is yours to do with as you please, I am not responsible for what you do with it. If you are careless with it and someone steals it from you, you no longer have the $100 I gave you, you have forfeited it. Remember, the devil is a thief. He is trying to steal your "free gift". Or you may misplace your "free gift" and lose it. Either way, you no longer have your "free Gift". I did not take it back, but you no longer have it. Same with God and your eternal life.
2 Peter 3:9
"everyone to come to repentance"
2 Corinthians 6:1
"We urge you not to receive God's grace in vain."
It is through the wonderful gift of grace - given to all men without merit and undeserved – that we have the opportunity to have salvation.
"Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness."
"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassion's never fail."
"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs."