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The Works Of Grace

 

Surely Christians are saved by grace the moment they believe (John 5:24, 6:47). But does that negate “by grace are you saved through faith” Eph. 2:11)? In other words, as longtime Christians, are we saved apart from the measure of faith dealt to every Christian (Rom. 12:3)? Apart from God’s inner love shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5)? Apart from being born of love (1 John 4:7)? Apart from the “more excellent way” (1Cor. 12:31)? God forbid! Forever joined, “faith which worketh by love” is very much a part of the Grace of God, enabling us to overcome sin by grace. So much so, that faith and love both hold the potential to increase within us (2 Thess. 1:3), just as God’s Grace also holds the potential to grow in our lives (2 Pet. 3:18).

No wonder, then, that we know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren (1 John 3:14). Simply, the use of inner godly love, that work, is very much a part of God’s Grace, whereby we pass from death unto life. (This sorely needs to preached in the Body of Christ!)

Within the Body of Christ there is a gross misunderstanding of God’s Grace. Fostering this misconception is the widespread belief that grace is grace, a separate entity apart from faith and godly inner love. However, grace is not a separate gift apart from faith and godly love. In fact, combined, these exemplify the Grace of God in truth, being His workmanship within us.

Although it may seem strange, the actual biblical interpretation of “grace” far exceeds that of the gift of salvation. For grace, among other things, is the divine influence on the human heart; a process of such magnitude that it is by no means restricted to the understanding of man. Peter wrote of this process, “But GROW in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).

To reiterate, faith and godly inner love are not segregated gifts apart from grace (Rom. 4:16, 12:3; 2 Cor. 8:7), but one gift. In simpler terms it is in vain for God to impart grace without a measure of faith and His inner love (Jude V. 3; Rom. 5:5, 12:3). Aptly, when Christians come boldly to the Throne of Grace in a time of need, it is to obtain more faith and love, not more salvation (the general understanding of grace). Paul wrote, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Understandably, then, an extra measure of faith and love represent the “grace to help in time of need” (our spiritual strength), and the fuel for good works that God has before “ordained that we should walk in them.”

Another popular interpretation of the word “grace” is the “unmerited favor” of God; however, this only illustrates one facet of grace. More than embracing this view is the fact that Jesus “was full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), but not full of the unmerited favor of God covering sin (He had no sin!). Thus, Jesus, being sinless, was full of faith and love, the favor and truth of God. Conversely, Christians, because of their sin, partake of the unmerited favor of God, that they might be filled all the more with faith and love, the manifold Grace of God:

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold Grace of God. (1 Pet. 4:8)

In the above, every man has received the gift! So then, every person in Christ has the ability to exercise God’s inner love, being the ability to exercise charity (1 John 4:7). Indeed, every person in Christ is to use God’s inner love that we may be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God,” and this, through faith in Jesus Christ. Now it’s impossible to be saved by grace without faith, for we, as longtime Christians, are saved “by grace . . . THROUGH faith,” that process, none other. Certainly, then, there is no such thing as grace that doesn’t contain a measure of faith.

To be more precise, “through faith” means that we are to have godly works toward the high prize of our calling, or works generated by God’s inner love (1 Pet. 4:8-10). Paul wrote of these godly works when he penned, “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life” (Rom. 2:7). Fittingly, Romans 2:7 also suggests that there is more to works than readily meets the eye, such as “patient continuance,” which is a faith work involving the process of bearing fruit to God. Speaking of that faith work, John wrote the following: "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13:2). In retrospect, it isn’t enough to know about charity (“And all knowledge . . . and have not charity, I am nothing”), agape love or charity in the Greek must be experienced by genuine faith in Christ, or we are nothing and can do nothing (John 15:5).

Biblically, there are two ways of doing righteousness in the New Testament. Here are the two ways of righteousness, or two ways of doing biblical works for the Christian:

1.) The first type of righteousness is by the self-generated works of the law, which doesn’t enable one to bear fruit: “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law . . .” (Rom. 9:31-32).

2.) The other is an all inclusive righteousness obtained by faith in Jesus Christ, which does enable one to bear fruit: “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9).

Righteousness through faith, which is really living right by faith, represents the works of God’s Grace that God before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10). In other words, righteousness through faith is not representative of self-generated law works, but faith works. (Christ working and growing within—what a difference!) In fact, these are the very works of which Christ says to Thyatira, “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” Additionally, these are the very works of which John wrote, “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds (works) may be made manifest, that they are worked in God” (John 3:21).

In retrospect, our works of faith or deeds worked in God come about by partaking of Christ’s inner power to love (Eph. 3:7, 17; Rom. 5:5), and this, so that our works may be made manifest that they are worked in God. Thus, the works of faith, even though these are works, are also the gift of God’s Grace. “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

Through faith? Living right by faith? Laboring to enter His rest by faith? Many foster the idea that works have nothing to do with the Grace of God, and again, this is true concerning “law works,” but not true concerning the works of inner godly faith and love (John 6:29). On this very accord, Christ told Sardis: “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” Fittingly, Sardis’s works that aren’t perfect before God are the works not perfected by God’s love for others (1 John 4:12). Hopefully, Sardis won’t claim that grace is void of any and all works (Rom. 11:6), and complete her godly works in God, just as the Lord instructed.

Never does the Scripture state that Christians are saved by grace alone. Conversely, it states: “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Certainly, then, no longtime Christian will be saved who willfully transgresses and refuses to abide in the Doctrine of Christ as an overall lifestyle (2 John 9-10). Thus, it is this author’s conviction that the time comes in every longtime Christian’s life wherein they are no longer justified by their initial faith alone (James 2:24), but by an abiding faith in the Lord; or by having a God shaping faith, fueled by good works in obedience to an inner Christ (2 Tim. 3:17; James 2:24). For this is the true meaning of abiding in Christ, that fruit might be borne to God (John 15:5; 1 John 2:27).

No, the Grace of God is not a license to abandon our role of abiding in Christ. Meaning that faith, like abiding, is also a process. So after we are saved, we must at some point learn how to abide and continue the Christian walk, and join that process. In the case of Christ’s Bridegroom Return (sometimes referred to as the Partial Rapture), it isn’t redemption or rewards by the works of the law, it is, however, a sooner redemptive reward by the works of love through an active faith (Rev. 2:24-25, 3:10). We especially see this in Christ’s mention of rewards upon His Quick Coming (Rev. 22:12).

In full demonstration of this process, “faith which worketh by love” is a faith that cooperates in our ultimate justification through abiding in Christ, whereas dead faith doesn’t (James 2:24). So ironic is this nondebatable fact, that, in the strict confnes of God’s Grace, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works (again, not works of the law, but the good works of faith), which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). It is no marvel, then, that we are to provoke one anther to love and good works, and even more so as we see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:24-25). Fittingly, Jesus remarked how works will determine one’s resurrection (John 5:29). Likewise, so did Paul (2 Cor. 11:15).

Unquestionably, by grace Christ expects Christians to learn the ways of righteousness: “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” (Titus 2:11-12). Here also lies an expansion of the meaning of God’s manifold grace. For the Grace of God itself teaches us to deny all forms of ungodliness, and this, by faith, that the Grace of God in truth might be just that, the Grace of God in truth. (And, how has the Grace of God appeared unto all men? One obvious answer is by His Spirit, who always convicts people of their right and wrong behavior in giving peace for well-doing, and a nagging sense of uneasiness for wrongdoing.)

In Scripture, there are two unalterable elements of God’s Grace that go hand-in-hand. First, it is impossible to please God without faith (Heb.11:6). Second, faith, after its inception, can only remain effective by the use of Christ’s indwelt love. Thus, to fathom the significance of faith and love is to know the Grace of God in truth. It is to know the “how” of abiding. The same abiding that is “the exceeding grace of God in you,” “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” In suit, “Let us labor therefore to enter that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (Heb. 4:11).

Now does all this mean that the cross of Christ, His blood atonement and death, aren’t sufficient to save us without works? To justify us without works? God forbid! The blood atonement and death of Christ (on the cross) for our sins, can’t be added to, or subtracted from—there is nothing greater than Christ’s blood atonement, death and resurrection for our salvation, a finished work.

Nevertheless, the Grace of God in Truth encompasses more than the cross and Christ’s blood atonement, death and resurrection. Meaning, the Grace of God also embodies the exacted will of God for our lives, that is, after we have become Christians (Eph. 2:10). In this vein, again, our faith saves us the moment we believe in Christ as our substitute sacrifice (John 5:24), yet that is not the whole story. Because Christ still reserves the right to abrogate the promise of eternal life; that is, if a longtime Christian refuses to abide in Him and bear fruit (Matt. 5:13; John 15:2-6; 1 John 2:24-25).

As evidenced by the following, the Church at Colossia held this exact understanding, that, faith, in the union of love, is very much a part of the Grace of God in truth: To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse:

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, pr aying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have to all saints. For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof you heard before in the word of truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day you heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth. (Col. 1:2-6)

Thessalonica also knew the workings of God’s Grace in truth: Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet [you are worthy], because that your FAITH GROWETH EXCEEDING, and the CHARITY of every one of you all toward each other ABOUNDETH. (2 Thess. 1:2-3)

By casual examination of Paul’s letter to the Colossians,5 one would never recognize that Paul was imprisoned when he wrote it. Then, jailed in Rome (Col. 4:18), Paul was far from being disheartened in a state of self- pity. Rather, Paul rejoiced in his sufferings (Col. 1:24); he didn’t wallow in hate for his captors. Like-mindedly, those in bonds with Paul also shared a valid concern for the saints at Colosse: “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you” (Col. 1:3).

To know the Grace of God “in truth,” is also to know the unabridged Word heard from the beginning. John wrote, “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that you should love one another” (1 John 3:11). The “beginning” being the beginning of the Gospel’s fruit, wherein Christ literally came to indwell men, manifesting His inner love for one another in the genuine believer.

Comparatively, The Royal Law, though it’s only found once in the New Testament, also contains the “in truth” message: “If you fulfill the Royal Law, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, YOU DO WELL” (James 2:8). The Law of Christ, though it also appears only once in the New Testament, certainly composes the “in truth” message: “Bear you one another’s burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).

Finally, The Law of Liberty, which also appears once in the New Testament, more than incorporates the “in truth” message of our actions toward others: “So speak you, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of Liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:12). The beginning of the Gospel opens with that portion of truth that largely deals with our interrelationships one with another. And it is for this reason that Christ spoke the inaugural message of the Beatitudes in His Olivet Discourse. Actually, He was on the verge of introducing the Grace of God in truth, the Gospel6 of Jesus Christ.
______________________________
5 The above first account.
6 The good news of freedom.

The Night-trib View Is That Christ Returns in The Spiritual Night Of The Tribulation!

 

 

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