WHAT IS GRACE ?
WHAT IS THE BIBLE MEANING OF GRACE?
The word of God says in Ephesians 2:8,9
“For BY grace are you saved THROUGH faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: NOT of works, lest any man should boast.”
There is much to learn from such a small passage from God’s word, but anything that concerns our eternity should be our utmost priority to make sure that what we are taught is the truth. Seeing that there is more than one view as to what this passage of scripture means and that these views directly oppose each other, then it is of utmost importance to search God's word to find which view is the truth. For the outcome will determine your and my eternity.
To me there is no doubt that the controversy lies in the understanding of the words. For instance; how one perceives the meaning of SAVED, what one believes to be the meaning of God’s GRACE, one’s understanding of FAITH, and what is meant by WORKS. So let’s begin this study to understanding God’s GRACE by defining the words in this passage of scripture.
The first part of this verse says, “For BY grace are you saved…” The word “BY” has many meanings and applications, but the way it is used is this verse indicates the agency or means by which something is accomplished. “BY” is a word that introduces the agent (person) or agency (office or power) that is the means or cause of why or how something is accomplished or brought to pass. Some synonyms of the word “by” are “through” and “with”. Also the meaning that is associated with the word grace is that it is ACCORDING TO God's Grace that we are saved. So the word of God in this verse could also read, “For WITH grace are you saved…” Where the word “with” carries the meaning of as a companion, an accompanying or next to and along side of, together with.
So grace is the agency or power that produces or accomplishes our being saved. Grace is our companion. Grace comes along side of us to assist us in being saved. Together with grace we accomplish being saved.
Now let’s look at the meaning of the word “ARE”, which is present tense of the word “be”. Present tense means now, as opposed to the past tense of was or were. The word “be” means to exist in a specified place, position or state, to stay, or to reside.
So our salvation is a moment by moment state of being and is dependent on the grace of God. In other words, IF we are no longer dependent on grace, then we cease to be walking in God’s will for us. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. At that precise moment in which our dependence on God’s grace becomes absent, then we remove ourselves from the work of salvation that is working in us. The reason being is because the issue of pride and boasting enter into the picture. This does not mean that grace cannot become active again and thus restore the working of salvation in our lives. In other words, our salvation is a CONTINUING process that is always in the “PRESENT”. Salvation is a continuing work in progress. Paul likens being saved to a race with a prize at the finish line. The finish line is when we die, that is natural death and and not dying spiritually. And the prize is eternal life with Almighty God the Father and his Son, our Lord, Jesus.
The word of God says in Galatians 5:4
“Christ is become of NO EFFECT unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are FALLEN from grace.”
In other words, whosoever ceases to depend on God’s grace to be saved, is now depending on their OWN strength to be saved. They are seeking to be justified through their keeping of the law in their OWN strength. And by doing this the grace of God’s has NO EFFECT in their life to produce salvation, because pride and boasting re-enter the picture. Please note that the word “law” here is referring to being “circumcised” and the “ordinances” of the law and not “WORKS”, as in righteousness, which we will address later on in this study. For we are saved for the purpose of doing good works.
So with the definitions of these words in mind we can read the verse in Ephesians 2:8 as, “For by grace, the agency or power that produces and accomplishes our BEING saved is through FAITH…”
I like some of the meanings of the word “through”. It carries the meaning of from the beginning to the end of, to the end of, finished with, especially being finished successfully. It means to a conclusion of, to accomplish, in every part, all along the way, every step of the way, though out, allowing continuous passage without obstruction to a destination and no stop or transfers.
So we are being saved by CONTINUALLY having FAITH without wavering in our faith or without ceasing to have faith.
This does not mean that if we waver in our faith that we cannot begin again. God’s mercy endures forever and he is faithful and just to forgive us if we ask him.
I have done a study devoted on the subject of FAITH if you desire a more in depth understanding of what faith is and how to use your faith. But In a nut shell, so to speak, or simply put, faith is a CONTINUING and constant process involving the present tense. Basically, faith is our believing, or trusting in God to do that which we are actively believing him to do, until it is manifested in our life. We believe it to be done already even though we have no physical evidence and patiently wait until it is manifested into being. Faith is an active word which requires ACTION on our part. For example, if we believe in Jesus we also believe that he loves us and in turn we love him because he first loved us. Jesus tells us in John 14:15 these words,
“IF you love me, KEEP my commandments.”
Now read John 4:7,8,20,21 which says,
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God. He that loves NOT knows not God; for God is love….If a man say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loves God love his brother also.”
So you see FAITH is active. It requires action on our part. If we BELIEVE, that is to say, have FAITH in the Jesus the Son of God, then we must consequently KEEP the commandments of God. Look at John 5:2-4
“By THIS we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and KEEP his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God OVERCOMES the world: and this is the VICTORY that overcomes the world even our FAITH.”
So then, “For by grace, the agency or power that produces and accomplishes our being saved is through the process of continually having faith, or trusting in God to receive the GRACE that we need moment by moment to overcome the world and walk in the love that he has shed abroad in our hearts.
The verse Romans 5:5 tells us that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Are you seeing it yet? God GIVES us GRACE. God GIVES to us the FAITH to obtain the GRACE we need, and BY, THROUGH and WITH this mighty working power of GRACE and FAITH we lay hold of salvation. So not only is our SALVATION the GIFT of God, but so also is the GRACE and our FAITH as well the GIFT of God. THEREFORE it is NOT of WORKS that we are saved, that is to say our OWN works of righteousness, because there would be an occasion for boasting or pride.
You see, if faith and grace were not a gift, then one could boast of his or her great faith, as if their faith were attained by his or her OWN power. No! We are not saved by our OWN works that we accomplish in our OWN strength, but this does not mean that WORKS are excluded in bringing about our salvation. On the contrary WORKS are MANDATORY to prove, or to show that salvation is working in us. So as long as grace is present and active in our lives, then the love of God will be present or active in our lives and thereby faith will be present and active in our lives, which in turn causes us or empowers us to overcome and abide in God’s love, whereby at that moment in time we are saved, so long as we are walking in love and keeping the commandments of God.
Think of being “SAVED” as being in “right relationship with God” or as being “accepted of God”. Think of being “SAVED”, as being on the right road or heading in the right direction toward a finish line, where there is a prize to be received, IF we remain on the right road and endure to the end. Now the finish line is our physical death or when we die, and the prize is receiving eternal life with God and his Son, which was up to this point just a PROMISE of eternal life.
However, IF we are not on the RIGHT ROAD when we die we will not receive eternal life, but rather eternal damnation. You see SALVATION or being SAVED is a continual process, which begins at the moment we accept Jesus as our savior, but it is not completed until we die or until Jesus returns for his bride, the church. The early church spoke of being a believer as those as being THE WAY. We, as believers, are in the WAY, the WAY of salvation or being saved. Salvation is a journey. Being saved is a WAY of life. It is a lifestyle. And it is a lifestyle that REQUIRES GOOD WORKS and keeping the commandments of God. In short the WAY is righteousness.
James 2:14 says,
“What does it profit, my brethren, though a man SAY he has FAITH and have NOT WORKS? Can FAITH save him?”
James 2: 19,20
“You believe that there is one God: you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But will you know, O, vain man, that faith WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD?"
Now let us go back to Ephesians 2:8-10, which is the passage of scripture that is used to teach that we are saved by grace alone and not by works.
“For by grace are you saved through faith, and that NOT OF YOURSELVES: it (the whole process of being saved) is the GIFT of God: not of (your own) works (that you do in your own strength), lest any man should boast.”
Now keeping this passage of scripture in the context of where it is found let’s read the next verse,
“FOR we are HIS workmanship, CREATED IN Christ Jesus UNTO (for the purpose of) GOOD WORKS, which God has before ORDAINED that we should WALK IN THEM (good works).”
For by grace we are saved… saved from what? Romans tells us we have been freed from sin or saved from sin in order that sin has no more, nada, zilch, zero, absolutely no more dominion or power over us. Therefore we are saved from sin to live our lives totally free from sin, and to WALK in the righteousness that GOD has made us.
1 Peter 2:15
“For so is the WILL of God, that with WELL DOING you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:”
1 Peter 2:21,22
“For even hereunto you were CALLED: because Christ also suffered for us, LEAVING us an EXAMPLE, that we should FOLLOW his steps: Who DID NO SIN, neither was guile found in his mouth:”
Jesus was our example to follow. Jesus accomplished the law to show us the WAY. Hereunto we are called to live our lives without sin just as Jesus did.
Again it is God’s WILL and his PURPOSE that he ORDAINED that we should WALK in righteousness, to live our lives without sin, even as Jesus lived without sin. God created us to be new creatures IN Christ Jesus his Son to ENABLE us to live our lives without sin. God does not expect us to accomplish this in our OWN strength. He gives us his HOLY SPIRIT, his WORD, his GRACE, his FAITH, his MERCY, his FORGIVENESS, his PATIENCE or long suffering, and ALL we need to live godly in this perverse generation. Look at II Peter 1:3,4
“According as his divine power has given unto us ALL THINGS that pertain unto life (both life now and eternal life) and GODLINESS, through the KNOWLEDGE of him that called us to (by) glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us EXCEEDING GREAT and PRECIOUS promises: that BY THESE you might be partakers of the divine nature, having ESCAPED the corruption that is in the world through lust."
It is PRIDE and BOASTING in our OWN righteousness that God turns his back to and rejects. It is these WORKS of our OWN righteousness that will not save us and not the WORKS of God the he commands us to do in order to REMAIN in right relationship with him. Continue reading in II Peter chapter one with verses five through twelve.
“And beside this, giving all diligence, ADD (HIS works) to your FAITH virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity (love). And IF these things (works) be in you, and ABOUND, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
BUT he that LACKS these things (these good WORKS) is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins (saved from his sins so that he can live free from sin). Wherefore the rather, brethren, give DILIGENCE to make your calling and election SURE: for IF you do these things (these GOOD WORKS), you shall never fall.
For so an ENTRANCE shall be ministered unto you into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will NOT be NEGLIGENT to put you ALWAYS in REMEMBRANCE of these things (to maintain doing GOOD WORKS), though you know them, and be established in the present truth."
The word of God clearly teaches that the ungodly and unrighteous shall not ENTER into the kingdom of God. Isaiah 35:8 says this about the highway to salvation,
“And an highway shall be there, and a WAY, and it shall be called THE WAY OF HOLINESS; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those; the WAY faring men (men traveling in the way of holiness), though fools shall not err therein.”
Galatians 5:16-21 says it like this,
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall NOT fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you (you in your own strength) cannot do the things that you would.
BUT if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law(left alone to do it in your own strength). Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and the such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that THEY which DO THESE THINGS shall NOT INHERIT the kingdom of God.”
So if we cannot do works of righteousness in our own strength, seeing they will be rejected of God because there is occasion of boasting or pride in us, then how then can we be saved?
For BY GRACE are ye saved through FAITH….
So what is GRACE? Many Christians believe that grace simply means unmerited favor. Now while this is true, grace is more than unmerited FAVOR that God gives to us to produce salvation in us. Again it is true that we do not deserve to be saved, and that it is by God’s grace of unmerited favor that God shows to us by forgiving our sins freely because of his Son, however, this is not ALL that grace is.
You see, if we deserved to be saved, then it would no longer be by grace that we are saved. Our being saved would be on the grounds that we earned it. For instance, in the natural if your boss GIVES you a bonus it is his grace or his showing you favor. He did not have to do this, but he did it out of kindness or love. He does not owe you this. It is by grace that it is given to you. But if you work and he pays you wages then this is not grace, because you earned it.
In the same way if our heart boasts that we deserve to be saved, because we keep the commandments of God we are saying we are doing this in our own strength and in our own righteousness. Thereby we sin, because we are boasting and pride is found in us. The whole issue of salvation is this pride issue. God will not share his glory with another. The only way we are accepted of God is when we are HIS work of righteousness. And the only way to be HIS work is through FAITH that he gives to us. We must HUMBLE ourselves and know that in our OWN strength we can do NOTHING. But at the same time, we must, through the faith and trust which we have in him that he will empower us, through the GRACE that he gives to us to overcome all that the enemy brings before us. So it is vital that we understand what GRACE truly is, for it is FAR MORE than simply the unmerited favor of God.
The word “FAVOR” means advantage, benefit, aid and to support. It carries the meaning of embodying or conceding that which was desired or requested, and points to the successful outcome. It contributes to the attainment of a goal. It is a beneficial influence. One of the meanings of the word “GRACE” is an excellence or power given by God. Another meaning of grace is favor, which we just looked at, but grace also means pleasure, pleasing, and thanks.
Pleasure and that which is pleasing brings us joy or rejoicing. It is this aspect or characteristic that I want to look at next. Look at II Corinthians 12:9,10 which says,
“And he said unto me my GRACE is SUFFICIENT for thee (you): for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the POWER of Christ may rest upon me. THEREFORE I take PLEASURE in infirmities (weaknesses), in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: when I am weak, then I am strong.”
In the next verse we are told that Paul became a fool in GLORYING.
“I am become a fool in glorying…”
The word “glorying” here means to boast or brag, which can be used in a proper or an improper way depending on the object or objective of the boast. In Paul’s usage of the word he was boasting in God’s triumphant power, and thus giving the glory to God. The American Heritage Dictionary defines glorying as to rejoice triumphantly used with the word “IN”.
Paul said these words in Philippians 4:13
“I can do all things THROUGH Christ WHICH strengthens me.”
Then Paul says in Galatians 2:20
“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet NOT I, but CHRIST IN
me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by FAITH of the Son of God,
who loved me, and gave himself for me”.
Paul gave the glory to Jesus. He was boasting IN Christ and that it was Christ IN him that
was ENABLING him to do good works and crucify his flesh. Jesus said in John 5:19 that he
could do nothing of himself.
“…The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do…”
In the book of Acts we learn that Jesus went about doing GOOD WORKS (miracles of
healing, raising the dead and such) not in his OWN power, but THROUGH the power of the
HOLY SPIRIT. Acts 10:38
“How God ANOINTED Jesus of Nazareth WITH the Holy Ghost and with
power: who went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed of the
devil; for God was with him (with him in the person of the Holy Spirit)".
The Holy Spirit ENABLED or EMPOWERED Jesus to live his life without sin and to lay
down his life for us. Read Hebrews 9:14
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who THROUGH the eternal
Spirit (the Holy Spirit) offered himself without spot (sin) to God, purge your
conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Greater is he that is within us than
he that is in the world. So if the Holy Spirit dwells in you, then you are made an overcomer.
Look at I John 4:4
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because
GREATER is he that is IN you than he (the enemy the devil) that
is in the world.”
The GREATER one (the Holy Spirit) lives within us, if so be that you have been filled with
the Holy Spirit.
Paul had been complaining to God about a messenger of Satan that was buffeting him and sought the Lord three times for it to depart from him, and God answered him and told him, “My GRACE is SUFFICIENT for you”. The word sufficient means as much as you need, enough. In other words my grace is all you need, it is more than enough. Then Paul responded to the Lord
“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that (or in order that) the POWER of Christ may REST UPON me”.
Paul learned the secret of how to appropriate God’s GRACE. He stopped worrying about the circumstances around him and began to focus on God. By faith, not looking at the circumstances, but on the mighty wonder working power of Almighty God, he began to boast and rejoice triumphantly IN the power of God. When I am weak, God is strong in me. There is power in praising God. There is power in rejoicing in God. The word of God says that the JOY of the Lord is our strength. Paul says REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS, and AGAIN I say REJOICE.
In John 1:14 the word of God states that Jesus was FULL of GRACE.
“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the Father) FULL of GRACE.”
So we can “have” grace, and we can be “full” of grace.
Acts 22:32 tells us that God’s grace is able to BUILD us up.
“And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to his GRACE, which is able to BUILD you up, and give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”
Luke 2:40 says that God’s grace was UPON Jesus.
“And the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the GRACE of God was UPON him.”
God’s grace can be “upon” us and we can be “full” of his grace.
In Acts 4:33 and Acts 11:23 we learn that grace gives us power and BOLDNESS to witness.
“And with great power gave the apostles WITNESS of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and GREAT GRACE was UPON them.”
Grace can be greater at different times. Grace can be “upon” us and we can be “full” of grace and we can have “great grace upon us”, so much so that this grace can be SEEN by others. Look at Acts 11:23 which says,
“Who, when he came, and SEEN the GRACE of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.”
The grace of God was seen in the previous verse, verse 21,
“And the HAND of the Lord was WITH them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.”
In Acts 14:3 we are told that God’s GRACE is in his WORD and that God will confirm his word with signs following.
“Long time therefore abode they speaking BOLDLY in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the WORD of his GRACE and granted SIGNS and WONDERS to be done BY THEIR HANDS.”
The Lord gave testimony or confirmed his word by granting signs and wonders to be done by or through the hands of his disciples who believed and spoke forth God’s word BOLDLY by or WITH the help of God’s GRACE.
In Acts 13:42 we are told to CONTINUE in the grace of God.
“Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews, and the religious proselytes followed Paul and Barabas who, speaking to them, persuaded them to CONTINUE in the GRACE of God.”
If we cease to rely on grace to save us, then this is the same as ceasing to depend on God for our salvation or anything else that we are believing God to do. We must CONTINUE to trust in God and his GRACE unto the end in order to be saved.
Romans 1:5 we read that Grace enables us to be OBEDIENT to God. Romans 1:5
“By whom we have received GRACE and apostleship, FOR OBEDIENCE to the faith among all nations, for his name.”
Grace enables or empowers us to be OBEDIENT to God.
We have access to GRACE by faith, which enables or empowers us to STAND. Look at Romans 5:2
“By whom we have ACCESS by FAITH into this GRACE wherein we STAND, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
GRACE also helps us to stand firm in our faith.
In Romans 5:20 we see that GRACE is GREATER than sin and ABOUNDS much more.
“Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound, But when sin abounded, GRACE did MUCH MORE ABOUND.”
In Romans 5:21 we find that RIGHTEOUSNESS is the fruit of GRACE, or in other words if GRACE reigns in us, then RIGHTEOUSNESS will shine forth in us to bring us to eternal life.
“That as sin has reigned unto death even so might GRACE reign through RIGHTEOUSNESS unto eternal life.”
Again, if we allow grace to reign in our lives, it will produce righteousness, or bear the fruit of righteousness in us, which in turn will bring us unto eternal life. Jesus said in Matthew 5:20
“For I say unto you, That EXCEPT your RIGHTEOUSNESS shall EXCEED the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of God.”
The only way that our righteousness can be accepted of God is for it to be his righteousness in us which he brings to us by his GRACE. Isaiah 54:17 God says, “And their righteousness is of ME saith the Lord”. You may have heard people say, “I have had it up to here” meaning that is all they can take. This is kind of how I see God when dealing with his people and their PRIDE or haughtiness. God wants us and our righteousness to be HIS work and his ALONE, and that is why he extends forth his GRACE to us. This is WHY God has CONCLUDED all of mankind to be UNDER SIN, so that he could GIVE us HIS WAY of SALVATION, which is RECEIVING his Son Jesus as a RANSOM SACRIFICE for ALL our PAST SINS. Please read Galatians 3:22, which says,
"But the scripture has CONCLUDED ALL UNDER SIN (WHY?) THAT (or in ORDER THAT) the PROMISE (speaking of the PROMISE of ETERNAL LIFE) BY FAITH of Jesus Christ might be GIVEN to them the BELIEVE."
You see my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, Almighty God FOREORDAINED before the foundation of the world, BEFORE he ever created mankind, to REDEEM mankind back to himself THROUGH FAITH in the SACRIFICE of his Son, Jesus. Please read my study entitled "UNDERSTANDING WHY" for a deeper understanding of WHY God NEEDED to REDEEM mankind back to himself, when mankind belongs to God in the first place, because God CREATED all things. So then, WHY the NEED to REDEEM something that ALREADY BELONGS to you? This study also addresses some hard questions of WHY does God ALLOW EVIL and SUFFERING? Did God create EVIL? Why does Satan always ACCUSE us before God? WHY does God turn Satan LOOSE again after BINDING him for 1000 years? WHY didn't God just destroy Satan as soon as he REBELLED against God? But for now let us continue with this study to discover the TRUE meaning of GRACE and WHY God gave us his GRACE to ELIMINATE BOASTING.
Please look at Isaiah 2:11 which says,
“The LOFTY looks of man, and the HAUGHTINESS of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord ALONE shall be exalted in that day.”
Then again in verse 17,
“And the LOFTINESS of man shall be bowed down, and the HAUGHTINESS of men shall be made low: and the Lord ALONE shall be exalted in that day.”
In James 4:6 we read that God resist the PROUD, but gives GRACE to the HUMBLE,
“But he gives MORE GRACE. Wherefore he says, God resists the PROUD, but gives GRACE to the HUMBLE.”
The whole purpose of God’s GRACE is to eliminate pride and boasting in our OWN might and strength, in our OWN goodness and righteousness.
We are UNDER grace. Romans 6:14
“For sin shall NOT have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but UNDER GRACE.”
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid, How shall we that are DEAD to sin, live any longer therein?"
Chapter six of Romans teaches the meaning of baptism. We are baptized into Christ death and become dead to sin. The old sin nature is dead and now the new creature IN Christ is to live unto God in righteousness. It is only through the POWER of GRACE through FAITH that we are enabled to live our lives without sin. It is only by LIVING this BAPTISM that we are saved.
In I Corinthians 10:30 we find that GRACE is giving THANKSGIVING to God.
“For if I by GRACE (thanksgiving) be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that which I GIVE THANKS? Whether therefore you eat or drink, or WHATSOEVER you do, do all to the glory of God".
This is more than the giving of thanks before we eat as some call “saying grace”. We are to give thanks in “whatsoever” we do and all we do to the glory of God.
In II Corinthians 4:15 we read that we can have ABUNDANT GRACE by giving THANKS to God, and that this grace will REDOUND or bring glory to God.
“For all things are for your sake, that the ABUNDANT GRACE might THROUGH THANKSGIVING of many redound to the glory of God.”
The word “redound” means to have an effect. When we give God thanksgiving and rejoice triumphantly IN him this has an EFFECT or contributes to the working of the abundant grace that we are given to deliver us from the circumstance that we are facing, and our being delivered in turn brings GLORY to God. Philippians 4:4,6,7 says it this way,
“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice…Be careful for nothing (don’t be anxious or worry about anything); but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding, shall KEEP your hearts and minds THROUGH Christ Jesus.”
This type of thanksgiving, the giving of thanks BEFORE we receive or have any evidence, goes against the wisdom of the world. It is by God’s GRACE through faith that we are ENABLED to call things that are not as though they were already with confidence and assurance that God will bring them to pass. II Corinthians 1:12 says,
“For our REJOICING is this, the testimony of our conscience that in simplicity and godly sincerity, NOT with fleshly wisdom, BUT by the GRACE of God we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.”
Everything we are is BY the GRACE of God. I Corinthians 15:10 says it like this,
“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.”
In Romans 8:14-20 we see Paul struggling in his OWN strength to overcome sin and he finds that he cannot do that which he desires to do. In verse 24 he says,
“O wretched man that I am! Who shall DELIVER me from the body of this death?"
Then in the next verse we read,
“I THANK God through Jesus Christ our Lord”
You see, with our minds and hearts we desire to serve the Lord, but our flesh wants to serve its sin nature. Paul says in the next chapter, Romans 8:1-14,
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are IN Christ Jesus, WHO walk NOT after the FLESH, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life IN Christ Jesus hath made me FREE from the law of sin and death.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the RIGHTEOUSNESS of the LAW might be FULFILLED in US, WHO walk NOT after the FLESH, but AFTER the SPIRIT.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is DEATH; but to be spiritually minded (that is mind or obey the things of the Spirit) is life and peace. Because the carnal mind (obeying the flesh) is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can be.
So then they that are in the flesh (trying to do good works in their OWN strength) cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but IN the Spirit, IF SO BE THAT THE SPIRIT OF GOD DWELL IN YOU.
Now if any man have NOT the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be IN you, the body is dead, because of sin, but the Spirit is LIFE, because of RIGHTEOUSNESS. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also QUICKEN your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
THEREFORE, brethren, we are DEBTORS, NOT to the FLESH, to live after the flesh. For if you live after the flesh, you shall DIE, but if you THROUGH THE SPIRIT (the Holy Spirit that dwells IN you) do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall LIVE (inherit eternal life). FOR (or because) as many as are LED by the Spirit of God (obey the leading of the Holy Spirit), THEY (only those who obey the Spirit) are the sons of God.”
You see, it is only BY GRACE that we are able to work the works of RIGHTEOUSNESS. And it is only THROUGH FAITH that we obtain the GRACE we need to obey the Spirit of God. We cannot do it in our OWN strength. Only through FAITH can we please God and be accepted of him. Romans 9:31,32 says,
"But Israel, which followed after the law of RIGHTEOUSNESS, has NOT attained to the law of righteousness. WHEREFORE? (or WHY is this?, how come?) BECAUSE they sought it NOT BY FAITH,…”
The first step to living your life FREE from sin is to BELIEVE that it is possible. Without FAITH it is impossible to please God. I have a study devoted entirely to this subject of living your life free from sin, if you would like to know more on how to accomplish this goal.
Grace within us gives us POWER beyond our OWN power. Shear determination or “will power” will only brings us so far, but grace gives us power to continue through to the end. II Corinthians 8:1-7
“Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the GRACE of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: How that in a great trial of affliction the ABUNDANCE of their JOY and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
For to their power, I bear record, yea, and BEYOND their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much intreaty that we should receive the gift and take upon us the fellowship of the ministry to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. In so much that we desired Titus that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the SAME GRACE also.
Therefore, as you abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence and in your love to us, SEE ALSO that you abound in THIS GRACE also.”
We can choose grace, by rejoicing and giving thanks to God. For instance, we ask God for wisdom in a particular matter and then we give him thanksgiving as if we already have received that which we have asked of him. Then we wait patiently in FAITH without wavering and REJOICE in the Lord always with THANKSGIVING, until it is manifested in our life.
Grace produces GOOD WORKS. II Corinthians 9:8 says,
“And God is able to make ALL GRACE ABOUND toward you; that (or so that) you always (continually) having ALL SUFFICIENCY in ALL THINGS may abound to EVERY GOOD WORK.”
Now continue to read verses 11-15,
“Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causes through us THANKSGIVING to God. For this administration of this service not only supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also (how?)by many THANKSGIVINGS unto God: Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they GLORIFY God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the EXCEEDING GRACE of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”
This unspeakable gift of GRACE is obtained through prayer, faith, and the giving of thanks and praise to God.
“And what is the EXCEEDING GREATNESS of his POWER to usward who believe, according to the working of his MIGHTY POWER, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places.”
God’s mighty wonder working power is wrought through his Holy Spirit.
“Whereof I was made a minister according to the gift of the GRACE of God given unto me BY the EFFECTUAL WORKING of his POWER.”
It is God’s Holy Spirit that ministers to us God’s GRACE.
In Hebrews 12: 28 we are told to HAVE GRACE because it is BY GRACE that we may serve God ACCEPTABLY.
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, LET US HAVE GRACE, WHEREBY we may serve God ACCEPTABLY with reverence and godly fear: FOR our God is a consuming fire.”
So the answer is yes; we are saved by GRACE ALONE and NOT of our OWN WORKS of righteousness, BUT this SALVATION is THROUGH FAITH as Ephesians 2:8 and 9 says,
“For BY GRACE are you SAVED THROUGH FAITH, and THAT (being continually saved, BY grace, which is THROUGH faith) NOT of yourselves: it (the Holy Spirit and all the things that pertain to godliness, which includes the PROMISES in God's WORD, the FAITH, which God has GIVEN to EVERY man, and the GRACE of God which gives us STRENGTH in our time of need, ALL of this) is the GIFT of God. NOT of WORKS (our OWN works of righteousness), lest any man should BOAST.”
Always remember to KEEP scripture in the context of where it is found and compare it to the WHOLE word of God. Let scripture interpret scripture by examining like verses together with each other making sure that the meaning you conclude does not contradict the whole word of God. With this in mind we will once again read the next verse in this passage of scripture that we are studying.
“For we are HIS workmanship, created IN Christ Jesus unto (for the purpose of) GOOD WORKS, which God has ORDAINED that we should WALK IN THEM (works of RIGHTEOUSNESS).”
Now concerning the difference between good works of righteousness and the works of the LAW please read the study entitled "THE WORKS OF THE LAW VERSES GOOD WORKS"
May the Lord bless you richly as you continue to grow in his word.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Always and Forever,
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