Sunday, January 17, 2010
From the Archives: Grace Alone
Note: I posted this back in 2007, but now and then it's good to review. Especially when the subject continues to be a raging issue.
If there's one thing you can say about the human race and religion, mankind has been the same since Cain and Abel. In fact, the two brothers whose story is told in the book of Genesis are two prototypical examples of how man approaches God. One of them God accepts, and the other God rejects . . . for a very specific reason.
We even fall into the same argument within Christendom, although we shouldn't. Scripture itself is plain enough on the subject of grace versus human works in connection with salvation. But some insist that there has to be some human work involved to merit God's favor. Such an insistence is damnable heresy no matter how you slice it.
Here is what the Apostle Paul had to say about human works and their inability to merit God's favor:
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace (Romans 11:6)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly (Galatians 2:21).
You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).
We can see from these Scripture verses that trying to add works to the Gospel is a very serious matter indeed. This is such an important issue because it touches on the very sacrifice of Christ Himself on the cross. Any effort to throw human effort, merit, obedience to some command, ordinance or ritual, ANYTHING - nullifies the very Gospel itself and does violence to biblical soteriology. It is an insult to the Lord to imply or state outright that His sacrifice on the cross, His great mercy and redeeming love are not sufficient to buy the pardon of His elect.
What is the Gospel? Read 1 Corinthians 15 - the only place in the New Testament where the Gospel is defined. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead for our justification. Jesus paid it all and did it all. All we can do is believe, trust and be thankful. What about obedience? That is the product of our salvation, not what causes it.
Here is the final warning of God to all who would add works (including baptism) as conditions of salvation:
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).