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Part 1 Gen. James Green
T his is a Bible study on “grace.” Now I’ve got the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, I’ve got a great Commentary of Greek and Hebrew, I’ve got the Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, I have the Amplified Bible, the King James Bible, I have the Greek and Hebrew Strong’s Concordance, and I’m all set!
I’m about to teach on “By Grace,” and this is all summed up in a Word God gave us. He summed it up in one word: “SUFFICIENCY.” That’s what grace is really all about. The reason I’m teaching this is because someone came up yesterday at our prayer booth in Gallup, New Mexico, and he looked kind of disturbed. He said: “I just read one of your publications. I just loved it. I agree with everything …except…I didn’t find the word ‘grace’ anywhere in the whole publication.”
So I said, “Well, you just read one publication. We have thousands of them.” And I stopped and thought on that, and it occurred to me that I don’t teach too much about grace. Maybe I should not overlook it so much. Maybe I should mention it more. Yet I do have some teachings on the subject.
Then I thought, “Well, I’m going to teach on grace.” This little incident made me think that maybe this was God trying to tell me something through that man. This man was a minister, and he was doing the same thing we were doing—he works with the Native Americans.
Probably one reason I haven’t dwelt on ‘grace’ a whole lot was that I just assumed Christians knew about grace. Sure, the sinners don’t know anything about grace, they don’t know anything about the Bible. But they do know about sin. And when we’re ministering to sinners of course we explain about salvation and mercy and repentance ect.
Now grace has quite a definition to it. Many words we use are actually SYNONYMS FOR GRACE. All this is quite a lengthy subject, and someday I would like to make a good teaching on that.
I picked out probably the most famous verses on ‘grace’ in Ephesians 2:5-9. If you’ll turn there, I’ll read out of both the Bibles I have here, and then we’ll get into definitions, which is quite lengthy.
Actually, chapter 2 in Ephesians deals with man’s condition without God: he’s dead. He’s not alive spiritually. His body’s alive, but his spirit is dead. Let’s start in verse 5 out of the King James version: “Even when we were dead in sins...” It doesn’t mean we were physically dead. It means that we were just dead towards God.
“[God] Hath quickened us together with Christ. By grace ye are saved.” Now, that’s an old, archaic word—quicken. It basically means “to make alive.” So we were made alive. Now, that’s probably the most famous verse that we can talk about.
The big question is: HOW ARE WE SAVED BY GRACE? Well, to understand that, you’ve got to know what grace means. Then you’ll understand about your salvation. And then it goes on through verse 9: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
The Amplified version puts it slightly different: “Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him,] for it is by grace... (then it includes the definition here) by His favor and mercy which you did not deserve.” Here we have two synonyms: mercy and favor.
Now, tell me, which of us here deserved to have God’s grace? I didn’t. I was one Hell of a sinner. I sinned like Hell, and I knew it, so I surely didn’t deserve God’s grace. THAT’S WHAT GRACE IS—IT’S UNMERITED FAVOR THAT GOD BESTOWS UPON US THAT WE DON’T DESERVE. That’s why it says that it’s nothing we can do by our works. The truth is YOU WORK AFTER YOU’RE SAVED. You don’t perform works to earn your salvation. You don’t have to do that. It’s a free gift.
In verse 8 it goes on to say, “For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation) through [your] faith.” So, here’s an area where we part ways with some bodies of people that believe in “God’s election—He elects some for salvation, some for damnation.” This is not the place to study that controversy. Suffice it to say that I do not believe the Calvinist doctrine of predestination.
I believe God offers His salvation to all. I do not believe God seals some in eternal bliss and some in eternal damnation. Some reformed people believe this theory. But the Bible says our salvation involves His faith and our faith. We’ve got to have faith to believe and receive. And when Jesus is presented, WE’VE GOT TO HAVE SOME FAITH IN US BY WHICH WE CAN RESPOND! But they say, “God has to save you so that you can be saved.” But I have a problem with that too, because then where do we act on our faith?
Going on in the Amplified Bible, it says regarding salvation: “it is not of yourselves, of your own doing. It came not through your own strivings, but it is the gift of God.” In other words, we don’t have to get out and labor, and labor, and struggle, and struggle to become good enough for God to save us. We don’t have to become good for God to save us. WE’RE ROTTEN THROUGH AND THROUGH. WE’RE DEAD. IT’S ONLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD THAT HE QUICKENS US. He offers us that life, and we, by our own faith, and believing who and what He is, have to receive that gift.
Someone can write me a check for say a million dollars, but I have to receive the check before it becomes mine. It can have my name on it, but it doesn’t do me any good until I act on receiving it. That’s the way salvation is, and it’s silly to think someone’s going to just come up and stick this million dollar check in my hand without anything to back it up.
Now, finishing up in verse 9: “Not because of works, [not the fulfillment of the law’s demands]. Lest any man should boast.” Now, of course, he was writing in the realm of law vs. free gifts in those days. We don’t have to go by the law. We don’t have to do what the Jews did in order to get salvation. It’s beyond that:
Salvation is not the result of what any man could possibly do—so no one can pride himself in it, or take the glory to himself. This is why God offers salvation to us, because there’s nothing we can do to earn it. There’s nothing we can do to work for it. It’s a free gift, and that’s humbling.
God wants to start us out in our salvation beginning in humility rather than pride where someone says: “Well, look what I did! I did all these great works!” The Roman Catholic church goes to that extreme—that you work for your salvation. Now, I know that’s not entirely true, but there’s an element of ‘good works’ in that system. You don’t work for true salvation, you receive it when it’s offered to you.
Now, regarding these verses, the best comment on that particular passage (Ephesians 2:5-9), the best comment we can find, is probably Romans 6:23. So, if you turn there quickly, we’ll look at that for a minute. It says: “For the wages which sin pays is death, but the bountiful free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord.”
These would basically be the best verses you can find in the New Testament: Ephesians 2 and Romans 6 about the wages. Now listen, WAGES ARE EARNED. You work at sin—committing sins—and then you get paid for that. You work for sin, and you get the wages. And the wages are not just referring to the time of your life when you’re a sinner and you’re already in death. This verse is talking about the bigger picture of your life, the finality of things. It means a death that is total separation from God. You’re working towards that as a sinner. You’re already dead, but if you keep living in sin, then the wages that are going to be paid to you is eternal separation from eternal life.
You will be alive and conscious in Hellfire—a terrifying truth which a lot of people don’t believe anymore. And concerning the word “death,” it does not mean annihilation. It means SEPARATION from eternal life (those that have eternal life will live eternally in the heavenly abode). Those who receive eternal death will be punished because of the wages of sin they have earned.
If you are a great sinner, and you’ve stacked up a huge amount of sins during your life, the truth is you’re going to live with those sins that you’ve earned on earth eternally in Hell. And if you were a “good person,” but still a sinner, your sins are going to be less, yet you will still live with those sins. You’ll still be in Hellfire. It doesn’t matter if your sins are a little or a lot. The Bible teaches that there are degrees of torment in Hell. And there are degrees of blessedness in Heaven. Study it out for yourself.
Not everybody gets the same reward when they go to Heaven. Someone who has spent a huge part of their life in consecration, dedication, and service to God is going to get a greater reward, as opposed to someone who just got saved and then died. DON’T TELL ME THE GUY WHO WAS ONLY SAVED FOR A MONTH IS GOING TO HAVE THE SAME REWARD AS SOME ZEALOUS PERSON who gave their whole life in the service of God, when they get to Heaven. I don’t believe that. Sure, they’ll both be in Heaven enjoying the love and presence of the Lord. Yet what they did for God, their obedience and sacrifices will be different.
There are degrees of gifts and attainments in the heavenly abode, and that’s what you’ll live with. If you’ve earned a dollar, you’ll have a dollar in Heaven. If you’ve earned a penny, that’s what you’ll have. You say, “Well, that’s unfair!” It’s not unfair at all. It’s really the epitome of fairness. You get what you earned. I’m talking about what you’ve done AFTER you’re saved. You don’t work for your salvation. I’m talking about works, true works, that you do for God after salvation. You’re expected to produce good works after salvation, and that’s what counts.
Ok, the free gift mentioned in Romans 6:23 is all by grace, and grace is unmerited favor. God gives us the incredible gift of eternal life when we don’t even deserve it. Thank God for that.
In times past I have taught much against the Emergent Church. They are a conglomeration of rebellious fools bent on tearing down the high and holy standards of God’s Kingdom. Now I would suspect, in fact I know, some of them were saved at one time. Yet now they have discarded true Biblical faith and salvation. I don’t really know what they believe. They’ve just thrown it away and trashed it.
Now I want to look at three phrases here. These are Latin phrases that mean: “grace alone (sola gratia), faith alone (sola fide), and Christ alone (solus Christus).” These three concepts are the foundation that we stand on in our salvation experience. These foundational truths are what the Emergent Church has gone about trashing and undermining. I have taught in detail how they have de-constructed first of all grace, and then faith, and then Christ. They have de-constructed these important ideas and come up with entirely different meanings for them. So, I have taught on grace before.
But, just to remind us, I have one of their quotes, showing how they view that idea of ‘grace alone.’ They don’t believe in grace alone. They’ve totally re-imaged and reworded it to the point that it means something entirely different. In fact, regarding the term “grace” as you find it in the Bible, if it appears in their writings, it has been re-interpreted and de-constructed from what it truly means.
They say here, and I’m reading one of their quotes: “Whatever the meaning of salvation and judgment, we Christians are going to be saved by grace like everyone else, and judged by works like everyone else.”
Well, they’re totally wrong on that. NOBODY outside of those accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior is saved by grace. This idea is what they call Universalism—that everybody eventually will be saved whether they want to be or not.
Why don’t they talk to the atheists about that. The atheists have a problem with Christ. We get e-mails in quite often deriding us for believing there is a God. So, HOW are people like that going to be saved by grace if they don’t even believe there is a God? And Brian McLaren, one of their prominent leaders, teaches what he calls ‘inclusive grace,’ which means everybody will be included in God’s grace, no matter what religion, no matter what you do, no matter how you act, how you live—you’re going to be included in God’s grace anyway. THAT’S UNBIBLICAL! You can’t find that in the New or the Old Testament anywhere.
Ok, I think I’ll start with the Orthodox Dogmatic Theology book I have here. I’m going to read just a little bit about what they’ve got on grace here. And of course, the first thing they quote is what I just read to you in Ephesians 2:8-9. Then they comment on the passage: “Grace is the name applied to the gifts of the Holy Spirit which have been sent down and are being sent down to the church of Christ for the sanctification of its members, for their spiritual growth, and for the attainment by them of the Kingdom of Heaven.”
What they’re really saying is “Christ is all-sufficient. He gives us everything we have need of to make it.” That’s what they’re saying. If you look in Strong’s, or any other Greek concordance, you will find there are four or five definitions, and they all are synonyms for the word ‘grace.’ They all mean grace. They are just different words like ‘favor,’ ‘mercy,’ ‘love,’ and ‘salvation’ are included.
The definition continues: “Grace is the power sent down from on high, the power of God which is the church of Christ which gives birth, gives life, perfects, and brings the believing believer into this victorious Christian perfection.” In other words, “Until we are perfected,” The true meaning of ‘perfected’ is ‘mature.’
We all start out as infants—born-again babes in Christ. And just like new-born babies in the flesh, we don’t come out a full grown person. There is a growth process. We grow from stage to stage, and eventually we will become a mature person. Or as the Bible says, a ‘perfected’ person: not sinlessness, but a MATURE person. So, there are steps along the way in this process of maturity, and GRACE is needed throughout the entire process.
This Orthodox Theology goes on to talk about the apostles: “Therefore in their [the apostles] writings they often use the Greek word ϰάρις, charis, which means “grace.” This is identical in meaning with the word δύναμις, dunamis.” Dunamis is a Greek word meaning “power.” It’s the same Greek word from which the English word “dynamite” came from. Dunamis = dynamite power.
“The term ‘grace’ in the sense of power given from above for a holy life is found in many places of the epistles like 2nd Peter 1:3.” I’m not going to turn to all of these scriptures. You can look these up yourself if you’re interested: Romans 5:2, 16:20; 1 Peter 5:12; 2 Peter 3:18; 2 Timothy 2:1; 1 Corinthians 16:23; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 6:18; Ephesians 6:24.
Today’s Church has fallen from grace and has taken to herself many other lovers. How about us? How many idols, how many lovers, do we have in our lives that have crept in where we have trashed God’s grace or done away with faith in Christ? Is He really our TRUE LOVER, or have we just thrown Him away, becoming infatuated (demonized is a better word) with other lovers/false gods.
You know, my wife would not believe in me very long if I told her once, “I love you,” yet I never had an intimate relationship with her, or I never kissed her, never hugged her, never told her “I love you,” or “I appreciate you” again. I think she would begin to wonder after awhile.
After 43 years I’ve never neglected to show my love to my wife. I still love her as much as I did when I first met her. Why have I done that? Because I HAVE KEPT THAT ALIVE. I have kept myself from letting other lovers come in my life where they step between me and my wife. That’s why we can keep our love for one another afresh and anew.
But friend, when you allow other things (lovers/idols) to come into your life, and you let grace just kind of slip through your fingers: God’s favor, God’s mercy, and God’s love just kind of grow dim. Soon you’ve found other things to take the place of Christ in your life. This is exactly what the Church has done. Friend, you’re in bad shape if you begin to hate what the Bible says, when previously you embraced it, and loved it.
Next they quote 2 Corinthians 12:9 where Paul writes: “The Lord saith unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in your weakness, my grace is sufficient for you.” God’s grace is sufficient for us in ALL of our testings, all of our trials, all the days of our lives. It’s sufficient—it will never lose its power. If we lose our love of Christ, then we lose the power of grace.
Even when we’re down and out, and (as we used to say) “in the pit,” God’s grace is still there. But God doesn’t always allow the grace to manifest itself like dynamite power. If it was always like ‘dynamite’ we would never experience many of the things Jesus experienced: things like having no friends, being mocked and ridiculed, being hated and hunted, being crucified. We have to fellowship His sufferings too. So, sometimes He withdraws His grace, not entirely, but He pulls it back to where we can fellowship other aspects of Jesus’ life.
Continuing on, “In Protestantism, a teaching has become established about grace only, and its general significance of the great work of our redemption from sin through the Savior’s death on the Cross, after which, as the Protestants think, a man who has come to believe, and has received the remission of sins is already among the saved. However, the apostles teach us that a Christian having justification, as a gift in accordance with a general grace of redemption, is in this life an individual only being saved (1 Cor. 1:18), and needs the support of grace-given powers.” Then they quote Romans 5:2, and Romans 8:24, where it says: “We have access by faith in this grace wherein we stand, and we are saved by hope [by grace].”
What they’re saying is: “Most people only understand grace as the initial accompaniment of salvation: I was saved by grace etc...” But friend, grace goes along with you from the moment when you’re born-again until the moment you die. GRACE IS THERE EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. The problem is we only take it as, “Well, I’m saved, and that’s good enough for me.” Then we lose sight of what salvation really means. You don’t understand the gifts, the power, all these things that help to keep you moving on, overcoming, conquering, and living the life for Christ.
AND I HAVE TO AGREE THAT THE CHURCH HAS PRETTY MUCH STAGNATED IN THE SALVATION REALM; THEY DON’T PROGRESS IN THE BATTLEFIELD…THEY JUST DON’T. They say, “Well, I’m saved. I’m always going to be saved because God elected me. I can’t lose my salvation, so what’s the use of fighting?” There are MANY reasons we need to fight! Number one being ignorance.
Did you know the whole New Testament is a book of warnings about the issue of sin—what sin can do to us if we yield to it? If it were true that you’re unconditionally, eternally saved once you accept Christ, there would be no need for the New Testament. Because a huge part of the New Testament is nothing but warnings against falling away, warnings against becoming bankrupt and shipwrecked and losing out with God!
It keeps warning us over and over again. It tells us to stay away from sin. It says: “Don’t yield to this...avoid that...flee from fornication...etc.” All kinds of warning. And it’s the grace of God that gets us through those places every step of the way. This commentary is trying to let us know that there’s more to grace than just what accompanies salvation and sanctification.
There are a lot of good points here. It says: “Concerning the cooperation of these two principles, the apostle Peter says according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and holiness.” And where it says “all things” I could put the word “grace,” because they’re both talking about the same thing.
And then it says, “Giving all diligence.” Do you know what the word “diligence” means? We don’t know what that means anymore: we don’t know what discipline, dominion, and deliverance mean; we don’t know what those words mean anymore. Those are foreign, forgotten words. DILIGENCE IS STAYING AT SOMETHING (WORKING CONSISTENTLY AT A TASK) AND NOT LOSING SIGHT OF IT.
For example, as I was saying earlier, regarding the marriage relationship, I have made myself diligent at keeping my love alive for my wife and for Christ, and trust me, both are a test.
Now, besides me and my wife, what about you? What I’m getting at friend is every day, in many ways, we are tempted and tried. If I were to allow bad attitudes to come up in my heart towards her when she criticizes me for throwing my belt on her side of the bed or my pants when I take them off—my dirty pants, my dirty socks—according to her, I would have lots of problems. For example, yesterday, I said about my pants, “They’re not dirty, I just put them on!” and then I put them on her side and she threw a fit. Right then I could have found reason to storm out and go drinking: “I got to have a drink, man, that wife of mine…” But I didn’t. I put my beast down and we work it out so we can get along. God’s grace helps us in all these kind of things.
Now lets look into volume 9 of the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Gerhard Kittle and others. There’s quite a lengthy overview here, and I’ll try and read it quickly. What I like about this dictionary is that they go into the secular usage in the Greek world of that time. They look at the usage, the special developments, and they study the literature of Jews that lived in the Greek countries at that time. All this is telling you about the meaning of grace.
So, if you want to get a thorough understanding of grace as it was in the pagan world during Old Testament and New Testament time, this is the book where you’ll find it. They have it all here—what the language meant in those ancient settings, religions, and cultures.
They talk a lot about the language and how they spoke it. For example, one meaning of grace is “MAKING GLAD BY GIFTS.” I thought that was kind of a neat definition of grace: “Making glad by gifts.” And that is what God’s grace has done for us, as He bestowed upon us the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Yet some people say, “Well, you don’t need that old Holy Ghost! You don’t need those gifts of the Holy Spirit anymore. I mean that’s all passed away.” Is that right?
That’s why the church is so dead—because they don’t exercise in the gifts of God any more. True, they’ve got salvation. The way they look at it is: “I’m saved forever, and that’s all that matters. Get wealthy, get healthy, have all the sex, all the booze, all the drugs, have everything in the world, and you’re going to go to Heaven no matter how you live!” That’s today’s church’s philosophy. Do you like that? And that’s exactly what it is—a philosophy of deceit.
WE NEED THE GIFTS! THE GIFTS OF GOD HELP US IN EVERY ASPECT OF OUR LIVES: INWARDLY AND OUTWARDLY. Spiritually speaking, you conquer the land in here, and you conquer the land out there. “Making glad by gifts, by showing free, unmerited grace.”
I didn’t deserve the Holy Spirit. I didn’t deserve the gifts of God. I didn’t deserve what God gave me. God gave it to me as a free gift. Now, it’s up to me to use that free gift. If I got the free gift and I choose to stick it away, then fine. It’s still a free gift. I just don’t use it.
In Paul’s writings, he is not specifically pointing out that God is gracious, although God IS gracious. He deals more with the proclamation of that grace: what it is, how you use it, what it represents. He stresses the definition, so someone knows if it’s working in their life?
If we miss that, if we fail to understand what GRACE is really all about, then we won’t even know the kind of power that we do have. So, this grace of God, this unmerited favor, these gifts making us happy which work on our behalf—all these stay with us from spiritual infancy all the way up to maturity as manifest sons and daughters of God. Amen.