Lesson 6 - Grace Vs. Faith 

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Grace vs. the Obedience of Faith

Saved By Grace...

Let us look quickly at Acts 15:11, Ephesians 2:5-8 and 2 Timothy 1:9, where it talks about being saved by grace or through grace:

"But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are." Acts 15:11(1)

  4 "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."  Ephesians 2:4-10(2)

8 "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher." 2 Timothy 1:8-11 (3)

(1)A look at Acts 15:11

In Acts 15:11 above, Peter is not saying that they were saved by grace alone.  Instead the Jews and the non-Jews (the Gentiles) were "saved though faith in the same way" (not by physical circumcision or works of the law of Moses).

In Acts 15, Peter is responding to a report by Paul.  Paul is speaking to the apostles and elders in the church in Jerusalem about how some men had come down from Judea and were teaching (falsely) that the Gentiles must be circumcised according to the Law of Moses and must follow the Law of Moses to be saved (see Acts 15:1-6).  After some discussion Peter stood up and reminded them that the Jews and Gentiles were both saved in the same way.  Peter then recounted the story of how the Holy Spirit had fallen on the Gentiles the same way as it happened at first (see Acts 15:7-11).  Peter was there when the Holy Spirit had fallen on the Gentiles and Peter had commanded these Gentiles to be baptized (Acts 10:34-48), just as happened in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit had fallen on the Jews there and Peter had commanded them to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and the receipt of the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:28-39). 

(2)A look at Ephesians 2:4-10

In Ephesians 2:8 above, Paul is not saying that they were saved by grace alone.  Instead he says that it is "grace through faith." 

Paul says in verse 5 that we were "dead in our transgressions," but "God made us alive together with Christ."  In Romans 6:3-8, Paul explains how through baptism we are united with Christ in His death; being raised to be alive with Him. 

(3)A look at 2 Timothy 1:8-11

Again, in 2 Timothy 1:8-11, Paul is not saying that we are saved by grace alone...but rather "according to His own purpose and grace."

Grace Alone?

God and Jesus' grace was poured out onto all men and women.  Jesus didn't die for just a few...but He died for everyone.  If all that was needed was God's grace, then everyone who has lived and will live on the earth would be saved automatically. 

The scriptures teach plainly that, although everyone has an opportunity to be saved, many will reject this opportunity and be condemned on the day of judgment -- see Matthew 13:37-42 for one example.

Obedience Alone?

On the other hand, it is very important for us to realize that we are not saved by the obedience of faith alone.  Faith in Jesus Christ requires our obedience to what Jesus commands (e.g., Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:1-10, etc.).  But without God's grace...faith would be useless.  If Jesus never died for us...or if Jesus was never raised from the dead...then our faith in God (and the obedience that results from our faith) would be meaningless.

"For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied."  1 Corinthians 15:16-19 (NAS)

"...and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain."  1 Corinthians 15:14 (NAS)

Saved by Grace, Through Faith:

Let's take a quick look at Titus 3:5-7:

"He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:5-7 (NAS)

In this verse Paul mentions several things that are involved in our salvation:

  • According to His mercy --Titus 3:5,
  • By the washing of regeneration* and renewing by the Holy Spirit -- Titus 3:5, and
  • Justified by His grace -- Titus 3:7.

*Washing of Regeneration:

When Jesus' church is first established in Acts 2, Peter preached the gospel of Jesus and tells all there to repent and be baptized (immersed in water) for the remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  On that day, 3,000 obeyed by faith and were baptized (see Acts 2:38-41). 

Today, when a person is baptized for the forgiveness of sins, he or she arises (by faith) from the waters of baptism clothed with Christ (see Galatians 3:27) to walk in newness of life (being born again or regenerated -- See Romans 6:4). 

Regeneration means to be born again, or re-generated.  When a person is baptized for the forgiveness of sin...they arise from the waters of baptism "with Christ"...having placed their faith in the working of God...not their own power (see Colossians 2:12). 

"Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life....Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:4, 11 (NAS)

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Question 32