"You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." (John 8:32).

PURE GRACE:
Discovering the Hidden Treasure!



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PURE GRACE: Discovering the Hidden Treasure!
 by Dietmar Scherf
> Introduction
> The Premise of Grace
> A Note about Salvation by Grace
> A Note about Eternal Security
> The Christian Life by Grace
> The Christian Works "Dilemma"
> Eternal Rewards in God's Economy


 

INTRODUCTION

Godís Grace is truly beautiful! And while His manifold Grace is immeasurable and incomprehensible, God invites us to grow in His Grace (2 Peter 3:18). Often though, our understanding of His Grace is based on certain religious, theological, "traditional" and even humanistic concepts, which do not explain or demonstrate the actual Grace of God.

Throughout my Christian life Iíve watched with a heavy heart how some of my Christian friends became burnouts. Before they became casualties they seemed to be the "perfect" Christians who had grown up in excellent churches. Some of them were full-time missionaries and when they returned from the missionfield they suddenly stopped attending church. Some even went back into the world.

Then there were the highly esteemed pastors who by the Grace of God had built "great" local churches and who were truly experts in the Word of God and who taught His Word with eloquence. Their sermons were anointed and they taught theology with fresh illuminations, encouraging the saints with great fervor. But then one day they fell prey to some weird doctrines; then their lifestyles changed, and they fell away. Could it be that many Christians have never discovered the Pure Grace of God? Could it be that theyíve lived their Christian lives by superficial standards and so-called Christian performance while proclaiming to know the Grace of God, when in actuality they were caught up in a rigid system of works? Only God knows the heart (Acts 15:8) and we all stand and fall before God (Rom. 14:4).

 

THE PREMISE OF GRACE

The Word of God teaches that true born-again Christians are "called by His Grace" (Gal. 1:6, 15; 2 Tim. 1:9), they are "saved by Grace" (Eph. 2:8; Acts 15:11; Titus 2:11; 2 Tim. 1:9), they "stand [continue and endure] in Grace" (Rom. 5:2; 1 Pet. 5:12), they "serve by Grace" (1 Cor. 3:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:10), they "grow in Grace" (2 Pet. 3:18), and "His Grace is sufficient and more than abundant" for the believer (2 Cor. 12:9; 1 Tim. 1:14). Grace is a gift (Eph. 3:7; 4:7; Rom. 3:24). Every Christian is a steward of the "manifold Grace of God" (1 Pet. 4:10).

It is very sad, though, that pure Grace is rarely preached and taught anywhere. Pure Grace is truly a hidden and in most cases even a lost treasure. Once we discover this treasure like a rare gem, we most likely will cherish Pure Grace as a precious gift so that we wonít lose it again. The enemy will try everything to deceive us and to lead us astrayófar away from Grace. Because it is Pure Grace that Satan attacks the most as Pure Grace has an eternal impact in our lives and in the lives of people who are affected by Pure Grace. [Note: As we use the term "Pure Grace," we do not imply that thereís such a thing as an impure grace. Instead, itís either Grace or itís not Grace at all. Frequently, the term "Pure Grace" is used in the writings of such well-respected theologians and Grace teachers like Lewis Sperry Chaferófounder of Dallas Theological Seminary. And in the Bible we find "true Grace" (1 Pet. 5:12). Therefore we use the term "Pure Grace" as an identifier for Godís unadulterated true Grace as explained throughout the Bible.]

Some have tried to distort the Grace of God, mixing it into their legalistic teachings (Gal. 1:6; 3:1-3, 5). But trying to mix Grace into legalistic concepts, work programs and so forth just doesnít work, because itís either all Grace or itís legalism and human works (Rom. 11:6). In other words: Itís either God or itís man. The belief system based on Grace is Christ centered, while the belief system based on law and works is self centered.

Others have made an attempt to turn the amazing Grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 4). As they have taken advantage of the liberty which Grace offers, they argue their deceptive doctrines that Grace can be used as a license to sin. Needless to say that these folks have never understood the true Grace of God. Because the essence and nature of Grace cannot be changed as Grace is never a license to sin. Instead, the Word of God explains it very clearly that "Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts" (Titus 2:11-12).

And while Grace and its many facets are immeasurable and incomprehensible to the human mind as Grace is contrary to the natural thought process of the unregenerate mind, through the Word of God by the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, we as born-again Christians are privileged to get a glimpse and even a grasp of the pure Grace of God (1 Cor. 2:7, 10-15). Sure, for now we see through a glass darkly and now we know only in part (1 Cor. 13:12), and nobody knows anything as he ought to know it (1 Cor. 8:2), but by the Grace of God the believer is enabled to grow in the Grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

The purpose of this study guide is to offer some insight into the basic characteristics of Pure Grace and to encourage the saints in the Lord. The teachings of every true Grace church are rooted in Pure Grace. Next to the teachings of the cardinal Christian doctrines, the evidence of the supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) in the leadership of the local church and in fellow church members is also a key indicator of a true Grace church. Of course, weíre aware of the fact that every Pastor, every believer and therefore each congregation is at a different stage of understanding and growth in the Grace of God. Therefore thereís no place for judgment. Instead we are here to encourage and to build up with the Word of His Grace (Acts 20:32). Jesus Christ was full of Grace (John 1:14).

It is very important for every Christian to hear messages from the pulpit that are rooted in Pure Grace. Only through Pure Grace the believer is able to receive and enjoy the Abundant Life (John 10:10b) with many temporal blessings here on earth, and then to receive a full reward in eternity (2 John 8).

 

A NOTE ABOUT SALVATION BY GRACE

When we share the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ with the unsaved we must be careful to truly share the Gospel of Pure Grace. Although we trust the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, any condition other than faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior attached to salvation can be a hindrance, as an individual may rely on something or someone other than only Jesus Christ for his salvation. Salvation is a gift and it is available to every person who puts his/her trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior (John 3:16). Christ died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). God doesnít want anyone to perish (2 Pet. 3:9), but instead He wants everybody to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4).

 

A NOTE ABOUT ETERNAL SECURITY

God is able to save us to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). Since Salvation is fully the work of God without any merit on the part of man, it is also Godís work to keep us eternally secure. The Eternal Life that weíve received at Salvation is just that: itís eternal (1 John 5:12-13). Many Scriptures indicate the eternal security of the believer e.g. John 10:28; Rom. 8:35, 37-39; and many more. The salvation of the soul from damnation happens at a moment in time and it is not progressive. Some have argued that a genuinely saved person can turn his/her back on God and therefore lose his/her salvation. The indicated Scripture passages above explain that once a person is saved, such a person can never ever return the gift of Eternal Life. Once saved always saved. Sure, people can turn their back on God in their lifestyles, and even deny Jesus Christ by their words and actions, but this doesnít mean that a genuinely saved person can ever lose his/her salvation or give it back again. In 2 Tim. 2:13 we read, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself." Salvation is a work of God and not of man.

 

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE BY GRACE

While at least a number of Christians understand and teach Salvation by Grace through faith, many fall short when it comes to the actual application of the Christian life by Grace. Itís astonishing how many preachers talk about Grace and suddenly when it comes to the practical application in the life of the Christian, they seem to turn the switch from Grace to works. They talk about the doís and doníts and in between they mix the word "Grace" into their humanistic messages. Of course it is clear that weíre all in a process of growing in Grace and that our understanding, grasp and comprehension of the Grace of God will vary from person to person.

Paul was shocked when he saw what happened to the Galatians. He said, "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the Grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ" (Gal. 1:6-7). And he goes on in Galatians 3:1-7. The Galatians departed rather quickly from the Gospel of Grace and turned again to the works of the law.

We must realize that it is absolutely impossible that we as humans could ever do any work by ourselves for God that would amount to anything in the sight of God. Grace eliminates every system of barter, effort and merit completely. The work of God is that we believe in Him (John 6:29). Faith is also a gift of God and therefore we canít glory in our faith either. When we exercise our faith it is because the Holy Spirit is leading us and He has motivated us to make positive decisions toward God. Once again, all the glory goes to God. In Phil. 2:13 we read, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." The motivation to exercise our faith comes from God and the actual works (actions) are performed by God too. In Philippians 1:6 we read, "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

His Grace is only effectual when His Grace remains Pure Grace. The moment we try to add anything to His Grace, Grace is no longer Grace (Rom 11:6), and then it would be no longer an acceptable work of God. All "our" godly works need to be accomplished completely by His Grace alone.

 

THE CHRISTIAN WORKS "DILEMMA"

Some may say, "How is this going to work? Do I just sit back in a rocking chair and wait for God to motivate me and to do all these beautiful Christian works? My pastor told me that Iíve got to get moving, otherwise I wonít be blessed and I wonít get any eternal rewards as the Bema Seat of Christ wonít be a pleasant experience for me."

Well, it is astonishing how church leaders and we as Christians try to put a guilt trip and an ungodly works trip on each other. The pastor says that you must give more, you must pray more, you must study more, you must go to church more and you must go soul winning, and of course, you shouldnít do this and that. And while these things in essence are true, if Pure Grace isnít taught, the life of the Christian becomes a painful journey through rules and regulations without any joy, peace and liberty in Christ. The pastor of course calls his sermon motivational and after all he wants his sheep to get a full reward in eternity. Or maybe he implies that too much Grace could perhaps lead the faithful into a life of sin and death, not realizing that in fact it is Grace that changes everything for the better. In 2 Peter 3:18 weíre encouraged to grow in Grace. Jesus said, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and You Shall Find Rest For Your Souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light" (Matt. 11:28-30). Jesus had a Pure Grace approach.

Then there are the diligent students among us who study the Bible in the original languages. And of course, thatís a good thing, because there are tremendous riches to be found in the Word of God. But some students will get confused with e.g. the rules of grammar in the Greek. And suddenly, the student will discover imperative moods and the mood of command, etc. and his/her world will change dramatically from Grace to law as his/her discoveries are misapplied and taken out of context. Yes, thereís an imperative mood, etc., but why depart from Grace for the sake of a pseudo-intellectual experience to lay a head trip and a works program on himself/herself and other Christians? The more we study His Word, the more we come to the realization that we donít know anything as we ought to know it (1 Cor. 8:2). Letís not forget the "simple" Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). Itís so very important to establish a Pure Grace viewpoint.

Isnít it some sort of dilemma when we hear some legalistic junk, perhaps even from the pulpit, and then in the Bible we read about Pure Grace and the Word of God explains how Grace truly works. Many preachers do not even make dispensational differentiations. They jump around between e.g. the teachings of the law, the teachings of Grace and the teachings of the kingdom like it is all the same, when it isnít. Because of sentimentality or tradition some Christians stay in their denominations and churches, and they wonít put God first, but they rather live in deception, instead of growing in Grace.

What about the rocking chair and simply waiting upon God? "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isa. 40:31). "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). Just as we canít save ourselves, it is impossible that we in our human strength can perform the so-called Christian duty of "good" Christian works.

Throughout the Bible, the Gospel of Grace has an overwhelmingly strong emphasis on the free will of man. Because it is up to us to make positive decisions toward the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Walking in the Spirit requires faith and it can only be accomplished by Grace. Meaning, itís God who motivates us to make the positive decisions and then He executes the Christian works in and through us. All that we need to "do" is yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him do the work in and through us. All the glory goes to Jesus.

And you may say, "but what about all these things of attending church more, and praying more, and giving more and winning more souls to Christ and so forth? How is that accomplished?" It is quite simple. In Heb. 12:2 we look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Once again, looking is not a work by itself, but instead it is an act of our free volition after the Holy Spirit has already motivated us to exercise our free will to look unto Jesus. The same principle is found in Isaiah 45:22 concerning salvation. When we heard the Gospel of Grace and the Holy Spirit convicted us to look unto Jesus as our personal Savior, we made a positive decision with our free will to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. There was no merit in this and it was not a work performed by us, but instead it was solely His work. Now in the Christian life it is also Jesus Christ who performs the work in and through us. Jesus said, that "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ĎFrom his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.í " (John 7:38).

At the point of salvation the love of God was shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). The Holy Spirit indwells the believer and now the love of Christ constraineth us (2 Cor. 5:14). It is God who shed His love abroad in our hearts and it is His love that is the motivating power. The emphasis regarding initial will power and action is always on Him, while He beseeches us that we say "Yes" to His guidance. As yielding to the Holy Spirit becomes a practice, this will be a "normal" spiritual behavior. In fact, in 1 Thess. 5:18 we will give thanks in everything as weíll pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). In 2 Cor. 5:17 we read that weíve become a new creation at the point of salvation and now weíre learning to live in this new creation, which once again is a growing in the Grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).

The fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) will be the result as we walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25) and as weíre filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). In a sense, we wonít be able to help it, because Christ will reign in us as the Word of God will dwell richly in us. See, as we look unto Jesus, our full concentration and focus is on Christ and not on ourselves. Thatís the beauty of it. No longer will we be occupied with what we should do and what we shouldnít do. Suddenly we experience the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and it will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7) so that we can rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4). Pure Grace is much more than just an amazing, liberating principle, it is the eternal power to change us as He works in and through us.

 

ETERNAL REWARDS IN GODíS ECONOMY

When we approach this subject we must understand the basic truth of the nature of God that He is Grace. We just established the foundation that in Godís economy there is no place for human merit, performance, efforts, etc. Itís all Grace and this is true Christianity. In the early years of our lives we were trained to work for almost everything as rewards were based upon our merits. Itís very hard to let go of this human system of bondage, competition and pressure. But Jesus Christ sets us free (John 8:36) as He gives and teaches us Grace.

Godís economy is different, because He gives us things (blessings, rewards and all good things) which we do not deserve and for which weíve done absolutely nothing. For the most part, the amount of blessings that we receive here on earth is only limited by our capacity to receive them. God knows the future and He knows what is good for us. "All things are for your sakes, that the abundant Grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God" (2 Cor. 4:15). "And all things are of God" (2 Cor. 5:18). HE has blessed us with all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3).

When it comes to Eternal Rewards some have argued that these rewards are awarded based on human merit. Lewis Sperry Chafer in his book "Grace: An Exposition of Godís Marvelous Gift" explains in great detail how human merit has absolutely no part in the Grace of God. Itís all Grace for Salvation and itís all Grace for the Christian life. And if itís all Grace for the Christian life, then it is absolutely impossible for eternal rewards to be awarded based on human merit. At issue is the viewpoint regarding the works of the believer: are these works performed by the believer or are they performed by Jesus Christ in and through the believer?

And while the Christian makes positive decisions to let Christ reign in him/her so that He can work through the believer, the actual works are performed by Christ and thatís the only thing God can accept anyway. The accountability of the believer is very beautifully narrowed down to the free-will decision in the mind to let Christ take over. The responsibility of the believer is to make positive choices toward the Word of God to let the Word of God dwell richly in him/her. Thatís how itís possible to have the mind of Christ in us (Phil. 2:5; 1 Cor. 2:16). Then 2 Cor. 10:4-5 and 1 John 1:9 will work just fine and we will have the desire to be occupied with Christís desire to "seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Our primary focus here on earth is to get to know Jesus Christ. We will make up our minds and say, "not my will, but Thy will oh God" (Lk. 22:42; John 5:30). And then it is possible to walk in the works that He has ordained for us.

God has absolutely no expectations of us, instead His expectations are from His Grace. When we read in 2 John 8 that we need to take care not to lose those things which weíve obtained, so that we receive a full reward, then it talks about the fact that we need to hold on to His Pure Grace. Because if we lose sight of His Pure Grace and if we lose the grasp and understanding of His Grace which we have obtained by Grace throughout our Christian life, then we may not receive the full reward which was potentially ours. The same is true of 1 Cor. 3:15 where it talks about loss. Beginning in 1 Cor. 3:4 it is established that it is only a loss of something that is not of God or something which someone thinks they may have (Lk. 8:18). The emphasis in 1 Cor. 3 once again is that itís only Godís work that will remain, but all human works are worthless and will be burned. The foundation must be Christ.

Even for those who do not have Christ as the foundation of their lives for their so-called "good" works, there is no loss of eternal rewards, although they are missing out on opportunities to receive such rewards. No Christian will receive eternal rewards for the moments and periods in which he/she lived in their own performance. Loss refers to possession, but you canít lose what you donít have. Sure, just like a lost soul can miss out on salvation, a Christian may miss out on potential rewards and forfeit opportunities to obtain available rewards. Nevertheless, the Eternal Rewards accumulated by each believer throughout his/her life for all the moments and periods in which he/she has lived a Spirit-filled life, these rewards can never be lost and these will be distributed at the bema seat. In Eccl. 3:14 we read that whatsoever God does, it shall be forever. If Christ did it all in and through us, then the Eternal Rewards are awarded for Christís work and we join as joint-heirs and heirs of God, "An inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Pet. 1:4).

 

             

             

             

             

 

You may also want to check out our articles on:

 

>Click Here for an interesting sermon (PDF) on the subject of God's MegaGrace as mentioned in Acts 4:33 (ref. Acts 4:32-37) by Dr. Allen Reasons (Senior Minister of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Huntington, West Virginia).


 

Check out this very helpful Books to explain the subject of Grace in greater detail:


 

You may also want to check out Dietmar Scherf's very helpful book:

I Love Me: Avoiding & Overcoming Depression by Dietmar ScherfI LOVE ME: Avoiding & Overcoming Depression
... which is in an excellent guide to a fulfilled life
ISBN 1-887603-03-4 | Hardcover |  212 pages
List Price: US$22                                         More Info
>Check today's low Price for this BOOK Now!

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This book is based on the promises of Psalm 107:20,

"He sent His Word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions."
 


 

Other related areas at HIS EMBASSY that might be of interest to you:
 

 



"Christ Must Be Our Focus"
... a video devotional by Dietmar Scherf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yp5M56YJWk

            



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