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
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
PREMISE OF GRACE
The Word of God teaches that true born-again Christians are
"called by His Grace" (Gal. 1:6,
2 Tim. 1:9), they are "saved by
Grace" (Eph. 2:8;
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;
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
Some have tried to distort the Grace of God, mixing it into
their legalistic teachings (Gal. 1:6;
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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).
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
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).