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The Daily Word of Righteousness
An Examination of Current Teaching, #3
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33)
In the following challenges I usually follow the word "grace" with (forgiveness). I do this because I believe our thinking is not always clear. We know from the New Testament that Divine grace means very much more than forgiveness. Yet more often than not we use "grace" as a synonym for forgiveness.
However, we sometimes will say, "The Lord will give you grace to go through that trial," revealing that we know instinctively forgiveness is not always what is meant by "grace." By following "grace" with (forgiveness) I am endeavoring to focus our attention on what we actually are teaching when we keep stressing Divine grace, pointing out that perhaps we are not saying what we truly mean.
In the following text, the current teaching is stated. It then is accompanied by passages of Scripture that, from our point of view, indicate the current teaching is in error.
Grace (forgiveness) is an alternative to righteous living.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, While we wait for the blessed hope the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. (Titus 2:11-15)
The Christian churches of today are presenting Divine grace (forgiveness) as an alternative to keeping the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. "We are saved by grace (forgiveness) whether or not we do God's will," it is maintained.
Grace has come to mean only forgiveness. Yet if we examine the usages of the term "grace" in the New Testament we see that its meaning is not limited to forgiveness. One definition that would include the various usages of "grace" might be: "God in Jesus Christ enabling people to do God's will." Of course, forgiveness is included; but forgiveness is not the main aspect of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
God would never issue a grace (forgiveness) that would provide an alternative to pleasing Him apart from righteous, holy, obedient behavior.
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:8)
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. (Acts 26:20)
Do you not know the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10)
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person such a man is an idolater has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)
To be continued.