The Daily Word of Righteousness

"Workless Grace", #2

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. (Hebrews 11:1,2)

"The elders obtained a good report!"

The difference between the old covenant and the new covenant is not that the old covenant works by the letter and the new covenant works by faith. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews uses people from the time of Abel to prove to us that no person, under the old covenant or the new, ever pleased God other than by faith.

The people under the old covenant displeased God, attempting to please God apart from faith in Him. Devout Jews do the same today as they attempt to keep the Sabbath by not throwing a light switch. The Sabbath commandment has nothing to do with throwing a light switch or riding in an elevator. The Sabbath commandment has to do with setting apart a day to think about God and to seek His pleasure, not with straining over light switches.

Again, God gave us the new covenant so we might exercise faith toward Himself. And again, we have missed the point entirely. We have adopted a few key verses, such as Romans 10:9,10, and by means of these we hope to avoid the important issues of judgment, mercy, and faith. We have made the same mistake as the Jews—and for the same reason. Our hearts are not right in the sight of God!

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it (Hebrews 4:2).

"Not being mixed with faith!"

The Jews were supposed to mix faith with the gospel of deliverance from Egypt and possession of the land of promise, but they did not do so. They chose instead to follow the letter of the statutes while their hearts were far from God. This was a perennial complaint of the Lord against Israel.

Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked (Deuteronomy 10:16).

And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil (Joel 2:13).

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to practice righteousness, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8).

The difference between the two covenants is not only that one was of the letter and the other is by faith. The main difference is, the old covenant contains a provision for forgiving sin while the new covenant contains both a provision for forgiving sin and also a provision for removing the tendencies of sin. Both covenants require faith on the part of the worshiper, for without faith it never has been possible to please God.

The confusion over the nature of new-covenant grace is an understandable error, given the complexity of the concept, but it has been deadly in its effect. True saints must now throw off the false security given by the teaching of "workless grace" and follow the exhortations to holiness given by the Lord Jesus and the Apostles of the Lamb.

Later passages in Romans, as well as the tenor of Paul's writings in all of His Epistles, reveal beyond doubt that Paul lived and taught righteousness, and indeed would be appalled were he to see how his exposition of Divine grace has been interpreted by us Gentiles. (from A Study Guide for the Book of Romans)