16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:16–18, NKJV)
Looking back to John 1:14, where the Word is announced as “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” John returns to the abundant grace found in the only begotten Son of God. In Jesus Christ (not Moses), a never-ceasing source of grace has appeared and is available to the entire human race. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). God’s grace offers salvation to everyone. God’s truth teaches us what to do to receive grace and to stand in it (Romans 5:1-2). Thus, grace and truth meet in Jesus. By God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). The gospel of His grace convicts us of our sin and its truth corrects us to obtain an eternal inheritance (Acts 20:24, 32). The Son of God is the only begotten (unique, one of a kind). We have not seen the invisible God (John 5:37; 6:46). But, the Son, who is eternal God, is qualified to do so (John 1:1). He shows us who God is and what God does. That is why He is the Word, and His Light brings life to the world (John 1:4-5, 9). Hear Him and live in His grace and truth.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NKJV)
The Word (eternal deity who created the world) became human and lived on the earth He created (John 1:3). He did not relinquish His deity when He came to earth, but He did empty Himself of its form (its glory) to take upon Himself flesh (Philippians 2:6-7). He became a man and lived among men. But, He was unique, “the only begotten of the Father,” because “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). His divine nature was revealed to the world by His words and by His miracles, then recorded by eyewitnesses who beheld His glory (John 20:30-31; 1 John 1:1-4). The Word brought the fullness of grace and truth to the world. He is our one and only true source of grace and truth. God’s grace is completely available in the truth, the word of God (John 17:17). And, God’s truth is always consistent with His grace (Galatians 1:6-7). What wonderful comfort it is to know God’s grace and truth are available to us in the Word, the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord— Your salvation according to Your word. 42 So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word. (Psalm 119:41–42)
The psalmist understood what is easily forgotten; God’s mercy is inseparably attached to God’s word. The mercy and grace of God that saves sinners is available to us all (Hebrews 2:9). Yet, God’s gracious mercy is only received by sinners according to the word of God. Sinners are saved “by grace, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is God’s part; faith is our part. Salvation by God’s grace is given to the person who dies to sin, not to the person who continues to sin in violation of God’s word (Romans 6:1-2). Like the psalmist, we trust in God’s word to answer those who reproach us for relying on the mercies of God. We trust in God’s word to establish and secure our faith. It leads us to God’s mercies and assures our trust in Him to save us by His grace as we walk by faith, doing His word. Thank God for His merciful salvation and the word of His grace in which we put our truth (Acts 20:32).
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. (Romans 4:3–4, NKJV)
Obedience to Christ is not a work of merit that nullifies grace. The theology of Calvin has persuaded untold millions that obedience is a work that “earns” or merits salvation. If true, then James contradicts Paul, for he said, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God” (James 2:21-23). Faith is made complete by obedience. There is no contradiction in Scripture, only with Calvinism’s faulty definitions of faith and works. Like us all, Abraham was a sinner in need of grace. Only perfect law-keeping (sinlessness) would nullify grace and make salvation a debt (Romans 4:4). The faith that saved Abraham was not sinless, but it was obedient (as witnessed in the matter of Isaac). Through the gospel, it is obedient faith that God counts for righteousness today. Obedience earns nothing; it is the action of a dutiful servant (Luke 17:10). Obedience is the work that justifies the ungodly, for without it, faith is dead (James 2:20). Obedient faith, not faith only, justifies sinners (James 2:24).
“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4, NKJV)
Can a Christian be lost in sin after being saved in Christ? Calvinism says, “No.” Reportedly, so did Billy Graham: “Returning home with a friend that night, Mr. Graham said, he thought: “Now I’ve gotten saved. Now whatever I do can’t unsave me. Even if I killed somebody, I can’t ever be unsaved now” (nytimes.com, Feb. 21, 2018). But, the apostle Paul told Christians, “Yes.” He said an attempt to be justified by law-keeping (the law of Moses, Galatians 2:21, 3-7) would cause them to be “estranged from Christ” and “fallen from grace.” That’s clear enough. The doctrine of “once saved, always saved” gives false comfort because it does not conform to the Scriptures. Jesus warned of those who would joyfully “believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13). Christians are told to “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). And so, we are urged to “exhort one another daily…lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11). A Christian who does not repent and pray God’s forgiveness for sins committed, will not be saved (Acts 8:18-24; 1 John 1:9). The Scriptures must inform and sustain our faith.
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1, NKJV)
The apostle Paul urges his beloved Timothy to be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Timothy had work to do as an evangelist, and he ought to be made strong by the grace that is in Christ to carry out his work (2 Timothy 4:1-5). Even so, God’s grace emboldens us to do the good work He gives us (Ephesians 2:10). Like Timothy, we must rely on God’s favor as we do His work, instead of depending on our own wisdom and power. Timothy’s work included teaching the gospel to faithful men, who could teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). He was to endure hardships, and not be diverted from his work of preaching the gospel (2 Timothy 2:3-4). He would have to play by God’s rules – he could not “make it up” as he went along (2 Timothy 2:5). And, to reap the reward of his labor, he would have to be a dedicated worker (2 Timothy 2:6). To be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” means to be empowered by God’s good favor to meet our challenges of faith. By God’s grace, we can faithfully persevere in doing God’s will.
23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,” (Romans 3:23–25, NKJV)
The reality of sin in our lives makes it impossible for us to ever earn our way to heaven. God, out of His great love for us, provides sinners (us) with redemption from sin in Christ Jesus. His grace, freely given, justifies through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Since not everyone is saved (Jesus said few find the way to life, Matthew 7:14), it necessarily follows that sinners have a responsibility to respond to the gospel call to be saved in His Son. God’s grace is available to sinners in the blood of Jesus Christ, by which God’s wrath against sin is appeased (that’s propitiation). Redemption by the blood of Christ (His death) is obtained when we are “baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). The action of faith that brings the sinner into contact with the atoning blood of Jesus, is baptism. We need God’s grace to be justified from our sins. Without grace, we are lost. Grace is available to all, and is received by those who “fear God, and keep His commandments” (Acts 10:34-35). Thank God, that He has revealed His plan to redeem us in His Son.