3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:3–4, NKJV)
Binding any portion of the Old Testament Law of Moses upon Christians is totally incompatible with the gospel of Christ. The Law of Moses was only given to the nation of Israel; it was never a universal law given to all nations (Deut. 5:1-3). Paul was addresses a false doctrine being advanced by some Jewish Christians, which compelled Gentiles to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved (Acts 15:1ff). This teaching perverted the gospel being preached by the apostles (Gal. 1:6-9). The result of believing and advancing this false doctrine was that Christians were severed from Christ; they were “fallen from grace.” This clear statement by the apostle Paul shows that it is possible for Christians to lose their salvation. This happens, not because Christ does not have the power to save the Christian, but because the Christian chooses to believe and follow error instead of truth. Sin will not be rewarded with heaven. The belief that Christians cannot fall away and be lost is a false, deceptive doctrine.
34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34–35, NKJV)
God’s love for sinners is unconditional: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” (Jno. 3:16). God’s salvation of sinners is conditional: “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jno. 3:16). Today’s verse helps explain the condition of faith (“whoever believes in Him”) that saves sinners “by grace” (Eph. 2:8). First, God’s conditions for salvation are impartial. God’s very nature demands it to be so. Next, salvation conditions are universal (“in every nation”). Next, we learn that “whoever believes in Him” is one who fears God. Reverence for God implies one fully submits to God’s will, not his own. Such a submission, reverent faith “works righteousness.” That is, this person is obeys the commands of Jesus in order to be saved. Jesus and His apostles commanded belief, repentance, confession of faith and water baptism to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38; 22:16; Rom. 10:9-10). Do you fear God? Will you work righteousness? If so, He will accept you. Yes, salvation is conditional, and Jesus Christ sets the conditions (Matt. 28:18-20).
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),… (Ephesians 2:4–5, NKJV)
The mercy of God distinguishes Him from all that are called gods. He is enormously wealthy in mercy, and His love is utterly remarkable – another defining trait of the true and living God. God’s abundant love for us sinners activated His rich mercy toward us, and He mercifully gives us life in His Son (1 Jno. 5:11). Notice it is God who made us alive; we did not save ourselves by any power or any righteousness of our own making (Titus 3:5). God took the initiative when we were dead in sin, “without strength” to save ourselves (Rom. 5:6). God sent His Son to save us and His gospel to call us to His salvation (1 Jno. 4:9-10; Mk. 16:15-16). Let us be clear: God’s grace does not save a sinner unless and until it is accessed by the sinner’s faith (“For by grace you have been saved through faith,” Eph. 2:8; Rom. 5:1-2). Such faith is produced by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Dear Christian, take time today to thank and praise God for His great love and boundless mercy. His grace has saved you from sin’s death and made you “alive together with Christ.”
1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:1–3, NKJV)
The presence of God’s grace does not eliminate the necessity of faithful endurance in the Christian’s life. Many believe the impossibility of apostasy doctrine, resting their case (in part) upon the magnitude of divine grace and God’s ability to save. We would never deny God’s ability to save and the greatness of His grace. Without God’s grace, we are lost (Eph. 2:4-5). At the same time, grace without faith will not save the lost (Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 5:8-9). Thus, Paul urges Timothy to be strong in grace by fulfilling his service as a good minister of Christ. He was to be teaching the gospel and enduring hardship as a soldier of Christ. Please do not expect grace to be poured down on you from heaven like water out of a pitcher. Grace is strong where faith abounds. And, faith only abounds unto salvation when it is at work doing the will of God (Jas. 2:17-24). Therefore, to be strong in the grace of Christ. Be a good soldier and live by faith, doing the work that the word of His gospel sets before you.
1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, 3 and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.” (Psalm 107:1–3, NKJV)
As the Psalmist described God’s beneficent mercy, he implores his readers to give thanks to Him because He is good. God promised to return a remnant of His people from the exile into which He sent them as a punishment for their sins (Deut. 28:62-68; Jer. 25:11; 29:10). Under the proclamation of Cyrus, king of Persia, God fulfilled His word, redeeming His faithful remnant from their enemy (Isa. 10:21-22; 2 Chron. 36:22-23). The return from Babylonian captivity prefigured the greater redemption of the “remnant according to the election of grace” that is accomplished by the gospel of Jesus Christ (Isa. 11:11-12; Rom. 11:5). Oh yes, God is good. His goodness offers sinners merciful redemption from sin’s bondage. God is gathering sinners unto Himself by means of the gospel. Trust and obey Jesus. Obtain His mercy. Live in His goodness (Acts 2:36-41). Give thanks to the Lord!
Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. (Hebrews 13:9, NKJV)
There is an undeniable, irrefutable connection between being “established by grace” and the doctrine we believe and hold. We are clearly warned against “strange doctrines” precisely because they jeopardize grace rather than establish it. For example, binding food restrictions does not make one firm in grace – just the opposite. Paul commended the Ephesian church elders “to God and to the word of His grace” because it “is able to build you up and give you an inheritance” among the sanctified (Acts 20:32). Grace does not minimize or ignore doctrine. Any teaching that tries to convince you that God’s grace overlooks false doctrine is not “the word of His grace.” Grace and doctrine are not adversaries. Sound doctrine advocates for grace, and grace is sure as we stand “in truth” (Col. 1:6).
1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:1–2, NKJV)
The grace of God in which we stand is also the grace in which we must “be strong” (Rom. 5:1-2). This necessarily implies it is possible not to be strong in grace – not because God’s grace is weakened, but by failing to live by faith according to the word of God. Indeed, we can even “fall from grace” by failing to follow God’s word (as some Christians of Galatia did, Gal. 5:4). In order to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” we must faithfully hear, follow and teach “the word of His grace” which came to us from the apostles (Acts 20:32). Timothy had heard God’s word from Paul; now, he was to teach it to other faithful men (v. 2). We must continue this work of entrusting God’s word to others through by faithfully teaching it. To do so firmly establishes us in the grace of God. Without God’s word one cannot be strong in grace. Any claims to grace without truth is nothing more than an elusive illusion. But, when we abide in truth, His grace is deep and strong (Jno. 8:31-32).