Grace, Faith and Law

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Grace, Faith and Law

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Paul taught that salvation is a gift from God by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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). The Greek word for “grace” is charis , meaning a gift or favor. In the New Testament it can refer either to God’s gift of mercy or to His gracious favor.

Paul makes it clear throughout his writings that God’s grace leading to salvation is “not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:9 Ephesians 2:9Not of works, lest any man should boast.
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). But Paul’s overall perspective toward Christian works is generally ignored by opponents of obedience to God’s law.

Look at Paul’s perspective in the next verse. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 Ephesians 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
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). Those who ignore the reasons for our being God’s “workmanship,” who ignore why we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works” and why we are to “walk” in them, miss a major part of Paul’s message.

Notice Paul’s correlation of obedience and works related to salvation to God’s work within us, which enables us to accomplish His purpose in us. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13 Philippians 2:12-13 12 Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
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).

Certainly forgiveness and salvation are gifts from God. They cannot be earned. As humans we possess nothing of sufficient value to pay for the forgiveness of our sins and our salvation. Yet Jesus bluntly tells us that “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3 Luke 13:3I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
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; Luke 13:5 Luke 13:5I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
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). Through repentance we do not earn salvation, but repentance is a prerequisite for salvation.

Repentance is simply turning away from sin, forsaking lawless behavior (1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
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). We can’t receive the Holy Spirit and be converted unless we are willing to repent and live as law-abiding people (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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).

Faith is another prerequisite for salvation. We read that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
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). We must be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith …” (Romans 3:24-25 Romans 3:24-25 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
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). But simply because faith is required by God doesn’t mean we earn salvation by having faith.

Neither do we earn salvation through works. But, as the many scriptures cited in this booklet show, God clearly expects faith and obedience in those to whom He will extend the gift of eternal life. Those who oppose obedience to God’s laws choose to emphasize certain statements Paul makes and totally ignore others that clarify his intent.

Paul’s discussion of faith and works in Romans 3 is one such passage. In Romans 3:28 Romans 3:28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
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we read, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Paul is talking about justification: Christ’s death covering our previous transgressions. He is showing that we could never earn forgiveness.

But that has nothing to do with the way we are supposed to live. It has no bearing whatsoever on the importance of God’s law as the guide to our behavior. Paul is talking only about how “sins that were previously committed” can be “passed over” (Romans 3:25 Romans 3:25Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
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) so we can get on with our lives as obedient servants of God.

To make sure we understand this, Paul says in Romans 3:31 Romans 3:31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yes, we establish the law.
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, “Do we then make void the law through faith?

Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”

Paul wants us to understand that he is not even hinting that God’s law was voided or abolished. On the contrary, without the law we would have no way of understanding what sin is or is not because “by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20 Romans 3:20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
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). Remember, for sin to exist there has to be law because “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
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).

Therefore, Paul is saying that the concept of God’s “grace” or forgiveness establishes that His law is still in effect and that sin is breaking that law. God’s grace through faith requires a law that defines the sins that are to be forgiven. So, repeating Paul, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”