Grace was a topic of conversation with some friends recently, and I realized I needed to do some digging into the Bible for myself. I don't want to believe and teach something, no matter how "popular," it is if it's not scriptural. Are we sinners saved by grace? Are we saved by grace alone? Is that what Jesus commanded his disciples to preach? The more I see grace in the context of the scriptures the more I sense that grace, as it pertains to salvation, has been wildly mischaracterized.
An online dictionary defines grace as: favor or goodwill. Synonymous with: kindness, kindliness, love, benignity; condescension. Now, let's go to the scriptures...
The first time we read about grace, we meet a man called Noah in Genesis 6...
And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (Genesis 6:7-8)
If Noah was saved by grace alone, then this would be about the end of the chapter. We'd rejoice with Noah for his salvation. But this is far from the end of the story. Let's see if there's anything more to this grace that Noah found in the eyes of the Lord...
Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. (Genesis 6:14-16)
Now, wait a minute. If Noah found grace, and grace is all we need, then what's all this talk about building an ark? Wasn't grace enough? Apparently not. Rather, because Noah found grace, God warned him of the coming destruction, and told him to build an ark. Noah believe the word and acted accordingly. Without grace, Noah would not have received the word. Without faith, Noah would not have obeyed and built the ark.
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
Grace isn't the end of our salvation; it's the beginning. God showed us his grace by giving his word. Like Noah, we show our faith by obeying that word.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Faith is how we properly respond to God's grace. But Some will take that verse and say, “We don't have to do anything. It's not about works, therefore by grace alone are we saved.” It's true that our works won't save us. But if the Word of God tells to do something, then it's not our works.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. (Matthew 7:24)
When we obey the scriptures, we are demonstrating faith.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:18)
Building an ark wasn't Noah's idea. Like many people today, Noah could have ignored God's word. Instead of building an ark like God commanded, he could have given away all his goods to the poor, volunteered at a animal shelter and tried to be a good person. And he would have been lost just like everyone else because he didn't do what God commanded him to do.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:11-14)
Read how the apostles preached The Gospel on the Free Bible Studies page!