What is "God's Grace"?

See also    Saved      saved2       Saved 3       Works     Savior

"Grace is unmerited favor. It is God's free action, as a gift,  for the benefit of His people. It is different than Justice and Mercy. Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we do not deserve."

Heaven is free! It's unearned, undeserved, and unmerited. But it's free. That's grace. But grace has a catch. How are you showing your belief in grace and Jesus as your savior?

Grace is the power of God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves and the fact is that we cannot do anything for ourselves.  Jesus says, "...without me ye can do nothing."  John 15:5

The Bible gives us a beautiful example of what grace is and does.  When Moses took the Children of Israel out of Egypt and into the desert the people soon became thirsty, but there wasn't any water to be found, especially not for 2,000,000 people, plus their herds of animals.  God told Moses to strike a specific rock and He (God) would give the people water.  The water that came out of that rock demonstrates the grace of God flowing out to all who would drink.  It also caused the parched and barren land to blossom which in turn gave the animals something to eat.  Without this water, without God's grace supplying the needs of the people, the people would have died.  Christ is the Rock, He is also the Living Water.  Without the grace He gives us, we would die.  His grace costs us nothing, yet it supplies all we need.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".  1 John 1:9
The grace of Christ can accomplish for us that which all our efforts will fail to do.

We cannot earn forgiveness of our sins by working hard to obey. No sinner can gain favor and acceptance with God because he keeps the law. The law was not made for the purpose of saving or justifying. It was made to show us our need of cleansing and to point us to the great source of cleansing, Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Our works, no matter how much we try to do good on our own, will never get us to heaven; grace is the only thing that gets us to heaven. Grace is the gift of God, undeserved by us because of our sinful nature.

BUT, grace is not a ticket to freely sin. It is NOT a free ride. "Grace only" churches today are preparing people to go to hell. Backsliders after being initially saved still end up in hell. The preaching of eternal security, once saved - always saved,  is a false doctrine. Accepting grace comes with responsibilities; repenting of our past sins, and being careful about committing new ones. We show our belief in Godís grace and our acceptance of the salvation of Jesus as our savior by our works; allowing the holy spirit to work within us. If the holy spirit is truly in us, our behavior changes. If no works or fruits of the holy spirit are shown, it means we do not really have the belief, we have not really accepted the offer of grace; and no belief, no salvation. Head knowledge doesnít cut it. Only knowing Jesus, not just knowing ABOUT Him, allowing Him to be our Savior and work within us and following the narrow path leads us to heaven.  

 

   Grace or Law - which are we under?? Is Grace a license to sin?

You say  I live under GRACE!  The Law went out with the cross!
Keeping laws is legalism. My name was written in the Book of Life when I came to Jesus. Once saved, always saved! Really?  Then why when the "books" are opened (plural) , are there several other books that are opened besides the Book of Life?? On the Day of Judgment all the books  are opened; but particularly these books:

The Book of Life ÖThe Register of the Saved. Those whose names are entered in this amazing register are scheduled for deliverance from eternal death. Denominational registers will count for nothing on the great Day of Judgment. This is the book every soul on earth should be interested in.

The Book of the Law ... (Yahweh's will)

The Book of Remembrance ...(Our thoughts, motives, conversations, testimonies etc.)

The Book of Works ... (Our actions, works, and deeds)

 In these books, (plural), for  there is a book for each individual, is recorded the thoughts, motives, words and deeds of every soul that walks this earth. Nothing is missed, absolutely nothing. The Scriptures provide proof that willful disobedience can - like a parent's act of disinheriting a worthless son - result in a believer's name being deleted from the Book of Life!

Psalms 69:28 "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous."
 
Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Mathew 12:36  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Mathew 16:27
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Revelation 2:23
: And I (Yahshua the Messiah speaking) will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Revelation 20:12
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Revelation 20:13
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Works  means fruits of the spirit, faith which is reflected in obedience to the Almighty's commandments. In my opinion, besides the ten commandments,  this includes possibly obedience to the clean/unclean food laws as well as honoring Godís Holy Feast Days  and treating your fellow man with respect, love, honesty, and integrity.

Good works is expressed in the fruit of the Holy Spirit: (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,& forgiveness) The Master said in his sermon on the mount: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

We are brought to the question which has created confusion for multitudes of Christians: If the works of the law cannot save a person, is it therefore necessary to keep the law? Apparently this was a burning issue in the early church, because Paul asked the same question in Romans 6:1. "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" In other words, does grace give us a license to disobey the law of God? His answer is: "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Verse 2.

How interesting it is that Christians in this age of relativism can invent their own definitions which condone lawbreaking. The Bible says sin is violating the Ten Commandments - the law which has been described as irrelevant and old-fashioned by many modern theologians. Don't be deceived. Every one of those great moral precepts is just as timely and needful today as they were when God wrote them on the imperishable tables of stone. And nothing has ever happened to make them less binding than they were when God gave them. In fact, we are going to discover that Jesus came to magnify the law and to open up its spiritual application, making it more comprehensive than the legalistic Pharisees ever imagined. Under the distilling influence of Christ's perfect life of obedience, we can see the spiritual details of law-keeping which are neither recognized nor made possible apart from Him.

At this point we must be very careful to designate also what the law cannot do. Even though it points out sin, it has no power to save from sin. There is no justifying, cleansing grace in it. All the works of all the laws would not be sufficient to save a single soul. Why? For the simple reason that we are saved by grace through faith, as a free gift. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20.

Salvation comes through grace--it is a gift from God. Itís in the Bible, Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast."

Does grace do away with Godís law? Itís in the Bible, Romans 3:31, NIV. "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law."

Godís grace makes our salvation possible. Itís in the Bible, Ephesians 1:7-8, NIV. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Godís grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding."

Godís grace is patient. Itís in the Bible, Romans 2:4, TLB. "Donít you realize how patient He is being with you? Or donít you care? Canít you see that He has been waiting all this time without punishing you, to give you time to turn from your sin? His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance."

The following was sent to me by  Jimmy Dickens, a former Green Beret, who served in Vietnam. 
This is his evangelism script he uses to get the point across about why we need grace and we can't get there on our own efforts.  The explanation is very good so I include it for you so you may have a clearer understanding of just what grace entails.

EVANGELISM EXPLOSION INTRODUCTION

A. Their Secular life

(A knock at the door) Good morning (name). As you know I'm from the Fayetteville Bible Chapel, just down the road (while holding up the card that they signed at church). We were happy to have you worshiping with us recently, and we came to repay the visit. May we come in a visit with you a while?

Thank you. This is (name) and (name) from our church. We were so happy to have you visit with us and wanted to become better acquainted with you.

May we sit over here? Fine.

Thank you. This is a lovely home you have. That painting is most interesting. It seems to radiate peacefulness and contentment. Did you paint it yourself?

Where did you move from?

New York. I thought I noticed a bit of New York accent. I've always enjoyed listening to people with New York accents. Tell me a little more about yourself. How did you happen to move down here? It is a beautiful city, isn't it?

B. Their Church Background
What church did you attend back in New York?

I see you had the joys of seeing a new congregation born and you helped it grow.
Wonderful! It's good to meet someone who is really active on the life of her church. We are truly delighted to have you here in North Carolina with us now.

C. Our Church
How did you happen to attend our church?

How did you like the service, and what were your impressions of our church?

D. Testimony (Use church of personal testimony) (Here is the church testimony)

Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10: 10). The Scriptures were written that men and women might know that they have eternal life (1John 5:13), and yet we have found that millions of ethical, moral, churchgoing people, even those who have gone to church all of their life, aren't really sure they have this abundant life, and they're not really sure about what will happen to them when they die. They have hopes, but they don't know for sure that they will go to heaven. That's because, historically, we in the church have done a poor job of communicating the message of eternal life to them.

E. Two Diagnostic Questions

(Name), may I ask you a question?

1. "Have you come to a place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven, or is that something you would say you're still working on?"

You know, that's just the way I felt about it. For many years I didn't know. I wasn't even aware of the fact that anybody knew. But let me tell you some really good news: I discovered that it is possible to know for sure, and there are a great many people who do know.

That was an amazing discovery to me! In fact, I even learned that that was the reason the Bible was written! The Bible says: "These things have I written ... that you may know that you have eternal life"
(1 John 5:13).

I didn't either. Isn't that a fantastic thing! Think how wonderful it would be if you could go to bed tonight and lay your head on your pillow knowing for certain that if you didn't wake up in your bedroom, you would wake up in heaven with Jesus Christ. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing to know?

May I share with you how I came to know for certain that I have eternal life and how you can know also?

All right, I'll be happy to, for it is the greatest discovery I have ever made. It really has changed my whole life. You know, it's amazing how many people are anxious to know! I talk to people in all parts of society, and everywhere there are men and women eager to know, and yet no one has taken the time to explain these things to them.

Before I share with you, let me ask you another question which I think really crystallizes our thinking on the matter. This was a question that was very helpful to me. A minister asked me this one day.

2. Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to your, "Why should I let you into My heaven?" What would you say? That's a pretty good question, isn't it?

It really makes you think. What would your answer be?

So, you would say to God, "I've gone to church all my life. I try to be good. I haven't intentionally hurt anyone. I try to love my neighbor, to visit the sick, and to live according to the Golden Rule." Is that what you would say?

Good News: You know (name), when I asked you if you knew for sure if you had eternal life, and you said that you didn't, I thought I had some really good news to tell you. But, after your answer to that second question, I know that I do! In fact, I would say that I have the greatest news you've ever heard in your whole life. That's quite a statement to make, isn't it?

II  THE GOSPEL

A. GRACE

1. Heaven is a free gift


Well, let me see if I can back it up. You know, all my life I felt exactly like you did. I thought heaven was something I had to earn, something I had to merit by keeping the commandments and following rules, and sometimes I almost despaired of the whole thing. Then I discovered something that absolutely amazed me. I discovered that heaven is not something you earn, or deserve, or work for, but, according to the Scriptures, heaven -- eternal life -- is a absolutely free gift! The Bible says, "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

Absolutely free! Isn't that amazing?

You know, (name), I think the most wonderful sentence I have heard in my life is only three words long: "Heaven is free."

2. It is not earned or deserved

It's unearned, undeserved, and unmerited. It's free. You know, we sort of think there's nothing in this life that's free. We always look for the price tag. And we are probably right. But thank God that the greatest thing man or woman could ever have -- eternal life -- is FREE! Of course, the idea that we have to pay for everything is something which is ingrained in us from our earliest days, isn't it?

The Bible says this: "For by grace you are saved, through faith; and this not from yourselves: it is the gift of God: not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2: 8-9). No amount of personal effort, good works, or religious deeds can earn a place in heaven for you because eternal life, like any genuine gift, is free.

Friend's Gift

Suppose your best friend were to surprise you with an expensive gift, (life an expensive watch) and let's suppose your response would be that of immediately digging into your pocket for some money to help pay for the gift. What an insult that would be! You must accept gifts freely. If you pay even a penny, it is no longer a gift. It is the same with eternal life. Isn't that amazing, mom?

Why, it's the most wonderful thing I've ever heard in all my life! I'm sure this raises many questions in your mind. "How can these things be? How can God do this and still be just? And who gets the gift, after all? Everybody? How do we get it? And how can we know if we have it? "Now, mom, let me see if I can answer these questions for you.

Well, the fact that heaven is a free gift and can't be earned or deserved can be seen more clearly when we understand what the Bible says about man and woman.

B. MAN & WOMAN

1. Is a sinner


The first thing I came to understand was what God says about man and woman in the Bible, that is, what God says about us, you and me. This is a practical place to begin because it brings us face-to-face with the predicament in which we find ourselves - and a real predicament it is! According to God's Word, we have made a colossal mess out of everything we have laid our hands on.

It we were to get away from this planet and look at it objectively, we would appreciate the truth of this statement. We have wars and riots, we have crime and delinquency, we have murder and hatred and envy and strife. According to the Bible, all of these are the results of sin.

This is the fatal malignancy which infects the soul of the entire human race. The Bible says, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3: 23). The Bible teaches that all of us have sinned, right?

Sin Defined

When we think of sin, many times we think only of robbery, murder, adultery, etc., but the Bible tells us that sin is anything that doesn't please God or is a transgression of His law. Anything we do that we shouldn't do, like losing our temper or stealing - these are sins of commission. Anything we should do, but don't, like failing to pray or read the Bible, or to truly love our neighbor - these are sins of omission. There are not only sins in deed but also sins in word and thought, like lying, cursing, lust, pride, and hatred. The Bible says these are all sins.

Three sins a day

Sometimes I wonder just how many times a day the average person sins. I imagine it's fifty to one hundred times or even more. John Calvin said no one knows the one hundredth part of the sin that clings to his soul. Today a psychologist would tell us that we have forgotten 99 percent of all those things we have ever done wrong. We suppress them because we don't like to think about the unpleasant.

Just suppose that I sinned only ten times a day, or even five, or even just three. Why, I would practically be a walking angel! Imagine if not more often that three times a day did I think unkind thoughts, lose my temper, or fail to do what I ought toward God and man - I would be a pretty fine person, would I not?

Even if I were this good, I would have more than one thousand transgressions a year! If I lived to the average age of seventy, I would have more than seventy thousand transgressions. Think what would happen to a habitual offender in a criminal court with seventh thousand transgressions on his record!

2. Cannot Save Himself/Herself

This impresses us with man/woman's predicament. According to the Bible, man/woman is a sinner. He/she has broken God's law. The Bible goes on to teach that our predicament is compounded by another factor that is understood by even fewer people. Because man/woman is a sinner, he/she cannot save himself/herself; he/she cannot earn his/her way into heaven. That is, he/she cannot merit eternal life by doing good things.

Did you ever wonder about how good you would have to be to make it to heaven, (name)? Well, God has told us how well we would have to do to get into heaven. He has revealed the passing grade in His class of life. Do you know what it is?

All right. Hold on to your chair! Are you ready? Here it comes! Jesus said: "Be perfect, therefore as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect" (Matthew 5: 48).

There it stands! That's the passing grade! The amazing thing I discovered is that God doesn't grade on a curve. God says, "Be perfect"!

Omelet:

Lets say I invited you and some company over for breakfast and I fixed omelets. If I were to prepare an omelet with five good eggs and one rotten egg, I couldn't serve it to you and company and expect it to be acceptable. Even less can we serve up our lives to God, which may have many things in them that men/women would call good and yet are filled with deeds and thoughts that are rotten, and expect them to be acceptable to God. The Scriptures says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2: 10). If we want to get to heaven by our good works, then all we have to do is be perfect. God's standard is complete obedience to Him in all things & at all times. We all fall short of this.

So, trusting in our own efforts to be good obviously will not get us to heaven. Many people have this belief today. In talking of these matters with literally thousands of people, we have found that the vast majority indicated that they intend to enter heaven on the basis of their own good works.

Do you see now, (name), why it is impossible for you to save yourself by going to church, trying to do good, loving your neighbors, visiting the sick, and trying to live by the Golden Rule? Well, (name), this all comes into sharper focus when we see what the Bible says about God.

C. God

1. Is merciful - therefore He doesn't want to punish us
One of the most amazing and most difficult facts to learn about God is that He loves us in spite of what we are. He loves us, not because of what we are, but because of what He is. For the Bible tells us that "God is love" (1 John 4: 8). He loves us more than any father or mother loves his or her child, more than any husband loves his wife. How vast! How measureless is this love of God for us!

2. Is just - therefore He must punish sin

But the same Bible that tells us that God is loving and gracious also tells us that this same God, because He is just and righteous, must punish sin. Because He is a just judge, He must punish our sins; His law declares that our sins must be punished and that He "will by no means clear the guilty" (Exodus 34: 7). There is no doubt about this!

God is loving, (name), but wouldn't you view with contempt a judge who was overly lenient with offenders? If one were to "slap the wrist" of his friend who was guilty of a heinous crime, we would cry, "Impeach him! Justice must be preserved."

The teaching God emphasizes about Himself are that He is holy and just and must punish sin, but He is also loving and merciful and does not wish to punish us. In effect, this creates a problem, which He has solved in the Person Jesus Christ.

D. JESUS CHRIST

1. Who He is - the infinite God-Man

Now, what is the answer to that problem? God in His infinite wisdom devised a marvelous solution. Jesus Christ is God's answer to our predicament. He sent Him into the world, and, as you know, we celebrate His birth every Christmas. (name), I would be interested in your opinion about Christ. Who do you think He is? What kind of being was He?

Fine! Thanks for your answer that Jesus was a great teacher and miracle worker. And He was good. Anything else?

Thanks, yes, He was the Son of God also. But I am also a son of God. Is He any different from me?

That's ok if you didn't know. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ - Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter of Galilee - was and is God! He is the Creator of the world! He is the one who created the whole universe! Jesus is God Almighty, Himself! In fact, the Bible says, "In the beginning was the Word (Jesus Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and made a dwelling among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1: 1, 14). And when Jesus Christ, after His death, rose from the grave, one of His followers, named Thomas, was so amazed at His victory over death that he cried out, "My Lord and my God" (John 20: 28). Up until the time of Christ's resurrection Thomas called Him Lord or Master, but after he put his fingers in the wounds of the resurrected Christ, he acknowledged Him as God!

This comes as a real surprise to many people. They don't realize that He is God the Son - that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that the Trinity is one God.

God the Son became man! This is what we mean by incarnation. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. He left His home in glory and was born in the filth of a stable. God became man for a grand and noble purpose.

2. What He did - He died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and to purchase a place in heaven for us.

He lived a perfect and spotless life. He taught the world's greatest teachings! He worked its mightiest deeds. Finally, He came to the end of His life - to that hour for which He had come into the world. In that hour we see the great transaction about which the whole Bible is written - the great transaction which is the central fact of Christianity.

RECORD BOOK:

Let's imagine this book in my right hand is a minutely detailed account of my entire life. Each page details the sin of a particular day, every word I have spoken, every thought that ever crossed my mind, every deed I've ever done. Here, then, in my hand (this book) is the problem - my sin. God loves me (I'm pointing at my left hand), but He hates my sin (pointing at the book in my left hand) and must punish it.

To solve this problem, He sent His beloved Son into the world (I'm now bringing my right hand up next to my left hand with the book). The Bible says, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his/her own way; and the Lord has laid on Him (I'm now passing the book over to my right empty open hand) the iniquity (sin) of us all" (Isaiah 53: 6). All of my sin which God hates has been placed on His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Christ bore our sin in His body on the cross (1 Peter 2: 24) and God made Jesus Christ who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). Finally, when the last sin had been paid for, Jesus said, "It is finished!" This is an interesting word in the original test. It is Tetelestai, a commercial word which means, "It is paid; the debt is paid in full." When He died He was buried in a grave; but He rose from the dead on the third day and went to heaven to prepare a place for us. Now He offers heaven - eternal life - to you and me as a gift.

Who receives this gift? Everybody? No. The Bible says that few find the way to life (heaven) and that many go to destruction (hell). How then can we have this gift? This gift is received by faith.

E. Faith

This brings us to the fifth and last thing we need to understand. We receive the gift of God by faith. The Bible says faith is the key that opens the door to haven. You know, you could have a key ring with a lot of keys on it, like this (I'm showing you an actual key ring of mine); they all look somewhat alike. But I'll tell you something. If you go to the front door of my home, you could try all of these keys except the right one and they would not open that door. The right key to heaven is called faith, saving faith. That is what will open the door to heaven. Nothing else in the world will open that door.

1. What it is not

Let me tell you what saving faith is not. Many people mistake two things for saving faith. If you were to look at these keys, you would find that several of them look very similar. In fact, you might not be able at first glance to tell which was which. So it is with faith.

Mere intellectual head knowledge:

Now, the first thing people mistake for saving faith is this: an intellectual head knowledge to certain historical facts. Some people believe in Jesus Christ the same way they believe in Napoleon or George Washington. They believe He actually lived. He was a real person in history, but they are not trusting Him to do anything for them now. You believe in God, don't you?

So, you have always believed in God. So have I. But that type of belief is not what the Bible means by saving faith. I believed in God all my life, but during all those years of my life I was not truly saved.

The Bible says that the devil believes in God. Did you know that? The Bible says, "You believe that there is one God. Good; The devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2: 19). So believing in God is not what the Bible means by saving faith. So, even the demons believe in the deity of Christ! But they evidently weren't saved! That's one thing people mistake for saving faith - an intellectual assent to the historicity of Christ, but that's not what the Bible means by faith.  

Mere temporal faith:

Let me give you one other thing that people mistake for saving faith. You have prayed to God many times, haven't you. You've had problems that you've committed to the Lord, right? You've trusted Him for some things I'm sure.

When a person trusts in the Lord for finances, you could call that financial faith. A person my pray and trust the Lord to take care of his family. You could call this family faith. Many have prayed for a safe trip. You could call that traveling faith. There is one thing that all of these have in common. They are all temporary. For instance, once you reach your destination, you don't need to trust the Lord for traveling faith.

You see, all the things of this world will pass away. They are temporary. But saving faith is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.  

2.  What it is

You see, in the past I never thought of faith that away. You see, I trusted the lord for this and that and the other, but to get right down to what I was trusting in for eternal salvation - I was trusting in myself. I tried to live a good life. I tried to keep the Ten Commandments. I tried to live by the Golden Rule. I, I, I, I - you see? It was "I"!

What did I ask you? - "What are you trusting in for eternal life? What are you trusting in to get into heaven?" Do you remember what you said? "I try to do the best I can. I try to live a good life according to the Golden Rule. I try to do all these things." Do you see?

Saving faith is trusting Jesus Christ alone for our salvation.

It means resting upon Christ alone and what He has done rather than upon what I have done to get me into heaven. As the Scripture says, "Believe (trust) on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved" (Acts 16: 31).

The Chair:

Let me use a chair as an illustration. Now, you do see this chair here. A lovely chair, isn't it? Now, you do believe that this chair exists? And I do feel you do believe that it would hold me up. But, you see, it's not actually holding me up for a very simple reason: I'm not sitting on it. Now, how could I prove to you that I really trust that chair? Yes, I would have to actually sit in it! That is the way I was with Christ. I believed Jesus existed. I believed He was living. I trusted Him for finances, for health, and for travel, as you have done, too. Now, notice that I am putting several objects in this chair, like my glasses, which represent your health, my wallet to represent your finances, and also my car keys to represent your travel. But, you see, saving faith is trusting in Christ for eternal life. Some people will trust the Lord for protection when they go out at night. They wouldn't think of putting out the garbage at night without trusting the Lord to take care of them. But as far a their eternal welfare is concerned, they are trusting in their own efforts because they have never understood what the Bible teaches.

(Name), do you remember what you said you would say to God if He asked why He should let you into heaven? Remember, you said that you try to be good. You try to love your neighbors. You visit the sick. That you do the best you can. Well, (name), who is the only person referred to in your answer? Yes, that's right, it was "I". Whom were you trusting to get you to heaven when you said "I"? That's right, yourself.

(Name), to receive eternal life you must transfer your trust from yourself to Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. Now, watch me as I sit down in this empty chair. You see, saving faith is putting our trust in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.

Years ago I repented of my sins and transferred my trust from myself to Jesus Christ - from what I had been doing for God to what He has done for me on the cross. By a simple act of faith I transferred my trust from this chair that I have been resting on - representing my good works - to this one representing Christ. Now I'm resting on only one thing: Jesus Christ. No longer am I trusting what I have done; rather, I trust what He has done for me.

Motive for godly living:

Let's say that this pen in my right hand represents eternal life. There are only two relationships you can have to it. Either you have it, as this hand does, or you haven't, as my left hand doesn't. Now if you don't have it and you believe it exists, you are going to want to get it. So you do the best you can: You love your neighbor, go to church, read the Bible, pray, give money, and then you say, "Lord here are all the things I've done. I hope I've done enough to get to heaven."

But you see, in this case it becomes evident that everything that you've done has been for the motive of getting eternal life. There is this selfish motive underlying everything, and so you couldn't possibly get it.

Beggar's hand:

We could never earn eternal life. The Bible says that God came to earth and that on the cross, in the person of His son, He paid for eternal life - an infinite price. By His graciousness He offers it to us freely as a gift. (Note that I'm moving the pen in my right hand over to the lift hand) It is received by faith: "Faith is the hand of a beggar receiving the gift of a king." (Note I'm now reaching out with my left hand and accepting the pen from my right hand)

This beggar reached out an unclean hand many years ago and received the gift of eternal life. I didn't deserve it then and I don't deserve it now - nor will I ever deserve it. But I have it! By grace!

Why, then should I try to live a good life? The reason for living a godly life is gratitude. I'm not trying to gain something. I don't have by my efforts to be good; rather, I'm saying "thank you" for the gift of eternal life Christ has given me.

A former president of Princeton put it this way in a book. He said that as a young man he accepted Christ and the gift of eternal life. All the rest of his life was simply a P.S., to that day, saying, "Thank You, Lord, for what you gave me then." The motive for all is gratitude for the gift of eternal life.


III THE COMMITMENT

A.  Question:

(Name), does that make sense to you?

B. Commitment

(Name), you have just heard the greatest story ever told about the greatest offer ever made by Jesus Christ, the greatest person who ever lived. It's called the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now, (name), the question God is asking you is simply this: Do you want to receive this gift of eternal life -- His gift that the Son of God left His throne and went to die on the cross to procure for you? Would you like to receive it?

C. Clarification

(Transfer your trust)  
Wonderful! Let me clarify just what this involves. It means, first of all, that you are going to transfer your trust, this is, your hope of eternal life, from what you have been doing -- going to church, being a good neighbor, living by the Golden Rule, etc., -- to what Jesus Christ has done for you on the cross. He takes our sin and we receive His righteousness. Is that what you want to do, (name)?

(Receive the resurrected and living Christ as your Savior)

Eternal life becomes yours by receiving the resurrected, living Christ into your life as your Savior. He rose from the grave and is alive today, and He wants to come into your life! In fact, He says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man/woman hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him/her" (Revelation 3:20).  You can receive and know the most exciting person in the history of the world because He is alive! Would you like to do that, (name)?

(Receive Christ as Lord)
Next, you need to receive Christ as Lord of your life. Picture a throne room in the heart. He wants His rightful place on that throne. Are you ready and willing to yield your life to His control as a result of your gratitude for His offer of eternal life?

(Repent)
He also commands us to repent of our sins. Are you willing to repent of your sins and follow Him? That means a willingness to turn from what you have been doing that is not pleasing to Him and follow Him as He reveals His will to you in His Word. (Name), are you willing to repent of your sins and become a responsible member of God's forever family and follow Him and serve Him as a member of His body, the church?

All right (name), if that's what you really want, I can lead us in prayer and we can tell God what you just told me.

D. Prayer

All right, (name). The Lord is here right now. We can go to Him now in prayer, and we can tell Him that you want to cease trusting in your own strivings and that you want to put your trust in Christ the Lord for your salvation, to receive Him as your personal Savior and Lord. Is this truly what you want?

All right. Let me point out to you, (name), that the Lord is looking at your heart more than He is listening to your lips. He says, "You shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). If this is really what you mean, the Lord will hear your prayer and grant you eternal life. Let us pray.

(Preparatory prayer)
Father, I pray that You would grant to (name) the gift of eternal life. May Your Holy Spirit draw him/her unto Yourself and help him/her to truly understand what You have done for him/her. Grant him/her faith to believe Your promises, Grant him/her repentance to turn from her sins. Reveal to him/her Christ crucified today.

(Pray together) (Heads still bowed)
(Name), the Lord has said, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there Am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). He is right here. You are not talking to me now but to Him. If you really want eternal life, will you say to Him aloud:

(Pray short phrases at a time -bits of the Gospel personalized)
Lord Jesus, I want you to come in and take over my life right now. I am a sinner. I have been trusting in myself and my own good works. But now I place my trust in You. I accept You as my own personal Savior. I believe You died for me. I receive You as Lord and Master of my life. Help me to turn from my sins and to follow You. I accept the free gift of eternal life. I am not worthy of it, but I thank You for it. Amen. (Continuing in prayer with heads bowed)

(Assurance of pardon)
Father, You have heard the prayer that (name) has prayed. And I ask that in this quiet moment, the Holy Spirit will grant unto him/her the assurance of life eternal; grant to him/her the certainty that him/her sins are forgiven. Grant that he/she may hear in the depths of his/her soul Your voice saying, "Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace." Grant, O Christ, that he/she may hear Your voice saying, "As far as the east is from the west, so far have I put your sins from you, never to remember them against you anymore. He that believeth on Me shall not come into condemnation. He that trusts in Me is passed from death unto life. He that believeth on Me shall never perish but has everlasting life" (paraphrased from Psalm 103:12;  John 3:18; 5:24; 3:16). In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

E. Assurance

(Name), you have just prayed the most important prayer you have ever prayed in your life. I want you to see now what Christ says about what you have just done. In John 6:47 the Lord says something very significant. I would like you to read this. (Please read aloud) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me has everlasting life."

All right, (name), in our prayer you didn't hear any angel choirs or see any visions. However, by a simple act of faith you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation. Is that correct?

In whom are you now trusting, (name), for your salvation?

That's right, Jesus Christ.

He says, "He/She that believes," that is, He/she that trusts, "in Me has eternal life." That doesn't mean trusting Him for temporal affairs. You've done that all your life. Saving faith means trusting Christ alone for eternal salvation. Is this what you have done today?

Ok.

Jesus says that the person who does that has everlasting life. Do you believe Him?

Ok.

(Name), if you should die in your sleep tonight, where would you wake up?

That's right, heaven.

And if God asked why you should be in heaven, what would you say?

That's right, you are trusting Christ for eternal life.

The angels are rejoicing! God said it. That settles it. (name), if you meant in your heart what you just said with your lips, then you have the promise of Christ that He has forgiven your sins, adopted you into His family, and given you eternal life. Praise the Lord! We may rejoice in it.

Welcome, (name), to the family of God!!!!!!!

Does God's Grace blot out the Law - by Joe Crews

The devil, through sin, has just about wrecked this world of ours. We live in an age of rebellion against all restraint and law. Our nation stands aghast at the big-city, gang-defiance of social order and property rights, including the right to live. Murder, robbery, and personal assaults have become the trademark of both urban and suburban 20th-century life.

Each day as we read the newspaper it seems that the quality of life has edged downward a little bit further. At times we are tempted to believe that things can get no worse, and that conditions have hit rock bottom. Yet, the next day, even more violent, bizarre crimes are reported, and we simply shake our heads in disbelief. It is difficult to comprehend how a nation like America with its rich Christian heritage could ever depart so far from its founding principles. Even the non-Christian countries are not plagued with as much crime and overall violence as this so-called Christian nation. More crime is reported in Washington, D.C., in 24 hours than Moscow reports in a full year. No doubt the reporting methods are not the same, but it still presents an alarming picture.

The problem becomes more serious when we realize that lawlessness also reaches into the area of religion and affects millions who would never think of killing or raping. It is probable that the great majority of church members in America today carry few convictions against breaking at least one of the Ten Commandments. A very insidious doctrine has been developed in both Catholic and Protestant theology which has tended to minimize the authority of God's great moral law. It has led many to look lightly upon transgression and has made sin to appear unobjectionable. In fact, sin has lost its horror for multitudes and has become an acceptable mode of life for both youth and adults. Witness the current trends in lifestyle which support this view.

How many young men and women are living together without benefit of marriage! Yet they do not believe such living arrangements should be designated as sin. A large portion of shoplifters are professing Christians, and most of those who belong to churches believe that there is no sin whatsoever involved in violating the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth commandment.

How can we explain this paradoxical situation among those who profess such high regard for the Bible, and such love for Christ? This question becomes more significant when we consider the historical position of Christianity toward the Ten-Commandment law. Almost all of the great denominations have officially placed themselves on record as supporting the authority of that law. Yet very subtle errors of interpretation have crept into the modern church, leading to the present state of confused loyalty toward the Ten Commandments. How earnestly we need to look at that law and study its relation to God's grace and to salvation itself. It is so easy to accept the popular clich�s concerning law and grace without searching out the biblical facts by which we will finally be judged. We must find authoritative scriptural answers to questions like these: In what sense are Christians free from the law? What does it mean to be under the law? Does God's grace nullify the Ten Commandments? Is a Christian justified in breaking any of the Ten Commandments because he is under grace? These are the questions we shall address ourselves to in this important study.

Condemned to Die

Let us push aside the rubbish of confusion which has obscured the truth about how men are saved. Multitudes have heard emotional discourses on sin and salvation, but they still do not understand the logic and reason which require a blood sacrifice.

Can you imagine the horror of standing before a judge and hearing the sentence of death pronounced against you? Probably not. But you have felt the driving guilt and fear when God's Word stabs you with this sentence: "The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23. Why fear and guilt? Because "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23.

The words are there and the meaning cannot be mistaken. The word "all" might just as well be spelled John Smith or Mary Jones or whatever your name happens to be. The shocking fact is that you are under the sentence of death! You have been found guilty before the law, and there is no court of appeal in the world that can reverse the sentence and find you not guilty. The fact is that you are guilty, just as guilty as sin. According to 1 John 3:4, "sin is the transgression of the law," and you must plead guilty to breaking the law. Whose law did you break? Paul answers quickly, "I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." Romans 7:7. There it is! The great Ten-Commandment law is the one which was broken, and it demands death for the transgressor.

In desperation the sinner searches for a way to be justified in the sight of that broken law. How can the sentence of death be turned aside? Can man atone for his sins by obeying the commandments of God for the rest of his life? Back comes the answer in language that no one can misinterpret: "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight." Romans 3:20.

Listen, there is a reason why works will not justify a soul. If a man is found guilty of stealing and is sentenced to ten years in jail, he may indeed justify himself by works. By serving the time of his sentence, the man may satisfy the claims of the law. He is considered perfectly justified and innocent because he has worked out his deliverance by fulfilling the sentence. In the same manner, a murderer may be justified by works if he serves the fifty years of his sentence. But suppose the sentence is death instead of fifty years? Can the prisoner then justify himself by works? Never! Even if he should work for one hundred years at hard labor, the law would still demand death. The truth is that "without shedding of blood is no remission. ... So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Hebrews 9:22-28.

This is why the sinner can never be saved by works. The penalty for sin is not ten years in prison or fifty years at hard labor. The sentence is death, and the law cannot be satisfied except by the shedding of blood. That unchangeable law with its unrelenting death sentence could no more be removed than the throne of God could be toppled. The guilt of the past cannot be erased by resolutions of good behavior in the future. The sinner finally is forced to confess that he owes something that he cannot pay. The law demands death and he cannot satisfy it without forfeiting his own life for eternity.

The Law Still Binding

Now we are brought to the question which has created confusion for multitudes of Christians: If the works of the law cannot save a person, is it therefore necessary to keep the law? Apparently this was a burning issue in the early church, because Paul asked the same question in Romans 6:1. "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" In other words, does grace give us a license to disobey the law of God? His answer is: "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Verse 2.

How interesting it is that Christians in this age of relativism can invent their own definitions which condone lawbreaking. The Bible says sin is violating the Ten Commandments - the law which has been described as irrelevant and old-fashioned by many modern theologians. Don't be deceived. Every one of those great moral precepts is just as timely and needful today as they were when God wrote them on the imperishable tables of stone. And nothing has ever happened to make them less binding than they were when God gave them. In fact, we are going to discover that Jesus came to magnify the law and to open up its spiritual application, making it more comprehensive than the legalistic Pharisees ever imagined. Under the distilling influence of Christ's perfect life of obedience, we can see the spiritual details of law-keeping which are neither recognized nor made possible apart from Him.

God's Law - A Mirror

At this point we must be very careful to designate also what the law cannot do. Even though it points out sin, it has no power to save from sin. There is no justifying, cleansing grace in it. All the works of all the laws would not be sufficient to save a single soul. Why? For the simple reason that we are saved by grace through faith, as a free gift. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20.

Do not stumble over this crucial point. We cannot earn forgiveness by working hard to obey. No sinner can gain favor and acceptance with God because he keeps the law. The law was not made for the purpose of saving or justifying. It was made to show us our need of cleansing and to point us to the great source of cleansing, Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Bible speaks of the law as a mirror to show us what kind of persons we really are. "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." James 1:23-25.

It is obvious to all that a mirror cannot remove a spot from the face. Looking into the mirror all day, and even rubbing it over the face, will not provide any cleansing. Its work is to reveal the spot and to point the dirty one to the sink for actual cleansing. The law, in like manner, can only condemn the sinner by giving him a knowledge of his condition and then pointing him to the cross for true cleansing. "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. Paul further emphasizes this point in Galatians 2:16: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ ... for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."

Right here we must consider one of the most fallacious propositions ever set forth relating to the law. Countless sincere Christians have accepted the idea that the Old Testament encompasses the dispensation of works and that the New Testament provides for a dispensation of grace. Under this garbled plan people were saved by works in the Old Testament and by grace in the New Testament. This is simply not true. The Bible holds forth only one beautiful, perfect plan for anybody to be saved, and that is by grace through faith. Heaven will not be divided between those who got there by works and those who got there by faith. Every single soul among the redeemed will be a sinner saved by grace.

Those who entered into salvation in the Old Testament were those who trusted the merits of the blood of Jesus Christ, and they demonstrated their faith by bringing a lamb and slaying it. They looked forward in faith to the atoning death of Jesus. We look back in faith to the same death and are saved in exactly the same way. Be very certain that all the redeemed host throughout eternity will be singing the same song of deliverance, exalting the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world.

The "New" Law of Christ

Some try to dispose of the Ten Commandments on the basis of the "new" commandments of love which Christ introduced. It is certainly true that Jesus laid down two great laws of love as a summary of all the law, but did He give the idea that these were new in point of time? The fact is that He was quoting directly from the Old Testament when He gave those new commandments. "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Deuteronomy 6:5. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Leviticus 19:18. Certainly, those penetrating spiritual principles had been forgotten by the legalists of Christ's day, and they were new to them in relation to their life and practice. But they were not intended by Jesus to take the place of the Ten Commandments.

When the lawyer asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment in the law, he received the answer: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:37-40.

Notice that these two love commandments simply summed up "all the law and the prophets." They all hang upon these two principles of love. Christ was saying that love is the fulfilling of the law just as Paul repeated it later in Romans 13:10. If one loves Christ supremely with heart, soul, and mind, he will obey the first four commandments that have to do with our duty to God. He will not take God's name in vain, worship other gods, etc. If one loves his neighbor as himself, he will obey the last six commandments which relate to our duty to our fellow men. He will not be able to steal from his neighbor, lie about him, etc. Love will lead to obeying or fulfilling all the law.

Not Under the Law

Often we hear this argument in an effort to belittle the law of God: "Well, since we are not under the law but under grace, we do not need to keep the Ten Commandments any longer." Is this a valid point? The Bible certainly does say that we are not under the law, but does that imply that we are free from the obligation to obey it? The text is found in Romans 6:14, 15. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid."

How easily we could prevent confusion if we accepted exactly what the Bible says. Paul gives his own explanation of his statement. After stating that we are not under the law but under grace, he asks, "What then?" This simply means, "How are we to understand this?" Then notice his answer. In anticipation that some will construe his words to mean that you can break the law because you are under grace, he says, "Shall we sin (break the law) because we are not under the law but under grace? God forbid." In the strongest possible language Paul states that being under grace does not give a license to break the law. Yet this is exactly what millions believe today, and they totally ignore Paul's specific warning.

If being under grace does not exempt us from keeping the law, then what does Paul mean by saying that Christians are not under the law? He gives that answer in Romans 3:19. "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." Here Paul equates being under the law with "being guilty before God." In other words, those who are under the law are guilty of breaking it and are under the condemnation of it. This is why Christians are not under it. They are not breaking it - not guilty and condemned by it. Therefore, they are not under it, but are under the power of grace instead. Later in his argument, Paul points out that the power of grace is greater than the power of sin. This is why he states so emphatically, "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Grace overrules the authority of sin, giving power to obey God's law. This is the effective reason that we are not under the law's guilt and condemnation and also why Paul states that we will not continue to sin.

Suppose a murderer has been sentenced to death in the electric chair. Waiting for the execution the man would truly be under the law in every sense of the word - under the guilt, under the condemnation, under the sentence of death, etc. Just before the execution date the governor reviews the condemned man's case and decides to pardon him. In the light of extenuating circumstances the governor exercises his prerogative and sends a full pardon to the prisoner. Now he is no longer under the law but under grace. The law no longer condemns him. He is considered totally justified as far as the charges of the law are concerned. He is free to walk out of the prison and not a policeman can lay hands upon him. But now that he is under grace and no longer under the law, can we say that he is free to break the law? Indeed not! In fact, that pardoned man will be doubly obligated to obey the law because he has found grace from the governor. In gratitude and love he will be very careful to honor the law of that state which granted him grace. Is that what the Bible says about pardoned sinners? "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Romans 3:31. Here is the most explicit answer to the entire problem. Paul asks if the law is nullified for us just because we have had faith in Christ's saving grace. His answer is that the law is established and reenforced in the life of a grace-saved Christian.

The truth of this is so simple and obvious that it should require no repetition, but the devious reasoning of those who try to avoid obedience makes it necessary to press this point a bit further. Have you ever been stopped by a policeman for exceeding the speed limit? It is an embarrassing experience, especially if you know you are guilty. But suppose you really were hurrying to meet a valid emergency, and you pour out your convincing explanation to the policeman as he writes your ticket. Slowly he folds the ticket and tears it up. Then he says, "All right, I'm going to pardon you this time, but ..." Now what do you think he means by that word "but"? Surely he means, "but I don't want to ever catch you speeding again." Does this pardon (grace) open the way for you to disobey the law? On the contrary, it adds compelling urgency to your decision not to disobey the law again. Why, then, should any true Christian try to rationalize his way out of obeying the law of God? "If ye love me," Jesus said, "keep my commandments." John 14:15.

Obedience - The Test of Love

Someone may bring up the objection that after the law has accomplished its purpose of pointing the sinner to Christ for cleansing, it will no longer be needed in the experience of the believer. Is that true? No, indeed. The Christian will always need the watchdog of the law to reveal any deviation from the true path and to point him back to the cleansing cross of Jesus. There will never be a time when that mirror of correction will not be needed in the progressive growth experience of the Christian.

Law and grace do not work in competition with each other but in perfect cooperation. The law points out sin, and grace saves from sin. The law is the will of God, and grace is the power to do the will of God. We do not obey the law in order to be saved but because we are saved. A beautiful text which combines the two in their true relationship is Revelation 14:12. "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." What a perfect description of faith and works! And the combination is found in those who are "saints."

The works of obedience are the real test of love. This is why they are so necessary in the experience of a true believer. "Faith without works is dead." James 2:20. No man ever won a fair maiden's heart by words alone. Had there been no flowers, no acts of devotion, no gifts of love, most men would still be searching for a companion. Jesus said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 7:21.

Words and profession are not enough. The true evidence is obedience. Today's bumper stickers reflect a shallow concept of love. They say, "Smile if you love Jesus," "Honk if you love Jesus"; but what did the Master Himself say? He said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15. And that is exactly what most people don't want to do. If love makes no demands beyond a smile or wave, then it is welcome; but if the lifestyle must be disturbed, the majority will reject it. Unfortunately, most people today are not looking for truth. They are looking for a smooth, easy, comfortable religion which will allow them to live the way they please and still give assurance of salvation. There is indeed no true religion which can do that for them.

One of the strongest texts in the Bible on this subject is found in 1 John 2:4. "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." John could write that with such assurance because it is one of the most deeply established truths in the Bible. Jesus spoke of those who said, "Lord, Lord," but did not do the will of the Father. Then He described many who would seek entrance to the kingdom claiming to be workers of miracles in the name of Christ. But He would sorrowfully have to say, "I never knew you: depart from me." Matthew 7:21-23. You see, to know Christ is to love Him, and to love Him is to obey Him. The valid assumption of the Bible writers is very clear and simple: If one is not obeying Christ, he does not love Christ. And if he doesn't love the Master, then he doesn't know Him. John assured us, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." John 17:3. Thus, we can see how knowing and loving and obeying are all tied closely together and are absolutely inseparable in the life of God's faithful people. The beloved John summed it up in these words: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:3.

Is It Possible To Obey the Law?

Countless Christians have been taught that since the law is spiritual and we are carnal, no human being will ever be able in this life to meet the requirements of the perfect law. Is this true? Has it been given by God as a great idealistic, impossible goal toward which converted souls should struggle but never expect to attain? Is there some hidden reservation or secret meaning in the many commands to obey the ten great rules God wrote on stone? Did God mean what He said and say what He meant?

Many believe that only Christ could have obeyed that law and only because He had special powers that have not been made available to us. Certainly it is true that Jesus is the only One who lived without committing a single act of disobedience. His reason for living that perfect, victorious life is laid out in Romans 8:3, 4. "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."

Do not miss the point that Jesus came to condemn sin by His perfect life in the flesh in order that "the righteousness of the law" might be fulfilled in us. What is that righteousness? The Greek word "dikaima" is used here which means, literally, "the just requirement" of the law. This can only mean that Christ won His perfect victory in order to make the same victory available to us. Having conquered the devil, showing that in the flesh the law can be obeyed, Christ now offers to come into our hearts and share the victory with us. Only by His strength and indwelling power can the requirements of the law be fulfilled by anyone. Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13.

Not one soul can ever keep one of those Ten Commandments in human power alone, but all of them may be kept through the enabling strength of Jesus. He imputes His righteousness for cleansing and imparts His righteousness for victorious living. Christ came in a body of flesh like our own and depended wholly upon His Father in living His life to demonstrate the kind of victory which is possible for every soul who will likewise draw upon the Father's grace.

Judged By the Law

Now, a final question about the subject of the law: How many of the Ten Commandments does one have to break in order to be guilty of sin? James says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." James 2:10-12.

Every individual will be judged at last by the mighty moral code of God's law. To break one is to be guilty of sin. The Bible indicates that the Ten Commandments are like a chain with ten links. When one link is broken, the chain is broken. So it is with the law. Those who stand in the judgment will have to meet the acid test of the Ten Commandments. If a practicing thief should seek entrance into the kingdom, he would be rejected. This is why Paul says thieves will not inherit the heavenly city. Furthermore, the Bible specifically declares that liars, adulterers, idolaters, and covetous men will not be in the kingdom. Why? Because the Ten Commandments forbid those things, and men will be judged finally by that law. Not one person will be admitted into heaven who is willfully violating any one of the Ten Commandments, because breaking one is breaking all.

Someone might object that this is making works the basis of entering the kingdom. No. It is really making love the qualifying factor. Jesus said that the greatest commandment of all is to love God supremely. He also said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15. Those who practice any known sin are really confessing that they do not love God with all their heart, soul, and mind. So it is the lack of love which shuts them out; not the act of disobedience which exposes that lack. Only when love is motivating the obedience does it become acceptable to God. Any other work is man's vain attempt to earn salvation and to deny the efficacy of Christ's atoning sacrifice.

Ransomed for What?

A dramatic illustration of the law-grace doctrine is seen in the story of the slave auctions in old New Orleans long ago. Two planters were bidding for an old Negro slave who kept shouting his rebellion from the auction block. Finally, one of the planters won the bid and took the slave in his wagon back to the farm. Throughout the journey the defiant black man declared that he would not work for the new owner. When they arrived at the plantation, the planter dropped the shackles from the newly bought slave and said, "You are free to go. You are no longer a slave. I bought you in order to give you your liberty."

According to the story, the old man fell at the feet of the planter and said, "Master, I'll serve you forever."

In like manner, we were all held in the bondage of sin, condemnation, and death. Christ then paid the price to secure our freedom from that hopeless slavery. Lovingly He tells us that the reason He made the sacrifice was to set us free. What should our response be? Every ransomed child of God should fall at His feet and say, "Master, I love you for what you did for me. I'll serve you the rest of my life."

Think it through for a moment. Jesus had to die because the law had been broken. Sin demanded death. If the law could have been abrogated, the penalty of sin would have been set aside also. "For where no law is, there is no transgression." Romans 4:15. So strong was the authority of that unchangeable law that God Himself could not abolish it - not even to save His own Son from death.

The old, old story of the two brothers is almost a perfect illustration of both law and grace in operation. The older brother was a judge. His younger brother was brought before him as a transgressor of the law. From all the evidence it was clear to all that he was guilty. The court was tense. Would the judge mete out justice in such a case? The judge looked at his brother and sternly declared him guilty. Then he stunned the court by imposing the maximum fine. But immediately he left the bench and threw his arms around his brother and said, "I had to do it because you are guilty. I know you cannot pay the fine, but I will pay it for you."

The point of the story is dramatic in its impact. The brother was forgiven, but the penalty was not. It had to be paid. But by paying the maximum penalty, the judge not only did not abolish the law, but he greatly magnified it. He demonstrated that its binding claims could never be voided. In the same sense, God would not and could not abolish the law to save His beloved Son. It cost something to uphold the law and pay the maximum penalty. No one will ever know how much it cost the Son of God. But how thankful we should be that His love was as perfect as His justice. In His own body He bore the penalty, satisfied the law, and justified the transgressor.

Can't you see that no greater demonstration could have been made to prove the permanence of the Ten Commandments? In all the universe God could not have displayed a more convincing and irrefutable argument in favor of His law. Yet, in the face of this tremendous exhibition, misguided millions of poor, feeble men belittle the government of God by belittling His law. They seem not to understand that the law is only a reflection of His holiness and righteousness. To speak of its abolition is to border on treason against the divine government of heaven.

Look into that holy law right now for a divine revelation of what God wants your life to be. Confess that you have no strength to live up to that perfect standard. Then turn your eyes to the only One who has kept that law perfectly and who desires this very moment to enter your life with enabling power. He will fulfill the righteousness of the law - the just requirements of the law - in you, so that you can say with Paul, "Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20.

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