Grace or Works and Salvation

Dan Corner

Grace and Works (mp3)

What Is and Isn't Saving Grace, According to God's Word

We are saved by grace and not by works (Eph. 2:8,9), but we also live in a day of rampant false teachings (Mt. 24:4,5; 24:11; 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2 Pet. 2:1; 2 Tim. 4:3,4; 1 Jn. 4:1). Consequently, we must know what both grace and works are and how they differ from each other. That is especially true in this day when the grace changers of Jude 3,4 distort the true meaning of grace into a license to sin.

The clearest and most concise details about true saving grace are cited by Paul, who also gave us Eph. 2:8,9 is:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:11,12).
For saving grace to appear to all men implies it is God's will for everyone to be saved, which is more explicit stated elsewhere (Jn. 12:32; Acts 17:30; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Most importantly, grace is not shown to allow for immorality; just the opposite for true saving grace teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

In his same epistle mentioning what grace is and isn't, Paul wrote that Christians are to be careful to devote themselves to "doing what is good":

This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone (Titus 3:8).
Therefore, a comparison between Titus 2:11,12 and 3:8 shows grace teaching is not violated by stressing to be careful to devote yourself to do what is good.

Peter's Details about "The True Grace of God"

Peter also helps us to understand saving grace, as he summarized his entire first epistle with this:
With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it (1 Pet. 5:12).
Importantly, the whole epistle of 1 Peter is the true grace of God, which we Christians are to stand fast in. Since Peter clearly wrote people who had already been born again (1 Pet. 1:23), then what he taught is directly related to grace as well as the true Christian life itself. [This is very clear, but the whole New Testament is also related to salvation and the Christian life too (not only 1 Peter).] As far as detailing what grace is, and showing what works is not, carefully note Peter's teachings:

Selected Petrine Passages (Written By Peter)

For you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Pet. 1:9).
Christians are receiving the salvation of their souls, thus implying the possibility of something interfering with it. Also, their saving faith (in Jesus) is the means of their soul's salvation.
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do (1 Pet. 1:14,15).
They were addressed as "obedient" not "sin all the time" children, or the like, as present day dangerous teachers misrepresent the Christian image. True grace, as shown there, teaches:
For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you (1 Pet. 1:24, 25).
Since everything is temporary (withering away) except the enduring word of God, on that basis true grace says:
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation (1 Pet. 2:1,2).
Paul repeated the essence of the same:
But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Col. 3:8-10).
That is true grace teaching, according to Peter and Paul, but surely is not readily known today. Again Peter stated: Once again, none of that is a "work's salvation" or legalism, as such teaching in our day is too often misrepresented as. That is the true life-giving grace teaching in Christianity.
For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone" (1 Pet. 2:6,7).
Trusting in Jesus, not our own good deeds, is the key. Too many in our day are trusting in Jesus AND Mary, church membership, the sacraments, praying, giving to the poor, etc. Again, our submissive faith and trust for salvation is to be in the PRECIOUS Lord Jesus Christ. Trusting in Jesus is also equate with believing on Jesus, and such people who do believe on Jesus, view Jesus as PRECIOUS.
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us (1 Pet. 2:11,12).
Living holy and doing good even before pagans is magnified That too is true grace teaching, according to Peter -- not works or legalism. He further told wives how to win their unsaved husbands to the Lord with this:
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives (1 Pet. 3:1,2).
PURITY in behavior is magnified under true grace, which obviously is possible, unlike how some teach. That passage also shows the power of a godly example.
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech (1 Pet. 3:8-10).
Among other things, humbly walk in sympathy and love to Christians and refrain from insults and deceit. The later two has now been cited twice by Peter. Then that Apostle stated to love life and see good days:
He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it (1 Pet. 3:11).
True grace (not "works") says: In contrast, the most common, but false version of grace is the one associated with the lie of Once Saved Always Saved. That counterfeit says you better not be stressing the things Peter (and Paul) taught for that is "works". So the false teachers have labeled the very command of God as "works" and shamefully smear Christian people who teach like Peter as legalists.

Be Eager To Do Good

Peter and Paul both taught true grace and battled "works" for salvation, but also taught "be eager to do good". Hence, it is impossible that doing good is "works", as commonly accused in our day.
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? (1 Pet. 3:13).
Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:14).
Clearly, being eager to do good is true Christian grace teaching and sound doctrine, but not when the grace changers of Jude 3,4 are spuing out their horrible distortions. When they finish their indoctrination of the unweary such truth is sadly disdained and rejected as evil! Imagine that. Peter went on with more:
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander (1 Pet. 3:15,16).
True grace says be ready to answer people with gentleness and respect about the hope you have, but there is more to notice about the Christian life:
As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry (1 Pet. 4:2,3).
A Christian's life is now righteously different. Among other sins of the past, lust and idolatry are cited. Lust in the heart is one of the ways to commit adultery (Mt. 5:27,28). There are also two other ways to commit adultery: (1) by immoral sexual male/female union and (2) remarriage, while one's spouse is alive. There are also multiple ways to commit idolatry: (1) to bow before and kiss images, as Catholics commonly do or as Muslims do by kissing the Black Stone of the Kaaba in Mecca and (2) greed (Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5). True grace teaching also declares it is "hard" for the righteous to be saved:
And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" (1 Pet. 4:18).
It is a basic fact of all humanity to desire to be: accepted, appreciated and love by people. The Christian life instead yields: hatred, exclusion, insults and our name being rejected as evil for faithfully following Jesus (Lk. 6:22,23 cf. 2 Tim. 3:12). Hence, just for those reasons alone the Christian life is "hard", but there is more. This time Peter mentions our common enemy:
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings (1 Pet. 5:8,9).
True grace shows it is our own responsibility to be self-controlled, alert, resist the devil and stand firm in the faith. God is not going to do that for us. Again, the whole epistle of 1 Peter is "the true grace of God" that Christians are to stand fast in (1 Pet. 5:12).

Clearly, being eager to do good is true Christian grace teaching and sound doctrine, but not when the grace changers of Jude 3,4 are spuing out their horrible distortions. When they finish their indoctrination of the unweary such truth is sadly disdained and rejected as evil! Imagine that.

Peter's Summary of True "Grace"

Again, that is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it (1 Pet. 5:12).

Peter Taught Grace and Opposed Salvation by Works at the Jerusalem Council

The only true church council is the one we read about in Acts 15. It occurred because of false teachers declaring a lethal and counterfeit way to be saved to Christians, which was vigorously combated by Paul and Barnabas:
Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved" This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question (Acts 15:1,2).
Peter spoke the following at that church council about that very issue:
He made no distinction between us [Jews] and them [Gentiles], for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are (Acts 15:9-11).
Consequently, both Jews and Gentiles alike are saved by grace and our hearts are purified by faith in the PRECIOUS Lord Jesus Christ. [To know how our hearts are purified -- by faith in the PRECIOUS Lord Jesus -- is vital to know. Compare to Matt. 5:8; Rev. 21:27; 1 Tim. 5:22.]

Grace is also importantly contrasted to circumcision for salvation, as taught by Moses. So Peter fought again justification by the law of Moses, but taught grace and being holy in all you do, being eager to do good, etc. as he stated in 1 Peter. Each command further compliments and illuminates the meaning of grace and works.

More Grace Truths

Paul wrote:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:1,2).
NOTE: we get in "grace" by faith (in the PRECIOUS Lord Jesus), but elsewhere we learn our saving faith can cease to exist (Luke 8:13), be destroyed (2 Tim. 2:18) and become shipwrecked (1 Tim. 1:19). Therefore, if such a spiritual tragedy occurs to one's faith in Jesus, then he is no longer in saving grace. One can fall from grace and be alienated from Christ (Gal. 5:2-4).

Since grace is contrasted to works (Rom. 11:6), then none of the aforementioned about living holy, doing good, being self-controlled, etc. can be "works", that is, the things by which we are not saved by (Eph. 2:8,9). That is not to say we are saved by anything other than a submissive faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. All this is enough to solidly assure that all teachers who de-emphasize obedience by implying it is "works" are terribly wrong and a stumbling stone to the misinformed. Clearly, we are to keep all 100% of our faith and trust in Jesus and 0% in our obedience and holy living. As compelling as all that is, there is more to note.

And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Rom 11:6)
"Works" is equated to the Law of Moses, which is NOT simple obedience to those things specifically cited by Peter, Paul and others. Remember, after Paul made the distinction between grace and works, he then taught this in the epistle:
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give ETERNAL LIFE (Rom. 2:7).
Clearly, that is not a work's salvation, but pure grace teaching, which we need to receive and act upon. The same Greek word translated "works" in Romans 11:6 is also found here by James:
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (James 2:14, KJV).
In other words, a saving faith in the PRECIOUS Lord Jesus Christ has "works" with it, but we are not saved by those works (or deeds), but instead by our submissive faith and trust in Jesus. Again, our trust is to be in Jesus and not anyone or anything else, including our own good deeds.

One Can Get out of Saving Grace

The teaching "Once in Grace Always in Grace" is pulverized by Paul:
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace (Gal. 5:2-4).
Again, there is NO "once in grace always in grace". If one falls from grace he will also be "alienated from Christ", which definitely means such a person no longer has eternal life (1 John 5:12).

Paul taught the moral commands under GRACE: no idolatry, no sexual immorality, no theft, etc. but Paul also taught we are NOT under the ceremonial or dietary aspects of the Law of Moses.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. (Col 2:16)
One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God (Rom. 14:5,6).
As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died (Rom. 14:14,15).
The godly concern Paul had was that those in the region of Galatia were observing special days and months and seasons and years (Gal. 4:10). That is directly connected to the "works" by which we are not saved by. Instead, Paul wrote the same people:
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26).
It takes a submissive obedient faith in Jesus to have eternal life (Eph. 5:24a; Lk. 9:23 cf. 1 Jn. 5:12). Furthermore, we must endure hatred to the end to be saved (Mt. 10:22; Heb. 3:14; Rev. 2:10,11). Also, note these other salvation truths:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24).
Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified (Gal. 2:16).
We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ and made righteous before God through faith in the PRECIOUS Lord Jesus Christ. Such is true vital "grace" teaching:
And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith (Phil. 3:9).
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Gal. 2:21)
The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them" (Gal. 3:12).
Again, the true saving faith in the Lord Jesus, which gets us into grace (Rom. 5:2) and by which we can fall from (Gal. 5:2-4) has obedience with it:
And, once made perfect, he [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation for all who OBEY him (Heb. 5:9).
Paul's Grace Teaching Warned Christians of Lethal Spiritual Danger via Sin:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9,10, NASB).
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them (Eph. 5:5-7).
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).
QUESTION: Does true grace teaching ALLOW for sexual sin and salvation at the same time? NEVER -- NO WAY! There are NO Christian adulterers, NO Christian drunks, NO Christian thieves, NO Christian swindlers, etc. (1 Cor. 6:9,10; Eph. 5:5-7; Rev. 21:8).

Not only does Paul's grace teaching warn Christians they can die spiritually (Rom. 8:13; 6:16) as well as others have (Ezek. 33:13,18; Luke 15:24; James 1:14-16; etc.), but Paul's "grace" includes "keeping God's commands" as what counts!

...Keeping God's commands is what counts (1 Cor. 7:19).
Again, that is true grace teaching and not works or legalism. Remember that and don't be moved away from that truth.

The Real Purpose of the Law

The Law makes us aware of our sins, condemns us and reveals our dire need for the true Savior, the PRECIOUS Lord Jesus:
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24).
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin (Rom. 3:20).
What the Law does and doesn't do has been shown to:
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference (Rom. 3:21,22).
Righteousness from God come by faith in Jesus, that is, a submissive faith which follows Jesus here and now (Eph. 5:24a; Lk. 9:23; etc.). That doesn't mean such a righteous standing before God by faith in the Lord Jesus can't be lost through sin for it surely can. Notice what John and Paul wrote:
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning... (1 John 3:7,8).
Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Rom 6:16) Moreover, the law is NOT made for the righteous, but the ungodly [to condemn them]:
We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers--and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me (1 Tim. 1:9-11).
Saving grace teaches "doing good" and not giving up to reap "eternal life", but have you ever heard that salvation truth in our day? Probably not, but it remains true:
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us DO GOOD to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Gal. 6:8-10).
Remember: (1) Grace can NOT be "unmerited favor" as we have frequently heard in our day for the proud and unbelieving do not get it (James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5; Jn. 3:18; Rev. 21:8)! (2) "Works" is equated to trying to be justified by the law of Moses. Also, works is not "doing good" or obedience to God, as we are repeatedly commanded to do as Christians.

The Gospel Itself and Grace are Connected

The Christian gospel is actually the "gospel of God's grace":
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace (Acts 20:24).
Without question the Christian gospel is built on the foundation of a CONDITIONAL SECURITY for the believer, thereby excluding the Eternal Security doctrine:
By this gospel you are saved, IF you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain (1 Cor. 15:2).
In other words, the gospel (the plan of salvation -- 1 Cor. 4:15) is based on grace and a conditional security for the believer in Christ. That alone makes the Eternal Security doctrine a false gospel and condemns those who preach it (Gal. 1:8,9; 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 3,4; etc.). Hence, saving grace is built upon conditions, as we have already seen. Such "grace" also magnified holy living and doing good over and over again.

Multiple Attacks on Grace

The attack on GRACE as stated by Jude, Peter and in Paul's writings is against a license to sin (Jude 3,4) and falling from grace by trying to be justified by the law of Moses (Gal. 5:2-4). But with 55% of so-called "Christianity" in our day being comprised of CATHOLICISM we have another attack on grace. How? By their teachings that state: False teachers are more dangerous than serial killers and though Paul wrote so much about unity and love, he and Barnabas entered into sharp dispute and debate with them over these same truths (Acts 15:2). Such disunity because of false teaching is also shown by Apollos (Acts 18:27,28).

Peter's grace message also taught this about the BACKSLIDER:

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them (2 Pet. 2:20,21).

Jesus Himself on Grace

Under "Grace" and NOT "Works" the PRECIOUS Lord Jesus could see spiritual problems AFTER the cross; Jesus could see sin and spiritual issues/problems that needed corrected: The two good churches in Asia Minor, who were not told to "repent", were told:
Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death (Rev. 2:10,11).
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown (Rev. 3:11).
NOTE: Under grace, Jesus himself mentioned "faithfulness", but it wasn't God's faithfulness to them especially in wickedness, as taught today. It was instead, our faithfulness to God to the point of death. The Lord also told Christians to "hold on" to what they had. Again, indicating what saving grace is -- not "works". Remember those important salvation truths and don't allow the dangerous grace changers mislead you.

The churches at Smyrna and Phildelphia were even told by Jesus to "do" things resulting in effort on their part, under grace and not the works which is condemned in Eph. 2:9. Again, Jesus spoke out those salvation truths AFTER the cross, which is similar to what he taught before the cross:

Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO ENTER THROUGH THE NARROW DOOR, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to (Luke 13:23,24).
That is not "works" either and neither is this:
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him (2 Pet. 3:13,14).
WARNING! Regardless how fluent, don't allow the popular and respected scripture distorters misled you about grace and works. It could cost you greatly, even your very own salvation! Review this again and pass this salvation teaching on to others.

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Eternal Security or Conditional Security?

Charles Finney On True Repentance Is Unscriptural

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