Editorial: 100% Grace, Part 2 (Image Vol 9, No 6 – Nov/Dec 1993)

By Matt Dabbs

By Denny Boultinghouse

Amid all the controversy about grace, I am convinced that some of the confusion is merely a matter of semantics or emphasis. Some who think they differ actually hold similar views about grace; they are simply communicating on different levels (or maybe it would be better to say, they are miscommunicating on different levels). So some of the apparent differences are not matters of substance.

But this is certainly not true of all the differences on the subject of grace. We must accept the reality that some “Church of Christ” folks just do not understand the biblilcal teaching about grace. This lack of understanding impacts their behavior and attitudes significantly.

One writer actually termed the following statement as false doctrine: “Our sins are transferred to Christ and his righteousness is transferred to us.” He went on to say, “The Bible teaches we are actually righteous because of our obedience to the commands of God. Our righteousness is not play-like, or imputed righteousness.” Another writer said it is false “to imply that we are going to stand before God based upon something other than our own performance.”

What is your reaction to such statements?

The words “salvation by works” should come to mind. The Bible clearly teaches that when people attempt to be justified by law (performance), they are fallen from grace. Paul affirms that as long as man attempts to stand before God while appealing to any law system, he is lacking. All legal systems (law of works) demand perfection. They give what is deserved, and as long as man is a sinner, he deserves death. Thus, I do not want to merely imply that we stand before God based upon something other than our own performance, I want to proclaim it loudly!

The message of the gospel is that because of the Cross, we can now appeal to the work of Christ for our salvation. Only one who is sinless can satisfy the penalty for sin and thus remove sin. Thus only Jesus can remove sin; it is to him and him alone we appeal. Praise the Lord for his wonderful grace that is available to us because of Jesus.

In an earlier editorial I affirmed that “We are saved 100% by the Cross of Christ.” Some seem to suggest otherwise; they might even suggest that we will stand before God because of our own righteousness due to some obedience we render to God. How unbiblical. We come to God while we are helpless (meaning, we cannot help ourselves). The Bible does not teach that our salvation is partly deserved and partly undeserved. Since we have all sinned and the penalty for sin is death, we are all under a death penalty. We cannot offer anything to remove our death penalty. Only one who does not deserved death can atone for our guilt, and only Jesus fits that description. That is why we are saved 100% by the Cross of Christ.

Does this mean that salvation is unconditional? Not at all. Salvation is conditional. But submitting to certain conditions still does not remove a single sin. Only the blood of an innocent one can do that. Salvation is a gift of God. The focus should always be upon the one giving the gift, not upon the one receiving the gift.

When you receive a birthday gift, you do not earn or deserve that gift in any way – it is a gift. Let’s say, for example, that the gift is a new jacket. Must you open the gift to receive the benefits of the jacket? Yes, of course you must. Must you put the jack et on in order to receive the benefits? Of course you must.

Let’s say the next day at work you tell your co-workers about your new gift. Would you tell them that you had to tear the wrapping paper? Would you tell them how smart you were to put your arms in the sleeves? Of course not. You wouldn’t testify to your efforts to receive the benefits of the gift; rather, you would focus on the kindness of the gift giver and the gift itself.

In order to receive the benefits of the gift, must you do something? Sure you must. Receiving the benefits of the jacket is conditional, but the conditions are still not a part of the gift. A gift is of grace.

We have some among us who do not understand that salvation is a gift made available to us by the finished work of Christ at the Cross. He paid the price in full and we cannot add to that price. We cannot deserve the gift. Sure, we must have a living faith in God. Sure, we must be serious about the lordship of Jesus (even in these, we fall far short). But still we must understand that the  gift comes out of the goodness of the Giver, not the goodness of the recipient. All glory and honor goes to God.

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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