The purpose of this study is to understand that Grace is the primary emphasis of the New Testament.
GRACE #1: WE PROCLAIM GRACE WITH NO BALANCE!
Worldnet Grace Ministries emphasizes the following:
Grace is the framework by which we interpret every passage of Scripture.
The Obvious Question: Is That Emphasis Biblical Or Do We Need Some Kind Of Balance?
Some people will object Grace is wonderful, but you need to balance it. To that objection, we ask: With what should we balance grace?
Many concepts are put forth as a suggested counterbalance of grace; perhaps the most common is obedience — We must balance the concept of grace with the concept of obedience. But it is not biblical to balance grace with anything, even obedience.
For those of us who stress grace, there is always a problem of others misunderstanding what we mean by grace. Therefore in this series, we will closely examine the biblical concept of grace, and we will not balance grace with anything.
Also, whenever we emphasize grace, there is a potential problem of others misunderstanding that we are making light of (having insufficient emphasis of) sin. Actually, when we emphasize grace, not only are we not making light of sin, but we are doing exactly the opposite; we are saying: Sin is devastating—serious—pervasive.
And herein lies the reason we emphasize grace—
Grace Is The Only Remedy For Sin.
It is really unfortunate that, in the Christian community, there are deep divisions over the issue of grace. This division is manifested between people who emphasize grace [alone] and people who say that grace needs to be balanced with something. And, as we have noted, some people say that we need to balance grace with obedience. For example, one admonition we often hear is You cannot keep emphasizing grace to new Christians; you also have to tell them that they have to obey.
Let me emphasize that we recognize fully the importance of obedience. There are many blessings in the Christian life that come only from obedience, and we know that, for a Christian, a life of disobedience is going to be miserable. So we agree on the importance of obedience.
The issue is not whether obedience is desired, but simply:
How can we become obedient? -or- How do we get there from here?
That is a valid question to ask, because we do not have any ability within ourselves to obey. In fact, in our own natural ability, we are just as incapable of obeying as we were before we were redeemed (saved). What we were in our natural selves (our flesh) did not change [at all] once we were saved.
We agree that obedience is the pathway to blessings, and we believe that the only way to arrive at the state of obedience is through grace. That statement may seem paradoxical, but in this series, as we analyze the concept of grace through the Bible, we will see many biblical paradoxes. Most importantly, we will see a fundamental, though paradoxical, truth.
The way to arrive at obedience is to rest in grace.
We emphasize grace because grace is the emphasis of the New Testament. In fact, the word grace is used 128 times—it is the most emphasized word in the New Testament.
The Apostle Paul used the word grace 94 times in his writings. As seen in the introductions to Paul’s epistles, there is an interesting pattern in his use of the word grace, as follows:
Romans: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
II Corinthians: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
I Thessalonians: Grace to you and peace.
II Thessalonians: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I Timothy: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
II Timothy: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Titus: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Philemon: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The pattern is obvious; Paul begins every epistle with Grace and peace; so what is he emphasizing?
Notice the same pattern in the closing to Paul’s epistles, as follows:
Romans: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
I Corinthians: The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
II Corinthians: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Galatians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
Ephesians: Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.
Philippians: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Colossians: Grace be with you.
I Thessalonians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
II Thessalonians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
I Timothy: Grace be with you.
II Timothy: Grace be with you.
Titus: Grace be with you all.
Philemon: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Do you see what Paul is emphasizing? He is emphasizing grace in every greeting and in every closing.
Paul was not the only New Testament writer to stress grace; Peter wrote the following:
I Peter [introduction]: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
II Peter [introduction]: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
II Peter [closing]: Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Obviously, both Paul and Peter used grace as a bookend around the letters they wrote!
There is another pattern involving the word grace that is very revealing. We see this pattern as we count the number of occurrences of the word grace in Paul’s epistles. The book of Romans contains the most instances of the word, grace, which makes sense—the book of Romans is Paul’s ultimate doctrinal exposition. All of Paul’s doctrine is contained in the book of Romans, and so, it is natural that he uses the word grace 27 times in that epistle. Grace is the bedrock of Paul’s theology.
We find another interesting pattern as we continue our word count. After the book of Romans, Paul uses the word grace most often in the letters to the Church at Corinth—books of I and II Corinthians—and to the Church at Galatia—book of Galatians. In these epistles, Paul uses the word grace 26 times.
Think about those two churches. People in the Church at Corinth demonstrated the grossest kind of immorality. And in the Church at Galatia, there were professing Christians who were in danger of abandoning Christianity and going back to [the religion of] Judaism. Would you not agree that of all of the churches, those two churches were abusing grace? Most certainly! So what does Paul do—He gives them more grace!
Today, we would say that those two churches certainly did not need more grace. And yet, the Church at Corinth and the Church at Galatia are precisely the two churches—the most immoral and the most unbiblical—where Paul emphasized grace the most.
There is another related pattern. Paul begins his epistles both to the Church at Thessalonica—books of I and II Thessalonians—and to the Church at Colossae—the book of Colossians—by thanking God for the obedience and for the fruit coming out of their lives. And then, Paul gives the credit to God’s grace!
In the letters to the Church at Corinth and to the Church at Galatia, Paul emphasizes grace the most. For the body of believers who show the most fruit, he uses the word grace only four times. But Paul deliberately emphasizes grace the most to the churches that are at rock bottom—the most disobedient, the most carnal.
That is not what we do, is it? For disobedient Christians (carnal believers), we say They do not need more grace; they need to be taught obedience. However, Paul emphasizes grace.
Why does it make sense to give more grace to those churches who we would say were abusing grace? To answer that we will want to have a fuller understanding of the power of grace.
Next: Radical Grace #2: Grace Is Not God Overlooking Sin; Grace Is God Killing Sin
Back To: Radical Grace Series Page
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