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More Grace Alone
One of our visitors states, “The C of C (Church of Christ) needs to accept the Protestant consensus on the trinity and on salvation by grace alone.” I tried to e-mail this individual but failed. The idea that there is a consensus among Protestants that salvation is by grace alone intrigues me because a “faith only” adherent recently took me to task. He apparently is not part of this consensus. But should we accept our beliefs because many, perhaps a majority, believe so? I don’t think so. Can we, with any degree of certainty, answer the question, “Is salvation by grace alone?” I believe we can.
Is salvation by grace alone?
The answer I believe is a definite, no.
There is no scriptural statement that salvation is by grace alone.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). (Ephesians 2: 4, 5)
But we believe we believe that we are save through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way that they also are. (Acts 15: 11)
Now please don’t misunderstand, there are many statements that salvation is by grace but there are none that salvation is by grace alone. Sit back and let that sink in. None. Nada. Zilch. Is that simply and oversight? If you, as I do, believe the Holy Spirit inspires the Scriptures, then this is not an oversight. God said what He intended and intends what He says. Salvation is by the grace of God. We cannot be saved except for the grace of God. Grace is the basis and foundation. By the grace of God Jesus tasted death for everyone.
If true, the Scripture would affirm universal salvation, which they do not.
Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. (Matthew 7: 13)
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. Titus 2: 11
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but He is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3: 9)
If salvation is by grace alone, the grace that brings salvation has appeared to all and God is not willing that any perish, then the inescapable conclusion is that all will be saved. Since all are not save then one or more of the three premises must not be true. If the Scriptures are true then only the first, salvation is by grace alone, can be false. Salvation is by grace, but not by grace alone.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2: 8)
Since this is true then obviously faith is presented as a factor in addition to grace. Salvation is not by grace alone! Grace is still the ground and basis of salvation, faith saves us in another way, Faith, not works, is our connection to grace.
Objection: Some might object by saying but don’t we believe or have faith by the grace of God. And the answer is yes! Without the grace of God we could not believe in God. But grace is not the totality of faith. Grace allows us to believe in God, but grace does not compel us to believe. Faith is also a response of man, something that takes place in the heart and intellect. Faith is both a gift of God and a response of man (Acts 18: 27; Romans 10: 10)
This duality is clearly shown by the Scriptures we have already examined. Despite the facts that the grace of God has appeared to all and God does not want any to perish and the Holy Spirit is working to convict the world, not just the elect, of sin, righteousness and judgment, many choose to disbelieve. (Acts 16: 8-11)
Those that believe and obey receive the Holy Spirit.
The responder also states, ‘According to Jesus, the Father will give the Holy Spirit to “anyone” who asks for it, not “anyone” who is baptized by immersion.’ This is part and parcel of the grace alone doctrine, as I understand it. According to adherents of this doctrine, God gives the Holy Spirit unconditionally to the elect. The Spirit works irresistibly to create faith and ultimately to save.
But this he spoke of the Spirit, whom those that believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7: 39
And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, who God has given to those that obey Him. (Acts 5: 32)
And Peter said to them, “Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” *Acts 2: 38)
While it is true that the Father gives the Spirit to those who ask, it is also true that the world cannot receive the Spirit. Therefore we conclude that those who ask are not in the world but children of God. (Luke 11: 13; John 14: 17)
The above Scriptures clearly show that God gives the Spirit to those that believe and obey, yes even those who are baptized by immersion (there is no other way). The grace alone adherents seem to have the cart before the horse.
Conclusion: Plain Talk hopes this article will is some small way help us to better understand, salvation by grace.
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Last Update 09/26/12