One of the simplest, but often misunderstood attributes of God is His grace. The Psalmist wrote, “…the LORD is gracious and full of compassion” (Psm. 111:4). That indicates that God bestows much on mankind that man does not deserve. If man received what he deserves, then mankind would have been destroyed a long time ago. Think about the way things were before the flood. The Bible indicates that “…God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). It was so bad that “…it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Gen. 6:6).
As a result of their wickedness, God thought of giving man what he deserved. “And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them” (Gen. 6:7). This would have been just because “…the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23). Thankfully, “…the LORD is gracious…” (Psm. 111:4). “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8). Instead of obliterating His creation, God allowed eight souls to be “saved” from the effects of the flood. That, my friend, is grace! Today, there are people who are misrepresenting God’s grace. By so doing, there are multitudes who have false hope of salvation.
Yes, it was by the grace of God that Noah and his family were “saved”, but grace was not all that was involved. We must not forget that God gave specific instructions for the building and habitation of the ark (Gen. 6:14-21). Had Noah refused to obey the commands given to him, then Noah and his family would have died. That would not have destroyed God’s grace, but it certainly would have destroyed Noah’s salvation. We can be thankful that Noah did not say to God, “I believe in You, and I believe that all I need is Your grace”. Instead, we find “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen. 6:22). Was Noah’s “salvation” by grace? Yes! Was Noah’s “salvation” by grace only? No! That is important when it comes to understanding God’s grace today. Indeed, the New Testament teaches “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). No individual will be saved without God’s grace.
As we have already established, if man receives what he deserves, then there will be no salvation. Paul also wrote, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2). So, is man saved by grace? Yes! Is man saved by grace alone? No! The Bible plainly teaches that man must also have faith in order to be saved. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). As with grace, there are some who have over emphasized salvation “by faith”. They misuse verses like Romans 4:1-8 to try and teach that all man needs is faith and God’s grace. The works mentioned in Romans 4 are works of merit, not works of obedience.
James made it clear that works of obedience are involved in man’s salvation, just like they were for Noah. James wrote, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:21-24). Grace? Yes! Faith? Yes! Works of obedience? Yes!
When standing against the error of another person, sometimes there will be people that say “we need to give a little more grace”. Friend, I am willing to extend grace as far as God extends it. That cannot rule out faith and obedience though. Without obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then there will be no man alive today that will be saved (2 Thess. 1:6-10). God’s grace will not supersede his Word. I am thankful for God’s grace, but I am saddened that so many trust in a perverted view of His graciousness.
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