THE GRACE OF GOD
I Thessalonians 3:5
"For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means, the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain."
Paul was concerned about the ‘faith’ of the Thessalonians. He had ‘labored’ and worked in his teaching and evangelical work on them, and feared the tempter had led them away from the faith. Had the grace of God been irresistible, and the efforts of Paul and the ‘tempter’ been uneffective in the possibility of changing the choice of God to save or not save these people, then the concern of Paul would have been totally unnecessary.
God saves mankind through His grace. Grace is the unmerited favor that God offers sinful mankind, resulting in salvation. Why would Paul’s labor ‘be in vain’ if there were no possibility of Satan tempting Christians and causing them to fall and be lost? Paul understood grace and its limitations to those who refuse the gospel. Of the 156 times the word ‘charis’ (Greek word for ‘grace’) is found in the New Testament, it is used 110 times by Paul. Certainly, he marveled in the grace of God and sought to teach this ‘grace’ to all.
Satan has many means to use to try to get us to leave our faith.
"Submit yourselves unto God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."
Why should we resist, if we could not help but to overcome him. There is action to take, a will to exercise.
I Peter 5:8-9
"Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same affliction are accomplished in your brethren, that are in the world."
Why should we be ‘sober’ and ‘vigilant’, if satan could not devour us?
II Corinthians 2:11
"Lest satan should get an advantage of us. For we are not ignorant of his devices."
So, grace, being something we can lose, we are told to be ‘sober’, ‘vigilant’, ‘resist’! If one commits sin after being born again, he must repent, turn from sin, lest, he/she should reject Jesus as a result of the devil’s devices, and again occur the death penalty of sin.
I John 1:9
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
I John 2:1-2
"My little children... if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
No person who lives in sin, dies in such sin, will be saved. For the grace of God has been rejected by his choice of sinfulness over grace.
"For every tree hat bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire... Not everyone that saith unto Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter into the kingdom."
After a list of the works of the flesh, we are reminded that ‘they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God..." (Galatians 5:19-21)
Christians, those already saved by grace, can sin, err... leave the truth. And if one does, he can be re-saved, re-converted. And if he does get saved again, he is kept from the death to which his sins had re-condemned him.
"Brethren (those in the family of God), if any of you do err (planaoma, to wander) from the truth, and one convert (epistrepho, meaning ‘to turn about’) him, let him know that he who converts the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."
Grace is not withheld from mankind, due to sins. For it is the reality of those sins that brings a necessity of this grace. Grace cannot be lessened by the sins of mankind, for God’s abundance of it is beyond exhaustion. Grace cannot be mixed with the works of the law to provide something better than the ‘grace’ alone. In fact, to attempt to increase the benefits of grace with works of the law, weakens the magnificence of God’s grace.
‘Grace’ and its abundant magnificence, does not mean there are no conditions that men must meet in order to realize the benefits of grace. Not one Scripture in the Bible teaches ‘unconditional grace’, or a grace that is given to all regardless of acceptance. Nor is there any Scripture that teaches that God gives ‘grace’ to those who are choosing to rebel against the gospel. If that were possible, then God would owe grace and salvation to al of mankind, for ‘there is no respect of persons with God’ (Romans 2:11). God is under obligation to give grace, when mankind chooses of his own will, to walk in the light.
I John 1:7
"For IF we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, cleanseth us us from all sin."
Grace is freely given, but given with the purpose of teaching mankind to deny ungodliness and to then come to the full obedience of the gospel.
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world."
If men do not accept grace and enter this process of learning the righteous living, then the abundant and magnificent grace of God can go no further