The Good News - Home
Grace is Free
By David A. DePra
Grace is free. Not a surprise. But exactly what are the ramifications for a Christian person? How do you receive that which is freely given? The fact that GRACE is freely given the fact that grace could be defined as, "Gods UNMERITED favor" this is a fact that literally defines the New Covenant in Christ. It is a Truth that stands at the heart of the good news.
Grace is the New Covenant principle. But grace is also everywhere in the Old Testament. The difference is that the OT emphasis is upon our NEED for grace. All of those terrible dealings of God in the OT that seem so hard and so wrathful! How is that grace? It is grace because all of that was intended to show man the utter futility of redemption through any means except the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Grace in Christ alone was the greater purpose towards which God was working in the OT. Even the law of God which exposes ALL of us is UNTO grace in Christ. Paul writes:
Now we know that what things the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe. (Rom 3:19-22)
There was never any salvation possible except by grace in Christ. Never. Even the Old Covenant revealed that the very animal sacrifices were a type of Jesus Christ. They were intended to show that salvation was possible only through the death of another. The law itself, as we quoted, was intended to show us our hopeless condition. All of this was intended to show us the essential of the grace of God.
The Old Covenant did not save rather, it pointed towards the One who does. The OT was a shadow Jesus Christ is the substance or reality. In Christ alone is the grace of God.
Grace in a Person
GRACE is good news. There was never any other means of restoring man back to God that was possible. Indeed, He sent His only begotten Son to bring and work the possibilities of grace into the human race. John wrote that Jesus was, "full of grace and Truth." (John 1:14 and 1:17) We also read, from Peter, that God is, "the God of ALL grace." (I Peter 5:10)
But if we read those verses and seriously consider what they mean, there is a great Truth here about GRACE. We find that grace is not a THING. It is NOT merely some POWER. No. Indeed, you cannot separate grace from God Himself. Rather, God IS grace in other words, grace is an extension of His very person, presence, and working. Grace is Gods NATURE and expressed through His character.
Elsewhere we are told that, "God is love." We are also told that the Lord IS our righteousness. I could go on. But sufficient to say, if you are talking about grace, you are talking about God. Grace is His nature. Grace is carried in all that God does and everything that God IS.
God is grace personified. Grace, Truth, and Love these are more than the doctrines of God they are His nature. But if grace is the nature of God it means that, by nature, God is a GIVING God God is a God who gives FREELY.
It ought be more than obvious that, "the God of all grace," is the God who freely gives. Indeed, there is no way for God to give us anything of Himself except it be by His grace and conversely there is no way to receive what God has freely given except to FREELY receive. It is only our blindness, self-righteousness, and religiosity that would suggest that we could be receive anything of God except by grace.
Note that: God gives freely because it is the only way He can give this is the nature of things. It is the TRUTH about things it is because of the Truth about us and the Truth about HIM. The moment we put Christianity on another basis we are in error. ALL that God has is freely given to us in Christ and consequently, all that God has can only be FREELY received. It is always, "by grace through faith."
Indeed, the Bible states in no uncertain terms:
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Rom 8:32)
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Cor 2:12)
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give. (Mat 10:8)
I wonder how many of us really believe that God means what He says in these verses? I wonder whether we have seriously considered the ramifications? But no. The religious geniuses among us pardon my sarcasm have concocted every conceivable alternative to the grace of God in Jesus Christ imaginable. Millions are under ANOTHER GOSPEL.
Now we need to face this fact: According to what Paul wrote to the Galatians, if our relationship with God is upon ANY OTHER basis than that of the grace of God in Jesus Christ death and resurrection then we are not merely, "a little bit off," in our theology. We need more than a little, "tweak," here and there in our walk with God. No. Paul says we are under, "another gospel." He says we are, "standing aloof," from Christ. He says, "Christ is of NO effect," for us. This is the case, yes, if we are walking under any form of law. But this is the case if we are walking in ANY error that denies, distorts, or neglects the Truth of grace. Error IS error and error is anything that is NOT the Truth.
When you read the above verses that state so clearly that God gives us all things freely in Christ, the first thing that pops out is that grace involves much more than the event of our salvation. The event of salvation is by grace, but God has given us ALL things freely in Christ; all things freely IN salvation which suggests more than one thing; more than just salvation. Sure. The Christian life and the eternal ages is a matter of coming into the fullness of what God has given IN salvation; in Christ. The event of salvation is merely the beginning.
What this means is that God doesnt merely give us THINGS. No. He gives us Christ in whom are all things. Thus, if God gives Christ freely, then He gives all things freely for all things are IN Christ.
We have already read that, "grace and Truth," are in Jesus Christ. This is about first receiving, and then coming to experience a PERSON. Do that and all the THINGS that are in Him will likewise come into our experience.
As mentioned, for the last two-thousand years religious people have tried to make the term, "freely given," mean almost anything but FREELY GIVEN. But the Word of God is clear. God gives all things freely in Christ. What do we think the term FREELY GIVEN means? Can we see that it means that there are absolutely NO strings attached? That there can be NO earning, NO merits, and NO requirement that we be worthy? The moment I introduce any of those things we can no longer use the term, "freely given."
God gives us all things freely but only IN Christ; only on the basis of Christ. This puts US out of the picture as far as the terms upon which God gives. But it also means something else: It means that we must FREELY receive what God has freely given. In like manner, we must be out of the picture as far as the terms upon which we receive. If God freely gives on the basis of Christ, we must freely receive on the basis of Christ. There is no other Truth. To try to receive on another basis namely of ourselves is error.
Few of us would be foolish enough to say that we can EARN CHRIST. And yet ALL that God has to give is freely given IN HIM. Thus, if we receive Christ solely by grace through faith, then we receive all that is IN HIM solely by grace through faith. This means that ALL is by grace. ALL is freely given to us by God through His Son.
All that God has to give is freely given to us in His Son. But the question which is likely to emerge from this fact is this one: If God has freely given to us all things in Christ, then why do we so often NOT seem to experience what God has freely given? Where are all of these blessings and Truth that God has freely given? I mean, if God has, in fact, freely given, then should we not have what He has given?
The reason we do not seem to possess what God has freely given is that we have not freely received. It is that simple. We are trying to receive on a basis other than grace in Christ. Thus, we are in error. And if we are in darkness on this matter, we obviously cannot receive the Truth. If God has freely given us all things in Christ if this is the Truth then to try to receive on another basis is error. How can we then WALK in that Truth? How can we walk in this Light if we are operating from out of darkness?
I submit that the problem here is actually TWO fold. First, most Christians, even if they accept that all things are freely given most Christians somehow forget that all things are freely given only IN CHRIST. Thus, we try to possess and experience what God has given through a means other than knowing and experiencing CHRIST. We use law. Or we use religion. We use anything we think will drag out of God what He has said He has already given in Christ. Again, this is error.
Note: ALL that God has given is in His Son. There is nothing God has given that is outside of His Son. Thus, we are wasting our time we are deceived if we try to experience anything that is of God outside of Christ.
But even if we do understand that all things are given in Christ, many of us still try to obtain the things of God through our own working, or through our own worthiness. We say, "I know God has freely given all things in His Son, but now I have to prove myself worthy for what God has given in Christ." This is error and another gospel. You will never be worthy and much of what God is doing is geared towards showing you this fact.
People who try to receive from God on the basis of themselves tend to fall into two camps: Either we delude ourselves into thinking we are worthy and walk in our own righteousness or -- we separate ourselves from God because we think we can never be worthy -- but we dont put our faith solely in Christ. Both camps are guilty of the same error. We are blind to the fact that what God has freely given in Christ can only be FREELY received on the basis of Christ. Our worthiness isnt even taken into consideration when it comes to grace.
So here is the problem: God has freely given us all things in Christ. ALL is by His grace. The problem is that we do not freely receive all things on the basis of Christ alone. We try to receive on the basis of ourselves. So what is the solution?
The solution is that God must prove IN US that there is no basis IN OURSELVES. God must prove IN US that what God has freely given in Christ must be freely received in Christ on the basis of Christ. This is the ONLY Truth. There is no other.
You and I will never freely receive what God has freely given until we are stripped of all else that we would use as a basis. We must be brought to where we see that the only way to receive from God is FREELY, by His grace. Then we are seeing the Truth. Then we are set free. Then we can both receive and experience the fullness of what God intends in Christ.
If all we were talking about here were doctrines, or following the right religious procedures to get something from God, that would be one thing. But we are talking about walking in the Truth we are talking about fellowship with God IN the Truth. Thus, this is not a matter of taking the right or wrong approach. It is not a matter of, "approaching God the right way." It is not a matter of God refusing to give us grace. No. This is a matter of coming in the Truth about grace, and walking in fellowship with God Himself in that Truth. Thus, if grace is freely given if that is the Truth then I must freely receive. This is the only way to receive and live in the Truth of grace. It is the only way to fellowship with God in His Son.
Most of us have thought that the Christian life is a matter of us somehow measuring up or qualifying for the things of God. Or, perhaps we take another route we think that we have freely received, but the Christian life is a matter of us maintaining what we have received, or of proving ourselves worthy of what God has given us. This is error. It is NOT walking in grace. It is not the outcome of freely receiving.
So what is Gods purpose? Gods purpose is never to make us worthy of His grace. Rather, it is to show us we will never be worthy. Gods purpose is to bring us to the place where we are simply able to FREELY RECEIVE what He has FREELY GIVEN.
To RECEIVE from God means more than just the initial EVENT of receiving. It includes all that follows. To receive includes the FELLOWSHIP IN CHRIST that is lived IN what is received. In short, we receive grace but then we live in it. We receive Christ but then we live in Him; He is our life.
So if we cannot or will not freely receive what God has freely given, how could we possibly WALK in Christ according to the Truth? Impossible. Thus, we have to be made fitted for Christ. We have to be able to freely receive so that once we do, we can fellowship with God in His grace.
This fact comes into view when God says that we are CO-HEIRS with Christ. Christ did not inherit a bunch of things, and now we are going to inherit a bunch of OTHER things. No. Christ inherited ALL THINGS. Through death and resurrection we are planted INTO HIM and thus we inherit IN HIM what He inherits. But as you can see, we are eternally ONE with Him in these matters. And because we are, we have to be able to fellowship with Him in the Truth, and in grace, unto the glory of God.
It is here that the necessity of FREELY receiving comes into play. When you and I think of FREELY receiving, we usually think about just reaching out and taking what is freely given. And again, if this were simply about taking hold of THINGS, that would be about it. Just take the things! But this is not about taking possession of THINGS it is about entering into an eternal fellowship with a Person, Jesus Christ.
In the Bible, the word, "fellowship," means what you might imagine it means, "a having in common." The same Greek words is usually translated, "communion." So to have fellowship with Christ, means to, "have in common with Him." Yet again dont limit this to having THINGS in common with Christ. No. The basis of fellowship with Christ are not THINGS possessing things in common with Christ is more the outcome of fellowship. The basis of fellowship with Christ, according to the Bible, is Truth. And that would include the Truth about the grace of God.
Note how John the apostle states clearly that TRUTH is the basis for fellowship with God through Christ:
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But 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 cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from allunrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10)
"If we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship one with another." Absolutely clear. But it is important to realize that when John speaks of LIGHT he is not talking merely about doctrine or theology. He is talking about the Truth and reality of God Himself. Jesus Christ is the Truth He said so. So in order to have fellowship with Him, I have to BE MADE TRUE UNTO HIM. I have to be fitted into Christ, if you will. He certainly doesnt need to be fitted into ME! No. If fellowship is a, "having in common," with Christ, and Christ is the Truth, then I have to be made true.
This is exactly what Christ meant when He said, "The Truth shall make you free." He was talking about seeing the Truth about God, embracing the Truth about God, and being MADE TRUE by the Truth. The result is that you are then able to walk with God in the one true relationship in Christ which is to walk in the light as He is in the light. This is fellowship.
Now, what does this have to do with GRACE? Well, earlier I noted that the Truth of grace is that God freely GIVES us all things in His Son. Thus, the only way to receive what God gives the only way to receive it IN TRUTH is to FREELY RECEIVE. That which is freely given can only be freely received if we are to receive according to the Truth. Therefore, God must make us true in this matter of grace. He must bring us to the place where we can, and will, freely receive what He has freely given.
You and I will never freely RECEIVE until we are set free from all delusion that we have anything in ourselves to offer in return. That is the work of God to show us the Truth about this. It is why John tells us to confess our sins. It is a matter of seeing the Truth about sin we dont confess as a religious exercise. We confess because we have seen the Truth. If we do, we are made true and have fellowship with God.
The Truth sets us free to fellowship and experience God. The Truth ABOUT GOD sets us free. That is because once we see the Truth about God and embrace it the Truth about God will make US true. This will adjust us and change us and enable us to enter into THE true relationship God intends through Christ. In short, the Truth about God and ONLY the Truth about God sets us free to live in Him forever.
All of this is nothing more than an elaboration upon our passage from I John 1. We have fellowship with God ONLY to the extent that we, "walk in the light as He is in the light." This is the ONLY basis of fellowship given all focused in Christ, of course. It is therefore the purpose of God in this age to bring us INTO the Truth for Redemption is unto a restoration of this fellowship through Christ.
But again, dont think of the Truth as a thing or list of doctrines. The Truth is a Person and if our doctrines our correct and Biblical, they will tell the truth about the Person. But in the end, God wants us to fellowship with Himself in Christ. It is only in Christ that we, "have in common," with God it is only in Christ that we experience all things freely.
Now, once we see that Truth is a Person, and that fellowshipping with that Person is the goal, it ought to be obvious that the Light in which we fellowship with God is going to expose US. Light is no respecter of persons. The Truth is the Truth, so to speak. Thus, the moment I step into any measure of Light the moment I come into any measure of contact with Christ all things will be exposed. I will not only begin to see Jesus Christ, but I will begin to see the Truth about myself, and about my need.
My complete emptiness and depravity without Christ is nothing less than the Truth. It is not a religious exercise or legal requirement to confess that I am lost. No. It is the TRUTH! It is not some morbid, down-on-self, depressing ritual to confess sin. Confessing sin is simply a matter of telling the Truth. And whether we like it or not, there is NO OTHER TRUTH we are going to discover about ourselves. Thus, instead of throwing a pity party about our terrible condition, or instead of refusing to face the Truth because it violates our demand for self-esteem, we need to realize that God is seeking to set us free with this Truth about ourselves because hand and hand with it is the sufficiency of Jesus Christ.
Do we realize that it was never Gods intention for us to have our own righteousness? Indeed, God never created human beings to live apart from Him. Never. He created human beings to be at one with Him God always intended for Himself to be our life. He always wanted to provide for us in every way He designed man to function in no other way. But man departed from this design through sin and unbelief. It resulted in death. Thus, when God convicts a person of sin it is unto Redemption. He is showing us the TRUTH.
Now, all of this leads us to grace. For in order to embrace and walk in the TRUTH OF GRACE I have to see and embrace the Truth about myself. This is ALL the outcome of LIGHT in Christ. Christ exposes the Truth about Himself and the Truth about me. It is really one Truth, in a sense of the word. That is why we must confess tell the Truth about ourselves as well as confess Christ as Savior.
We are here talking about a relationship with God based in the Truth. Thus, you cannot receive grace on the basis of error such as merits and walk in the Truth. You cannot refuse to face the Truth about yourself and accept only the Truth about Christ. No. The Truth about Christ the Truth who IS Christ exposes all.
Darkness cannot fellowship with Light. Thus, God MUST reduce us down to where we see the Truth about ourselves. He must get us to the point where we know for certain that except for the freely given grace of God we have NO hope. We have to see that God gives us grace freely because it is the only way He can give it. We have to see that we are saved by grace alone because it is the only way we can be saved. Then, and only then, we will freely receive what is freely given. It will then be real. It will then be the Truth.
Faith and Grace
Faith comes by hearing the Truth. If you dont hear and see the Truth you cannot believe. You cannot. Thus, in order for God to get us to the place where we have no faith in ourselves, and all faith in Christ, He has to bring us into the Truth that there is nothing in ourselves in which to trust, and to where we see that Christ alone is trustworthy. We have to come to SEE this not just accept the doctrine.
What we see here is that faith is actually the outcome of seeing that it is only by the grace of God in Jesus Christ that we stand before God. Sure. Faith is dependency upon Christ for all. We arent going to depend upon Christ unless we see that there is nothing in ourselves by which to stand, but that all is freely given us in Christ.
You will find that God is continually bringing us to the end of any delusion that there is resource in ourselves. But not as an end unto itself. The goal is to show us that Christ Gods grace in Him is the only hope we have. But it is a glorious hope. For then we will gladly put all of our faith upon Him AS our source. Thus, faith rests upon the grace of Jesus Christ.
God can show us concepts but, in the end, Truth must be proven IN US, i.e., we must be MADE TRUE unto God. This alone will make fellowship with Him possible. Thus, in order for God to reveal Truth to us, He will put us into practical situations where we are pressed to seek Him. If you seek God with all of your heart you will discover Truth and that Truth will be able to be applied to your situation.
One thing to note here is that despite the fact that it is not wrong to seek God for answers and solutions not wrong to seek God for the Truth ultimately the goal is to seek God Himself. All else will be found in Him. That is why God will often get us on our knees over many practical matters in life. It isnt the matter at hand that is the primary issue. It is that we need God. The matter will be resolved as we discover HIM.
Gods usual pattern is to evolve a situation in which we have no resources that are found in ourselves that can get us through. There will be NOTHING we can do and, in fact, NOTHING we can do to spring God into action. We will realize that we are completely at Gods mercy either He cares enough to intervene or nothing will happen. Indeed, we will hopefully come to the place where we rejoice in this and not want anything or anyone to help us except God. In short, unless God FREELY moves on our behalf we are doomed. Then we will begin to see the Truth of grace.
Now, until we come to this place we will likely be reciting to God all the reasons why we merit His help. Maybe we will try to convince Him by confessing the same sins over and over. We might tell Him how, "unworthy we are." We might try to do this or that act of sacrifice to try to spring Him into action. But none of that works because none of it is the Truth.
God will never act in our lives on the basis of anything about US. Few of us believe that but it is the Truth. God acts in our lives on the basis of Christ. Thus, if we want God to act, our faith must be in Christ, and not affected by anything about ourselves. And of course, if God is acting on the basis of Christ, it is going to be HIS WILL, and according to the Truth.
Can we say to God, "Lord, no matter what it means, I want you to become Lord of this situation not according to me, or my will, or to please me but according to what YOU want." Can we say to Him, "Lord, there is nothing about me that can merit Your help in this matter, indeed, there is nothing about me that can cut me off from Your help, thank God! There is only Christ. He is the basis."
Have we yet seen that we must take our faith and put it solely upon Christ and that doing so requires that WE be completely out of the picture as to any basis at all for Gods help or attention? So many of us try to be good enough to merit Gods help, or grow discouraged because we cannot be good enough. The problem is not whether we are good enough the problem is the, "WE." There is no WE. Christ alone is good enough and HE IS our righteousness. Put your faith in Christ and all that God desires will come to pass.
You will note the common Biblical phrase, "the grace of God in Christ." Jesus Christ is full of grace and Truth. God is the God of all grace. You cannot find the grace of God apart from Christ. In Christ all the grace of God is freely given. But try to approach God on some other basis, say, that of yourself, and you will not find grace there. It cannot be there.
When God brings us to the place where we realize that we cannot help ourselves, but also realize that there isnt anything in us that can merit Gods help, then we are beginning to taste the Truth. Note that. It is one thing to see we cannot help ourselves. But have we also seen that we cannot obligate GOD HIMSELF to help us? We cannot. No. But God has given us Christ and all the grace of God is in Him. Thus, if we would see just how completely weak we are, and embrace Christ, the power of Christ would rest upon us.
Spiritual power is the outcome of dependency. When I see that I cannot even move God and even rejoice in this because of Christ then God can move. I will have, at that point, freely received on the basis of Christ alone what God freely gives.
This is how we freely receive what God has freely given we do it on the basis of Christ. We cannot do it on the basis of ourselves.
The Yes and Amen
For all the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. (2 Cor 1:20)
What does the above verse from II Corinthians mean? Among other things, it means that the reason God is faithful has nothing to do with us. God is faithful because, well, God IS faithful. If there were not a single person who ever believed God or called upon Him, God would still be faithful. His promises would still be true.
This is vital to see. For so often in the Christian life we try to make ourselves worthy for the promises of God. We try to do, or not do, so that God will find reason to be faithful to us. But this is error. We have already seen that much of the work of the Spirit of God is to show us that we can never be worthy. God wants us to stop trying to convince Him that He needs to keep His promises. No. The Yes and Amen are found in God He is faithful though all of us be untrue.
Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever. It is WE who fluctuate as to faith because our faith is not IN Christ but in ourselves. If we would simply put ourselves aside, and step outside of ourselves, and put our faith solely in Christ to the complete disregard of ourselves -- we could freely receive what God has freely given. But that IS the problem, isnt it? We cannot do this.
This is why there must be a work of the Cross. The work of the Cross, usually through various experiences in life, will fully expose us as being empty. And the fact is, it is only when we see that there is nothing in ourselves we can offer God, that we will freely receive what He has freely given. In short, we will see the Truth, and be set free to fellowship with God in the Light.
Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that while we continually try to be worthy enough for God, He is continually trying to show us we can never be worthy. Indeed, God even gave His law to show us as guilty, but we try to use His law to proclaim our own righteousness. How deluded we are. We need the Truth.
The work of the Holy Spirit is to guide us into ALL TRUTH. And at the core is the grace of God in Jesus Christ. God has freely given us all things in Christ. What is freely given on the basis of grace can only be freely received on the basis of Christ. The simple purpose of God is to set us free by this Truth so that we CAN freely receive what is freely given and fellowship with God forever in His Son.
The Good News - Home