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The Gospel of Grace

by David A. DePra

     If there is one thing that Christianity is, it is grace. We need to get

that: Christianity doesn't just involve grace. Christianity IS grace.

When we talk of the Redemption and what Jesus Christ did for us,

we are talking about grace. For when all is said and done, in Christ

God did not simply DO things for us. And He did not simply give

us "things." He did. But above all, in Christ God gave us HIMSELF.

That is grace -- a grace far beyond what we normally understand.

     Grace is probably the most misunderstood Truth. The gospels

and epistles focus, not only on the Truth of grace, but upon the

errors and heresies which distort it -- all of which can be gathered

under the heading of LEGALISM. This is not an accident. For if you

and I do not understand -- and LIVE in -- the grace of God in Jesus

Christ, we are missing the boat on what God wants to accomplish

in us. We are, in effect, deceived.

     The importance of a Christian being governed by the Truth of

grace is clearly spelled out in the Bible:

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are

justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the

Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (Gal. 5:4)

     Here we see but one consequence of not walking in the grace

of God: Christ is of no effect to you. But let's understand this. God

is not saying that HE withdraws grace. He is simply telling us that

if we begin placing our faith in ourselves and in our works, instead

of solely in Christ -- the WE have unplugged ourselves from Christ.

God hasn't pushed us away. We have fallen away from the grace

of God by our own unbelief.

     Yet what does all of this mean? What is the consequence of

having "fallen from grace," and of Christ having "no effect" to us?

Fear. Condemnation. The continual battle of trying to make

ourselves good enough for God through law-keeping and other

works. Never being able to walk in the power of the resurrection.

Deep and serious spiritual problems for which there will be no

lasting solution.

     Again -- notice that none of these consequences are things

which GOD brings upon us. No. They are consequences which

WE bring upon ourselves because of our own unbelief. We are

simply reaping what we sow spiritually.

     Obviously, we need to understand grace. The Truth of God's

grace must renew our minds and come to govern us. Otherwise

we are never going to be able to walk with Christ or experience

the freedom God has for us.


     Someone once objected that "God requires repentance and

obedience for grace." Then they stated, "Otherwise we could do

as we pleased and claim the grace of God."

     This argument is, in fact, THE argument against grace by those

who do not understand it. It has ALWAYS been the argument,

going right back to Jesus, Paul, Steven, and the apostles. All

were accused of doing away with the need for Godly living, in

favor of license. Grace is always interpreted as license by those

who do not understand it.

     So what is the answer to the statement, "God requires

repentance and obedience for grace."? Well, first, you would be

hard pressed to find a statement more contrary to the Truth. God

not "require" ANYTHING for grace. That is why it IS grace! By

definition, grace is unconditional. Nothing is "required" of the

recipient of grace. Grace is fully dependent upon the One giving it.

     Thus, instead of saying that "God requires repentance and

obedience for grace," the Truth is, "Repentance and obedience

are the OUTCOME of grace." Unless God gives His grace to us

through Jesus Christ, we CANNOT repent and we CANNOT obey.

If we could, we would not need Jesus Christ.

     Until I see that NOTHING I do qualifies me for the grace of God,

I am missing the Truth. I am, in fact, blinded the the very gospel of

Jesus Christ. For the good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ

has already done, ONCE FOR ALL, everything necessary for my

salvation. I need only believe.


     Many people do not understand the WHY of grace. We have

a complete misunderstanding of what Christ did, and why He had

to do it. Most people have the notion that our need for salvation

goes back to the fact that God is bigger than us, and that He has

placed impossible demands of obedience upon us. But since God

is also merciful, He provided Christ to take for us our punishment for

falling short of those demands. Thus, what pops out is a gospel

which basically boils down to a threat of punishment. It has God

saying, "You have not obeyed me perfectly, and so you deserve

hell." Then this gospel has God adding, "Now, believe in Christ,

or I'll send you to hell!" So many people say what they think God

wants to hear -- and tell Him they accept Christ.

     Have you ever wondered why God would, on the one hand,

make it impossible for us to obey Him, and then, on the other,

condemn us for it? Have you ever wondered why God would get

mad and condemn everyone to hell for sinning, and then, on the

other, love us so much that He sent His only Son? -- to presumably

appease His own anger? Have you ever wondered how God, on

the one hand, could love us so much to send Christ, but on the

other, threaten us with hell if we don't embrace Him?

     Many people have stumbled over such contradictions. Others

perhaps have never even given them a thought. But the Truth is,

every one of these supposed contradictions is based on a false

idea of the gospel. None of them are contradictions of the Truth

because none of them are based on the Truth. What they are,

are contradictions within themselves -- an error contradicting

another error.

     For instance, God never made it impossible for us to obey Him.

Adam made that impossible when he walked away from God. In

fact, God has fashioned a way we can now obey Him perfectly. He

says, "Believe." That is obedience which supercedes all of our

failings in the way of performance.

     Secondly, God never did get mad and condemn everyone for

sin. No. Death is not the result of God punishing us for sin. Death

is the result of sin itself. Sin kills, not God. God sent His only Son to

deliver us from the death which sin brings.

     Thirdly, God does not "threaten" us with death if we do not

embrace Christ. The gospel is NOT: "Believe in Christ, or I'll send

you to hell!" Rather, if we reject Christ, we remain dead. God need

only judge us worthy of our own unbelief. The gospel, rather than a

threat of punishment, is an offer of life. God is saying, "You are

dead. I have come to give you life."

     If you haven't noticed by now, we need to drastically adjust

our perspective. You see, we think that without God we are normal.

We are ok -- or sort of. This is understandable, since we all look

like each other. So when God comes on the scene preaching the

gospel, it is only natural for us to consider it to be a DEMAND He

is placing upon us -- under threat of punishment. But this is as far

from the Truth as can be. We are NOT normal. We are lost and

dead. And the fact that we don't see this is DECEPTION.

     You see, when Adam sinned, EVERYTHING got ruined. Not

some things, but all things. That's why we all look alike morally

and spiritually. Furthermore, since part of what got ruined was our

ability to know God, we lost our frame of reference for what IS

normal and good. Thus, we find ourselves mired in an utterly

corrupt old creation, with nothing at our disposal to wake us up to

the fact that we are in such a condition.

     So right here is our first need: We must see that we are NOT

NORMAL. We are lost, dead, and in the process of a terrible

corruption. Once we do see this, then our entire perspective will

change. All of a sudden, we will realize that we need deliverance.

We need grace.

     No one is able to understand the grace of God in Jesus Christ

unless they have some sense of NEED. Otherwise, the most we

will do is understand the "doctrine" of grace. We will merely

understand it as a teaching. But if we begin to grasp our personal

need -- our desperate condition in sin -- then grace becomes

clear. We will see that "by His grace" is the only possible way God

could have done things.

     The first approach God takes with a person is therefore to begin

to arouse a sense of need. A conviction of sin. A crying out to God.

This will then lead to repentance -- a change of one's moral

perspective towards sin and towards God.

     Now note: Repentance is usually thought of as the outcome of

God threatening us with punishment. We would almost say, "God's

threats lead us to repentance." We "repent" in order to avoid some

punishment God will otherwise lay on us. But the Bible tells us that

it is the "goodness of God which leads us to repentance." In other

words, once we see our need, and that God seeks to deliver us, our

repentance should be the outcome of being overcome by the

grace of God in Jesus Christ.

     The point is, repentance is not supposed to be an escape FROM

God. Rather, it is an escape TO God. I repent because I see my

helplessness -- and Jesus Christ as the solution. I see that I have

been lost, but can now escape back home into the arms of Jesus


     If I am not made awake to my need and my sin, I am not going to

embrace the grace of God. I'm not going to repent if I don't see

anything I need to repent of! But God is good to show us, not only

our great need for Christ, but also Christ Himself. In Him, we find

life eternal.


     Once we realize that we are not normal, and that God has

invaded our abnormality with salvation in Jesus Christ, we can now

see why God says, "Believe the gospel." God is telling us that

there is nothing we can do to help ourselves. But He is also telling

us that He has done it all through Christ. Therefore, we must

believe and embrace His Son as Saviour.

     The issue before the human race has never been whether to

sin or not sin. No. Before Christ we HAD to sin. After Christ, we don't

have to sin, but often do. Sin is going to be with us as long as we

live in this present body. The issue, therefore, is not whether we sin.

The issue is whether we BELIEVE.

     When everything is said and done, the sin of the human race is

UNBELIEF. The obedience of the human race is FAITH. And this

really boils down to nothing more complicated then what we do

with Jesus Christ. God never blames us for being born in Adam,

for being born abnormal, or for being totally blind to our condition.

But once He shows us our need, and the way out in Christ, then we

are accountable:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that

whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting

life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;

but that the world through him might be saved. He that believes on

him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned

already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only

begotten Son of God. And THIS IS THE CONDEMNATION, that

light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than

light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that does evil

hates the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be

reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds

may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (Jn. 3:16-21)

     Note: THIS IS THE CONDEMNATION: That Light has come

into the world, but men loved darkness. God sent Christ, not to

condemn the world, but to save it. But He will not force people to

embrace Christ. This is our choice.

     What we see here is a completely finished work. God has

already taken away all sin, forgiven all sin, and finished His work

of Redemption. Our faith doesn't add to that, or subtract from it.

Our unbelief doesn't add to it or subtract from it. It is a finished

reality regardless. But in order to enter into the life which God has

provided, we must believe. Thus, if we refuse to believe, there is

no other option for us but to remain where we choose to remain: In



     Grace is unmerited favor. It means that God does for us what we

cannot do for ourselves, indeed, gives to us what we cannot earn.

We need only believe.

     Of course, those who insist on requirements for grace say that

if there are no requirements, then we will abuse God's free gift, and

turn it into occasion for sin. But this is based on a misunderstanding

of grace. A person who has TRULY received the grace of God will

not use it for license because they have already repented of sin.

They would not have embraced grace otherwise. Thus, grace and

license cannot mix.

     Now, someone is apt to say, "Well, I know of Christians who have

used the grace of God as an excuse for sin." No, you don't. You

may know some who have used the DOCTRINE of grace as an

excuse for sin. But they haven't received grace. They CAN'T have

received it. Because if you have received the grace of God you

WON'T use it as an excuse for sin. You have all of that possibility

settled beforehand. That is WHY you were able to see and

embrace the grace of God to begin with.

     James says "faith without works is dead." He is saying that our

works reveal our faith. Thus, if I have no works, my faith was never

real. It could not be real. Real faith always produces real works.

     There is a lot of cheap grace today. But it is not real grace. I

only embrace real grace through repentance. And it is morally

impossible to repent of sin and to want to sin. To repent of sin

means to NOT want to sin.

Why We Won't Believe

     There are many "nice" people on this planet who have no

consciousness of sin or need. Some of them profess Christ. But

tell them that everything they take pride in means nothing to God,

and you will offend them. The ones you will offend the most are

those religious people whose whole lives are wrapped up in their

own works and spiritual accomplishments.

     This is actually "the offense of the Cross." The offense of the

Cross is that you and I are sinners and that there is no escape from

that fact. We are lost, corrupted, and dead -- on our best day. We

can hardly imagine that. Afterall, we ARE nice people. We wouldn't

really hurt anyone. That MUST mean something to our credit.

     We need to understand that if we were perfect, we would still only

be what we are supposed to be. Everything less falls short of the

glory of God. In fact, even if we were perfect, we would immediately

be imperfect the moment we took pride in it, or used it as a

credential before the Lord. Once we realize this we begin to

understand just how far down Adam brought man, and how much we

need the grace of God.

     The passage we read from John 3 tells us WHY people won't

come to the Light: Because their deeds are evil. This is exactly

what the Light is going to expose. It exposes you and I for what we

are and leaves us with no hope -- save the grace of God. Believers

know this is wonderful. Unbelievers shun it. They prefer the


     The reason people won't believe has nothing to do with the

lack of facts. Unbelief is not an intellectual issue. Neither does it

have to do with emotions. Faith and unbelief are MORAL issues

which strike at the heart and core of man's relationship with God.

     In the final analysis, if we refuse to embrace Christ, there is going

to be no one to blame but ourselves, for God has done everything

there is to do to make possible our salvation.

Grace Evokes Change

     Many Christians consider obedience to God to be an obligation.

Almost a bother. Or, we turn it into a means of self-righteousness.

Someone, in our pride, we still think that obeying God is something

"extra" we do FOR GOD. Nonsense. According to scripture,

obedience to God is supposed to be the outcome of "faith working

through love."

     Anyone who has received God's grace in Christ Jesus has done

so because they have been convicted of their condition of sin, and

have embraced the Son of God. It is impossible to do with without

change -- without repentance. And once I do it, this change will be


     Change occurs first inwardly. I change my mind and heart

towards God. Despite the fact that my flesh "wants" to sin at times,

the "real me" doesn't want to sin. In time, and through life, I will

grow to exhibit this inward change in outward performance. Works.

But never think anything between yourself and God is based on

your works. It is not. Everything you have and everything you are

is based solely on HIS FINISHED WORK. That is where your faith

must be.

     The gospel of grace is that Jesus Christ has come, not to

condemn the world, but to give the world HIMSELF, that we might

have life. So simple, and yet a message that has been lost and

corrupted by the traditions of men.

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