Grace is clearly portrayed in scripture. However, because of some misconceptions( human, not God’s) which are springing up, it will be beneficial to consider some of the “nots” of grace.
Not a New Revelation
Many believers—wanting to learn about the grace of God—have itchy ears to hear a new kind of doctrine or teaching. Grace is not a new doctrine. The Athenians were an interesting group of folks in Greece who spent their time seeking to hear the new philosophy or teaching in town.
Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new. (Acts 17:21 HSCB)
Grace is not some new revelation. We live in a day when “new revelations” from the Word should be received with not just a grain of salt but with a handful of spiritual discernment.
The grace that has brought us salvation is about one subject. And the ultimate subject of grace is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Grace is the revelation of the Person and the finished work of Christ as it relates to undeserving man. This message does not change over time. It is the same revelation. It will be unveiled to us in greater depths. But it is never going to be another revelation.
Not Another Gospel
There is also a perception amongst some believers that grace seems to be “another Gospel” from what they have known. They distant themselves with comments such as “that grace teaching”.
Grace is not another Gospel. It is the Gospel.
Grace is the message of the good news of the cross and the empty tomb. Grace brings us back to where we all started, at the feet of the cross, completely dependent on the Savior and not our works.
There is indeed another Gospel in the scriptures. It is not the Grace Message.
I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to change the good news about the Messiah. (Galatians 1:6-7 HCSB)
If you read further in the book of Galatians, you will quickly realize what the Apostle was referring to. The “another Gospel” was the teaching that some judaizers had brought into this Church making the jewish rite of circumcission a necessity for salvation. The bewildered Apostle then strongly admonishes the Galatian believers
Take note! I, Paul, tell you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all.Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to keep the entire law. (Galatians 5:2-3 HCSB)
Adding a commandment as a requirement for salvation( the essence of the Law) is another Gospel. And how many they are which have become commandments added to our faith in Christ for salvation. the “another Gospel” is the Gospel of works, which makes us start counting on what we are able to do to please God and meet His standards.
Should Grace Be Strange To Us?
If Grace is essentially the message of the kindness of the Savior in paying a horrible price for sinful man to move from ashes to the beauty of God’s glory, why would it seem strange to us today?
Our generation is not the first generation that struggled with the grace message. The offense began at the very inception with the Apostle Paul. The jews vowed to kill him because he preached that the believer is justified by believing in what the Savior has done and not by dependent on his ability to meet God’s standards. They could not handle it. And he was delivered to the Romans to be martyred.
We are mirroring in this generation what happened to the Galatians Church. When Paul initially preached to them the message of the cross, they were very excited to receive it. They did not trust in anything they could do when they got saved. Then came the law to corrupt their minds. They started in faith, where Jesus is the reason, and then ended up with works, where there was something else they had to do to make up their salvation. And when faith was preached to them again, it seemed to be the “wrong gospel”. In fact after they got corrupted with the perverted Gospel, they began thinking that Paul and the message of the cross was the problem.
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:7 KJV)
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh? (Galatians. 3:3 HCSB)
We should Remain in Faith
Many believers started in faith, completely decedent on the work of the Savior. Then they became “mature in themselves” and gradually shifted from faith to works ,where their own religious deeds start becoming prominent and brought to the front. And when grace is preached again, we struggle with it.
Should it indeed be strange to us that Christ’s work is the reason for our salvation, favor with God, blessings etc? Doesn’t this sound simplistic and a truth that every believer is expected to completely accept? Was this not where we started from?
Grace brings back the emphasis and absolute dependence on the cross and the empty tomb. And we will wholeheartedly receive it, again.