Grace and Works are Not Opposed to Each Other

I have long heard that grace and works are not compatible. If you are saved by grace, then works have nothing to do with anything.

The main proof text is Romans 11:6

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

The context of this verse is referring to the plan of God in choosing the Jewish people to bring forth the Messiah and God then putting them aside and now going primarily to the Gentiles.

Romans 9-11 has little to do with Calvinism and much to do with God’s plan of salvation and how Jews and Gentiles play their part in this plan.

When it comes to God’s plan, He will make sure there is a remnant that remains faithful to carry the plan ahead. This remnant is there by grace.

In other words, Jews didn’t become the Chosen People because they were so deserving of the honor. Nor are Gentiles now in because they are so much better.

Nope. No one earned that remnant status. The remnant is there because of grace.

Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
–Romans 11:5

This elected remnant is there by grace, not by works. If you keep Romans 11:6 in its context, you can clearly see that Paul is explaining the election of the remnant. He’s not talking about how an individual gets saved, nor is he talking about life after an individual is saved.

To take this verse to mean that grace means we don’t do anything is just goofy.

But I have heard the point taken even further–if you do works, you are going against grace. This is even more goofiness.

Grace and works are not opposed to each other. Grace and work actually work together quite nicely.

Again, let me state, no one is saved by works. I think we’re clear on that. We are saved by grace through faith, it is not of ourselves, not by works, but as a gift from God.

And the next verse says we’re created in Christ Jesus by that same grace to do good works that God has ordained we should do. In other words, grace brings about salvation enabling us to do what God has always wanted people to do anyway–His will.

Grace, when properly understood and applied, will always result in good works. But alas, I’m just saying stuff. There’s no reason why you should listen to me. So, take a listen to God’s Word:

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
–1 Corinthians 15:10

You can know Paul has God’s grace by observing how much he labors. Doing nothing means you are taking God’s grace in vain–to no profit.

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
–2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Grace brings us consolation, comfort, good hope, and establishes us in every good word and work. That’s what grace does every time it’s tried. It keeps you busy.

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; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
–Titus 2:11-14

Grace doesn’t just bring salvation, it also teaches us to stop sinning and to start doing good stuff. The whole point of God giving grace to save people is to make a people who energetically pursue doing good works.

God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
–2 Corinthians 9:8

I’m not sure how it could be stated any more clearly than this.

The idea that grace and works are opposed to each other is just not true. Yes, there is truth in how people get saved–it is by grace and not by works. There is a definite distinction made there.

But when it comes to life after salvation, the whole point of God giving you grace is so you’d be able to do good works.

Salvation by grace isn’t about leaving you in your sin but when you die you can go to heaven.

Grace transforms and equips us to do good works in this present world. The benefits of grace can be had RIGHT NOW! A new life. A new passion. A new desire. A new heart. A new will. RIGHT NOW!

If you have God’s grace you will be doing good works. If you aren’t doing good works, you have taken His grace in vain, which means you haven’t taken it, folks.

You don’t do good works to get God’s grace. You get God’s grace to do good works.When you receive God’s grace, you do good works. Every. Single. Time.


Grace Gives More than Salvation

When the Bible describes God’s grace, it uses adjectives that describe God’s grace as being big.

Acts 4:33—great grace
2 Corinthians 4:15—abundant grace
2 Corinthians 9:14—exceeding grace
James 4:6—more grace
1 Peter 4:10—manifold grace

People like the idea of God’s grace being big. Unfortunately, the only way we can conceive of grace being big is in relation to big amounts of sin.

We’re stuck with Paul’s question: So, do we sin that grace may abound?

His answer is “no.”

Unfortunately, because people have been listening to theologians more than the Bible, people mostly link grace up with sin.

When we hear that God’s grace is great, abundant, manifold, and exceeding, we think, “Cool! Then it doesn’t matter if I sin! Make that grace big by sinning more!”

Grace deals with more than just sin and salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9 gets a lot of air time, as it should, it’s a massively huge point, but most people associate grace with salvation. That’s it. Once I’m saved, grace is kind of done, I mean, other than forgiving all the sin I keep on doing.

Grace and giving go together. But Grace doesn’t just give forgiveness and salvation. Grace abounds to giving way more.

God gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

He has freely given us all things to enjoy.

He who spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He, not with Him also, freely give us all things?

The grace of God that brings salvation goes on to teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts so we can live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.

Grace doesn’t just take away sin and give you salvation. Grace continues to give you all you need, to recreate you in Christ Jesus to do good works (the oft forgotten Ephesians 2:10).

God likes giving. He loves a cheerful giver because God IS a cheerful giver. God wants to give you things too. Not stupid things. Not things to amuse your sinful flesh. But things that build you up, things that edify and strengthen. Things that equip you for every good work.

Are you interested in these things? Do you ask God for them? Do you take them when they are offered?

God gives grace. To give means to extend, to hold out. His hands are extended toward you. He’s waiting for you to take the abundance of provision He freely gives.

Please don’t cheapen this “abundance of provision” as money and health. He gives what is far greater. He gives things that will last for eternity. Don’t settle for fleshly baubles when He extends toward you heavenly treasure.

Grace is a beautiful abundantly giving thing. Please take what God freely gives and don’t be afraid to take more and more. His grace is abundant!

Theologians Diminish Grace

Satan has focused a lot of his deception on the word “grace.” Grace is an abused word. It’s possible another word carries more theological baggage, but I can’t think of what that word would be.

Theology is an attempt to make the simplicity of God’s Word, something the faith of a child can grasp, and make it confusing so you feel like you need the Initiated Few.

You know when you’re walking into Confusing Theology Land when biblical words start getting adjectives stuck in front of them.

“Will” is an example. “Will” simply means a desire. God’s will is what God desires. It’s quite simple.

It remained simple until theologians became a thing. Now it’s not just “God’s will,” now it’s God’s

Decretive Will
Permissive Will
Sovereign Will
Desiderative Will
Directive Will
Perceptive Will

There could be more, it depends who you ask. Also some of the above may be the same wills, I don’t know. I’m not a theologian.

All of this is just silliness. But the silliness doesn’t stop there. The silliness is extended to God’s grace as well. There’s not just “God’s grace” anymore, now it’s God’s

Irresistible Grace
Prevenient Grace
Common Grace
Sanctifying Grace
Salvific Grace

And on it goes.

Here’s the interesting thing, none of these adjectives before will or grace are found in the Bible.

If you look up grace in your New Testament (KJV anyway) and look for adjectives before “grace,” here’s what you’ll find.

Acts 4:33—great grace
2 Corinthians 4:15—abundant grace
2 Corinthians 9:14—exceeding grace
James 4:6—more grace
1 Peter 4:10—manifold grace

All of these adjectives tell you one basic thing: God’s grace is massively huge! When God describes His grace; He makes grace big.

When theologians describe grace, they make it smaller. They whittle away at the concept. They make it fit their particular theological point of the time.

This is where problems start. After a while, we’re not even talking about God’s grace anymore; we’re talking about some theologian’s ax he likes to grind.

Which is why there’s one more adjective used before “grace” in the Bible:

1 Peter 5:12—true grace

Watch out for adjectives before biblical words. Theologians use them to limit a subject, mostly because the Bible doesn’t speak the way they do about a particular word.

Don’t let theologians confuse you about grace. Keep God’s grace big. That’s how He describes it.

Is Jesus a Friend of Sinners?

“If Jesus isn’t a friend of sinners, then He’s no friend of mine.”

I saw this on Twitter last week. It made me pause.

Lots of things make me pause. My brain hiccups. “Wait, what was that? Does that make sense?”

A reasonable response would take up more space than Twitter allows, so I’ll think it out here.

“Jesus is a friend of sinners” is from both Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34. It’s in the passage about how the people didn’t like John the Baptist cuz he was fasting, and they don’t like Jesus cuz He eats with people.

Jesus Christ does not call Himself a friend of sinners. If you note the wording of the verse:

and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.

It was Jesus’ opponents who called Him a friend of sinners, not Jesus Himself. They also called him a drunk. Was their estimation of Jesus correct?

Later, in John 15, Jesus says greater love has no man than this: to lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus then goes on to define who His friends are. It’s important for our ears to hear the words of Jesus Christ here:

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

So, here’s the deal. Is Jesus a friend of publicans and sinners? In a general sense, probably. What did Jesus call Judas when he came to betray Him?

Jesus said to Judas, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” He calls Judas His friend. Jesus doesn’t lie. (Although it is a different Greek word!)

There is some truth in calling Jesus a friend of sinners, depending on what you mean by it.

Unfortunately, I think most people mean that being a sinner is ok with Jesus. I can go on sinning cuz Jesus is my friend.

I think that’s the sense of the phrase I saw. If so, I’d throw in some John 15. Then again, maybe they mean it simply as Jesus Christ loved me while I was a sinner.

It just depends. And that’s the problem with most of what people say about the Bible: It depends what they mean. I have little confidence in people to assume they mean something right.

But maybe that’s my problem.

Why Is God So Angry in the Old Testament and so Nice in the New?

One of the ways to tell a person’s lack of familiarity with the actual words of the Bible, is if they think the God of the OT is worse than the God of the NT.

The idea that OT God is worse than NT God is a fairly early idea in Christianity. Marcionism was a heresy within the church around 144. That’s pretty early!

I’d expect people in the Early Church to have some off notions about what’s going on in the NT, since it was fairly new. Everyone was learning what was going on.

But the Church really has no excuse anymore.

Is there more judgmental actions by God in the OT?
Yes there is.

Are there more rules and punishments in the OT?
Yes there are.

Are things like faith, love, and grace mentioned infrequently in the OT?
Yes they are.

Does this mean the God of the OT was more angry, hateful, and judgy?

So, what gives? If God didn’t change, what did?

This is kind of an amazingly simple question to answer, it’s really quite stunning how obvious the answer is.

The first 3/4 of your Bible is called what again? And what is the last 1/4 called?

The thing that changed between the OLD COVENANT (testament) and the NEW COVENANT (testament) was the covenant!

God hasn’t changed one bit throughout all eternity. Not once. He’s consistent, which is why we can and should put our faith in Him.

What has changed is how God deals with people.

The Old Covenant with Israel was pretty brutal. That wasn’t God’s fault, the people agreed to it. God merely did what He told people He would do dependent on what they did.

The New Covenant has less judgment, less anger, and more grace and love on display. The Old Covenant, although not exempt from love and grace (love is the fulfilling of the law, remember), didn’t display these things as much because of the nature of the Old Covenant.

God hasn’t changed. Jesus Christ is not holding God back from killing you like He would’ve before. The God of the OT is not any more angry over sin than He is now.

In the OT, God’s anger was displayed quite frequently because He told them that’s what would happen if they disobeyed. In the NT we are merely treasuring “up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”

The judgment of the OT was not God’s fault; it was the people’s fault for agreeing to a ridiculous covenant that had no shot of working. God told them not if, but WHEN you break this covenant, wrath will come.

They should have called upon God’s grace by faith and been saved rather than try to rely on their own efforts to be good.

God is the same. The Covenant changed. The covenants make all the difference. Pay attention to them.

What Does This Passage Mean to You? Is a Quick Way to Be Blasphemous

I was working on a lesson about The Four Lepers from Samaria (2 Kings 6:26-7:20). These are the guys who decided to go to the Syrian camp to get food, as they were going to die in Syrian-besieged Samaria anyway.

Upon reaching the Syrian camp, they discovered tons of supplies and no Syrians! God had provided, just like the prophet Elisha said He would.

I find it interesting to search Sunday School lessons to see what applications they get out of these stories. While looking for applications, I came across an article about “Three Business Lessons we can learn from the Four Lepers from Samaria.”

Here are the three lessons. Are you ready? Your life is about to change. And, if you’re in business, your business life is about to be radically revolutionized:

Lesson One:
Strategize. In order to succeed, you have to plan. This lesson is learned from the lepers who drew up a strategic plan to survive. They carried the plan out and thrived!

Lesson Two:
Take Risks. The one who goes outside of his comfort zone is the one who will succeed. The lepers left what they knew for the uncertainty of what they didn’t know. It paid off big time!

Lesson Three:
Acquire Useful Information. Once the lepers discovered the Syrians were gone, they shared what they learned for the profit of many people.

If your life is not already changed, here is the conclusion of the matter, and I quote:

“The take away from this story is that as a Christian, there is need for you to update yourself with the latest trends in your field and not only that, there is need to keep abreast of the latest policy changes in government.”


The idea that the Four Lepers of Samaria account was written so that 21st Century businessmen would learn to adapt new trends and change with government policy is borderline blasphemous.

This is the problem with the “what does this passage mean to you?” drivel.

It does not matter what a passage means to you! What matters is what the passage means!

If it’s up to my meaning, then I will change it according to my circumstances, rip it out of context, and more than likely, give me a conclusion that reaffirms what I’m already doing.

I’m quite sure the businessmen who wrote these applications are already doing these things. That’s why they saw them in this story.

The real point of the Four Lepers of Samaria account is that when God says stuff, He means what He says, don’t doubt it. Doubting God’s Word generally leads to bad things. Stop it.

A clear reading of the text will show you that’s what it means and it doesn’t mean anything else.

Don’t get cute with God’s word. We need less cute and more of God’s Word.

Ephesians 1 is About Hope, Peace, and Assurance

Ephesians 1 is an amazingly huge chapter. Not by length, but by subject.

Unfortunately, much of Ephesians 1 has been hijacked by Calvinists. This takes away the fun of actually studying the passage and finding application.

When you get sucked too deeply into the Calvinist/Arminian debate, all you see in Scripture is your side. That’s it. Nothing else exists. Everything is about this issue and this issue alone.

Which is too bad. Just like Romans 9, Ephesians 1 has a very cool point to make.

Ephesians 1 points us backwards first:

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
–Ephesians 1:4

Our minds are expanded to eternity past, before anything was. There, before there was anything physical, there was God.

God had creation in mind. He knew how things would go if He created a creature in His image and gave them freedom to rebel. He knew we would rebel.

But God had a plan. At some point in the future, God would enter His creation and sacrifice Himself for it, demonstrating His great love toward us.

We, believers today, are baptized into the Body of Christ. He chose us to be in Christ, to receive salvation by means of what He did.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
–Ephesians 1:7

Right now we can benefit. We can have complete confidence that salvation is in Christ because this was ordained and determined to be the case since before the world was created.

There is forgiveness in Christ because God determined there to be many years ago. We can have confidence in Him.

But salvation isn’t just about the present or the past, it’s also about the future.

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
–Ephesians 1:10

There is coming a time when all things will be gathered into Christ, all the created things will be redeemed, including those who came to Christ for salvation now.

This will fully be seen and experienced in the New Heavens and New Earth where righteousness will reign.

This future promise will happen. We can know it will happen because He’s given us the Holy Spirit:

ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
–Ephesians 1:13b-14

The Spirit is the first-fruits–the initial harvest that guarantees more is coming. He’s our down-payment on our future inheritance.

You know if you have the Spirit now, that this eternal regathering under the rule of Christ is yours too!

Paul is pointing us back to give us assurance in God’s plan of salvation–it was planned before the world was created. Then he points us forward to give us more assurance–the Holy Spirit in you is the guarantee you’ll receive the rest of the inheritance. Knowing this better time is coming gives us hope and peace.

Paul writes Ephesians 1 to encourage us. He writes it to give us hope, peace, assurance. Salvation is God’s plan. It’s a solid plan; you can trust it! He gives us His Spirit to help us hang on through this present evil world until we make it to the next.

Take confidence in your God and His promises. Don’t take a beautiful chapter like this and make it about arguing over Calvinism. It aint worth it!