Once in Grace always in Grace?


This dispensation is so called because the grace of God is the predominant characteristic throughout. “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:16, 17). The following study of grace will be helpful to the reader and wall enable him to see that grace has been a part of every age:


The Definition of the Word “Grace”


The primary meaning of grace in connection with God is: free, eternal, and unmerited love and favour of God toward free moral agents who are the product of His own creation, whether human or spirit beings, and who are capable of God; consciousness and moral responsibility. Grace is the spring, source, and the very fountain-head of all the manifold benefits and blessings of God to all of His creation (John 1:14-17; 3:16; Rom.3:24; 5:17-21; 11:5, 6; 2 Cor. 9:8; Eph. 1:6,7; 2:5-8; Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5).


The Greek word charis is found 156 times in the New Testament and is translated “grace” 130 times; “favor” 6 times; “thank” and “thankworthy” 12 times; “pleasure” 2 times; and “acceptable,” “benefits,” “gift,” “gracious,” “joy,” and “liberality” each one time. It is not found in Matthew or Mark. It is found in Luke eight times; in John four times; in Acts sixteen times; in the Pauline Epistles 110 times; in James, l and 2 Peter, 1, 2, 3 John, and Jude sixteen times; and in Revelation two times-once at the beginning and once at the end.


Grace is also used to mean the favor and friendship of man with man (Gen. 32:5; 33:8-15; 34:11; 39:4; 47:25, 29; Ruth 2:10; Esther 2:17).


Grace cannot be limited in usage to God’s dealings with men in the New Testament or with men only in any one period. Was not God just as gracious and loving to angels and all spirit beings and to men in the Old Testament times as He is to men in the New Testament times? He could not be otherwise to any of His creations at any time except when they were in rebellion and sin. The very creation and continued existence of such beings is an act of grace. In fact, grace covers even the brute creation and abundantly provides for all living creatures those things which sustain life. Grace is merited no more by the brutes than by free moral agents. It is free for all, and all creatures partake of it in some form whether they realize it or not.


The Benefits of Grace


All of God’s great benefits come through His marvelous grace. We deserve nothing but He gives us everything. Grace moves God to act in behalf of and for the best and eternal good of the whole creation. Grace is seen in acts of judgment as well as in acts of mercy. It works for the benefits of the few as well as of the many. All living creatures have an eternal guarantee of God’s benefits and loving providence through grace. We get through grace “every good and perfect gift” and “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (John 3:16; Rom.3:24; 5:2, 17-21; 6:14; 8:32; 2 Cor. 8:9; 9:8; Eph. 1:6-7; 2:5-8; Jas. 1:17; 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). Such benefits are received solely by free moral agents upon the principle of humiliation and entire dependence upon God by faith, realizing that the creature is nothing, and the Creator is all and the source of all Such blessings are wholly apart from works (Rom.3:24-31; 4:1-4, 16; 5:15-21; 6:14, 15; 11:6; Gal. 2:16; 3:1-12; Eph. 2:7-9).


The Grace of God in All Ages


That there was grace manifested by God in all ages cannot be disputed. God has been gracious, loving, and merciful in every age to all men. Every act of mercy from God has come through His grace Every favor of God to man is through grace. The statement of John, “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17), could not possibly mean that there was no measure of grace before Jesus came any more than the statement in the same verse, “the law was given by Moses,” means that there was no law of any kind before Moses. There were many laws before Moses. There was grace before Jesus Christ came to the Earth, but it was the “fullness” of grace that came through Him at His coming (John 1:14-17). There have been different graces or favors of God to men at different times. The teaching that grace never brought men spiritual blessings before Christ is based upon unbelief and cherished preconceived ideas which are held solely to fortify certain false doctrines.


Men all through the Old Testament times received the grace and favor of God in many ways, and many lost that favor again and never regained it. Others maintained that favor, more or less throughout their lives. (See Gen. 6:8; 19:19; Ex. 33: 12-17, 34:9; Ps. 84:11; Prov. 3:34; Luke 2:40.)  We have seen that all Old Testament saints had nearly every blessing that men in this age receive through grace. The only difference in the blessings of the new covenant and those before and under the old covenant is that we can have the fullness of what they had in part. They had the Holy Spirit in a measure; we can have Him in all fullness (John 3:34; 7:37-39). They had grace in a measure; we can have it in all fullness through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). They had God’s glory in part; we can have it in a greater way (2 Cor. 3:6-15).


We have seen that each dispensation began in the favor of God and ended in the judgment of God because men lost His favor. Every unsaved soul in all ages is an unanswerable argument proving a fall from the original grace of God. Millions have never regained this standing in grace again. Grace provided even in Old Testament times the means of reconciliation for all, but all did not accept God’s grace then any more than they do today, as far as spiritual things are concerned. As far as material things are concerned, all men of all ages have accepted of God’s blessings through His grace. All these blessings of life are unmerited favors of God toward man to lead him to repentance (Matt. 5:44-48; Rom.2:4-6; Acts 17:28; Jas. 1:17).


People were made partakers of many spiritual blessings, and of the Holy Spirit Himself, by grace through faith in Old Testament times. Many examples are found in Rom.__Romans__4:1-26; Gal. 2:15-19; 3:1-18; Heb. 11. These passages prove that people were justified by faith through grace wholly apart from works or law. If not through works, how could they have received except by grace?


That saints in the Old Testament times received the Holy Spirit in their lives by faith through grace is clear from Gen. 41:38; Ex. 28:3; 31:3; 35:31; Num. 11:17-29; 14:24; 24:2; 27:18; Deut. 34:9; Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 14:6, 19; 15:14; 1 Sam. 10:6-10; 11:6; 16:13-23; 18:10; 19:20-23; 2 Sam. 23:2; 2 Kings 2:15; 2 Chron. 15:1; 20:14; 24:20; Ps. 51:10-11; Isa.11:2; 26:9; 42:1; 61:1-3; 63:10-14; Ezek. 2:2; 3:24; 11:5, 19; 36:27; 37:14; Dan. 4:8-9, 18; 5:11-14; 6:3; Matt. 10:1-21; Luke l:15, 41-46, 67, 70; 2:25-35; Acts 1:16; 3:18-21; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 1:1-2; 2 Pet. 1:20-21.


These were permanent anointings and abidings of the Spirit and not just occasional visits as some teach. John the Baptist was “filled” with the Holy Spirit from birth, and this was before the coming of the Holy Spirit in fullness as on Pentecost. Did all these people receive the Holy Spirit by works? It not, then they received by grace. If by grace then, grace was evident in the Old Testament times. Of course, these people did not receive the baptism in the Spirit that all believers may have since the day of Pentecost (Matt. 3:11; John 1:31-34; 7:38-39; Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-21, 33, 38-39; 8:5-25; 9:1-7; 10:44-48; 11:15-16; 19:1-7), but they surely had the Spirit in a measure.


That there was and still is a measure of the Spirit that all believers receive is clear from Num. 11:16-17; 2 Kings 2:9; Luke 1:17; John 3:34; 1 Cor. 12:13; 2 Cor. 12:13; 2 Cor. 1:22; 3:18; 5:5; Phil. l:19; 1 John 4:13. These passages speak of the Spirit “by measure” and “without measure,” which is the difference between receiving the Spirit at conversion, as do all believers (John 3:3-8; Rom.5:1-11; 8:1-17; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:11-21; 12:3-13; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 2:18; 4:4; Titus 3:5; l John 4:13), and the baptism in the Spirit referred to in the Scriptures above, which all believers may receive by asking their heavenly Father (Luke 11:13; 24:49; Acts 1:8-15: 8:1-21).


The Fullness of Grace and Power Promised Modern Believers


We have seen above that there are different measures of the Spirit and the power of God which Old Testament saints experienced. Christ was the first to receive the Spirit “without measure” (John 3:34). John said, “of his fullness have we all received, and grace for grace,” proving that there are measures of grace (John 1:16-17).


We are promised today “the fullness of God” and the same power to do the same works that Jesus did (John 14:12-15; John 7:37-39; Acts 1:8; Eph. 3:16-20). Since there are varying degrees of power and faith in different believers it proves there are also varying degrees of grace received from God.


False Theories about Grace


We have a school of interpreters who magnify the grace of God above everything else in the program of God. They ignore God’s justice, laws, and all conditions governing the attitude and grace of God in the lives of men. They make null and void literally thousands of Scriptures revealing and regulating God’s dealings with free moral agents. They state some good things about grace, but they go to the utter extreme in trying to make grace the sum total of all there is about God and His plan.


It is true that from God’s standpoint grace cannot be withheld from man because of demerit, it cannot be lessened by demerit, and it cannot be mixed with the law of works, but this does not do away with the fact that there are conditions to meet on the part of man if he wants certain benefits of grace. Not one statement in the whole Bible says that there is an unconditional grace of God to men, or that there is a grace from God which men can get if they live as they please in disregard of the laws and justice of God. When we say that grace is not withheld because of demerit we simply mean that God’s grace will cause Him to forgive all sin when certain conditions are met. When we say that grace is not lessened by demerit we simply mean that sin does not do away with or decrease the grace of God toward a sinner when he meets certain conditions according to the Word of God. When we say it cannot be mixed with the law of works we simply mean that no work of man can merit God’s blessings that come only by faith through grace and by meeting the plain conditions laid down for a sinner to meet in order to get these blessings.


When a person realizes that he is a sinner; that God’s grace is greater than his sins; that he has no merits of his own to earn favor with God; and that if he comes to God meeting the requirements of reconciliation he becomes immediately a recipient of God’s grace. If God withheld His grace from a penitent sinner because one was a sinner then no person could be saved. If sin lessened the grace of God to a penitent sinner then no person could be blessed, for sin would be greater than grace, and sin would not permit grace to be manifest. If blessings were earned by works, then they would not come by grace.


It is also true that God is not under obligation to save sinners because of some human merit, but it is true that God of His own accord and because of grace obligated Himself to pay the debt of sin for man. Since God has accepted of His own free choice the undertaking of paying man’s debt, He is now under obligation to man to give each one the same freedom of choice in accepting the cancellation of the debt. God is under obligation now to save all those that do accept the work of Christ for them. God cannot in any one case refuse to manifest His grace to any sinner that accepts the work of Christ for him. God is not under obligation to bless any one sinner that refuses and rejects the offer of God and the work of Christ on the cross. The choice is now left up to each sinner and not to the further choice of God. God’s choice has already been made, and His work in the paying of man’s debt is finished, and He is obligated to give to all who accept the full benefits for which Christ died.


Naturally men are saved by grace, but not without the free and voluntary choice of acceptance of the work of Christ and proper confession of sins to God and faith in the blood of Christ. All the grace of God in existence could not save one soul if that soul refused the merits of that grace. Thus in the final analysis man governs his personal salvation by his power of free choice. Salvation is naturally the work of God for man, but God cannot save man without his free consent and co-operation with God from the new birth to the grave. So the idea that man’s salvation depends ONLY on the grace of God and on grace ALONE, and that it is the work of God ONLY and the work of God ALONE, is false.


If all depended only and alone upon God to save all sinners and they had nothing to do to get saved, then all would be saved alike by God, for the salvation of all men is His desire (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). If it were left up to God alone, then He would be under moral obligation to save all regardless of their consent or He would be a respecter of persons and a breaker of His own law (James 2:1, 9).


It is true that grace is pure kindness and unmerited favor from God, but since God voluntarily chose to pay man’s debt and save him from Hell on the grounds that man should accept this work for him, God is now fulfilling an obligation to man, which is an obligation of His own free choice, not one that man has merited. In other words, man’s works or human merits did not earn for him the obligation on the part of God to save him. This obligation is a voluntary one on the part of God for helpless man. This is why God’s grace is real, unmerited favor and love toward man.


It is this human element in the working of grace that the above-mentioned school fails to recognize. This school magnifies grace as the only thing that is capable of saving man and contends that man can do nothing to get the benefits of grace. It ignores man’s free moral agency, man’s responsibility in his own damnation should he be lost; and it ignores repentance, confession of sins, prayer, the giving up of sin on the part of man, or anything that God has required of man to be saved. It ignores the human element after one is saved and brushes aside all the conditions of continued salvation plainly laid down in Scripture that man must meet in order to be saved in the end. It lays all blame and responsibility upon God should man fail to do what God requires of him to be eternally saved. It makes God personally accountable for the loss of every soul should anyone be finally lost after he has believed. This school holds to some of the most foolish and unscriptural theories about God, grace, and salvation of any that claims any degree of faith in the gospel of Christ.


When this school argues that grace is pure kindness, not the fulfilling of an obligation; that it is God’s kindness to sinners whether they sin less or more; that it is wholly unrelated to human merit; that it is not the treating of a person as he deserves, nor treating him better than he deserves; that it is treating a person graciously without the slightest reference to his deserts; that it is never decreased or increased from the standpoint of God; and that it offers a standardized, unvarying blessing to all alike; its arguments are partly true, but this one thing has been overlooked by this school, and that is that the manifestation of the grace from God is governed by man’s free moral agency on the part of each individual. That is, God is limited to what He can and will do for any individual by grace by the will, faith, and obedience of each prospective recipient of grace.


To teach that God does not forgive a sinner because He is big-hearted enough to remit the penalty, or that God does not have mercy on a sinner, but that He saves solely because of grace, is to demonstrate ignorance of the gospel and of what grace is. The fact that God has already “taken away” the sin of the world on the cross and that Christ is our substitute and has already borne the righteous judgments of God against sin does not prove that God is unmerciful, or that he is not big-hearted or that grace is something separate and apart from the redemptive work of Christ and God. The truth is that God manifests grace to men who do not merit it and cannot merit it. It is also true that God is love. He is big-hearted. He is merciful and He is kind and compassionate to those who have gone astray from His family.


When men become so technical as to separate grace from the mercy, love, and kindness of God to men, they demonstrate the worst kind of ignorance of truth. Such high-sounding phrases concerning grace that they use to magnify it as separate and distinct from all redemptive processes may sound wonderful to many people who revel in trying to find hidden mysteries in the Word of God, but to simple believers of Scripture such is foolish. Such teachers may get inflation of their spirits beyond measure and feel that they are wonderful in manufacturing technicalities and in trying to magnify grace, but in the light of plain, simple Scriptures and common sense, such theories are foolish and false. Let us take up a brief study of the words grace, kindness, love, and other terms as they are used of God, man, and redemption, and see if such fallacies can be found to be scriptural.


A study of these words proves that “grace” is not used in either testament as something separate and apart from the big-heartedness, love, compassion, and kindness of one individual to another, whether it be man to man or God to man. It is used repeatedly of the manifestation of the favor of one person to another, and this favor is governed by the disposition, life, service, faith, acquaintance, relationship, and attitude of the recipient of the favor.


Noah found grace in the sight of God because he was righteous, and God favored him because of this (Gen. 6:8; 7:1). God had mercy on him and his family. If Noah had not been righteous God would not have had mercy on him. He would have destroyed him and his house with the rest of the ungodly. This cannot be disputed if we believe the record. When Lot found “grace” or “favor” in the sight of God it was because of God’s mercy and because of Abraham, the friend of God (Gen. 19:19, 29). When Moses and Israel found grace in the sight of God it was because of God’s mercy and choice (Ex. 33:12-17; 34:9). They were His chosen people because of Abraham, who God saw would obey Him and command his children to serve the Lord (Gen. 18:17-19; 22:12). Those same people whom God had chosen and who found grace in God’s sight were destroyed because of sin, for grace does not tolerate sin in those who were one time blessed with grace (Ex. 32:30-35; Num. 14:22-35; Jude 5 ). When men in the early church found grace from God it was because they humbled themselves and accepted of their own choice the salvation of God. When they failed God, they were cursed as were the Israelites and men and angels of past ages (Acts 1:25; 5:1-10; Rom.11; 1 Tim. 1:19-20; 5:11-15; Heb. 6:4-9; 10:26-29, 2 Pet. 2:20-22; Rev. 2:5).


It is folly to talk about being forgiven of sin or being saved without this salvation being an act of grace and mercy. Everything that God does for one is an act of grace and mercy. The fact that God has already paid the debt for man does not mean that actual forgiveness of sins today is not an immediate act of His grace. No sinner is saved personally until he accepts the work of Christ, and since sinners have to do this in their own lives today, then the grace of God manifests itself today only when one accepts Christ as a personal Saviour. This does not mean that God becomes good enough to excuse sins apart from the work of Christ. It is that God becomes personally gracious to each sinner the moment he accepts the work of Christ for him. The work of Christ was done centuries ago, but it does not benefit the individual until he chooses to accept it. God blesses by His grace the sinner when he surrenders, and this cannot be done in one life until the sinner turns to God and permits the grace of God to be manifest to him. No sinner will ever receive the grace of God until he personally humbles himself and calls upon God for mercy. God is free to forgive at the moment one confesses because Christ has already paid the debt for him. It is only when man knows the truth and accepts it that he is set free (Job 33:23-24; John 8:31-32).


The gospel of redemption is called “the word of his grace” (Acts 14:3; 20:24,32). Men are justified by grace (Rom.3:24; Titus 3:7). All blessings come by grace (John 1:16; Eph. 1:7; 2:7). It brings salvation (Titus 2:11-13). It is the source of answered prayer (Heb. 4:16). It can transform our lives (1 Cor. 15:10). It enables men to make great sacrifices (2 Cor 9:8). It comes through faith (Eph. 2:8-9), the Holy Spirit (Zech.12:10; Heb. 10:29), God’s choice (Rom.11:5-6; Gal. 1:15; Ex. 33:19), Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:4), and humility and choice on the part of man (Prov. 3:34, James 4:6). It comes in various measures (Eph. 4:7; Rom.12:3-6; 15:15); and is governed by the individual faith (Rom.4:16; 5:1-2), humility (James 4:6), and the will power and life of the believer (Heb. 12:15, 28; 13:9; James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5).


Further proof that grace is governed in the individual life by the will power and life of each person is clear from the fact that a person can receive the grace of God in vain (2 Cor. 6:1). He can frustrate grace in his life (Gal. 2:21). He can fall from it (Gal. 5:4) He can cause it to fail in his life (Heb. 12:15). He can turn it into lasciviousness (Jude 4). He can sin in spite of grace (Rom.6:1). And he can continue or discontinue in it as he pleases (Acts 13:43). Christians can minister grace to others (Eph . 4:29; Phil. 1:7; 1 Pet. 4:10) and grow in it (2 Pet. 3:18). Grace is an attribute of God that is used along with the words “mercy” and “compassion” in connection with sinners (Ex. 34:6; 2 Chron. 30:9; Neh. 9:17, 31; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; 111:4; 112:4).


It might seem like blasphemy to some to believe and teach the above-stated facts about grace, but facts are facts and when they are stated in plain Scriptures that any man can read for himself, it is foolhardy to reject them. To hold to some theory of man that some church makes the sum total of its religion is not worth the price one has to pay. It would be best to be honest with all the Scriptures on a subject and believe them all instead of twisting a few to mean something they do not say and flatly rejecting what many others say on the same subject.


It may appear to these interpreters that we are making man’s will greater than the grace of God. But we answer that this is true not only of grace but of many other attributes of God that cannot possibly bless rebels when they choose not to accept of these blessings. It is not so much that man’s will is greater than any attribute of God, but that God cannot do, and He has promised not to do certain things for man until man accepts of His grace and freely chooses and submits to the work of God in him. God simply cannot and will not break His own laws and be a despot for any man. He will not force any free moral agent to conform to His will. Therefore it is up to free moral agents to choose whether they want God’s grace, love, or favor and to what extent. If it were left wholly up to God’s will in the matter, then all free moral agents would conform to His will, and all would be blessed alike, and all would enjoy the grace and favor of God to the full. As it is now, no one can accuse God of not having love for all men if they want to become recipients of that love. The fact that all are not saved and even all the saved do not partake of God’s love to the same extent proves that God’s blessings according to His grace are not wholly dependent upon Him. Neither are they wholly dependent upon the free will of man. It takes both the will of God and the will of man in full co-operation to demonstrate the fullness of God’s love and grace. One cannot work for the good of one master when he is serving the other. Thus God’s grace or love is naturally limited by the free moral agency of man.


To argue that forgiveness is not an act of grace is to contradict the many Scriptures cited above that say we are justified, and we receive salvation by grace. To separate grace and the mercy of God in forgiveness is also unscriptural, for God cannot be gracious to anyone to whom He shows no mercy. Mercy and forgiveness of sins go hand in hand (Deut. 5:9-10; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 26:11; Luke 18:13-14). Scores of times in Scripture men have asked for mercy when asking forgiveness and blessing (Ps. 51:1-13; Prov.. 16:6; etc.). God is by nature gracious, merciful, loving kind, good, and compassionate (Ex. 34:6; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; 111:4; 145:8). To separate His graciousness from the other characteristics of God and magnify it above His justice and all else about God just for the sake of upholding a church theory concerning grace is more than intelligent people can do.


Third Things Grace Cannot Do

(1) Grace cannot set aside forever all condemnation for future sins. It can only set aside condemnation as long as a man stays free from sin. The modern fallacy that judicial forgiveness covers ALL sins, past, present, and future; that God does not impute sins of believers to them; and that God never condemns a saved man for any sins committed, but charges them to the Lord Jesus Christ, is one of the most unscriptural and demon-inspired theories in any church. It is argued by those who hold to such a theory that not even earthly courts could punish the same man for his crime two different times, and that since Christ bore the sins of all men, he cannot bear them twice. This argument is all true as far as it goes, but it is only half truth. Christ bore the sins of all, but no one gets saved until he repents and asks for mercy.


It is true that a man cannot be punished for his crime twice, but if the same man goes out and commits the same crime again after being cleared of the first crime, he must be punished again. There is no court that will give any man a blanket pardon to continue to commit the same crimes again and again without punishment every time he sins. The fact that he was pardoned for one crime is no excuse for all future crimes of similar nature. In other words, if a governor pardons a murderer and restores him to full citizenship and freedom, the murderer cannot go out and continue to murder simply because he was pardoned. It would be silly for him to argue that the pardon he received for one murder gives him full freedom to murder all he wants to without being punished for his crimes. No human government could long continue if this was the way it dealt with criminals. No court could justly free a man to go out and commit all the crimes he desired simply on the grounds that he had been punished for one crime or had been pardoned at one time. Is God the only Governor that is so lacking in intelligence that He carries on government by permitting His subjects to be as lawless as they please?


It is just as ridiculous to argue from the same premises about the salvation of sinners. God could not be just to give any man a blank check to commit any sin that he wanted to and be immune from punishment. This would be just like a murderer being given a blank check as part of his pardon to commit all the murders he wanted to. In this case the governor who gave the pardon would be responsible for all the murders that the man would commit. Naturally all the sins of a sinner have been paid for, and Christ has borne all sins in His body on the tree. He will forgive all sins that are confessed to Him, but this does not give the saved man a blank check to continue in sin and live as he pleases without any fear of being held accountable for his sins after he has one time been saved. Salvation does not include freedom to live in sins of all kinds. It does not guarantee immunity from Hell if one goes back into sins and dies in them.


There is no Scripture in the Bible that teaches that God forgives at one time all past, present, and future sins. There are Scriptures which tell us that all sins committed up to the time of repentance are forgiven and blotted out and therefore at the time of forgiveness there is not one sin that God holds against a man. God promised to keep men free from sin from this point on if men would meet certain conditions. God never did promise anything but this. No man ever received anything but this. God never required of men anything but confession of sins already committed. Only sins that have been committed can be forgiven. This is clear from all Scripture (Ex. 32:30-34; Lev. 4:2-35; 5:1-17; 6:2-30; Num. 5:1-7; Ps. 32:1-5; 38:1-18; 51:1-13; Matt. 3:6; 18:21-35; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 26:18; 2 Pet. 1:5; 1 John 1:9; Rev. 1:5). It is simply ridiculous to teach that future sins are forgiven before they are committed. The fact that the sins of men since the cross were committed after Christ died or that Christ died for all future sins of future men is no proof that all future sins of a man are forgiven before he commits them. Christ died for all men and if men are all forgiven simply because Christ died for them, and if men do not have to confess their sins in order to be forgiven, then all will be saved and there is no need of anyone ever confessing sins. The sins of the Old Testament saints were not committed after Christ died, and yet Christ atoned for all those sins that were past (Rom.3:24-25; Heb. 9:15). They all had to make confession of sins when and after they were committed just as modern men must do, according to the passages cited above. We must conclude that no sin can be forgiven before it is committed. If this be true, then there is no such thing as all future sins being blotted out by one act of faith in Christ, giving men immunity from all punishment for future sins committed.


Statements such as “taketh away the sin of the world” and “take away our sins” simply refer to the fact that Christ bore the sins of all men of all ages, past, present, and future men, but redemption can benefit only those who personally confess their sins and accept the work of Christ on the cross for them. If this be not true and if Christ saves all men simply because He died for all, regardless of their meeting any conditions in their personal lives, then all are saved from sin and will go to Heaven, and there is no need of further preaching the gospel.


The will of God is that after one is forgiven and becomes a new creature in Christ he is supposed to quit the sin business. Jesus told several, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (John 5:14; 8:11). Jesus taught that “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). He further taught that the work of the Holy Spirit throughout this age would be to “reprove the world of sin” (John 16:7-11). Paul stated that men should not continue in sin just because God was gracious to keep forgiving sin (Rom.6:l); that men “should not henceforth serve sin” after they were born again (Rom.6:1-6); that saved men are “freed from sin” (Rom.6:7-23; 8:14); that saved men were to walk in Christ as they received Him (Col. 2:6-7); that if they sinned again after they were made free from sin, that they died again and reaped what they sowed (Rom.6:16-23; 8:1-13; Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7-8); that if saved men denied God He would deny them (2 Tim. 2:12); that saved men live only if they stand fast in the Lord (1 Thess. 3:8; Heb. 3:6, 12-14; 4:11; 6:1-12; 10: 26-39); that God will destroy any man that defiles the body wherein the Spirit of God dwells (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20); and that saved men must continue in grace (Acts 14:23; Gal. 5:4; Heb. 12:14-15), in the faith (Col. 1:23; Heb. 3:6, 12-14; 10:26-39), in the Word (1 Tim. 4:11-16; John 8:31), in the hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2; Rom.8 24-25; Heb. 11:l), in His goodness (Rom.11:20-24), and in meeting the conditions of salvation, as we shall see in Lesson Thirty-five.

(2) Grace cannot excuse and ignore the failure of saved man to meet the many conditions of salvation (1 John 1:7; Rom.8:1-13; James 5:19-20; Gal. 5:19-21), as we shall see.

(3) Grace cannot do away with the free moral agency of saved men and make them eternal slaves against their own will (Col. 1:23; 1 John 1:7; Rom.6:16-23).

(4) Grace cannot keep men saved when they are sinning against God (Rom.8:1-13; James 5:19-20; Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7-8; 1 Cor. 3:16-17).

(5) Grace cannot cancel the death penalty when saved men break the law of God (Rom.6:16-23; 8:1-13; James 5:19-20; Heb. 10:26-29; Ezek. 18:4).

(6) Grace cannot make God a liar and unjust in His dealings with saved men, as would be the case if they could not die again should they sin (Rom.8:12-13).

(7) Grace cannot do away with the necessity of confession of sins in the saved (1 John 1:7,9; Rev. 2:5, 16; 3:19).

(8) Grace cannot forgive future sins of the saved that have not yet been committed, for only what is confessed can be forgiven (1 John 1:7; Rev. 2:5, 16, 22; 3:19; Matt. 6:12-15; Luke 13:1-5; Mark l:15; 6:12; Acts 2:38; 3:19).

(9) Grace cannot cancel the responsibility of saved men concerning sin (Rom.14:10; 2 Cor. 5:9-11; Rev. 2:5; 3:2; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:9-20).

(10) Grace cannot be responsible should saved men backslide and be finally lost (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:4; Rev. 2:5; 3:2; James 5:19-20; Gal. 5:16-26).

(11) Grace cannot free saved men of all future condemnation without proper confession and forsaking of sin (1 John 1:7,9; Rev. 2:5,22; 3:2; 1 Tim. 5:11-15; James 5: 19-20).

(12) Grace cannot permit God to forgive unconfessed sins (1 John 1:9; Rev. 2:5,22; 2 Chron. 7:14; 2 Cor. 7:9-10; 2 Tim. 2:25; 12:21).

(13) Grace cannot permit God to be a respecter of persons in judging the sinner for sins and excusing the saved when they commit the same sins (Gal. 6:7-8; Rom.8:1-13; Ezek. 18:4,24-28; 33:12-16; Rev. 2:5,16,21-22; 3:3).

(14) Grace cannot free man so that he can never serve sin and the devil again Rom.6:16-23; 8:1-13; 1 John 1:7; Heb. 6:4-9; 10:26-29; 2 Pet. 2:20-21).

(15) Grace cannot guarantee that every saved man is going to be eternally saved (James 5:19-20; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:9-20; 9:27; Ezek. 33:12-20).

(16) Grace cannot guarantee eternal life to the saved who commit sin and die (Ezek. 18:4; Rom.8:12-13; James 5:19-20; Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7-8).

(17) Grace cannot make any sinner a child of God in the same sense in which Jesus became the Son of God, for He is the only begotten Son (John 3:16). Men are merely adopted (Rom.8:14-16) and cleansed from sin (1 John 1:7-9).

(18) Grace cannot free the saved from being separated from God when sin is committed (Isa.59:2; Ezek. 18:4; Rom.6:16-23; 8:12-13; James 5:19-20).

(19) Grace cannot free a saved man from continued faith and holiness (Col. 1:23; 2:6-7; 1 John 1:7; Gal. 5:19-26; Heb. 12:14-15; Rom.6:16-23; 8:1-13).

(20) Grace does not make the sins of the saved any different from the sins of the unsaved-both kinds of sins are real sins, and both classes are real sinners when sin is committed (Gal. 5:16-26; 6:7-8; Rom.6:16-23; 8:1-13; Ezek. 18 and 33).

(21) Grace cannot operate in the life of the free moral agent without his consent (John 3:16-18; 7:17; 8:34; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 John 1:7-9; Rev. 22:17).

(22) Grace cannot make men servants of God when they serve the devil (Matt. 6:24; Rom.6:16-23; 8:1-13; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7-8; 1 John 3:8).

(23) Grace cannot keep saved men from moral falls should they willfully go back into sin (Rom.6:16-23; 8:1-13; Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-29; Ezek. 33:12-20; James 5:19-20).

(24) Grace cannot free man from all personal responsibility of being lost or saved (Mark 16:15-16; Rom.1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18-21; 1 John 1:7; Heb. 3:6,12-14; 7:25; 10:35-39).

(25) Grace cannot free saved men of all sowing and reaping of sin (Gal. 6:7-8; Rom.8:1-13; Ezek. 18:4,24-28; 33:12-16; Rev. 2:5-22).

(26) Grace cannot guarantee unconditional eternal security to anyone (Heb. 10:26-29; Rom.6:16-23; 8:1-13; Ezek. 18:4; 33:12-20; Gal. 5:16-26).

(27) Grace cannot guarantee unforfeitable life (Rom.6:16-23; 8:1-13; Gal 5: 16-26; James 5:19-20; 2 Pet. 2:20-21; Heb. 10:26-29).

(28) Grace cannot guarantee perfection and sinlessness to the saved (1 Cor. 3: 16-17; Rom.6:16-23; 8:1-13; Heb. 10:26-29; 2 Pet. 2:20-21).

(29) Grace cannot encourage anarchy in God’s government (Gen. 2:17; Rom.1:18-32; 5:12-21; 8:1-13; Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7-8; James 5:19-20).

(30) Grace cannot cause God to be lenient with rebellion and sin (Ezek. 18:4; Rom.6:23; 8:12-13; Gal. 6:7-8).


The doctrine of grace is one of the most simple ones in Scripture. Grace simply means unmerited favor and love of God toward man. If we would understand this fact and apply it to all the works, promises, and dealings of God with man, everything would be very simple to understand. There is nothing God has ever done or ever will do that is not a result of His love and favor. The cross is an act of grace, and to everyone that God blesses in any degree on the basis of the work of the cross, it is a blessing of grace and therefore an act of grace. If God did not favor man with the blessings He gives him, he would never get such benefits. On the other hand, because God favors man and loves him enough to bless him with all that He has promised, everything that He has promised is a promise of grace, and every act He performs for man is an act of grace. Hence to make grace a super-idea beyond human reason and understanding is to cause confusion. Any theory of grace that slanders God and makes one Scripture a lie is bound to be false itself. Any statement about grace must be in perfect harmony with all Scripture, or it is wrong.


If God will not impute sin to those in His favor, then none of us would be sinners and be condemned, for Adam and all the race started out in God’s favor. Adam and his race lost God’s favor, and sin was imputed to them. So it is today. No man can sin and get by with it. Every one who sins incurs the death penalty and must be redeemed and forgiven again to have the penalty cancelled. Satan told Adam that sin would not cause death. God said it would. Adam believed the devil and died, and so it is with anyone today who believes Satan’s lie that death will not result from sin, provided he has ever been in God’s favor or grace. Men die just as Adam did and will continue to do so until sin and death are destroyed. There would be no meaning to the many Scriptures on sin and moral responsibility if one could do as he pleased and still be in God’s favor.


The passages used to teach unconditional favor of God to man can be and must be harmonized with the many hundreds which teach that man can lose God’s favor again through sin. No man can separate another man from the love of God, but sin can. This has been the only thing that ever separated God and man. God Himself said, “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa.59:2) and this will always be the case. God cannot and will not tolerate sin in anyone. This is why He gave Jesus by grace to save all men from their sins, and those who do not choose the salvation of God will die in their sins regardless of the work of Christ on the cross.


There are many passages which teach that a man can be eternally secure in Christ on condition that he gets saved and stays saved (2 Tim. 1:12; Jude 24; 2 Pet. 1:3-9; John 15:1-7; Heb. 6:1-9; 10:26-29; etc.). Man will always be a free moral agent regardless of his relationship with God. It is the life of God that is eternal, and the believer has it as long as he remains in Christ. The minute he gets out of Christ he loses that life even though it is eternal. An eternal thing may be lost, and there is all the difference between an eternal thing and the eternal possession of a thing. Thus we see that the grace of God was manifested in all ages, and it will continue forever, for God is eternal. See eternal security