The Greek word “Charis”, in the New Testament Scriptures, is translated “Grace” 128 times. Another form of the same Greek word, “Charisma,” is translated “Gift” 18 times. The word “Charis” is translated in the New Testament Scriptures, “Favour” six times. This same word is translated in II Corinthians 1:15, “Benefit”; in I Corinthians 16:3, “Liberality”; in I Peter 2:20, “Acceptable”; in Acts 25:9 and 24:27, “Pleasure”. In Ephesians 1:6 the believer accepted (is “Graced”) in the Beloved; the Greek verb is “Charitu”.
The word “Grace” is not found in Matthew and Mark; only once in Luke; and only three times in John, all three occurrences in the first chapter. The word “Grace” is found 79 times in Paul’s Epistles. Inasmuch as the word “Grace” is used 22 times in the Epistle to the Romans and the other form of the Greek ‘ word “ Charisma” is used several times in that same Epistle, we surely are justified in calling Romans “the Grace Epistle”. Moreover, we can truly say, that Paul was the Lord’s “Grace” messenger, although it was Peter who called God, “the God of all Grace”. I Peter 5:10.
Perhaps the Apostle Paul wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews; but we are not so much interested in the human author as we are in that message from God, in the ninth verse of the second chapter. “Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that He by the Grace of God should taste death for every man..”
In that wonderful fifth chapter of Romans where we have the comparison and contrast between the first man, who brought sin and death, and the Second Man, who brought righteousness and life, the climax is reached in that blessed Divine truth: “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (superabound).” Romans 5:20.
Thus we learn that God’s grace is altogether sufficient for man’s sin and man’s sins, yea, for the sins of the whole world, by and through the death of the Second Man. And by careful study of the fifth and sixth chapters of Romans the Lord would have us learn that His superabounding Grace, through Jesus Christ can save the believer not only from the wages of sin, but also from the dominion of sin.
Many have been the controversies between different groups of Christians as to “falling from grace”. Whether this expression has been used, or “the perseverance of the saints,” or “once saved, always saved,” or “the eternal security of the believer,” or “the apostatizing of the saint,” or “losing salvation,” the arguments generally have been on this question, “Can one continue in Grace and also continue in sin?” In the Epistle to the Romans ten times the writer said, “God forbid.” The literal translation is better, “let it not be.”
“Let it not be” that the believer shall continue in sin that Grace may abound. Romans 6:1 and 2. “Let it not be” that a believer shall sin because he is not under the law, but under Grace.”
CONTINUING IN SIN—FALLING FROM GRACE—LOSING SALVATION
But here we do not have the answer to the question, “Will a believer fall from Grace if he continue in sin?” Is there in the Word of God the answer to this question? Whom would you consider the more miserable: the believer who insists that once in Grace always in Grace and yet continues in sin, or the believer, who, because he has continued in sin, has lost all hope, has given up in despair, and insists that he has fallen from Grace and lost his salvation. We will admit that both are miserable enough and perhaps should be. But what saith the Scriptures?
“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, OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST; WHO GAVE HIMSELF FOR US, THAT HE MIGHT REDEEM US FROM ALL INIQUITY, AND PURIFY UNTO HIMSELF A PECULIAR (acquired) PEOPLE, ZEALOUS OF GOOD WORKS.” Titus 2:11 to 14.
Here we learn Christ’s purpose in giving Himself for us. “That He might redeem us from all iniquity.” “Purify unto Himself a peculiar people.” “Zealous of good works.” And we learn that the Grace of God that brought us this salvation through Christ, would teach us how to live. The sinner saved by Grace is to live a righteous and godly life, a life of good works. For such a life, God’s Grace is sufficient. Hear what God says about it
“And God is able to make all Grace abound toward us; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” II Corinthians, 9:8.
And for the believer’s infirmity and temptation God again speaks in the same Epistle: “My Grace is sufficient for thee.” II Corinthians 12:9.
Coupled with God’s Grace is God’s faithfulness; and again we have the promise: “God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:13.
In a message through another Apostle, the sinner saved by Grace has his word from God: “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” I John 2:1.
In the light of these Scriptures, and many others, we say emphatically “no” to Romans 6:1: “shall we continue in sin, that Grace may abound?” And we say emphatically “no” to Romans 6:15: “shall we sin, because we are not under the law; but under Grace?”
NO BELIEVER ALWAYS SINLESS ON EARTH
Certainly we do not want to limit the possibilities of the Grace of God in the life and for the life of any believer. And while we are unanimous in our statement that the Word of God clearly teaches that God’s Grace is sufficient for every trial, every temptation and every Godgiven task, and is sufficient to keep the believer from sinning, yet we are likewise unanimous in our decision that no believer always does what is right, and always refrains from doing What is wrong. The question arises: “are we unanimous in our assurance that the Grace of God delivers from condemnation every believer who fails to do right and is guilty of doing wrong?” Wrongdoing is sin. Failing to do right is sin. The wrong-doings and failures of some believers are far more numerous than those of other believers, and perhaps the sins of some believers are worse than those of others. But we are agreed that all believers do continue in sin to some extent; and perhaps we are further agreed that there is a difference in being overtaken in sin and wilfully committing a sin; and we know that if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, that there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” Hebrews 9:26. Thank God, there does remain forgiveness, for not one of us believes that God’s grace is not sufficient for His full pardon, cleansing and forgiveness for believers who sin, whether the sin be willful or otherwise. According to the Word of God, every believer needs that constant cleansing and forgiveness, whether wilfully sinning or not.
HOW MANY SINS THE LIMIT?
Now this question: “Where do we have in God’s message of Grace the statement, that if a believer sins, he will fall from Grace?” If the believer who sins does fall from Grace, and by thus falling, loses his salvation, which ,in the beginning was by Grace, this further question: “How many sins, and just what kind of sins, must the believer commit in order to lose his salvation, or fall from Grace?” There must be a line over which the believer must step in order to lose his salvation. Who is sufficient, besides God, to fix that line; and where in His message of Grace has He fixed that line? Our verdict that some believer who is guilty of wrongdoing has fallen from Grace so far that he has fallen away from salvation, does not make it true. What saith the Scriptures?
SCRIPTURAL FALLING FROM GRACE
“Whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from Grace.” Galatians 5:4.
The believer who knows that he is saved by Grace, knows positively that he is not justified by the law; and therefore he is not fallen from Grace; and we must apply some Scripture other than this verse. For here we rather have the teaching that some of those who would condemn their erring brothers and would teach them how to keep from falling from Grace, by doing or refraining from doing, might themselves be guilty of falling from Grace by the preventive they are offering to others.
Salvation is not for sale. Every child of God should know this fact. Salvation can neither be purchased nor earned. No man born of woman deserves salvation or is worthy of saving. In God’s message of Grace no truth is more clearly taught than the fact that salvation is never because of man’s good works or religious endeavors. The believer is saved to do good works, UNTO good works, to be zealous of good works, to maintain good works. But never by, or on account of, or because of, good works. Hear the Word of God.
“IF BY GRACE, THEN IT IS NO MORE OF WORKS.” Romans 11:6. “NOW TO HIM THAT WORKETH IS THE REWARD NOT RECKONED OF GRACE . . . BUT TO HIM THAT WORKETH NOT, BUT BELIEVETH ON HIM THAT JUSTIFIETH THE UNGODLY, HIS FAITH IS COUNTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Romans 4:4 and 5.
“FOR BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED THROUGH FAITH; AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES; IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD; NOT BY WORKS, LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST.” Ephesians 2:8 and 9.
If salvation is the gift of God, what must the sinner do to obtain that gift? The answer is, “through faith.” Even the faith is God’s gift. It is by Grace. God gives salvation to, believing sinners, but not to working sinners. There is a difference with God between working sinners and working saints. And it is not for us to criticize or change God’s saving message of Grace because some one, who claims to be saved by Grace, is not denying ungodly lusts and living soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. The believer’s inconsistent behaviour does not change the truth concerning God’s Grace message of salvation. It is the man who supplements the Grace of God with works as the means of salvation, who frustrates the Grace of God. Paul said, ‘“I do not frustrate the Grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law (religion), then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:21.
A sinner is saved wholly, solely, altogether without any “if” or “and”, by the Grace of God, by faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. This is true whether or not the believer does right or wrong. You may condemn your fellowman now and say that his life proves that he does not believe, because he does not live the Christian life. You may be right; you may be wrong. “Who can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” “Who is he that condemneth?” “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” Now, remember, we are perfectly agreed that every sinner saved by the Grace of God, should appropriate, by faith, the superabounding Grace for a consistent life of godliness, and, as James has written, he should show his faith by his works; but it is unscriptural and untrue to say that any man can be saved by Grace—plus works. Works can never be the factor in salvation, but invariably the fruit; And there should be, in every believer’s life, the fruit. But the fruit does not save him. The Grace that saved him will enable him to bear fruit; but he is saved by Grace without fruit.
There is perhaps no clearer message of Grace in all the Word of God than Romans 3:24 and 25: “Being justified (declared righteous) without a cause by His Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood.”
Who is the happy man mentioned in this bit of Good News: “Happy is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Romans 4:8. If that happy man is the man who never does wrong, then there is no happy man. Justified without a cause. Justified . . . declared righteous? How? Without a cause.” That is pure Grace. And pure Grace is the sinner’s only hope. It is not man’s work; it is Christ’s work; the death, burial and resurrection of that Perfect Man who was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification. From first to last, salvation is of the Lord.
The believer who would endeavor to pay for righteousness or salvation, after he has been saved by the Grace of God, is little better than the religious person who would not receive salvation as the free gift of God, but prefers to work for it.
However Christians, genuine or counterfeit, may use or abuse God’s Grace, no matter if some may give up in despair because they feel they have fallen from Grace by continuing in sin, or if others claim that they cannot fall away from God’s Grace, if once saved, even if they do continue in sin, let us not be guilty of preaching another gospel, a message of Grace and religion mixed. Neither let us endeavor to mete out the judgment to those who are unwilling to be taught how to live by the Grace of God. Rather let us always preach to ourselves, as well as to others, that salvation first, last and all the time is by Grace and Grace alone and every man who is in that matchless Grace and trusting in the work and depending upon the worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ is SAVED, and should day by day manifest his life in Christ Jesus by a spiritual walk, a consistent Christ-like testimony.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.