Biblical Grace

By David Servant

Frequently I hear or read the claim that, because Paul said in Ephesians 2:8 that we are “saved by grace,” inheriting God’s kingdom does not hinge on our obedience to Jesus’ commandments. Tragically, that is an error based on another error.

Paul actually told the Ephesians, “By grace you have been saved through faith.” Don’t remove the factor of faith from the equation of salvation. Both grace and faith are required for us to be saved.

Moreover, according to Paul, true faith is characterized by obedience. Twice he wrote in Romans of “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). James similarly warned that faith without works is “dead,” “useless,” and “cannot save” (Jas. 2:14-26).

A few minutes after he penned Ephesians 2:8, Paul warned the same intended readership, “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints… For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph. 5:3,5; see also 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21).

Obviously, God’s saving grace is not a license to sin. Rather, it is a gracious, undeserved opportunity to repent, be forgiven of every past sin, be born again, be indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and follow Jesus on the narrow way to eternal life (Matt. 7:13).

Jesus “became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9, emphasis added). He Himself warned, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matt. 7:21). It could not be clearer.

Don’t be deceived by those who “turn the grace of our God into a license to sin” (Jude 4a). In so doing, they “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4b). That makes it both heresy and blasphemy.

Those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ follow Him. Those who are not His followers are not believers. Those who say that following Him is optional because “salvation is by grace” are “wolves in sheep’s clothing” of whom Jesus Himself warned (Matt. 7:15-23). Don’t be fooled!