And being in agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.Luke 22:44.
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath [insulted] the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:29.
When you awaken and look out your window after a freshly fallen snow, the world outside looks fresh, clean, and white. Any trash or debris is now hidden from human view. Sometime during the snow season a preacher will describe that scene to illustrate "salvation by grace." He will probably quote Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith YAH, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." But will he call his listeners' attentions to the context which exhorts us to "cease to do evil; learn to do well," and to be "willing and obedient"? (vv. 16,17,19). Is salvation by grace a white wash, or does it effect a real change in the recipient?
Ephesians 2:8, 9 is familiar, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Many sincere believers have been told that "grace is God's unmerited [undeserved] favor" and have been led to believe that they can continue in sin and still inherit eternal life. Does grace admit unfit and unworthy sinners into heaven, or does grace make sinners fit and worthy?
The words "grace", "salvation", and "sin" are in every Christian's vocabulary, but not everyone uses these words with the same meanings. If we are going to correctly comprehend salvation by grace, we must first let the Bible define these words. Matthew 1:21 defines salvation as being saved from sin. "He shall save his people from their sins." 1 John 3:4 defines sin as "transgression of the law." David said, "I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies." Ps. 119:146. Testimonies are a reference to the Ten Commandments. Ex. 34:28, 29. So salvation is from sin, which results in obedience to God's law. The definition of grace is very necessary also.
In Romans 1:16 Paul said that the Gospel "is the power of God unto salvation." If we are saved from sin by the power of God, and if we are saved from sin by grace, then grace must be the power of God. In Acts 4:33 we read that "with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all." So we see that grace and power are associated or perhaps equated.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7 the apostle tells of an experience in his own life when he had "a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan" sent to buffet him. Three times he sought the Lord to deliver him from the problem. And the answer he received was, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (v. 9). Paul concluded that he would glory in his difficulties because when he was weak, grace made him strong. (vv. 9, 10). Here again God's grace is equated with His strength. God told Paul that His grace is sufficient. YAH has sufficient power to make us strong when we are weak.
In 2 Corinthians 9:8 we find another definitive statement about grace. "And God is able..." Grace has to do with God's ability. "God is able to make all grace abound toward you..." If you place a piece of paper in the sunlight, it will become warm, but if you take a magnifying glass and focus all of the sun's rays on the paper, you will get a very concentrated amount of heat on one point resulting in fire. Likewise, God is able to make all of His power abound toward you when you need it. Now notice the result of God's grace being imparted to you. "...that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." To abound means to exceed or to go beyond what is required or needed. Many preachers today would have us believe that God knows we cannot measure up to His requirements for heaven, and so He does us an undeserved favor, admitting us into heaven in spite of our sin. Friends, that is a white wash! Psalms 15:1, 2 says that the one who "walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness" will dwell in YAH's holy hill. And 2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us that God fully intends for His grace to enable us to "abound to every good work."
Someone will say, "It's not possible to live without sinning." But that person just has not "applied the Blood." Psalms 119:1-3 says, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of YAH. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways." Is David talking about hypothetical people or real people? Luke 1:6 tells us that the parents of John the Baptist "were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless." They were real people. So was Job, according to YAH's own testimony, "a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and [shuns] evil." Job 2:3. (Brackets supplied.)
The apostle Paul said that God "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us." Eph. 3:20. If you can ask for it, and if you can think of it, it is not too big for God. Can you ask God for victory over all sin? Can you think of living free from sin? You won't ask for freedom from sin as long as you continue to listen to preachers who tell you that grace is only favor to the undeserving. You won't think of living free from sin until you comprehend that grace is the power of God "that worketh in us." Paul prayed for the Ephesian Christians that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened so they might comprehend the "exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe." Eph. 1:18, 19. He exhorted the Philippians to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," knowing that "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Phil. 2:12, 13.
Ephesians 2:8, 9 are perhaps the most familiar verses on grace. But are you familiar with the text of similar address: Galatians 2:8, 9? "For He that wrought effectively in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles: And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision." God's working effectively in Peter and mightily in Paul was identified as His grace.
We can better appreciate the significance of these verses when we understand the qualifications of these men for the ministries to which they were commissioned. Suppose you had the responsibility of filling these two ministerial positions-- one ministry among the Jews and the other ministry to the Gentiles. Peter and Paul are the applicants; you are to screen them. First, you consider Paul's resume. You find that he was trained "at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law." Acts 22:3. In addition, he was "circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;" blameless in his observance of the law. Phil. 3:5, 6.
Peter, on the other hand, you find to be "unlearned and ignorant." Acts 4:13. Wouldn't you be inclined to fill the ministerial position to the Jews with Paul and to send Peter to work among the Gentiles? Yet, we find that God in His wisdom did just the opposite. He sent both of them to the group of people to whom they were least qualified to minister so that they would have to rely upon Him rather than upon their own qualifications. And God wrought effectively and worked mightily in both of them. His strength was made perfect in their weakness. Grace is God's ability to do in, through, and for us what we are unable to do ourselves.
Did you know that even YAHSHUA (Jesus) fulfilled His work on this earth by grace? What was YAHSHUA unable to do that God's grace enabled Him to do? Hebrews 2:9 says that He tasted death for every man "by the grace of God." In the garden of Gethsemane as Jesus anticipated the task of tasting death for every man, He "fell on his face and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." Matt. 26:39. What transpired between the time that our Savior asked the Father to release Him from the task of tasting death for all men and the moment when He was able to say, "Rise, let us be going"? (v. 46). In the interim He was praying. This illustrates that prayer is a means by which we obtain grace. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. 4:16.
A second source of grace, which is inseparable from prayer, is the Word of God. Paul said to the Ephesian elders, "I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." Acts 20:32. God's Word has creative power in itself to bring to pass what it promises or commands. Isa. 55:11. So when we go to Him in prayer to receive grace, we must go to Him by His Word, rejoicing that His Word "shall not return...void."
Three conditions are discovered for receiving grace in prayer through His Word. First, we must be humble. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." James 4:6. These words express the humility that qualifies one to be a recipient of grace: "I can't...in my human strength." There is "grace to help in time of need," but we must first recognize and confess our need. When YAHSHUA prayed to have the cup taken from Him, He was saying, in essence, "Father, I can't do this alone," while feeling totally separated from God. He never entertained the idea, "I won't." That is the attitude of rebellion, and YAHSHUA was never resistant in the least.
The second condition for receiving grace is to meekly yield your will to His. This is illustrated in the Savior's next words. "Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." After confessing your weakness and inability to do what would please God and fulfill His purpose, you can will to do it by His grace. "Father, I cannot do this in my strength. But I will do it by your grace and through your Word.." Even when you are tempted to rebel, you are willing to be made willing by His grace and through His Word. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Phil. 2:13. If you don't want to, at first, then ask Him for grace to will. Then give Him permission to take your will and to return it to you sanctified and yielded to His will. "Thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph."
When you "will to" do of His good pleasure, then you are ready to meet the third condition for grace. You can now boldly ask Him for the specific grace that you need "to do" what you know will please Him in any situation, thanking Him that you have received it. Peter made reference in 1Peter 4:10 to "the manifold grace of God." Grace is YAH's ability to do in, through, and for you what you cannot do for yourself. And YAH has many different graces or abilities. "YAH" means "to exist, or to be." When Moses asked Him what he should tell the people when they asked for the name of the God who had sent him, he was told to say, "I AM hath sent me unto you. ...YAH, God of your fathers...hath sent me unto you." Ex. 3:14, 15. God says, "I am what ever you need Me to be." Which grace do you need from Him in your time of need today? Perhaps you need forgiving grace, or patience grace, or temperance grace, or discernment grace.... Remember that grace is found at the place of prayer and also in His Word. So search the Bible for a command or promise addressing your need, go boldly believing to His throne of grace in prayer with that Word and ask for the particular grace which you need and which His Word promises. Then receive it and thank Him. For example, if I feel anxious or have a temp-tation to be worried, I go to His Word and find, "Be [anxious] for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:6, 7. I then go to YAH's throne of grace with His Word of grace and say, "Father, I can't overcome these thoughts and temptations to worry in my own strength. I know that Satan is lying to me, because Your Word says to "be [anxious] for nothing," and your Word will not return void (Isa. 55:11), so I will to replace my false thoughts of anxiety with the truth from Your Word by Your grace. Thank you for Your grace to believe the truth and to do of Your good pleasure. Then I can go forth rejoicing with THE BLOOD APPLIED.
When I face a trial in my life, fulfilling the conditions for grace, by humbly confessing my weakness, meekly yielding my will to His, and boldly asking and thanking Him for the particular grace I need to do what will please Him, I possess the same empowering grace that my Savior experienced in the garden, which will enable me to arise from prayer and say, "Let's go do it." And I will find myself abounding to this and every good work. Thus the experience of the "faith of Jesus" is having THE BLOOD APPLIED.
No, grace is not a white wash, nor is it only favor for the unworthy. It is YAH's
power enabling all to walk worthily. It is His ability to build up and make all who believe
fit to inherit eternal life. Eph. 4:1; Acts 20:32.
(Adapted from Grace: God's Ability, by Timothy Henry.)