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Topical - The Case for Grace

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The Case for Grace

(Adapted from the 25 canons of the Council of Orange in 529 A.D.)

1.       All people are enslaved to sin. This includes the whole person, both body and soul. It is not a case where the body will die but the soul remains unimpaired to act for good of its own free will. The will of man is enslaved as well as the body.

The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. (Ezekiel 18:20 NIVUS)

 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-- whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16 NIVUS)

 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity-- for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. (2 Peter 2:19 NIVUS)

2.       All people are born in sin. Adam’s sin is genetically passed on to all his descendants. We are spiritually and physically contaminated. This sin results in the death of the body as well as the soul as punishment.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- (Romans 5:12 NIVUS)

3.       We cannot pray for the grace of God to overcome the penalty of sin except that God gives us the grace to pray.

And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me." (Romans 10:20 NIVUS)

 "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.' (Isaiah 65:1 NIVUS)

4.       We cannot begin to desire to be cleansed from sin except that God gives us the grace to desire cleansing. The prime mover is not our will but God’s will through the working of the H.S.

For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. (Proverbs 8:35 NIVUS)  (LXX – The will is prepared by the Lord.)

 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13 NIVUS)

Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?  But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:5-6 NIVUS)

5.       We cannot begin to have faith, desire to have faith, or increase in faith, by which we believe in God who justifies the ungodly, except that God gives the gift of grace by the inspiration of the H.S. It is he himself who turns and amends our will from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness. If faith were natural then all people would be believers. But it is obvious that not all are believers.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NIVUS)

 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, (Philippians 1:29 NIVUS)

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- (Ephesians 2:8 NIVUS)

6.       We cannot do any good work (like believing, willing, desiring, striving, laboring, praying, watching, studying, seeking, asking, or knocking) except by the grace of God through the inspiration of the H.S. that gives us the faith, the will, or the strength to do them. Indeed, it is not our humility or obedience by which they come, but rather it is by the gift of grace that we are able to be humble and obedient.

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Corinthians 4:7 NIVUS)

 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-- yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10 NIVUS)

7.       We cannot make any right choice relating to salvation of eternal life in agreement with the preaching of the gospel in our own power except by the inspiration of the H.S. who draws us to believe in the truth.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NIVUS)

 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. (2 Corinthians 3:5 NIVUS)

8.       The free will of all persons, having been born after the manner of the sin of Adam, has been corrupted and weakened. It is unable of itself to seek the mystery of eternal salvation without the revelation of the grace of God.

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44 NIVUS)

 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. (Matthew 16:17 NIVUS)

 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3 NIVUS)

9.       Whenever we are of right purpose in doing good, keeping our feet from hypocrisy and unrighteousness, it is a mark of God’s divine favor that is at work in us that we may do so.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God's law;  but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. (Romans 7:21-23 NIVUS)

10.     We must continually seek the sustaining and indwelling power of God to come to a successful end and persevere in good works.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NIVUS)

11.     No one can make any true prayer to the Lord unless he has received from him the object of his prayer. We can truly pray only what we have been given.

"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. (1 Chronicles 29:14 NIVUS)

12.     What are we that God should love us so? He loves us because of what we shall be by his gift of grace, and not because of any thing we have done.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 NIVUS)

13.     The freedom of will destroyed in the first man can only be restored by the grace of God. What was lost can only be found again in the One who gave it in the first place. God is the original source and the continuing resource.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36 NIVUS)

14.     No sinner is freed from his sin, however great that sin may be, except that it has already been anticipated by the mercy of God.

Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. (Psalms 79:8 NIVUS)

My God in His lovingkindness will meet me; God will let me look triumphantly upon my foes. (Psalms 59:10 NAS)

15.     Adam, because of sin, was changed for the worse from what God made him. But the believer, because of God’s grace, is changed for the better through what God has done for him. The first change was because of the curse of sin, the second is in spite of sin because of the mercy of God.

Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High." (Psalms 77:10 NIVUS)

I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." (John 8:24 NIVUS)

16.     The accomplishments of any person should be honored, but only so far as they are understood to be as a gift received. They have been received by the grace of God alone and not by any order or directive or human initiative. It is from this source of grace that any person does what good he does. If any person denies the grace of God in his good works, he either does not have it, or else “even what he has will be taken away from him” as it says in (Matthew 25:29 NIVUS) “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:21 NIVUS)

 This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." (Ephesians 4:8 NIVUS)

When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious-- that you, O LORD God, might dwell there. (Psalms 68:18 NIVUS)

Romans 12:6  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.

17.     The good works of believers are far different from the appearance of good works by unbelievers. The courage of our good works is by the love of God poured into our hearts, not through an act of our will, but through an act of God’s will in giving us the H.S. The apparent courage of seemingly good works by unbelievers is from simple greed enacted by their own wills.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:5 NIVUS)

2 Corinthians 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

18.     Good works will be rewarded if they are performed. But grace, to which we have no claim, precedes them to enable them to be done.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24 NIVUS)

Romans 11:5  So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.

Romans 11:6  And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Romans 12:3  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

19.     Man can be saved only when God shows mercy. Human nature fell into sin and man could not keep himself in fellowship with his Creator. And man could not save himself without the assistance of the Creator. Man can neither safeguard his salvation without the grace of God, nor can he restore what was lost without the grace of God, which is a gift.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:15-17 NIVUS)

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. (Romans 5:18 NIVUS)

20.     We can do no good without God. God does much that is good in a person that the person does not do. We do nothing good for which God is not responsible in causing us to do it.

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13 NIVUS)

21.     We cannot justify our human nature by the actions of our own human nature aside from the grace of God. Therefore Christ did not die in vain in his effort to restore the nature of God in man that Adam destroyed.

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:21 NIVUS)

 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17 NIVUS)

 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10 NIVUS)

22.     The only things that belong to man in regard to natural possessions are untruth and sin. But if a man does have any truth or righteousness, it is from that fountain for which we thirst in the desert so that we may be refreshed along the way.

Isaiah 58:11  The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

John 4:14  but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

23.     When we do our own will and not God’s will, we displease him. But whenever we do our own will in conforming to God’s will, however willingly, it is by God’s will that we are both prepared and instructed.

John 6:45  It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.

24.     The branches of a vine do not give life to the vine but receive life from the vine. The vine supplies the branches with what they need for life and does not take life from them. Even if the vine is cut down, it will spring up again from the root. It is to our own advantage, not Christ’s, to have Christ abiding in us and we in him. The vine can live without the branch, but the branch cannot live without the vine. This too is the grace of God.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NIVUS)

25.     It is also a gift of God to love God. God, who loves, even when he is not loved, allows himself to be loved. And we are loved by him even when we displease him, so that we might have the means to please him, for the Spirit, whom we love with the Father and the Son, has poured into our hearts the love of the Father and the Son.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:5 NIVUS)

Conclusion:

          The sin of the first man, Adam, has so impaired and weakened the free will of man that no one thereafter can either love God as he should, or believe in God as he should, or do any good for God, unless the grace of God goes ahead of him. We therefore believe that the glorious gift of faith spoken of in Heb. 11:6 (“and without faith it is impossible to please God because ---“ ) by which we please God, is not given to us through natural goodness, like it was to Adam before he sinned, but is given to us now by the grace of God. We also believe that even after the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, this grace is not found in the free will of all persons, but only in those to whom it has been given. For not all have desired to accept the Spirit’s witness, and those that have accepted it have done so only because of the Spirit’s witness. Therefore in every good work it is not we who take initiative and are then assisted by the mercy of God, but it is God himself who first inspires in us both the faith and love through which good works come - without any previous good works of our own that deserve reward. It is only after receiving that we can receive. It is only after we have been gifted that we can give. But it must not only be received, it must also be given. It is the oil of healing by which we anoint one another. The case for grace will stand the test of time – and eternity. Having received it, let us live it – and give it.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8 NIVUS)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIVUS)

To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. (John 3:27 NIVUS)

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