The Nature of Grace
Grace sent down to perishing man kind! Grace greater than our sins, in that it is able to empower us to overcome them! What a wondrous topic for our study. Apart from divine grace, we are hopelessly lost, for the simple reason that without grace we cannot resist Satan's temptations, turn away from sin, or conquer it.
It is highly significant that grace is given more to empower to resist sin and obey Gods laws and standards, than it is given to forgive past sins it appears that, in the mechanics of salvation, a more powerful element is needed to enable to obedience than to grant forgiveness. That element is grace. Both forgiveness and empowerment come as a result of Christ's death on Golgotha and His intercession in the Sanctuary above. But grace is especially given to do that very work which modern Protestant theology says is not necessary because of Calvary: obey the Law of God in this present life!
This fact is somewhat astounding, but a careful study of all salient passages in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy on the subject of grace only emphasize what we have Just told you.
Although the study of grace is a wide. ranging one, with many ramifications. in this tract we will focus our attention on the nature of grace, how to obtain it, and its relationship to obedience to the law of God. These are the three essential aspects that you and your loved ones will wish to understand more fully, for those are the aspects that concern our salvation.
The Protestant concept of grace is that of a cover-up. Grace is given to mankind to cover over all his abominable sins so that God somehow does not see them. Thus, because of such grace, there is no need to obey the Ten Commandments.
"Grace covers it all. Sin and be merry, for you are free from the bondage of the law. All you need do to be saved is accept Christ, and you cannot be lost as long as you continue to accept Him. But there is one most terrible danger! Beware of trying to obey the law of God, for then you will become a legalist and be lost!
So say the modem Protestants and their theological offspring, the New Theology Ph.D.s which they train and then send to our denomination to be the teachers of our pastors and administrators.
The historic Adventist concept of grace is that of enabling strength. But do not make the mistake of thinking that you can have it apart from Christ. You can only have it as long as you are, moment by moment, IN CHRIST And to be,, in Christ" is to be submitted to Him entirely, in thought, word, and action. All your plans are laid before Him, and it is your deepest happiness to do as He asks. (And how do you learn what He asks? Primarily from His inspired Word the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy. That man which emphasizes "impressions" is surely to fall, sooner or later. Let the Written Word be your guide and the foundation of all your actions.)
According to Scripture, the grace of Christ EMPOWERS us to resist the wrong and do the right. Christ died to save us from our sins, not in our sins (Matthew 1:21). Thus we see that grace enables ]us to be Christlike, which means to live like Jesus. The present writer knows of no writings, other than the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, which so powerful delineate the evils of sin, the goodness of God, the importance of the inspired Word, and the enabling strength we can receive in Christ to totally resist sin and obey everything all that God requires of us. On these points, Scripture is set apart from man made productions. Our natural tendency is to placate sin, doubt Gods rightness and enabling help, separate from Him, and live for ourselves. Yet a whole universe of strength and help and victory is ours, as we in genuine earnestness lay hold, by faith, of the grace of Christ, refuse to depart from Him, and determine to fulfill His will for our lives.
What is Grace?
"The old nature, born of blood and the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The old ways, the hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up; for grace is not inherited. The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, new tendencies. Those who are begotten unto a new life by the Holy Spirit, have become partakers of the divine nature, and in all their habits and practices they will give evidence of their relationship to Christ. When men who claim to be Christians retain all their natural defects of character and disposition, in what does their position differ from that of the worldling? They do not appreciate the truth as a sanctifier, a refiner. They have not been born again." 6 Bible Commentary 1101.
"To learn of Christ means to receive His grace, which is His character." Christ's Object Lessons, 271.
"We would never have learned the meaning of this word grace had we not fallen. God loves the sinless angels who do His service and are obedient to all His commands, but He does not give them grace. These heavenly beings know naught of grace; they have never needed it, for they have never sinned. Grace is an attribute of God shown to undeserving human beings. We did not seek after it, but it was sent in search of us. God rejoices to bestow this grace on everyone who hungers for it, not because we are worthy, but because we are so utterly unworthy. Our need is the qualification which gives us the assurance that we will receive this gift.
"But God does not use this grace to make His law of none effect or to take the place of His law. The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honorable. His law is truth.
"Gads grace and the law of His kingdom are in perfect harmony; they walk hand in hand. His grace makes it possible for us to draw night to Him by faith. By receiving it, and letting it work in our lives, we testify to the validity of the law; we exalt the law and make it honorable by carrying out its living principles." My Life Today, 100.
"There are many who cry, Believe, only believe. Ask them what you are to believe. Are you to believe the lies forged by Satan against Gods holy, just, and good law? God does not use His great and precious grace to make of none effect His law, but to establish His law.. The Lord saw our fallen condition; He saw our need of grace, and because He loved our souls, He has given us grace and peace. Grace means favor to one who is undeserving, to one who is lost. The fact that we are sinners, instead of shutting us away from the mercy and love of God, makes the exercise of His love to us a positive necessity in order that we may be saved. 1 Selected Messages, 347.
"While the world was lying under the curse of sin, the Lord presented terms of mercy to the fallen and hopeless sinner, and revealed the value and meaning of His grace. Grace is unmerited favor. The angels, who know nothing of sin, do not understand what it is to have grace exercised toward them; but our sinfulness calls for the exercise of grace from a merciful God. It was grace that sent our Saviour to seek us as wanderers and bring us back to the fold." 1 Selected Messages, 331.
"Grace is unmerited favor, and the believer is justified without any merit of his own, without any claim to offer to God. He is justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, who stands in the courts of heaven as the sinners substitute and surety. But while he is justified because of the merit of Christ, he is not free to work unrighteousness. Faith works by love and purifies the soul. Faith buds and blossoms and bears a harvest of precious fruit. Where faith is, good works appear 1 Selected Messages, 398.
How to Obtain Grace
"You each need a new and living experience in the divine life in order to do the will of God. No amount of past experience will suffice for the present nor strengthen us to overcome the difficulties in our path. We must have new grace and fresh strength daily in order to be victorious." 3 Testimonies, 541.
"Let not one word of fretfulness, harshness, or passion escape your lips. The grace of Christ awaits your demand. His Spirit will take control of your heart and conscience, presiding over your words and deeds. Never forfeit your self-respect by hasty, thoughtless words. See that your words are pure, your conversation holy." Child Guidance, 218.
"Cleanse the fountain, and the streams will be pure. If the heart is right, your words, your dress, your acts, will all be right. True godliness is lacking. I would not dishonor my Master so much as to admit that a careless, trifling, prayer less person is a Christian. No, a Christian has victory over his besetments, over his passions. There is a remedy for the sin-sick soul. That remedy is in Jesus. Precious Saviour. His grace is sufficient for the weakest; and the strongest must ales have His grace or perish.
"I saw how this grace could be obtained. Go to your closet, and there alone plead with God: Create in me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me. Be in earnest, be sincere. Fervent prayer availeth much. Jacob like, wrestle in prayer. Agonize. Jesus, in the garden, sweat great drops of blood; you must make an effort. Do not leave your closet until you feel strong in God; then watch, and just as long as you watch and pray you can keep these evil besetments under, and the grace of God can and will appear in you." 1 Testimonies, 158.
"So the work of grace in the heart is small in its beginning A word is spoken, a ray of light is shed into the soul, and influence is exerted that is the beginning of the new life; and who can measure its results?" Christ's Object Lessons, 78.
"The work of grace upon the heart is not an instantaneous work. It is effected by continuous, daily watching and believing the promises of God. The repentant, believing one, who cherishes faith and earnestly desires the renewing grace of Christ, God will not turn away empty He will give him grace. And ministering angels will aid him as he perseveres in his efforts to advance." Evangelism, 287
"So with all the promises of Gods word. In them He is speaking to us individually, speaking as directly as if we could listen to His voice. It is in these promises that Christ communicates to us His grace and power. They are leaves from that tree which is for the healing of the nations. Received, assimilated, they are to be the strength of the character, the inspiration and sustenance of the life. Nothing else can have such healing power. Nothing besides can impart the courage and faith, with give vital energy to the whole being" Ministry of Healing, 122.
"They would feel deeply and meditate much, and their earnest prayers would go up to heaven for wisdom to act and grace to endure." 1 Testimonies, 357.
"Did you have correct views of life, endless life with God, how quick would you turn from a life of pleasure and sin. How quickly would you change your mind, your course, and your company, and turn the strength of your affection to God and heavenly things. How resolutely would you scorn to yield to temptations which have deceived and captivated you. How zealous would be your efforts for the blessed life; how earnest and persevering your prayers to God for His grace to abide upon you, for His power to sustain you and help you resist the devil. How diligent would you be to improve every religious privilege to learn the ways and will of God." 1 Testimonies, 290.
"There is but one power that can bring us into conformity to the likeness of Christ, that can make us steadfast and keep us constant. It is the grace of God that comes to us through obedience to the law of God." My Life Today, 100.
"In believing and obeying it you will receive grace sufficient for the duties and trials of today." 3 Testimonies, 333.
"Here are revealed the conditions of success. To make Gods grace our own, we must act our part. The Lord does not propose to perform for us either the willing or the doing. His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort. Our souls are to be aroused to cooperate. The Holy Spirit works in us, that we may work out our own salvation." Messages to Young People 147
"It was also clearly shown that the gospel of Christ is the most valuable treasure of the church, and that the grace of God, therein revealed, is freely bestowed upon all who seek it by repentance and faith." GC 130
"I have frequently seen that the children of the Lord neglect prayer, especially secret prayer, altogether too much; that many do not exercise that faith which it is their privilege and duty to exercise, often waiting for that feeling or the doing. His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort. Our souls are to be aroused to co-operate. The Holy Spirit works in us, that we may work out our own salvation. This is the practical lesson the Holy Spirit is striving to teach us. It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Messages to Young People, 147.
"There is fullness in Jesus. You can obtain strength from Him which will qualify you to walk even as He walked, but there must be no separation of affections from Him. He requires the entire man, the soul, body, and spirit When you do all on your part which He requires, He will work for you, and bless and strengthen you by His rich grace." 2 Testimonies, 158.
"Make an entire surrender to God; yield up everything unreservedly, and thus seek for that peace which passes understanding. You cannot draw nourishment from Christ unless you are in Him. If not in Him, you are a branch that is withered. You do not feel your want of purity and true holiness. You should feel an earnest desire for the Holy Spirit and should pray earnestly to obtain it. You cannot expect the blessing of God without seeking for it. If you used the means within your reach you would experience a growth in grace and would rise to a higher life." 2 Testimonies, 263.
"Growth in grace is a testimony to the fact that you are abiding in Christ as the branch is abiding in the vine. If you abide in Him, you will have power to discern spiritual truth, for spiritual things are spiritually discerned.,, Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 30.
"You must have an inward, higher experience. You must obtain a growth in grace by abiding in Christ." 1 Selected Messages, 111.
You are just as dependent upon Christ, in order to live a holy life, as is the branch upon the parent stock for growth and fruitfulness. Apart from Him you have no life. You have no power to resist temptation or to grow in grace and holiness." Steps to Christ, 69.
"Diligent heat-keeping is essential to a healthy growth in grace. The heart in its natural state is a habitation for unholy thoughts and sinful passions. When brought into subjection to Christ, it must be cleansed by the Spirit from all defilement. This can not be done without the consent of the individual." Sons and Daughters of God, 99
"While the. sinner cannot save himself, he still has something to do to secure salvation. Him that cometh to Me, says Christ, I will in no wise cast out. John 6:37. But we must come to Him; and when we repent of our sins, we must believe that He accepts and pardons us. Faith is the gift of God, but the power to exercise it is ours. Faith is the hand by which the soul takes hold upon the divine offers of grace and mercy." Patriarchs and Prophets, 431.
"Through faith we receive the grace of God; but faith is not our Saviour. It earns nothing. It is the hand by which we lay hold upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And we cannot even repent without the aid of the Spirit of God." Desire of Ages, 175.
"To know the truth, to claim union with Christ, and yet not to bring forth fruit, not to live in the exercise of constant faith this hardens the heart in disobedience and self-confidence. Our growth in grace, our joy, our usefulness, all depend on our union with Christ and the degree of faith we exercise in Him. Here is the source of our power in the world." 5 Testimonies, 48.
"Daily prayer is as essential to growth in grace, and even to spiritual life itself, as is temporal food to physical. We should accustom ourselves to often lift the thoughts to God in prayer. If the mind wanders, we must bring it back; by persevering effort, habit will finally make it easy. We cannot for one moment separate ourselves from Christ with safety. We may have His presence to attend us at every step, but only by observing the conditions which He has Himself laid down." Messages to Young People, 115.
Grace is Given to Enable Us to Obey Gods Laws
"Men need to learn that the blessings of obedience, in their fullness, can be theirs only as they receive the grace of Christ. It is His grace that gives man power to obey the laws of God. It is this that enables him to break the bondage of evil habit. This is the only power that can make him and keep him steadfast in the right path." Ministry of Healing, 115.
"The grace of Christ and the law of God are inseparable. In Jesus mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. In His life and character He not only reveals the character of God, but the possibility of man. He was the representative of God and the exemplar of humanity. He presented to the world what humanity might become when united by faith with divinity." 1 Selected Messages, 349.
Till heaven and earth pass," said Jesus, "one jot or one tittle shall in no-wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." By His own obedience to the law, Christ testified to its immutable character and proved that through His grace it could be perfectly obeyed by every son and daughter of Adam." Mount of Blessings, 49.
"Through Satan's temptations the whole human race have become transgressors of Gods law, but by the sacrifice of His Son a way is opened whereby they may return to God. Through the grace of Christ they may be enabled to render obedience to the Fathers law." Patriarchs and Prophets, 338.
"The law of God requires that man shall love God supremely, and his neighbor as himself. When through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, this is perfectly done, we shall be complete in Christ." 5 Bible Commentary, 1097.
"Many sermons preached upon the claims of the law have been without Christ, and this lack has made the truth inefficient in converting souls. Without the grace of Christ it is impossible to take one step in obedience to the law of God. Then how necessary that the sinner hear of the love and power of his Redeemer and Friend!" 1 Selected Messages, 371.
"Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked." Patriarchs and Prophets, 372.
"But the influence of a gospel hope will not lead the sinner to look upon the salvation of Christ as a matter of free grace, while he continues to live in transgression of the law of God. When the light of truth dawns upon his mind and he fully understands the requirements of God and realizes the extent of his transgressions, he will reform his ways, become loyal to God through the strength obtained form his Saviour, and lead a new and purer life." 4 Testimonies, 295.
"The gospel of the New Testament is not the Old Testament standard lowered to meet the sinner and save him in his sins. God requires of all His subjects obedience, entire obedience to all His commandments. He demands now as ever perfect righteousness as the only title to heaven. Christ is our hope and our refuge. His righteousness is imputed only to the obedient." 6 Bible Commentary, 1072.
"By repentance and faith they might be freed from the condemnation of sin and through the grace of Christ be enabled henceforth to render obedience to the law of God." Acts of the Apostles, 393.
Grace Empowers Us to Put Away Sin and Live Godly Lives
"Tell the poor desponding ones who have gone astray that they need not despair. Though they have erred, and have not been building a right character, God has joy to restore them, even the joy of His salvation. He delights to take apparently hopeless material, those through whom Satan has worked, and make them the subjects of His grace. He rejoices to deliver them from the wrath which is to fall upon the disobedient. Tell them there is healing, cleansing for every soul. There is a place for them at the Lords table. He is waiting to bid them welcome." Christ's Object Lessons, 234.
"All who receive Christ as a personal Saviour are to demonstrate the truth of the gospel and its saving power upon the life. God makes no requirement without making provision for its fulfillment. Through the grace of Christ we may accomplish everything that God requires. All the riches of heaven are to be revealed through Gods people." Christ's Object Lessons, 301.
"His grace alone can enable us to resist and subdue the tendencies of our fallen nature." Ministry of Healing, 428.
"A great work of reform is demanded, and it is only through the grace of Christ that the work of restoration, physical, mental, and spiritual, can be accomplished." Ministry of Healing, 143.
"The victory can be gained; for nothing is impossible with God. By His assisting grace, all evil temper, all human depravity, may be overcome." 4 Testimonies, 349.
"Through the grace of Christ he may be an instrument in Gods hands to enlighten, lift up, encourage, and help to purify the soul temple from its defilement, until the character shall be transformed by the grace of Christ, and the image of God be revealed in the soul." Counsels to Teachers, 197.
"What an event was this when Christ placed Himself in the position of Adam, and endured the test where Adam had failed, and by this act placed man on a vantage ground, in favor with God, where he might overcome on his own account through the merits of Jesus. In His name, through His grace, man may bean overcomer, even as Christ was an overcomer." Sons and Daughters of God, 24.
"Her [Jerusalem's] children had spurned the grace of Christ, which would have enabled them to subdue their evil impulses, and now these became the conquerors." Great Controversy, 28.
"You must be good before you can do good. You cannot exert an influence that will transform others until your own heart has been humbled and refined and made tender by the grace of Christ." Mount of Blessings, 128.
"The grace of Christ in the heart will impart a heaven-born dignity and sense of propriety. it will soften whatever is harsh, and subdue all that is coarse and unkind." Desire of Ages, 515.
"We are to compare our characters with the infallible standard of Gods law. In order to do this, we must search the Scriptures, measuring our attainments by the word of God. Through the grace of Christ, the highest attainments in character are possible; for every soul who comes under the molding influence of the Spirit of God, may be transformed in mind and heart." Fundamentals of Christian Education, 214.
"The apostle exhorts us, "As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; be-cause it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15,16. The grace of Christ is to control the temper and the voice. Its working will be seen in politeness and tender regard shown by brother for brother, in kind, encouraging words. An angel presence is in the home. The life breathes a sweet perfume, which ascends to God as holy incense. Love is manifested in kindness, gentleness, forbearance, and long-suffering.
"The countenance is changed. Christ abiding in the heart shines out in the faces of those who love Him and keep His commandments. Truth is written there. The sweet peace of heaven is revealed. There is expressed a habitual gentleness, a more than human love." Christ's Object Lessons, 102.
"The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension." Desire of Ages, 305.
"The human agent is to cooperate with God, and keep under those passions which should be in subjection. To do this he must be unwearied in his prayers to God, ever obtaining grace to control his spirit, temper, and actions. Through the imparted grace of Christ, he may be enabled to overcome. To be an overcomer means more than many suppose it means." 1 Selected Messages, 380.
"It is the grace that Christ implants in the soul which creates in man enmity against Satan. Without this converting grace and renewing power, man would continue the captive of Satan, a servant ever ready to do his bidding." Great Controversy, 508.
"With strenuous efforts through the grace of Christ to renounce all evil practices and associations, and to observe temperance in all things, there must be an abiding persuasion that repentance for the past, as well as forgiveness, is to be sought of God through the atoning sacrifice of Christ." Counsels on Health, 505.
"Those who make Gods word their counselor realize the weakness of the human heart and the power of the grace of God to subdue every unsanctified, unholy impulse." 6 Testimonies, 161.
"Men have the power to quench the Spirit of God; the power of choosing is left with them. They are allowed freedom of action. They may be obedient through the name and grace of our Redeemer, or they may be disobedient, and realize the consequences." Gospel Workers, 174.
"In his efforts to reach Gods ideal for him, the Christian is to despair of nothing. Moral and spiritual perfection, through the grace and power of Christ, is promised to all. Jesus is the source of power, the fountain of life." Acts of the Apostle, 478.
"By watchfulness and prayer, he may so guard his weakest points that they will become his strongest points. Through the grace of Christ, men may acquire moral stamina, strength of will, and stability of purpose. There is power in this grace to enable them to rise above the alluring, infatuating temptations of Satan, and to become loyal, devoted Christians." Gospel Order, 126.
"The grace of Christ must be woven into every phase of the character." Counsels on Health, 633.
"The sanctification of the soul by the working of the Holy Spirit is the implanting of Christ's nature in humanity. Gospel religion is Christ in the life a living, active principle. It is the grace of Christ revealed in character and wrought out in good works." Christ's Object Lessons, 384.
"By the grace of Christ, perform every duty that has been made plain to your understanding, and you will be enabled to understand and perform those of which you are now in doubt." Steps to Christ, 111.
"The words of Scripture in regard to dress should be carefully considered. We need to understand that which the Lord of heaven appreciates in even the dressing of the body. All who are in earnest in seeking for the grace of Christ will heed the precious words of instruction inspired by God. Even the style of the apparel will express the truth of the gospel." 6 Testimonies, 96.
"God has elected a certain excellence of character; and every one who, through the grace of Christ, shall reach the standard of His requirement, will have an abundant entrance into the kingdom of glory." Fundamentals of Christian Education, 126.
"The grace of God in Christ is the foundation of the Christians hope, and that grace will be manifested in obedience." Great Controversy, 256.
"The necessity for the men of this generation to call to their aid the power of the will, strengthened by the grace of God, in order to withstand the temptations of Satan and resist the least indulgence of perverted appetite is twice as great as it was several generations ago." 3 Testimonies, 488.
"While we yield ourselves as instruments for the Holy Spirits working, the grace of God works in us to deny old inclinations, to overcome powerful propensities, and to form new habits. As we cherish and obey the prompting of the Spirit, our hearts are enlarged to receive more and more of His power, and to do more and better work. Dormant energies are aroused, and palsied faculties receive new life." Christ's Object Lessons, 354.
"Those who fail to grow in grace, not seeking to reach the highest standard in divine attainments, will be overcome." 5 Testimonies, 104.
"Your spiritual strength and growth in grace will be proportionate to the labor of love and good works which you do cheerfully for your Saviour, who has withheld nothing, not even His own life, that He might save you." 4 Testimonies, 228.
"Peace comes with dependence on divine power. As fast as the soul resolves to act in accordance with the light given, the Holy Spirit gives more light and strength. The grace of the Spirit is supplied to co-operate with the souls resolve, but it is not a substitute for the individual exercise of faith." Testimonies to Ministers, 518.
"Those only who are constantly receiving fresh supplies of grace, will have power proportionate to their daily need and their ability to use that power." Acts of the Apostles, 55.
"The blessing of grace is given to men that the heavenly universe and the fallen world may see as they could not otherwise, the perfection of Christ's character. The Great Physician came to our world to show men and women that through His grace they may so live that in the great day of God they can receive the precious testimony, Ye are complete in Him." Counsels on Health, 593.
"The perfection of Christian character depends wholly upon the grace and strength found alone in God. Without the power of grace upon the heart, assisting our efforts and sanctifying our labors, we shall fail of saving our own souls and of saving the souls of others." 3 Testimonies, 188.