Category Archives: Grace

Are the Disobedient Saved?

We recently wrote of the alleged clash between grace and works. Our conclusion was that a man cannot be saved apart from God’s grace. We also affirmed that there is a response, an obligation on the part of man which is also essential. Today, I want to pursue that idea a bit further.

It is common among some to assert that man has no role in his own salvation. They claim that there is absolutely nothing required of a man in order to be saved. That is a popular view and a view that holds some comfort in that we can live any way we desire without consequence. Our eternal salvation is fatalistic occurrence far beyond self. What does the Bible say?

[bctt tweet=”Is our salvation fatalistic? Is it already determined? Surely not!” username=”Preachers_Study”]

Obedience is commanded

God’s word commands obedience. As the Israelites gathered at Sinai, God commanded them, saying, “if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples…” (Exodus 19:5). Again, “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,  he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil” (Deuteronomy 11:13, 14).

Peter declares that the salvation gift of the Holy Spirit is given to those that “obey him” (Acts 5:32). The writer of Hebrews speaks of the glorious Christ, who, “being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Hebrews 5:9). John says obedience is confirmation of our love for the Lord and our place in his family. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2,3).

Disobedience is condemned

Even more prevalent in Scripture is the condemnation of the disobedient. Instead of asking if obedience is required for salvation we should ask if a man can be saved in his disobedience. Again, it is the Bible that gives the answer.

[bctt tweet=”Instead of asking if obedience is required for salvation we should ask if a man can be saved in his disobedience. ” username=”Preachers_Study”]

Israel was warned of its own demise if they did not obey. Moses warned, Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 8:20). He repeats, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse;  the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). There is no question that God’s people were required to obey God and were warned of punishment if they did not.

Perhaps the clearest warning against disobedience is from Paul. He writes that Jesus will return and will inflict “vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Peters wonders of the end result of those who “do not obey the gospel of God” (1 Peter 4:17). The Bible student must see that obedience is required and disobedience is condemned.

It is only because of God’s stunning love for a lost creation that we have a plan of escape from coming doom. It is only because of his extreme love that we have a savior. It is no blow to his glory that we comply with his commands. Instead, our obedience reflects his goodness and his glory throughout creation!


Grace Vs. Works

There is no clash between grace and works. Both are undeniable biblical concepts. Christians are “saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). They are also created to do good works and must be obedient to the Lord’s commands (Ephesians 2:10; Acts 6:7; Romans 1:5; Romans 6:17). Any clash between grace and works is man-made and just plain wrong.

[bctt tweet=”Any clash between grace and works is man-made and just plain wrong.” username=”Preachers_Study”]


It Begins With My Personal Sin

We all sin. It’s not absorbed from someone else; it is not hereditary. “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). All have sinned (Romans 3:23) and none is righteous (Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 53:1-3). Sin is the horrible dark bond that every person shares.

The upshot is that we are neither deserving nor worthy of salvation. We are corrupt and saturated with sin and cannot be in the presence of the Holy God for even one second, not to mention an eternity.

[bctt tweet=”The upshot is that we are neither deserving nor worthy of salvation.” username=”Preachers_Study”]


My Sin Cannot Be Overcome

It’s natural, especially in our culture, to think that with enough work we can overcome and fix almost any problem. Advances in science have given us the idea that we can conquer any obstacle. It’s a nice thought, even comforting, but it is just wrong. We cannot fix everything. Just like there are some illness that cannot be overcome even with the finest healthcare, there is a spiritual problem that cannot be overcome. That illness is sin.


Speaking of our salvation as a work of grace, Paul says “this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Our works do not justify us as worthy for salvation (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5). When all is written we are still unworthy. Jesus said, “Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded?  So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:9-10). The servant’s work and obedience were expected; that was their duty.


My Obedience is Expected and Necessary

As the servant in Jesus’ parable above, we do our duty. When God determined to bring a massive flood to destroy the terrible wickedness on the earth, he made Noah the object of his grace (Genesis 6:8). Then, God gave Noah a plan of escape. He warned him and told him how to escape. However, it was up to Noah to obey. God did not tell him where to find an ark, nor did he remove him from the earth. Noah survived because God showed him grace by giving him a plan and then because he obeyed the plan (Genesis 6:22; 7:5, 9). Consider Abraham who was the object of God’s love and affection. Abram was told to leave his home and travel to a place that God would command. What did he do? He obeyed (Genesis 12:1-4).


It is by his grace that God teaches us to avoid the coming destruction (Titus 2:11-14). Like Noah, we humbly and gratefully accept this grace and are trained to obey. Could Noah have thanked God for his grace and then refused to build the ark? Would he have been spared? Could Noah have graciously accepted God’s direction to move but remained in Ur? Would he be called the father of the faithful? Can anyone be called faithful who lives in rank disobedience to God? Of course not.


How horrible to divide God’s plan by removing grace or by knifing obedience from what God has said! John was clear: “whoever does not obey the son shall not see life…” (John 3:36). The Holy Spirit is given to the obedient (Acts 5:32). Put negatively, those who do not obey will face wrath (Romans 2:8). Those who do not obey the gospel will face the judgment of the returning Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

[bctt tweet=”Those who do not obey the gospel will face the judgment of the returning Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8).” username=”Preachers_Study”]


Let us handle God’s word with respect and seek to understand it all.


Your Check Bounced!

USCurrency_Federal_ReserveThere are not too many people who enjoy paying bills. I spent a few hours this weekend balancing the checkbook and writing more checks to pay my bills. It’s good when you’re done but not really something I look forward to. But I am thankful that we have steady income and have enough money to pay what is due. I also remember the days when opening bills was a fearful task. Our hearts had written checks that our pocketbook couldn’t pay. Those were dark days.

The truth is that none of us can fully pay our debts. Even the wealthiest among us has an unpayable debt. We wrote a check that will bounce.

We sinned.

The merchant of sin likely told you that it was no big deal. He may have whispered that it wouldn’t come due for a long time. He lied.

The moment you sinned, the moment you signed your name to that blank check, Satan demanded payment. Payment for our sins comes in many forms. Surely there is the eternal condemnation (2 Thessalonians 1:9) but there are also payments in the form of sickness, grieving and physical death. None of these were present in God’s original creation. But when Satan brought sin into the world through Adam and Eve these terrible conditions came too. Every speck of suffering today is linked to the evil one.

But what happens when a debt is paid? What happens when there are no more payments? Once the bill is paid, the lender no longer has a claim. You are no longer enslaved (Proverbs 22:7)! But that’s the problem. We can make payments forever and never dig our way out of sin. Never. We are in a binding contract that we can neither pay off nor break. Plus, there is the balloon payment at the end. Hell. We will spend the rest of our lives paying the devil here and there. Then, when life is over, we face the penalty of sin.

Good News! The debt is paid!

For there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3:22-25)

“Propitiation” is a big theological word but is simply means the process by which we are favored by God. God’s favor is actually already shown even to sinners in that he gives a plan whereby all can be saved. Jesus is the method by which we are saved. He owed nothing but paid it all for you and me.

As I was paying those bills this weekend I noticed that a few of them will be paid off soon. But the mortgage is still so far away from payment that I don’t even think about it. What if someone paid it off? What if tomorrow I received a notice from the bank that no more payments were needed? That would be life changing, no?

In Jesus, our debt is paid. Let us be as happy about that as we would be if our mortgage was paid off. And like a retired mortgage, it should change our lives. If you are a Christians, stop moping around. Be happy! Rejoice! You are debt free!

Noah Found Grace guess all the rain has me thinking about Noah and the Ark. It’s been raining hard here for a few days with at least two more to go. It’s nothing like the people of Noah’s day experienced however and I am glad for that.

Noah’s story begins in Genesis 6:5 ff when the wickedness of the world brought divine judgment. The inspired description of mankind is sobering:

“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6).

Unfortunately Noah found himself among these wicked people. But fortunately God had something special in mind for the future boat builder. The Bible says, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD”  (Genesis 6:8). The word “favor” here can also be translated, and is translated by some, as “grace.” So I am wondering about this grace or favor that Noah found in God. What exactly did it do for him?

Noah Found Grace Through A Plan

Beginning in verse 14 God delivers a plan of escape. He carefully details a plan for a large boat, the Ark, which Noah is to build. The Ark will lift Noah and his family above the raging destruction that will come upon the earth. God supplied the plan through his grace but Noah was required to build the boat. “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22).

Clearly, Noah was a man of faith (Hebrews 11:7) but he was also a man of action with a living faith that obeyed the plan in all its details.

God’s grace has been shown to all men (Titus 2:11). As part of that grace we have been given our own kind of Ark. We have been given a plan that will bear us up and above the coming destruction of the wicked; we have the gospel plan of salvation. When we are obedient, like Noah, we too are blessed with deliverance (Romans 6:17; 1 Peter 1:22).

Noah Found Grace, But Not An Ark

This Bible story would have been interesting if God, instead of delivering a plan, had delivered an Ark instead. Really, think about it. God could have done all the work and still saved Noah. Perhaps he could have instructed Noah to take his family to a certain location where he would have found the Ark already assembled and ready for occupancy. But that is not what happened is it?

The grace Noah found was not the Ark but rather the plan for the Ark. God in his gracious mercy told Noah how to escape the judgment he was bring upon the earth. Likewise, the grace shown us is not a sudden pronouncement of salvation but a path of justification and sanctification in Jesus Christ.

There was nothing that compelled God to save Noah nor is there any necessary reason why God saves us. Only his love for his creatures matched with his grace and mercy produced the plan of redemption. we are saved in Jesus alone. Only the precious Son can save from sins. Let us come to him in a humble spirit of obedience and he will save!

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter  @jbevans.

Grace: A Working Definition

Grace is grossly misunderstood by many. It is not a blanket forgiveness which allows, condones or encourages rebelliousness. Paul is clear about that (Romans 6:1-2).

Grace was always described to me as “getting what you need but do not deserve.” That’s still pretty close but it is not nuts and bolts. It is not an everyday working definition.

Grace is God providing me with a way to get what I cannot get on my own. Examples:


Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8). Mankind was on the verge of destruction and there would be nothing Noah could do. However God gave him a divine plan. He told him to build a boat (Genesis 6:14 ff). Indeed, the flood came, all was destroyed except Noah and those in the grace-given ark (Genesis 8:18). But in the middle of all this Noah had something to do. God gave him a command to build and Noah did so as God said (Genesis 7:5).

Between the prediction of certain destruction and Noah’s glorious deliverance we find a task. Is this story any poorer because Noah obeyed?  Is there even a smidgen less glory to God because Noah did something? Did Noah earn his place in the ark? No! But he was obedient.


Abraham lived among idol worshipers. Like all of mankind Abraham was in need of salvation. God chose Abraham as the venue for that grace which would come to all men (Titus 2:11). God made promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham obeyed (Genesis 12:4; Hebrews 11:8-10).

Abraham never saw the blessings God promised; they came much later. He was obedient. He did as he was told to do. Is Abraham any less of a great Bible character because he obeyed? Is his reputation harmed because he did something? Is the glory of God tarnished because he used a man to bring salvation to mankind? Did Moses deserve or earn his place before God? No! But he was obedient.


Paul (Saul) was a devout Jewish man on the fast track to success and notoriety in Judaism. Jesus stopped him on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:3 ff). By a direct intervention in his life this man was changed. He turned from executing the church to encouraging it. He stopped persecuting and began preaching. Paul was a walking testimony to the grace of God (Acts 20:24).

Paul could say near the end of his life that glory awaited him (2 Timothy 4:6-8). He was a recipient of grace and bound for glory. But in the middle Paul was simply an obedient servant (Acts 26:19). But even with the thousands to whom Paul preached and even with the multiplied beatings and finally death, would any one say God owed salvation to the chief sinner (1 Timothy 1:15). No! Is God less glorious because Paul was obedient? Never!

In every case, men were given the required knowledge. In every case their unforgivable sins were forgiven by the grace of God. But God has always demanded obedience from his people. As lowly servants we ought comply.

Grace then is simply God giving us the gospel and the chance to obey that gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

Grace is a much deeper topic than can be covered in a single article but maybe this will whet your appetite and help answer the search for a working definition of grace.

Grace and Works Followup

Grace and Works is an important topic and one which seems to divide many people who believe in Christ. I tried to clarify some issues in the grace and works post from yesterday (July 13, 2010) but wanted to add a reference for you from an article written almost 2 years ago. It asks the question, Is baptism a work? Some seem to think so and have discounted its importance. I hope this article will be enlightening. The article was written in response to a question posed by a preacher on his website. It’s part of a lengthy series which you can access by the links at the end of the post.

As always, I would love to hear your comments.

Do Grace and Works Clash?

grace vs. worksGrace and works, or more commonly, grace vs. works. Is there a clash between these two biblical notions? The perfectly honest Bible student will acknowledge that both are found in Scripture. But people are all over the map on this one. Some argue that a person can perform works sufficient to gain their salvation. Others believe that grace alone saves. The Bible says neither. Let’s examine the topic. But be warned, this may change your view of grace. If you think grace covers willful sin and somehow saves men against their own desires, or if you think obedience is unnecessary you may be challenged? If you are ready, read on. Continue reading Do Grace and Works Clash?