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Saved by Grace: Conditional? Unconditional? Universal? Limited?

Saved by graceThe Bible teaches that we receive the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus' blood "according to the riches of his grace" - Ephesians 1:7. But people, who claim to believe in grace, often misunderstand it. So let us consider some important facts about grace.

In the first place, God's grace operates in accordance with God's will, and God's will is revealed in the Scriptures. The Bible repeatedly mentions sins for which a person will be lost if he is not forgiven. Yet when preachers plainly rebuke these sins, some people say: "Well, maybe the grace of God will cover that person. I just don't believe we should limit God's grace."

And surely men do not have the right to limit God's grace. But neither do men have the right to extend God's grace where God Himself does not extend it! 2 Timothy 1:9 says men are saved according to God's "own purpose and grace." God's grace goes hand in hand with God's purpose, and His purpose is revealed in the gospel (Ephesians 1:9-13; 3:3-6). To teach that God's grace will cover people when the gospel says no such thing, is as wrong as to condemn people who truly have received grace through the gospel (Proverbs 17:15).

A second important fact about grace is that it is not the only thing a person needs to be saved. Some people say we are saved by "grace alone." But if so, why aren't all people saved, since Titus 2:11 says the grace of God has appeared to all men? Clearly, people need something more besides just grace.

This leads us to our last point, which is that God's grace is conditional. God offers us salvation, but we must believe in Him enough to obey Him. Ephesians 2:8 says, "by grace are ye saved through faith." Faith is a condition one must meet to receive God's grace, but saving faith in the gospel is always obedient faith. Paul himself was saved by grace (1 Timothy 1:13-16), but only when his sins were washed away in baptism - Acts 22:16.

Have you received God's grace through obedient faith?

For more information about salvation and what it requires, please visit our Bible Instruction web site at /instruct/ and study our in-depth article about obedience and also our article about salvation by faith only vs. obedient faith. 

(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 4/1996

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