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TITLE: Grace or Law?

TEXT: Ephesians 2:4-10

PROPOSITION: Many misunderstand the place of obedience in salvation by grace.





  1. Works Only view Do all you can and hope it is enough.
  2. Grace Only view You do not have to do anything.
  3. Biblical view Faith that works Galatians 5:6 and text
  4. Some are now preaching a rejection of obedience. (See quotes)


Define Works of merit

  1. Merit earn paycheck, study for a high grade in school
  2. If I work for it, earn it, deserve it = I can boast about it.


Define Obedient work

  1. Follow instructions obey
  2. We do it not to deserve
  3. Hebrews 5:8-9
  4. Galatians 3:1 Obey the truth
  5. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 obey the gospel
  6. 1 Peter 4:17 obey not the gospel of God
  7. Simple illustration Offer $500 to first person to come take it
    Not merit not earn it
    But you must "do something" (work) to obtain it.
    The work does not take away the gift.
    Unwrap a gift work is involved
    Use a gift certificate Must go the restaurant and order a meal.


Define Grace

  1. Justice = get what you deserve
  2. Mercy = not get what you deserve
  3. Grace = get what you do not deserve


Conclusions to reach

  1. Salvation can NEVER be earned (merit)
  2. Obedience does not replace grace.
  3. We are saved by grace with faithful obedience.


Nashville area preacher

 "It is a scandalous and outrageous lie to teach that salvation arises from human activity of any sort. We do not contribute one whit to our salvation."

Rubel Shelley, The Second Incarnation, page 207


Article in a church bulletin


"This would be a good idea if the New Testament was a codified legal document and not the perfect law of liberty. Fortunately Romans 6:14 and Galatians 5:18 testify that we are no longer under the weight of law. Why then, would anyone want to be bound up by law?"

"Everyone would agree that the Old Covenant was a legal document where commands were spelled out with absolute clarity and directions were clear."

"The New Covenant is not a legal system with camouflaged directions requiring specialists with special tools to unlock and make known what God expects of us."

"My question is this: If the New Testament is a legal document, why did God suddenly stop spelling out in meticulous detail what is necessary and binding?"

"Why would God replace a clearly spelled out legal system with a not-so-clearly spelled legal system couched in veiled commands, numerous examples which may or may not be applicable, and inferences which may or may not be necessary?"

"Patternism has lead to an endless list of church splits and divisions over trivialities such as one communion cup versus multiple cups, and a myriad of similar matters."

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