Are Followers of Jesus Under the Law or Grace?
by Rich Deem

There are a number of liberal theologians and legalistic "followers of Jesus" who claim that the Apostle Paul created the doctrines of Christianity and distorted the words of Jesus. They reject the teachings of Paul and say they prefer the "eyewitness accounts." However, Peter was an eyewitness and proclaimed the gospel of grace in his epistles:

Matthew (another eyewitness) even quoted Jesus, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." (Matthew 16:18) Therefore, if one rejects Peter, one must also reject the apostle Matthew. However, even John acknowledges Peter as chosen by Jesus (Jesus answered them, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?" Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him (John 6:70-71). Later, Jesus had a wonderful conversation with Peter, where He commissioned him as an apostle after having abandoned Jesus at His trial:

John very clearly indicates that Peter was to shepherd Jesus' sheep. In addition, Jesus indicated that Peter was to glorify God by being crucified. If one rejects Peter, one must also reject the apostle John and his gospel.

In the Acts of the apostles, Luke proclaims that Paul was chosen directly by Jesus Christ as an apostle. By rejecting Paul, one must also reject Luke's book of Acts and the gospel of Luke. Therefore, by logic, one would have to reject all four gospels of Jesus Christ, as written by the apostles. In addition, by rejecting the grace of God, one must reject the entire Old and New Testament, since there are hundreds of examples of the unmerited grace of God.

If one rejects the doctrine of grace, he must be able to answer the following questions from Paul:

Many who reject the gospel of grace do so because they think that they can please God on the basis of their own works of the flesh. This amounts to simple pride, which God abhors. Included below are some of the things the Lord has led me to, that all might accept His grace and trust Him with our sanctification.

  1. The problem of the sin of pride
  2. Judgment is based upon motives and desires of our hearts
  3. The "great" laws are the laws of love
  4. Examples of grace in the Old Testament
  5. Example of grace from apostle John
  6. Old Testament prophesies of grace
  7. Verses from apostle John that Jesus brought in grace
  8. Verses from the New Testament that Jesus brought in grace
  9. Grace does not include license
  10. What are the works of God?

Here are just a few of the hundreds of verses that talk about the abomination of pride in the eyes of the Lord. Proud people who follow the letter of the law, but do not have a relationship with Jesus, will be judged and punished.

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The problem for us is that we are not judged merely on the basis of our deeds, but on the basis of our hearts and desires. This is where we all fail. I know, because since becoming a Christian 8 years ago, the Spirit has been convicting me of my wrong motives and attitudes. I know that I am not worthy to stand in the presence of God on my own merit. I need a Savior to redeem me and intercede for my sins, and I need the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me into His righteousness. The heart and motives as the basis of the Lord's judgment are shown in a few of the many verses seen throughout the Old and New Testament books:

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When Jesus was asked what was the great commandment of the law He said, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40) Love should be the basis of all actions of Christians.

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There are many examples of grace given to individuals (and the nation of Israel) in the Old Testament.

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There are still more specific verses from the Old Testament which state that God gives grace:

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Even the beloved apostle John gave an example of Jesus giving grace to a repentant sinner:

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The Old Testament specifically prophesizes that God would extend His grace to all mankind who would accept it:

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Even the beloved apostle John testified that Jesus bestowed grace upon us:

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The New Testament states that God fulfilled His prophecies of grace through Jesus Christ:

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Did Paul preach grace in the absence of accountability? No!

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Many people think that we earn merit with God by performing good works. However, the Bible says we are all unworthy and we will not see heaven on the basis of our "good" works.

What are the works of God that we should walk in?

In conclusion, all followers of Jesus should seek His righteousness. However, if we attempt to do it by our own power and strength, we try to make ourselves equal to God. It is only a reliance on the Holy Spirit that can keep us on a righteous path. A good summary of my main point is from the Psalms:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

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http://godandscience.org/doctrine/grace.html
Last updated March 30, 2005

 

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