BY VICTOR BENTHLEY
(Eph 2:8 KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
(Eph 2:9 KJV) Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For several years there was a church in my community that broadcast a 15-minute program every Monday through Friday at noon. They would quote Ephesians 2:8-9 over and over again. At the end of each broadcast the speaker would conclude with, ‘We are saved by Christ’s mercy, not by our merit, we are saved by his grace and not by our doing”. The preacher interpreted the message of grace to mean that
repentance and baptism was completely nonessential. He believed that once a person was saved that they could never again be lost, no matter how evil or sinful they may choose to live. To make matters worse, not
only did he have one of the largest churches in the area, but he also had a rabid hatred of people who speak in tongues. He was constantly blasting Pentecostal Churches, along with anyone else who dared believe
that anything but grace was necessary to be saved.
After a while, I caught myself reacting to his distortion of grace. I began to avoid even mention of grace in my preaching and teaching. Whenever I did mention grace I would feel compelled to painstakingly explain in detail how that faith without works is dead, and how baptism is not a work but an obedient response of faith. I was on the defensive, and as a result I was failing to preach the most beautiful message of the ages. God finally woke me up and helped me realize that I had allowed a false teacher to steal the beautiful
concept of grace away from me. The message of Grace did not belong to him! The message of Grace belonged to the Apostolic Church.
Thank God for His amazing grace! I am talking about the Biblical concept of grace, not some distorted message of disgrace. Stop and think about the many roles grace has played in our salvation.
Grace was an ambassador. While I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. He died for me in spite of, rather than because of what I was. I could not raise myself up to God’s level, so God brought Himself down
to my level, took on the form of flesh, and paid the price for my salvation. It was grace that introduced me the beautiful plan of salvation. Grace prompted me to repent, grace led me to the waters of baptism in the lovely name of Jesus, and grace made the gift of the Holy Ghost available to me. These were not works on my part, but rather acts of obedience and faith.
Grace cleaned up my life. Grace removed the indelible stain of sin on my life with the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace pardoned me, and handed me a clean slate. I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Grace became my teacher. Grace not only gave me a clean slate, but grace taught me how to keep the slate clean. Grace taught me how to say no. Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that
grace may abound? Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Titus 2:11 NIV) For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. (Titus 2:12 NIV) It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
Please allow me usage of the literary tools of personification and metaphor to show you how Grace changed my life.
Grace knocked on my door one day. My house was disheveled and filthy beyond comprehension. Grace smiled and told me that the King of Kings, the Alpha and Omega, the Great I Am wanted to take up residence in my house. I laughed and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” “Look around you, Grace, my house is not fit for a king.” Grace smiled again and said, “If you will let me, I will clean this place up for you.” “The King has fully equipped me to prepare your house for Him.”
“I would love to have the King live here,” I said. “What do you want me to do?” “Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” So I did what Grace said, and Grace proceeded to wash and repair my home. What a powerful cleansing agent the blood of Jesus was. Stains that had been set years ago were washed white as snow. When Grace was done, my home was no longer hopeless and downtrodden. It had become a habitation of the Holy Ghost.
Of course, some old habits tried to creep back. Before long my house would have become a mess again. Grace took care of that. Grace began teaching and instructing me. As long as I am willing to be instructed, I can maintain the cleansed condition of my home. In fact, Grace seems to teach me more and more the longer that I serve the Lord. Visit my home today and you will find Jesus living there as well. I owe
everything to Grace, which is the unmerited favor of God towards me.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS REPRINTED FROM THE OHIO APOSTOLOC NEWS AND PUBLISHED BY THE KINTUCKY DISTRICT NEWS, NOVEMBER 1997, PAGE 7. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.