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The Apostle Paul On Grace And The Law

 March 06, 2011

Many of the Calvinists and their offspring teach salvation by either grace alone or faith alone. Many of them go so far as to condemn baptism for the remission of sins as a "works doctrine" and having nothing to do with the remitting of sins. That is because John Calvin and many man since have lifted certain scriptures out of context and created new doctrines that did not originate with God. The apostle Paul, when writing about grace or faith versus works was referring to the works of the Law of Moses! It had nothing to do with baptism versus grace or faith.

Bernie Parsons 

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The Apostle Paul on Grace and the Law


By Bernie Parsons


Presented to Globe church of Christ on 03-06-2011



The apostle Paul wrote quite a bit concerning faith and grace. He contrasted those two important concepts with works. This led a man known as John Calvin to arrive at an erroneous doctrine of salvation by sola gratia, or grace only, in which he taught that God, before He created our world, decided which individuals He would save and allow to live in heaven, and those whom He would destroy in eternal damnation.


Millions of people follow his doctrine of salvation by grace only, or a modified version of it, known as sola fide, or faith only. Both of those are incorrect explanations of certain scriptures that their champions have taken out of context. Contrary to what these doctrines teach, the context was that certain Jewish men from Judah, claiming to be believers in Jesus as Christ, who dogged Paul as he preached to the Gentiles. As he converted Gentile idol worshippers to believers in Christ, these men from Judah would descend upon them, telling them to circumcise their males and to keep the Law of Moses. The emphasis that Paul put upon grace and faith was to combat this false doctrine from false brethren!


What many today try to cast as a contrast between salvation by faith or grace versus salvation by baptism is not that at all. It is a contrast between salvation in Jesus as opposed to the Law of Moses! Once we understand this, it all falls into place as originally intended.


As John the Baptist says in


John 1:17 "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."


Read Romans chapters 3 and 4. The apostle Paul discusses in great depth how grace and faith save us through obedience to Jesus Christ. Here are some excerpts:


Romans 3:21 "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:"


Romans 3:27 "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."


Romans 4:2 "For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt."


Romans 4:16 "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,"


Paul repeats throughout this letter that, by the grace of God, a man is saved by faith in Christ rather than by keeping the Law of Moses – or as the apostle often states, the” works of the law”.


Romans 5:19 "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."


Romans 6:1 "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

3  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."


It seems that some accused Paul of preaching, that since the Gentiles did not have to keep the Law of Moses, he was teaching that believers in Christ could sin, because grace took care of sin. He denied that, pointing out that believers are not to continue in sin. In the above passage of scripture, Paul wrote about the grace of God, and a new life in Christ that is achieved through baptism into His death! Paul did not speak of baptism as a “work that cannot save”, but as that action which puts us into the death of Christ! Baptism was not a work of the Law of Moses, so he was not condemning baptism.


John Calvin objected to the baptism of infants by the Roman Catholic church, as do I. Later, he came to condemn any action on the part of man as having anything to do with salvation. True, man cannot save himself by any means that he devises. A man is saved by obeying God. Baptism was commanded by Jesus and practiced by the apostles. It is the work of God, and not of man.


Romans 6:14 "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"


As we studied last time from Paul’s letter to the believers at Galatia, the grace of God does not free us to sin, which means to violate God’s commandments and instruction. Rather, it frees us from sin, that we might better keep the commandments of God. Free from the curse of the Law of Moses, we don’t have to worry about violating one point, which would make us guilty of all.


James 2:10 "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."


Romans 11:5 "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded "


God determined that He would save those who would accept the grace of a Savior, Jesus Christ, as opposed to those who merely kept the Law of Moses. Those who sought salvation in the Law alone were blinded to the grace of God that was revealed in His son, Jesus.


1 Corinthians 1:4 "I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;"


2 Corinthians 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain."


Works are not wrong. In fact, Jesus was a worker, and the apostle Paul spoke of himself and the Corinthian believers as being fellow workers with Christ. In fact, he indicated that it takes work to ensure that the grace of God was not bestowed in vain. Rather, as we have seen, not by the works of the Law of Moses, but the works instructed by God through Christ Jesus.


Galatians 2:21 "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."


Ephesians 2:5 "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."


The grace of God is in Christ, and in us, when we do good works, and walk in them.



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