Part 2 - Paul's "Gospel of the Grace of God"

This Article is part of a multi-part Study Series called Are ‘Good Works’ Our Plan of Salvation?.

Now we will look at what God through Paul tells us Gentiles.

“[19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. [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: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [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 3:19-28)

Is there any requirement here above about ‘blessing Israel’? Helping the poor? Visiting the sick? No, nothing! Paul then confirms this in Romans 4:

“[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [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. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.(Rom. 4:1-5)

Again, there is anything about blessing Israel. Helping the poor? Visiting the sick? Nothing! How foolish it is then to ignore God’s Word to us (through Paul), then to take something in the Bible that is not to us or about us, assuming it to be to us and about us!

In the case of the ‘Gentiles’ in Matt. 25, they have faith plus works because their message from God during the Tribulation period still requires faith and works. If they believe God’s Word, that Israel is God’s special nation (Gen. 12:1-3), then they will have works to prove their faith. God tells them (not us, but them) to bless Israel. If they curse (mistreat, ignore) Israel, they will not have eternal fellowship with God. These cursers of Israel will be tossed into “the lake of fire,” whereas those who bless Israel will enter the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ, either alive or as martyrs. This will fulfil of the Abrahamic Covenant—blessed because they blessed Israel or cursed because they cursed Israel. Then, through Israel, God will bless all nations.

Let’s now look further at James 2:14-25

“[14] What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? [15] If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, [16] And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? [17] Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. [18] Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. [19] Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. [20] But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? [21] Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? [22] Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? [23] And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. [24] Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. [25] Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? [26] For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Before we grab this passage too as though it is written to us or about us, we had better look at James 1:1. James says he is writing to the twelve tribes scattered abroad.” So, James’ epistle is not Gentiles. This is the nation Israel, for Israel alone has 12 tribes. Since Israel is God’s literal, physical, visible, earthly people; He wants them to have literal, physical, visible, earthly works. Gentiles who have faith in Israel’s program will have works to show their faith as well. Note Rahab’s example of blessing Israel noted in James 2:25 (historically, this occurred in Joshua 2:1-24, 6:17-25). After all, these people have a works message from God. Faith is first and foremost, trusting God is first and foremost, but works follow (prove) their faith.

In the case of us during today’s “Dispensation of Grace,” this isn’t true. We do not have a works message from God. Our message is grace, and grace says we do not work for salvation and blessing! Jesus Christ did that work at Calvary to please God and make us acceptable to Him. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). This is what we have to trust—place our faith in—in order to have eternal life today. We do not have to worry about what God told Israel or Gentiles in her prophetic program. They are not us, we are not them.

Let us go now to Romans 11:6: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

Israel did not learn this lesson; hence, they crucified Jesus Christ (Romans 9 and 10 quoted below). Her message from God was faith and works; instead, she stayed in unbelief … trying to substitute faith with works, rather than having faith and then works.

Romans 9 and 10: “[9:30] What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. [9:31] But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. [9:32] Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; [9:33] As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. [10:1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [10:2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [10:3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

Today’s aforementioned works-based religious people are in the same satanic trap as Israel was. Self-righteousness has consumed them, just as it did Israel of old. They can quote the Bible all they want, and still wind up lost! How critical it is for them to learn this verse: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We must separate God’s Word to us (Paul’s Romans through Philemon) from the rest of Scripture. It is a matter of getting the right Gospel message out of the Bible that applies to us. How dangerous it is to take Bible verses out of context, especially verses that have absolutely nothing to do with us!!

Paul the Apostle, when asked about salvation unto eternal life, replied as follows: “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and (this is offered to all those of) thy house” (Acts 16:31).

  • Romans 3:22: “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:…”
  • 1 Corinthians 1:21: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
  • Galatians 3:22: “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Once more, there is nothing here about works.

Faith alone is the issue today as pertaining to justification unto eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and a home in Heaven. This is “the Gospel of the Grace of God” committed to Paul’s trust and our trust (Acts 20:24).

Now, let it be clearly understood we do good works as Christians, but NOT to become Christians. Owing to religious tradition, there is great confusion here. We are saved by grace through faith without works, but that does not mean that God does not care how we live. He saves us in order to do His good works in and through us; we are not saved to continue in sin.

  • Romans 6:14-15: “[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.”
  • Ephesians 2:8-10: “[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.”
  • Titus 2:11-15: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. [15] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

By Arthur J Licursi as adapted for Study, from Shawn Brasseaux