The Life-Dispensing Blog has a plethora of basic truths concerning salvation, justification, law, grace and much more to release the full knowledge of the truth. We have prepared some Gospel Questions from a ministry book. Try to study this topic and choose the answer that you think is correct and give the reason. If you like, we have a form below to provide your answer.
Next month we will provide the answer(s) to these questions.
Does grace mean:
(1) Giving man what he deserves?
(2) Supplementing what man deserves?
(3) Withholding from man because he does not deserve it?
(4) Giving less because man does not deserve it?
(5) Making the recipient a debtor?
(6) Directly forgiving the sinners’ sins?
(7) Directly forgiving the believers’ sins?
The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8). This being the case:
(1) Does God want man to do good before he can be saved?
(2) Does God save man after man has done what he can?
(3) Can God choose not to save a person because he is not good?
(4) Can God choose not to save a person because he is inferior to another person?
(5) Is the expression “paying back grace” correct?
(6) Can God freely forgive a sinner because He has mercy on him?
(7) Can God freely forgive a believer because He loves him?
Man has a great shortcoming in that he measures God’s heart according to his human heart. Our human heart is a heart of law, not a heart of grace. We always consider God’s heart to be just like our heart and, therefore, misunderstand God’s heart.
We must be clear about what grace means:
(1) Grace is not a matter of giving man what he deserves. Romans 4:4 says, “Now to the one who works, his wages are not accounted according to grace, but according to what is due.” In other words, grace means receiving what one does not deserve. If grace involved receiving what one deserves, the very meaning of grace would be completely nullified. Grace is called grace simply because there is no element of merit in it. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved.” The fact that you were saved even though you did not deserve it shows that it is grace! Romans 3:24 says, “Being justified freely by His grace.” What does “freely” mean? Freely in the original text is the same word as “without a cause” in John 15:25, where the Lord said, “They hated Me without cause.” Saying God’s grace justifies a person freely simply means that God justifies a person without any cause. “The Scripture has shut up all under sin” (Galatians 3:22). “For God has shut up all in disobedience” (Romans 11:32). God has put all men in the same position so that none can be saved by doing good. Each and every one must be saved by grace. If you asked Paul how he was saved, he would surely answer that he was saved by God’s grace. If you asked all the believers how they were saved, they would surely answer that they were saved by God’s grace. Grace is God saving people without a cause!
(2) Grace is not a matter of supplementing what man deserves. Ephesians 2:9 says, “Not of works that no one should boast.” This does not mean that man should not have good works after he is saved. Rather, it means that man is not saved by works. If man were saved by good works, he would be able to boast. If thirty percent of man’s salvation was by works, man could boast of that thirty percent, while God would lose thirty percent of the glory. If ten percent of man’s salvation was by works, man could boast of that ten percent, while God would lose ten percent of the glory. It is not possible for God to share His glory with man! God hates man’s self-boasting. God’s intention is that He Himself would gain the glory! Therefore, God’s grace does not supplement what man deserves.
Grace is neither giving man what he deserves, nor is it giving man more than what he deserves. Grace is neither a fair compensation nor an extra compensation. The questions of whether or not God should give and whether man is worthy cannot be placed side by side with grace! If man wants to receive grace, then the question of his worthiness cannot exist at all, neither can the question of being more or less worthy be established. In the matter of salvation, man cannot use any of his work to obtain God’s grace!
Many have thought, “I will try my best to do good and keep the law; then I will rely on God’s grace for the things that I cannot do.” This means that they rely partially on work and partially on grace. A man once said, “We must keep the Ten Commandments; otherwise, we cannot be saved.” Then someone asked him, “Have you violated any of the commandments?” He answered, “Yes, I have.” He was then asked, “What do you do when you violate a commandment?” He responded, “I rely on God’s grace for the things that I cannot do well.” This kind of thought is a misconception of grace!
In Matthew Chapter 19 a young man asked the Lord Jesus, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (v. 16). The Lord said, “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (v. 17). The young man said he had kept them all. But when the Lord said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor” (v. 21), the young man was not able. If man wants to be saved by keeping the law, he must keep it with “all.” Not only does he have to love God with all his heart, all his will, and all his strength, but he also has to give all he has in his house, without holding back any item. But if man relies on God’s grace, he has to rely on it completely. Man cannot work for one-half and leave it up to God to work for the other half. God’s grace does not supplement man’s inabilities. If it is by God’s grace, it is all by God’s grace; if it is by man’s work, it is all by man’s work. One cannot rely partially on his own work and partially on God’s grace!
Why is this? It is because the Lord Jesus has already died. God puts all sinners in an equal position. When the Lord Jesus was crucified on the Cross, God “caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6). The problem of sin was solved once and for all. Therefore, man cannot rely on his own merit before God; it would overthrow the Lord’s work, as though He had died in vain!
(3) Grace is not a withholding from him who does not deserve it. (This is similar to the first point except that the question is turned around.) Rather, grace is given because man does not deserve it. When man realizes that he is altogether helpless and has no way out, he will call out for grace! When God sees man as helpless and having no way out, He will dispense grace! If man is capable, he will not realize he needs grace, and God will not need to bestow grace. Man’s “unworthiness” is not a hindrance to God bestowing grace. Rather, it is the one and only condition for God to bestow grace!
A brother once said, “Grace is boundless kindness expressed in boundless goodness.” What is grace? Grace flows down from above. What is love? Love is treating one another equally. What is respect? Respect is honoring those who are above you. Grace flows down from above. Grace has only one direction; it flows downward! If you want to obtain God’s grace, you must acknowledge that you are a helpless sinner. Being a helpless sinner qualifies you to obtain God’s grace!
Many people dislike grace because grace is a truth that utterly humbles people. Grace requires you to acknowledge that you are an evil person. No cup turned upside-down can contain water. Likewise, no one who is proud is willing to receive salvation. You must admit that you are useless, before you can receive God’s grace!
(4) Grace is not a matter of giving less because man does not deserve it. (This is in contrast to the second point.) God has not overlooked the problem of man’s sin. In dealing with sin, God is very strict, definite, and thorough. Through His Son, He has thoroughly dealt with this problem. Therefore, how can any questions related to man’s worthiness or the degree of his worthiness remain? God’s grace is not concerned with man’s unworthiness. Since all men are equal before God, all men can obtain God’s grace!
God does not withhold His grace because of man’s unworthiness; instead, He bestows grace because of his unworthiness. God does not differentiate among the unworthy, according to who is more unworthy and who is less unworthy. God does not enable the less unworthy to receive more grace and the more unworthy to receive less grace.
God cannot bestow less grace to those who have greater sins and more grace to those who have less sins. Grace is never used by God to patch up sinners’ flaws. The condition of the sinner, his works, and his merits (both great and small) are completely put aside!
Since grace is grace, it is not related to the recipient’s condition at all! The recipient does not need to have any qualification to receive grace, since grace is given to those who do not deserve it and is not related to the recipient’s condition. Therefore, grace is not giving less to those who are less deserving. Otherwise, man’s condition once again becomes the prerequisite of receiving grace. The bestowing of grace is neither according to a person’s condition nor the result of comparing one person to another. God’s grace is vast, expansive, and intended for all kinds of sinners. Those who think they are all right need God’s grace as much as those who regard themselves as great sinners.
Some may think that a better person deserves more grace. But from God’s viewpoint, everyone is the same! Suppose several plates fall to the ground. Some may break in half, some into five pieces, and others into fragments. Although they may break in different ways, they are all broken. Whether you are a “better” sinner or a “worse” sinner, you are still a sinner! The Bible says that all men are sinners! God sent the Lord Jesus to die for sinners, thereby affording every sinner an opportunity to be saved. If only one sinner in the world needed to be saved, God would have still sent His Son to die for him. In the parable of the shepherd seeking the lost sheep, the shepherd left the ninety-nine sheep to seek the one lost sheep (Luke 15:3-4). Whether you are a great sinner or a small sinner, as long as you are a lost sheep, you need the Lord Jesus to die for you!
(5) Grace does not make the recipient of grace a debtor. A debt means that you have been loaned a sum of money, which allows you to enjoy it for the present, but that you will later pay it back. Wages are given according to one’s labor. Grace is neither the giving of wages according to one’s labor, nor a temporary borrowing of something which one has to repay. God saves us by grace; therefore, our salvation is not loaned to us by God. If it were a loan, which we would have to pay back, it would not be grace! Grace does not mean that God sees a current lack of merit in our work for our salvation and then loans salvation to us so that we would eventually apply its merit to our works in order to maintain our salvation. Grace is free in the past, free in the present, and free in the future! If God gives us something and expects us to repay it in the future, it is a debt and not grace! God’s grace is freely given to all who are unworthy. There is no price to it in the past and present, and there is no need to repay it in the future!
Men have a wrong concept: we think that salvation is by grace, but that maintaining our salvation depends upon our own selves. This is wrong! The Bible never says that God’s grace makes us debtors. Romans 6:23 says, “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What is the characteristic of eternal life? It is a gift! Gift can also be translated “present.” In other words, a gift is given by God. Does a gift need to be returned? We must be clear that grace is not a loan! It does not need to be paid back now; it does not need to be paid back no matter how many days go by. This does not mean that Christians do not need to have good works or to serve God faithfully. After we are saved, we should have good works and serve God faithfully. But the motive behind these should be the Lord’s love; the energy for these should be the Holy Spirit. Having good works and serving the Lord faithfully are neither for obtaining salvation nor for maintaining salvation. The works of Christians are not for the purpose of repaying a debt of the salvation. Just as God saved us out of His love for us, we should serve God out of our love for Him. Just as His salvation is not a loan to us, our faithful service to God is not a repayment of a debt!
Many do not understand God’s grace. They think that grace means that God is willing to save a person, in spite of his unworthiness, but that God will withdraw his salvation, after he is saved, if he does not do good. This is like buying goods by installment. The goods can be delivered, but the loan has to be paid back by making regular payments. If you cannot make the payments on time, the lender will repossess the goods. This clearly twists the meaning of God’s grace. The eternal life that God gave when you were saved does not require any installment payments. God will not take back the eternal life even if you do not have good works after experiencing salvation!
Moreover, since eternal life is a gift, there is no such thing as paying it back. The phrase paying back is wrong. We serve God out of love! If your father gives you a present and, day after day and month after month, you repay him until you reach the same amount as the gift he gave, is this not the same as buying the present yourself? Grace never has a price; otherwise, it is not grace!
(6) Grace does not directly forgive man’s sins! This question has been misunderstood by many believers. They consider that God forgives sinners’ sins because He is generous. This concept is wrong! The Bible does not say that God forgives sinners because He is tolerant, plays deaf, or is careless. Romans 5:21 says, “In order that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Sin reigns by itself, but grace reigns through righteousness! Grace does not reign by itself! We must know that God has not only grace but also righteousness! God delights not only in saving man but also in safeguarding man’s salvation with righteousness! For God to give us grace does not mean that God is generous to forgive our sins in a loose way. Rather, God devised and worked out a solution to the problem of our sins, affording us the opportunity to be saved! If we misunderstand God’s grace and consider it merely as God’s generosity, the Cross of Christ would be unnecessary and totally meaningless! Certainly without the love of God, there is no Cross of Christ! But if there is only God’s love without God’s righteousness, there would still be no Cross of Christ! God knows that we have sinned, and He cannot overlook our sin. Since we have no way to settle this sin, He caused His Son to bear our sins on the Cross and solved the problem of sin once for all. This is God’s grace! God’s grace solves the problem of sin and then forgives our sin. This is why the Lord had to die before we could even possibly be saved!
A sinner is reckoned as a sinner because: (1) his conduct is bad; (2) his nature is corrupted; and (3) God’s righteous law has judged him. In saving a sinner God must: (1) forgive his sins, that is, his bad conduct; (2) regenerate him by giving him a new life; and (3) justify him. The Lord Jesus has received the punishment of sins and died for us. God will forgive us. Some think that we have to beg God until He changes His mind. This is wrong! We can obtain forgiveness because God has poured out His wrath and laid our sins upon the Lord Jesus! Therefore, we can say, “Thank and praise God that the Lord Jesus has been judged.” Righteousness requires a punishment only once; there will be no more punishment.
(7) Grace does not directly forgive a believer’s sins. This principle is the same as the one above. Suppose a Christian, after being saved, is incidentally overcome by transgressions and repents. He does not need to beg God in order for God to forgive him. He does not have to ask God to do something today, but believe in what Christ has already done! God is righteous! Since the Lord Jesus has died, God will forgive those who have received salvation. If a Christian, unfortunately, commits sins, he must be clear about four things: (1) by confessing his sins, he will obtain forgiveness (1 John 1:9); (2) any kind of sin can be forgiven (vv. 7, 9; “cleanses us from every sin” and “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” means all); (3) before he confesses his sins, God is willing to forgive him because the Lord Jesus is his Advocate before God (2:1-2); and (4) God forgives and cleanses him because, on the one hand, God is faithful and righteous and, on the other hand, the Lord Jesus is the Righteous One!
Verses and footnotes are taken from The Holy Bible Recovery Version and Words of Ministry from The Collected Works of Brother Watchman Nee, Set 1, Vol. 20, Questions on the Gospel, Question One, and [with personal enlightenment and inspiration]. Both are published by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA. All Rights Reserved.
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To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.
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