From Law to Grace (2)

Keeping Mutually Dependent Concepts Distinct

Kevin Schaal

II. The Remedy of Grace

A. Grace for salvation

The initial work of Grace.

1. Definition of grace

Finding an overall definition of grace in a theology book is a rare thing. In fact, try as they might, theologians struggle to explain it in a sufficient manner.

Grace means favor, mercy, pardon. Grace and love are essentially the same, only Grace is love manifesting itself and operating under certain conditions, and adapting itself to certain circumstances. As, for instance, love has no limit or law such as Grace has. Love may exist between equals, or it may rise to those above us, or flow down to those in any way beneath us. But Grace, from its nature, has only one direction it can take. GRACE ALWAYS FLOWS DOWN. Grace is love indeed, but it is love to creatures humbling itself. A king’s love to his equals, or to his own royal house, is love; but his love to his subjects is called grace. And thus it is that God’s love to sinners is always called GRACE in the Scriptures. It is love indeed, but it is love to creatures, and to creatures who do not deserve his love. And therefore all His does for us in Christ, and all that is disclosed to us of His goodwill in the Gospel, is called Grace.[1]

a. Positional aspect of grace in salvation

Salvation is credited to the believer by the work of Christ. It is God doing for us in establishing our relationship with Him that we could not do for ourselves.

b. Empowerment aspect of grace in sanctification

Scriptures clearly teach that grace includes the blessing of a divine empowerment both for service and for sanctification. The grace of God gives us the ability to live in Christ the life that we cannot live in the power of the flesh. The grace/gifts demonstrate the empowerment of God through grace to function effectively in the corporate setting of the local church.

2. Means of grace
a. One means of grace

Grace is accessed through faith. Saving faith includes an understanding God’s truth, acknowledgment of the veracity of that truth and the placement of dependence upon that truth.

b. Two sides of saving faith.
1) Depend

Put your trust in, put your confidence in something or someone — the idea here would be the whole man turning to Christ.

2) Repent

Saving faith is an exclusive faith. Repentance is the whole man turning from sin.[2] True faith cannot occur without completely removing dependence from the previous object of dependence. That is why men were called to “turn to God from idols.” The idol was the previous object of dependence and accordingly an object of allegiance.

3. Role of the law
a. Excluded completely in obtaining grace

While grace satisfies the demands of the law, the law is not a means of obtaining grace. The very concept of grace denies any meritorious seizing upon it.

b. Excluded completely from maintaining grace

Again, if we live in grace, the law is not the means by which grace has any continuing benefit. Merit has no place in the continuing benefit of grace.

B. Grace for sanctification

The continuing work of Grace. It is the same grace as it is the same Spirit.

1. Explanation of Sanctification

Sanctification is that continuous work of the Holy Spirit using the Word to strengthen the new life begun at regeneration.

Just as justification is not of works, so also sanctification is not of human efforts. It is as hard for a saved man to forsake human effort and yield to the Holy Spirit for growth as it is for an unsaved man to forsake works and trust Christ for salvation.[3]

2. Role of the law
a. Satisfaction of the law in Christ

All the righteous demands of the law are satisfied in Christ.

b. Freedom from the law (Romans 8:2)

Grace was not intended to give a believer power to perform the law. He is free from the law. It rather restores a believer to that relationship with Christ that ultimately ends in Christlikenss.

3. Role of the spirit

A new law, the law of the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)

a. The introduction of the law of the Spirit

The law of the Spirit is a new law that is not the same as the Old Testament law. It is the ethical standard demanded of the New Testament Believer that grows from and is powered by a relationship with God and the indwelling Christ by means of the Sprit of God.

b. Its relationship to the Old Testament law

The Old Testament law is no longer in force. The New Testament standard is Christ-likeness, which is a higher standard that the Old Testament law. The law says “love your neighbor as yourselves.” Grace says, “love one another as I have loved you.” Obeying the law mimics the picture of God, becoming Christlike reflects God Himself.

c. The operating force of the law

The empowerment to live in a way that pleases God in this dispensation is through the work of the Spirit of God.

There has been a running debate in modern evangelicalism that is just now beginning to sweep into fundamental circles concerning views of sanctification. At odds are the reformed view espoused by B.B. Warfield and the Augustinian/Dispensational view that was historically the view of dispensationalists (L.S. Chafer). Certain segments of fundamentalism have made a transition to the reformed concept of sanctification in the last 30 years.

In my opinion, there are four primary reasons for this transition. First, there was a reaction to the charismatic errors in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as the movement exploded in the 1960’s and ‘70’s. Second, the influence of Jay Adams upon fundamentalists has been great. While his approach to counseling using scripture is commendable, his theology of sanctification and interpretations of those scriptures are decidedly reformed. Third, there has been a well-deserved reaction to the “easy-believism” (I hesitate to use a term with such a varied number of definitions) type of soul-winning practices still prevalent in some circles. Fourth, there has been a clearly reformed influence on the faculty of some fundamental schools.

Some see this transition as a good thing. Others mourn it. It is yet to be determined how a reformed view of sanctification can rise in consistency out of a dispensational understanding of scripture. This is an issue with which many leaders in fundamentalism will wrestle. There will be heat. We must be careful not to make issues out of things which have never been a test of orthodoxy in the process of iron sharpening iron.

C. Grace of glorification

The completed work of Grace in salvation.

1. Definition of glorification (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Philippians 3:20-21).
2. Relationship to the law

In glorification, all righteous demands of God are satisfied both in position and in experience. There is no more condem- nation and there is no more remnant of the fall in the glorified believer.

3. Relationship to grace

It is the ultimate expression of the grace that is our salvation.

If there is a clear delineation between law and grace, we must be careful not to mix the two.

It is, however, of the most vital moment to observe that Scripture never, in any dispensation, mingles these two principles. Law always has a place and work distinct and wholly diverse from that of grace. Law is God prohibiting, and requiring (Ex. 20:1,17); grace is God beseeching, and bestowing (2 Cor. 5:18, 21). Law is a ministry of condemnation (Rom. 3:19); grace, of forgiveness (Eph. 1:7). Law curses (Gal. 3:10); grace redeems from that curse (Gal. 3:1). Law kills (rom. 7:9-11); grace makes alive (John 10:10). Law shuts every mouth before God; grace opens every mouth to praise Him. Law puts a great and guilty distance between man and God (Ex. 20:18, 19); grace makes guilty man right to God (Eph. 2:13). Law says, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (Ex. 21:24); grace says, “Resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5:39). Law says, “Hate thine enemy”; grace, “Love your enemies, bless them that despitefully use you.” Law says, do and live (Luke 10:26, 28); grace believe and live (John 5:24). Law never had a missionary; grace is to be preached to every creature. Law utterly condemns the best man (Phil. 3:4, 9); grace freely justifies the worst (Luke 23:24; Rom. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:15; 1 Cor. 6:9, 11). Law is a system of probation; grace, of favor. Law stones an adulteress (Deut. 22:21); grace says, “Neither do I condemn thee” (8:1, 11). Under law the sheep dies for the shepherd; under grace the shepherd dies for the sheep (John 10:11).[4]

To be continued…

Dr. Kevin Schaal is the pastor of Northwest Valley Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona. He is also the Chairman of the Board for the FBFI.

  1. Alexander Whyte quoted by Thomas Spurgeon, “Salvation by Grace,” The Fundamentals (Volume 3), (Bible Institute of Los Angeles, 1917, reprinted by Baker, 2000) p. 112. []
  2. Warren Vanhetloo, class syllabus for Salvation, Calvary Baptist Seminary, Lansdale, PA, n.p. []
  3. Warren Vanhetloo, class syllabus for Salvation, Calvary Baptist Seminary, Lansdale, PA, n.p. []
  4. C. I. Scofield, “The Grace of God,” The Fundamentals, vol. 3, (Bible Institute of Los Angeles, 1917, reprinted by Baker, 2000), pp.100-101. []