A major problem in religion today is a misconception of law
and grace. This has been a stumbling block from the time sin entered the
A failure to grasp the subject is fatal to the soul. Grace is the foundation
of redemption. The one who errs here will miss heaven. (Ephesians 2:8-10).
A cardinal fallacy is the doctrine that law excludes grace. This position
creates paramount issues. If grace excludes law, it excludes obedience. Law
is essential to obedience. One must have something to obey. One cannot obey
The religious world generally denies the necessity of obedience in becoming
a Christian. Some equate obedience with works that do not save. But James
2:14-26 — along with other passages — cannot be harmonized with the
doctrine of "faith alone."
Others know obedience is essential, yet struggle in trying to exclude law,
but not obedience. If grace excludes all law, no door is open for obedience.
If law excludes grace, one of two things must follow: either there is no
room for obedience, or if obedience is essential, one must explain what must
be obeyed. One may say "commandments" must be obeyed, but this will not
resolve the issue. A difference in "command" and "law" cannot be explained
by those who reject law but want to retain commands. "Blessed are the
undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord... Then shall I not be
ashamed, when I have respect to all thy commandments." (Psalm 119:1,6).
Law and commandments are synonymous terms throughout the Bible.
Does grace exclude obedience to the commands of the gospel? The gospel has
commands. (1 Corinthians 14:37). God would not provide salvation by grace
and give commands that conflict with grace.
Some say grace and commands harmonize. If grace and commands harmonize,
grace and law also harmonize. The exclusion of law excludes commands. There
is no way one can exclude law and include commands.
Denominational preachers try to avoid the problem by teaching obedience is
not essential in becoming a Christian, but is necessary for the Christian.
When pressed, they will deny that one's obedience has anything to do with
salvation, but they refuse to teach their members obedience is not
important. Thus, they find themselves in a strange situation—obedience is
important, but not required.
Some say, "But a Christian will want to obey." Why obey something that has
no relationship to going to heaven?
Let me raise some questions for those teaching that grace excludes law. Is
grace no longer essential after becoming a Christian? When one is saved by
grace, does he then live the Christian life by law without grace? Surely
not. Does it not follow that one obeys after becoming a Christian and that
obedience does not conflict with grace? When the Christian obeys, what is
obeyed? If commands, it is law.
One not only becomes a Christian by faith, but the Christian lives by faith. (Galatians 2:11, 20). One cannot live the Christian life by faith
alone—that is, faith minus obedience. Then why think one may become a
Christian by faith minus obedience?
No one denies a Christian must be obedient. (Hebrews 5:8-9). What does
the Christian obey? Is it law? If not, what does he obey? If law, then law
does not exclude grace. Christians are not sinlessly perfect. That kind of
imperfection requires grace.
There is the second law of pardon for the Christian. I do not hesitate to
refer to it as the law of pardon for a Christian. When a Christian sins, he
must repent. (Acts 8:22). He must confess his sin and pray. (1
John 1:7-9; Acts 8:22).
Would one deny that a Christian must obey these commands? When one obeys
them, is it submission to law? Does one's obedience cancel out grace?
When one is forgiven, it must be in one of two ways—merit or grace.
Forgiveness by merit is an impossibility. Pardon is extended only through
grace. When a Christian sins, repents, confesses it, and prays, he has
submitted to law and receives pardon. Obedience is necessary, but it does
not earn pardon.
If the second law of pardon does not conflict with grace, why would the
first law of pardon—the one for the alien? Grace does not exclude law if
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