Can We Fall From Grace?! The Rest of All About Grace
Updated: Jul 5
Grace can be Fallen From?
If you have ever observed someone who seems to have fallen from grace, who seems to have abandoned the gospel, know that it is because they have simply renounced God's grace by no longer relying on it - they never did believe in the gospel. Paul tells us in Romans that all things work together for good who love God, to those He predestined, these He called, those He called, He justified; and those He justified, He glorified (Romans 8:28-30). If you attempt to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace. If we truly have the Spirit within us, we will live in a way that demonstrates that reality (Gal. 5:1-6). Manifold Grace through Gifts, Miracles, etc.
Before Peter addressed suffering for God's glory, he preached about serving for God's glory. We are to minister our gifts to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10). Paul preached something similar in Romans 12:3-8, emphasizing that God has dealt to each one a measure of faith and each one of us have different functions, variable according to the grace given to us, the gifts of prophesy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, the gift of giving, leadership, and the gift of mercy.
Grace for Eternal Life
The apostle Peter, also greeting with "grace to you", fortifies his readers in order that they might endure sufferings for Jesus' sake by grounding their assurance in Christ's redemptive work and by invoking their exalted identity as God's church. In living before our Father, Peter basically tells us to "grab a deep seat in the saddle" and rest our hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. We are to be obedient, sober, and holy because God is holy (1 Peter 1:13).
Grace, is the source of:
Grace in Salvation
The Pharisees insisted that circumcision was necessary for salvation and demanded obedience to the law of Moses. Not long before this, Paul had been stoned by the Jews from Antioch and Iconium for preaching against idolatry and now he is faced with having to push against this false teaching about salvation. Jewish Christian feared that their nation heritage was threatened. Paul preached that salvation could not be earned. There was such a conflict regarding circumcision that the issue could not be resolved in the usual manner by the leaders in Antioch, so it was referred to a wider circle involving the apostles and elders of the mother church in Jerusalem. Thankfully, Paul tells us that circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing but keeping the commandments of God is what matters (1 Cor 7:19).
Grace in the Call of God
Paul is conscious that his apostleship is in continuity with the OT prophetic tradition that he says, "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace…(Gal. 1:15). Paul's call to be an apostle, like the faith of every believer, is the product of Gods prior grace. Before birth, before we could do anything good or bad, God chose to create faith us. No one can earn Gods call; it is a free gift. In fact, God's effectual and inward call, is by irresistible grace. Oh, we have all resisted it and we continue to resist it in our fallen state, but God's grace prevails over our natural resistance and that is why it is called His irresistible grace. God always gets His will.
Grace is the Source of Faith
When Apollos arrived at Ephesus, his brothers in the body exhorted the disciples to receive him and he greatly helped those who had believed through grace (Acts 18:27). Apollos was an eloquent speaker and mighty in the scriptures and he was a formidable gospel advocate in the Jewish community at Ephesus.
Grace, the Source of Justification
Paul tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In scripture, justification is the opposite of condemnation. Justification is final and irreversible (Romans 8:1, 33, 34). Believers are united in faith alone to Christ in His resurrection. Christ was raised because of our justification (Romans 4:25). We are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24). Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39).
Grace, is the Source of Forgiveness
According to the riches of His grace, we have the forgiveness of sins, the redemption through His blood (Eph. 1:7). Not only that but we have the first fruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, we groan like a mother in labor because this present condition of creation is not its final one (Romans 8:22-25). We are eagerly awaiting the adoption, the redemption of our body. We are in the process of salvation and God longs to see it fulfilled. We have the Holy Spirit as a down payment. (2 Cor.1:22, Eph. 1:13-14). Our salvation will not be consummated until the resurrection, the full realization of adoption in Christ (Romans 23). Our Christian life involves patiently waiting in hope, a hope unseen, and therefore we persevere, for who in their right mind hopes for what they can already see? (Romans 24-25).
Grace, the source of Consolation
Second Thessalonians is rich in instruction about the return of Christ. Paul stresses the implications of Christ's return for both unbelievers and believers. Jesus will appear "With His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1:7,8). We and our succeeding generations can be consoled by the fact that Jesus is just. For believers, the day of judgement will be a day when Jesus is "glorified in His saints and admired among all those who believe" (1:10; cf. 2:14). Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work (2 Thess. 3:16).
Grace, Described as:
The apostle Paul writes in his letter to Timothy that the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love to him as a blaspheming persecutor (1 Tim. 1:14). That's what God does. God floods all the depths of sin with Divine grace. Imagine the total amount of sin being committed every second by every person in the world and yet God's grace is still far more abundant than all that sin (Rom. 5:12). Paul says that Christ was rich. That makes sense, after all, everything is His. Yet He gave up His heavenly glory, became poor, for our sakes. He loves us so much that He gave Himself for us. His grace is sufficient for all of us (2 Cor. 12:9). Without grace, there is no faith. Faith lays hold on, and love constrains to serve and adore.
God's grace accomplishes His purposes in a fallen world. In First Corinthians chapter 12 we read that Paul was caught up in paradise, perhaps an invisible dwelling place of God, beyond the clouds and birds, and the stars. After fourteen years, Paul finally reveals this occurrence, but he does so under the pretense of it happening to someone else, being careful of self-promotion. Paul does not repeat the things he heard while he was caught up in the third heaven and boasts about being given a thorn in the flesh. Many possibilities have been suggested for this "thorn", but Scholars have not come to an agreement among the hundreds of commentators. Paul pleads three times for God to remove the thorn and here we have one example about a request that God did not fulfill. Instead, God will accomplish His purposes without taking from His servant the thorn that seems to hinder him. Few of God's servants have been free from at least some kind of hindrance, weakness, or opposition. Think about all the persecutions and harassment Paul has had to endure. God's grace is not only sufficient for us, but His strength is made perfect in weakness.
The thought of God's almighty love leads to an extravagant outpouring of praise. We praise His glory. We rejoice that God chooses people for a relationship with Himself (Romans 8:29-33; 9:6-26; Col. 3:12; Titus 1:1). It isn't that God foresaw us who would have faith and choose us. God chooses us for His own good pleasure before even the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) and not based on anything we do or will do. Not of our will but of God who shows mercy (Romans 9:16). God's choice has always had in view a fallen people in union with the Redeemer. God's law is for the fallen and for anything else contrary to the glorious gospel of the Blessed God (1 Tim. 1-12).
Wrapped in great grace and with great power, the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter and Paul get arrested for helping this 40-year old man and are brought before the Sanhedrin for questioning. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly announces that "Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands before you whole" (Acts 4:10). God's grace is so great that the courage and knowledge of the unschooled Galilean fishermen astonishes the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious council.
As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10). As an adjective, manifold is many and varied. As a noun, manifold is something which branches into several openings. The intake manifold of a car's engine directs fuel vapor to each cylinder to support combustion. Oh, but so much greater is the manifold grace of God branching throughout all of creation. God's manifold grace, of which we are to be stewards, is variegated and rich in variety. Stewards served as a house master, had no wealth of their own, but distributed his master's wealth according to his master's will and direction. Peter divided Christian service into two general categories: the one who speaks and the one who serves. Recall Acts chapter 6 where the Hellenists, that is the Greek-speaking Jews, rightfully complained because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. Having resettled in Judea from the dispersion, the widows, poor and needy, were considered outsiders by the native-born Hebrews or Aramaic-speaking Jews. Believers exercise their spiritual gifts in service to each other by the manifold grace of God. The praise and credit for Christian ministry must always be given to Christ.
Rich and undeserved
God is rich in mercy and by grace we are saved (Eph. 2:4-5). To say that God is rich in mercy continues the characteristic way of Ephesians in describing His generosity as he distributes his spiritual resources. Paul shows that God’s love is active, not merely abstract. It is also undeserved. Deuteronomy 7:7–9 shows that God did not set his affection on his people because of their achievements but because of his love for them. Paul, the blasphemer and persecutor, certainly did not deserve God's mercy (1 Tim. 1:13). God's grace is the reason we are made alive with Christ. Paul not only introduces the idea of grace but also identifies the resurrection of Christ as a saving work. For the first-century Jewish reader or hearer, salvation was a frequent and wonderful act of God in Old Testament times by which he intervened in the life of his people at crucial moments and rescued them from disaster. People were saved from military defeat, from other threats to personal health, from danger of various sorts and from spiritual ruin.
Grace in Believers
Believers are Under Grace
Believers are under grace, not the law. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14). Believers are under somewhat similar parallels. As many of us that were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him through baptism into death and just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3,4). Just because we are under grace and as sin abounds, grace abounds even more, we are not to continue in sin. Paul was accused of antinomianism (released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law) but grace gives us the assurance that sin is no longer the master and we no longer allow sin to usurp authority in our lives (Romans 6:1-14).
Believers Receive Grace
In God's fulness, we have received, grace for grace. The first grace in this phrase may infer that the law imparted to Moses was a gift of God's grace and the second grace in the phrase is what followed as the fuller grace revealed in Jesus. We receive God's grace from His inter-Trinitarian, gift-giving life.
Believers Stand in Grace
As believers, we live in a state of grace. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance character; and character, hope" (Romans 5:1-5) And hope does not disappoint. Instead of estrangement, there is now peace; in place of falling short of God's glory through sin, there is hope of glory; instead of suffering judgement, there is joy in tribulation because of what God produces through it; instead of fearful uncertainty, there is assurance of God's love and joy in Him.
Believers Are to be Strong in Grace
Paul exhorts Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus and he draws three analogies to Timothy's ministry: endure hardship like a good soldier of Jesus Christ; as an athletic, compete according to the rules; and the hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops (2 Tim. 2:1-6). The athletic and farmer analogies add a promise of future reward, which is the consummation of our salvation in our glorification.
Believers Grow in Grace
Peter write his second letter as a warning to recipients of false teaching. He exhorts them to faithfully grow and add to their faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control, perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. Peter warns them about destructive doctrines and about the doom of the depraved and false teachers. The Lord knows what to do about those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, who despise authority. The deceptive false teachers who professed to being Christians are like dogs who return to their own vomit. Peter finishes up by telling them to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Believers Speak with Grace
In Ephesians chapter four, Paul outlines six concrete ways for the Ephesian Christians to speak with grace by putting off their old self and putting on the new man: they must turn from lying to telling the truth; from uncontrolled anger to self-control; from stealing to useful labor; from harmful to helpful speech; from bitterness to love; and from unrestrained sexual desires to thankful acknowledgement of God's good gifts. In Colossians 4:6, Paul says "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt…" The words we use and the way that we say them matter. As Christians, we live in a state of grace (see Stand of Grace); therefore, our conversation should always be with the graciousness appropriate to Christians. In the days of old, salt could be used to preserve food, sterilize a container, or as a seasoning. Paul means that conversation was to be seasoned, acceptable, not offensive. Sound answers offered with a loving spirit overcome resistance to the gospel.
Dangers of Grace
Grace can be Abused
Like Peter, Jude also warns about the dangers of false teachers who turn the grace of our God into lewdness. Again, this whole misunderstanding that grace releases one from observing moral law (antinomianism) was a persistent problem in the early church. We find instances in Romans 3:8, 6:15; 1 Cor. 6:12-15; and Gal. 5:13. Paul's emphasis on justification by grace through faith was misunderstood and perverted.
Grace can be Frustrated
Paul, to the church in Galatia, preaches: "But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinner, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain" (Gal. 2:17-21)
Types of Grace
Protestants, Roman Catholics, Wesleyan-Arminians, the Free Grace, the Reformed, and the Orthodox all formulate their views on grace differently. The central issue separating them tends to do with when or how merit (good works) cooperates with divine favor.
God's work of providence, preserving His creation, is not something He needs to do. He did not need to create the universe and the universe endures only because of God's common grace. God needs nothing outside of Himself. Genesis 8:22 tells us, "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease." God did not leave creation or humanity alone and allow sin to wreak complete havoc. Thus, after the fall, by the work of the Holy Spirit, God sustains creation by interposing his grace. In distinction from special grace, by which God renews and redeems his people, common grace restrains sin, maintains human life and culture, and bestows gifts to all people indiscriminately. Common grace is the totality of general favor God shows mankind and is just short of saving grace. Common grace is a category used most often in Reformed theology, set apart from other categories of grace. God through the Son "upholds the universe by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:2-3; John 1:1-4). The Protestant Reformed Church of America refutes common grace because they do not believe God would give common grace (good things) to the unbelievers.
God’s common grace is seen in the establishment of various structures within human society. People who do not believe in God open day cares, orphanages, and hospitals and make large donations to charities. Nonbelievers are capable of making beautiful music and movies, writing books, and creating magnificent architecture. Cain's descendants were ranchers, musicians, and they forged tools out of bronze and iron; all helpful things that are good for humanity (Gen. 4:20-22). God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt. 5:45). His mercy is over all that he has made (Ps. 145:9). It is by common grace we are able to relate to nonbelievers, work alongside and minister to them, and enjoy their works in the world when it does not offend Christian values and lead us into sinful behavior. Good and evil are so intertwined today. We need good judgement and steadfastness to recognize and reject evil, and the wisdom and perseverance to illuminate the good for ourselves and others.
At a foundational level, God has ordained the family unit. Even pagan parents typically know that they should nurture their children (Matt. 7:9-10) and raise them to become responsible adults. We can have common grace and spiritual separation. Moses Amyraut, originally a lawyer,2 distinguished between objective grace (common grace) which is offered to all, and subjective grace (special grace) in the heart which is given only to the elect. 3
The grace that comes before justification is prevenient grace. The words prevenient and preventing come from a Latin root word that means to precede. Preceding the point of when a person makes a free choice for or against God is what in Wesleyan-Arminian theology is called prevenient grace.
The spiritual work of applying Christ's atonement to humans is called special grace. Special grace is saving grace. Reformed theology states that saving grace is effectual and irresistible because it is sovereignly ordered by God. (See Grace in the Call of God).
You can perceive the grace given to someone else. (Gal. 2:9). James, Cephas, and John were pillars, having important leadership roles, and had special authority in the early Jerusalem church. They perceived the grace that had been given to Paul and gave Paul and Barnabas the challenge to preach to the Gentiles while they went to the circumcised (the Jews).
Justifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace
Sanctification is applied justification and we are instantly justified at conversion. All our sins are wiped away; it is God's declaration of righteousness. We proceed from there to spend our lifetime becoming sanctified, becoming healed of the dysfunctionality of sin. Both Justification and sanctification can be viewed as future graces because these particular events do not happen until we are called by God. Since all spiritual blessings, justification and sanctification included, are the Christian’s the moment he or she is “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), sanctification is total and final in one sense (Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Cor. 6:11). Yet, unlike justification, sanctification also continues until it will be consummated when Jesus Christ returns. For then we will be like him (1 John 3:2)—perfect and complete. Sanctification, therefore, has an initial, progressive, and final phase.
1 K.L. Smith, The Bible and Civil Rights in E.A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSE Study Bible: Notes (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers) P. 1944
2 Scharr, P. The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The History of Creeds, Vol. 1 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1878) p. 480
3 Ibid., p. 481