47 Grace Is Sufficient to Save
by Hubert F. Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2013
For we have not an high priest
which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in
all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore
come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find
grace to help in time of need Hebrews 4:15, 16
From the first,
Satan has attacked the covenant of God. He has declared that the law of
God is arbitrary and unnecessary and that it is impossible for created
beings to keep the law of God. He claims that God demands worship and
obedience only for selfish reasons and will do nothing for mankind if it
causes Him discomfort! Satan would have us believe that the Bible and
the story of Creation are a myth. Satan claims that the prophecies of
the Bible are all wrong in their timing and in the events prophesied.
Most of all, he says that Jesus did not need to die and that has His
sacrifice did not benefit humanity as claimed.
A Christian knows
that there is a God because he talks with Him in prayer and God
responds. The Bible is a book that changes the lives of people and
nations. Prophecies are fulfilled as predicted. The law of God brings
peace, freedom, and order in society. Jesus proved His love by His
willingness to live among men and die as a sacrifice on Calvary.
The focus of the covenant of grace is to show God’s initiative in saving
humankind. Jesus, the Creator God, became a human and lived a sinless
life as a human (1 Tim. 3:16; Phil. 2:5-8). This life He gave as a
sacrifice on Calvary so that we might live.Humankind “Bought
With a Price”
After Adam and Eve sinned, God came to them in the
cool of the evening and announced that He would put “enmity” between
Satan and humanity (Gen. 3:15). It was God who took the initiative. He
“put” the law back into the heart of mankind. This was a new covenant
There were consequences. Adam had “sold” dominion of the
earth to Satan. He became a slave to sin and had no power to resist.1
Christ came, took authority from His anticipated sacrifice on Calvary
and purchased man again (1 Cor. 6:20).2
By this, Christ brought humans
back into favor with God so that they could receive pardon for sins. He
gave them a new probation to learn about grace and to choose again to
It is not easy for people to choose Christ and
liberation from sin. Satan uses all methods-fair and foul-to keep
mankind enslaved. God, using love and persuasion, gives people freedom
in which to again choose to serve Him. At Creation, God gave humans free
will. Now they must use that free will and consent to the work of grace
in their lives.Overcoming in Christ
The apostle John
received messages for seven churches in Asia Minor while he was on the
Isle of Patmos (Rev. 2 and 3). The messages portray the seven epochs of
Christianity from that day until now. Following each message is a
promise, “To him that overcometh “|” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12,
21). Some claim that once they are “saved,” they do not need to keep the
law and continue to overcome. When people accept Christ and their life
is changed, they receive pardon for sins, salvation, and many spiritual
The sinful nature is still present, and there are
still sins to overcome. Christ stands before the Father for His people.
It is only “in Christ” that a person can be perfect in this life.
However, by continual consent to the work of grace in the life, those
habitual, besetting sins and “blind spots” will be overcome.
sinners see the perfection and holiness of the Son of God, they can only
pray: “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). The victory they
enjoy and the perfection they show are only in Christ. Christ covers
their sinful nature with the white robe of His righteousness. It is only
when “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption” (1 Cor. 15:53)
that Christ removes the sinful nature.
As Jesus looks upon these
ones, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be
satisfied” (Isa. 53:11). Again we read: “Looking unto Jesus the author
and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him
endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right
hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).The Life of Victory
Satan has been all too successful in deceiving the world into sin.
There has always been a faithful remnant-God’s unique people. These make
God first in their lives and consent to the work of grace that changes
their lives. Being human, they still have the sinful nature. Even God’s
people will sometimes yield to sin. This becomes a peculiar problem to
David was a man after God’s own heart. He sinned grievously
with Bathsheba and in arranging for the death of Uriah the Hittite. When
the prophet Nathan pointed out his sin (2 Sam. 12:1-7), David repented
deeply and sought the Lord (Ps. 51). Nathan gave David his judgment,
with the preface: “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great
occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Sam. 12:14).
If one of God’s people sins, it is hard to repent, and it is an
insult and a disgrace to Jesus.
If those who hide and excuse
their faults could see how Satan exults over them, how he taunts Christ
and holy angels with their course, they would make haste to confess 264
More Than a Promise their sins and [repent]. Through defects in the
character, Satan works to gain control of the whole mind, and he knows
that if these defects are cherished, he will succeed. Therefore, he is
constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with his fatal
sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome. But Jesus pleads
“| “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:9).”| Let none, then,
regard their defects as incurable. God will give faith and grace to
Satan’s claim is that Jesus died in vain and that
grace cannot change human lives. This is a lie. Before Christ comes
again, He will have a people who gladly show that He has changed their
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened
...who have tasted the goodness of the word of God... If they fall away,
to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are
crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public
disgrace. (Heb. 6:4-6, NIV)
This verse does not speak
besetting sin, but rather speaks of apostasy and rebellion against
Christ. The greatest gift that Christians can give to their Lord, is
their own life, changed by grace. We take comfort in this promise, “If
any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the
righteous” (1 John 2:1).Grace-God’s Gift, God’s Power
Grace is the supernatural power of God by which He pardons sin and
renews the sinner’s life in righteousness. The sinner must accept this
gift by faith and consent to the work of grace to change the life,
choosing to do what is right. It is God’s purpose to restore His image
in man (2 Peter 1:4-11). The Holy Spirit mediates the power of grace to
Before His ascension, Jesus spoke to His disciples,
“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth“ (Matt. 28:18).
Through the authority of the cross, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to
prepare us for heaven and give us power to witness for Him.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the
heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession... For we
have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our
infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without
sin. (Heb. 4:14, 15)
Even in their close association, Jesus could
not tell His disciples everything they needed to know. There were
several reasons for this:
1. There was not time. Jesus was too
busy teaching the people and healing.
2. The disciples could not
understand theology as could Paul. Grace Is Sufficient to Save 265
3. The disciples did not understand Jesus’ mission, even up to the
time of His ascension (Acts 1:6).
The Holy Spirit was promised to
“teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance” (John
14:26). At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the church with power.
He gave the church gifts, by which the gospel went to the then known
He promised these same gifts in Ezekiel and Jeremiah through the
John 6 and 15 emphasize what
it means to have
“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:25). By this grace, God
changes human lives, gives us new birth, and makes of us “a new
creature.”6 This process must take place before Christ comes again. The
character that is formed is the only thing that a person can take to
heaven.Faith, the Hand That Grasps God’s Blessing
grace is the supernatural power of God to change our lives, faith is
another word to describe the experience of the Christian. Faith
describes our relationship with God: trust, belief, love, and a
willingness to obey Him.
Now faith is the substance of things
hoped for, the evidence of things not seen... Through faith we understand
that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are
seen were not made of things which do appear... But without faith, it is
impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he
is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Heb.
11:1, 3, 6)
Since Eden, every human being has been given a spark
of faith and a desire to avoid evil (Gen. 3:15). John wrote: “That was
the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”
(John 1:9). If you choose to obey, you will be led step by step to
Christ. The more you see of the perfection of Christ and the more you
see of the cross of Christ, the more you are motivated to follow Him.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom.
Now, while faith is a gift from God, it is also an action
that comes from within man. Genuine faith is an active faith (James
2:20-26)! Jesus said much about faith, but He did not use big words. He
just said, “Follow me.” If a person refused to “follow” Jesus when
bidden, he or she was not a Christian- plain and simple (Luke 18:18-24).
Faith is what the believer uses to take hold of grace! To understand
must have an intuitive relationship--a commitment-with God.
While faith is a gift and an understanding given by God, all must choose
to exercise their faith to serve God. “Prayer is the key in the hand of
faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless
resources of Omnipotence.”7
The Relationship Between Faith and
A crucial question arises: When Jesus died for all people
and extended His grace to all, was His grace
also effectual for all? By common observation, there are wicked people
in this world. Those who have resisted the grace of God and refused
Christ will be lost.8
Is the justification spoken of in Romans 5:16-18
by faith or before faith? Is faith a form of “works?”
is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see...
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who
comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who
earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:1, 6, NIV).
“So then faith cometh by
hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
describes the relationship a person must have with God. It includes
trust, belief, and love. In that love, there is an emotional component,
a desire for all that God is. Faith is the gift of God, but it must be
exercised by human beings. Grace is by the initiative of God and is the
supernatural action of the Holy Spirit to change human lives.
With this, one can understand that sinners cannot come to God unless God
draws them and opens the way for them. When people are “justified by
faith,” they take God at His word, believe His promise and His covenant,
and accept the grace of God. When Abraham believed God, “It was counted
to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6).
“Let us therefore come
boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find
grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Yet, we must consent to the
work of grace for our life to be changed. This involves our choice, for
grace cannot act in a vacuum. Repentant sinners must choose, must make a
decision, and must commit themselves to Christ to be saved at last. Is
this action a work? Do these things “add something” to the work of
A “work” is usually a ritual, a task, or an act of
obedience by which a person hopes to merit salvation. For the person “in
Christ,” works are the “fruit” of the Spirit--the result of being saved.
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is
no law” (Gal. 5:22, 23).
These are actions and attitudes that are
quite different from consent, choice, decision, or a commitment to serve
Christ. A Christian will be active in his life for Christ. Thus, sinners
do not “work” to merit salvation, but rather show works as the fruit of
their relationship with Christ.Endnotes
loss of freedom (John 8:34; Rom. 6:12, 16, 17, 19-23; 2 Peter 2:19). It
makes people prisoners (Ps. 146:7; Isa. 14:17; 42:7; Zech. 9:12).
could speak of being a prisoner of Jesus, because, though kept in
chains, he had become Jesus’ servant (Greek doulos “slave”) (Eph. 3:1;
4:1; 2 Tim. 1:8; Philemon 1:1, 9).2.
Jesus Christ has authority
(Greek exousia) (Matt. 7:29; 9:6; 28:18; Luke 4:36; 5:24; 9:1; John
5:27; 10:18; 17:2).
Before Him, every knee shall bow (Isa. 45:23; Rom.
14:11; Phil. 2:10).
Salvation is given through the power of God and
Jesus Christ (Exod. 9:16; Deut. 4:37; 9:29; 2 Sam. 22:33; 2 Kings 17:36;
Ezra 8:22; Neh. 1:10; Job 26:12, 14; Ps. 62:11; 66:7; 106:8; Isa. 40:26;
Jer. 32:17; Nahum 1:3; Hab. 3:7).
Jesus possesses power (Greek dunamis)
that He grants to human beings (Matt. 6:13; 24:30; 26:64; Mark 14:62;
Luke 24:49; Rom. 1:4, 16, 20; 1 Cor. 1:24; 4:20; 6:14; 2 Cor. 12:9; Eph.
3:20. Phil. 3:10; Heb. 1:3; 2 Peter 1:16; Rev. 4:11; 7:12).
Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press
Publishing Association, 1911), p. 489. Grace Is Sufficient to Save 267
For texts on the work of God’s grace, see Luke 2:40; John 1:17; Acts
4:33; 11:23; 14:26; 15:40; Romans 1:5; 12:6; 1 Corinthians 3:10; 15:10;
Galatians 1:3; Hebrews 4:16.
For texts on the work of the Holy Spirit,
see Ezekiel 37:11-14; Acts 1:8; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 1
Thessalonians 1:5; and Titus 3:5.
God’s people have His law written in
their heart (Jer. 31:33); they are not condemned because they believe in
the name of Jesus (John 3:18); they have become a new creature (2 Cor.
5:17); they confess their sins and have them forgiven (1 John 1:9); by
abiding in Him they avoid sinning (1 John 3:6-9); by God’s love, they
keep His commandments and keep from sinning (1 John 5:3, 4, 18); Christ
is able to keep us from falling (Jude 1:24). If we do sin, we have an
advocate (1 John 2:1). When God’s people’s “fall away,” they crucify
Christ afresh (Heb. 6:4-6).4.
Paul gives three lists of the
gifts of the Spirit, with variations in each, though “prophets” or
“prophecy” is in each list! (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:11-12).
The New Testament describes the spread of the gospel through the Roman
Empire. Less known is its spread to eastern nations by the Church of the
“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with
the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law
in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their
God, and they shall be my people... And they shall teach no more every man
his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for
they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of
them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will
remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:33, 34).
“A new heart also will I
give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away
the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of
flesh... And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my
statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them... And ye shall
dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my
people, and I will be your God” (Ezek. 36:26-28).6.
that comes by grace is described in Jesus’ words, “Ye must be born
again” (John 3:7). The change that comes from glory to glory is in
Paul’s statement about beholding Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). “If any man be in
Christ, he is a new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17).
It is the will of God that
every person be changed by God’s grace. To be “in Christ” is to be born
again, to become more like Him, to put on the robe of His righteousness,
and to overcome sin. Yet, each person still has old habits and the
sinful nature to overcome. These are covered by the robe of Christ’s
righteousness. With our consent and through God’s grace, the sinful
nature is overcome and new habits are formed. Verses on the new birth
and the overcoming of sin include John 3:3, 6; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1
John 2:1, 2; 3:5-7, 9; 5:18.7.
Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ
(Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association), pp. 94, 95.
The wicked refuse to believe in Christ and are lost (Philip Schaff and
David S. Schaff, The History of Creeds, The Creeds of Christendom [Grand
Rapids: MI: Baker Books, 1983], vol. 1, 6th edition, p. 518).