by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXI

October, 1941

Number 3.

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

People tell me, "I believe every statement in the Bible."  The pity of the situation is, many of them really think they do.  Too many of them depend on their preachers.  If they do not teach certain passages, the people naturally do not know such passages are in the Bible.  

It is not hard to find hundreds of honest people, who do not know that the Bible, (King James Version), says, in II Tim. 1:8, 9: "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me His prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God, Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."  

A brother told me of attending a protracted meeting for almost a week, and, while the preacher taught salvation by works, with all the power of oratory at his command, he did not one time use the word, "grace."  When we remember that the people do not read the Bible, but depend on the preacher to do their reading, we cannot be astonished that they do not even know that the word says that salvation in NOT by works, but IS by grace.  

The fact that the two words are used in contrast, should show to any thoughtful person, the meaning of grace.  If God does not give salvation because the people have done works, and, therefore deserve it, it naturally follows that He gives it to those who do NOT deserve it.  And this is what grace is - it is favor shown to those who deserve the opposite.  

While Paul says more about grace than does any other writer, yet the subject is not, by any means, confined to his writings.  We find it all through the Scriptures.  

After the transgression of Adam, God gave no law to humanity for hundreds of years.  If salvation were by works, it would necessarily be works of obedience to God's commands.  In that case, no one from Adam to the deluge, or flood, would have had a chance of salvation, for God gave them no law.  But there were people during that period who were saved, in expectation.  That is, they enjoyed the expectation of salvation, Rom. 8:24.  The case of Abel in enlightening.  "And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering," Gen. 4:4.  Notice, the Lord had respect unto Abel, before He had respect unto his offerings.  Abel had not obeyed any expressed command of God.  But God's respect unto him enabled him to make an acceptable offering.  This is grace, although the word is not used in this passage.  Much more enlightening is the case of Noah: "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord," Gen 6:8.  This grace was extended to him before he obeyed god in the building of the ark.  

In the case of Abraham the same truth is found.  God called him, Gen. 12:1.  This was grace, and the later obedience of Abram, as his name was at the time, had nothing to do with it.  It was grace, and not works, that made Isaac the son of promise.  Grace found the unworthy Jacob in the wilderness, and led him to trust God and love Him.  It was grace that made Moses the chosen one of God, to deliver Israel from bondage.  

The Circumcision scriptures do not feature grace, but they do mention it several times, and it is implied in many other passages.  When I say the "Circumcision scriptures," I mean all the sacred writings our side of Paul's.  Beginning with Abel, Heb. 11 mentions by name, no less than 16 persons who lived in the days before the birth of Christ, declaring that they did certain things through faith.  In addition to those mention is made of the "the Prophets."  While much is said of faith, by modern preachers, no notice is taken of the fact that faith is based on grace.  But it is so.  Paul says, in I Tim. 1:14, "And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."  You may take either rendering, and the fact remains that faith and love are contained in grace.  No one obtains the grace of salvation because of faith and love.  We have faith and love because the grace of salvation is given to us.  If preachers could grasp this, they would preach differently.  They harass the people with the necessity of believing, and of loving God, as if folks could do this by their own power.  Let them all insist that grace, the unmerited favor of God, must first be given by the sovereign act of God, and that faith and love follow as consequences - let  them preach this way, and they will really be "feeding" the saints.  

Paul teaches this same truth in Eph. 2:8.  Grace is first mentioned, and then faith is declared to be the "gift of God," King James Version, or "God's obligation," Concordant Version.  Take either rendering, and you are yet faced with the fact that faith does not come by the efforts of man.  And, indeed, how could it?  If you believe in me, or believe me, your faith is based on something I have done.  So must your faith in God depend on Him.  

It is significant that "church" people, (synagogue members), were offended when Christ preached grace to them, Luke 4.  He was preaching in Nazareth, and the people wanted to kill Him because He spoke gracious words, or words of grace.  This showed that they were no more acquainted with their scriptures than are many church people of today.  His text, correctly rendered, reads as follows: "The spirit of the Lord is on Me, on account of which He anoints Me to preach the evangel to the poor.  He has commissioned He to heal the crushed in heart, to proclaim a pardon to the captives, and the recovering of sight to the blind, to dispatch the oppressed with a pardon, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."  He read from Isa. 61.  How could He preach the text and not preach grace? 

If your heart is crushed can you heal it by works?  If you were in captivity, would it be good news if someone should tell you to break loose?  Would you not much rather hear one proclaim that you are pardoned?  What kind of works would it tike for a blind person to recover his sight?  Does it not require an act of grace by someone who has the power to restore sight?  No wonder the Lord preached grace!  

Since justification now takes the place of pardon, the preaching of grace is sweeter to poor, crushed, imprisoned winners, than was the case then.  For justification is God's act of declaring us righteous.  It is done, not simply by grace, but IN Grace, as the correct rendering of Rom. 3:24 will show.  It is through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus.  In other words, it is based on the blood of Christ. 

Israel was placed under the old covenant, but no one was ever saved by it.  If it had been satisfactory as a means of salvation, why should Christ have become the Mediator of a better covenant, based on better promises, Heb. 8:6?  Under the old covenant, God said, " I will if you will."  Is the new covenant any better?  Is not, if its blessings are dependent on man's obedience.  Under the new covenant, God says, " I will and they shall."  The promises have to be like this, to be better than those of the old covenant.  

In a figure of speech Paul speaks of a new covenant for us, gentiles, II Cor. 3:6.  Thus he shows us it is what may be called a covenant of grace.  All through his writings he is careful to show us that salvation is not according to works. 

While no one was saved by the old covenant, many were saved during the time Israel was under it.  They could not be saved be it, for they did not keep it.  They were saved by grace, even in those days.  Gentiles were under no covenant.  God gave them no law.  When He was giving the law, He was extremely careful to specify that it was for Israel.  Gentiles are under no law now.  Whether a person is under law or not, that person is saved by grace, if he is saved at all.  And grace is the unmerited favor of God.  

Let us not think that, because Christ had not actually died, His blood had no efficacy.  In God's reckoning, the sacrifice is older than sin.  The Lamb was slain, so far as God's propose was concerned, long, long ago.  God did not have to wait until Christ actually died, to begin calling men into fellowship with Himself.  

The law was written on tables of stone.  Why did some Israelites feel the force of God's commandments, and understand them?  Simply because God had done for them, as individuals, what He will do for Israel collectively, under the new covenant.  He had written His laws in their hearts, and imparted them to their comprehension.  They obeyed the law.  This did not save them; it showed they were saved, in expectation, of course.  No one is saved beyond that, as yet.  

For centuries God was demonstrating through Israel, that man cannot save himself.  In the ministry of Christ, this demonstration went on.  Thousands were baptized, and many on them turned out to be murderers at heart, Acts 21.  This shows that baptism cannot save.  John explains many things that we fail to grasp as we read Matthew, Mark and Luke.  He shows that while Christ's own nation accepted Him not, some obtained Him.  These were begotten of God.  They did not beget themselves.  John shows that if anyone comes to Christ it is because the Father draws him, and that all these shall come, and none others can, John 6.  He shows that the woman of Samaria was saved, and that works had nothing to do with it.  It was by grace, John 4.  He quotes Christ as teaching the necessity of the new birth, John 3.  

For us , Paul teaches the new creation, II Cor. 5:17.  But whether it be the new birth for Israel or the new creation for us, it is bound to be by grace since no one can cause himself to be either born or created.  

The text quoted near the beginning of this editorial is instructive.  God saves us and calls us.  This is NOT in accord with our works.  It is in accord with God's purpose, and the grace that was given us in Christ Jesus before the times of the eons.  This grace was given, and the purpose was formed, before we were on the scene, and, thereforse, before we could have anything to do with it. 

Since salvation is by grace, no one can boast of being worthy of it.  It flows from the love of God, is carried out in accord with His purpose, and is accomplished by His grace.  More over, it is trough the blood of Christ. 

The question naturally arises: If Israel as well as the ecclesia which is the body of Christ are both saved by grace, what is the difference between the evangel of the Circumcision, and that of the Circumcision, and that of the Uncircumcision?  Perhaps I will write on that next time. 

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