Message in the Book of Romans

THE MESSAGE IN THE BOOK OF ROMANS                                                      by Stephen Benton

          The contradiction arises mainly because of the Pentecostal misconception of "grace."
          I have listened to many preachers during my lifetime and most of them teach that grace is an element provided by God if and when we sin.  That is true but in a very limited sense.  The full truth of  the matter is that grace was not provided merely as a sin-covering element--it is by grace that we have a standing with God--period!  What does Paul say?

          "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
          By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand..."  Romans 5:1&2
          And Peter?
          "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus,  after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.  To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen                                                  By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand."  1 Peter 5:12

          Grace is not a commodity provided by God in the event you sin, it is a commodity provided by God that allow you to stand if you never commit a single act of sin!  I have defined grace to you again and again as the unearned favor of God.  That means grace is a gift from God that cannot be earned.

          One of the problems with the subject of grace is that too many have limited grace to its usage as set forth in the sixth chapter of Romans where Paul talks about "continuing in sin that grace may abound."  That grace could be defined as sin-covering grace.  But that is only one aspect of grace.  In 2 Corinthians chapter 8 Paul is writing on the subject of giving.  In the seventh verse he admonishes his converts to "...abound in this grace also."  In the sixth chapter of Romans Paul had to combat the idea that if grace is provided because of sin, then the more we sin the more grace we receive.  that erroneous concept led to the false doctrine of eternal security which means that once you got saved, you will always be saved no matter how sinful  you live afterwards.  I mentioned that doctrine briefly in my book stating that I believe in eternal security as long as there is active faith.  Why? because not only do we stand by grace but we also stand by faith (2 Corinthians 1:24)  For the record, I have never and will never preach that once you got saved you will always be saved and never have I preached that grace allows  you to live a life of habitual sin.  If you ever got the impression that I preached that, now you know better.
          Romans chapter 4 verse 9 - 11 says, 

          "Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also"  for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
          How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
          And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.  Romans 4:9-11

          Let me tell you right now that you must be spiritually alert to receive and understand the magnitude of these three verses.  A large part of  your understanding of this passage is on my shoulders and I am depending on the teaching ability of the Holy Ghost, as usual, in delivering this great truth to you.
Let's look at a salvation issue squarely in the face.  I have told you many times that my chief problem with the doctrine of my former church is that it taught that there is no salvation apart from water baptism and being filled with the Holy Ghost.  Put another way,  if you were not baptized in water, your sins were never washed away.  And if you did not speak in other tongues, you did not have the Spirit of God.  Both of those steps were seen as absolutely necessary in order to be saved.  The Jews in Paul's day had a very similar situation: circumcision.

          In the 15th chapter of Acts you find the following:
          "And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except  ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." Acts 15:1
          The truth of the matter is that circumcision never saved anyone, not even under the Law of Moses.  Circumcision was a ceremony, or as Paul points out in Romans 4:11, "...a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had  yet being uncircumcised:"  Understand, the act of circumcision had absolutely nothing to do with Abraham's state of righteousness because he was pronounced righteous long before he was circumcised.  Now note closely the word "seal."  The fact that the Holy Ghost uses this word in this example is not accidental.  He is driving home a point that for too many years the Church has missed.  The Church has faithfully referred to the Holy Ghost as being a seal.  It has continually quoted the following verse albeit without understanding.
          "Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."  2 Corinthian 1:22

          The sealing with the Holy Ghost in the believer's life answers exactly to the issue of circumcision in Abraham's life.  It did not create a state of righteousness but served merely as a sign of the righteousness that was already present in the life of the believer.  The state of righteousness came into existence as a result of exercising faith in God's word.

          As it was with our father Abraham, so it is in the life of those who are the children of Abraham by faith.  We are reckoned as Abraham's children because we too placed complete faith in the promise of God's word to bring to life those who were dead in trespasses and sins by putting complete confidence in the work that Christ performed on the cross and in his resurrection from the dead.

          God does not give us the  Holy Ghost in order that we might be saved any more than he gave Abraham the seal of circumcision in order that he might be saved.  In both cases, the sealing did not produce salvation nor righteousness, it served only as a sign of the righteousness that already existed.  May God's Spirit enlighten this truth to our hearts as we go deeper into the word of God.

written in the Weekly Word of The House of Good News                                                                  December 22, 1996

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1 Comment

  1. Have we limited grace? Grace is so much bigger than we could ever imagine in its ability to allow God to deal with us. Let us not limit God as we stand in His glorious grace.
    Praise God for this message!

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