Grace Be With You
1. 1:2 – He opened the epistle with this prayer/wish.
2. 4:18 – He closes the epistle with this prayer/wish.
3. It is SO important to Paul that EVERY epistle he wrote included this greeting.
4. And it should NOT be considered a meaningless cliché.
5. It was at the very heart of Paul’s ministry.
6. AND—there were issues at the church in Colossae that gave this formal greeting special meaning.
The Concept of Grace
1. Good will or favor towards someone; free, unmerited favor…
a. A favor done without expectation of return.
b. Divine grace: the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver.
3. Chafer: Lists seven fundamental facts about grace: (2 follow)
a. Grace is not withheld because of demerit
• Grace is not withheld because you used to be a drunkard or a prostitute; grace finds its greatest triumph in human weakness and helplessness.
• Grace is not restricted because of one’s past.
• But grace demands that we recognize that we have no merit of our own!
• Therefore ANYBODY—no matter where they’ve been or what they’ve done can be the recipient of God’s amazing grace.
• God does not refuse to bestow His favor on individuals because of their lack of merit. Actually, that makes them a perfect candidate for His unmerited favor!
b. Grace cannot incur a debt
• When God saves us by grace, we owe Him NOTHING in return. (Morally but not legally).
• Grace is unrecompensed favor—unrecompensable favor! Either before or after the fact.
• It is here that Christians often fail to grasp the true nature of the grace of God.
• When He saves us by grace, we do not OWE Him anything in return.
• We are not indebted to pay Him back. How COULD we pay Him back? What could we ever offer Him?
• That view of grace diminishes the work of the cross… as if they payment was not made in FULL… the cross was not sufficient and something more needs to be added.
• And this reverts us back to a works system. It becomes paying for salvation… after the fact.
• We often hear, “He died for me. I owe Him so much. I think I ought to give my life to him in full time service in return.” (Not the best motive!)
• If we have to pay Him back, it’s not a gift.
• And if that is our mindset, we lose the proper motive for Christian service… it becomes legalistic. (I’m serving Him because I owe Him—rather than I’m serving Him because I love Him.)
• We are not to serve God in an attempt to “pay Him back.”
• Salvation was FREELY given to us. Service is to be freely given to Him out of love… a manifestation of the indwelling life of Christ at work in us… a natural expression of new life.
• The RIGHT motive for service is the principle of indwelling LIFE and LOVE of Christ that constrains us.
• We ought to give our lives in service to Him—but not in an attempt to pay Him back for what He did for us. A higher motive is because we LOVE Him… and because it is the natural response of His indwelling LIFE.
B. Grace Stands in Contrast to Law/Works
1. In the Bible we see two distinct systems
2. Law and grace stand in every way as polar opposites.
a. They cannot be mingled. (oil and water)
b. They cannot even work side by side.
c. It must always be one or the other.
d. Chafer: “The pernicious practice of attempting to merge the legal system with the teachings of grace results in a forceless law and a defeated grace.”
3. Rom. 4:4 – Justification is either by grace (freely given—no debt incurred) or by works (incurring a debt/payment).
a. There can be no compromise on this point.
b. If work is involved, then salvation is not reckoned of grace.
c. If we are working for our salvation, then any reward given (under those conditions) is not of grace… it is not coming from the benevolence of God… it is not unmerited favor.
d. Rather, our works would make God indebted to us! (I did this for you, now you OWE me!)
e. If one could work for his salvation, that work would make God indebted to the hard working sinner.
f. AND whatever reward he earns, is definitely NOT of grace!
4. Rom. 11:6 – Here, Paul states that God’s choice to save is by grace.
a. Any mingling of grace and works destroys them both.
b. Adding the tiniest “work” to grace completely destroys the concept of grace.
• Even if you charge a penny for a million dollar ring—it is NOT free. It is not a gift.
• A payment of ANY sort negates the concept of grace.
• It is not a free gift if we have to work for it.
c. Adding the tiniest element of grace to works destroys the concept of work.
• Grace means freely given.
• If salvation is freely given, then that eliminates any requirement to work to obtain it.
d. Clearly, it is one or the other. These concepts cannot be mingled. They are mutually exclusive.
5. Gal. 2:21 – “frustrating” the grace of God.
a. Frustrate: to reject; render invalid; refuse to recognize the validity of something.
b. To teach or believe that righteousness comes through the law is equal to frustrating the grace of God… rendering grace invalid…
c. It is tantamount to rejecting the grace/faith system in favor of the law/works system.
d. One system frustrates or renders the other invalid.
6. Gal. 3:12 – The law is not of faith.
a. Either I am working under the law to finish the work myself, OR I am believing that the work is finished and thus resting in the finished work of Another.
b. You can’t be resting and working at the same time. The two concepts are opposites.
c. The law is NOT of faith. Faith is not of the law.
7. Law and grace and two are entirely different systems.
a. John 1:17 – the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
b. Law was the rule of life during the Old Testament dispensation.
c. Grace is the rule of life during the church age.
d. Just as Israel and the church are to be kept distinct, so too we must keep distinct the huge differences between law and grace.
Grace: God’s Means of SALVATION
A. Salvation by Grace Through Faith
1. Gal. 2:16 – what could be clearer? (3 times each!)
2. Eph. 2:8-9 – maybe this verse is clearer.
3. Rom. 3:24 – being justified freely by His grace.
B. Paul Reminded the Colossians of the Gospel of God’s Grace That Saved Them
1. Col. 1:5-6 – and knew the grace of God in truth.
a. Vs. 5 – They heard the word of truth of the gospel—the saving message of Christ.
b. Vs. 6 – When they got saved, they came to know the grace of God in truth… true grace.
c. “Knew” = epignosko = a full knowledge of the true grace of God.
d. It is impossible to be saved without understanding of the true grace of God… (our unworthiness; our spiritual poverty; spiritually destitute and able only to cry out for His benevolence—grace… or we perish).
e. The Colossians heard of the gospel of the grace of God, came to a full knowledge of grace, and trusted in the God of grace.
f. This true grace stands in stark contrast to the law… to works… and to religious effort.
g. Paul calls it the gospel of the grace of God. The gospel is all about God’s grace.
h. One cannot be saved without understanding the gospel… and the gospel is all about God’s grace.
2. As Paul closes his epistle, he reminds them of the grace of God that saved them.
a. It doesn’t matter how long we have been saved, we should still marvel at the grace of God…
b. We were saved by grace and will forever be trophies of His grace. (Eph.2:7) (Not: trophies of our works or effort.)
C. Changing the Gospel of God’s Grace is Heresy
1. Acts 15:1 – Salvation by faith PLUS works.
a. Early in the history of the church this principle was tested.
b. The Judaizers were teaching salvation by faith PLUS they said you had to be circumcised.
c. This was salvation by faith plus works… adding the human requirement of circumcision.
d. It seemed quite innocuous. How could this be harmful?
• They believed in Jesus just like the Christians did!
• They believed that Jesus was God; that He died for the sins of the world; that He rose again…
• They believed it all.
e. They believed PLUS they obeyed certain requirements of the law. How could that be harmful?
f. Isn’t it BETTER to have faith and a little something extra?
2. Faith PLUS anything as a requirement for salvation is not better. It is far worse!
a. Adding even the tiniest “work” to grace completely destroys the concept of grace.
b. Adding works frustrates grace… makes it invalid.
c. It makes our salvation ultimately rest upon OUR works.
d. Grace is no more grace… faith is no more faith.
e. Faith PLUS anything else as requirement for salvation is in reality: unbelief.
f. It is like saying I do NOT believe that what Jesus accomplished on the cross was sufficient.
g. It believes the FACTS of the gospel (Satan too!)… but it does NOT believe that the work of Christ was enough… something MORE needs to be done.
h. The one who TRULY believes that the work of Christ was sufficient is able to TRUST in that work… REST in that work… and CEASE from his own works—by RESTING in the finished work of Another.
i. By ADDING any requirement to salvation—as tiny as it may be—it a declaration that you do NOT believe that the work was finished: there’s something more to be done.
3. Paul was outraged when he heard that something was being added to the doctrine of salvation by grace.
a. Acts 15:2 – Paul and Barnabus had a big argument with these folks.
b. They then went to the mother church in Jerusalem to settle this issue once and for all.
c. Acts 15:11 – The conclusion: both Jews and Gentiles are saved through the GRACE of the Lord Jesus Christ… the unmerited favor of God.
d. The apostles saw this teaching as heretical and settled the issue for all future generations of the church.
e. We are justified freely through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ—totally apart from the works of the law.
f. We are saved by faith plus NOTHING. Adding anything to faith undermines the very nature of grace… results in a false gospel of works that DOES not save.
Grace: God’s Means of Sanctification
A. Sanctification by Grace Through Faith
1. Rom. 6:14-15 – ye are not under the law but under grace.
2. UNDER –
a. It is used figuratively of what is under the power or authority of any person or thing.
b. Luke 7:8 – under the authority of another… a Roman soldier under the authority of his superiors.
c. Under the law (Rom. 6:14, 15) = under the authority of the law as a rule of life.
d. Under grace (Rom. 6:14-15) = under the authority of grace as a rule of life.
3. In this age, the believer is either UNDER law or grace.
a. It cannot be a mixture of both… one or the other.
b. These two systems do not mix when it comes to justification… nor do they mix when it comes to sanctification.
c. The entire evangelical world is in AGREEMENT that justification is by grace through faith—or they are not saved.
d. The evangelical world is DIVIDED when it comes to sanctification.
• One portion of the evangelical world (knowingly or ignorantly) puts the believer UNDER the law as a means of sanctification.
• The other portion (us!) sees the believer as UNDER grace as a rule of life—and not under law at all as a rule of life.
e. This issue was addressed in Colossians and was settled 2000 years ago… (for those who took heed to this truth).
f. And this error does not divide neatly along dispensation vs. Reformed lines. This error appears frequently on BOTH sides.
• Many dispensationalists put believers under the law as a rule of life.
» But when they do, it is out of ignorance—for it is contrary to dispensational theology.
» It is out of ignorance of God’s plan of sanctification found in Rom. 6-8—based on our position in the Risen Savior.
» With good intentions, but equally wrong they do so.
» It results in a defeated Christian life.
• Reformed theology also puts believers under law as a rule of life.
» But with this system, it is not out of ignorance—it is PART and parcel OF their system of theology.
» It goes back to their refusal to distinguish between Israel and the church.
» It is not surprising that there is also confusion between law and grace.
• But the Bible teaches that the law is defunct, obsolete, finished, fulfilled, no longer in effect. (us!)
» We teach that the believer is NOT under the law—nor is he under ANY aspect of the law!
» Even the ten commandments are not our rule of life. The law is a unit. Either we are under that unit or not.
» We teach that the believer is not under the law period!
» Reformer Theologians look at his as lawless.
» To them, there are only two alternatives: either the believer submits to the law or he is lawless.
» We see it differently. The options in the Bible are: (1) under law or (2) under grace.
» GRACE to you!
4. How can it be that the believer is not under law?
a. It is BECAUSE of the truths that Paul has emphasized in Colossians!
b. We died with Christ – to the Law!
• That is at the center of it all!
• Those who ignore or overlook the importance of positional truth—open themselves up to legalism by default… ignorance.
• Every evangelical is in agreement that Christ died for us.
• But this vital truth is often rejected or ignored: that we died with Him!
• This truth is absolutely essential for living UNDER grace!
• One can be saved without understanding this truth…
• But sanctification is built upon it!
c. Col. 2:20-23 – we died with Christ which DELIVERS us from earthly legalism. That system does NOT satisfy the desires of the flesh! In fact, it puffs up the flesh! It is legalism, flesh, works, and as a system it stands OPPOSED to the system of grace…
d. Gal. 2:19-20 – we were crucified with Christ—and in this context Paul means crucified to the LAW.
e. Thus, the Law has no more authority over us. It required death to the sinner—and we died with Christ to the Law.
f. The law has nothing more to say to the believer. The law has no power over a dead man.
g. The law has been fulfilled and its penalty paid. Co-crucifixion ended our relationship to the law.
5. Being UNDER GRACE is NOT lawlessness.
a. Rom. 7:4, 6 – ye are dead to the law (to bring us into a HIGHER relationship!)
• Who wouldn’t want to exchange for a rule of life tablets of stone for the Resurrected Savior!?
• How can anyone think that the Law could have a greater effect on our heart… on our inner life… on our walk than the glorious PERSON of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
• The law came through Moses. Grace and truth come through Christ… He is INFINITELY superior!
• We love Moses and honor him. But we WORSHIP the Lord Jesus. He is an infinitely superior Mediator.
• Communion and fellowship with HIM will transform us from glory to glory.
• Attempting to produce fruit through the works of the law results in frustration and defeat…
• Don’t let anyone convince you with fancy arguments that to believe that we are NOT under the law means we are lawless. It does not.
• It means we are under grace—a new and HIGHER relationship to the Risen Savior!
• When Paul says, “Grace be unto you,” he wants the Colossians to remember this wonderful truth—cling to it—and don’t ever depart from it!
b. Col. 3:3-4 – being dead with Christ ENDS our relationship to earthly legalism and brings us into the heavenly realm.
• As a system, grace is higher than the law as heaven is above the earth!
• Its standards are higher. The law that came by Moses said “thou shalt not kill.” Grace says “Thou shalt not be angry at a brother without cause.”
• The law was given to Israel—God’s earthly people… It was a set of laws for a nation.
• Grace as a rule of life is given to the Church—the spiritual body of Christ… God’s heavenly people.
6. And living under grace also provides the believer with SUPERNATURAL enablements.
a. In the Bible we see two distinct systems
b. Life under the law is associated with flesh.
• The law demanded holiness—but provided no divine enablement to accomplish it.
» In other words, the law was designed to demonstrate to all those under law how pitifully hopeless they were on their own to produce the righteousness the law required!
» In essence, the Law could not save or sanctify.
» The law condemned and shut every mouth.
• Those who attempted to produce righteousness under the law were left to themselves to do so.
• They were left to the only resource man has: the flesh… and thus it was doomed to failure.
• It was never INTENDED to last forever. (Gal. & Heb.)
• Rom. 8:3 – “for what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh…” The law was WEAK because of human flesh.
• Its standard was perfect holiness… but the flesh was unable to attain unto that standard.
• Rather than conquer the flesh, the law only stirred it up!
c. Life under grace is associated with the Holy Spirit.
• Life under grace as a rule of life brings us into a gracious relationship to the RISEN Savior.
• Grace raises us up into a heavenly position IN Christ.
• And from that heavenly position, united to the resurrected Savior, we have the power of the resurrection available to us… and we are thus equipped to walk in newness of life.
• Rom. 8:3-4 – Life under grace provides the believer with the power of the Holy Spirit!
» Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God produces the righteousness of law in the yielded believer.
» Note that it is not produced BY the yielded believer, but IN him… BY divine power made available through life under grace.
» That which the legalist TRIES to do and fails—the non legalist—the believer under grace accomplishes!
» He accomplishes it by grace through faith… no longer trusting in his own flesh to produce something good.
» This believer instead BELIEVES what God says: in my flesh dwells NO good thing… and he instead CLINGS to Christ… RESTS in Him… ABIDES in Him… and thus His power is made available to us.
• Rom. 7:4-5 – The end result of that relationship is good fruit which equals the righteousness of the law fulfilled in us.
» The legalist (who puts himself under the moral law of God) CANNOT fulfill the righteousness of the law.
» The Spirit filled believer under grace (who is called lawless) DOES have the righteousness of the law fulfilled in him… apart FROM the law!
» When a believer is filled with the Spirit and with the fruit of the Spirit—against such there IS no law!
» So please don’t call us lawless or antinomian.
• The power of the resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit are associated with life under grace.
» Rom. 6:14 – Sin shall not have dominion over this believer.
» Why? Because he is NOT under law. (Read that again!)
» Life under grace is the ONLY way to experience deliverance from the dominion of sin (nature).
Grace in the Epistle to the Colossians
A. Paul Fought For this Truth
1. Acts 15:10 – The apostolic convention in Jerusalem concluded that the law was NOT to be added as a requirement to salvation.
a. But they also concluded that the law was not to be put on the DISCIPLES either… it was not for the believer.
b. To require the deeds of the law was to “tempt” the Lord and to put a YOKE upon men that was unbearable.
c. They concluded that the law was not part of the gospel—God’s plan for justification… NOR was it part of God’s plan for sanctification… for the daily life of the believer.
2. Legalism was one of the issues Paul addressed in this epistle. (Col. 2:16-17, 20-23)
a. The legalists were attempting to put the believers in Colossae under a different kind of “chain of bondage.”
b. This was one of the reasons Paul wrote the book.
c. It was a strange mixture of Gnostic like legalism combined with Jewish traditionalism.
d. Col. 2:8 – It resulted in a bondage of the soul… bondage of life… bondage to the traditions, philosophies, and rituals of men.
e. Legalism IN ANY FORM always takes us down from heaven and our relationship of abiding with the Risen Christ… to earth to the teachings and traditions of men. (From a place of power to a place of utter weakness—left to our flesh).
f. Though chained in prison, Paul was much freer than the cultists who had infiltrated the region.
g. Paul knew this marvelous truth. And the truth shall set you free. He was free in mind, heart, and conscience…
h. A proper understanding of and appreciation for grace found in Christ was the answer to every one of the issues raised by the false teachers.
3. The book of Colossians had a lot to say about fullness…
a. In Christ is all the fullness of the Godhead. It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.
b. We are complete (fulfilled) in Him.
c. We are to fulfill our ministries in the Body… our ministries are to be full to the brim—because we are full to the brim with Christ…
d. John 1:14, 16 – Christ was FULL of grace and truth… and from that fullness we have all received.
e. Of His fullness have we all received the grace of God… found in the Person of Jesus Christ… and we receive grace heaped upon grace… like wave after wave of God’s grace wafting upon the shore… endlessly…
f. There is fullness of grace to be experienced in our relationship to Christ… an unending supply… because of our Union with Christ…
g. Paul received this revelation directly from Christ… and was experiencing this truth in prison.
• He had opened his mind and heart to Christ…
• The wider he opened his heart to Christ, the more filled with the fullness of Christ he became… the more Christ like he became…
• And the more the life of Christ was manifested in him, the more joy and freedom Paul experienced.
• What a strange thing. A man chained in prison was writing to an assembly of believers to teach them how to experience the fullness and freedom to be found IN Christ…
• This was necessary for the Colossians were in danger of being duped into bondage of their souls… a far worse kind of bondage than Paul’s imprisonment.
• Paul writes to let them know of the freedom they already possess in Christ… whether they are at home or in jail!
• And they can experience it by faith.
• Their real lives were hidden away with Christ in heaven… where the enemy could not touch them! No power on earth can harm us there.
• Our enemies can afflict and bind our bodies—but never our inner man… our minds and hearts and consciences!
• Paul knew about freedom because he knew about the grace of God that set him free.
h. What a fitting way for Paul to end his letter to the Colossians—a reminder of the infinite, marvelous, amazing grace of God.
B. Grace As His Final Word to the Colossians
1. When Paul closed his letter to Colossae with the words, “Grace be with you,” it was not just a meaningless cliché.
a. To Paul, it was the ESSENCE of our Christian faith!
b. We are justified by grace through faith and we are sanctified by grace through faith.
c. We have an endless reservoir of grace to be found in the Person of our Risen Savior…
• We can come to the throne of grace in time of need… and will find that His grace is sufficient for whatever we face in life on earth.
• It was amazing grace that saved a wretch like me!
• It was grace that taught my heart to fear.
• It was grace my fears relieved.
• It was grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home!
d. There is POWER in a life lived under grace.
e. There is FRUSTRATION and DEFEAT in a life lived under law.
2. Don’t ever change God’s plan. Don’t ever add to it. Don’t ever alter God’s plan. God’s grace is sufficient.
a. We need nothing more than what we have through God’s grace.
b. We are complete in Christ… beware of any religious system that offers you “something more”—something other than the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
c. Christ is our all in all. In Him we have all we need.
d. We don’t grow by addition (getting something more), but rather through appropriation of what we already have in Him… and we are complete in Him.
e. God’s grace has provided us with salvation, sanctification, and an abundant life.
f. The apostle Paul experienced the fullness of God’s grace… and he was never the same afterwards.
• It compelled him to preach the glorious gospel of God’s grace the rest of his life.
• It so gripped his heart he was willing to suffer in order to make this marvelous grace known.
• He fought to defend it and protect it.
• He hammered away at the false teachers who continually attempted to pervert it.
• He traveled the known world establishing churches based on the solid foundation of the gospel of God’s grace.
• He instructed believers how to live the Christian life… how to experience victory over sin… by grace through faith…
g. And when this grace really grips our hearts and minds… it will compel us to share it with all those around us… to share the glorious gospel of the grace of God… so that they too might come to know the grace of God in truth…