Some people insist that grace is not enough in order to be saved. We are saved by both law and grace, some would claim. Is this true? It’s always good to open our Bibles, do some background check, find out the various contexts in a particular passage, to get a better understanding of an issue. Let’s find out:
In Acts 15 , some Jewish Christians from Jerusalem visited Antioch up north (some 483 kilometers away, about 15 days walk) where Paul and Barnabas were based and where believers were first called “Christians.” These visiting Jewish Christians from Jerusalem insisted that the Gentile Christians in Antioch should also keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved. Please take note, these were all Christians (both Jewish and Gentile) who were part of the church.
In other words, these visiting Jewish Christians were telling the Gentile Christians in Antioch that: believing in Christ or grace alone was not enough according to them. In addition to believing in Christ, these Jewish Christians insisted that the Gentile Christians should also keep the law—this refers specifically to the Law of Moses—in order to be saved. The issue was not a mere issue about circumcision. By being circumcised, it was symbolic of obeying the whole Law of Moses. In essence the Jewish Christian insisted on “mixing law and grace” for salvation ( please be sure to check Acts 15:1,5 ). That was the issue and background to the story. But thankfully, the apostles who were led by the Holy Spirit clarified the matter and declared that salvation is by grace. There was no need for the Gentile Christians to also keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved (Acts 15:7-11 ). Believing and accepting God’s grace was sufficient. That is the story behind this issue on law and grace.
Not Law and Grace
In a similar situation but in a different place in Colossae, some of the Colossian Christians felt that Christ was insufficient for salvation. They insisted that some additional requirements were needed to be done aside from Christ. But Paul argued that: “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?” (Colossians 2:20-21 )
Paul explained that the Colossian Christians were already complete in Christ—they had “fullness in Chist.” There was no need for other supplements to attain salvation. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” (Colossians 1:19 ).
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority” (Colossians 2:9-10 ).
We have been given fullness in Christ. We need no other supplement (law, rules, other gods, etc.) in order to be saved. Christ is sufficient for our salvation. That was Paul’s argument in Colossians.
We are not saved by law and grace. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, apart from works, apart from the law. It’s not law and grace. Salvation is by grace alone.
Are we lawless then? Of course not! Grace teaches us to say “No! to ungodliness” (Titus 2:11-12). We are saved by grace not by works! It is because we have been saved by God’s grace that we do good works. We were created for good works (Eph. 2:8-10). Salvation is by God’s grace alone. Our works are our rightful and loving response to that grace freely given by the Lord.
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