How do people get enter into God’s grace and by what authority do we know that we remain there? As seen in Galatians 5:4, we can fall from grace. God’s grace is His favor. We can leave God’s favor and forgiveness of sins. The extent of grace is as long as we walk in the light, then we have the forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9).
The truth is that sinful lives are contrary to God’s grace. One cannot be in God’s grace and be in sin. Look at Titus 3:3-7,
“For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Verse 3 is crystal clear that sin is contrary to grace. The idea that someone can live contrary to God’s Word willfully ignorant expecting to be saved by grace is wrong. Those who claim that if they err in the words of Christ then grace will cover that are wrong. Jesus made very clear that His disciples are to teach others to observe all things that He has commanded (Matt. 28:20). Jesus wasn’t lying or stretching the capability of man to understand or exaggerating our ability to obey His instructions. Again, Christ’s Spirit through the Apostle Paul tested the Christians at Corinth to see whether they were “obedient in all things” (2 Cor. 2:9). People are fully capable of observing all of Jesus’ commands. Jesus said, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22:12). Neither God’s grace, nor His favor changes this truth. What kind of faith allows someone to altar the Lord’s Supper, baptism, His music, and be saved? That’s not faith! Grace is contrary to strange doctrines (Heb. 13:9). Remember 1 John 2:4, “He who says, ‘I know Him [Jesus],’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
Another essential point to Titus 3:3-7 is that Christians are justified by God’s grace consisting of God’s kindness and love shown through Christ, saving us by mercy, and receiving the hope of eternal life. Christians have this grace through “the washing of regeneration”. The washing of regeneration is to be born again. Jesus said in John 3:5, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Speaking of this salvation, 1 Corinthians 6:11 says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” This washing is a justification in the name of Christ. Those who are familiar with the Scriptures about being born again in Jesus’ name know precisely what this “washing of regeneration” is.
This sanctification of Christ brings our attention to the reference to being born of water. Ephesians 5:25b-26 says, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word”.Peter said in Acts 10:43, “whoever believes in Him [Jesus] through His name will receive forgiveness of sins”. Peter seeing God’s acceptance of believing Gentiles states in Acts 10:47-48, “‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Acts 22:16 says, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” This is the exact moment of salvation for the forgiveness of sins. Acts 2:38 says, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ unto the forgiveness of sins” as Christ’s blood is “unto the forgiveness of sins” in Matthew 26:28. Remember also Jesus’ words in Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” To be baptized is to be born again. For to be baptized is to be buried and raised to the newness of life (Rom. 6:3-7).
To conclude this point, listen to the Spirit of Christ in 1 Peter 1:22-23,
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever”.
Baptism in Jesus’ name is also when the Spirit sanctifies. Baptism in Christ’s name is baptism in the name of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit“. When Paul spoke to the Corinthians saying, “you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11), he was speaking of baptism by which he later said, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body [the Church]” (1 Cor. 12:13). This is how we enter into God’s grace, His forgiveness.
By what authority do we know that we are in God’s grace? Paul said in Acts 20:32, “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 14:3, 20:24, 2 Cor. 1:12). God’s favor, His Grace, His forgiveness, comes through the Word from God. There is a very interesting passage in Titus that speaks of God’s grace teaching us to deny evil and do good. Where else can we get complete instruction but from Christ and through His Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17)? Paul wrote to Titus saying in Titus 2:11-14,
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (1 Pet. 1:13-16, 1 Cor. 1:4-8, Eph. 1:7-10, 3:1-7)
Christ is our grace and His Word is the source and authority for forgiveness of sins. God’s grace is given to those obedient to Christ’s words. In this sense, Christ as God’s grace teaches us. We fully know good and evil through Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are able to know whether we walk in the light or in darkness, and we are able to know whether or not we are saved. John said in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life“.
By this understanding the extent of God’s grace, as presented in 1 John 1:5-10, we have confidence and rejoice that we are forgiven as we walk in the light.