A SYSTEM OF GRACE
A system is the compilation of numerous components that operate together
in order to bring about a desired result.
Usually, a system or collection of systems carries a common name. That name, when heard, immediately
alerts the hearers to all the components of the system. It is also understood that a system only
works properly when all the components are functioning in harmony with each
An automobile is a collection of systems that enables humans to travel
from point to point with comfort and ease.
A car has a fuel system, an electrical system, a transmission system, a
steering system, and other components that allow the vehicle to carry one or
more people great distances in a short amount of time. The terms “automobile” or “car”
incorporate all of these systems into that one designation. In order for the automobile to run
efficiently and effectively, all systems must be working together. When a system, or component of a system,
fails, the car cannot do what it was designed to do. How many of us have been stranded due to
a bad battery or a faulty alternator.
Even though the rest of the car was in perfect condition, one component
caused the whole machine to come to a standstill.
The human body is also composed of many systems. It has a circulatory system, a digestive
system, a reproductive system, a respiratory system, an immune system, and many
other systems that enable human beings to live happy, productive lives. If a system, or one element of the
system fails, we experience difficulty in living. A kidney stone can confine one to bed
for days. A blood clot can put one
in the hospital. The sting of a
mosquito can almost kill if it carries a deadly virus. The whole “body” needs to be healthy for
us to be able to live life to the fullest.
One many wonder why an article about grace would begin with a discussion
about systems. This author
sincerely believes that many are confused about salvation by grace because they
fail to see it as a system. It is
certainly true that mankind is saved by grace. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath
quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)” (Eph. 2:5). Without God’s grace salvation would not
have been possible. Mankind could
not devise his own means of being reconciled to God once he sinned and separated
himself from his Creator. Because
grace is the most vital component of the system, one can say that we are saved
by grace. However, to say that one
is saved by grace does not mean that he is saved by grace alone or solely by
grace. When one asserts that he is
saved by grace, he is referring to the system of grace. That system refers to all the components
that are involved in the salvation of man.
Grace includes the divine system.
God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit were actively involved in man’s
salvation. None could have been
saved without the work of each of these divine Beings. God purposed to save man before the
foundation of the world (I Peter 1:20).
Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb who shed His blood for lost humanity (I
Cor. 5:7; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 1:7). The
Holy Spirit revealed this plan to lost humanity. He revealed the Word of God and
instilled it with saving power so man could know how to obtain the salvation
that is in Christ (I Cor. 2:9-11; II Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 4:12; Rom. 1:16). Had any one of these divine members of
the Godhead failed in His duty, grace would have never been available to
Another system within grace is the faith system. This system also has several
components. The Word of God is a
vital mechanism. It is the element
that produces faith in man (Rom. 10:17).
But, the Word of God must be taken, preached, and heard before faith will
come to fruition (Rom. 10:13-17).
In the gospel of John, we learn that it is faith that gives one the power
to become a son of God. “But as
many as receive him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to
them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). Faith alone does not make one a child of
God (James 2:24). Faith gives one
“the power to become” a son of God.
Belief in God’s love and His actions on our behalf causes one to respond
to God in obedience to His will.
This leads to a third system found within grace, the system of
obedience. The Hebrew writer
affirmed that Jesus is the author of eternal salvation only to those that obey
the Christ (Heb. 5:9). Jesus
Himself said: “Not everyone that
saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that
doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Many of our denominational friends have
grave difficulties with this point.
They see obedience to the will of God as being antagonistic to
grace. They declare that when one
teaches that one must obey the gospel to be saved that he is teaching salvation
by works and not salvation by grace.
Those who teach this will often go to the Book of Romans to try to prove
their contention. They will quote
such passages as Romans 3:20; 3:28 and 4:4-5 as proof-texts. Isn’t it interesting that Paul did not
see obedience as antagonistic to grace.
In Romans 1:5 he wrote about the “obedience to the faith, among all
nations.” In chapter two he stated
that those “that worketh good” will receive glory, honour, and peace. In chapter four he exhorted his readers
to “walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham” (4:12). Romans 6:16-17 also informs one of the
need of obedience. “Know ye not,
that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom
ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked that ye were the
servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which
was delivered you.” In chapter
eight, Paul noted that it was “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”
that made him free from the law of sin and death (8:2). Then, in the last chapter, he once again
speaks of obedience. He commends
the Romans for their obedience in verse 19 and writes of “the obedience of
faith” in verse 26. Isn’t it
amazing that Paul’s masterwork on grace stresses obedience so much? Paul understood the relationship between
the two. Obedience is part of the
system of grace. (NOTE: The command to be baptized is part of the
obedience aspect of grace, Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16;
6:3-4; Gal. 3:27; I Peter
The last component of the system of grace is godly living. When one becomes a Christian, his
salvation is not determined at that moment forever. One must be faithful unto death (Rev.
2:10). The child of God cannot
forsake the Christ, return to the world, and expect to be saved (II Peter
2:20-22). He must walk in faith (II
Cor. 5:7), produce good works (Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:14; 3:14), and live in hope
(Rom. 8:24; Titus 2:13) until death or until the second coming of
We have not examined every component of salvation in this article. We have only attempted to show that
grace is a system that saves man.
All components of the system are essential to salvation. If one component is not there, salvation
cannot be obtained. Is salvation by
grace? Yes. Is salvation by grace alone? No. All mechanisms of the grace system must
be in operating order to take man from earth to