THE GRACE OF GOD
Oneness believes one must keep the laws of God to be saved and in right standing with him. Salvation is conditioned on our obedience to his commands.
There are two major covenants in the Bible. One is the Mosaic covenant which is a covenant of law, this was conditional. God said do this, obey and he will bless, failure to obey violated his conditions and punishment followed. the New Testaments covenant is one of grace, it is unconditional. we receive the mercy and blessings of God not because of anything we do but because of what Christ did. As believers in the New Covenant we operate under grace by which good works are a result. Under the Law (O.C.) good works were done to receive Gods favor. Not so in the N.T. God blesses us and keeps his promises despite our failures. Legalism demands obedience, however what we see is grace is annulled by putting oneself under the O.T. Covenant.
Paul calls it the Gospel of grace of God. Acts 20:24
Grace finds it source in the giver who is God who is motivated by love. It puts the worst observer in the highest favor, accepted in the beloved by his work alone. It is to be freely pardoned, it is a benefit given to those who dont deserve it. Grace is a free gift however it was not free for God, it did cost the life of his son. Grace is God reaching down to helpless sinners that know they are unable to merit Gods favor by any deeds of their own. Grace means we abandon our self works and work through his grace, not for it. We began in Grace, we stand in Grace and we finish in it. If you reverse the process it is then based on our righteousness. Rom. 4:3 " For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."
Vs.4: "Now to him that works, the wages are not counted as grace, but as debt. 5: But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
It is by faith one finds themselves in Gods grace. Grace is from God and faith is the living conduit to ourself in his favor.
Let me give an example of grace used by Charles Stanley. For the sake of the argument, I will exaggerate his story. Suppose you owed $ 100,000 on your house, which is a fee you cannot possibly pay. You saved up from working hard and go down to the bank to pay $1,000 and you find someone came before you and paid off all that you owe. Are you going to argue with the bank and beg to pay the rest of the bill that has already been paid? No of course not! Your going to enjoy the benefits of what someone else has done as a gift. That is grace. But then there are people who say, yes it was paid off, but now Im going to pay it off too. The Bank would never accept this, you can keep going back insisting you want to pay, but they will think your insane for ignoring what has already transpired.
faith and works
The false view of Oneness is to add law and ceremonies to be part of grace. Once again grace ceases and we approach God on our own deeds. When someone trusts in their own deeds or in a ceremony such as baptism in the Lord's name they will not be saved because they have not used the conduit that God has given which is faith alone.
Eph.2:8-10: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: : Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works..." Faith proceeds works, otherwise we are doing good works to be created in Christ Jesus. No one becomes spiritual by performance. Grace cannot be considered a free gift if you work for it.
Eph.1:6 " to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves."
Col.2:13 "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he has made alive together with him, having forgiven all our sins; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;"
He forgave us while we were still sinning, thats grace. One is put in this grace by repenting and believing, there is no work of any kind included in this.
The Bible continually assures the believer that Christ paid the full penalty for our sins that there is nothing we need to do for salvation except believe on his sacrifice and resurrection.
Eph.1:7, Col.1:14 " In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Acts 26:18 "that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Rom.3:24: "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25: "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;"
Rom.5:8: "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9: Much more then, being now justified by his blood", All these show it is by Christ's work , his blood. The debt is paid in full there is nothing for sinners to do to receive the pardon, it is given as a free gift . When someone receives a gift they don't say, let me do something to earn it or work to keep it or to prove they deserve it.
Christ shouted with his last breath "it is finished" to suggest otherwise is a serious challenge to God. John the Baptist announced Jesus as " the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" Either he does or he doesnt.
Grace is unmerited favor, it is unrelated to any deed we might do. It is not withheld because of sin nor is it lessened because of any sin. Gods grace is consistent it neither increases or decreases. We are told to continue in the grace of God. Our whole Christian walk is by grace .
We are baptized into the body of Christ by the Spirit not by water or any other ritual or work (1Cor.12:13). As soon as one believes they receive the Spirit. One does not need to add water or do any work to receive him. The new birth is from the Spirit not the water. Anything else added and you've missed the Gospel boat. Baptism is an ordinance, to shift the forgiveness of God on a ceremony and not the person of Christ is sacramentalism, (a sacrament is a outward sign that claims to give grace. Biblically they are unable to convey grace they are only shadows of the true substance.) No one was ever saved by this ordinance. A sinner getting dunked comes up a out of the water the same way he went in except he is now a wet sinner . Ceremonial cleansing can't save, Jesus does. if one needs to be baptized then his atonement is not sufficient. Then their is a work of obedience is needed as an addition to faith for salvation. The Bible states faith is obedience. If it is not by faith then there is no eternal security for the believer because we have to depend on our work to keep us right with God. That is exactly their view. If we involve baptism or commandments for salvation then the cross is clearly not enough. This is the exact opposite of what the Gospel is. We didnt receive salvation by our works neither can we lose it from the lack of our work. We are saved by grace through faith in Christs atonement. Rom.3:26" To demonstrate at the present time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27: Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? No: but by the law of faith. 28: Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."
The Oneness doctrine can make one end up walking on eggshells, not receiving what God really has for them. To have one keep a prescribed set of rules for the result, and if lacking on obedience falls short of heaven, puts the emphasis on man. The gospel is not, repent + faith + Jesus name baptism +receiving the Holy ghost, +keeping the commandments, etc. This means our baptism is needed to have Gods favor. Grace that has conditions, that is not through faith alone, is not Gods grace. Those who claim to follow the Bible and depend on their own works and following his commands for being declared right before God, have not begun to understand the Biblical view of repentance and faith.
It cannot be worked for. If it is earned, it becomes payment, a salary. this is like the economical system of the world, Gods economy is different. Neither can it be deserved by our behavior or deeds otherwise it ceases to be a free gift. God did the work and you receive the benefits. The same Greek word for grace charis is also used for the gifts of the Spirit charisma. We don't earn the gifts they are freely given, distributed by God as he wills, So it is with salvation. There is always going to be a shortage of how good one can be or what one can do, this is why we must rely on Christ's finished work.
Titus 3:5" Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6: Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7: That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Here the scripture contrasts by our works or the faith that receives grace. It's by the H.Spirit, and through Jesus Christ that achieves what man cannot do by himself.
In Zech.4:7 it tells us God will bring forth the capstone (cornerstone) with shouts of Grace, grace to it! In 1 Pt.2:6-7 we find him telling us who this capstone is. "Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and whoever believes on him will by no means be put to shame." Jesus is the cornerstone of the covenant of grace, it is he who is the 1st stone put in that makes the whole temple , his body built. It is by grace which Zechariah shouted, without it we can never be part of what the Lord has built.
Those who claim to follow the Bible and depend on their own works and following his commands for being declared right before God have not begun to understand the Biblical view of repentance and faith.
Let me give you an example of grace, with faith. Imagine a swimmer far out from shore and gets a cramp and tries desperately to swim in. the more he tries the less energy he has, As he struggles he becomes panicky seeing that its hopeless to continue in his own efforts. Along comes the lifeguard who grabs hold of the weakened swimmer that by now is going under. The swimmer can now cease from his own efforts and relax in the care of the lifeguard who is able to bring him safely to the beach. He can trust now in anothers work. This is what is meant by ceasing from your own work and trusting in Christs work, he's trusting in the lifeguard not himself to bring him safely to shore. The point is he never had a choice because he could not save himself, many of us don't understand we are that swimmer, there is only one choice and its not of ourselves.
If works are necessary then one can never have salvation until they die, and there is no guarantee you did enough or did it right. The Bible states salvation is a gift given to the believer as a present possession. We work from salvation not for it. There is no other foundation one can build on except that of Jesus Christ the rock (Acts 4:11). Once the foundation is laid it is not ripped up to be laid down again.
These are excerpts from the book Who is Jesus ? Answering Oneness Pentecostals attacks on the Trinity. spiral book by Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason ministries Wahiawa HI 96786