Category Archives: Justification

If It’s Works, It’s Not Grace, Part 2

Peter Ditzel

Two pictures side-by-side. On the left is a picture of dirty, grim-looking child coal workers from 1911. On the right is a joyous child playing in the sand at the beach.
Jesus said, ““Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Jesus didn’t have child labor in mind. He meant that we must humbly turn from trusting in our works and obedience to the law. We must become like simple and carefree children, trusting and resting in Him. This doesn’t take effort on our part. It’s not difficult. Jesus is the narrow gate into the kingdom. God gives us the faith; He takes us through.
Left: Child coal workers in Pennsylvania in 1911. Right: Photo by Barbara Ribeiro from Pexels.

In Part 1, we saw how some preachers promote the idea that finding the kingdom and living the Christian life are hard work and use derogatory terms such as “cheap grace” and “easy believism” against their opponents. Yet, the Bible teaches, “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). If it’s works, it’s not grace!

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If It’s Works, It’s Not Grace, Part 1

Peter Ditzel

A Euler diagram of two, separate circles. One is labeled grace and the other is labeled works. The diagram shows that there is no intersection between the two sets. Grace and works are separate.
Grace is God’s unmerited pardon. Jesus Christ purchased grace for His people by His atoning sacrifice on the Cross, and God gives that grace freely to believers (Romans 5:15-19). For grace to be grace, it must be entirely apart and distinct from works. It must be pure. It can never be mixed with our works.

Something I’ve learned over the years is that many people profess to believe in salvation by grace alone received by faith alone. Yet, a good number of those same people throw works into the formula, often without even knowing it. You might be one of them. The Bible clearly teaches, “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work” (Romans 11:6). Like oil and water, grace and works don’t mix. Our salvation either stands on grace or it falls on works. Let’s look at some commonly held beliefs and see what they’re really based on.

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A Rebuttal to George M. Ella’s “John Gill and Justification from Eternity”

On this site, I have posted a talk by George M. Ella titled “John Gill and Justification from Eternity.” The talk is of historical interest in showing the position of John Gill on this subject. I want to be clear, however, that I do not agree that justification from eternity as taught by John Gill and defended by Dr. Ella is taught in the Bible. Another defender of this theory is Peter L. Meney, who has written an article called “Ten Arguments for Justification from Eternity” (December/January 2007 New Focus, also available here). The present article also serves as a rebuttal to Mr. Meney, whose article I will occasionally reference, although most references to John Gill’s and George Ella’s arguments also apply to Mr. Meney’s. I also want to make clear here that, in rebutting justification from eternity as taught by Gill and explained by Ella, I am not necessarily defending the people Dr. Ella argues against, such as John Murray and Andrew Fuller. Neither am I condemning Dr. Ella or Mr. Meney. I am, instead, trying to defend what the Scripture teaches. But before discussing Scripture, I want to have a brief philosophical discussion. I hope the reason for this will become apparent.

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