Search Results For "Grace"

When the children of Israel were going into the Promised Land, God gave them a law. The law was part of His covenant relationship with them. But after Jesus came, many Jewish Christians wanted to know what role the law should continue to play in their lives. Were Christians obligated to keep the law? If not, what was to keep them from living sinfully? The apostle Paul boldly claimed that Christians “are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Could that really be true? If so, what would that look like? What would that mean?

The Purpose of the Law

In Galatians 3:23-29, Paul explained that the law of Moses was a “paidagogos,” which is translated schoolmaster, tutor, or guardian. In the Greco-Roman world, the son of a wealthy man would be cared for by a paidagogos, a slave who was given the responsibility of watching over his master’s son. This guardian would watch over the boy constantly; taking him to school, keeping him out of trouble, guiding him, guarding him, and teaching him. In the life of a young boy, a paidagogos was a good thing. However, when the boy became a man, he no longer needed a paidagogos. He was set free from this tutelage.

Paul said the law was just like that in the life of Israel. It’s end-goal was to bring the nation of Israel to a state of maturity and faith, where they would accept Jesus as their Messiah. And once they came to faith in Jesus, like a boy who became a man, they would no longer need the law in the same way.

“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:23-26).

A young boy does what is right because his guardian tells him to, but a man does what is right because he is an heir of his father’s household. When a young boy is under a guardian, he is just like a slave (Galatians 4:1-2). And Paul makes the point that the Jews were slaves under the law. But when Christ came, the law was lifted – at least for those who accepted Jesus as their Messiah – because that was the whole purpose of the law.

The son of a king doesn’t need a law to tell him to do the king’s will. The son of a king – in many ways – is exempt from the law, but he does the king’s will because he loves the king and because the king is his father. He does the king’s will because the king’s will has become his will. This is what being a Christian is all about.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:4-7).

Not Under Law But Under Grace

Paul has a very similar discussion with the church in Rome. He tells them that they are made right with God, not by keeping the law (which everyone had already failed to do), but by putting their faith in Christ. We are made right with God, because God is gracious and put forward His only begotten Son as a sin offering on our behalf.

In Romans 6, Paul anticipated the likely objections. He knew many wouldn’t accept this message of grace and not law, because they feared everyone would run amok. “If we’re not under Law,” they would object, “won’t everyone just go on sinning?”

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-4).

You cannot be a child of God, free from the burden of the law, so long as you still live to sin. That kind of a person is unconverted and is still a slave of sin. That kind of a person needs to be under law. But the true convert, has died to sin and has been baptized into the death of Christ.

Paul asks again, in verse 15, “Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?” And again answers, “By no means!” Through the power of the cross, and the work of God’s Holy Spirit, Christians have become slaves of righteousness. We do what is right, not because of a law written on stone tablets, but because we truly want to please our heavenly Father. Our hearts and minds have been converted by God’s grace.

The Bottom Line

God expects your entire life to be a grateful response to His grace. When your heart and mind are transformed by His mercies, you will know His will and will present your whole body to Him as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). This won’t be motivated by law, but motivated by His grace.

When you live in response to the gospel and walk by the Spirit, your life will be full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). This kind of life not only does not violate God’s law, but it actually fulfills the law of Christ because you are loving others and helping to bear their burdens (Galatians 6:2).

It couldn’t be stated more clearly than this:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

I recently had a rather unfortunate debate on Facebook that revolved around a conversation I had with my son. I posted that I had told my son, people don’t go to heaven because they are obedient, they go to heaven because God is gracious and sent Jesus to die on the cross. Of course I wasn’t undermining the importance and necessity of obedience, but I was making the point that God saves us, “not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9). But it seems many are rather uncomfortable with that concept.

So I want to address the question, “Are we saved by grace or not?”


What Does “By Grace” Mean?

There is so much confusion over the issue of grace. We all know there are those who abuse the word, acting as if grace is a license to sin or a freedom from obedience (Jude 1:4; Romans 6:1-7). Those kind of people clearly don’t understand God or His grace.

But on the other hand, there are Christians who seem to only talk about what grace is not. They seldom – if ever – talk about what grace is. They get very nervous when they hear, “Saved by grace.” They are quick to say, “Yeah, kind of, but not really!” They rush to dilute teachings on grace, for fear it might be “taken too far.”

Just so you know, when you hear the words “by grace” it just means something good is given that wasn’t earned or merited. So when you receive something good, it was either given by grace or by merit. Or as the apostle Paul puts in Romans 4:4, it is either a “wage” or a “gift.” It is that simple and there is no middle ground.

The air we breathe, for instance, is given to us from God. Is it given by grace or by merit? What could we possibly do to earn the air we breathe? It is laughable to think we could. Death and punishment are the ONLY wages we’ve earned from God (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Everything else is a gracious gift. When we fill our lungs with air we should say, “Thank you, God for graciously giving me air to breathe!”

It is absolutely impossible to take grace too far! Pervert it, yes! But take it too far, absolutely not! In fact, God desires to show us, “the immeasurable riches of his grace” (Ephesians 2:7).

Salvation by Grace?

This issue is most significant when it comes to salvation. Eternal life is either earned or it is given as a gift of grace. Scripture makes it clear it is the latter. In fact, those in the first-century who claimed to have earned eternal life by their obedience to the Law disqualified themselves from possessing it (Galatians 5:4).

If we’ve received salvation from God then it is either by grace or by merit. It is either deserved or undeserved. To say something like, “Salvation is by grace but not grace alone,” is to say it is somehow merited and unmerited at the same time. This not only makes no sense, but is entirely unbiblical. Listen to the word of God:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand,that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:4-10).

All a person is saying when he says we are saved “by grace” is, our salvation is completely undeserved and unmerited. We deserve punishment, but because of what Jesus did at the cross we are able to receive eternal life. Salvation is “by grace.” That’s what God’s word says; don’t add to that or take away from it.

How Do I Receive the Gift?

The appropriate question then is, “How do I receive this gift?” The biblical answer is, “through faith.” Much like the word “grace,” the word “faith” is also very misunderstood.

Faith might best be understood as a “total surrender” to God. When we hear and believe that God is able and willing to save us from the horrible fate we deserve, we totally surrender ourselves to Him, trusting Him to save us from what we deserve.

Repenting and being immersed in water for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38) is how we “call on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16) and appeal to Him for “a clean conscience” (1 Peter 3:21). It is in this act of faith that we clothe ourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:27). It is at this point – and this point alone – that our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16).

We come up from the water rejoicing (Acts 8:39) because it is by grace that we have been saved! NONE of it by merit, ALL of it by grace!

What About Obedience?

Does this mean we don’t have to obey? Of course not! That is an absolutely absurd suggestion!

It just means your obedience does not merit your salvation (that’s what “by grace” means). We obey because we are trusting in God to save us, both at our baptism and in our continually walking with Him in faith. Obedience is a matter of entrusting our souls to a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19).

Disobedience, on the other hand, is how you reject the gift (see Hebrews 3:12-19). The gracious gift of salvation is either accepted by humble obedient faith or – at any point – rejected by stubborn and sinful pride:

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:26-29)?

Saying we are saved by grace does NOT negate the necessity of obedience. It does not mean there is nothing we must do to be saved or to remain in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. It just means that even after all of our obedience, we will always be “unworthy servants” (Luke 17:10) who are saved by God’s amazing grace and NOT by our own merit.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

P.S. If you’re interested, I’ve written an entire book on this issue, The Treasure Chest of Grace.

How to be the Church of Grace

Wes  —  January 14, 2015

The word “grace” appears over 100 times in the New Testament. One could easily say that grace is one of the most dominant themes of the New Testament. The apostle John began his gospel account by saying, “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Therefore, it is only right for Christ’s church to be known as a people of grace. Or, in other words, the church of Christ should be the church of grace.

the church of grace

Here are three areas we need to focus on in order to be the church of grace that God would have us to be:

1. We Must Preach the Gospel of Grace

Grace could be defined as “God showering blessings on us, when we deserve for wrath to be showered upon us.” That’s what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Because God is so immeasurably gracious, He sent His Son to the earth to die for wretched man. Now, anyone who is in Christ, is showered with all the spiritual blessings of heaven (Ephesians 1:3). We don’t deserve to be called “sinless,” but we are sinless, because we are completely forgiven in Him. We don’t deserve to be called “holy,” but we are holy, because we are completely sanctified in Him. We don’t deserve to approach His throne in prayer, but we can come into the presence of God with confidence, because we are completely reconciled in Him.

When a person, in repentant faith, puts Christ on in baptism (Galatians 3:26-27), he receives all of the riches of God’s glorious grace. We must be a people who shout from the rooftops, “Come to Christ! There is grace for all!” That’s the message that should define the church. People should say about us, “Those folks are always talking about the grace, forgiveness, and mercy of God.”

2. We Must Stop Being Afraid of Grace

Some of us are afraid of grace, because we know people abuse the concept. In our fear of grace, we often talk more about what grace is not than about what grace is. That is shameful.

We should not be afraid to say exactly what Scripture says, “By grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Or that we are “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). None of that should make us uncomfortable in the least.

I suppose we are afraid that if we talk too much about grace, people might forget about obedience. That should not be, for grace is what teaches us to be obedient (see Titus 2:11-14)!

We must stop letting people steal our spiritual vocabulary. The fact that some “pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (Jude 4), should not stop us from being the church of grace.

3. We Must Exude Grace

God has extended grace to us through Jesus Christ and He commands us to extend grace to others. In other words, God showers blessings on those who deserve His wrath, therefore we shower kindness on those who have mistreated us. Everything the church does and says should exude mercy and grace.

We don’t treat people the way they deserve to be treated, we treat people with grace. Our speech should “always be gracious” (Colossians 4:6). We should feed our enemies (Romans 12:20). When slapped, we should turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). When people insult us, we don’t insult them back; instead, we sincerely wish them well (Romans 12:14).

That’s what the church should look like. The church should be world famous for her grace.

Are You Helping the Church to be, The Church of Grace?

The only person you have control over is you. You can’t make other Christians be gracious. The only thing you can do is preach grace and exude grace yourself. So, let’s all do our part to make sure the church of Christ remains the church of grace.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

Free E-Book

Today (March 19) and tomorrow (March 20), you can download the Kindle version of my book, The Treasure Chest of Grace  for FREE! You can read it on your iPhone, iPad, Kindle device, computer, etc. Just click here to go to and download the book today! And remember, this offer expires March 20, 2012.

Update: 522 Books were given away through this promotion!

30% Off Paperback Version

Plus, for the next week (March 19-26), I’m offering a 30% discount on the paperback version of The Treasure Chest of Grace. To get this discount, just click here and enter the discount code: AYNM94UH when you checkout. Remember, this offer will expire on March 26, so don’t delay!

Here’s your opportunity to share the simple truths of God’s word with your friends and family. Please use the buttons on the left to share this information. Or send an e-mail to your friends and family letting them know about this incredible deal!

Thank you so much!

Wes McAdams




The Treasure Chest of Grace

Wes  —  August 9, 2011

Treasure Chest of GraceBeing radically Christian is about living a life that is completely focused on Christ. The reason we focus on Christ is because He is “the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). If Christ were not my Savior, why would I want to follow Him?  If I had the power to save myself, I would have no need of Christ. Too often it is presumed, by outsiders, that those who are passionate about Christianity are passionate because they consider themselves to be perfect. On the contrary, more often than not, it is those who know they are imperfect and in desperate need of grace, who are the most excited about being Christians. The more one acknowledges his dependence on (and need for) grace, the more passionate he can be about Christianity!

Grace has been defined as “unmerited favor”. This indicates that grace is when God blesses in ways that have not been earned or merited. It has also been defined as “blessings bestowed when wrath was owed.” This idea goes a bit further in explaining grace, showing that not only has the favor or blessings not been merited, but they have been given when what was deserved is God’s wrath. And lastly, some define grace with the acronym “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”. Meaning, that the riches, favor, and blessings that were given, were given at the expense of Christ’s life. When we put these three definitions together we get a great picture of God’s grace that could be worded something like this, “Grace is God’s unmerited favor, riches, and blessings, bestowed at Christ’s expense, when wrath was owed.” That definition may be a bit more laborious to remember, but comes closer to capturing the idea of grace in its fullness.

The treasure chest of grace is filled with God’s favor, riches, and blessings. James writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). God loves those whom He has created and loves to lavish good gifts upon them. Jesus asks, “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent” (Matthew 7:9-10)? Then He adds, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11)!

Every gift which God gives comes from the treasure chest of His grace. Paul says the riches of God’s grace are “immeasurable” (Ephesians 2:7). Paul was a man who understood and depended on the riches of God’s grace. In every single epistle, Paul mentions God’s grace! In fact, Paul mentions grace over 80 times in his 13 books! He declares, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul took pride in nothing as coming from him or his abilities. He considered everything he was and everything he had as being gifts of God’s rich grace. He writes, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

It must be fully understood that gifts are given from God by grace and not by merit. In Acts 17:24-25 we read, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” It is from God that mankind receives “life and breath”; what has man done to merit life? What has mankind done to earn air to breathe? Nothing!

By way of analogy, think for a moment about a man’s pet goldfish, swimming in a glass fish bowl. Who owns the bowl? The man, not the fish, owns the bowl. Who owns the water? The man, not the fish, owns the water. Who owns the food which the fish eats? The man, not the fish, owns the food. What has the fish done to earn the bowl, or the water, or the food? The answer is, absolutely nothing! In fact, there is nothing the fish could possibly do to deserve anything from his master. Anything which the fish receives is given solely upon the basis of grace.

In a lot of ways we are exactly like that goldfish. We exist in a world which we do not control and we do not own. We are completely dependant on the air we breathe; yet we did not create it nor do we own it. We must consume the food of the ground in order to live; yet we did not, nor would we be able to, create the soil or the seed from which our food comes. We rely upon meat to give us the strength which we need; yet we did not create the animal from which we receive it. The Psalmist proclaims, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

Just as a goldfish is incapable of earning anything he receives from his master, so too we are completely and utterly incapable of earning the things we receive from God. This does not mean, of course, that we are incapable of obeying Him, pleasing Him, honoring Him, and glorifying Him; but we must remember that by doing so, we have earned nothing.

God is so much higher than us and His glory is so far beyond our comprehension, that He could not possibly be indebted to us for anything. Isaiah reveals, “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6).

Therefore, let no one think that God owes him something! Let no one suppose that he has earned anything! Let no one even imagine that anything is his own! Everything you are and everything you have, you have received from the treasure chest of God’s grace!

I love you! A gracious God loves you! I pray many blessings for you!

Wes McAdams


I am so excited to announce the release of The Treasure Chest of Grace.

This book is all about how and when God saves man by grace. The only quotations in it come straight from the pages of Scripture, so you can be sure that the conclusions reached in this book are biblical!

Continue Reading…

I sat down and read the book Deuteronomy while waiting for, and while on board, a flight to Memphis this week. This project of reading whole books in one sitting gets easier and more exciting every time I do it. It makes me wonder why I haven’t read every book this way. So let’s talk about Deuteronomy because there is some great stuff in this book!

Our title for this book comes from two Greek words, “deuteros” and “nomos” which mean “second” and “law.” In other words, this book is about the second giving of the Law to the people of Israel. Though “Law” – or the “Torah” – might better be understood as “instruction.”

The people of Israel had wandered in the wilderness and now it was finally time to take possession of Canaan, which God had promised to their forefathers. But before they took possession, Moses reminded them of where they came from and how they were supposed to live as God’s delivered and sanctified people.

God’s Grace

If you gloss over the book of Deuteronomy, or take a few passages out of context, you might think this is a book about works, “Do this and good things will happen, do that and bad things will happen.” But reading it that way really misses the big picture.

Moses reminds Israel over and over, they don’t deserve to receive the land. They are receiving it as a gift because of God’s love for them and the promises He made to their forefathers. God is keeping the promises of His covenant with them, in spite of the fact that Israel has been nothing but stubborn and rebellious for the last forty years.

The Purpose of Obedience

Again, if we’re not careful we will read this story as saying the Promised Land would be their wages for obedience to the Law. But again, that misses the point.

From the very beginning, Moses tells Israel that the purpose of their obedience was so that they might be a light to other nations. God wanted the Gentile nations to see Israel and say to themselves, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Israel’s obedience to the Torah of God was supposed to point the nations to the God of the Torah. As a kingdom, Israel was supposed to act as a priesthood to the other nations. They were supposed to reflect the glory of God into the world and be a blessing to the nations on behalf of God; so that the whole world might know the one true God.

Care for the Vulnerable

One of the primary aspects of the Law on which Deuteronomy focuses is caring for three special groups of people: the fatherless, widow, and immigrant. It was the job of every Israelite to provide for these people. In other civilizations, these groups might have been seen as a drag on the society; after all, they contribute little and cost much. But amongst God’s people, the fatherless, widow, and immigrant were to enjoy a favored status. They were to be cared for by the whole community.

Return from Exile

The land of Canaan is described as being a paradise. A place like the Garden of Eden. In fact, it’s almost as if Israel taking possession of the Promised Land is like the first group of humans returning from exile after the Fall in the Garden. But sadly, throughout the book, Israel’s own fall and their own coming exile are already imminent. Like Adam and Eve, like all humanity, Israel would inevitably fall and be exiled from God’s paradise.

Their coming fall, however, would not stop God from fulfilling His promises. Someday in the distant future, after their fall and exile, they would be given the opportunity to repent of their sins, be forgiven, and dwell once again in the land. But this would only be possible through divine intervention; God would have to be the one to circumcise their hearts.

Only after this great act of God, would they be able to fulfill the greatest commands of the Torah: loving God with all their heart, soul, and strength and loving their neighbor as themselves.

The Good News of Jesus

In keeping with that promise, this is the Good News that was announced to the gathered people of Israel on the Day of Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Through Jesus, Israel and the nations are all being delivered from exile. Sins are being forgiven. Our hearts are being changed so that we truly begin to love Him and love others. Someday soon our deliverance will be complete; sin and death will be no more and we will “eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). Until then, let us be what Jesus was and what Israel was called to be, a royal priesthood whose faithfulness points the nations to our God.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

P.S. If you missed my thoughts on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, or Numbers, you can go back and read those posts.

A lot of people seem to believe that on the Day of Judgment, all of their good deeds will be weighed against all of their sins to see whether or not they have been good enough to be saved. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” But if we are saved “by grace,” how can this be true? As a part of our “Re-Examined Series,” let’s take a closer look at 2 Corinthians 5:10.

How the Passage is Often Used

I’m sure many preachers and teachers have used this verse to get people to act right, giving them the impression that on the Day of Judgment they will either be condemned or saved based on how much good they’ve done and how little sin they’ve committed. Sadly, I’ve sat with plenty of dying Christians who’ve asked me, “Do you think I’ve been good enough to go to heaven?”

The Context

Most of us don’t consider that the theme of 2 Corinthians is Paul’s apostolic authority and ministry. Throughout the book, Paul is defending his authority as an apostle against those in Corinth who were criticizing him. His critics seem to have been saying that Paul’s suffering and persecution were evidence that he wasn’t really an apostle of Jesus. They were a constant thorn in his flesh.

He told the Corinthians that his suffering actually proved he was a servant of Christ Jesus. He said that he and his companions were “always of good courage,” that they walked “by faith, not by sight,” that they made it their “aim to please [Christ]” (see 2 Corinthians 5:6-9). 

Throughout the letter, he urged the church, “Make room in your hearts for us” (2 Corinthians 7:2). He reminded them over and over again, they could trust him; he and his companions had not wronged, corrupted, or taken advantage of anyone (ibid.).

But Paul was never so bold or arrogant as to brag about himself. He was always mindful that it wasn’t his judgment that mattered, and it certainly wasn’t the judgment of his critics that mattered, it was the judgment of Christ that mattered. He said, “What we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience” (2 Corinthians 5:11).

The Meaning

Sometimes it’s easy for good people to become persuaded that an innocent man is actually guilty. The apostle Paul was constantly on trial. Everywhere he preached, there were people accusing him of being a false prophet. It took an incredibly courageous man to persevere in circumstances like that.

In his previous letter to the Corinthians, Paul had already written the following (1 Corinthians 4:1-4):

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

Compare that to what he wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:10:

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.

Paul wanted to be judged by Jesus; not because he thought he had been good enough to be saved, but because he knew Jesus would vindicate him that he truly was a faithful servant of Christ.

Paul knew that in his previous life of persecuting the church, he had become the “foremost” sinner (1 Timothy 1:15). He knew he did not deserve to be justified in God’s sight. He knew it was a gift of God that he had been saved and that his right standing before God had nothing to do with his good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

But he also knew that he was telling the truth about being an apostle. He knew he was hiding nothing. He knew he was deceiving no one. He knew he was being faithful to his calling. And he knew that on the Day of Judgement, Jesus would make all of that clear.

He also knew his wicked and deceitful critics would be judged. He knew that all of their scheming and manipulation would be brought to light by Christ.

The Application

We should all have the same mentality as Paul. We should be confident that we are in a right relationship with God because of the blood of Jesus. We should boldly and courageously go about doing the good works God has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). And we should not let people’s criticism stop us.

When people question and criticize our work in the Lord, we should say with our brother Paul, “It is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself…It is the Lord who judges me.”

Criticize if you want, but we will all stand before Christ’s judgment seat and there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

In Acts 2:38 Peter told a crowd of people, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The question we will consider today is this: Was Peter telling the people to be baptized in order to be forgiven or was he telling them to be baptized because they were already forgiven?

The Preposition “Eis”

The word translated “for” in Acts 2:38 is the Greek word “eis.” Two scholars, A.T. Robertson and J.R. Mantey, have argued that in this passage the word “eis” means, “because.” They argued that Peter was telling the crowd, “Repent and be baptized because of the forgiveness of your sins.” In other words, be baptized in order to show that your sins have already been forgiven.

The problem with Robertson and Mantey’s argument is that the word “eis” simply does NOT mean, “because of.” It doesn’t mean that in this passage…or in any passage. It often has the following meanings:

  • to
  • into
  • unto
  • for
  • towards
  • among
  • at

It is used over 1,700 times in the New Testament and it shows movement toward a goal. It indicates purpose. The popular site, falsely claims that Matthew 12:41 proves “eis” can mean “because.” Matthew 12:41 says:

“The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”

In this passage, “eis” is translated at.” But it doesn’t mean “because” it means “at the point of” or “when.” The people of Nineveh repented “when” Jonah preached to them. Jesus is saying the current generation would be condemned by the people of Nineveh because (Greek “hoti”) the people of Nineveh repented at the point of (“eis”) Jonah’s preaching.

The word “eis” never ever means “because” in the New Testament. That’s simply not how the word was used. Those who claim otherwise are twisting the word to fit their preconceived theological ideas.

For the Forgiveness of Sins

In fact, there is another time the exact phrase, “for the forgiveness of sins” appears in the New Testament. In Matthew 26:27-28, Jesus says:

“And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'”

Did you catch that? Jesus said His blood would be poured out “for the forgiveness of sins.” Could He have meant that His blood was poured out “because” sins had already been forgiven? Could He have meant He was going to die as an outward sign that sins were forgiven without His blood? Surely that conclusion is preposterous!

If the Greek phrase in Matthew 26:28 means “in order for sins to be forgiven” then why doesn’t the exact same phrase in Acts 2:38 mean the same thing? The truth is, it does mean the same thing.

How It is Translated

Though many preachers, pastors, teachers, and commentators continue to argue for “because of” in Acts 2:38, it seems that translators of the Bible are almost always scholarly enough to treat the text well. Consider all of these translations:

  • ESV – “for the forgiveness of your sins”
  • NIV – “for the forgiveness of your sins”
  • KJV – “for the remission of sins”
  • NASB – “for the forgiveness of your sins”

Even many of the paraphrase Bibles do not accept the “because of” argument:

  • MSG – “be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven.”
  • NLT – “for the forgiveness of your sins”
  • ERV – “be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Then God will forgive your sins”
  • CEV – “so that your sins will be forgiven”

It is simply NOT accurate to say Acts 2:38 means, “because of the forgiveness of your sins.” There may be some fringe translation somewhere that translates it that way, but I don’t know what translation that would be. Every reputable Bible I have ever seen makes the point clear, sins are forgiven at the point of baptism.


Peter was NOT teaching, nor am I teaching, that a person is saved by works and not by grace. Baptism does NOT merit salvation. Baptism is simply the point at which Jesus saves us. It is the point at which we are “united with” His saving work (Romans 6:1-7). It is the point at which we are resurrected from our state of spiritual deadness (Colossians 2:12).

Baptism is a penitent appeal of faith for the forgiveness of our sins (see 1 Peter 3:21). It is saying to God, “I trust you. I surrender to you. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He will wash my sins away and raise me from the dead.”

None of that contradicts the idea that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). We are saved totally by grace and totally by faith when we repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

We all know “unity” is a biblical concept. We know Jesus prayed that we all “may become perfectly one” (John 17:23). But in the grand scheme of things, many of us seem to rank unity as a pretty low priority. “It would be nice,” we tend to think, “but until ‘all those people’ get their act together, it probably isn’t going to happen.” I would suggest unity needs to be a far greater priority than many of us have treated it and here’s why.

Why Unity is Important

When Jesus prayed for all those who believe in Him through the word of the apostles to be “one,” he gave a reason. Listen to the Lord:

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:20-23, emphasis mine).

The reason Jesus gave for oneness is “so that the world may know” that God sent Jesus. The unity of believers is a testimony to the deity of Jesus. Which means, of course, that the opposite tends to be true as well. When the world sees disunity, they are less likely to “believe.”

Think about that for a second. When believers cannot get along with one another, it prevents the world from believing in Christ. If you want the world to hear and believe the Good News, then one of the things you MUST do is be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

The Word “Church”

It’s interesting to me that occasionally I will hear Christians say that the Greek word “ekklesia” (which we translate “church“), means “called out.” This, of course, would imply separateness. But the definition of words must be determined by how they were actually used, not by their etymology. The word “ekklesia” was not used to emphasize separateness, but togetherness.

The word “ekklesia” means “gathering” or “assembly.” It is about individuals being called together. Yes, of course, we are coming out of the world, but that is not the emphasis of the word. The word emphasizes our being brought together under the banner of King Jesus.

When we think of “church” being about separateness, then we tend to think it is a good thing to separate ourselves from everyone with whom we disagree. Ironically, the word “Pharisee” means “one who is separated.” The emphasis needs to be put back on togetherness, rather than separateness.

Maintaining Unity

We do not create Christian unity. Unity was created when, “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). But even though we don’t create unity, it is our responsibility to eagerly “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

Here are some things we need to do to maintain unity:

  1. Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:1-3).
  2. Hold fast to the word preached by the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:2).
  3. Remember that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are the matters of “first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
  4. Do not quarrel over opinions (Romans 14:1).
  5. If you are strong, “bear with the failings of the weak” (Romans 15:1).

Maintaining unity is relational and it is doctrinal. We must be humble, gentle, patient, loving, and kind. And we must be unified in doctrine. We must only teach as doctrine what is truly taught by the New Testament. Anything beyond that is “opinion” and speculation; we can certainly discuss our opinions, but we must not quarrel and divide over them.

Hold the Line

We must “hold the line.” We must stick together. Remember the reason unity is so important: “that the world may believe.” When we let our preferences, agendas, and personalities divide us, we might as well say, “I don’t care if the world believes.”

None of this is to say that we should overlook sin or rebellion. And it’s certainly not to say that everyone who claims to be a Christian is actually a Christian or that biblical doctrine should ever be overlooked or dismissed. This is simply to say unity MUST be one of our highest priorities, because it is a testimony to the deity of Jesus.

Too often we have the attitude, “I’d rather be right by myself than wrong with you,” when we should have the attitude, “I’d rather be right with you and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that happens.” Where we’re already together – unified in Christ – let’s stick together. And where we’re divided, let’s figure out how the Gospel of truth and grace can bring us together, so that we can be one – even as the Father and the Son are one.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams