In religious and theological studies, grace depicts God’s love and mercy for humanity. Based on the current Christian understandings, it seems that the analysis of grace in the Bible begins in the Gospel of Mathew. According to most Christians, the birth of Jesus Christ signals the beginning of an age of grace. However, some Christians believe that God’s grace has existed from the time of creation. These Christians believe that God’s act of creating life out of nothing is a sign of his grace. Through this concept, Christians believe that God created life on earth with the sole purpose of enhancing human survival. Apparently, Christian theories related to grace have generated heated debates among Catholics, Protestants, and atheists. For instance, Catholic followers associate grace with sacraments. On the contrary, Protestants associate grace with faith. Protestants believe that in the absence of faith, an individual cannot attain eternal life. Similarly, modern liberals in theology assert that human beings are free to decide their own fate. On the other hand, theological conservatives believe that no man can achieve salvation without God’s grace. All these interpretations and expectations of God’s grace have resulted in numerous controversies among different denominations and churches. Based on these controversies, some Christians believe that the interpretations of grace in Christian denominations and churches have created more confusion and drift rather than harmony. Through this paper, I seek to criticize several religious beliefs related to grace, and reaffirm the insignificance of grace in modern Christian lives.
According to the Bible, God’s grace is free, spontaneous, and undeserved. The Bible illustrates several instances in which man sinned against God, and yet God still forgave him. For instance, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit God’s grace was depicted in the way he treated them during the aftermath. Although, God punished Adam and Eve, after they had sinned, it should be noted that his grace was manifested in the way he later treated them. The Old Testament illustrates that God never departed Adam and Eve; he was always there by their side guiding them through their endeavors. Similarly, in the New Testament, the Gospel of John asserts that Jesus Christ brought God’s grace with him when he was sent to save humanity. Similarly, The Gospel of Luke asserts that God’s grace was manifested in the life of Jesus Christ from his childhood until his death. Through God’s grace, Jesus Christ underwent mockery, humiliation, death threats and was crucified for the human race to receive eternal life. Currently, most Christians believe that God’s grace is still being manifested in their daily lives. According to some Christians no matter how much they sin against him, he still opens his wide arms and beckons them to repent.
Catholicism and grace
For centuries, Catholics have contradicted the Protestants on the matters of grace. Catholics believe that Christians can attain their salvation through God’s grace and sacraments. As such, catholic teachings suggest that individuals cannot receive their salvation through their deeds alone. In line with the Protestant teachings, I believe that the catholic teachings on grace do not reveal the exact teachings in the Bible. For instance, Catholic teachings assert that Christians are saved by the graces. However, with the close analysis I recognized that the Bible only mentions the word grace and not graces as asserted in the Catholic teachings. In the National International Version, the word grace is mentioned more than 100 times. Catholic teachings comprise several types of graces such as Baptism, Eucharist, and Mass. According to the Catholic teachings, through sacraments human race can receive God’s grace and be assured of eternal life. However, the Bible more than once affirms that by grace, Christians can attain their salvation and not by their acts as the Catholic teachings suggest. In this essence, Christians should realize that not all catholic teachings on grace are embodied in the Bible.
Similarly, Catholic teachings categorize Christian works into two groups, which include natural good works and salutary acts. According to their teachings, natural good works represent deeds performed by human beings without the help of God’s grace. On the other hand, salutary acts refer to the acts performed by human beings through the inspiration of God’s grace. They emphasize that through salutary acts Christians can attain their salvation. Since these acts are performed in accordance with the will of the Holy Spirit, Catholics believe that these deeds are not merely their efforts but the efforts of the Holy Spirit. Through this, Christians should note that Catholics do not believe in salvation through deeds as the Protestants do. Instead, they believe that they are saved through grace. They emphasize that the grace of Jesus Christ should be manifested in Christians through baptisms, salutary acts, and sacraments. Above all, Catholics, unlike Protestants, believe that salvation can be attained by merely accepting that Jesus Christ is our personal Lord and Saviour.
Protestantism and grace
Although the teachings and understandings of protestant denominations on grace vary, common beliefs on Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide hold to date. Through sola fide, Protestants believe that salvation is attained by grace through faith. Unlike the Catholics, Protestants believe that one can attain deliverance through grace and faith, rather than through our good deeds. Similarly, through the Sola Scriptura Protestants assert that the Bible alone is the authorized binding power to all Christians.
Contrary to catholic teachings, Protestants emphasize salvation by faith alone. According to their teachings, humanity has sinned and fallen short of God’s teachings. As a result, their teachings assert that human beings can receive God’s grace through faith. Through this, Protestants believe that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected for their sins. Based on Martin Luther’s teachings, the founder of the protestant churches, Protestants believe that no matter how much a person sins he or she can still gain access to God’s grace and salvation through faith. In my opinion, the relationship between God’s grace, faith, and salvation is inappropriate. I believe that Christians can still attain their salvation without much understanding of faith and grace.
In my opinion, we no longer need to have the understandings of grace today to attain salvation. Salvation should be free, thus people should not be restricted by mere limitations on grace. If we base our salvation on an understanding of grace, we would only create more confusion among Christian followers. Based on my understanding of the Bible, grace is a gift given to us by God. This implies that there should be no restrictions on its understandings and interpretations. Controversial understandings and interpretations of grace by Catholics, Protestants, and liberal theology Christians, have created antagonism among Christian believers. I believe that Christian churches and denominations have defined and interpreted grace to fit their own purposes. In this regard, I urge Christians to object to all the teachings or guidelines associating grace and salvation. Instead, we should all realize that grace is no longer essential for one to be saved. On the contrary, we should recognize that we do not need to be restricted by human limitations from attaining our salvation. Furthermore, these restrictions were formulated without appropriate scripture consultations, but rather to fulfil the specific denomination’s interests.
If Christians could believe that grace is insignificant in attaining their salvation, Christians would avoid several confusions created by the Lordship theology teachings. According to the lordship theology teachings, faith is depicted as a hard and complicated response. Through this, Christians are to be committed and follow Christ’s teachings to the letter. By doing so, Christians are supposed to behave like Jesus’ disciples and surrender all their burdens to him. In contemporary society, these guidelines are not only difficult to follow, but also difficult to implement. On the other hand, if Christians were to view grace as an insignificant value to salvation we would all begin to view faith as a simple and uncomplicated response. In my opinion, Jesus teaching that whoever believes in him will earn eternal life is enough proof that salvation can be attained in a simple and uncomplicated manner.
Christians should realize that through grace restrictions or guidelines set by our denominations, we are considered as professing Christians. In contemporary society, we all commit sins more often than we can recount. This implies that if we are to abide by the restrictions of grace we are expected to repent every time to counteract our wrongful deeds. It is a fact that very few individuals abide by these conditions. Therefore, we should recognize that our strong beliefs on grace limit how we behave and relate with God to attain his salvation. As an alternative, we should acknowledge that human beings are vulnerable to sin, and we can do little to reduce the situation. Therefore, we should not be upset or be depressed by our sinful nature. I believe that current Christians are too much concerned with their sinful nature and thus compromise on their rightful wishes to be free. As Christians, We should stop hardening ourselves working and abiding by grace. Instead, we should rejoice to know that God will never forsake us. We can affirm this in the book of Hebrews 6:1-12. In this verse, the author asserts that even if we are faithless, and Jesus remains faithful, we will attain everlasting life.
By acknowledging that grace plays an insignificant part in our process of salvation, means that we as Christians must refrain from associating salvation with faith, grace, or deeds. In my opinion, our acts cannot reveal whether we will regenerate. In turn, as Christians, we should do our work with diligence without waiting for any appreciation or approval from God. I believe that doing good to please God or to expect a reward from him is selfish and self-centered. Personally, we are all expected to do good works regardless of whether we will be rewarded or not.
Currently, religions have overemphasized the importance of grace at the expense of other Christian values. Through this, Christian religions have failed to live up to the divine standard, and have created gaps between themselves based on their understanding of grace. I believe that we have fallen short of our expectations by participating in such acts. Therefore, we should realize that we were made equal by God’s grace through Jesus’ death on the cross. Similarly, I believe that Christian denominations should not interpret the meaning and the expectations of God’s Grace in our lives. Thus, we should all be contented that through God’s grace Jesus Christ sets everyone free, and that he died for all.
Similarly, I do believe that the importance of grace was suppressed when Roman Catholic Church split into different denominations. The division in the Roman Catholic Church gave rise to Protestant churches. As earlier stated, Protestants believe in salvation through faith. This concept has thrived for centuries. Since the idea is deeply rooted in most of the Protestant’s minds, I believe that the significance of grace in their lives has been restricted. Therefore, Christians should acknowledge that faith is all that matters for one to attain salvation, rather than grace. In this regard, I urge Christians to accept the fact that grace is insignificant today to avoid confusion among their members.
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