“By Grace Are Ye Saved” … Without the Holy Ghost?

By grace are we saved … all agree.

Do all need the Holy Ghost? … hmm, well, uh …

Much has been written about the concept of Grace. Most of us who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ have heard messages about Grace and could probably quote a few Bible verses on Grace. That being the case, can we say with certainty the moment in which “Grace” actually enters into the believer’s life? Is it the first moment we “think on the Lord” and feel sorrow for our sins? Is it when we first open our mouth to pray or maybe upon our first confession that “Jesus is Lord?” Or, as some traditions contend, perhaps we receive Grace when a religious man puts the Communion bread in our mouth and pronounces a blessing over us. Is Grace “all in my head?” Is Grace the supernatural property of a few “holy men” who can deny it at will?

Grace comes upon us when the Spirit of Christ comes upon us … IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

When we are filled with the baptism of the Holy Ghost (i.e. the Spirit of Christ), this event signifies the actual moment Grace enters in upon an individual, regenerating the human spirit, and empowering the individual for anointed, Spirit-led ministry. Until this moment, the person may feel tremors in their spirit, the drawing and wooing of Grace, dealings of the Spirit, waves of “graciousness.” But until we are literally “filled with the Spirit” we have not received Grace that saves. This is a strong statement; please read on.

Religious traditions and lengthy theologies have taken Grace and divorced it from the Spirit … one can be saved by Grace, yet never have actually been filled with the Spirit. The biblical truth is that there is no Grace outside of the Spirit. This is why we must receive the Holy Ghost.

Grace saves us. Grace also empowers us. All we could ever need for salvation and service in the kingdom of God comes by Grace. In fact, Grace is a total package; that is, when we receive the Spirit of Grace for salvation, we also receive “charisma” for dynamic, anointed, apostolic ministry.

In the Church, God has placed “gifts” of Grace which serve the entire congregation, whose ministry it is to “equip” others for ministry. This equipping is itself a ministry, which, in turn, empowers others to perform ministry. This dynamic cycle of empowerment was instituted by Christ, modeled by him in his own earthly ministry, and continued through his disciples when they were filled with and anointed by Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Christ. There must be a Transfer of the Spirit or nothing has actually taken place.

All of the passion and emotion and sincerity in the world cannot save us if there is no actual impartation of the Holy Ghost.

Roger Stronstad, author of The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke, says “It is impossible to divorce either the mission of Jesus from the activity of the Spirit, or the mission of the disciples from the activity of the Spirit.” [1] The gift of the Spirit is first for our regeneration and salvation, but also for anointed, empowering service toward one another in the Church, and ultimately to a lost world of unbelievers.

Ephesians 4:8 speaks of Christ giving “gifts” unto men. Paul explains these “gifts” are actually individuals in the Church—ministers.

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, For the work of the ministry, For the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

Brian Kinsey, in his commentary on Ephesians recognizes three lists of “gifts” in the New Testament located in Romans 12:3-8; I Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-31; and Ephesians 4:11. “Though the contents of the lists differ,” he says, “each gift gives power to believers to be a help and blessing to the other members of the body. Gifts are not given for the sole benefit of the recipient but so the recipient may bless others.” [2]

“Perfecting” of the saints (v.12) is the Greek katartismos meaning “to repair, mend, and completely furnish.” It is a surgical term, such as would be used to describe the repairing of a broken limb, which necessitates setting the bone back in its proper place so it can be healed. [3] In every local assembly there are “gifts” given by God, which are in fact individuals anointed for the purpose of leading, guiding, teaching, admonishing, and overseeing the work of God. Their service to the LORD will be seen in the growth and development of the Body of Christ, especially as individuals join together to form strong bonds of unity and peace.

Grace is a very important subject of Ephesians. First, grace saves us (by grace are ye saved through faith); secondly, grace is the empowering factor in our service to God. These two operations of grace cannot be separated into two compartments. The very Grace given for salvation is the Grace by which we are anointed and empowered for ministry.

Dr. Nathaniel Wilson declares,

“New Testament grace was inseparable from the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit recorded in the New Testament.” [4]

Grace and the Spirit are often indistinguishable in Scripture, both referring to that which saves and empowers the believer. In his exegetical study of the word “grace,” Wilson explains the relationship between the Greek charis (“grace”) with other words in the New Testament sharing the same root ‘char:’ words such as charisma, charismatos, and charismatōn.[5] The conclusion is that there is no “charisma” (i.e. dynamic, magnetic, empowering elements) in our ministry apart from Grace, which only comes by means of the Spirit. “The infilling of the Holy Spirit is the medium of grace to the believer in salvation,” says Wilson. “Then … the anointing of the Holy Spirit is the medium of grace through the believer in ministry to the world.” [6]

Commenting on Ephesians 4, Snodgrass observes that the “primitive church” of the New Testament was controlled by “the Spirit and charismata.” Apostolic Pentecostals would agree, but might add, as Nathaniel Wilson posits, that the Spirit and “charismata” are one and the same. “Anything that lacks the Spirit is not a component of the church,” says Wilson. [7] The book of Acts is narrative witness to this fact: the “transfer of Spirit” for leadership is not only manifested in the “top” leaders (bishops, elders, and deacons), but among all believers. The “transfer of Spirit” (we may say “gifts of Grace”) is the “equipping” of the saints for ministry. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are all “gifts” given to the church for the purpose of edifying and maturing each believer so that all may contribute to the overall ministry of the Church, to the end that every member contributes and “maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

“Only as the believer possesses Christ will he be able to claim His gift of grace.” [9] Brian Kinsey, an Apostolic-Pentecostal minister and author of The Bride’s Pearl: A Commentary on Ephesians, likewise concludes that grace only comes as Christ fills, or as he says, “possesses” the believer. This language is Pentecostal, with clear theological tones referring to the baptism of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. To the Apostles and the early Church, as well as present-day Apostolic Pentecostals, the grace of God is given for our salvation AND for supernatural empowerment to do the work of God. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.”

To receive salvation or anointing both require Grace, which only comes by the Spirit, which implies being filled with the baptism of the Holy Ghost. We cannot say we have received Grace to be saved, but not the Grace for spiritual gifts. We cannot say we have Grace to operate in the Spirit, if we have not first received Grace to be saved.

To reject the baptism of the Holy Ghost is to forgo the Grace for salvation and the Grace for “charismata” (spiritual gifts), for both come by “the Spirit of Grace” (Heb 10:29). 

“Equipping ministry” is first for the Body of Christ, the Church, that there be no schism among God’s people, but rather spiritual wholeness and soundness of doctrine in the Body. As the Body of Christ is edified and “built up” it will function as the vehicle of God’s reconciliation, reaching a lost world. “Christianity is not a religion of works, but it is still very much a religion of action … Grace engages us, calls us, pushes us, develops us, and gives us a ministry.” [10]

By grace are we saved, and by grace we go into the world to save others. It is Christ—literally in us—who is going forth, reaching out, drawing in, rescuing and saving the lost.

WE NEED GRACE. WE NEED THE BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT.

 

Works Cited

[1] Roger Stronstad, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1984), 47.

[2] Brian Kinsey, The Bride’s Pearl: A Commentary on Ephesians (Hazelwood: Word Aflame Press, 1993), 198.

[3] Ibid., 204.

[4] Nathaniel Wilson, “Article Towards a Theology of Grace,” in Theology of Mission, Apostolic School of Theology, 8.

[5] Ibid., 24-25.

[6] Ibid., 27.

[7] Ibid., 12.

[8] Klyne Snodgrass, The NIV Application Commentary: Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 204.

[9] Kinsey, The Bride’s Pearl, 197.

[10] Snodgrass, Ephesians, 171.

 

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