Romans 4:1-5 :
What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather, has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not toward God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the reward is not counted as grace, but as something owed. But to him who doesn’t work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.
It may come as a surprise to some that Abraham himself was a man who was saved by grace. Abraham is the natural father of both the Jews and the Arabs. It is only natural for both Jews and Arabs to follow their natural father’s example and go down the path of grace as they have been shown. This “Christian” way of grace is really Abraham’s way because that is how Abraham was made a great man. Abraham didn’t do anything. He just got “credit” from God. He didn’t earn what he got, God saw that Abraham believed Him and so he just issued Abraham “righteousness credit” that he would never have to repay. It was completely a gift and Abraham did nothing to actually earn what he got.
This passage helps us get a better idea what the Bible means by the word grace. Notice that Paul makes it very clear that a “reward is not counted as grace, but as something owed.” When anyone tries to say that God’s favor and his free gifts are given because of some kind of work we do for Him, it changes the gospel of grace by taking the word “grace” out of the gospel. I believe that this is most common way that the message of Christianity is destroyed. All it takes is a little perversion and grace is no longer grace. It is precisely for this reason why it is wrong to suggest that Christians follow the Old Testament laws. The Old Testament laws were written as conditions. If a person does the work, they reap the rewards. This is not grace at all but a meritorious legal system. This is not how Abraham was granted righteousness and Paul makes it clear here.