Category Archives: grace

Past and Future Grace

From John Piper:

“The biblical role of past grace–especially the cross–is to guarantee the certainty of future grace: ‘He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all [past grace], will he not also freely give us all things with him [future grace]?’ (Romans 8:32, RSV). Trusting in future grace is the enabling strength of our obedience.”

– taken from A Godward Life: 120 Daily Readings, p. 37.  

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One Reason I Love the Doctrines of Grace

One reason I love the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace in Christ, is because I am growing to be more of a realist about the seriousness of my sin problem without Christ. So I am growing more thankful for the remedy that God brought to me in Christ. Truly “salvation belongs to the Lord” (Ps. 3:8).

“Sin being what it is, it would be useless to have salvation lie ready at hand unless it were also applied to us. Inasmuch as we are dead in trespasses and sins, it would do us no good to have a wonderful life-giving potion laid next to us in our coffin. It would do us good only if someone actually administered the portion to us.” Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faithp. 39-40.

How Big Is Your Understanding of Grace?

I am continuing to enjoy my studies in the early church this Fall in my course with Carl Trueman. Today I have been reading, and reading about, St Augustine. Augustine has been called the “doctor of grace.” Grace was the common thread that was found to fill and inform all of his writing, and he did a lot of writing. Albert C. Outler summarizes this theme in the following way:

“The central theme in all Augustine’s writings is the sovereign God of grace and the sovereign grace of God. Grace, for Augustine, is God’s freedom to act without any external necessity whatsoever–to act in love beyond human understanding or control; to act in creation, judgment, and redemption; to give his Son freely as Mediator and Redeemer; to endue the Church with the indwelling power and guidance of the Holy Spirit; to shape the destinies of all creatures and the ends of the two human societies, the ‘city of earth’ and the ‘city of God.’ Grace is God’s unmerited love and favor, prevenient and occurent. It touches man’s inmost heart and will. It guides and impels the pilgrimage of those called to be faithful. It draws and raises the soul to repentance, faith, and praise. It transforms the human will so that it is capable of doing good. It relieves man’s religious anxiety by forgiveness and the gift of hope. It establishes the groud of Christian humility by abolishing the ground of human pride. God’s grace became incarnate in Jesus Christ, and it remains immanent in the Holy Spirit in the Church.” Quoted in Jaroslav Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), p. 294.

Much of Augustine’s thought was shaped as he interacted with the Pelagian heresy that emerged in his day. If you would like some help thinking about how the Pelagian heresy is still around and affecting the church and its understanding of grace today, I would recommend you read this article By R. C. Sproul, The Pelagian Captivity of the Church

Although Augustine is one of the most significant figures in the history of the church, many Christians know very little about him. If you are interested in learning more, check out Peter Brown’s recent bio: Augustine of Hippo: A Biography.

Sola Gratia

“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Rom. 11:6)

All people are born in this world in a pitiable state: spiritually helpless, eternally hopeless and fundamentally hostile toward God by nature. But God, according to his mercy, sets us free from our former state. He changes our hearts, forgives our sins, and grants us a true and saving knowledge of his Son Jesus Christ. This salvation is all by grace. That means that nothing is attributable to man. All is from God in his grace. Grace alone (Sola Gratia), was one of the cries of the Reformation and is the hope of Christians.

Saving grace is not:

  • earned by people
  • deserved by people
  • sought out by people
  • supplemented by people

Saving grace is:

  • a free gift
  • undeserved by anyone
  • effective in seeking out God’s elect
  • sufficient in itself to save

Take a moment and thank God for his grace. Better yet, take more than a moment!