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The Grace of God

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Attribute – THE GRACE OF GOD

This might be hard for some to accept. This is talked about much, but rarely seen in a fashion that brings understanding, rather than division. I truly hope that this will bring benefit in growth by the increase of the knowledge of God.

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

With the Love of Christ Jesus.
YBIC
Nick
<><

The Grace of God

Grace is a perfection of the Divine character which is exercised only toward the elect. Neither in the Old Testament nor in the New is the grace of God ever mentioned in connection with mankind generally, still less with the lower orders of his creatures. In this it is distinguished from “mercy,” for the mercy of God is “over all his works” (Psalm 145:9). Grace is the sole source from which flows the goodwill, love, and salvation of God unto his chosen people. This attribute of the Divine character was defined by Abraham Booth in his helpful book The Reign of Grace thus: “It is the eternal and absolute free favour of God, manifested in the vouchsafement of spiritual and eternal blessings to the guilty and the unworthy.”

Divine grace is the sovereign and saving favor of God exercised in the bestowment of blessings upon those who have no merit in them and for which no compensation is demanded from them. Nay, more; it is the favor of God shown to those who not only have no positive deserts of their own, but who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving. It is completely unmerited and unsought, and is altogether unattracted by anything in or from or by the objects upon which it is bestowed. Grace can neither be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to be grace. When a thing is said to be of “grace” we mean that the recipient has no claim upon it, that it was in nowise due him. It comes to him as pure charity, and, at first, unasked and undesired.

The fullest exposition of the amazing grace of God is to be found in the epistles of the apostle Paul. In his writings “grace” stands in direct opposition to works and worthiness, all works and worthiness, of whatever kind or degree. This is abundantly clear from Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. If it be of works, then is it no more grace, otherwise work is no more work.” Grace and works will no more unite than an acid and an alkali. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The absolute favor of God can no more consist with human merit than oil and water will fuse into one (see also Romans 4:4-5).

There are three principal characteristics of Divine grace. First, it is eternal. Grace was planned before it was exercised, purposed before it was imparted: “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). Secondly, it is free, for none did ever purchase it: “Being justified freely by his grace” (Romans 3:24). Thirdly, it is sovereign, because God exercises it toward and bestows it upon whom he pleases: “Even so might grace reign” (Romans 5:21). If grace “reigns” then it is on the throne, and the occupant of the throne is sovereign. Hence, “the throne of grace” (Hebrews. 4:16).

Just because grace is unmerited favor, it must be exercised in a sovereign manner. Therefore does the Lord declare, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious” (Exodus 33:19). Were God to show grace to all of Adam’s descendants, men would at once conclude that he was righteously compelled to take them to heaven as a meet compensation for allowing the human race to fall into sin. But the great God is under no obligation to any of his creatures, least of all to those who are rebels against him.

Eternal life is a gift, therefore it can neither be earned by good works, nor claimed as a right. Seeing that salvation is a “gift,” who has any right to tell God on whom he ought to bestow it? It is not that the Giver ever refuses this gift to any who seek it wholeheartedly, and according to the rules which he has prescribed. No! He refuses none who come to him empty-handed and in the way of his appointing. But if out of a world of impenitent and unbelieving rebels, God is determined to exercise his sovereign right by choosing a limited number to be saved, who is wronged? Is God obliged to force his gift on those who value it not? Is God compelled to save those who are determined to go their own way?

But nothing more riles the natural man and brings to the surface his innate and inverterate enmity against God than to press upon him the eternality, the freeness, and the absolute sovereignty of Divine grace. That God should have formed his purpose from everlasting, without in anywise consulting the creature, is too abasing for the unbroken heart. That grace cannot be earned or won by any efforts of man is too self-emptying for self-righteousness. And that grace singles out whom it pleases to be its favored objects arouses hot protests from haughty rebels. The clay rises up against the Potter and asks, “Why has thou made me thus?” A lawless insurrectionist dares to call into question the justice of Divine sovereignty.

The distinguishing grace of God is seen in saving those people whom he has sovereignly singled out to be his high favorites. By “distinguishing” we mean that grace discriminates, makes differences, chooses some and passes by others. It was distinguishing grace which selected Abraham from the midst of his idolatrous neighbors and made him “the friend of God.” It was distinguishing grace which saved “publicans and sinner,” but said of the religious Pharisees, “Let them alone” (Matthew 15:14). Nowhere does the glory of God’s free and sovereign grace shine more conspicuously than in the unworthiness and unlikeliness of its objects. Beautifully was this illustrated by James Hervey (1751):

Where sin has abounded, says the proclamation from the court of heaven, grace doth much more abound. Manasseh was a monster of barbarity, for he caused his own children to pass through the fire, and filled Jerusalem with innocent blood. Manasseh was an adept in iniquity, for he not only multipled, and to an extravagant degree, his own sacrilegious impieties, but he poisoned the principles and perverted the manners of his subjects, making them do worse than the most detestable of the heathen idolators (see II Chronicles 33). Yet, through this superabundant grace he is humbled, he is reformed, and becomes a child of forgiving love, an heir of immortal glory.

Behold that bitter and bloody persecutor, Saul; when, breathing out threatening and bent upon slaughter, he worried the lambs and put to death the disciples of Jesus. The havoc he had committed, the inoffensive families he had already ruined, were not sufficient to assuage his vengeful spirit. They were only a taste, which, instead of glutting the bloodhound, made him more closely pursue the track, and more eagerly pant for destruction. He is still athirst for violence and murder: So eager and insatiable is his thirst, that he even breathes out threatening and slaughter (Acts 9:1). His words are spears and arrows, and his tongue a sharp sword. “Tis as natural for him to meance the Christians as to breathe the air. Nay, they bled every hour in the purposes of his rancorous heart. It is only owing to want of power that every syllable he utters, every breath he draws, does not deal out deaths, and cause some of the innocent disciples to fall. Who, upon the principles of human judgment, would not have pronounced him a vessel of wrath, destined to unavoidable damnation? Nay, would not have been ready to conclude that, if there were heavier chains and a deeper dungeon in the world of woe, they must surely be reserved for such an implacable enemy of true godliness? Yet, admire and adore the inexhaustible treasures of grace—this Saul is admitted into the goodly fellowship of the prophets, is numbered with the noble army of martyrs and makes a distinguished figure among the glorious company of the apostles.

The Corinthians were flagitious even to a proverb. Some of them wallowed in such abominable vices, and habituated themselves to such outrageous acts of injustice, as were a reproach to human nature. Yet even these sons of violence and slaves of sensuality were washed, sanctified, justified (I Corinthians 6:9-11). “Washed,” in the precious blood of a dying Redeemer; “sanctified,” by the powerful operations of the blessed Spirit; “justified,” through the infinitely tender mercies of a gracious God. Those who were once the burden of the earth are now the joy of heaven, the delight of angels.

Now the grace of God is manifested in and by and through the Lord Jesus Christ. “The law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). This does not mean that God never exercised grace toward any before his Son became incarnate—Genesis 6:8, Exodus 33:19, etc., clearly show otherwise. But grace and truth were fully revealed and perfectly exemplified when the Redeemer came to this earth, and died for his people upon the cross. It is through Christ the Mediator alone that the grace of God flows to his elect. “Much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ….much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ….so might grace reign through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:15, 17, 21).

The grace of God is proclaimed in the Gospel (Acts 20:24), which is to the self-righteous Jew a “stumbling block,” and to the conceited and philosophizing Greek “foolishness.” And why so? Because there is nothing whatever in it that is adapted to the gratifying of the pride of man. It announces that unless we are saved by grace, we cannot be saved at all. It declares that apart from Christ, the unspeakable Gift of God’s grace, the state of every man is desperate, irremediable, hopeless. The Gospel addresses men as guilty, condemned, perishing criminals. It declares that the chastest moralist is in the same terrible plight as is the most voluptuous profligate; and the zealous professor, with all his religious performances, is no better off than the most profane infidel.

The Gospel contemplates every descendant of Adam as a fallen, polluted, hell-deserving and helpless sinner. The grace which the Gospel publishes is his only hope. All stand before God convicted as transgressors of his holy law, as guilty and condemned criminals, who are not merely awaiting sentence, but the execution of sentence already passed upon them (John 3:18; Romans 3:19). To complain against the partiality of grace is suicidal. If the sinner insists upon bare justice, then the Lake of Fire must be his eternal portion. His only hope lies in bowing to the sentence which Divine justice has passed upon him, owning the absolute righteousness of it, casting himself on the mercy of God, and stretching forth empty hands to avail himself of the grace of God now made known to him in the Gospel.

The third Person in the Godhead is the Communicator of grace, therefore is he denominated “the Spirit of grace” (Zechariah 12:10). God the Father is the Fountain of all grace, for he purposed in himself the everlasting covenant of redemption. God the Son is the only Channel of grace. The Gospel is the Publisher of grace. The Spirit is the Bestower. He is the one who applies the Gospel in saving power to the soul: quickening the elect while spiritually dead, conquering their rebellious wills, melting their hard hearts, opening their blind eyes, cleansing them from the leprosy of sin. Thus we may say with the late G. S. Bishop,

Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the axe of justice, so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures, so averse to God that they cannot turn to Him, so blind that they cannot see Him, so deaf that they cannot hear Him, and so dead that He Himself must open their graves and lift them into resurrection.

Arthur W. Pink
 
Active
Heard a sermon about the five 'solas' in church today.
And it was on faith (I missed the one on grace) our preachers were doing five sermons.

But just like to add that it does say in the bible God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud. Now why would He do that..because grace is a gift we recieve we cant boast of it! Its not from ourselves.

God has mercy on everyone else, thats why we arent struck dead if we dont believe. We will die anyway but God lets people live in the meantime, even if we dont believe.
 
Active
Grace accomplishes salvation and God's continued great love for us. To that end , it is exactly how God interprets it...It is his gift to us and being a gift it is free. There are countless expressions of God's grace to us but they all flow to us because the first and primary gift in Jesus Christ.
 
Loyal
@Christ4Ever - Nick, I read the whole writing, more than once. I even looked up the author, and his theology, and read some about his life. I had never heard of him before, and I always have to refresh my mind on these different theologies, because I can never remember what they mean. They just go out of my brain. So, I did some reading on Calvinism, too, about 4 point and 5 point, and from different people's perspectives.

I was wondering, if you were to summarize what you felt were the most important points in this writing, maybe in 1 paragraph, or in a few sentences, what would you say spoke to you the most about this? I am trying to grasp what it is about his teaching that you found particularly important enough to post this. Do you subscribe to 5 pt. or 4 pt. Calvinism? Or, was there just something specific that you liked about what he said about God's grace? Just trying to understand what it is that you wanted to communicate to us. Thanks for any help you can offer.

In Christ, Sue
 
Loyal
I don't think anyone on here has ever denied it's a "gift". However there seems to be a of ideas about "a gift".
Gifts can be given away.

Heb 6:4; For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
Heb 6:5; and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
Heb 6:6; and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

Now while it is a "gift" that initially saves us, it isn't a gift that justifies us.

Jas 2:14; What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
Jas 2:17; Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
Jas 2:20; But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
Jas 2:24; You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Heb 5:9 ; And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

1 Jn 1:6; If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;

1 Jn 2:4; The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

1 Pet 4:10; As each one has received a special gift, use it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

It's up to us to be good stewards of that gift.

Rom 2:13; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.
 
Moderator
Staff Member
@Sue J Love

Dear Sister Sue,
You ask no simple thing here :)
Yet, for your asking I will attempt to do so. Though being the wordy person that I am, I truly doubt I will succeed.

Grace is Divine and the three points Brother Pink states as Characteristics are a necessity for understanding it, otherwise when we speak of it, we can easily turn it into something it is not.

- Eternal
- Free
- Sovereign

A point that stuck out to me, for it struck to the time I found myself in this small church in Germany. It was preceded by this his quote and then this part in particular in which he ends this by quoting G. S. Bishop:

"All stand before God convicted as transgressors of his holy law, as guilty and condemned criminals, who are not merely awaiting sentence, but the execution of sentence already passed upon them"

"Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the axe of justice, so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures, so averse to God that they cannot turn to Him, so blind that they cannot see Him, so deaf that they cannot hear Him, and so dead that He Himself must open their graves and lift them into resurrection."

Besides my own testimony, this also reminded me of Paul on the Road of Damascus. Surely, he was not seeking, desiring of, or could lay claim to it in any way shape or form, for as Saul, he already believed he was doing God's will! Surely, it was Grace that was showered upon Him through Our Lord on that road that opened his eyes to who he really was, and by Grace who he was yet to be, a new Creation in Christ Jesus. For without the Grace of God being showered upon Saul, we'd not be reading Paul's Epistles would we ;)

So, in my all to human terms. In reading this I have found that Grace is "All" God on one side of the ledger , while me and humanity side all I see are "zeros".

To your other request Dear Sister Sue. In the past I have talked of being Pentecostal, but never a Calvinist :)
Besides, when we speak of God's Grace, I don't believe we need to be choosing sides. There's only one side to Grace and it's our Glorious Fathers! Alleluia!

I hope everyone can keep in mind that this discusses only one part of God's Attributes. One attribute does not know us all of who is God!

With the Love of Christ Jesus.
YBIC
Nick
<><
 
Loyal
At the time of the believer’s new birth, theologically designated “regeneration,” the Holy Spirit comes into them, bringing assurance of forgiveness of sins, spiritual renewal, and a personal relationship with God. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children” (Romans 8:16). This dynamic relationship with God by His Spirit, initiated and sustained through faith, undergirds the security of the believer.

The following biblical teachings sustain and guide the believer’s growing maturity and perseverance in their relationship with Christ.

Salvation is available for every person (Luke 19:10; John 3:16; Romans 10:11–13; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 22:17).
Salvation is received and assured through faith (Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:20–21; Ephesians 2:8; Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 10:38; 1 Peter 1:5).
Salvation is an ongoing conflict with temptation and sin (Romans 1:32; 1 Corinthians 3:1–3, 5–8; 5:9–13; Hebrews 3:12–14; 12:1; 1 John 1:8; 3:8).
The believer’s salvation may be forfeited or abandoned by willfully turning away from Christ (John 17:12; 1 Timothy 4:1; 5:12, 15; Hebrews 6:4–6, 10:26–27, 38; 2 Peter 2:20; 1 John 5:16).

I. God Makes Provision of Salvation for Every Person

God desires every person to be saved, a truth the Bible repeatedly sets out (Luke 19:10; John 3:16; Romans 10:11–13; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 22:17). God’s eternal saving purpose is expressed in Jesus’ own words, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10); that is, He desires to save all people. At the beginning of the Gospel of John, Jesus is presented as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Gospel’s great theme follows, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The Pauline epistles likewise reiterate God’s universal redemptive plan: “…God our Savior… wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1Timothy 2:3–4). “God… is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10). “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11). This is called prevenient grace, the grace God provides prior to salvation, drawing all people toward salvation and enabling them to either accept or reject His offer. After many such expressions of God’s universal offer of salvation, the Bible fittingly concludes with a closing invitation to all humanity, “Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).

Unfortunately, some Christian traditions have come to a view of God’s sovereignty that asserts that only a limited number of humans are able to respond to God’s offer of salvation. Moreover, these traditions maintain that Christ’s atoning sacrifice is not intended for all. They assume that God sovereignly decreed from eternity past to elect only a limited number of persons to salvation. This belief is rooted in a number of biblical passages that do indeed emphasize God’s sovereignty in His saving activity. For example, Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John make it clear that the Father must act to draw humans into His electing purposes (6:37, 44, 65). Another commonly referenced text is Romans 9:11–18, that recounts God’s foresight of the lives of Jacob and Esau, and points out God’s sovereign election of Jacob rather than Esau. The biblical metaphor of the potter’s sovereign control over the clay follows in this passage and is often cited in support of God’s absolute sovereignty in effecting human salvation (9:20–21).

However, while these passages certainly teach that God is sovereign in all that He does, they are not a denial of human freedom in responding to the gospel. The election of Jacob over Esau entailed what God foreknew each of them would do. The sacred history in Genesis vividly recounts the story of Jacob’s own personal decisions as he struggled with God and haltingly responded in faith. The pottery image is an eloquent and powerful depiction of God’s sovereignty, but the potter’s singular effort to create a quality vessel is by no means intended to teach that God deliberately passes over certain people, thereby leaving them to be eternally lost. Such passages as these do not contradict the “whoever believes” of John 3:16 and God’s provision for all as so often expressed throughout the Bible.

The apostle Paul put God’s saving purposes in divine perspective as he wrote, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29). In this crucial passage, God is not shown to deny humanity’s freedom and ability to choose. Rather, Paul shows that God has made provision from eternity for those whom He has foreseen would respond to the gospel and believe in Christ. The Greek term translated “to foreknow” (proginōskō) expresses God’s knowing people from eternity. It is also important to note that the verb “to know” (Greek ginōskō; Hebrew yada), when used of God with regard to people in both the Old and New Testaments, expresses a richness of love and mercy mirrored in the healthy marital relationships of God’s human creatures. An often cited passage to illustrate this is, “You only have I known [Hebrew, yada; Greek Septuagint, ginōskō] of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2, ESV)2, which expresses God’s loving foreknowledge and election of Israel. Inspired by the Spirit, Peter used the corresponding noun to this lovingly selective verb proginōskō when he addressed far-flung believers in the Roman Empire as “God’s elect… chosen according to the foreknowledge [prognosis, emphasis added] of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:1–2).

The foreknowledge of God is an exercise of omniscience (knowing everything) rather than omnipotence (being all-powerful). God’s knowledge of what will occur is not the same as making it happen without considering a person’s freedom of will. Assuming that God’s right to do something demands that He exercise that right (deliberately passing over and thus condemning certain people, as some teach) diminishes, rather than enhances, God’s sovereignty. This erroneous belief limits the holiness and justice of God; it does not reflect His gracious love and mercy toward all His human creatures.

Therefore, it is important to understand the difference between predestination, which is a biblical concept, and predeterminism, which is not. Predestination secures an eternal destiny for God’s people (the corporate body of Christ) whom He foreknew from eternity would respond to the conviction of His Spirit and accept His redemptive provision in Christ (John 14:2). Predeterminism, by contrast, asserts that God has decided everyone’s individual actions and fate in advance without noting their personal decision to believe. This distinction between these two terms is illustrated in Esther 4:13–14, where Mordecai warns Esther, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” God had predestined that Israel (corporate) would survive, but had not predetermined Esther’s (personal) fate: that was in her hands. A plan of salvation or escape for the corporate people of God would be provided, but individual participation was a matter of personal choice.

In His gracious and merciful sovereignty, God determined from eternity past the conditions on which He would show mercy, and provided the plan of salvation whereby all can be saved (Hebrews 2:9). In this plan humanity’s free decisions, enabled by the Holy Spirit, are taken into consideration so that believers are chosen in Christ on the basis of His foreknowledge (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:4). Salvation is available to whoever will respond in faith to the gospel and to God’s universal provision of prevenient grace.

II. Salvation Is Received and Assured by Faith

Being a Christian is certainly not a matter of good works. Salvation is solely by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). Faith accepts the fact that Christ died in place of sinful humankind so that forgiveness of sins in available. By faith humans may rely on the mercy of God and accept Christ as Savior. Faith grasps the wondrous reality that believing and repentant humans are now the recipients of the righteousness of Christ, credited to them through no merit of their own (Philippians 3:9), and “given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22). Though “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23–24; see also 5:1). Moreover, this gracious status with God is realized by the enablement of the Holy Spirit, who “testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).

Though justified and credited with the righteousness of Christ, believers are also “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). Moreover, they are charged in their daily lives to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:11). So the actual working out of the righteousness of Christ in the believer is an ongoing process. It involves purposeful and progressive spiritual formation, as aptly illustrated in 2 Peter 1:5–8:

Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (See also Romans 6:12–13; 8:13; Colossians 3:1–5.)

Our personal spiritual growth varies in excellence and maturity as we learn obedience to God’s Word and rely on the guidance and enablement of the Holy Spirit who dwells within. Yet, while still in the process of formation, imperfect though we may be, we remain justified through faith in Christ, never by good works. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Spiritual growth also anticipates that the believer will be committed to following Christ in lifelong obedience to His teachings. The New Testament places great emphasis on faithfully walking through the tests of life and persevering in faith to the end of life. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said, “The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering [en hypomonē] produce a crop” (Luke 8:15). James picked up both concepts of faithfulness through tests and perseverance as he wrote, “the testing [to dokimion] of your faith produces perseverance [hypomonēn] (1:3). Peter added, “These [trials] have come so that the proven genuineness [to dokimion] of your faith… may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7). The writer of Hebrews concurred, “You need to persevere [hypomonēs] so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36).

The security of believers, then, comes through faith, both in the receiving of salvation and in continuing fellowship with Christ by His Spirit. With Paul, believers pray to “be found in him [Christ], not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:9).

III. Salvation Is an Ongoing Conflict with Temptation and Sin

Temptation and sin are realities of life in a fallen world. While believers faithfully trust in and follow Christ, they are nonetheless subject to human frailty. Though granted justification and righteousness before God on the basis of the righteousness of Christ, they do not attain to sinless perfection in this world. “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

Nonetheless, the Scriptures emphasize that Christian life is to be lived on a positive trajectory of spiritual transformation. As previously emphasized, believers have been “born again” by the Spirit of God (John 3:3–8), they are “new creations” for whom the old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). So John confidently repeated in his later epistle, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin” (1 John 3:9). The same Holy Spirit who convicts unbelievers of sin (John 16:8) continues to convict believers of sin and to guide them into truth (John 16:13). “No one who lives in him [Christ] keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6).

John added a further sobering note, “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). Believers cannot keep on sinning the way unbelievers do. “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” asked Paul (Romans 6:1). The answer is an emphatic negative. Continuing sinful practices will adversely affect the believer’s faith, and, if they are not repented of, will finally destroy faith.

When believers confess that they have sinned and turn to Christ in repentance, they do so with the secure knowledge that as a child of God they have “an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). Further, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Thus believers are assured of the provision of God to strengthen and forgive them as they struggle with temptation and sin, never needing to doubt their salvation, which is based upon the righteousness of Christ accepted by faith.

It is also to be declared emphatically that believers are not in a revolving door, moving in and out of the grace of God! They are secure in the hand of God. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39). Their standing as justified believers in Christ is always by faith. Without faith in Christ, there is no longer a saving relationship with him. This is why Scripture admonishes believers, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart” (Hebrews 3:12).

IV. Salvation May Be Forfeited or Abandoned by Rejecting Christ

God, as a loving Heavenly Father, does not desire that any person fall away from the salvation He has graciously provided in Christ. “Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

But, the Bible also teaches that believers who have accepted Christ as Savior can be lost if they repeatedly disregard the teachings of Scripture, continue to resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and finally reach the point where they have turned away from their Savior. Jesus makes that point in the Parable of the Sower where, speaking of some who have become believers, He said, “They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away” (Luke 8:13). The writer of Hebrews wrote soberly of believers “who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away” (Hebrews 6:4–6).

The apostle Peter warned, “If they [new believers] have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them” (2 Peter 2:20–21).
The Bible surely warns against the possibility of forfeiting, or abandoning, salvation, but it never ceases to offer hope for anyone who will respond to the appeal of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ invitation is without qualification. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The apostle Paul, with great assurance, declared, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). So Christians should never prematurely conclude that a struggling brother or sister is irredeemable. If the father did not give up on the lost son (Luke 15:11–31), neither should the Church of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

The Christian faith is one of joyous, victorious life in Christ, in which spiritually transformed believers are informed by God’s Word and energized by His Spirit. Christian faith does entail obedience to the commands of Christ and responsible participation in the life of His church and the broader community. It does sometimes lead through sufferings of various kinds. But perseverance in faith is certain as believers remain in relationship with their Lord. With great assurance, Paul’s words remind us of our Lord’s unflagging commitment that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
 
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@B-A-C

Did you understand what is being said here or did you stop reading when you saw "neither be earned by good works"? I bolded the particular points in question. Points if you were to understand them, could not help but agree with them! Realizing that the writer only speaks of "Salvation" in two places. Below is one of them. Keep in mind brother that we are not talking about God's other attributes, i.e. faithfulness, mercy etc. Only God's Grace!

"Eternal life is a gift, therefore it can neither be earned by good works, nor claimed as a right. Seeing that salvation is a “gift,” who has any right to tell God on whom he ought to bestow it? It is not that the Giver ever refuses this gift to any who seek it wholeheartedly, and according to the rules which he has prescribed. No! He refuses none who come to him empty-handed and in the way of his appointing. But if out of a world of impenitent and unbelieving rebels, God is determined to exercise his sovereign right by choosing a limited number to be saved, who is wronged? Is God obliged to force his gift on those who value it not? Is God compelled to save those who are determined to go their own way?"

I hope you realize that this has nothing to do with your argument or position. Only the misplaced usage of it in this thread's subject "GRACE".

I do love you brother...thought at times you can pluck a nerve! :)

YBIC
Nick
<><
 
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I don't think anyone on here has ever denied it's a "gift". However there seems to be a of ideas about "a gift".
Gifts can be given away.

Heb 6:4; For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
Heb 6:5; and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
Heb 6:6; and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

Now while it is a "gift" that initially saves us, it isn't a gift that justifies us.

Jas 2:14; What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
Jas 2:17; Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
Jas 2:20; But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
Jas 2:24; You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Heb 5:9 ; And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

1 Jn 1:6; If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;

1 Jn 2:4; The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

1 Pet 4:10; As each one has received a special gift, use it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

It's up to us to be good stewards of that gift.

Rom 2:13; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.
  • What is your purpose in all this? Is it that you believe in God's grace being a gift as he states in Ephesians 2:8-9 but don't believe him when he says it is not of works.
  • Aren't you saying that you believe in the Grace / Salvation/ Gift thing initially but it takes works to stay saved?
  • Also, I don't think you have a good grasp of Justification. Apparently you believe in salvation but , the only way you can remain saved for the rest of you life is to be justified by continued works.
  • If you are honestly saved, you have Jesus as a gift from God ( Grace) to come inside you and God justifies you at the same time. Even though you are a sinner, God justifies you as even if you had never sinned.
You use and have used all the above verses to justify your theology on works. I can and have over the years, shown the opposite. Just two examples are:

  1. Abraham was not justified by works.
  2. God says it isn't works, least you can boast
What all this boils down to is that you have a right to your opinion, as do I! With all due respect, we will just have to agree to disagree....you believe in works and I believe you are saved one time by faith through Grace.
 
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Grace and faith are not the same...but they work together. Grace is on God's part..faith is on ours in God.
People frequently confuse them.

I am sure there is a passage in the a Bible that will clearly explain it so nobody is confused.

It is grace through faith...not faith through grace please dont get them the wrong way round.

Unless peoples bibles are mixed up I dont see how people can be so frequently confused about this!
 
Loyal
I hope you realize that this has nothing to do with your argument or position. Only the misplaced usage of it in this thread's subject "GRACE".
This thread is titled "grace"... yes that's true.
But the article is really about predetermination more than anything... hence my response.

"which is exercised only toward the elect."
"it is sovereign, because God exercises it toward and bestows it upon whom he pleases"
"so averse to God that they cannot turn to Him"
"“I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious” (Exodus 33:19). Were God to show grace to all of Adam’s descendants, men would at once conclude that he was righteously compelled to take them to heaven as a meet compensation for allowing the human race to fall into sin. But the great God is under no obligation to any of his creatures, least of all to those who are rebels against him."

I will admit my first shorter reply was a bit hasty, and did not really convey what I was trying to say.
While my second reply is not strictly about "grace". It is about who grace (salvation) is extended to, although the OP tries to be subtle about this, it's all
through the article.
 
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Hmm I am a bit lost on this thread...too much for my brain.

Bac are you talking about being called...many are called...few are chosen.

Likewise many that are called just dont hear.

The thing is we dont want to put the cart before the horse. However since God sees things all at once and we are only finite I dont think we can truly figure out why God chose say Noah and not everyone else. It just says in the bible Noah found grace cos he was just and perfect in his generation and Noah walked with God. Maybe God called a few others and they refused..but it doesnt say in the Bible. But it does say God saw peoples hearts were wicked and evil. So I think He just knows whos heart is humble and whose is full of pride.

God doesnt just give his gifts to everyone...but if you talking about Jesus he's opened the invitation for anyone that believes in him. Its not Jesus fault that many people dont believe! Even when he rose from the dead and people were eyewitness to it, some still found it hard to believe.

Those of us here today who were not round in bible times...we have to take it on faith, but God does extend his grace through faith.
 
Loyal
@Sue J Love

Dear Sister Sue,
You ask no simple thing here :)
Yet, for your asking I will attempt to do so. Though being the wordy person that I am, I truly doubt I will succeed.

Grace is Divine and the three points Brother Pink states as Characteristics are a necessity for understanding it, otherwise when we speak of it, we can easily turn it into something it is not.

- Eternal
- Free
- Sovereign

A point that stuck out to me, for it struck to the time I found myself in this small church in Germany. It was preceded by this his quote and then this part in particular in which he ends this by quoting G. S. Bishop:

"All stand before God convicted as transgressors of his holy law, as guilty and condemned criminals, who are not merely awaiting sentence, but the execution of sentence already passed upon them"

"Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the axe of justice, so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures, so averse to God that they cannot turn to Him, so blind that they cannot see Him, so deaf that they cannot hear Him, and so dead that He Himself must open their graves and lift them into resurrection."

Besides my own testimony, this also reminded me of Paul on the Road of Damascus. Surely, he was not seeking, desiring of, or could lay claim to it in any way shape or form, for as Saul, he already believed he was doing God's will! Surely, it was Grace that was showered upon Him through Our Lord on that road that opened his eyes to who he really was, and by Grace who he was yet to be, a new Creation in Christ Jesus. For without the Grace of God being showered upon Saul, we'd not be reading Paul's Epistles would we ;)

So, in my all to human terms. In reading this I have found that Grace is "All" God on one side of the ledger , while me and humanity side all I see are "zeros".

To your other request Dear Sister Sue. In the past I have talked of being Pentecostal, but never a Calvinist :)
Besides, when we speak of God's Grace, I don't believe we need to be choosing sides. There's only one side to Grace and it's our Glorious Fathers! Alleluia!

I hope everyone can keep in mind that this discusses only one part of God's Attributes. One attribute does not know us all of who is God!

With the Love of Christ Jesus.
YBIC
Nick
<><
@Christ4Ever - Nick, Thank you. That helps. Yes, were it not for the grace of God I would not be who I am, where I am, doing what he has called me to do, either. I know that all too well. So, I am very thankful for God's grace to me, not just for saving me from my sins, but for choosing me for his service, though so unworthy I was. I am especially thankful for his love and kindness towards me and for his friendship/fellowship. He is my very best friend!
 
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Hmmm... for that matter, was He "obligated" to save any of us?
Outside of God's Grace you might find the answer that would satisfy you, but in His Grace? No.
That is what makes His Grace so Amazing, humbling the pride of man! That even by the assigned measure of faith given us, God's Grace is still Eternal, Free, and Sovereign.
 
Loyal
Hmm I am a bit lost on this thread...too much for my brain.

Bac are you talking about being called...many are called...few are chosen.
Not exactly, predetermination says that God picks and chooses who He will save. Not everyone is given the opportunity to be saved.
In fact God does not want everyone to be saved. This is of course a false Calvinist teaching. It directly goes against many scriptures.
1 Tim 2:2-3; Titus 2:11; 2 Pet 3:9; John 3:16; etc...
 
Loyal
Outside of God's Grace you might find the answer that would satisfy you, but in His Grace? No.
Exactly (at least we agree on this :) ) But there is no salvation outside of grace, so the only valid answer is "no".
With that in mind, if none of us deserve it (otherwise it wouldn't be grace, if we did deserve it) how can anyone dare say God withholds it from some people.
 
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Not exactly, predetermination says that God picks and chooses who He will save. Not everyone is given the opportunity to be saved.
In fact God does not want everyone to be saved. This is of course a false Calvinist teaching. It directly goes against many scriptures.
1 Tim 2:2-3; Titus 2:11; 2 Pet 3:9; John 3:16; etc...
I look at it differently:
  • John 1:12-13....But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
  • Who received the right to become children of God? It was those who believed in Jesus. Those who made a real choice to put their faith in Jesus Christ. This isn’t a trick verse. Those who believed in Jesus made a real choice to really believe in Jesus as the Son of God.
    So do we choose God? No doubt about it.
Yes God did predetermined who he would save before the foundation by those who chose him.
 
Loyal
I look at it differently:
  • John 1:12-13....But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
  • Who received the right to become children of God? It was those who believed in Jesus. Those who made a real choice to put their faith in Jesus Christ. This isn’t a trick verse. Those who believed in Jesus made a real choice to really believe in Jesus as the Son of God.
    So do we choose God? No doubt about it.
Yes God did predetermined who he would save before the foundation by those who chose him.
I believe the scriptures teach both predestination and free will. Scripture says that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, not just for the elect. God has put within humankind the knowledge of him through his created works, and they are only in darkness because they do not acknowledge and honor God, but they choose to do what is opposed to him (Romans 1), which is why they are without excuse. For, they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator. So, this was evidently their choice.

There are all kinds of scriptures which indicate we have choice to receive him, to believe on him, or to reject him. And, yet there are many scriptures, as well, which teach predestination and God's absolute sovereignty, i.e. that we cannot even come to Christ unless the Father first draws us. So, I believe what scripture teaches, and it teaches both. And, I don't completely understand, in my finite mind, how that all works together, but I am learning. Anyway, just thinking out loud here. This is not a theological statement.
 
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