Knowing God, chapter 13: The grace of God

The doctrine of grace presupposes four crucial truths:

  1. The moral ill-desert of man. Man naturally incline to a high opinion of himself. He is convinced, that despite all his little sins, he is a good person, and that God shares his opinion about himself. That he is a rebel against God’s rule, guilty and unclean in His sight, fit only for God’s condemnation, never enters his head.
  2. The retributive justice of God. The general idea in society today is that punishment should be a last resort. The notion that retribution is an expression of God’s holy character is repulsive. But God is the Judge of the earth, and He will vindicate the innocent and punish the law-breakers.
  3. The spiritual impotence of man. Many believe that by morality, one can put God in a position where He can’t say ‘no’ any more. On the contrary, no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law (Rom 3:20). Gaining God’s favour is beyond us.
  4. The sovereign freedom of God. God isn’t obliged to love and help us. He doesn’t owe it to anyone to stop justice taking its course. He isn’t constrained to pity or pardon; if He does it, nobody forces His hand (Rom 9:16)

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The grace of God is love freely shown towards guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and in defiance of their demerit. ‘Grace’ and ‘salvation’ belong together as cause and effect- Eph 2:5; Titus 2:11.  In the NT, we see the following connections:

  1. Grace as the source of the pardon of sin— Rom 3:24
  2. Grace as the motive of the plan of salvation—Eph 1:3-2:10. A believer’s salvation is no accident, having its place in an eternal plan to bless him with the free gift of salvation from sin (2:8-10)
  3. Grace as the guarantee of the preservation of the saints—1 Peter 1:5. Grace leads the Christian to faith, and grace will keep him believing to the end.