Search Results: grace
The miracle of the new birth is no less possible to God if our child is attentive to Him or running away from Him. Our child is like all other children when it comes to God’s grace. He is dead spiritually whether he is in church or not, whether he listened well to the truths we tried to teach him or did not, whether he has some interest in God now or has none at all. He may be converted in the pig pen or the pew and we do not know in this case what is preferred by God.
Future worry is overwhelming. There’s a reason. We don’t have grace today for tomorrow. One of Satan’s simplest tricks and most effective devices is to draw our attention to things we can do nothing about. There’s nothing worse than a crisis that can’t be fixed. If our hours are spent with thoughts of tomorrow’s problems, which are not accessible today and which we know we cannot touch with today’s resources, we are doomed to worry. And worry wears us out… [Yet] our calling is today. It’s not that we don’t think of tomorrow, but it must consistently be filed under “future grace.” The tide of confidence in God’s sufficiency must wash out worry. In fact, it’s a command. “Do not be anxious for tomorrow.” To go there is to disobey a directive from the One who holds every moment in His hand.
Grace is reward, or favor, given to those who deserve judgment. If a judge found a serial rapist guilty, and then stepped down from his bench, agreed to take the death penalty in the criminal’s place, and sent the rapist on an all-expense-paid vacation to Hawaii for thirty years, that would be grace. The severity of the criminal’s crimes would be the measure of the judge’s grace. In the same way, the knowledge of what we deserve, and what it cost God to be gracious, is the measure of His fatherly grace. When it is said and done, the cross is the tape that measures the length and breadth of God’s grace. Like God’s wrath, His grace is holy. It transcends all human conceptions.
For [the common] acronym to work, we must figure the ugliness of sin into the equation. If the definition read, “G.R.A.C.E. is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense extended to men and women who deserve wrath,” we would have a complete definition of grace.
The Lord can so manifest Himself to His afflicted people that the season of affliction shall be to them a season of great consolation. He is to them – a fountain of life, of strength, of grace and comfort in the afflictive hour – and of His fullness they receive, as their necessities require. The Lord Jesus Christ is a sun to enlighten and cheer His afflicted followers, and a shield to defend them. He is a hiding-place from the storm, a covert from the tempest, and as the shadow of a great rock in a dry and weary land.
All the afflictions of God’s people are designed, under His gracious management – to test, to make manifest, and to exercise, those graces and virtues which He has implanted in them. Though afflictions in themselves are not joyous but grievous, nevertheless they yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness in those who are exercised thereby. Afflictions serve to quicken the spirit of devotion in us; and to rouse us from that formality and indifference which frequently attend a long course of ease and prosperity. We are constrained to seek God with sincerity and fervor, when His chastening hand is upon us, since we then feel our absolute need of that help and deliverance, which He alone can give us.
Afflictions serve most effectually to convince us of the vanity of all that this world can afford, to remind us that this is not our rest and to stir up desires and hopes for our everlasting home. They produce in us a spirit of sympathy towards our companions in tribulation. They give occasion for the exercise of patience, meekness, submission, and resignation. Were it not for the wholesome and necessary discipline of affliction, these excellent virtues would lie dormant. Afflictions serve to convince us more deeply of our own weakness and insufficiency, and to endear the person, the grace, the promises, and the salvation of our Redeemer, more and more to our hearts. Thus we are taught to esteem His very chastisements as precious on account of the benefits we derive from them.
Grace comes not to take away a man’s affections, but to take them up.
The spiritual life is lived between two polarities: our sin and God’s grace. The discovery of the former brings us to seek the latter; the work of the latter illuminates the depths of the former and causes us to seek yet more grace… The heart-conviction of sin is the way grace prepares the heart for more grace.
There is nothing more important to learn about Christian growth than this: Growing in grace means becoming like Christ.
We must never forget – if we are to grow in grace, and therefore grow like Christ – that the One we trust, love, and serve is a crucified Savior. To follow Him means taking up the cross, as well as denying ourselves. It means a crucified life.
He does not love us if we love Him. He loves us with an unconditional love; therefore, we should love Him. The message of the covenant is one of God’s totally free grace to His people. Of course, it calls for a response of total commitment. But notice the order: God’s covenant love is not the result of our commitment; it is the cause of it. The pattern is, “I will, therefore you should;” not “I will, but only if you will first.”
There is a center to the Bible and its message of grace. It is found in Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. Grace must therefore be preached in a way that is centered and focused on Jesus Christ Himself, never offering the benefits of the gospel without the Benefactor Himself.
We are baptized into (not merely in) the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When faith grasps the significance of baptism it dawns on us that we have been given the privilege of all privileges – fellowship with God. We are His, and He is ours – forever! His grace does not cleanse us from sin simply for its own sake, but to fit us for His company throughout the whole of our lives. So baptism announces to us the overwhelmingly great privilege of fellowship with the triune covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. And because baptism symbolizes this, it calls us to a new life-style marked by ongoing repentance and faith.
Before all time; prior to all worlds; when there was nothing “outside of” God Himself; when the Father, Son and Spirit found eternal, absolute and unimaginable blessing, pleasure and joy in their Holy Trinity – it was their agreed purpose to create a world which would fall, and in unison – but at infinitely great cost – to bring (some to) grace and salvation.
The way to open our hearts to others is by receiving afresh the grace of God and appreciating what it means: seeing our own need of Christ; coming to receive His mercy; sensing how undeserved His love for us is; remembering how He has also opened His heart to those whose hearts are closed against us. Then we will see that the heart which is too narrow to receive a fellow Christian is too narrow to enthrone the Lord Jesus Christ. But the heart that is opened to receive the grace of Christ will learn to welcome all those whom Christ Himself has welcomed.
We [should not] make the mistake of thinking that marriage will provide the ultimate satisfaction for which we all hunger. To assume so would be to be guilty of blasphemy. Only God satisfies the hungry heart. Marriage is but one of the channels He uses to enable us to taste how deeply satisfying His thirst-quenching grace can be.
[The fear of God] is the result of discovering that the God whom we thought of with slavish, servile fear, the holy righteous, terrifying God of judgment and majesty, is also the God who forgives us through Jesus Christ… One reason why we know so little of such filial fear is that we do not appreciate the gospel! If we would grow in grace so that we fear God like this, we must first return to the gospel, and to the meaning of the cross.
A wrong view of God leads inevitably to a failure to enjoy and grow in His grace. Failure to appreciate His love, His kindness and generous heart leads eventually to a life which bears no fruit and makes no progress. The lesson is clear: if you would grow in grace, learn what grace is. Taste and see that the Lord is good (see I Peter 2:2).
If the world is not rooted out from our hearts, it will devour them. There must be weeding, if the good seed of grace is to grow. But what weed-killer can we use against the spirit of the world? Here is a potent, three-fold formula from the Bible:
1. Recognize that love of the world is the enemy of the love of the Father (1 John 2:15). You cannot have both. You must choose one only. Make the right choice.
2. Remember that it was the world that crucified Christ and that it took the sacrifice of the Cross to deliver you from it (Gal. 6:14). How can you negotiate with the spirit which plotted the assassination of your Savior?
3. Reflect on the fact that the world, in this sense, is transient and ephemeral (1 John 2:17); it is not a solid investment. Devote yourself instead to having “treasure in heaven” (Matt. 6:19-21).
The foundation of our love for the Lord lies in the recognition of His holiness, our sinfulness, and His grace…those who are forgiven much, love much.
[God saved us] without breaking the law of justice or canceling its demands. What He did in love was to satisfy its demands. The demands of justice were not ignored or canceled. They were fully satisfied. And the only way that God could do that was by having His spotless Son take the punishment that was due to us. What we see here is an amazing love. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. We call this grace, the result of which is salvation.
The Cross Challenges Humanistic Self-Sufficiency by Ajith Fernando taken from The Supremacy of Christ by Ajith Fernando, copyright 1995, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 143.
We must always insist that there is nothing we can do of ourselves to merit salvation. Salvation is “by grace…through faith” (Eph. 2:8). But when we accept His gift of salvation by faith we must know what this gift includes. We must know that it includes following Jesus as Lord. Otherwise people will think they have been tricked into accepting a way without being told what that way is. It is the grace of God that enables us to follow this way. It is all of grace. But it is a way in which sin is left behind and a righteous life is taken on. And when people accept that salvation that Christ offers, they must know that this is what they are accepting. Otherwise they would not be putting their faith in the Jesus of the Bible.
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength as our labors increase; to added afflictions He addeth His mercy, to multiplied trials He multiplies peace. When we have exhausted our store of endurance, when our strength has failed ere the day is half done, when we reach the end of our hoarded resources our Father’s full giving is only begun. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; for out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
God warned Lot’s wife of the impending disaster. He tried to rescue her from His judgment. He even set her on the way to salvation, shepherding her to safety. But the bent of her heart was even more powerful than the grasp of the angels leading her by the hand. She gave proof that she had never taken God seriously when she would not sever her heart-ties with Sodom. She came as close to deliverance without receiving it as was possible. Looking to the past she destroyed her future. Having received the grace of God in vain, she passed the point of no return. Not even the fire and brimstone falling around her could heal her divided heart… We might feel inclined to ask why Lot’s wife paid such a price for her error. Oh, but she sinned grievously against the Lord. Not only did she lack the pioneering pilgrim spirit required of those who leave their former lives for a better city, but she was in love with the sinful world… What she left behind and still held in her heart obviously was very dear to her, dearer than the treasures of God.
Let Him therefore send and do what He will. By His grace, if we are His, we will face it, bow to it, accept it, and give thanks for it. God’s Providence is always executed in the ‘wisest manner’ possible. We are often unable to see and understand the reasons and causes for specific events in our lives, in the lives of others, or in the history of the world. But our lack of understanding does not prevent us from believing God.
Here are eleven things expressly taught in the Word of God about election:
1. Election is “IN CHRIST.” No less than fourteen times in the first fourteen verses of Ephesians chapter one the Holy Spirit expressly tells us that every benefit and blessing of grace that comes to sinners from God is in Christ.
2. Election is UNTO SALVATION. Certainly, there is a sense in which it must be said that God’s elect were saved from eternity (Rom. 8:29); but we must never be deceived into thinking that election is salvation. Election is unto salvation. Election is not, as some teach, unto “Christian service.” Election is unto salvation.
3. Election is an act of pure, absolute, DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY. God has mercy on whom he will have mercy (Rom. 9:11-18). God was not moved by anything outside Himself to choose the people He chose to save.
4. Election took place in ETERNITY. God did not choose His people in time, but before time began, in eternity. He chose us before the foundation of the world, from the beginning, when nothing existed except God Himself in the tri-unity of the eternal Godhead.
5. The source and cause of election is God’s eternal LOVE for His people. He loved us freely, from everlasting, before ever the earth was made. Our love to Him is not the cause of His love toward us, but the result (Jer. 31:3; 1 Jn. 4:19).
6. God’s election was an act of free, UNCONDITIONAL grace. Grace is always free and unconditional. The moment a condition is put to it, it ceases to be grace. To say that God chose us because of something He foresaw in us, or foresaw we would chose to do, is to frustrate the grace of God, making it the reward of our work (Rom. 11:6).
7. Election is God’s PERSONAL choice of specific sinners to eternal life in Christ. Here is a sweet cordial of grace which shall never cease to amaze and rejoice the hearts of believing sinners – The Lord God chose me to eternal salvation in Christ, because He loved me with an everlasting, unconditional love!
8. Election is IRREVERSIBLE. “The gifts and callings of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29). Those who were chosen to salvation in eternity shall not be unchosen in time!
9. Election is EFFECTUAL. There is no possibility that one of God’s elect shall perish (2 Tim. 2:19).
10. Election is DISTINGUISHING. To talk of universal love in God toward reprobate men is to talk nonsense. Read Isaiah 43:1-4!
11. Election is BLESSED, for it is the cause of all blessedness (Ps. 65:4; Eph. 1:3-6).
Freewillism is that doctrine that says, “God loves you, Christ died for you, and the Holy Spirit is calling you; but it will all be vain unless you choose to be saved.” Freewillism makes the determining factor in salvation to be the will of man. It makes the work of the Triune God and the grace of God to be impotent without the consent of man’s “freewill.” Freewill religion is in direct opposition to the gospel of the free grace of God. The Bible declares that salvation is not accomplished, determined by, or dependent upon the will of man, but by the will of God (John 1:12-13; Rom. 9:16). The word “freewill”, when used with reference to salvation is a blasphemous obscenity!
A confident assurance of God’s grace does not lead men into antinomianism and sin.
Legalism is the teaching that sinners are saved (justified, sanctified, and accepted with God) upon the basis of their own works of legal obedience. Legalism is as damning to the souls of men as Hinduism, Mormonism, and atheism! We are not saved by our obedience to the law of God (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9). We are not sanctified by our obedience to the law of God (Gal. 3:1-3). Our inheritance in heaven is not, to any degree, won or earned by our personal obedience to the law of God (Rev. 7:9, 10, 14, 14). Salvation is, in its entirety, by grace alone. Believers are not, in any sense whatsoever, under the yoke of the law (Rom. 6:14-15; 7:4; 8:1-4; 10:4; Gal. 5:1-4, 18; I Tim. 1:9-11).
Brief history of Christian interpretation of sanctification:
1. Early church fathers (Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp) – though noting the grace of God, they emphasized a striving toward holiness.
2. Gnosticism – converts are perfect, set apart from the world.
3. Montanism – demanded separatism from unholy body of believers.
4. Clement of Alexandria – necessity for denial of world and bodily needs.
5. Pelagianism – holiness is result of self-willed moral effort.
6. Augustine – sanctification is God’s activity; not by human effort.
7. Bernard of Clairvaux – mystical personal piety by imitation of Jesus.
8. Peter Lombard – sanctifying grace by infusion of Spirit in believer.
9. Thomas Aquinas – no distinction between justification and sanctification; just infusion of God’s grace in man.
10. Council of Trent – grace inheres in soul of believer by Holy Spirit, and becomes permanent condition or attribute of believer.
11. Roman Catholic doctrine – misstated and overstated subjective implications of infused sanctifying grace, providing a boost of human ability toward perfectibility and divinization.
12. Reformers (Luther, Calvin, et al) – justification emphasized and separated from sanctification; insistence on absence of human merit.
13. Protestant doctrine – over-reacted and overstated objective implications of forensic, legal and extrinsic factors of justification and sanctification.
14. Pietists – reverted to moralistic behavioral standards of holy living, in reaction to epistemological emphasis on doctrine.
15. John Wesley – “entire sanctification,” perfect holiness possible in this life; necessity of “second blessing” experience; Holiness Movement.
16. Karl Barth – reemphasized subjective implications of Christocentric and ontological dynamic of holiness. Evangelical Protestants for the most part resisted; Catholic theologians recognized and appreciated.
Denies or distorts the biblical truths about:
1. God, being personal, infinite, eternal, singular, immutable, supernatural, sovereign, Spirit, transcendent, immanent, good, triune.
2. Jesus Christ, being deity, pre-existent, human, historical, conceived of Holy Spirit, savior of all mankind, resurrected, presently manifested.
3. Holy Spirit, being deity, personal, presently operative.
4. Man, being a creature, dependent, mortal, sinful, constituted of spirit and soul and body.
5. Sin, as transgressing God’s character, leading to death and judgment, and continuing to be manifested in Christian’s lives.
6. Salvation, as necessitated by sin, initiated by the grace of God, made available to all by the death and resurrection of Jesus, and received by faith alone.
7. Bible, as complete, final, authoritative, inspired, providentially preserved, and properly interpreted.
Contrariety of legalism to Christian gospel:
1. Legalism is contrary to the Grace dynamic of God in Jesus Christ.
2. Legalism is contrary to faith, our receptivity of God’s activity; a satanic substitute that supplants faith.
3. Legalism is contrary to the Lordship of Christ, wherein He directs and guides our lives.
4. Legalism is contrary to Christian obedience, which is “listening under” the direction of the living Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Legalism is contrary to the Spirit-led Christian life, wherein the Spirit of Christ enables and empowers. (Eph. 5:18).
6. Legalism is contrary to freedom in Christ, and the liberty that is to be realized in present kingdom living. (John 8:31, 32, 36; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5:1, 17).
A. Scriptures about God’s effecting conception:
Gen. 29:31 – “the Lord opened her (Leah’s) womb”
Gen. 30:22 – “God opened her (Rachel’s) womb”
Judges 13:3-5 – “committed to God from the womb”
Ruth 4:13 – “the Lord gave her conception”
Luke 1:15 – “filled with Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb”
B. Scriptures about God’s involvement in forming unborn:
Job 10:8-12 – “God knit me together with bones and sinews and granted me life”
Psalm 127:3 – “the fruit of the womb is a reward”
Psalm 139:13-16 – “God weaved me in my mother’s womb”
Eccl. 11:5 – “bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman”
Isa. 49:1,5 – “the Lord called Me from the womb…formed Me from the womb”
Jere. 1:5 – “before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I consecrated you”
Luke 1:15 – “filled with Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb”
Luke 1:39-44 – “the baby leaped in my womb for joy”
Gal. 1:15 – “set me apart from my mother’s womb, and called me through grace”
C. Scriptures to consider about alleged “sacredness” or “sanctity” of human life:
Gen. 1:26,27 – “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image’”
Psalm 8:3-8 – “God made man a little lower than God”
D. Scriptures to consider if abortion is murder:
Gen. 9:6 – “whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed”
Exod. 20:13 – “you shall not murder”
Exod. 23:7 – “do not kill the innocent or the righteous”
Prov. 6:17 – “God hates hands that kill innocent blood”
Amos 1:13,14 – “God punished those who ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead”
I Peter 4:15 – “do not let any of you suffer as a murderer”
The four views…on the subject of the sacrament:
1. The Romish doctrine, or transubstantiation. This maintains the absolute change of the elements into the actual body and blood of Christ; so that though the elements of bread and wine remain present to the senses, they are no longer what they seem, being changed into the body, blood and divinity of Christ.
2. The Lutheran view, called consubstantiation. This maintains that after consecration the body and blood of Christ are substantially present, but nevertheless that the bread and wine are present, unchanged.
3. The Anglican view – that Christ is present in the sacrament only after the spiritual manner, and that His body and blood are eaten by the faithful after a spiritual, and not after a carnal manner, to the maintenance of their spiritual life and their growth in grace.
4. The Zwinglian, which declares the sacrament to be no channel of grace, but only a commemorative feast, admitting only a figurative presence of Christ’s body and blood.
[Grace is God’s] sovereign, unmerited favor, given to those who deserve His wrath.
The masculinity I appreciate as a wife is of far greater value than wealth-earning power. It’s a masculinity that is unashamed of the gospel which is the power of God (Romans 1:16). The unashamed masculinity I enjoy in my home leaves a legacy that is more enduring than prolific fertility. It’s masculinity that fervently loves others from a heart that has been born again, born not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable. True masculinity is reborn through the living and abiding word of God. The unashamed masculinity I love to follow in my home is far more impressive than macho pride. It’s masculinity that is willing to take the painful shrapnel in the battle against his own sin, rather than run from sin and hide in the comfort of silence. It is a masculinity that willingly exposes its life to the iron-sharpening-iron of open and honest male accountability relationships. The unashamed masculinity that guards the hearts in my home puts away rash, cutting words that pierce like a sword. My husband’s Christ-honoring masculinity understands the power of words, and he uses words to bring healing to me and our children. The unashamed masculinity I cherish in my home is such that fixes its eyes on Jesus and turns its eyes away from all the vain things of this world that hold a potent charm over other men. My husband’s Christ-honoring masculinity flees from promises whispered by a hiss. The unashamed masculinity I need in my home is concerned that others find their delight in God. Nothing quite says, “I love you” to me than when my husband is willing to humbly stand up to the things I pursue that obstruct my everlasting joy in God. His loving masculinity reassures me of Christ’s atonement made on my behalf, and of the privilege I have to boldly approach the throne of grace. Unashamed masculinity has less to do with how many horses a man owns, or how fast he can run. Unashamed masculinity is about what a man does with the gospel. Where can you see this unashamed masculinity? You see it whenever a man has peered into the empty tomb and found new motivation to lay down his own life to spread the gospel into the souqs of Casablanca, into the office spaces in Dallas, into the cafes in Geneva, into the shantytowns of Mumbai, into the barrios of Sao Paulo, and into the universities of Toronto.
We may invigorate our faith and renew our courage by reflecting that divine power has always attended the preaching of doctrine, when done in the true spirit of preaching. Great revivals have accompanied the heroic preaching of the doctrines of grace, predestination, election, and that whole lofty mountain range of doctrines upon which Jehovah sits enthroned, sovereign in grace as in all things else. God honors preaching that honors Him. There is entirely too much milk-sop preaching nowadays, trying to cajole sinners to enter upon a truce with their Maker, quit sinning, and join the church. The situation does not call for a truce, but a surrender. Let us bring out the heavy artillery of heaven, and thunder away at this stuck-up age as Whitefield, Edwards, Spurgeon and Paul did, and there will be many slain of the Lord, raised up to walk in newness of Life.
The reception of a spiritual gift is not the result of prayer, fasting, tears or sacrifice on the part of the recipient, but is a gift of grace, for the good of the body of Christ and is received at conversion when we are baptized into that body by the Holy Spirit.
God’s grace does not mean that God benignly accepts humans in all their fallenness, forgives them, and then leaves them in that fallenness. God is in the business not of whitewashing sins but of transforming sinners.
If one sees oneself as being saved without the obligation to be saving, then clearly one needs to grow in salvation. The evidence of salvation – that God’s grace has taken effect in one’s life – is to be found in one’s participation in bringing salvation to others.
Grace is not something that one earns or gets; it is something that one can only receive.
When all were in their places Father said grace and, excusing himself, left the family to retire to his study. He frequently spent thirteen hours a day studying. He managed this amazing amount of time by husbanding every hour of the day. He usually arose at four in the morning, indulging himself in the later rising time of five in the winter. In this way he was far along in his studies while the household slept. He preferred to eat alone, usually certain foods which he had by experimentation discovered kept his mind and body most sprightly. This morning he did not eat the rich menu which Venus set before the rest of the household, the home-cured bacon and the delicious hot breads. But at the end of the meal, he rejoined his family for morning devotions.
A.H. Strong uses the analogy of the coupling. The coupling joins a train of cars to a locomotive. The coupling has no power in itself. It cannot move a single car an inch. All the power is in the locomotive. But the coupling is the link by which the power of the locomotive is transmitted to the cars. Faith has no power in itself; it is not a ground of salvation; it is not a good work. It is merely that by which all the goodness and grace and glory of Christ comes to the sinner.
Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us, and received by faith alone.
The Gospels tell us what Jesus said and did during His earthly ministry; the Book of Acts reveals the coming of the Holy Spirit, the founding of the church, and the spread of Christianity. The epistles instruct us in sound doctrine – what to believe and how to live in the light of God’s mercy and grace. The Book of Revelation reveals “what is yet to come.”
If God’s people are to worship Him in spirit and in truth – and they are – then we must look to Scripture both to form and inform our worship style. By using the ordinary means of grace God has given us, worship gives the opportunity to preach the Word, sing the Word, pray the Word, and read the Word. True worship is Christ-centered and Word-centered.
God works with power, and can make the unwilling willing; if He undertake the conversion of a soul, it will be converted. All the pious workings of our heart towards God are the fruit and consequence of the powerful working of His grace in us.
Doctrine is the framework of life – the skeleton of truth, to be clothed and rounded out by the living grace of a holy life.
What are the essential components of the gospel?
1. The character of God. The Bible describes God as holy (Ps. 99:3, 5, 9; Rev. 4:8), righteous (Ps. 11:7), just (2 Thess. 1:6), and perfect (Matt. 5:48). He hates sin and has nothing to do with it. In fact, He pours out His justified wrath on sin (Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6).
2. The character and nature of man. At the same time, the Bible describes man as having a sinful nature (Ps. 51:5), hopelessly separated from God. We are unable to please God in and of ourselves (Rom. 8:8). We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). We cannot save ourselves, and we deserve the wrath of God (Rom. 2:5).
3. God’s love for man. Yet despite our sinful ways, God has shown His great love for us (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). In His mercy, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us. On the cross Christ paid the full penalty for our sins and became the object of God’s wrath (2 Cor. 5:21).
4. Man’s response to God. If we confess and turn away from our sins and believe in Jesus Christ and the work He did for us on the cross, we can be saved (Mark 1:15; Rom. 10:9). If we possess faith to trust in God and the love He showed us through Jesus Christ, we are genuine Christians. We are justified – we receive forgiveness of our sins and are credited with Christ’s righteousness, Jesus’ life of perfect obedience (Rom. 3:24-27). In short, God restores our relationship with Him and adopts us into His family because of His grace and not because of anything we do (Gal. 2:16; Titus 3:5).
Our works don’t replace the verbal preaching of the gospel, but in them we demonstrate, tangibly, the love and grace that we proclaim with our mouths. Effective gospel preaching is explaining with our words what we demonstrate with our lives. In our service, we make visible the invisible Christ.
Motivation for mission grows out of deep, personal experience with the gospel. When we are amazed at the grace God showed in saving us, going to great lengths to save others seems an insignificant thing. We yearn to see the glory of our saving God spread throughout the earth and others find in Christ what we have found… Everything in the Christian life grows out of the gospel. Thus, the deeper you and your people go in the gospel, the higher you will soar in the mission.
So in the presentation of Scripture the cause of election lies in God, and the cause of reprobation lies in the sinner. Another important difference is that the ground of election is God’s grace, whereas the ground of reprobation is God’s justice.
God’s mercy is His goodness toward those in distress, His grace in His goodness toward those who deserve only punishment, and His patience in His goodness toward those who continue to sin over a period of time.
When Jesus commands us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48), this simply shows that God’s own absolute moral purity is the standard toward which we are to aim and the standard for which God holds us accountable. The fact that we are unable to attain that standard does not mean that it will be lowered; rather, it means that we need God’s grace and forgiveness to overcome our remaining sin. Similarly, when Paul commands the Corinthians to make holiness perfect in the fear of the Lord (2 Cor. 7:1), or prays that God would sanctify the Thessalonians wholly (1 Thess. 5:23), he is pointing to the goal that he desires them to reach. He does not imply that any reach it, but only that this is the high moral standard toward which God wants all believers to aspire.
Go to God by prayer for a key to unlock the mysteries of His Word. It is not the plodding but the praying soul, that will get this treasure of Scripture knowledge. God often brings a truth to the Christian’s hand as a return of prayer, which he had long hunted for in vain with much labour and study: “There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets” (Dan. 2:28); and where doth He reveal the secrets of His world but at the throne of grace?
The greatest expression of God’s grace in a person’s life is not its demonstration toward others, but its response to God and His cause.
God did not demand that we first demonstrate our allegiance to Him before Christ would agree to die in our place. To demand that we somehow show ourselves deserving of forgiveness in order to regain our status as His children would have been futile. What can ungodly, rebellious sinners offer God that would move the holy Creator of the universe to sacrifice His only Son on their behalf? So God acted first, motivated solely by his own sovereign love, to grant mercy to His people as the ultimate expression of His grace (Ex. 33:19; Isa. 63:7; Rom. 9:15-18; Eph. 2:4; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 1:3). Christ died for us because the Father and the Son loved the unlovable.
Jesus’ gospel of forgiveness is not unrelated to the Bible’s demand for holiness. Obedience is not a “second step” added to our faith, so that “accepting Jesus as Savior” must be supplemented by “accepting Jesus as Lord.” We are not saved by grace and then sanctified (made holy) by our own works. Being a Christian is not a matter of adding our will to God’s, our efforts to His. Rather…”putting away sin,” which is faith in action, is the means to persevering, which we do by depending on Jesus from beginning to end. In other words, repenting from the disobedience of disbelief, and the life of persevering faith that this brings about, which entails obeying God, are all one expression of “looking to Jesus.” One cannot exist without the other… There is only one thing, not two, that we must do to be saved: trust God with the needs of our lives. This one thing in God’s provision (now supremely manifested in Christ) will show itself, from beginning to end, in our many acts of repentance and obedience.
There comes a time when God’s patience runs out (Rom. 2:4-10; 2 Pet. 3:8-10; Jude 5). Those living in continual disobedience must not presume upon God’s grace, falsely assuming that God’s kindness means that he is winking at their sin. Nor should we take God’s forgiveness for granted. We must not sin willfully, thinking that by doing so we are simply giving God another opportunity to glorify himself by showing forth his mercy. As Paul would put it centuries later, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” (Rom. 6:2). To do so is to reveal by one’s hardened disobedience that the saving power of God is not really in one’s life (see Rom. 6:2b-14),
The New Testament does not teach a doctrine of tithing (i.e., the mandatory giving of 10 percent of one’s income). Nor does Paul define what constitutes giving generously. He does not even provide a target number or general guidelines. The only rule is to give freely and generously as an expression of our continuing trust in God’s grace (9:5-8). Paul simply assumes that believers will give all they can to meet as many needs as they can in order to glorify God as much as they can.
Mainstream evangelicals are offended by "too much" talk about money, fearing that it may contaminate true spirituality. The real reason for seeking this silence, however, is subtle but clear: Too much emphasis on the spiritual necessity of giving as a matter of our salvation directly confronts our materialism and the individualistic privatization of our lives. The call to give is a call to flee the idolatrous worship of the Dollar and the Self by trusting in God’s grace alone for our happiness and security. To talk about money is to talk about God.
Motion is the most perfect discoverer of life. He that can stir his limbs, is surely not dead. The feet of the soul are the affections. Hast thou not found in thyself a hate and detestation of that sin whereinto thou hast been miscarried? Hast thou not found in thyself a true grief of heart, for thy wretched indisposition to all good things? Without a true life of grace, these things could never have been.
Preoccupied with ourselves, we have lost the grace of being thankful. It is sad to live in a world where there is no one to thank because we have ourselves become the cause and source of all good things.
There is a glorious sequel to saving, justifying grace. The grace that justifies (declaring us holy in God’s sight) becomes the grace that sanctifies (making us ever more holy in daily life). It is a prevailing, unstoppable grace that doesn’t close up shop the day after the sinner’s prayer. It’s the power of God to help us overcome sin, and a potent weapon in the fierce struggles that accompany life after the honeymoon of conversion. Conversion, like a wedding, is hardly the end of the story – it’s just the beginning.
The Bible repeatedly emphasizes the legal aspects of justification. God does not make us righteous in that moment; God declares us righteous in that moment, just like a judge passes sentence on the defendant in his courtroom. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit God will over time make us more and more righteous in the way we live. This process is called sanctification. But we do not grow in sanctification in order to be justified. We grow in sanctification because we are justified. The declarative act of justification is gracious soil out of which grace-filled lives will grow.
We have suffered from the preaching of cheap grace. Grace is free, but it is not cheap. People will take anything that is free, but they are not interested in discipleship. They will take Christ as Savior but not as Lord.
The man-centeredness of many churches today makes a mockery of sound doctrine. While centering their message on how to feel better about yourself by self-improvement or how to have a better life now, these churches forgo the centrality of Christ and make mention of the Bible in only the most superficial ways. The grace of God is exchanged for the efforts and abilities of man for salvation and the Christian life. The attitude of “if it’s to be, then it’s up to me” has replaced the view of a sovereign God who is working out His purpose and plan in His creation.
Today, the pressure to fill auditoriums and services has driven many pastors to place the felt needs, or tastes, of the people above their duty to Christ. On every hand we hear of the Gospel being molded into a non-confrontative message intended to meet felt needs and impress the sinful heart. And, by most standards, this new philosophy of church life is working, as more and more auditoriums are filled with people hungry for a message that will affirm that they are actually on fairly good terms with the Almighty. But the biblical message is the message of the cross. It cuts right across the grain of the modern age’s preoccupation with pride, tearing down the façade and exposing the wretchedness of the human heart… Unfortunately, while the modern “un-gospel” may fill seats, it is the true gospel of sin and grace that is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).
It must be seen that…the spirit of love in the minister arises not so much out of natural personality, but is a gift of God. This love, then, will be a reflection of God’s love and will demonstrate itself not only in a man’s sincere love for God and His truth, but also a deep compassion for people accompanied by a loving compulsion to seek after them, aid them, and extend the grace of Christ to them. How insightful is the comment often heard that “one should not take the job of shepherd until he learns to love the smell of sheep.”
Never futile is the work of the church, for it is a product not of the mind of man but of the sovereign grace of God.
God’s grace is His active favor bestowing the greatest gifts upon those who have deserved the greatest punishment.
Grace does not run in the blood, but corruption does. A sinner begets a sinner, but a saint does not beget a saint.
The greatest and best man in the world must say, By the grace of God I am what I am, but God says absolutely… “I am that I am.”
All the grace contained in [the Bible] is owing to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior; and, unless we consent to Him as our Lord we cannot expect any benefit by Him as our Savior.
Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces. Sanctified afflictions are spiritual promotions.
Grace is the free, undeserved goodness and favor of God to mankind.
Tears are a tribute to our deceased friends. When the body is sown, it must be watered. But we must not sorrow as those that have no hope; for we have a good hope through grace both concerning them and concerning ourselves.
All grace grows as Love to the Word of God grows.
Revival is not a green valley getting greener, but a valley full of dry bones being made to live again and stand up an exceeding great army (Ezek. 37). It is not good Christians becoming better Christians – but rather Christians honestly confessing that their Christian life is a valley of dry bones and by that very confession qualifying for the grace that flows from the cross and makes all things new.
It is to be lamented that the term irresistible grace has ever been used, since it suggests the idea of a mechanical and coercive influence upon an unwilling subject, while, in truth, it is the transcendent act of the infinite Creator, making the creature spontaneously willing.