How the presumption, promise, purpose, predestination, prosecution, preservation and passion of God explains his grace.
In a nutshell, grace is God’s desire to be good to his unruly children–children who don’t deserve squat.
That means, grace involves mercy over misery. Favor over futility. Access over alienation. Reconciliation over rejection.
In a minute we’re going to explore the presumption, promise, purpose, predestination, prosecution, preservation, passion and our response to God’s grace…
But first, a little history.
Brief History of God’s Grace
The history of God’s grace begins with Abraham’s election–a national blessing that extended to all the families on the earth.
After Abraham’s election, the nation of Israel then ushered in Moses. Moses received the law of God.
With the law in place, those who broke the law deserved punishment, even if it was God’s chosen people. We need this because grace without law is meaningless and what I say below won’t make any sense.
One of the ways God’s grace worked in the Old Testament was through animal sacrifices. Animal sacrifices satisfied God’s wrath towards those who broke the law.
Therefore, in the New Testament, Jesus’ death–another type of sacrifice–satisfied God’s wrath towards those who broke the law.
Now, justification through grace is by faith in the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Justification makes us children of God. In other words, repentant sinners are adopted into the church.
So, to make a long story short, Abraham and the nation of Israel were simply the mechanism to God’s long-range goal.
Presumption of God’s Grace
There are four crucial truths in which the doctrine of God’s grace takes for granted.
1. Man is totally depraved.
2. God is not true to himself if he does not punish sin.
3. It is beyond our power to mend our relationship with God.
4. God is not obliged to love us or help us.
Only when you see that your destiny depends on whether or not God resolves to save you from your sins can you begin to grasp the biblical view of grace.
Promise of God’s Grace
What does God’s grace promise? Grace promises salvation and eternal life.
Grace brings justification by faith through grace: God can declare us just and include us in his eternal purpose. We become adopted, children of God.
Salvation finds fulfillment by grace and not race, so Abraham’s physical and spiritual descendants could experience God’s grace.
Purpose of God’s Grace
On the macro level, this is what all the work of grace aims at: an ever deeper and closer knowledge of God. A thick relationship.
On the micro level, grace narrates the truly dramatic transition from condemned criminal awaiting a terrible sentence to that of an heir awaiting a fabulous inheritance.
Bottom line, the purpose of God’s grace is to reconcile a rebellious people.
Predestination of God’s Grace
Salvation is no accident. In the book of Ephesians Paul says:
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
And since it is executed by sovereign power, nothing can thwart it.
Prosecution of God’s Grace
God wants to overwhelm you. He wants to create in you a sense of inadequacy.
That’s why we aren’t shield from the turbulence and terror of life. We are exposed to the world, the devil and the flesh. And we are cold-cocked by our own temperament.
God wants you to feel your way through life, rugged and roughshod, so that you shed your own self-confidence and rely on him. And him only.
Preservation of God’s Grace
First Peter 1:5 says we are “protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
You don’t need to torment yourself with the fear that your faith may fail. Since grace led you to this faith–so grace will keep you believing until the end.
Passion of God’s Grace
God’s grace is the limitless capacity to forgive and bless in the face of endless rebellion and rejection.
Why would he do this? He delights in mercy as a father delights in compassion towards his children. It is part of his nature.
God removed our banishment–not because of anything we’ve done–but through the virtues of Christ’s atoning death. Yet, none has ever returned to the divine favor except through the sheer, passionate goodness of God.
Our Proper Response to God’s Grace
The irreducible condition for receiving God’s grace is humility. God works through repentant sinners.
And once we repent, we become missionaries. Missionaries in our neighborhoods, workplace and churches. Full time missionaries. We share God’s grace bottom up: I repented because I saw I was dead in sin. We see the tragic state of the lost and mourn for them.
In other words, our proper response to God’s grace is, as John Piper says, “to live hour by hour in the forgiving, justifying, all-supplying grace of God, and then bend it out to all the others in your life.”
What has been your response to God’s grace? Let me know what you think.
**Part of The Nature of God series.**