Grace upon Grace

John 1:16 “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”

I’ve heard it said that there are 3 specific types of grace:

  • prevenient grace, which is God’s active presence in people’s lives before they even sense the divine at work in their lives;
  • justifying grace, through which all sins are forgiven by God; and
  • sanctifying grace, which allows people to grow in their ability to live like Jesus.

When considering these aspects of grace, it’s important to remember the source of all grace and how it affects us.

Hebrews 5:8-9 “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” 

The source of all grace comes by way of the Son of God.

Salvation comes by way of grace, through faith, and yet we see aspects of God’s grace all around us. When considering the works of God, we must consider the character He demonstrates in the affairs of mankind.

The Work of God

When first examining the grace of God, the question arises as to when did grace begin?

Is grace only given when a repentant sinner turns to God?

Is grace evident only for those whom God has called?

Can grace be received by those who have rejected God in His Sovereignty?

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Prevenient grace is not dependent upon our response.

We don’t need to be perfect first, to receive God’s favor. If grace were conditional, then it wouldn’t be grace, it would be reward. Like a runner who completed the race and received his prize, grace would be waiting at the finish line instead of at the starting line.

Prevenient grace is at work even when we are unaware of its effect. The one who is led to Christ, receives grace first. The one who is allowed to live his life even in the midst of hatred towards God, is given grace.

We have all received grace, the entire world has received God’s grace because He chose not to destroy us even though we were found to be His enemy. The atheist is allowed to blaspheme God’s name because God shows him grace. It would be very easy for the Lord to just remove a person from this earth and yet He chooses to be patient. Personally, I believe that God allowed men like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to live longer because He used their foolishness to expose the darkness. The more darkness is made evident, the more people might turn toward the light.

Regrettably, Hitchens is now suffering in torment. The culmination of rebellion against God’s authority is separation to darkness. For those who reject the light, there is only the despair of hopelessness.

Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

The grace of God is shown to all people, the revelation of God’s goodness is given by His call to salvation, for any who might believe. For those who accept the call, a clear indication of change occurs when they choose to turn their backs on this world, renouncing their past and choosing righteousness.

Justifying Grace is reserved only for the repentant sinner. To be justified is to be rendered just or innocent.

How do people who are found guilty of sin find innocence before God?

Romans 8:29-30 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

Jesus alone justifies the the guilty. Apart from Christ, there is no measure of hope both in this life or in the life to come.

  • The justified are taken from shame into glory.
  • The Justifier redeemed His people from death.
  • The just have only God to thank for their salvation.

Galatians 2:16 “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

This grace was given because it was bought with a price. We who have received it have our lives to thank for so valuable of a gift. No one who hasn’t experienced God’s favor could ever understand how important this is, at least until the reality of Hell is realized.

Justifying grace is dependent upon us receiving Christ as our King, it therefore keeps the sinner from Hell.

Sanctifying Grace is the continuation of grace in the life of a believer.

The Father expresses prevenient grace by calling the lost to Himself. Jesus places the seal of justifying grace upon the life of the one who trusts in Him. The Holy Spirit continues in sanctifying grace the path of holiness in a believer by forming them in the image of Christ.

John 17:16-18 “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”

The same pattern by which Jesus set Himself apart from this world, is the same expression of holiness He desires for His people.

Sanctifying grace works through the obedience of God’s people.

The Lord declares His greatness by regarding a people who were once alienated from Him as being made pure, and holy before Him.

The incredible honor that is bestowed upon us simply because we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation is still difficult to grasp. The more we recognize the value of the gift, the more we should safeguard our walk with Him.

We do have a part to play in the amazing work of God’s grace. Even though grace is free, the work of abiding in Christ is placed on us. Walking faithfully in honor of Him, trusting Him for His provision, and leading others toward His grace is the way to express thankfulness for all He has done.

What more can we do to honor the King?

For all that God has done for me, I hope I can honor Him until my last breath.

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