The Meaning of Grace

GRACE AND SALVATION

We have seen what grace is as an attribute of God. We must also say something about the grace God shows in saving us.

Following on from the idea that grace is an inner beauty or loveliness that shines out in all a person is and does and that causes others to look upon him with favor, we may say that God’s grace as it is revealed in our salvation is the gift of his own beauty to us, so that we become like him and thus find favor in his sight. That loveliness of God, which he grants to his people when he saves them, becomes evident in all their conduct and speech. It is impossible for one who has received grace not to reflect something of the loveliness of God.

This is one of the reasons that the teaching of common grace should be rejected. It is a repulsive thought that the wicked and unbelieving should find favor in God’s sight or have anything of his own loveliness. Nor could it ever be, then, that God would judge them and send them to hell, for he would be sending someone who had received something of his own beauty to the place of eternal darkness.

There are several other characteristics of God’s saving grace that need to be mentioned. They, too, show why grace cannot be common:

First, grace is not only an attitude of God, but a gift. This is implied in what we have already said, but it needs emphasis. Scripture speaks often of God giving grace (Ps. 84:11; Prov. 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5).We speak of grace as a gift of God when we want to emphasize the freeness and undeserved character of grace, but we must not forget that it is something actually given when God shows it to us, and not only an attitude on his part.

Second, grace is a power. That is really the same thing as saying that it is the grace of God. God’s thoughts, God’s attributes, and God’s Words are not like ours—powerless—but always full of the power of the Almighty. That is another reason God cannot possibly be gracious to all. His grace cannot be in vain, cannot be without power to save and deliver, cannot fail. To suggest that it can is to deny that God is God.

Third, grace is saving. Never once does Scripture speak of any other kind of grace to men. Just as election is particular and atonement is particular, so the grace predetermined and purchased by Christ must also be particular, shown savingly only to some.

That we should find grace in the sight of God is amazing, especially when we take this to mean that he finds us lovely and beautiful. This can only happen because he sees us in Christ, and through the work of Christ. Christ is beautiful as God’s own only begotten Son, the fairest of ten thousand in his perfect obedience and devotion to God, and in him alone do we find favor with God.

Rev. Ronald Hanko

This extract from “Doctrine according to Godliness” is posted with permission from its publisher, Reformed Free Publishing Association, Grandville, Michigan

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Through the Bible in a year

In the Bible reading plan today (see scans) we had I Samuel 17 and Acts 9. These two chapters clearly illustrate the grace and power of God. In the first God, through David and his slingshot, fells Goliath to the earth and shows that the battle is his (v47). The Lord will destroy his enemies. In the second reading, the Lord again fells an enemy namely Saul of Tarsus but this time in grace he makes him into a servant-friend, a new man by his powerful call from heaven. Known unto God are all his works. He slays his enemies but saves some of them and makes them his friends. This is his prerogative. Which are you? And if like me you are a believer, our calling as his people is to say to his enemies, as we have opportunity, “be reconciled to God” (II Cor.5:20).

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Predestination

More About Predestination

Rev. Martyn McGeown

Whether we agree with predestination or not, it is the Bible’s teaching. Whether we react in a positive or negative way emotionally to this teaching, it is the truth of God’s Word. When God’s Word offends our sensibilities—and it often will because we are sinners—we must learn to submit to its teaching.

But before we react emotionally, we need to make sure that we understand the teaching. Often, we react emotionally to a misunderstanding.

First, predestination means God’s determination beforehand (pre) of the eternal destiny (destination) of His rational and moral creatures. Since God is God, He has the right to do this. Paul reminds us of our place before God: “Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay? (Romans 9:20-21). How absurd it would be for a creature to complain to the Creator!

Second, God’s predestinating choice is unconditional. We know what a conditional choice means—we make conditional choices every day. Why do you choose one breakfast cereal over another, or why do you choose eggs or toast (or whatever) for breakfast? Because of some quality in the food—that choice is conditional. An unconditional choice is one where the choice is not determined by any quality in the thing chosen. It is almost impossible for a human being to make such an unconditional choice. Things always influence us. God chooses His people unconditionally—He finds no attractive quality in them; they are not better, greater or nicer than anyone else. God does not even choose them because He foresees that there will be some good quality in them. God explains this to Moses: “The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you [for such and such a reason], but because the LORD loved you” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). The verdict—God loved His people simply because He loved them! There is no reason in us!

Third, God’s choice of His people is eternal and therefore unchangeable. God did not wait and see how history and His people would turn out before He made His choice. It was before the foundation of the world, or, as Paul writes, “the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that purpose of God according to election might stand” (Romans 9:11).

That is humbling—salvation is not our choice; it is the Lord’s.

But where better place for salvation to be than in the wise hands of the almighty, always good God!

BLOGSITE

http://www.limerickreformed.com/blog/

I should add that notwithstanding the decree of predestination every human being because of their sin in Adam AND their own rebellion against the most high God deserves eternal hell, and will rightly suffer that judgment unless by God’s grace they believe in Christ—JK

Wrath and love?

It is true that no human being can be under the wrath of God and be loved by him simultaneously. Christian believers, God’s elect sheep have been loved by him IN CHRIST from before the world was. Before we were saved we were BY NATURE children of wrath even as others and we retain this sinful nature till our dying day, yet we are loved infinitely and everlastingly.

What about Christ?

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Our Heidelberg Catechism puts it this way,”Q. 37.  What dost thou understand by the words, “He suffered”?
A.  That He, all the time that He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, sustained in body and soul the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind; that so by His passion, as the only propitiatory sacrifice, He might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the favor of God, righteousness and eternal life.”

In the Triple Knowledge*, Herman Hoeksema’s exposition of H.C. he states, “All his (Christ’s) life is one testimony of the fact that he lived in perfect fellowship with his father, and was conscious of his approval and favour.” But didn’t he bear God’s wrath too? Let it be clearly stated that Christ as a person was never the object of his father’s wrath but “he suffered the expression, the concrete effect of the wrath of God against sin”, “the reaction of his holiness against (us) the workers of iniquity.” This comes to it’s climax in Christ’s God-forsakenness at Calvary, “At the moment when God is most highly pleased with him, he experiences all the terror of being forsaken of God!”

What a Saviour! Who would not consecrate themselves body and soul to live for him?

*Books

tripleknowledge

You did not choose me — I chose you.

New LRF Blog Post


The God Who Chooses

Posted: 08 Feb 2017 07:40 AM PST

The God Who Chooses

Part of God’s eternal purpose is election or predestination. We know what election is—it is a choice. In election, however, we mean God’s choice. Specifically, we mean God’s choice concerning salvation. Even more specifically, we mean God’s choice of whom He will save.

There are some who think that God has chosen to save everybody. Their argument is that God wants everyone to be in heaven, but He leaves it up to individual people to decide whether they want to be in heaven with God or not. Often salvation is described as an offer—God wants to give you salvation, but you have to be willing to accept it. Some portray Jesus as “knocking on the door of your heart,” hoping that you will invite Him into your life.

The Bible does not teach that. In fact, such a portrayal is very dishonouring to God. We have already seen that God is almighty, sovereign and majestic in His holiness. Does a beggar knocking on hearts sound like God? Would the God who is independent be reduced to depending on His creatures in such a way? In fact, Scripture says, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Romans 9:16). If salvation depends on the freewill of humans, then God depends on the freewill of humans. Then humans—not God—are sovereign. God forbid!

The Bible teaches that before the world was created—in His eternal decree—God made a choice. First, He chose Jesus Christ to be the Saviour. Second, in that decree, He gave a certain, definite, limited number of humans to Jesus Christ. Third, He sent Jesus Christ into the world to save those humans—and only them—from their sins. Jesus explains: “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39). Jesus did not come to try to save as many as possible, and then fail in the attempt. Jesus came to save a definite number—as many as the Father had given to Him—and them He actually saves. Not one of them shall be lost. Is that not good news?

Paul writes, “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).

Predestination is not a horrible teaching. It is God’s eternal choice of His people in love.

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Rev. Martyn McGeown

National repentance of the Jews?

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Here is proof that there will be no national repentance of the Jews:

  1. The Land: Although Abraham and his descendants were promised Canaan, Hebrews 11 makes it clear that the patriarchs actually looked for heaven as their homeland and Canaan just represented that hope. So the land of Israel has no great significance any more, it is real estate like England or India, one day to enter the conflagration and be renewed.
  2. The Temple: This structure representing God’s presence with Israel, was destroyed in 70AD thus ending God’s covenant with them as a nation (Matthew 21:43). We are told that we believers are now the temple of God. No more sacrifices will ever be offered because Christ has fulfilled them all and any return to them in the future would be a blasphemous denial of his once-for-all work on the cross.
  3. The King: David is a type of Christ. No more tabernacle of David ever (Isaiah 16:5 notwithstanding!) Christ’s kingdom is NOT of this world…ever. So no messianic state in Israel!
  4. Israel: This name which once stood for the Jews as a nation, although in reality it meant only the elect remnant among them (Romans 9:6). Israel, the church in the Old Testament is now the name for the church composed of Jew and Gentile, the true circumcision. So when Scripture states “All Israel shall be saved” it means all the elect of all nations. God’s elect church are now the only single nation of God (I Peter 2:9). God never did love the whole nation of Israel or any other nation for that matter. His everlasting, foreknowing, electing love has always and will always be, only for Christ and all those chosen in him before the foundation of the world, because love is the bond of perfectness (Col.3:14) that is, the bond between the members of the trinity and of all the elect in the Son, given to him and united to him by faith. God never did and never will love his enemies, the reprobate wicked (like Esau Romans 9).

For all these reasons Romans 11 CANNOT and DOES NOT mean there will be a national repentance and turning to God among the Jews in the last days. They are like any other people, they will have representatives before the throne in eternity.

Our identity in Christ

 

Summary of message given by Rev. Ronald VanOverloop at CPRC Ballymena Wednesday June 18th 2017

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Text Acts 27:23.

Paul standing on the shifting deck of an otherwise doomed merchant sailing vessel with 276 people on board tells them God “whose I am, and whom I serve” told him that all on board would be saved from the wreck.

Identity is NOT:

  • What I do
  • What others think of me

Our identity (as Christians) is:

  • What God thinks of me
  • What God has done for me

The fall of man, and our fall in him has made us as depraved creatures think horizontally all the time, that is about ourselves and other people. Fear of man predominates and we are constantly comparing ourselves with others and sometimes thinking we don’t need others. All these ideas are sinful thoughts and attitudes.

We need to think vertically: We have two legs that we stand on. First leg…we are vile dust by nature (the old man of sin), second leg we are a new man (Christ in me by his Spirit) who nevertheless is dominant (our kicking foot!)

God sees us IN CHRIST as belonging to him, beloved everlastingly, perfectly righteous (holy), ordained to good works.

Praise his name!

Identity

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It is noteworthy that the first two temptations of Christ were centred on his identity. “I thou be the Son of God….”. Christ’s firm conviction of who he was (John 13:3) saw him overcome. Similarly we as God’s children need to be utterly convinced that we are adopted, loved, helped and kept by our heavenly Father despite the fact that of ourselves we are guilty totally depraved sinners.

“Content with who I am in Christ”

Lecture at C.P.R.C. Ballymena

Rev. Ron VanOverloop (Michigan, USA)

Weds. 18th January 2017 at 7.30pm

The Eternally Active God

New LRF* Blog Post


The Eternally Active God

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 10:06 AM PST

God is the eternally active and living God. Never is God idle. Never is God bored. Never is God lonely or unfulfilled. Eternally within His own being, God has planned and purposed all things. We call God’s eternal plan His “counsel.” “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). “Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11).

God is perfectly free. He depends on no one. Therefore, He depends on no one when He determines His eternal counsel. No one gives Him advice—nor does He seek advice—in determining what He should do. Since God’s counsel is eternal, no one was there, no creature, neither man nor angel, to give Him advice, or to give input into His counsel. God could choose to create or not to create, and having decided to create, He could create whatever pleased Him in any way it pleased Him. “But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).

God’s counsel is unchangeable. Never does God change His mind. And nothing happens in history to force Him to change His mind. From our perspective, God might sometimes seem to change, but in reality He has purposed all things from eternity. God’s counsel includes all things—every event, every person, every activity. Nothing is outside of the scope of God’s decree. The rise and fall of nations, the birth, death (and every detail of life) of every individual, and even the fall of a sparrow are included.

The doctrine of God’s sovereign counsel is a terror to the wicked. Try as they might, they cannot overthrow the God who sits on the throne. God laughs at their puny efforts to thwart His purposes (Psalm 2:4). Evil men are but instruments in His hand to fulfill His will, whether they know it and acknowledge it or not. However, the same teaching is of great comfort to God’s children: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Conversely God works all things to the destruction of the reprobate wicked (Psalm 73 and 69:22-15)—JK

It is a wonderful truth that all things are under God’s control and power, that all things serve God’s glory, and that all things serve the salvation of God’s people. There is no greater comfort and assurance than that!

Good works prepared for us.

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Herman Hoeksema: “We must remember that the church is not a mere number of saved believers: it is a grand whole, it is a body, a unity. And the purpose of the whole is that they may show forth the glory of God in Christ. This one theme all the saints sing and develop in their good works, each in his own position and performing his own part. And the great Artist ordained and prepared all the several parts of this glorious theme for every one of the saints, just as He by grace prepares for them all the parts they are to perform. He created us in Christ Jesus exactly unto those good works which He prepared for us, that we might walk in them (The Triple Knowledge, vol. 3, pp. 105-106).

Ephesians 2:10.