Grace is beauty

“Grace alone makes the elect gracious; grace alone keeps them gracious; and the same grace alone will render them everlastingly glorious in the heaven of heavens.” – Augustus Toplady

In New Testament usage God’s grace usually means the sovereign powerful, irresistible work of his unconditional, undeserved love towards his elect that saves and keeps them (Eph.2:8-9, Ex.33:19, Titus 2:11). It inevitably saves it’s recipients and goes on working throughout their lives (II Cor.12:9, Eph.4:7, Acts 4:33), hence Paul’s repeated salutations and doxologies like “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all ” (II Cor.13:14 and also Peter’s (I Peter 1:2, II Peter 3:18). The elect are looked upon with favour and as beautiful in Christ.

But when we come to Christ, the source and communicator of that grace, we cannot say that it was anything undeserved or merciful or needful for him. He was full of grace (John 1:14). So what was he full of? The beauty of holiness! God, in Christ is a being of absolutely perfect beauty, which is reflected in his creation and which is lauded in Scripture and which is communicated to his people (Ps.149:4, 90:17, 29:2, 96:9, 110:3,27:4, Is.33:17, Ezek. 16:14). It was not outward beauty people saw (Is 53:2) it was inward! The spotless Bridegroom makes his bride beautiful (II Peter 3:14). Lord let this beauty be upon us!

God’s grace

“He gives us habitual grace; — a principle of grace, opposed to the principle of lust that is
in us by nature. This is the grace that dwells in us, makes its abode with us; which, according to the distinct faculties of our souls wherein it is, or the distinct objects about which it is exercised, receiveth various appellation, being indeed all but one new principle of life. In the understanding, it is light; in the will, obedience; in the affections, love; in all, faith. So, also, it is differences in respect of its operations. When it carries out the soul to rest on Christ, it is faith; when to delight in him, it is love; but still one and the same habit of grace. ”

Owen in Communion with God.

Christ’s fullness

Colossians 1:19: “ For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;” and John 1:14: “ And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

  Hear John Owen: For the fountain of grace, the Holy Ghost, he received not him “by measure,” John 3. 34; and for the communications of the Spirit, “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” This is the Beloved of our souls, “holy, harmless, undefiled;” “full of grace and truth;” — full, to a sufficiency for every end of grace, — full, for practice, to be an example to men and angels as to obedience, full, to a certainty of uninterrupted communion with God, — full, to a readiness of giving supply to others, — full, to suit him to all the occasions and necessities of the souls of men, — full, to a glory not unbecoming a subsistence in the person of the Son of God, — full, to a perfect
victory, in trials, over all temptations, — full, to an exact correspondence to the whole law, every righteous and holy law of God, full to the utmost capacity of a limited, created, finite nature, — full, to the greatest beauty and glory of a living temple of God, — full, to the full pleasure and delight of the soul of his Father, — full to an everlasting monument of the glory of God, in giving such inconceivable excellencies to the Son of man.”

    And by his cross and resurrection we are the recipients of some of this fullness all our days.

The Meaning of Grace

Christians who believe grace is unmerited favour have only part of the answer and Christians who believe in “common” grace, that God in the gospel offers it to all men are very mistaken as definition 4 below shows. Only God’s elect are the objects of his saving, particular grace.

The word grace in Scripture has a variety of meanings:

1. Grace as an attribute of God has the fundamental meaning of pleasantness, attractiveness, and gracefulness. God is the perfection of all beauty and attractiveness and gracefulness, because He is the implication of all infinite perfection of goodness in the ethical sense. God is perfectly lovely and beautiful.


A  graceful dancer

2. Grace in Scripture denotes the attitude of graciousness or pleasantness, the gracious disposition of God to the creature. This is undoubtedly the meaning of the phrase, “to find grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8; Gen. 19:19).

3. In close connection with the preceding, the word grace has the meaning of undeserved or forfeited favor. In this case, the favorable attitude of God is accentuated and enhanced by the condition of the subjects who receive the grace of God. The word of God uses the term grace as standing opposed to obligation and, therefore, as being opposed to works.

4. The word grace frequently is used in Scripture to denote the power of God whereby the sinner is actually saved and delivered from the bondage of sin and corruption, whereby he is regenerated and sanctified, and thus is made pleasant in the sight of God. It also includes all the spiritual blessings and virtues that are bestowed upon the objects of God’s favor.

5. Grace is used in the sense of thanks, as we read in the original of 1 Corinthians 15:57: “Grace be to God, who giveth us the victory.” The meaning is most probably that grace is ascribed to God by those who are the objects and recipients of the power of God’s grace, in order that He may receive praise and adoration as the only God of all grace.

Herman Hoeksema

(Reformed Dogmatics [Grandville, MI: RFPA, 2014], vol. 2, pp. 280-281)

God’s Mercy

We heard this morning at church (CPRC Ballymena) from Rev. Ron VanOverloop with Micah 7:18-19 as his text, about “The Supreme God Delighting in Mercy”.


Bartimaeus whose cry was , “Jesus Son of David have mercy upon me.”

We learnt that mercy is something deep in God, one of his immutable attributes and something he has eternally which is his deep desire to bless himself. It is expressed in time by his mercy towards his elect miserable sinful people whom he saves in Christ and blesses eternally. The truth that he is mercy in himself apart from creation and the expression of it, has to be held alongside the fact that all his eternal, immutable attributes coexist with his eternal decree and covenant in Christ to be merciful and bless his people. So in reality his mercy never existed outside of his covenant—it is covenant mercy.

It is incredible that such a great, holy and powerful God should show mercy to miserable sinners like us and in fact I believe were it not for the work of the Holy Spirit convincing us NO-ONE would believe it! We couldn’t and we wouldn’t!

His mercy in Christ is exhibited in the Good Shepherd seeking his sheep which was the subject of the evening sermon (Luke 15) where incidentally the self-righteous Pharisees and the elder brother were actually goats who thought they were sheep! Being found by Christ is simultaneous with repenting which we do initially upon conversion and continually throughout our Christian lives.

A beautiful Psalm!

Psalm 16


Preserve me—keep me from my enemies and from sin. I trust thee. I can add nothing to thy being but I may do good to thy people (fellow Christians) in whom I delight. All who make an idol in which they trust, whether money, sex, drugs, alcohol, fame or power will have multiplied sorrows. Jehovah is my inheritance, he is all I need, he has blessed my life, he guides me and his Spirit moves me deep within. I pray about everything future. He is there for me continually so I am glad and one day he will redeem my body and make it incorruptible. I am confident he will show me the right path in life. He (and nothing else) is the source of fullness of joy and pleasures for ever (John 15:11, John 16:24).

This is the joy of the COVENANT—intimate friendship with God.


What is grace?


Many believers, even Reformed ones, believe it is “undeserved favour”, in other words, the blessing of God that redeems elect fallen humanity through the atonement of Christ. This is true but it is only part of the meaning.

If grace only means undeserved favour how can it be said of Christ that as a child the grace of God was upon him (Luke 2:40) and that he was full of grace (John 1:14). He needed no undeserved favour! It has to have another meaning! From Psalm 27:4 and 90:17 we learn that God is beautiful. His multifaceted character comprising all his communicable and incommunicable attributes make for one absolutely, infinitely beautiful and desirable being. He has to be! He is love. He is good. He is holy. He is righteous. He is just. Yes he is altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16). The triune God and our Lord Jesus Christ in his adopted humanity are full of grace, full of divine beauty, and this beauty is given us in salvation from regeneration to glory till the day we awake with his likeness!

“This is the grace of God. Grace, which carries out the work of redemption, is divine power that blesses and saves guilty, depraved sinners. The power of grace originates in and is controlled by the counsel of predestination, which purposes the salvation of the elect church (Eph. 1:3-12).” David J. Engelsma. But that grace blesses the elect by progressively infusing into them by that power  the beautiful image of his Son. Grace is power and beauty! The everlasting covenant of grace is what unifies and governs all God’s dealings with mankind from before creation to the new heavens and earth. Praise his beautiful grace!

Get wisdom!

Notes from recent speech by Rev. Martyn McGeown in South Wales.

Reading  Proverbs 4:1-13


Why is wisdom crucial in life? Because God is wise and Christ is the wisdom of God.

Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. God is omniscient and wise.

Wisdom is the use, adaptation and application of knowledge to it’s highest end which is the glory of God.
Five words for fools in O.T. each progressively worse: simple/gullible, arrogant, sensual, scorner, stubborn.

They all have this in common, they don’t listen to advice or godly wisdom.

Wisdom and folly are ethical rather than intellectual properties.

A wise person pays attention to reality, circumstances and facts.

Means of obtaining wisdom: listening to and applying good Biblical preaching, prayer and godly counsel.

Listen to message here.


The Love of God

Perfect love casts out fear!



Francis Turretin: “A threefold love of God is commonly held; or rather there are three degrees of one and the same love. First, there is the love of benevolence by which God willed good to the creature from eternity; second, the love of beneficence by which he does good to the creature in time according to his good will; third, the love of complacency by which he delights himself (sees good-JK) in the creature on account of the rays of his image seen in them. By the love of benevolence, he loved us before we were; by the love of beneficence, he loves us as we are; and by the love of complacency, he loves us when we are renewed after his image. By the first he elects us; by the second, he redeems and sanctifies us; but by the third, he gratuitously rewards us as holy and just. John 3:16 refers to the first; Eph. 5:25 and Rev. 1:5 to the second; Is. 62:3 and Heb. 11:6 to the third” (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1, p. 242).

So as far as the true believer is concerned God willed to do him good, does good to him always and sees him as good (in Christ)! Love wants the best for another-truly this is what God is to his people.

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