The revealed fact, however, is that the supreme feature of the Christian faith is that supernatural, saving, transforming work of GOD, which is made possible through the infinite sacrifice of CHRIST and which, in sovereign grace, is freely bestowed on all who believe. GOD has given instruction to those who are saved, it is true, as to the manner of life which is consistent with their new heavenly calling and standing in CHRIST; but in its spiritual blindness, the world, led by its blind leaders, sees in Christianity only the rule of life which is secondary. The blindness of the world at this point, with the consequent neglect of all that is vital in the Christian faith, is both anticipated and explained in the Word of GOD. The two foundation truths which determine all spiritual perception are that, by divine arrangement: 1 the Spirit is given only to those who are saved, and 2 spiritual understanding is made to depend exclusively on the presence of the Spirit of GOD in the heart. The precise body of truth which may be understood only through the ministry of the indwelling Spirit is described as, "things" related to the Father, "things" related to the Son, "things" related to the Spirit, "things" to come, and "the kingdom of God.
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It is the sense of demerit more than anything else which impels a soul to cry out for the kindness and benefits of grace. So, also, grace finds its greatest triumph and glory in the sphere of human helplessness.
Grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to withdraw it in the presence of human failure and sin. In fact, grace cannot be exercised where there is the slightest degree of human merit to be recognized. On the other hand the issue of human sin must be disposed of forever. Christ the Lamb of God, having taken away the sin of the world, has by His Cross forever disposed of the condemnation of sin. He has by the Cross created an entirely new relation between God and humanity.
Consequently, men are now either accepting or rejecting Christ who has borne their sins. There is no middle ground. All questions of demerit have been banished. Thus God is righteously free to exercise grace in every case. Salvation is by grace alone.
Grace Cannot Be Lessened Because of Demerit God cannot propose to do less in grace for one who is sinful than He would have done had that one been less sinful.
Grace is never exercised by Him in making up what may be lacking in the life and character of a sinner. In such a case, much sinfulness would call for much grace, and little sinfulness would call for little grace.
The sin question has been set aside forever, and equal exercise of grace is extended to all who believe. It never falls short of being the measureless saving grace of God. Thus grace could not be increased, for it is the expression of His infinite love; it could not be diminished, for every limitation that human sin might impose on the action of a righteous God has, through the propitiation of the Cross, been dismissed forever.
God does not ignore or slight the fact of human guilt and sin, for He has met these issues perfectly and finally for all men in the death of His Son. There remains no demerit, nor degrees of demerit, to be considered or recognized. By grace there is now offered alike to all men all the infinite resources of the saving power of God. The grace of God is, therefore, exercised in perfect independence of human sin, or any degree of human sin.
Grace Cannot Incur a Debt An act is in no sense gracious if under any conditions a debt is incurred. Grace, being unrecompensed favor, is necessarily unrecompensed as to obligations which are past, unrecompensed as to obligations which are present, and unrecompensed as to obligations which are future. Grace must always remain unadulterated in its generosity and benefit.
How emphatically this is true of the grace of God toward sinners! Yet how often this aspect of divine salvation is perverted! Infinite and eternal transformations are wrought by the power of God when He exercises His grace. He is thereby glorified and sinners are saved. Such far-reaching results cannot fail to satisfy and delight Him eternally, but He remains unrecompensed for His salvation through grace.
What He does He bestows as a gift. Rightfully a benefit cannot be called a gift if it is paid for before, at the time, or after.
This is a fundamental truth of the Word of God, and it is imperative that it be kept free from all confusing complications. When a recompense for the gift of God is proposed, every element of salvation is obscured, and the true motive for Christian service is sacrificed as well. The Scriptures everywhere guard these two truths from such perversion; in the Bible, salvation is always presented as a gift, an unrecompensed favor, a pure benefit from God John ; Rom.
And, in like manner, no service is to be wrought, and no offering is to be given, with a view to repaying God for His gift.
Any attempt to compensate God for His gift is an act so utterly out of harmony with the revealed Truth, and exhibits such a lack of appreciation of His loving bounty, that it cannot be other than distressing to the Giver.
All attempts to repay His gift, be they ever so sincere, serve only to frustrate His grace and to lower the marvelous kindness of God to the sordid level of barter and trade. How faithfully we should serve Him, but never to repay Him! Christian service for God should be equally gracious. It therefore becomes those who have received His gifts in grace to be jealous for the purity of their motives in service for Him.
Unwittingly the grace of God is too often denied by well-meaning attempts to compensate God for His benefits. No semblance of the most vital facts about divine grace can be retained unless salvation is, in its every aspect, treated as a gift from God, and Christian service and faithfulness is deemed to be only the expression of love and gratitude to God.
According to the Scriptures, salvation is never conditioned on human faithfulness, or on the promise of human faithfulness. There is no payment required, past, present, or future. God saves unmeriting sinners in unrelated, unrecompensed, unconditioned, sovereign grace. Good works should follow; but with no thought of compensation. Christians are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works" Eph.
Thus, and only thus, are "good works" related to the gracious salvation from God through Christ Jesus. Grace is out of question when recompense is in question. Grace Is Not Exercised in the Just Payment of a Debt The fact is self-evident that the payment of an honest debt could never be an act of grace.
In no circumstances, however, is the recognition of this truth more important than when grace is declared to be the present divine plan for the salvation of sinners. If God should discover the least degree of merit in the sinner, this, in strict righteousness, He must recognize and duly acknowledge. By such a recognition of human merit, He would be discharging an obligation toward the sinner and the discharge of that obligation toward the sinner would be the payment, or recognition, of a debt.
It is therefore imperative that every vestige of human merit shall be set aside completely if an opportunity is provided whereby pure grace may be exercised in the salvation of people. For the sole purpose that pure grace might be exercised toward people, the human family has been placed under the divine judicial sentence of sin. It is obviously true that all men are sinners both by nature and by practice, but the present divine decree goes far beyond this evident state of sinfulness wherein one man might be deemed to be more, or less, sinful than another; for God, in this dispensation, which began with the Cross, has pronounced an equal and absolute sentence of judgment against all, both Jew and Gentile.
People are now "already condemned" John ; they are "children of disobedience" Eph. People are now judicially reckoned to be "in unbelief" Rom. Thus all human merit has been disposed of absolutely and forever, and there is no longer the slightest possibility that, because of personal merit, a divine obligation may now exist toward any individual.
The sole divine object in thus universally and judicially disposing of all human merit is clearly revealed: "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all" Rom. Also, "The scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe" Gal.
That God now saves sinners by grace alone and apart from every human merit is the teaching of His Word: "For by grace are ye saved though faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" Eph. In this passage the only order which can exist between divine grace and human merit is made clear. Man is permitted to do nothing until God has done all that His grace designs. Good works grow out of, and are made possible by, the gracious work of God.
To this exact order all revelation concerning divine grace is in agreement. Salvation, being always and only a work of God for man, is always and only by grace alone; rewards, being always and only that which is merited by the faithful service of the Christian, are always and only based on works. Human merit is always in view in the divine bestowment of rewards; the grace of God is never mentioned in connection with His bestowment of rewards 1 Cor. So, also, human works are never included as forming any part of the divine plan of salvation by grace.
An act ceases to be gracious, therefore, when it is a recognition of merit, or the payment of a just debt. Grace Is Never the Overpayment of a Debt Grace is no longer grace if it is complicated in the slightest degree with the payment of a just debt. It can never be that which is added to, or a part of, a righteous transaction. A bounty may be added to the payment of a debt—an extra amount above the full measure due, but in no case should this extra amount be considered a matter of pure grace.
The character of the bounty thus added would, of necessity, be qualified to some extent by the relation of the bounty to the debt. The bounty will be either more, or less, than it would have been had it stood alone. Inevitably it will be affected to some degree by the righteous transaction with which it is combined.
In the Word of God, as in common usage, the word grace, in its exact meaning, precludes any complications with other acts or issues however righteous and just. Grace speaks of a gift, not of barter or trade however unequal. It is pure kindness, not the fulfilling of an obligation.
An act in order to be gracious must stand disassociated and alone. Divine salvation is, therefore, the kindness of God toward sinners. It is not less than it would be had they sinned less.
It is not more than it would be had they sinned more. It is wholly unrelated to every question of human merit. Grace is neither treating a person as he deserves, nor treating a person better than he deserves. It is treating a person graciously without the slightest reference to his deserts.
Grace is infinite love expressing itself in infinite goodness. Through the death of Christ by which He took away the sin of the world, and through the divine decree which has constituted all to be "under sin," grace is free to save in every case, and only grace can save in any case.
Divine grace is never decreased or increased. It offers a standardized, unvarying blessing to every individual alike. The blessing is measureless since it represents in every case no less than all that God, being actuated by infinite love, can do.
The sinner is never forgiven because God is big-hearted enough to remit the penalty, or to waive the righteous judgments. Any presentation of divine forgiveness which represents God as directly exercising clemency toward a sinner is a fatal detraction from the meaning of the Cross of Christ, and is a disastrous misrepresentation of the truth contained in the Gospel of His saving grace. Those who dare to preach the gospel should give to the Cross its true place of vital importance as given to it in the Word of God.
How can God utter a more alarming warning on this point than is disclosed in the revelation of the unrevoked anathema upon all who pervert the gospel of grace? As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" Gal. Turning from human speculation to the Scriptures of truth, we discover one basic fact: The Lamb of God has already "taken away" the sin of the world John
Grace: the Theme
It is the sense of demerit more than anything else which impels a soul to cry out for the kindness and benefits of grace. So, also, grace finds its greatest triumph and glory in the sphere of human helplessness. Grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to withdraw it in the presence of human failure and sin. In fact, grace cannot be exercised where there is the slightest degree of human merit to be recognized. On the other hand the issue of human sin must be disposed of forever. Christ the Lamb of God, having taken away the sin of the world, has by His Cross forever disposed of the condemnation of sin.
Lewis Sperry Chafer
In parts I loved it. There is so much of the truth of Gods grace in it. But in other parts I think the author too heavily relies on distinctions between dispensations. I think it certainly helps the argument he is making but Im not sure if, for example, grace wasnt operating in the lives of the people of Israel between Moses and Christ, as he seems to imply. Further I would say the same thing about the rule of the kingdom that he distinguishes in the early half of the Gospels and some prophetic texts in the Old Testament. So I liked this book but it also left me scratching my head about how much of it you can take to heart and how much is dispensational theology that might be making too clean of a cut between the covenants. This book may open your eyes for the first time to what the Lord has actually done for you!
Grace: the Theme by Lewis Sperry Chafer The exact and discriminate meaning of the word grace should be crystal clear to every child of God. With such insight only can he feed his own soul on the inexhaustible riches which it unfolds, and with such understanding only can he be enabled clearly to pass on to others its marvelous, transforming theme. Here is a striking illustration of the fact that very much may be represented by one word. When used in the Bible to set forth the grace of God in the salvation of sinners, the word grace discloses not only the boundless goodness and kindness of God toward man, but reaches far beyond and indicates the supreme motive which actuated God in the creation, preservation and consummation of the universe. What greater fact could be expressed by one word? The meaning of the word grace, as used in the New Testament, is not unlike its meaning as employed in common speech,—but for one important exception, namely, in the Bible the word often represents that which is limitless, since it represents realities which are infinite and eternal. It is nothing less than the unlimited love of God expressing itself in measureless grace.