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Theology > Salvation > Sovereignty in Salvation > Because of Grace


All of salvation is the working of grace; salvation cannot be separated from grace. This is the teaching of Scripture:

he [Apollos] greatly helped those who had believed through grace (Acts 18:27);

the ministry . . . to testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24);

justified freely by His grace (Rom. 3:24; see: Tit.3:5);

this grace in which we stand (Rom. 5:2);

the election of grace (Rom. 11:5);

by grace you have been saved (Eph. 2:5, 8);

who has saved . . . according to His own purpose and grace (II Tim. 1:9);

the grace of God that brings salvation (Tit. 2:11).

(See: Jo. 1:16-17; Rom. 5:15, 20-21; 9:15-16; 11:6; Eph. 2:7; II Tim. 2:1; Heb. 12:28; I Pet. 4:10)

The New Testament word for grace, appearing approximately 125 times in the Greek text, is charis, meaning “favor,” favor that is unwarranted. The word “grace” simply speaks of unmerited or undeserved favor; it is the kindness of God given to man who has absolutely no claim to God’s generosity.

Grace is of God: grace is an attribute of God—God is gracious. Without God there is no grace, but where there is grace there is God in His saving activity. Grace is God’s favor to man. Grace is the essence of God, and God determines those who will be the object of His favor, favor that arises within and flows from His essence.

For grace to be of God means that grace is sovereign, and to be sovereign affirms that grace is selective (Rom. 9:15-16); there is a determination in the working of grace. The sovereignty of grace is understood when Paul writes of “the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5), writes of those who are saved “according to His own purpose and grace” (II Tim. 1:9). Thus, the believer is taught that his salvation is associated with election, purpose, and grace.

Grace is of God and is manifest in Christ. God’s grace provides Christ and His salvation; “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Tit. 2:11), and “grace . . . came through Jesus Christ” (Jo. 1:17). Grace was present in the Old Testament (first mentioned in connection with Noah) but the full manifestation of the fact that God is the God of grace is made known in the Person and Work of Christ (Jo. 1:14-17). Paul identifies the “gospel” with “the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), and the gospel is Christ.

In theological formulations grace is interpreted from conflicting perspectives: Protestant thought affirms that God’s grace delivers salvation to the sinner, while in Roman thought grace enables the individual to do works that merits the righteousness of Christ. The position of Rome is clear from the Council of Trent:

If anyone shall say, that justice received is not preserved and also not increased in the sight of God through good works but that those same works are only the fruits and signs of justification received, but not a cause of its increase let him be anathema (Canon 24).

According to Rome Adam in his act of disobedience lost the “likeness,” which is “moral uprightness,” a supernaturally added gift; but he retained the “image,” man’s natural abilities which include “reasoning ability and volitional power.” After the Fall man is left with natural ability which requires divine assistance in order to choose God; therefore, grace is divine assistance which man utilizes to attain merit before God. Grace becomes a partner in good works that lead to salvation.

The Protestant understanding is decidedly different. From this perspective grace is an indication of man’s depraved condition, which is characterized by total inability. Grace, therefore, is not conferred in order for man to gain merit by deeds of righteousness; rather, for it to be grace means there is no work involved. It is all of God; grace is God’s work for and in man, conferring upon man that which has been determined for man. Because of grace salvation is a revelation that comes to the sinner, renewing him, and informing him of his place in Christ. Salvation is not something that is considered and either accepted or rejected, rather it is a gift applied by the Spirit.

Grace excludes every basis for human boasting;
Grace creates great humility—why me;
Grace leads to great thanksgiving and life-long worship;
Grace motivates the believer to true holiness;
Grace informs one of his position in Christ;
Grace continues and completes the salvation that it brought to the sinner.

With this understanding it is obvious that the believer lives in grace once he has been given grace; Paul speaks of “this grace in which we stand” (Rom. 5:2)—we are secure in it because we live in it.

a gift,
an understanding,
and a way of living.

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