57. Soteriology: The Grace of God
Purpose: The grace of God is the central theme in Soteriology —the doctrine of salvation. Although it is fathomless in its scope, we need not apologize for our lack of understanding. None of us will ever fully understand the grace of God. Indeed, the New Testament pictures us moving through all eternity continually learning of His grace. This part of soteriology is given to looking at grace, that characteristic of God most evident in His relationship with us. It is our desire that we move toward an appreciation of this wonderful truth, although our movement is just a beginning.
1. The disciple will have a better understanding of grace.
2. The disciple will understand that in knowing God’s grace, he should exemplify it in his way of life.
3. The disciple will understand that grace is involved in all of God’s dealings with man.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. 12 It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.
1. Mutual prayer and sharing.
2. Share memory work.
3. Discuss session and questions.
4. Discuss new terms.
This session involves the method of God’s work with men. Grace is a word that means a gift. A gift is something that becomes ours without doing anything for it. It is also a way of living and the under girding of all that we have in relation to our Father. We do not deserve what we have in grace. We are sinners who are totally displeasing to God, and we deserve God’s judgment. His love has made provision for us to enjoy eternal life (which deals with quality as well as quantity or length of time.) Free grace cannot be understood by us sinners. We can, however, experience it fully in relationship with the Father. The material that follows makes this somewhat more clear, although it merely brushes lightly this great truth from Scripture. It is the deepest and broadest consideration in all of theology. It is our hope you will understand it more fully.
The Grace of God
As we read the Scriptures, we are brought to a place of utter inability to comprehend the greatness and wonder of God our Father. He is indeed the One who is terrible—awesome in His wondrous being, full and rich in love and from that love comes grace. His grace is evident throughout the Scriptures. Perhaps through this study of grace itself, you can be better acquainted with the fullness of Him Who is our Creator and Savior.
First we will try to define grace. It is a word in the New Testament that means “a gift.” A gift is something we receive with no payback. We give nothing for a gift, we need only to receive it. Therefore, it is totally free. I do not work for it, nor do I work to keep it. It is unmerited favor. It is everything for nothing to those who do not deserve anything. Another description is an acrostic — God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Grace in the Old Testament
Look up the following passages from the Old Testament and see how His grace was demonstrated.
Genesis 6:5-8; 7:6, 7, 12
Genesis 15:1, 6
1 Samuel 9
Lamentations 3:22, 23
These passages and records of things that happened in the past surely pictures God as a God of love and grace.
The New Testament Presents Grace to the Fullest
There are many ways one can speak of “grace.” “Common grace...irresistible grace...saving grace...sovereign grace...” It is a common word in our vocabulary as Christians. We have experienced this grace though certainly not in its fullest. Most of us have only sipped a little, paid lip service to it, and in fact find the subject of “grace” somewhat basic.
In reality, we all are deficient in our understanding of grace. We must begin to grasp it, however, if we are to really know God as He is. Spurgeon has said that “Grace is a wondrous abyss, none can measure its breadth...or depth.” It is infinite as are all of His attributes. We only begin to understand it when we grasp the truths that grace presupposes.
1. Man is morally broken - Rom. 3:23 says that I have ________ and am continually ___________ ____________ of the _________ _____ _______. This means that I have nothing to offer Him, although He has made me in His __________, Genesis. 1:27. He made me for fellowship with Him, but I have spoken __________ from my birth, Psalms 58:3. We may compare ourselves with others, but with God I am morally corrupt and at the most, have only human goodnesses to present Him, Isaiah 64:6. These are like “plugs of dung!” They are of no value whatsoever. I can in no way please Him by my efforts.
2. The holiness of God demands _______________, Galatians. 3:10, James 2:10. This is beyond us, and as “good as we are” it is never enough. This is scarcely ever considered in our day of modern thinking. In society today, we tend to compare ourselves with others. This is spiritual suicide! God says, “all have _______ ________. Together ________ _________ ________ ________. There is _________ ________ _________ ________. There is __________ _________ _________, Romans 3: 12. We are spiritually impotent and cannot mend our relationship with Him.
3. God is totally free to do whatever He wishes. He does not tailor His actions to men and their whims. We may think God owes us something, but He owes us nothing. Rom. 9:18 teaches us what?_______________________ _____________________________________________________________We would all deserve to be in hell if God gave us what we deserved. No one has ever deserved anything but this. So we come to the next aspect of God’s grace: election.
God’s Elective Grace
Grace is the source of all that salvation brings. It is the fountainhead of salvation and therefore is not dependent on anything. Grace is involved in the foreknowledge of God and His movement in awakening us. The following poem expresses this so wonderfully.
The Lord Our Righteousness
I was once a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke with rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah-Tsidkenu was nothing to me.
I oft read with pleasure, to soothe or engage,
Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
But e’en when they pictured the blood-sprinkled tree
Jehovah-Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.
Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul;
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah-Tsidkenu — ‘Twas nothing to me.
When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see —
Jehovah - Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.
My terrors all vanished, before that sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life-giving and free -
Jehovah - Tsidkenu is all things to me.
Jehovah-Tsidkenu! My treasure and boast,
Jehovah - Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
In this I shall conquer by flood and by field-
My cable, my anchor, my breastplate and shield!
Even treading the valley, the shadow of death,
This “watchword” shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life’s fever, my God sets me free,
Jehovah-Tsidkenu my death-song shall be..
Robert Murray M’Cheyne 1834
And so it was with us all. God knew what He was doing and He elected us to His salvation by His grace, not because of anything He knew we would do, but because of what He would do to, in, and through us!
Grace is involved in the pursuit of God. He is the shepherd seeking lost sheep. He prepared my heart after dealing with me for many years. He pursued me through many long corridors of time and circumstances. He manipulated my days and arranged things so I would be convicted and turn. All of this was from His grace.
Grace is also pardoning grace. We are moved from the status of one on death row to that of an heir and joint-heir of a fabulous inheritance. Samuel Davies wrote, “Who is a pardoning God like thee? Or who has grace so rich and free?” Because of grace, I am forgiven!
Grace will bring me safely home. It is persevering grace. Grace that causes me to want to walk with Him. When He calls, we come running. And we continue to run. That old hymn, “Amazing Grace,” says, “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come, ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Because of grace, I will persevere to the end.
Finally, grace is always saving grace which has to do with how I live. We are saved from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, and ultimately from the presence of sin. We need to live lives characterized by grace which has saved us and made us whole. Can we receive the unlovely and have “graceful” lives? Acts 11:23 says the grace of God can be ________________. How could this be? What is there to see?
Find what is said about grace in the following passages?
1. John. 1:14
2. Acts 4:33
3. Romans 3:24
4. Romans 5:20
5. 2 Corinthians 8:9
6. 2 Corinthians 12:9
7. Ephesians 2:8,9
8. Colossians 4:6
9. Titus 2:11-13
10. Titus 3:7
11. James 4:6
Questions for Review and Discussion
1. If you were God, what would you do differently with respect to the salvation of humanity?
2. In your own words, summarize what grace has done for you.
3. In what ways can we do what God has asked us to do and live lives of grace in this world?
4. How would the “grace of God” truly make our lives different in this world?
Summary and Key Concepts
This has been a beginning study of the grace of God. Grace is contrary to the thinking of humans. If salvation were left to our genius, we would work out a system of works which would always be inadequate. This is because we would be unable to make any system satisfactory to God. We are utterly unholy in God’s sight.
God’s grace is demonstrated in His electing me, pursuing me, pardoning me, and saving me on a daily basis. Grace can only be experienced when I am helpless and entangled in the vice-like grip of sin’s power. Where sin abounds, however, grace does much more abound. I am today a joint-heir of all that the Father has because His grace has brought me to Himself and made me His child. This grace teaches me to deny self and with God’s (the Holy Spirit’s) help, live life that is characterized by grace.
Related Topics: Discipleship