For by grace are ye saved through 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. Ephesians 2:8-10 (AV)
In this post we are going to briefly explore the excellency of divine grace in terms of its absolute necessity to salvation and biblical immutability. Through the perfect and finished work of Jesus Christ we have access to special divine grace, which not only saves, but preserves the Christian throughout life and death to glorification.
The Invincibility of Divine Grace
In this day and age of smorgasbord theology, we do well to acknowledge that the inspired and infallible Word of God is crystal clear about the absolute supremacy of divine grace in all things. The Hebrew word for grace is חֵן (hen), meaning favour, direct favour, mercy, acceptance or to be well favoured. And the Koine Greek word for grace is χάρις (charis), meaning favour, benefit, gift or good will. This all tells us God’s grace is something issued entirely from His own good will dependent on nothing but that sheer good will. We can now see quickly, just how important and crucial the grace of God is to us.
Without the truth and foundation of divine grace, revealed most thoroughly and powerfully in the perfect finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, all theological systems are exposed as tenuous lacking any serious substance (not to mention saving power). The invincibility of the grace of God is seen all throughout both the Old and New Testaments revealed through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Let us take a look at some of the major biblical examples.
Divine Grace in Creation & the Fall
We firstly see in the book of Genesis chapters 1 through 3, God’s sheer grace and mercy in the purpose and act of creation and also in His redemptive plan and action following the fall of man. God not only created all things by His pure creative grace and goodness, but the Word of God says exactly seven times following each day of creation, that God looked over each of His creative acts concluding, “it was good.” In other words, everything God has made is good and that goodness flows from His pure grace.
In Genesis chapter 3 following the disobedience of Eve and Adam through the temptation of the devil, God prophetically establishes by His grace, the entire redemptive plan and history of man through the coming Messiah – the Lord Jesus Christ. We read of this redemptive plan in Genesis 3:14-15:
And אֱלֹהִים יְהוָֹה said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:14-15 (AV)
God placed a divine curse upon the serpent and promised his demise through the coming “seed” who would bruise his head. This divine curse condemned the serpent to beastly humiliation as the lowest of all created creatures and also foretold of his ultimate condemnation through the rise of the Messiah, Who would bruise (in Hebrew שׁוּף [sup] meaning to crush or overwhelm) his head. This redemptive promise has been fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who was slain but rose again destroying all the power of the enemy, instituting the Church and providing the way of salvation.
In contrast, God having cursed the serpent then applied more grace to Adam and Eve by providing them with clothing of animal skins to cover their newly discovered naked bodies (Genesis 3:21). This is a symbol of the imputed righteousness of Christ gifted by grace to God’s elect through faith, being the sole substance of their salvation–something we will treat further in detail later in this post.
As we see in these crucial examples, the grace of God is the driving factor of all things good and redemptive, which flows from His pure goodness and mercy–or graciousness.
The Grace of God to Noah
We see the first ever use of the word grace in scripture in the calling of Noah during the pre-flood times:
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the יְהוָֹה. Genesis 6:8 (AV)
The Bible tells us at the time of Noah’s generation the world had become excessively corrupt, so much so that God had become regretful about creating man and had judged that it was time to wipe them from the face of the earth in a wholesale act of divine judgment for sin, sending a devastating flood designed to cleanse the excessive wickedness from the ancient world. In this time of gross wickedness, God chose to place His divine favour upon one man and his family as an act of grace for the purposes of re-population of the earth.
In this wonderful example of God’s grace we see Him expressly choose a certain man, apart from any attributes of His own, out from among all people, to complete the task of building an ark to save himself, his family and two of every kind of animal, insect and reptile etc. Not only did Noah complete this task he also as a preacher of righteousness warned the people of his day about the judgment of God that was pending only to be ignored and scoffed at (2 Peter 2:5).
The symbolism of this account is tremendous, but just briefly summarised, this today is a type of the Christian saved by sheer divine grace, chosen by God apart from any attributes of their own, to prepare for the coming judgment calling all people small and great to repentance through Jesus Christ (the ark) to escape the now pending judgment of fire reserved for ungodly and unrepentant sinners.
Divine Grace & Abraham
Another significant example of the grace of God (if not the most significant aside from Christ) is that of God’s special and covenantal grace toward the patriarch Abraham.
Spiritually speaking, Abraham is the father of the Christian faith as it was through him that God promised firstly, that a seed would be born and secondly, through that seed he would become the father of many nations that would be particularly blessed by God.
And, behold, the word of יְהוָֹה came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in יְהוָֹה; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Genesis 15:4-6 (AV)
That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. Genesis 22:17-18 (AV)
These above verses give us understanding concerning the faith of Abraham as preempted by the grace of God. Abraham was promised by God that he and Sarah his wife would conceive a son in their old age, well past the time of fertility. This was an impossible promise that was reiterated by God several times and was brought to pass entirely by the miraculous grace of God.
Abraham’s son Isaac was born who would be the father of Jacob who was later renamed Israel, who was the father of twelve sons from which the twelve tribes of Israel were descended and the nation of Israel was born. And in terms of lineage, through the tribe of Judah, the Messiah Jesus Christ was born who, as it is later revealed in the New Testament, was the “seed” promised to Abraham through whom all nations would be be blessed.
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. Galatians 3:16 (AV)
Therefore, we understand that through the grace of God Abraham was promised a son through whom the “seed” Jesus Christ would be descended and through whom all nations would be blessed receiving the free gift of salvation by grace through faith. This is the Abrahamic covenant by the grace of God finding its fulfillment in Jesus Christ the Messiah.
Divine Grace Furthermore: Moses
The major examples of divine grace continue throughout the Old Testament seen in the persons of Moses and David and in the promises contained within the records of the Prophets of Israel. The grace of God saved Moses from certain death as an infant and even preserved him by the hand of his enemies which he would later defy and overthrow through the power of God in liberating the oppressed people of Israel from bondage in Egypt.
And the יְהוָֹה said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. Exodus 33:17 (AV)
This Moses led the children of Israel out from under the bondage of Pharaoh and Egypt through the wilderness and to the foot of the promised land; this Moses on the top of Mount Sinai received the tablets with the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God having fasted forty days and forty nights; this Moses is a type of the Jesus Christ as Prophet and Lawgiver Who is tasked with leading the people of God out from the bondage of the world, the devil and the wilderness of life into the promised land of heavenly rest–all by the grace of God.
Divine Grace Furthermore: David
King David himself having been raised up and empowered by the grace of God to become the King of Israel is a most excellent example of divine grace. This shepherd boy was raised up from tending flocks to becoming a conquering king. He was empowered by the grace of God to slay the giant Goliath against impossible odds and then exalted to rule over the kingdom of Israel. This was all done through no merits or attributes of David himself, but by the special grace and anointing of God.
Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of צָבָא יְהוָֹה the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will יְהוָֹה deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 1 Samuel 17:45-46 (AV)
This David is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ Who was to be raised up through the line of David, even referred to as the Son of David, Who would defeat the devil (slay the giant) through His victorious sacrifice upon the cross and resurrection from the dead–destroying the power and person of the devil as prophesied. This Jesus Christ is now the King of Israel, King of the Jews, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Who will return to rule over the whole earth 1000 years as the King of Jerusalem, and institute the new heavens and new earth after the final demise and eternal death of the devil.
The undeniable connection between the grace of God and these numerous examples and even more is abundantly clear. We do not have space to treat each and every example here, but by what is seen here and what could be further elaborated on we find overly compelling evidences beyond the shadow of a doubt that the grace of God permeates the scriptures like no other truth of the Word of God aside from the revelation of Jesus Christ, Who Himself is divine grace personified.
Divine Grace & Salvation
The New Testament is absolute in its declaration of divine grace being the unilateral source of salvation. God has by His determinate counsel in Christ provided the source and sustaining means of salvation and promised to perform the entire operation, beginning to end, by His own hand. In other words, God has determined to save those whom are to be saved wholly by His grace in and of Himself apart from any action or effort undertaken by the named appointees. This must be so once the true nature of man is revealed in its devastating corruption and utter inability to save himself or perform true righteousness as revealed by the law of God:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3:10-18 (AV)
Man in his corrupted and futile condition is in need of an absolute source of salvation, one that is secured by an invincible and immutable power–Divine Grace.
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Romans 4:16-17 (AV)
The grace of God has provided the perfect and spotless righteousness of Jesus Christ, the holy and sinless Son of God who died upon the cross and rose again that we might be saved. This is the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ obtained by divinely gifted faith. Imputed righteousness flowing from divine grace and faith in Jesus Christ is the sole source and grounds of our salvation–without which it is impossible to be saved.
He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Romans 4:20-25 (AV)
Jesus Christ died and rose again to actualise the immutable means of salvation. He was given as a perfect sacrifice by the grace of God; therefore, it is impossible wholly or in part, for of salvation to be attributed to the action or efforts of man. God has promised to save to the uttermost and to perform the entire act of salvation entirely by His most invincible grace.
It is a faulty and blasphemous theology that attributes salvation wholly or in part to man or any action of man. Such concoctions of philosophy are utterly vain and violate to the core the entirety of the scripture, robbing the Almighty God of His glory. Holy Scripture declares without any doubt that salvation in whole and in all of its components is attributed to the divine grace of the Lord God Almighty:
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Romans 9:16-18 (AV)
Divine grace is the be all and end all of salvation and holds biblical supremacy against all other salvific theological systems; seen most thoroughly in the special examples detailed above and in numerous more riddled all throughout the Scripture of Truth. When examined in detail, all alternative schools of thought are brought to their knees and made to acknowledge the invincible grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ. Let God be glorified.
To the praise of the glory of his grace… Ephesians 1:6 (AV)
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