Friday, May 14, 2010
Steve Camp on Grace
THE GRACE OF GOD
Grace is a perfection of the Divine character which is exercised only toward the elect. Neither in the Old Testament nor in the New is the grace of God ever mentioned in connection with mankind generally, still less with the lower orders of His creatures. In this it is distinguished from mercy, for the mercy of God is "over all His works" (Psalm 145-9). Grace is the alone source from which flow the goodwill, love, and salvation of God unto His chosen people. This attribute of the Divine character was defined by Abraham Booth in his helpful book, The Reign of Grace thus, "It is the eternal and absolute free favor of God, manifested in the vouchsafement of spiritual and eternal blessings to the guilty and the unworthy."
There are three principal characteristics of Divine grace:
First, it is eternal. Grace was planned before it was exercised, purposed before it was imparted: "Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Timothy 1:9).
Second, it is free, for none did ever purchase it: "Being justified freely by His grace" (Romans 3:24).
Third, it is sovereign, because God exercises it toward and bestows it upon whom He pleases: "Even so might grace reign" (Romans 5:21). If grace "reigns" then is it on the throne, and the occupant of the throne is sovereign. Hence "the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16). Just because grace is unmerited favor, it must be exercised in a sovereign manner. Therefore does the Lord declare, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious" (Exodus 33:19). Were God to show grace to all of Adam's descendants, men would at once conclude that He was righteously compelled to take them to heaven as a meet compensation for allowing the human race to fall into sin. But the great God is under no obligation to any of His creatures, least of all to those who are rebels against Him.
What do you think?