Free Grace 1

The biblical concept of grace is not found with study alone. As with most doctrines, one has to experience life in the light of doctrine and God has to teach it to the person in the depths of his or her soul. God is the true Teacher in all things and as one must come to Christ burdened with sin in order to learn humility (Matthew 11:25ff), so in order to understand the biblical teaching of grace God must teach the soul various things about Himself and then about the soul for the teaching of grace to take root in the inward man. The teaching of grace, though indeed grace is an attribute of God, is not learned by the communication of information alone. Indeed there is much that can be learned by communicating information about it, but until the soul has been taught grace in the depths of it the soul will not understand the true nature of grace.

While Roman Catholicism and Arminianism (not to mention Pelagianism) use the word “grace” and have concept of grace, they do not use the word in its full biblical meaning. Just because a person calls himself and thinks himself to be Reformed or a Calvinist or whatever is also no guarantee that the person truly understands grace. One can repeat catechisms and creeds which teach true information about grace and yet not be taught of God in the inner man.

John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

The text above is quite clear as to the absolute and utter need of God to teach men in the inner man. We speak of efficacious grace as that which draws man to God, yet we also must understand that efficacious grace is not some power apart from the Father who draws men to Christ by His teaching. The people of God are said to be willing in the day of His power, which can also be understood as another instance of God working in and drawing His people. God does not draw people to Christ in any other way than by grace. God does not teach people for any reason that is not in accordance with grace and grace alone.

This is a point about true grace that must be pointed out. The very nature of grace demands that it always be grace alone. If anything is by grace, it will always be by grace alone. Grace will not have any rivals since God will not have any rivals in what He does. Grace will not have any help from man since by definition grace cannot have help in what it does. Grace works alone and will only work alone in terms of motivation and power. When grace works in man and man then works, it is not that man enables grace or assists grace in any way, but it is grace working in man moved by God’s self-motivation and self-sufficiency to enable man to work. In this way it is truly grace but it is then enabling grace. It is not man assisting or helping grace, but it is grace working in and through man.

The Reformation was a battle over many things, but some think of it as primarily being a battle over free-grace or sovereign grace. That same battle continues today, but the battle is not always fought over the same terms and it is not fought among the same people. During the time of the Reformation the real issue was over God’s sovereignty and grace. Shortly after, there was a counter-Reformation among Roman Catholics. The counter-Reformation, however, was not as intensely theological as the Protestant Reformation as the counter-Reformation was more or less morally focused.

In our own day Protestantism has great need of a doctrinal and a moral Reformation. It seems as if the driving issue and utter necessity of grace alone and the only type of real grace as sovereign grace has been lost. We treat grace as if it is a handmaiden to our own wills, works, and choices. We are ashamed to speak of the only type of grace as sovereign grace. We are afraid to step out of the shadows of Arminianism and Roman Catholicism and speak with clarity and power in asserting that there is no ability in man to obtain or assist grace at all. God is free and God is sovereign in giving grace or it is no longer grace. We have men who seem to be more afraid of being called hyper-Calvinists than they are of being at odds with Arminian teaching. But it must be understood that grace is always bound to God and His will and it is never bound to the choices of man and his will. Grace must always be free of causation in its relation to man and always bound in its relation to God and His glory. Men can speak much of the word “grace” and how it is for man, but until they show how God freely (without causation coming from man) shows grace apart from the worth, works, and merit of man they are not preaching biblical grace.

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