Free Grace 12

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648} Obtained from Supralapsarian.com

Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ– this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

In looking at Acts 2 we see that about three thousand souls were converted in one day. What was it that moved God to save them? Those who were converted were the Jews who had called for Jesus to be crucified. Peter spoke to them quite specifically and told them that they had crucified Jesus. In hearing this, they were pierced to the heart as only the Spirit can pierce in His work of conviction. This is quite an amazing text in that we can see what preceded saving grace (in one sense) in the conversion of these people.

We have to go back to the Gospels and see what these people did. When Pilate offered to turn Jesus loose, the people wanted Barabbas, who was a notorious criminal, turned loose instead of Jesus. It is true that they were “inspired” to this horrible crime by the religious leaders, but still they wanted a true criminal turned loose and Jesus (who had never sinned) put on the cross and suffer until He died. These were the hearts of the men and women that Christ saved.

While we are looking (in one sense) at what preceded grace in the context of men, in this context we can look at this in a different light as well. As the men and women were yelling to crucify Christ, some of them were on the heart of Christ and He died for them. Some that mocked Him while on the cross were saved by His work on that same cross. Some who laughed at Him and wished Him ill on that cross were pitied by Him as He wished the best for their soul and then accomplished what was best for their soul. It was grace that preceded grace rather than something good that could be found in men. We can find no good reason for God to show men grace as found in themselves, but we can find a very good reason that some men find grace. It is because that grace was purchased for them by Christ when they were clearly and obviously His enemies and they hated Him thoroughly.

It was grace that sought men out and it was grace that convicted them and gave them ears to hear. There was nothing in man that would move him to seek grace, but instead only grace can precede grace or the Gospel is not of grace alone. The promise of the Gospel is for helpless sinners who can do nothing to help themselves, while so many teach that the Gospel is for those who will help themselves by some act or actions. Oh no, the Gospel of grace alone knows of nothing that can precede saving grace but grace. If Christ did not purchase grace for sinners who were totally and completely unworthy of it and could do absolutely nothing to obtain it, then the cross of Christ is not all that saves sinners.

As we look at those who were saved on the Day of Pentecost, it should remind us of the Gospel of grace alone. There were people there who crucified Christ and surely nothing preceded grace in their case, but of course we must remember that if anyone else could be saved Christ had to die for them and so they put Christ on the cross as well. We must also remember that before we were converted there was nothing in our hearts but enmity toward the true God. Grace preceded grace and nothing in us preceded grace nor could it possibly precede grace or grace would no longer be grace. Behold the glory of the grace of God in its freeness to helpless sinners.

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