Free Grace 20

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

Acts 16:25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.

As we behold the glory of God in His giving of free-grace to the jailer, we can note that nothing that the jailer did preceded the grace of God. It is surely obvious that God had set His heart on showing this jailer grace and that the whole event shines forth with that grace. The text tells us that Paul and Silas were thrown into jail after being beaten and were in stocks. But Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. Surely this was not lost on the jailer. The very men who were beaten and jailed were praising God. If the jailer was moved by these truths about God then this was simply the grace of God and no works by the jailer.

Why did an earthquake hit at the very moment it did? God had at least one man and his family that He was going to bring to Himself. The earthquake, then, should be seen as a means of grace to the man and we can see that God used that earthquake to strike fear of sudden doom in that man. The man deserved nothing but a hardened heart, but God awakened the man according to His good pleasure and surely that was grace to the jailer and then his family to come. We can behold with great admiration what God did to bring the jailer and his family to saving grace. He planned and then used the arrests of Paul and Silas to bring men who would proclaim the Gospel of grace to the jailer even while in their bonds. He planned and sent the earthquake that awakened the jailer and brought terror to his heart. He kept the prisoners from escaping. He used Paul to cry out with a loud voice for the jailer not to harm himself. But again, behold the grace of God shining through providence.

The jailer came trembling to his captives and asked them what he must do in order to be saved. He was told that he must believe in the Lord Jesus, both him and his household. What happened next? Was there an act of the free-will of the jailer? No, what we see is that Paul and Silas were enabled to preach the word of the Lord to the jailer and his whole household. God used the preached word and by His sovereign grace He saved the jailer and his whole household. What we see, then, and that quite clearly, was that God had orchestrated a series of events that brought the message of the Gospel to these people. There was nothing that they did that can be thought of as preceding the grace of God. No, what we see is the sovereign hand of God reaching out because of His great name and not because the jailer worked hard or was good enough in any way to have grace. What we see is the providence of God in using His servants, using nature, and then His sovereign hand over the very heart of the jailer. The grace of God preceded anything that the jailer did and as such nothing preceded the grace of God. Instead of admiring the wise decision of the jailer and his household, we should admire the grace of God, the wisdom of God, and the power of God in the events leading to the salvation of the jailer and his household. Behold the glory of grace. Behold the beauty of grace. Behold the absolute wonder of the sovereign God who moves mountains (earthquakes) to bring sinners to Himself. In that we also see that nothing can prevent grace either. Free-grace is glorious!

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