The Glory of God 42

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

While Paul spoke to a people who believed in an unknown God, it appears that there are many in our day who have an unknown Gospel. The Gospel has nothing to do with what man can help God do or what man can contribute to his own salvation, but it is all about the glory of grace and the full sufficiency of God. The attributes of God are not an exercise in academic knowledge, but instead the attributes of God comprise the most practical and vitally important field of study for all people. The Gospel is not stuck in a corner somewhere apart from the attributes of God, but instead the Gospel flows from and is inextricably linked to them. The self-sufficiency of God, while it can be distinguished and studied in one sense apart from the Gospel, cannot be studied very far apart from the Gospel and the Gospel is not set out very thoroughly apart from teaching it in connection with the sufficiency of God. We must always remember that the attributes of God shine out in everything to do with God, so the very heart of the Gospel of God will always be the attributes of God.

Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

We can see vital aspects of the Gospel in the passage above, but we can also see that the passage is full of the character and attributes of God. What is sufficient to raise dead sinners to life? Can a dead sinner contribute or add anything to the character and actions of God? Is God alone sufficient to raise sinners from the dead or does something else have to happen and or be added? The text does not allow for any action to be added to the actions of God. He is rich in mercy because of His great love, so we have no need (or ability) to try and make ourselves worth of mercy and love. Who is it that actually makes sinners alive in Christ? It is God who takes dead sinners and makes them alive with Christ, but not only that, He seats them with Christ in the heavenly places. Why does He do that? So that He will manifest and show the surpassing riches of His grace. If sinners could add anything to their own resurrection from the spiritually dead, it would detract from the riches of His grace. In fact, it would make grace no longer to be grace. The grace of God and the power of God are sufficient for the whole salvation of sinners. There is nothing they can possibly contribute to or add to regarding the Gospel.

The grace of God is sufficient to save sinners quite apart from anything they can add to His work. The text (Ephesians 2:4-10 above) tells us that it is by grace that you have been saved. This is the same thing as saying that it is by the self-sufficiency of God that sinners are saved. Verse 8 follows or is given as a reason to explain how it is that God has saved sinners by raising them from the spiritually dead in order to show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward them for all eternity. Yes, grace comes to sinners through faith, but the verse goes on to say that even that faith is the gift of God. Works also have no place in this because there is no room for boasting either. The Gospel is all about the grace of God which is to say that the Gospel relies on the self-sufficiency of God. The sinner has no room for boasting because there is nothing that the sinner has to do with his salvation. Not only is faith a gift, but God prepares works for saved sinners to do. All comes from the self-sufficiency of God and nothing from the sufficiency of man, so clearly the Gospel is all of grace and all boasting is to be about God.

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