Free Grace 29

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}

So that mercy is love to those who are miserable. Grace is love in him that is unobliged. Unobliged, I say, either by necessity, merit, or motive. Grace then, in God, is nothing but free love. 1. Free in respect of constraint; when there is no necessity he should fix his love upon this object at all, or upon this rather than another, this is spontaneum. 2. Free in respect of merit; when there is nothing in the object that deserves love, either absolutely or comparatively, this is gratuitum. 3. Free in respect of motive; when there is nothing in the object to move this affection to pitch upon it at all, or upon it rather than another, this is liberum, though it expresses it not fully. [David Clarkson, A Discourse of Free Grace]

The thought of free-grace should never be far from the lover of God. After all, the fact that we truly love the true God is a sign of the work of free-grace in the soul. One can talk about the Greatest Commandments, but there is no keeping them apart from the grace of God working those things in the soul by free-grace. One can talk about the Ten Commandments, but again one cannot keep those in truth and love apart from the grace of God in the soul. The Israelites had the law written on stone and as a nation they were bound to keep the externals of the law, but in the New Covenant God writes the law on the hearts of His people. This is an expression, as far as I can see, of His being in the hearts of His people by the life of Christ and the Spirit of Christ. Keeping the commands of God from the heart is really the grace of God in the soul sharing His life with His people.

Preachers can pound on duty as much as they please, but until they are showing people their inability to keep any command of God and the utter and absolute necessity of grace in the soul to keep those commandments; they have not even started to truly preach Christ and Him crucified. The law was a tutor to lead people to Christ, but let us always know that Christ is the life of His people and not just One who satisfied the demands of the law. This is not a post on the law, but is an effort to set out free-grace in all things. The only holiness that a person has is by free-grace and not the keeping of duties. We are not blessed because we kept the law, but we keep the law from the heart of love because we are blessed with free-grace. Holiness does not come because we strive hard and keep the external laws, but it comes because God shares His holiness with us in Christ by free-grace.

The statements above should show us the true nature (at least some of it) of free-grace. There is utterly and absolutely nothing in man that can possibly precede or prevent the grace of God. The true and living God will show mercy to whom He will show mercy and He will be gracious to whom He will be gracious. Grace is not grace unless it is free of causation and is sovereign, which is to say that God will show grace as He is pleased to show grace. It may be the case that it is impossible to stress this point to people who need to hear it over and over. Our fallen minds and hearts keep leaning to legalism to some degree and we are always thinking we can please God in some way by something we do. It is only Christ who pleases God and we only have Christ and share in the life of Christ by free-grace. If we ever think that we can do one thing that pleases God in our own strength, we are operating contrary to the Gospel of free-grace and the Christ of free-grace who is the life of His people.

In our day it seems that preachers (Reformed in name or not) are heaping duties on sinners as if they had the strength to do them. Christ must be preached and His free-grace must be preached in the midst of all other instructions, commands, duties or any other word that people use. Yes, souls must be humbled and broken, but it is grace that does the work of humbling. If a man can work humility in his own strength, then the humility he has worked up is the strength of his flesh. If a man can work humility as he pleases, then we can know that grace is by works since God gives grace to the humble. It is not just any humility that will please God, but it is only the humility of Christ that pleases God and it is His humility that He works in and shares with His people. People should seek the Lord and pray for Him to break their hearts and grant them humility, but they do not deserve humility and it will only come at His sovereign pleasure. There is nothing in man that could possibly move God to show us His love, but it comes to us by free-grace and free-grace alone. We seek these things for His name’s sake or we are not seeking it in truth at all.

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