Free Grace 33

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]

Ephesians 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us.

In the two statements above and the Ephesians passage we have the very heart of the Gospel. This is not to say that the heart of the cross and the imputed righteousness of Christ are set out as such, but the motives of those things and why God did those things are set out. The heart of God is set forth in these things and we can see His glory in them. There is an old hymn where the writer wonders how it could be that God would save him or her. It is true that if God saved us on account of ourselves we would wonder that, but God saves sinners on account of His name and to the praise of the glory of His grace.

All the constraint of God is found within Himself as triune. All the merit that God beholds is found in Christ and only in Christ. All the motives that moved God are found in God Himself and nothing outside of Him. Yes, this may be redundant in some ways but our hearts are so deceived by so many things that they will not receive the nature of free-grace apart from repetition. The glory of free-grace is that it is the whole character of God displayed in the salvation of sinners, but not just that the whole of His attributes and His desire to glorify His own name and do all out of love for Himself and His glory and in full display in Christ and free-grace. Jesus Christ came to save sinners and not because they were worth it in any way, but because the glory of God was and is worth it.

If we could at any moment understand fully that the glory of free-grace is that it is up to God to show it or not, we would bow in utter wonder. There is nothing about the cross and the work of Christ that would pump up our self-esteem, but instead all those things should humble us in the dust and to behold the glory of free-grace as fully and wonderfully free. God covers our sins by the blood of Christ for His name’s sake and nothing else. The love of God is freely given in Christ and in no other place. The love of God is given apart from anything and as such it is free-grace to those who receive it.

The soul of man cannot truly conceive of free-grace as long as it is unregenerate. It is the Lord alone who can teach this truth to the soul, though man strives with men to get them to understand it in the mind. The Lord will not just give any unbroken heart Himself in His free-love and free-grace, but His love and grace are such that He breaks the hearts of people and humbles them into the dust that they may behold such a wonderful attribute in Him as self-sufficient grace. Man must be turned from His pride and self by the grace of God in order to behold and rest in free-grace alone. The heart of man is at enmity with God and as such is opposed to free-grace, so the heart of man must be broken, humbled, and assuredly regenerated. Men argue when this humbling takes place, as to whether before or after regeneration, but I would argue that it happens on both sides of regeneration. God humbles man by the Law before regeneration and then by the glory of His grace after regeneration. Indeed men are made willing in the day of His power, but part of that is His sovereign work of humbling souls. After all, only the humble receive grace and yet it is His great mercy that He humbles the soul that it may receive grace.

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