Grace Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Grace in Scripture</span></strong></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Numbers 6:24-26</a>, Aaronic blessing</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 103</a>: the Lord forgives all our iniquity and heals all our diseases</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Jonah 4:2</a>, grace to all was the reason that Jonah fled to Tarshish</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 5:45</a>, our Father in heaven makes the sun rise on both evil and good, showing grace to all</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">John 1:14-16</a>, the Word became flesh</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">John 3:16</a>, God love the world so much that he gave Jesus so that all may have eternal life</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Romans 5:8</a>, God proved his love when Christ died for us, even though we remain sinners</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">2 Corinthians 12:9</a>, God&#39;s grace is suffience for us</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">2 Corinthians 13:13</a>, the grace of Jesus Christ greets us</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Ephesians 2:8-9</a>, we have been saved by grace through faith</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">2 Peter 3:9</a>, the Lord is patient with us</span></li></ul><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Grace</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">It&#39;s tough to speak of grace in contemporary North American culture. Preaching grace is uphill work in a culture that celebrates do-it-yourself independence, as Scott Hoezee writes in his fine book<em> The Riddle of Grace</em>. </span></span><span class="body-copy-sm">(Eerdmans, 1996)</span><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"> At the heart of the Christian concept of grace is sheer human dependence on God. Hoezee remarks that this is a difficult concept in a culture that stigmatizes dependency. Who wants to be drug dependent, co-dependent, welfare dependent? What nation would issue a Declaration of Dependence and hope to stir the blood of patriots?</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Acceptable to God</span></strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">So, in such aculture, it&#39;s hard to believe in God&#39;s grace. Hard actually to live by it. Cash and carry religion &mdash; religion all mixed up with money-making, power-brokering, and especially the achievement ethic &mdash; is a constant temptation for contemporary (and medieval) Christianity. Acceptability, or justification, becomes an achievement: if I just say these prayers, or let this communion wafer dissolve on my tongue, or eradicate one stubborn sin that clings like a vine, or if I can just grit my teeth and believe the Virgin Birth, if I can only think more positively, if I can only make myself think more of others and less of myself, why, then just maybe I can be acceptable to God.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Our Goodness Is Derivative</span></strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">To all religion featuring achieved acceptability, Luther and Calvin said a resounding No. We are not a Savior for the likes of us. We cannot get our dim lights trimmed and burning bright. None of our pathetic little house cleanings prepares us for the God who wants to take up residence in us. Our newness of life is by grace. It is our calling and our final unspeakable glory. All our goodness is derivative; all our splendor is reflected light; for the whole run of our life we are at every point dependent on the gracious energy, impetus, nudging, wooing, watering, cultivating, chasing, modeling of God.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Double Grace</span></strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">At 3.1.1 of his <em>Institutes of the Christian Religion</em>, John Calvin speaks famously of the &quot;double grace&quot; which is the proper object of human faith (itself a gift). Calvin identifies the double grace as newness of life and acceptance by God, or repentance and forgiveness of sins, or sanctification and justification. &quot;Christ was given to us by God&#39;s generosity to be grasped and possessed by us in faith. By partaking of him, we principally receive a DOUBLE GRACE: namely, that by being reconciled to God through Christ&#39;s blamelessness, we may have in heaven instead of a Judge a gracious Father and, secondly, that sanctified by Christ&#39;s Spirit we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life.&quot;</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">We want to be stroked. But God&#39;s grace comes to save. Grac<span class="body-copy">e powerfully redeems, and necessarily so, because sin is deeply dug in. Grace doesn&#39;t merely excuse or tolerate sin. Surely it doesn&#39;t just prettify or embellish it. Grace is not just a &quot;grace note.&quot; It is a power or the quality of a power that is aimed at wholesale remaking of people who are guilty, perverse, stubborn, and inert. Grace works on people who are lousy patients &mdash; people who resist and resent any graceful great physician. Grace is tough love that remakes people sometimes in spite of themselves. Grace has the power, C. S. Lewis testifies, to drag people kicking and screaming into the kingdom of God. Grace is for wretches who really aren&#39;t up for being saved. And it is still grace, still graceful, when its muscles are flexed and it is rubbing our fur the wrong way. We want to be stroked</span>. But God&#39;s grace comes to save.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="heading-sm"><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Special Grace and Common Grace</span></strong></span></span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="heading-sm"><span class="body-copy">It is usual in some Christian contexts to distinguish the special grace that redeems from the common grace that supports but does not redeem. Matthew 5:45, above, is a common grace text.</span></span></span></span></p>