Purpose of Grace

God has elected people to be restored to His image and to endure to the end of time.

Purpose of Grace

Purpose of Grace

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; 1 Samuel 8:4-7,19-22; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Matthew 16:18-19; 21:28-45; 24:22,31; 25:34; Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44-48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; 10:27-29; 15:16; 17:6,12,17-18; Acts 20:32; Romans 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:10,19; Hebrews 11:39–12:2; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:2-5,13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:19; 3:2.

This video traces the idea of humans as co-rulers alongside God, who are commissioned to develop the world and its resources and take it into new horizons. How has this human vocation been compromised by our selfishness and evil, and how did Jesus open up a new way of being human through his life, death, and resurrection?

Image of God, The Bible Project

God’s grace is unmerited divine favor, a favor from which comes many gifts.

God’s grace flows out of his inter-Trinitarian, gift-giving life. Even in humanity’s fallen state, God freely grants to his creatures good things they do not deserve. The greatest of these goods is Jesus Christ.

The bold thread of grace in the Bible is a distinctive marker of Christianity, one that sets it apart from other religions. J. Gresham Machen noted, “The very center and core of the whole Bible is the doctrine of the grace of God.” The works of God in creation as well as his covenants, his promises, his word, and his work of redemption all spring from his grace. All we have is due to grace, but, as Michael Horton says, grace itself is “not a third thing or substance,” for “in grace, God gives nothing less than Himself.”

God’s grace toward mankind arises from the fullness of his being. He is gracious. When God appeared to Moses he declared his name, Yahweh, the I AM, as the sum of his eternal being. This nature includes his graciousness: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exod 34:6). J. I. Packer suggests that grace is simply God’s love demonstrated toward those who deserve the opposite. God’s grace is his gift-giving life, and the gift is himself.

The grace of Yahweh is not a reaction to our creaturely ways but the extension of God eternally giving himself as Father, Son, and Spirit. Jesus Christ brought to man the grace he was already as the eternal Son within the Trinity (“full of grace and truth,” John 1:14–18). Thus, in receiving “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” we participate in divine fullness of “the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Cor 13:13).

Theologians identify various kinds of grace—various purposes for which God exercises this divine attribute. Common grace, a category found most often in Reformed theology, is all the favor God shows to mankind that is less than salvation. Wesleyan-Arminian theology teaches a similar concept with its universal prevenient grace, a grace extended to all that enables them to make a free choice for or against God. Special grace, on the other hand, is saving grace, the Spirit’s work of applying Christ’s atonement to humans. Justifying grace and sanctifying grace are what some call “future grace.” Reformed theology states that saving grace is effectual and irresistible, because it is sovereignly ordered by God.

Protestants, Roman Catholics, Wesleyan-Arminians, the Free Grace, the Reformed, and the Orthodox all formulate their views on grace differently. The central issue separating them tends to do with when or how merit (good works) cooperates with divine favor. In most non-Christian religions, grace is absent; if not, grace is seen as God’s enablement, as divine help that allows man to achieve salvation. As the Book of Mormon famously says, contradicting by addition Paul’s wording in Ephesians, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).

Mark Olivero, “God’s Grace,” in Lexham Survey of Theology, ed. Mark Ward et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).

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