[Papercut Press] 2001-10-22 - God's Grace

Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.

We will take a different approach today. I came upon a Charles Haddon Spurgeon quote a few days ago and it has stimulated a little thought. He said regarding theological views, "We never know what we shall hear next, and perhaps it is a mercy that these absurdities are revealed one at a time, in order that we way be able to endure their stupidity without dying of amazement." A pithy statement, at least. Well, it has made me think some about how varied different theological traditions are in our nation and to prove that point I thought I would share with you the standard interpretations on God's grace from several different views. It is an interesting comparison.

My suggestion, if you have the time, is that you take each view and try to defend it from the Bible. I have no intention of telling you what view I lean towards or believe. Rather, we all ought to be like the Berean Christians in the above quoted verse. We ought to examine the Scriptures and see if these things are so. It is a habit that is learned. But I am not done with only a first suggestion. Besides trying to defend each view as suggested above, I would suggest you try to refute each view from Scripture. That exercise might be very insightful for all of us.

  1. The Roman Catholic traditional view: God's grace is found in the seven sacraments within the confines of the Roman Catholic Church. Each of us can resist God's grace by refusing to practice the seven sacraments.
  2. The Dallas, Amyraldian or Dispensationalist view: Grace is conditional for all mankind but special grace is unconditional for the elect. Special grace cannot be resisted by the elect. God gives faith to the elect.
  3. The Westminster, Reformed or Calvinistic view: The elect cannot resist God's saving grace because God re-creates their will to receive Christ as their Savior. The elect and only the elect will embrace Christ because God changes their will and gives them saving faith.
  4. The Concordia or Lutheran view: Unbelievers can resist God's saving grace. Believers cannot resist God's saving faith.
  5. The Wesleyan, Arminian, or Pentecostal view: Grace is conditional for all mankind. God can only go so far and then man must do the rest. Grace will not erase or change the human will.

All the five above have flaws. It isn't quite that simple with any of them. However, it seems that these are the basics of each view. Now there is a great variety here and the real question is, "What does the Bible teach about God's grace?" Good men and women in each tradition have interpreted the Bible differently here. Our task is to search the Scriptures and seek to defend and refute each view. It is an old rhetorical trick to do this, but it works. If you can't defend it from the Bible, it isn't true. If you can't refute from the Bible, it must be true.

As I started above, this is an unusual approach to a devotional. However, it is also a reminder and an attempt at a call that we must be studying our Bibles. We must be students of God's Word. We must be meditating on It. There are a lot of teachers out there and there are several different views regarding how to interpret Scripture. We must not allow ourselves to be led astray from God's Word. We must study, pray, and rely upon the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us.

Soli Deo Gloria,

[email tim] godrulestb@aol.com