2007-08-23 - Summer Questions
2007 #9: Grace
Psalm 115:3, "But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases."
Today's Question: Shalom! I would appreciate your thoughts on the following:
1. How does grace operate?
Thank you and God bless!
I do want to thank you for your question. It is the last question for this Summer (unless more come in), and I believe we have covered all those that were sent. What a blessing to end the Summer looking into the matchless grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. It should be a common practice for us to meditate often on the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and sustaining endurance (perseverance) that the Lord lovingly gives us as His children. We looked at perseverance in question #8, and today we will look at grace. May the Lord use this short excursion to deepen our conviction of His truth, and widen our understanding of the manifold blessing given to us in His mercy. May He lead us to take what we know and believe into our practice, and use it to help shape our conduct to His glory.
I want to take your second question first: "Do believers receive more grace than unbelievers?" The straight-up answer is: "Yes." Believers receive forgiveness for their sins through the passive obedience of Christ, in His atonement for sin on the cross, and His perfect righteousness imputed to them through His active obedience in His life - where He fulfilled the whole law of God. Unbelievers do not receive these in any measure or degree. They will, at The Great Day, receive His eternal wrath in Hell.
However, unbelievers do receive some measure of grace in this life. Both believers and unbelievers receive the blessings of the common grace of the God. He makes the sun to shine, and the rain to fall on both the righteous (believers) and the unrighteous (unbelievers). His providential mercies; while we drive our cars, sending us the seasons, maintaining our health, or any number of matters we might mention, can all be attributed to His loving care that He gives generally to all. If it were not for this common grace, everything we know, and everything we are, would fall to pieces. His common grace sustains us all.
I have reproduced your question just as it came in, and I would like to take a quick aside here, that your question does not deal with, but I think could lie hidden beneath your question. If it is not in mind for you, it may be for others. I have in mind the idea that grace given by God can be defined by possessions, or blessings of a worldly nature. The nature of the grace given by the Lord to His children in Scripture is not tied to such things. Those things, when we have them, are blessings from God, but the Biblical concept of grace concerns spiritual matters and not money in the bank, or worldly matters. Scripture has much to tell us about contentment, and being thankful for the things that we have been given. It does not promise rose gardens to those who follow Jesus in this life. It is a common false teaching today in the churches. But if we sat down with our Bibles, and looked into God's Holy Word, we would find that the verses that talk about the believers' afflictions, endurance, perseverance in times of trial, patiently waiting upon the Lord, and looking toward a future Heavenly hope, far outweigh any passages that can be interpreted as promising material blessings here in this fallen, sinful world.
Having looked into the second question, the first is answered easier. I first refer you to the verse we started with, "He (God) does whatever He pleases." We could cite many verses from all over Scripture that speak of the Sovereignty of God and clearly tell us that all things work according to His plan and His glory. Psalm 135:6 says, "Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in Heaven and in the Earth, in the seas and in all deeps." So we can say in answer to the question how grace operates, that in the experience of both the believer and unbeliever in common grace, and in the experience of the Christian in special saving grace, all is done according to the will, plan, purpose, and glory of God.
Scripture gives us many windows into how this works itself out in our experience, and this is why we study the Bible. It is there that we see the operations of God's grace in time and eternity. The Bible is a book that is all about grace. From the fall of man into sin (Genesis 3:15), when God did not simply wipe out His rebellious creation from His presence, we see in Scripture God's grace in operation. But even before our fall into sin, God's grace is seen in His desire to even create. Besides Scripture, we also see God's grace functioning in our lives and in the lives of those we know. He is kind and loving. He has preserved us from a multitude of things that could easily have been our undoing. He has filled our bellies and given us shelter. The Lord's grace is seen in operation both in our lives and in His Holy Word. It should move us to thanksgiving and praise. The wonder of God's grace in all its operations should lead us to give all glory to Him alone.
Soli Deo Gloria,