(Article for publication week of 6-8-2011 AD)
“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
God’s grace is indeed an amazing thing. That God would be gracious to any sinner is truly amazing. No wonder John Newton wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”, relating his own experience of grace in accord with the scriptures.
Grace means “God’s unmerited favour to the undeserving.” This is the idea expressed here in our text in Romans 3:24. God justifies His elect without any regard to anything He has seen, or foreseen in them. If a sinner had some claim on salvation, then it would cease to be grace.
First of all, let us notice that God’s grace is completely sovereign. In Exodus 33:19 we read, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.” God is not obligated to extend His unmerited favour to anyone. He will not bring Himself into your debt. We read in Romans 11:35, “who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?” This is indeed a most humbling truth that God does not owe us anything and if we are saved it is all owing to God’s free and unmerited favour. Thus those who preach the true gospel often say “sovereign grace.”
Secondly, let us note well that God’s grace is all in Christ Jesus. In II Timothy 1:9 we read, “[God] hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His Own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Thus we see that God decreed from all eternity to whom He would be gracious. God, in His sovereign grace, chose a definite number in Christ to be saved. Not all men are recipients of God’s grace, only those who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. God gave them to His Son to save, and He came into the world to save them, and He did what he came to do.
Next, let us note that the grace of God brings salvation. In Titus 2:11-12 we read, “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and wordly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” My dear reader have you been taught thusly by free and sovereign grace. Do not imagine that you are saved by grace unless you are living soberly, righteously and godly. God’s grace not only justifies, but it sanctifies. God’s grace gives the elect sinner a righteous record with God, and gives him a new nature that hates sin and loves holiness. This is where multitudes make shipwreck of their souls. They have been told something about God’s grace, and they wrongly presume that God will be gracious to them though they live scandalous lives. Mark it down, the Bible says that if you are saved by grace you will live graciously, as seen in Titus 2:11-12 and indeed all through the Bible.
And one final word to you works mongers. Do not suppose that I am even insinuating that you can earn salvation by living soberly, righteously and godly. That is opposed to everything we have seen about grace being unmerited favour. As it says in Romans 11:6,”and if by grace, then it is no more of works.” What I am saying is that when God has graciously saved a sinner, that sinner will repent of His sins, believe in Christ, and follow Christ.
Have you been saved by sovereign grace?