Grace—a much misunderstood feature of God's ways with lost men—is itself a revelation and all human hearts not having this truth of Scripture revealed will be unable to comprehend it or to adjust themselves to its provisions.
Grace is not mercy or love. In Ephesians 2:4-5 these three doctrinal words appear severally and in their individual, specific manner: "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)." Speaking first of mercy, it is defined as that compassion in God which moved Him to provide a Savior for the lost. If He had been able to save even one soul on the basis of His sovereign mercy alone, He could have saved every person on that basis and the death of Christ would have been rendered unnecessary. As for divine love, it is an emotion of infinite character, the motivating purpose back of all that God does in saving a soul. But since God is holy and righteous too and the sinner's sins are an offense to Him, He might perfectly desire to save a soul and still be utterly helpless to do so in the light of the claims which divine righteousness make against the sinner. Not until those claims are met can God's infinite love realize its desire. Therefore, to come now to the third definition, grace is what God may be free to do and indeed what He does accordingly for the lost after Christ has died on behalf of them. "By grace are ye saved" (Eph. 2:8). When thus released from His holy demands against the sinner by the sacrificial death of Christ, and that sacrifice is accepted intelligently, the love of God will never be satisfied until He has done all He can do for such a one. The greatest thing God can do, reverently speaking, is to make someone like His Son. Such, then, will be the destiny of everyone who believes (Rom. 8:29; 1 John 3:2). Since grace only represents what God can and will do for those who trust the Savior, it must needs function apart from all human works or cooperation. It calls for no more than confidence in the only One who can save.
The Scriptures assign to the operating of grace the only salvation now offered to sinful men. God's grace also provides security for the saved one. This is done by continuing the grace work of God with the individual in spite of his imperfections. Grace also undertakes to direct the saved one in the new manner of his daily life after he has been saved. A new motive for this is set up by the fact that the one saved was perfected forever in the sight of God as being in Christ, therefore partaking of His merit and standing forever. Nothing of merit need be added to that which is perfected forever (cf. John 1:16; Rom. 5:1; 8:1; Heb. 10:14). Hence the obligation to gain merit is removed completely, and the whole law system with its merit ceases to be applicable to the saved one under grace. He is no longer under law, but under grace (Rom. 6:14). The new problem becomes that of how a perfected person should walk in this world. Grace teaches the saved one concerning his holy walk in daily life. The standard is as high as heaven itself. God requires, and with reason, that the saved one, by reason of being a citizen of heaven, should live according to the standards of heaven (cf. John 13:34; Eph. 4:1, 30; 1 Thess. 5:19).
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