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“The Grace of God”
Most people imagine that grace is a passion, or desire in the heart of God to save sinners, or that grace is something God offers to men, or that grace is God giving sinners a chance to be saved, or that grace is something God gives men to use to work out their own salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth. All such doctrine is what God the Holy Spirit calls “frustrating, neutralizing, or setting aside the grace of God” (Galatians 2:21). The Bible never talks about grace like that.
Grace is both an attribute of God and the work and operation of God by which he saves sinners. Whenever you think about grace, or talk about it, always remember that as it is described in the Bible, grace has four distinct characteristics. Any definition of grace that violates any of these four characteristics is in direct opposition to the Word of God.
1. The grace of God is eternal grace (2 Timothy 1:9-10). It has neither beginning nor end. All that God does for any sinner in time he did for that sinner as one of his elect in Christ before the world began (Ephesians 1:3-6).
2. The grace of God is immutable grace (Malachi 3:6; Romans 11:29). It does not change and cannot be changed. Once bestowed, it can never be taken away. And it was bestowed upon us in Christ from everlasting!
3. The grace of God is sovereign grace (Romans 9:11-24). That simply means that God has mercy on whom he will have mercy, he is compassionate toward those to whom he will be compassionate, he saves whom he will save, and whom he will he hardens.
4. And the grace of God is effectual grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Grace always accomplishes its purpose. Wherever God bestows his grace, salvation is the result. Grace is not the offer of salvation, or of an opportunity to be saved. Grace is the accomplishment of salvation.