Reformed Theology: God's Grace

JeffLogan's picture

This discussion will be limited to the discussion of God's grace as it pertains to Reformed Theology.

Barry writes,

I would like to suggest that we explore the topic of "God's Grace " as it relates specifically to the process of one's coming to salvation. I personally am particularly interested in the doctrine of "Prevenient Grace", however, at ElderDad's suggestion which points out our primary forum theme, addressing the RT position termed "Irresistible Grace" first is the more appropriate approach.

So, if this approach is acceptable, I would invite someone to begin this thread by first defining the term, then giving a brief re-cap of the history of "TULIP", and concluding with Scriptural references supporting the concept. That should get us rolling.

Barring objections, I would encourage someone in the Reformed camp to please begin.

Grace and peace to all.

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Suggested Structure: (Best if viewing options set: Threaded Collapsed | Oldest First | 200/page |)

(The first 3 headings are reserved for Reformed Theology Adherents ONLY)

Defining the terms (No opposing views here)
     Irresistible Grace
     Prevenient Grace
     etc...
Brief re-cap of the history of "TULIP" (No opposing views here)
     Early History
     Later History
     Unfolding History/Current Understanding
Scriptural references supporting the concept (No opposing views here)
     Irresistible Grace
     Prevenient Grace
     etc...
1st Discussion: Irresistible Grace
2nd Discussion: Prevenient Grace
3rd Discussion: etc...

michael_legna's picture

A word study of Grace from the New Testament

James 4:6-7. But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.''
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Grace is many things, I’ve heard it said that grace is God’s riches at Christ expense. I like to think of grace among other things as God’s enabling power for us to do His will. He wants you to do His will and He will give you the ability to carry it out.

Romans 8:32. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?

God has freely given us all things, and what makes that an even more awesome fact is that He has given us the ability to receive it, and walk in it, that’s what grace is! Even the act of salvation comes by grace.

Eph:2:8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

By grace you went from darkness unto light, by grace you have the ability to continue to walk in that light, when you are submitted to God’s Word, as we already read in James 4:6&7. But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'' Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. You notice it didn’t say he might flee from you, it says he will flee from you, when you are submitted to God. He has given you the grace to carry it out.

Peter said virtually the same thing, 1 Peter 5:5-11. Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'' Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Here again we see by the scripture, that first of all God gives us grace when we humble ourselves and are submitted. James as well as Peter said nearly the same thing, after we are submitted to the will of God then resist the devil. Resisting the devil is God’s will or He wouldn‘t have told us to do it would He? No He wouldn’t. He will give us the grace and the ability to do it, and God will always back up His Word. You may ask why resisting the devil is God’s will. As Peter said in vs. 8. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith. God has given us the tools to overcome him every single time, resisting him steadfast in the faith. Then it goes on to say, But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. Why do we need to be strengthened by God? For what purpose? Just so we can stand up under the bullying of the devil? NO, he’s a bully alright, but we are given the grace to resist him. This is a trial of our faith, God will strengthen us, perfect us, establish us, and settle us, it will put us on a firm foundation, and as Peter said in vs. 9. knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. The sufferings he is talking about is the trial of our faith. If you look back at what Peter said in the 1st chapter, you’ll see what God thinks about this.

1 Peter 1:7. That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

You can count on the devil trying to steal the Word from you every time you hear it. The Word tells us that Satan comes immediately to steal the Word. Remember the parable of the sower?

Matthew 13:18-23. "Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.''

Satan immediately comes to steal the Word from your heart. In every case the Word was sown into a heart, and faith was produced. But in only 25%, or one fourth of the people did faith produced fruit. Why? The people let Satan steal the Word, that‘s why! We have an obligation to receive the Word and stand in what we have received. Satan can not take the Word from us without our permission. God has given us the ability to stand up to the devil and receive the fruit of our faith.
Paul started off talking about submission in the 6th chapter of Ephesians and end up talking about resisting the devil.

Ephesians 6:1-2. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother,'' which is the first commandment with promise:
7-13. with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
24. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

God has put us under authority, whether we like it or not this is God’s will for our lives, then we have the grace to withstand the devil in the day of evil. Paul ended the book of Ephesians with salutations and speaking grace to them. This was right after he told them to take up the whole armor of God and resist the devil. We see this common theme throughout the New Testament. Submit your self to God and his Word, and God will give you the grace and the ability to resist the devil, and be an over comer.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul was talking about the revelation of the Gospel that was given to him, and starting with vs.7 we see that Satan sent a messenger to buffet Paul , one translation says: an angel of Satan, to beat me. Remember we just read the parable of the sower, Jesus said; persecution arises because of the Word. The Word is very clear, this thorn in the flesh was a messenger sent from Satan, as you can see in vs. 7. (a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan.) God wanted to exalt Paul, he was His messenger to deliver the life giving Gospel. Satan didn’t want Paul to be exalted, he certainly doesn’t want the gospel, the good news going forth. His job is to try and defeat it before it gets started. The revelation of God’s Word will exalt you, and Satan will do everything he can to thwart the will of God in your life, that’s why he sent a messenger to try and stop Paul. Paul didn’t like it very much and he went to the Lord to try and get Him to do something about it. Jesus responded by saying my grace is sufficient for thee. In other words I’ve given you the grace to do something about it. Once we are submitted to God, we have been given the grace to defeat the devil, as the Apostle James said, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble Therefore submit to God. resist the devil and he will flee from you. Grace is not just so we can bear up under the onslaught of Satan. Peter said in the book of Acts, God is no respecter of persons. Whether it is the Apostle Paul, who received the revelation of this New Covenant or the newest babe in Christ, God’s Word remains true for all men. Over and over we see God gives the grace to do His will to those who are humble and submitted to Him. We serve a good God, He’s given us the ability to fight and win every time. God has made us more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherein Christ has made us free.

So though we can see that Grace is not a force in the crude scientific sense, but it does strengthen us in our ability to follow Him and do His will. We can see this once we see the true nature of Grace. In this vein first we see the Grace we receive is proportional to our strength of faith -

Ro 12:3
3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Second we see that our gifts differ according the Grace given us -

Ro 12:6
6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

Third we see that the Grace we are given is not to be squandered by not acting on it or letting it act within us to be more precise -

1 Co 15:10
10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

and

2 Co 6:1
1We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

This grace can make us abound in good works -

2 Co 9:8
8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

God even promised Paul that His grace was sufficient to aid him in overcoming the torments he was suffering.

2 Co 12:9
9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

The level of grace given an individual can even be perceived by those who are so gifted - like the Apostles.

Ga 2:9
9And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

We also see that God use us to minister His grace through our witness and our manner of life -

Eph 4:29
29Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

We can even partake of the grace of others -

Php 1:7
7Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

We also can be strong in grace

2 Tim 2:1 1Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

We also know that grace comes to us in times of need to help us

Heb 4:16
16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We are even told we can be given more or less grace and even grow in grace

Jas 4:6
6But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

2 Pe 1:2
2Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

2 Pe 3:18
18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Most importantly we know Grace has come to all men -

Tit 2:11
11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

-and since all men are not saved, even though it is God's will -

1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

We know that grace is not irresistable. That is why we are warned to be careful of those who have fallen from grace -

Heb 12:15
15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Jud 4
4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.




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