Grace, Divine Assistance

Grace, Divine Assistance

By Georead

What is Grace and what does it do?

Bible grace is a topic upon which there is often shallow understanding. In the minds of many, grace is some sort of ill-defined goodness.

Grace can be defined as unmerited favour or undeserving favour shown to sinners. Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. More than that, the dictionary defines grace as: favour of God, divine regenerating and inspiring influence {Oxford dictionary} or as: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification {Merriam Websters Online Dictionary}

To regenerate means to make new again or to be born again. Regeneration takes place through the agency of the Holy Spirit as can be seen in Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

The divine assistance God provides humans comes via the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 10:29 the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of grace. Jesus imparts to his people the Spirit of grace to assist them to be regenerated or to be renewed in the mind. Romans 12:2 Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.

It is natural for sin to abound in fallen human beings. Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. That is to say, where sin abounds in the human, divine assistance to renew the mind and heart is much more abounding. God can give us abundant divine assistance in order that we may be free from sin. Abundant grace has been provided that the believing soul may be kept free from sin {AG 181.4}

 John 3:8  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. The Spirit of grace, like the wind, working imperceptibly to renew the mind, to change the character, and to perfect the soul. We can’t see this happening but the effects of it can be seen. When the soul no longer continues a life of sin grace is doing its work.

Indulgent Grace

God’s grace is not given to indulge us in sin. Romans 5:20 where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 6:2 God forbid. Shall we continue a life of sinful habits and practices when the Holy Spirit has been made so abundantly available to change our minds and transform our character? God forbid.

The Holy Spirit assists us to be sanctified and renewed so that we do not continue in sin. Jesus saves us from our sins not in our sins. God’s grace is not indulgent.

The word “indulgent” can be exemplified by something introduced into the church in the middle ages called indulgences. Indulgences were a means of grace sold by vendors.

The doctrine and the sale of indulgences were powerful incentives to evil among an ignorant people.  True, according to the Church, indulgences could benefit those only who promised to amend their lives, and who kept their word.  But what could be expected from a tenet invented solely with a view to the profit that might be derived from it?  The venders of indulgences were naturally tempted, for the better sale of their merchandise, to present their wares to the people in the most attractive and seducing aspect.  The learned themselves did not fully understand the doctrine.  All that the multitude saw in them was, that they permitted men to sin; and the merchants were not over eager to dissipate an error so favorable to their sale. – J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation, p. 18.

The multitude saw indulgences as a permit to sin or a license to sin. They could sin and purchase a certificate from the church that permitted that sin. Indulgences were well named because they indulged the people further in sin. The people believed they could continue a life of sin and that the means of grace provided by the church would allow them to do so.

However, the grace of the Bible does not indulge in sin. The grace of the Bible frees us from a life of continued sin by the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Romans 6:1,2 Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.

 Fallen from Grace

 There are some Christians that have a regard for the law of God. Sometimes they are accused of trying to be saved by works of the law. By contrast the accusers will say that they are saved by grace alone and that the law is not necessary. The following texts are used support the accusation: Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.

Does this accusation have any merit? What were the Galatians doing that Apostle Paul addressed in the book of Galatians?

Galatians 3:2,3  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

The Galatians had received the Spirit of grace that would assist them to be sanctified or renewed in the mind and heart. They had begun that way. It says, ‘having begun in the Spirit’ but now they had fallen from grace. They were trying to be perfect by the flesh. They were trying to be sanctified by their own works without divine assistance or without the Spirit of grace.

Nicodemus had been doing the same as the Galatians. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born of the Spirit. He needed the regeneration and renewal of divine grace. John 3:5,6 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 

Those that follow in the path of the Galatians, trying to be perfect by the flesh, have indeed fallen from grace. We too could fall from grace if we try and keep the law of God in the strength of our own flesh. We can never keep it without the divine assistance of the Spirit. We will always fail in some aspect.

Also it is true that we are saved by grace. This is because all of our works in the flesh will inevitably amount to zero. Yet in saying, “we are saved by grace,” we must consider how it saves and what it saves us from. God’s grace is given to free us from sin which is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). The Spirit of grace works to free us from transgression. Divine assistance is given in order that we may keep law of God. This teaching is found in Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Those who say they are saved by grace alone and reject the law of God are involved in a presumptuous mistake. Romans 5:20;6:2 Shall we continue in sin (shall we continue in transgression of God’s law), that grace may abound? God forbid.

Two Great Deceptions

There are two great deceptions arising from a misunderstanding Bible grace. It [the fallen church] is prepared for two classes of mankind, embracing nearly the whole world–those who would be saved by their merits, and those who would be saved in their sins. {GC 572.2}

There are those who would be saved by their merits. They believe that the works of their own flesh are sufficient for salvation. They therefore work without the assistance of divine grace. They are like the fallen Galatians. They are like Paul before his conversion. They work without the Spirit of grace. Philippians 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more.

Additionally there are those who would saved in their sins. They have not discovered the real grace of God. They continue in transgression yet they presume that some form of grace will save them. Fallen churches offer indulgent grace; they readily accept it, meanwhile they continue their lives as before. No real change is wrought by the Spirit of grace. Some in this class could be described as 2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Conclusion

Jesus saves us from sin. Even in this life he is working to save us from it. He has made grace abundantly available to mankind for that very purpose. It is available at this very moment to any soul who sincerely desires to no longer continue life of sin. The Spirit of grace is willing to come us to render the divine assistance that is needful in overcoming sin.

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