Five Eternal Gifts from God - Grace 3
Dr. James Packer in his book Knowing God addresses the subject of God’s grace and mankind’s antagonism toward it. Antagonism or opposition towards God’s grace! How? God’s grace, as the Scriptures teach, is to be understood in light of the following four biblical truths:
First, the moral ill-desert of Man or the radical depravity of man. Man is a fallen creature and sin has invaded every part of his being. At heart, he/she is a rebel against God’s rule, guilty and unclean in God’s sight, deserving only for God’s condemnation.
Second, the retributive justice of God. God is not only a God of love but also the One, True God of righteousness and justice. God is not true to Himself unless He punishes sin. Therefore, sinners have no natural hope of anything from God except retributive judgment. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31, ESV).
Third, the spiritual impotence of Man. The sinner cannot repair his status before a holy God. No gift, no sacrifice, no church membership, no amount of morality or respectability can guarantee God’s acceptance of them in the end. All pagan religions teach that man can repair and earn God’s acceptance. The Bible teaches otherwise. Isaiah 64:6 states, We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Galatians 2:15-16 states, “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:15-16, ESV)
Fourth, the sovereign freedom of God. God is not obliged to be gracious toward anyone. Romans 9:16 states, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:16, ESV). God’s grace is free in the sense of being originating with or from God, who is free not to be gracious.