Grace on Every Layer

I’ve got your works, I’ve got my faith
I’ve got all the wine that you can make
I am the kiss of your betrayer
But I’ve got your grace on every layer

Derek Webb

1. He renders / rewards / repays / recompenses to each one according to his works

  • “[T]he Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” (Matthew 16)
  • “[T]o those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life…” (Romans 2)
  • “[H]e rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11)
  • “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.” (Revelation 22)
  • “…those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5)
  • “Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work”. (Psalm 62:11-12)

2. He blesses the righteous and punishes the evil

  • “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” (1 Peter 3)

3. He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble

  • “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5; James 4:6)
  • “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14)

4.He gives mercy to the merciful

  • “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5)
  • “[I]f you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you…” (Matthew 6)

5. He justifies and loves the ungodly who trust in him

  • “And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…” (Romans 4)
  • “[S]teadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.” (Psalm 32)
  • “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1)

6. He grants repentance

  • “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11)
  • “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth…” (2 Timothy 2)

7. He grants faith

  • “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake…” (Philippians 1)
  • “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8)

8. He unconditionally elects and predestines and hardens and “mercies”

  • “[T]hough they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call… So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy… So then he [mercies] whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.” (Romans 9)
  • “In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 1)

§

Thoughts on the Aforementioned

  1. This is part of the content of saving faith (Hebrews 11:6) and is seen as part of the graciousness of God. This deserves more than a few references because it is largely untaught today.
  2. Part of being a Christian is being called to stand favorably under this judgment (1 Peter 3:8-12; cf. 1 John 2:28; 1 John 4:17). Note that the modern usage of “called” skews our understanding of this passage.
  3. Negatively, this means not being like the Pharisee of Luke 18. Positively, this means being like the tax collector. Positively, this also means proactively being a good guest: “[G]o and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you” (Luke 18). This is probably part of what it means to seek “glory, honor, and immortality” in Romans 2.
  4. This involves proactively seeking reconciliation (Mark 11:25) and forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15) with others.
  5. In one manner of speaking, this is wholly passive. If you “work”, according Romans 4:5, you aren’t justified. You must necessarily “not work” to be justified. This is, of course, in keeping with the type of working that verse 4 describes. Also, notice that the “ungodly” man of Romans 4:5-8 is the same “godly” man in Psalm 32 (quoted by Paul). He has sins and iniquities and transgressions that need forgiving. He is helpless and has nothing to offer God to fulfill Romans 4:4. But in his “spirit there is no deceit.” He “confess[es]” and “acknowledge[s]” his sin and “trusts him who justifies the ungodly.”
  6. Believing this is practical for thanksgiving toward God, interpretation of success in missions (Acts 11:18), and fulfilling the imperative of 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
  7. This is intimately related to the teaching that God has prepared us–before the foundation of the world–for good works (Ephesians 2:10).
  8. If you don’t believe this, then how can you feel the grace of Romans 1:5-7?

Every single one of the above layers is a layer of God’s grace. If we had a God who merely exacted strict penal justice, none of these layers would favorably apply to us. Indeed, many of them involve conditions and a sort of “transaction” or “exchange” or “give and take” (i.e. 1 John 1:9): consider that sometimes, in certain contexts, the Bible wants us to think of our relationship with God that way. But layers 1 – 4 are built upon justification of the ungodly by faith. Faith (the kind the says, “I have nothing to offer!”) is the alone and foundational instrument of everything that follows. If we get that wrong, we mess everything up and aren’t “favored” by any of the layers—including final judgment according to works.

As if that wasn’t enough, there is unconditional election. God unconditionally secures the conditions required for final salvation. He provides what he asks for. The starting point and the foundation is all grace!

See also

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