The nature of purchased grace

by Mike Ratliff

16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; (John 14:16 NASB)

As we look about us with any discernment at all in these times of spiritual deceit, it can be heart rending to see the outright lying done in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are so-called men of God preaching and teaching and ministering and doing things that could best be described as either the teaching or application of damnable heresies. I know that there are some who call themselves Christians who automatically have a problem with that last statement because they are afflicted with the disease of post-modernistic thinking while others are mired in their man-made religiosity and traditions. Both forces them into the thinking that everything is relative. Sorry, to the wind with that. If you are uncomfortable with the proclamation of God’s truth as absolute then you will not be comfortable here. God’s Word is His truth, a precious gift to His Church. In it we learn theology and His doctrines. This includes the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. From that we learn that our salvation is entirely by God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). We are justified by faith, not works. God’s truth is objective and absolute not subjective and relative. The grace we possess as Christians was purchased for us at the Cross of Christ. Oh, and the only ones who can and do turn to Christ are called by God effectually (John 6:44). 

The following is a summary of part of Chapter 7 – “The Nature of Purchased Grace” from Communion With The Triune God by John Owen edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor. These are not exact quotes because he often refers to other chapters for instance and I skipped those sentences. The quotes are from pp289-291.

The grace purchased for God’s people, the elect, at the Cross of Christ wherein they have communion with Christ can be understood to have three parts or heads. 1) Grace of acceptation with God; 2) grace of sanctification from God; 3) grace of privileges with and before God. We will focus here on Grace of Acceptation With God.

Grace of Acceptation with God

Before our salvation, we are “out of Christ,” separated from God. We are alienated from Him because of our sin. No matter how good our works are we are still separated from Him because of this. Sin makes a separation between God and us. The first issue of purchased grace is to restore us into a state of acceptation. How is this done? It is done in two ways. First, by he removal of that for which we are refused—the cause of the enmity; second, by the bestowing of that for which we are accepted.

When first this paragraph I had to go back and reread it several times. I do not think I had ever heard it put quite that way before. When you have heard the Gospel given before, hasn’t it always been focused entirely on forgiveness of sins, and rightly so? Have you ever heard it given to unbelievers in a twofold way like this before? Let us proceed.

Not only all causes of quarrel were to be taken away, that so we should not be under displeasure, but also that was to be given unto us that makes us the objects of God’s delight and pleasure, on the account of the want whereof we are distanced from God:

It gives a removal of that for which we are refused. This is sin in the guilt, and all the attendancies thereof. The first issue of purchased grace tends to the taking away of sin in its guilt, that it shall not bind over the soul the wages of it, which is death.

How is this accomplished and brought about by Christ is the fruit and effect of his death for us. Guilt of sin was the only cause of our separation and distance from God, as has been said. This made us obnoxious to wrath, punishment, and the whole displeasure of God; on the account hereof were we imprisoned under the curse of the law, and given up to the power of Satan. This is the state of our unacceptation. By his death, Christ—bearing the curse, undergoing the punishment that was due to us, paying the ransom that was due for us—delivers us from acceptation with God—that all cause of quarrel and rejection of us is thereby taken away. And to that end are his sufferings reckoned to us; for, being “made sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21), he is made “righteousness unto us” (1 Cor. 1:30).

But yet further; this will not complete our acceptation with God. The old quarrel may be laid aside, and yet no new friendship begun; we may be not sinners, and yet not be so far righteous as to have a right to the kingdom of heaven. Adam had no right to life because he was innocent; he must, moreover “do this,” and then he shall “live.” He must not only have negative righteousness—he was not guilty of anything; but also a positive righteousness—he must do all things.

This, then, is required, in the second place, to our complete acceptation, that we have not only the not imputation of sin, but also reckoning of righteousness. Now, this we have in the obedience of the life of Christ. The obedience of the life of Christ was for us, is imputed to us, and is our righteousness before God—by his obedience are we “made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). On what score the obedience of faith takes place, shall be afterward declared.

These two things, then, complete our grace of acceptation. Sin being removed, and righteousness bestowed, we have peace with God—are continually accepted before him. There is not any thing to charge us with: that which was, is take out of the way by Christ, and nailed to his cross—made fast there; yea, publicly and legally cancelled, that it can never be admitted again as an evidence. What court among men would admit of evidence that has been publicly cancelled and nailed up for all to see it? So has Christ dealt with that which was against us; and not only so, but also he puts that upon us for which we are received into favor. He makes us comely through his beauty; gives us white raiment to stand before the Lord. This is the first part of purchased grace wherein the saints have communion with Jesus Christ. In remission of sin and imputation of righteousness does it consist; from the death of Christ, as a price, sacrifice, and a punishment—from the life of Christ spent in obedience to the law, does it arise. The great product it is of the Father’s righteousness, wisdom, love, and grace—the great and astonishable fruit of the love and condescension of the Son—the great discovery of the Holy Ghost in the revelation of the mystery of the gospel.

If we tire of the Gospel then there is a problem my brethren. In these troubling times in the Church we must expose those who teach that which is not biblical, warning the brethren as instructed in God’s Word. However, when we can it is a good thing to study the good work Christ did for us to reconcile us to the Father as our propitiation. Let us rejoice in this my brethren.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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