In addition to common grace, which everyone receives, the elect also receive saving grace. Unlike common grace, saving grace is ultimately irresistible because it is efficacious, meaning that it accomplishes the salvation that God intends without fail. The entire Trinity is involved in this saving grace because it begins with God the Father, comes through Jesus Christ, and is applied by the Holy Spirit.
Together, with common grace and saving grace coalesce into what John 1:16 refers to as “grace upon grace.” Like common grace, saving grace has innumerable benefits in this life. However, unlike common grace, it also continues to provide infinite benefits beyond this life. Thus, we will examine in further detail how God’s grace has been poured out upon all Christians, as Ephesians 1:7–8 says, “according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us.”
Saving grace comes to ill-deserving sinners through Jesus Christ alone. That is why Acts 20:24 speaks of the “gospel of the grace of God.” The gospel of Jesus Christ is the same as the gospel of God’s grace, because saving grace comes through Jesus Christ alone, as Scripture elsewhere declares:
- And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . full of grace.52
- And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.53
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.54
- The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.55
- Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.56
One theologian has noted that Paul speaks of grace more than any other biblical writer, some one hundred times. A reading of the New Testament reveals another curious feature about the writings of Paul. In every single one of his letters, Paul opens and closes with the grace of God. He is thus repeatedly and emphatically illustrating the truth that nothing that is Christian is possible in any way or to any degree apart from the grace of God. He is also following the storyline of the Bible itself, which opens in Genesis 1:1 by revealing the hero of Scripture and history, saying, “In the beginning, God . . . ” and ends with the final line of Scripture in Revelation 22:21 revealing that Jesus Christ is the God of grace, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”
Simply, nothing in all of Christianity makes any sense apart from a proper understanding of the grace of God!
If Jesus had not saved you, what exactly might your life look like today?
52 John 1:14.
53 John 1:16–17.
54 Eph. 1:3.
55 1 Tim. 1:14.
56 2 Tim. 2:1.