For many years I have introduced the Sunday broadcast of the Baptist Bible Hour by saying, “This is Lasserre Bradley, Jr., inviting you to stay tuned for another message of God’s sovereign grace.” In the early days there were very few radio programs proclaiming sovereign grace, and I wanted to make it clear that was our emphasis.
While “Amazing Grace” is one of the best loved of the old hymns; many stop short of admitting how really amazing grace is. Some will say, “I believe salvation is by grace;” but then begin to interject various good works and free-will actions they say are necessary.
Grace is amazing because salvation is all of grace. Grace is amazing because it reaches, as Paul said, even the chief of sinners. Grace is amazing because it transforms a life. Grace is amazing because it make all the arrangements necessary for the recipient of it to at last reach heaven and live with Jesus forever.
The Doctrine of Grace
In emphising grace, we have consistently taught the fundamental doctrines of grace. To make them easy to remember they are often referred to as the TULIP doctrine. Those letters standing for Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance.
By the term total depravity, it is meant that when Adam sinned in Eden, he did not just stumble, he fell. He was not just injured but he and his descendants are dead in sin(Ephesians 2:1). Man by nature now does not fear God, love God or seek God (Romans 3:10-18). So this brings us immediately to an appreciation of grace. Without grace none would ever be saved.
The scriptures are clear that God elected a people before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-5). We use the term “unconditional election” because God’s choice was not based on any merit in those who were chosen. Some argue that God looked down through time and chose a people based on the fact He saw them ultimately making the right decision.
But in contrast to that point of view. The scripture tells us what God saw when He looked down. “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalm 14:2-3).
So we see that all are sinners by nature and none deserved to be chosen. It was by God’s sovereign choice that a people were elected.
We use the term “limited atonement” to fit the TULIP acronym but I prefer to use the term “particular redemption.” When speaking of limited atonement it is not to imply there was any limit to the value of the Savior’s work but limited in its purpose. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).
The sheep were those given to the Son by the Father. Jesus laid down His life for them, He paid the price, He redeemed them; so one day they will all be with Him in glory and He will say, “Behold I and the children which thou hast given me” (Hebrews 2:13).
Then there is the truth of irresistible grace; which speaks of the effectual call of the Spirit. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). We see all who are called are justified, so the grace bestowed in calling was irresistible.
Sinners are called on to repent and believe on Jesus Christ, and it is by the quickening power those dead in trespasses and sin are made alive, brought to repentance and given faith. (Ephesians 2:1, 8-10).
The doctrine of perseverance declares that those who are true believers will persevere to the end. They may have numerous downfalls but they will never depart from their Saviour, Jesus Christ. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
The Message of Grace
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a list of good works that must be performed or a price the sinner could never pay; but it is the good news that salvation is by grace.
In John Newton’s well-loved hymn he phrased it like this:
Amazing grace, How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me.
Yes grace is amazing, and it is a sweet sound to the sinner’s ear who knows he needs grace.
Listen to the words of Jesus. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). To come to Jesus is to believe on Him. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” (John 3:36).
Someone may say, “I don’t feel worthy to come.” Well, the fact is you are not; but Jesus says none who come will be cast out. Someone said to me, “But I just don’t have all my questions answered.”Yet Jesus says the one who comes, “I will in no wise cast out.”
And then we have these warm words of welcome from Jesus, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The message of grace points men to Jesus as the only Saviour, the Saviour of sinners.
The Application of Grace
When we talk about “Another message of God’s sovereign grace;” we are not just talking about the doctrine of grace or the message of grace but also about the application of grace. I had a man say to me that if I believed in once saved always saved I would live like the world. But the fact is if a person is truly saved they have a desire to live to the glory of God.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus2:11-12). So the person saved by grace is taught by grace how to live.
Grace is the very foundation for godly living. As an example we go to Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” You see the basis on which the appeal is made to forgive others is that by the grace of God you have been forgiven for Christ’s sake.
And grace is applied in our trials. The Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). Surely, we have all learned we could not make it through our trials apart from God’s grace.
Then there is that wonderful promise for grace to help. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). What a promise. Two things we desperately need; mercy and grace to help and we are encouraged to come boldly and ask for them. Yes, grace is amazing; it not only saves us but provides help in time of need.
Wonderful grace of Jesus, Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tounge describe it? Where shall my praise begin?
Taking away my burden, Giving me liberty;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.