A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 26


An overview of grace.

Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 26
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I. Defintion

A. God’s undeserved acceptance of us into his family

B. An empowerment for ministry

C. Cleansing from sin

II. Common Grace

A. Drawn

B. Wooed

III. Conclusion

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Class Resources
  • There are two approaches to systematic theology: the deductive approach and the inductive approach. Find out how these two approaches differ and you need to understand each one.

  • We serve a personal God who speaks, telling us about himself and ourselves and the world around us. There are two types of ways that God reveals himself: general revelation and special revelation. In this lecture, you'lll discover what God says about himself through creation and your conscience.

  • Special revelation is a combination of the life of God revealed in his works and the words of God that tells us the significance and meaning of those acts. Discover how God reveals himself through special revelation and what we can know about him.

  • Know why the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture is foundational to an overall understanding of the Bible.

  • Learn how to deal with ambiguous passages in the Bible, why the Bible is silent on many issues, and whether God still speaks today.

  • Discover the names of God, their meanings, and their significance. 

  • Learn about the characteristics of God, including his compassion, grace, patience, love, faithfulness, forgiveness, justice, jealousy, and holiness.

  • Learn about the characteristics of God, including his constancy, his omniscience, and his omnipotence.

  • Understand what it means that God is three persons, but still one God.

  • Learn about some key terms in systematic theology, including freedom, sovereignty, and election. 

  • Understand both Armenian and Calvinist perspectives on the doctrine of election.

  • Understand the difference between naturalism and creationism, and know the four approaches to Genesis. At this time, there is no sound after 20:30. 

  • Discussion on the three views of providence.

  • A continued discussion on providence, emphasizing that God is faithful to his promises.

  • An overview of the doctrine of humankind, including their origin, the biblical definition of spirit and soul, and the relationship between body and spirit.

  • A biblical definition of image of God.

  • An overview of sin, including its origin and essence.

  • A continued discussion on sin, including its consequences and degrees.

  • An overview of the deity and humanity of Christ.

  • A continued overview of the deity and humanity of Christ.

  • An overview of the life of Christ.

  • An overview of the Holy Spirit, including the role of the Holy Spirit.

  • A continued overview of the Holy Spirit, including what it means to be filled with Holy Spirit.

  • An overview of spiritual gifts, with emphasis on prophecy and tongues.

  • An overview of salvation and how people come into a relationship with God.

  • An overview of grace.

  • An overview of conversion, regeneration, and justification.

  • An overview of sanctification.

  • An overview of perseverance and security.

  • An overview of the church, including its definition, the priesthood of all believers, and the role of church in culture.

  • A continued overview of the church, including denominations and church government.

  • An overview of church polity, or simply how things get done in the church.

  • An overview of baptism.

  • An overview of communion, including the three views on the elements and various church traditions surrounding its administration.

  • An overview of death, including what happens after death and the prospect of future rewards.

  • An overview of God’s kingdom, including its present and future state.

  • An overview of the views on the Tribulation and the Millennium.

  • An overview of the eternal state, including the final judgment, hell, and the new heaven and earth.

  • A brief encouragement to church leaders.

  • A further discussion on the Bible, including translations, its authority, prophecy, and canon.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

<p>Course: <a href="/guide-christian-theology/gerry-breshears" target="_blank">A Guide to Christian Theology</a></p>

<p>Lecture: <a href="https://www.biblicaltraining.org/grace/introduction-systematic-theology…; target="_blank">Grace</a></p>

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<p>This is the 26th lecture in the online series of lectures on a Guide to Christian Theology by Dr Breshears. Recommended Reading includes: Biblical References from the Course and Study Guides 1 &ndash; 39.</p>

<p>(Any slides, photos, study guides or outlines that the lecturer refers to should be down loaded separately. If they are not available, you may be able to find something similar using the Google&copy; search engine.)</p>

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<h2>I. Different Dimensions of Amazing Grace</h2>

<p>Amazing grace; who has not heard the song and though about the phrase; it is indeed amazing and is what we are all about. Grace is often thought of as tolerance for sin. This is not what grace is about and it is never apart from truth. Grace is undeserved, a free gift and usually thought of as unmerited favor, yet what does unmerited favor even mean? It is simply a phrase that we use, not really understanding what it means. Unmerited has to do with not having to do anything to make God be favorable toward me. I would like to think of it as God&rsquo;s undeserved acceptance. He freely accepts me into his family. In Romans 11:5 we have the statement: &lsquo;so too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.&rsquo; Paul is talking about Israel here who is chosen to be God&rsquo;s people, a people to whom Jesus would come. This is totally God&rsquo;s working and a totally unconditional acceptance which is foundational to understanding God&rsquo;s grace in our lives. There is a second dimension of grace that we see in 2nd Corinthians 12 telling us of Paul experiences. As he looks at this, he talks about a thorn and pleading that the Lord would take it from him. But God&rsquo;s answer was, &lsquo;my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.&rsquo; In this, grace means an empowerment to enable us to go on doing God&rsquo;s work even in the mist of hardship or loss. So, in this context, grace means an empowerment for ministry. We see in Acts 6:8 Stephen who is full of God&rsquo;s grace. Grace here doesn&rsquo;t mean unmerited favor or acceptance; instead it has to do with empowerment. So first, it is unconditional acceptance and second, it is an empowerment for ministry and the third dimension of grace is related to cleansing from sin.</p>

<p>We see this in Romans 6:1 it says something strange; &lsquo;Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?&rsquo; I think what it means is that grace is something to be made alive. It is related to a cleansing from sin. We see this same kind of thing in Ephesians 2:7 where it is discussing our condition before salvation. In verse 7, it says that he did this so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. There are different dimensions here but in the first three verses, we see that sin is cleansed and we are made alive. There is a cleansing aspect of grace as well. So we have three dimensions of grace: one is acceptance, one is an empowerment and the third is a cleansing.</p>

<h2>II. A Common Grace: Drawn or Wooed</h2>

<p>There is an agreement in what we call common grace. This has to do with not leaving the world alone. There is a postponing on the impact on sin. Sometimes this is frustrating in that God doesn&rsquo;t do something about sin in the world. A dividing point has to do with the difference between &lsquo;pre-redemptive&rsquo; grace from the Armenian viewpoint and an effectual grace from a Calvinist perspective. Everyone agrees that there is common grace. There is a restrain of sin and preservation of righteousness in all of society. But the questions come in relating to God initiation of salvation. This allows everyone to make a free decision which result in a universal enabling or is it effectual grace, it has a guaranteed impact only for the elect. So another related point is the quality of grace. In John 6:44 it says that no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. So it says that no one can come to Jesus unless God draws them. This is a very clear statement. So we ask who is being drawn and how much power is in that drawing. For the Calvinist the drawing here is like dragging; this is an effectual drawing, a powerful drawing. In regards to the Armenian viewpoint, we look at John 12:32 where Jesus says, &lsquo;and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.&rsquo; It is certainly not saying that everybody will be saved, so what is the nature of this drawing here?</p>

<p>We see in the Song of Solomon 1:4 it says &lsquo;draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers. We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you.&rsquo; We see that this is the pride speaking to her husband. I think that this is a romantic wooing; this is not a dragging one away or to. We see in another passage (Jeremiah 31) where God is speaking to people who are going to Babylon. It says that &lsquo;I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.&rsquo; The word here is drawn as &lsquo;I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.&rsquo; Is this a dragging or wooing? It appears to be a wooing. For the Armenian, it is a wooing or leading; people are wooed to come to God. So Armenians say that all people are drawn and then in John 6:34, it says unless you are drawn, you cannot come. So this is my way of putting this together: understand that the word translated as draw can have a variety of meanings. It can either me drag, which is totally against your will or it can be a resistible wooing, like in the Jeremiah passage.</p>

<h2>III. Conclusion</h2>

<p>I think God&rsquo;s drawing comes in different levels; sometimes it is irresistible and sometimes it is resistible. So when I see God drawing all people in John 12:32, I think he really does draw everybody to himself and when I look at Paul on the road to Damascus, I find Paul being drawn with an irresistible drawing. So I think God works in different ways. Let&rsquo;s look at John 6:44 where it says that no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. It seems that the Father draws everybody with at least a resistible level but only some come, but not everybody who is drawn, comes. What about the more Calvinist interpretation? John 12:32 again says I will draw all people to myself. They say, yes, this is all people either drawing everybody to judgement or this has to do with all kinds of people, not individuals. So again with the Armenians, God draws everybody and it is up to us to decide. You have to decide for yourself on this. I have told you where I stand but people will certain disagree on this. There must be an initiative point of God&rsquo;s grace; he has to reach to us before we can reach to him. And in every point, there is a response from us that is necessary where we respond to his drawing.</p>

<p>So the nature of grace has three different dimensions: unconditional acceptance, empowered for ministry and cleansing and that grace in a redemptive context has a universal enabling or an effectual for the elect.</p>

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