Mining Grace

…the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself glorified

Salvation in Christ

The gospel can be easily explained in four parts:

  1. The misery and brokenness that entered the world through Adam’s sin
  2. The redemption that is provided in Jesus Christ
  3. How sinful people receive this redemption from Jesus Christ
  4. The blessings of being united to Jesus Christ

1 – The misery and brokenness that entered the world through Adam’s sin

Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.

  1. Before time, the Triune God planned, for his own glory, whatever would happen in human history. God is bringing about this plan in history without being responsible for the sin of any creature.
  2. This God, in six days, made all things out of nothing and very good. He made all the angels holy. Also, he made Adam and Eve, the parents of all of us, both righteous and able to obey him perfectly. They were obligated to obey God simply because he was their Creator. But God was not obligated to reward their obedience, until he entered into a covenant with them. In this covenant, Adam represented all of his and Eve’s children. The covenant agreement was to give Adam and Eve eternal life if they obeyed God perfectly and to punish them with death if they failed. This covenant is sometimes called the covenant of works.
  3. Both angels and men, unlike God, could decide either to sin or to not sin. Many angels did sin and became demons. Our first parents also sinned after being enticed by Satan, one of these demons. Their sin was eating the fruit that God had forbidden them to eat. Through this sin, they broke God’s covenant. Adam and Eve, along with all their children, received not only eternal death, but also lost all ability to please God. They became enemies to God and strangers to righteousness in every area of their lives. This is commonly called original sin, the root of all our sin, misery, and brokenness.

2 – The Redemption that is provided in Jesus

Romans 5:17 – If because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

  1. Even though man got himself into this mess he can’t get himself out. Nor is he willing to let God help him out. Instead he remains in his sin–blind to it–until he dies. But God, for the glory of his rich grace, revealed in the Bible a way to save sinners. This way is by faith in Jesus Christ, who is the only mediator between God and men. Salvation in Jesus Christ is also known as the covenant of grace–an agreement between Jesus and the Father to save sinners.
  2. This a brief description of the salvation that is found in Jesus. Before the world was created, God chose to save a certain number of sinners. The choice was made by God according to his own sovereign grace for his own glory. God gave these sinners to Jesus, the Son of God and Savior. The condition of this salvation was that Jesus would humble himself by becoming man, by obeying the law perfectly for those he came to save, and by suffering death on the cross in their place. In this way he would ransom and redeem them from sin and death, and purchase for them righteousness and eternal life. He would then, in his own time, give them the benefits of salvation. The Son of God–who is Jesus Christ our Lord–accepted this condition before the world began. In the fullness of time he came into the world, was born of the Virgin Mary, subjected himself to the law, and completely paid the ransom for sin on the cross. But, according to the covenant, he is, in all ages since the sin of Adam, saving chosen sinners from the condemnation of God. He does this by offering them the gospel of free grace.
  3. To accomplish this great work Jesus performed the work of a Prophet, a Priest, and a King. He was made a Prophet to reveal the gospel to his people, and to persuade them to believe it. He was made a Priest in order to offer himself as the sacrifice for them and to stand in their place. He was made King, to win them to himself, to provide for their needs, and to defend them from their enemies

3 – How sinful people receive this salvation from Jesus Christ

Romans 10:17 – So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

  1. The means of grace are the things that God uses to save sinners and produce in them spiritual growth. There are four means of grace: the Bible, the sacraments, the church community, and prayer. In the Bible, God reveals the gospel–the good news of salvation from sins through faith in Jesus Christ. In the sacraments, God visually reveals the gospel to strengthen and confirm God’s grace to sinners. By the church community, God provides relationships to protect and encourage redeemed sinners. By prayer, God provides a way for sinners to converse with him about the themes of grace and the needs of their life.
  2. Sinners in the Old Testament and New Testament are saved in the same way–through faith in Jesus Christ. However, salvation was administered differently and revealed partially in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the sacraments of circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other ceremonies foretold Christ’s death to come. But since Christ came, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper clearly show Christ’s crucifixion, victory over death, and his glorious kingship over heaven and earth.

4 – The blessings of being united to Jesus Christ

Romans 8:30 – And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

  1. By the means of grace and through the power of his Holy Spirit, God gives ransomed sinners the blessings that were purchased for them by Jesus Christ. Some of these blessings cause a change inside the sinner. He regenerates them by giving them new spiritual life for service in his kingdom. He gives them saving faith that causes them to trust Jesus alone for their salvation. He gives them repentance making them simultaneously hate their sin and love their God.
  2. Along with this inward change, God also makes changes outside redeemed sinners–changing the way they relate to God. He justifies them, by imputing to them the perfect obedience and atoning death that Christ gave in their place. He reconciles them and makes them friends of God. He adopts them so that they are no long children of Satan but rather children of God.
  3. Lastly, when they die, he makes them holy as their souls perfectly rejoice in him in heaven. Then, at Jesus’ return and the resurrection of the dead, both their souls and their bodies are reunited. It is at this time that Jesus judges all men according to what they have done on earth. Impenitent sinners will receive eternal death while Christ’s own chosen and redeemed ones will remain with him forever, praising him to all eternity.

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This is my paraphrased, updated, and abridged version of the Sum of Saving Knowledge written by David Dickson–a 17th century Scottish minister–and most commonly included with editions of The Westminster Confession of Faith.

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Written by Joe Holland

September 5, 2007 at 7:56 pm

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