August 11, 2004

God’s Grace

Category: Theology :: Permalink

Barb discusses this stuff on her blog, but I thought I’d mention it here as well, because some of the readers of this blog don’t read Barb’s but they do listen to The White Horse Inn. Furthermore, many of my readers are in churches that subscribe to the Belgic Confession, as do some of the guys on The White Horse Inn.

In the discussion entitled “One Covenant or Two,” the speakers maintained that grace is always God’s favour in the face of demerit. Therefore, they would say, there was no grace before the Fall since there was no sin before the Fall. One might speak of God’s goodness, kindness, and so forth before the Fall, but not of grace. Likewise, Jesus never received grace because He knew no sin.

It is interesting to note, however, that the Belgic Confession teaches that grace does not require the presence of sin. In Article 12, the Belgic Confession says about the angels,

Some of them have fallen from the excellence in which God created them into eternal perdition; and the others have persisted and remained in their original state, by the grace of God.

I wonder if one couldn’t find similar statements in other Reformed confessions, let alone in the writings of the Reformers.

Furthermore, lest someone claim that, even if the Reformers didn’t use “grace” to refer strictly to God’s favour in the presence of sin, the Bible does, I would point to Philippians 2:9, where Paul says about Jesus that “God .. has given him the name which is above every name.” The word translated “has given” here is not the word for a wage paid to a worker; it’s the word normally used for a gracious gift. It is, in fact, the verbal form of the noun charis, usually translated “grace.”

Moreover, in Luke 2:52, we read that Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and grace with God and men.” The word is often translated “favour” (NKJV) or something like that, but again it’s the word charis which is the normal Greek word for what we call “grace.”

It appears, then, that this new definition of the word “grace,” which sees grace strictly as God’s favour in the presence of sin, isn’t the way the Bible uses the term nor is it the way the Reformed confessions (at least, the Belgic Confession) use the term. That’s fine. Theologians today aren’t required to use words only in the sense that they’re used in Scripture or the Reformed confessions. But it isn’t fine for theologians today to claim that people who do use the terms as Scripture and the Reformed confessions do are misusing them!

Posted by John Barach @ 6:23 pm | Discuss (0)

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