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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Romans 16:20 – More about the grace of Jesus

In yesterday’s readings we noted that we can describe the grace of Jesus as purchased, plentiful and personal. Those three aspects of grace describe it in general. While it is good to look at grace from a general perspective, it is also beneficial for us to look at it in special ways.
One special way is to consider pardoning grace, which is one that each of his people needs on innumerable occasions. How often we need this purchased, plentiful and personal grace of pardon! The fact that pardoning grace is purchased means that it will be given, the fact that it is plentiful means that it will be given always, and the fact that it is personal means that it will be given accurately and meaningfully for each of his people.
A second form of particular grace is what we can call provided grace in the sense of his people receiving from Jesus his choice of spiritual food for their souls. The reality is that only heavenly food will satisfy the new creature. Even things that are not necessarily sinful will not fully satisfy our regenerated souls. The only spiritual food that will satisfy our hearts is Jesus himself, and this may be why Peter told us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus.
Unlike the best of earthly food, Jesus does not become uninteresting if we have such a diet every day. And speaking of diets, we don’t need to worry about any bad growth appearing as a consequence of feeding on Christ. There is enough in the person and work of Jesus to satisfy the largest of minds, the strongest of emotions, and the most determined of searchers.
Then a third form of particular grace is peculiar grace, by which I mean experiencing grace in unusual ways. One common example is the way that believers in trouble can enjoy the peace of God, sometimes in very difficult situations. They may be facing trials that look very severe, but during them they can have an amazing sense of the Lord’s presence.  This experience is beyond human explanation, but it is a common way by which believers come to know Jesus in a deeper way. As Samuel Rutherford put it, ‘O, what I owe to the file, to the hammer, to the furnace of my Lord Jesus!’
A fourth way in which Jesus comes in grace to his people is by what we can call prospective grace, by which I mean when he gives to them foretastes of and assurance about the heavenly homeland. Of course, such grace is given through descriptions of heaven in the Bible, but they become so precious through the hidden working of the Spirit as he seems to whisper in our souls, ‘This is where you are heading.’ I see no reason why we should not read a verse or a chapter about heaven every day. As has often been suggested, an heir to an inheritance will often think about the day it will be his and the benefits it will bring to him.
A fifth kind of grace from Jesus is preventing grace. This is given to stop us succumbing to Satan’s temptations or to our own sinful tendencies. Are you ever surprised that you did not lose your temper in a difficult situation? The achievement was not arrived at through your abilities but through the grace of Jesus preventing you from sinning. There are many examples that could be given of this wonderful aspect of grace.

So we can say that Paul has a great deal in mind when he refers to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew Henry summarises it as ‘the good will of Christ towards you, the good work of Christ in you,’ and that is a helpful way to remember it.

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