Tuesday, May 17, 2011

John Owen on grace

Grace is a word which has various meanings. But chiefly it means three things:

(1) Grace can mean grace of personal presence and beauty. So we say, 'He or she is a graceful and beautiful person'. The Song of Solomon deals mainly with the grace and beauty of Christ's person. See also Psalm 45.2

(2) Grace can mean grace of free favour and acceptance. 'By grace you are saved'. That is, we are saved by the free favour and merciful acceptance of God in Christ. So the expression 'If I have found grace in your sight' is often used. The person using this expression hopes that he will be freely and favourably accepted. So God 'gives grace', that is, favour, to the humble. (James 4.6; Gen. 39.21; 41.37; Acts 7.10; 1 Sam 2.26; 2 Kings 25.27)

(3) Grace can mean the fruit of the Spirit sanctifying and renewing our natures, enabling us to do those good things which God has purposed and planned for us to do, and holding us back from evil. 'My grace is sufficient for you,' says the Lord Christ. That is, the help which God gave was sufficient for Paul (2 Cor. 12.9; 8.6, 7; Col 3.16; Heb 12.28)

The last two meanings of the word grace, as relating to Christ, I call 'purchased grace', being purchased by him for us. And our communion with Jesus in this purchased grace is called 'a fellowship in his sufferings, and the power of his resurrection.' (Phil. 3.10)

John Owen, Communion with God (Banner of Truth, 1991), pp.46-47

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