Grace, Respect of Persons and Pet Doctrines

Obviously, saying that grace does not mean “undeserved favor” is not going to go over big in our day. We’ve been bludgeoned with this definition and to go against it seems to go against the very Word of God itself.

Except that the Word of God never defines grace this way. Surely no one would ever claim to deserve God’s grace, but we’ve taken this definition to mean there is nothing you do for God’s grace.

“If we do something to get it that’s works and thus no more grace. God then owes us grace based on what we did,” is the objection. But I object to that objection.

God is the one who dispenses grace, and has, in fact, shown grace to everyone, as the grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared to all men, regardless of who they are. Grace has to be available to all or else God is a respecter of persons.

God does not dispense grace on a whim. Oh, I know, God says “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” This is true. God, being the dispenser of grace, decides who gets it.

And the rest of the Bible that was written to us by God as much as Romans 9:15, says that God gives grace to those who humbly receive it by faith.

Humbly receiving God’s grace is not doing a work, it’s not earning grace, it’s not deserving grace, it’s merely taking grace the only way God says His grace can be taken.

Allowing the “respect of persons” to help us define “grace” causes problems for two groups of people, both of which I’m sure I’ve heard from since bringing this up!

1) Anyone who believes in Irresistable Grace–If God foists His grace upon people for no reason, merely His whim, then God is a respecter of persons. He shows favor to people based on a predisposed feeling of favor based on nothing.

2) Anyone who thinks grace means no obedience–humbly receiving grace by faith implies submission and obedience. A disobedient person is not humble. Ever. God gives grace to those who want it, and you show your desire by your humility and desire to obey God.

The Bible does not use the word “grace” the way we do. We might as well face that point and deal with it rather than playing games and devising definitions that make us feel better about ourselves.

21 thoughts on “Grace, Respect of Persons and Pet Doctrines”

  1. We do not merit the merit of Christ. We, by grace through faith, a faith that is not ourselves but a gift from God, are given the merit of Christ.
    Romans 4:5
    If there were conditions, then salvation would be earned and kept by obedience to those conditions. Salvation then would not be by grace, but works! In short, God would owe you salvation because you did something to deserve, earn or keep it. And if you earned it, it would stand to reason that you could unearn it.
    Why do some chose Christ and some do not?
    Throughout John’s gospel, Jesus talks about those whom the Father has given Him- none of them will be lost. All of those come to Him and all of those are preserved by Him.
    If we say that man and God are working together in the matter of salvation, we are saying that we have grounds to boast. I believe that my salvation is by grace; that even the faith that I have comes as a gift from God. There is nothing we can lay claim to, nothing that which we can boast. Our salvation entirely comes from the Lord.
    I was dead in my sins, how could I come to faith in Christ without Him first raising me, I had no hope, He gave me grace not because of what I done but because who He is.

  2. “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”

    This is grace brother, unmerited, undeserved favor, doesn’t the Creator have the right to free the heart of whomever He so pleases?

  3. ANd yet not once are you dealing with the verses I’m quoting. How would your theology change if the verses I’ve brought up were not in the bible? None at all!

    God gives grace to the humble, yet you tell me God gives humility to those he gave grace to. Who do I go with, you or the Bible?

    I believe man has the ability to choose to humbly believe the Gospel. If God forces salvation on a select few then he is a respecter of persons and thus not the God of the Bible.

  4. “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble”

    Here is one of the verses you pointed out in your last post.
    Jeff this verse is being addressed to young “believers” not unbelievers, to humble themselves to their elders. But that is beside the main point, God does plead with us all to humble ourselves, He gives us all a free will to choose him. But without Him first freeing our hearts, we will not freely chose Him, we cannot for we are dead in our sins. There is nothing inside of us apart from God doing a work in our heart, that will repent and trust in Him.

    Yes God does give grace to humble, when He frees our heart and we see our depravity and turn to Him, He welcomes us with open arms, we do make a choice at that moment, reformed folks don’t have a problem with choosing.

  5. That is the context of the 1 Peter passage, agreed. The exact phrase is used two other times in different contexts, plus many implied times, such as what does God require of men–that they walk humbly with their God. Faith is impossible apart from humility, faith is how we receive grace. The phrase is used to describe the nature of God and how He gives grace in many contexts and circumstances, but always with the same condition.

  6. How can a man,dead in his sins, have humility unless he has been regenerated? We have humility only when the Father gives it to us, until a man see’s his sinfulness he will not have humility.
    As Paul said, “reformed folks don’t have a problem with choosing” we see God as the one that allows use to choose but once our eye’s are opened to the truth we will chose nothing but Christ.To say otherwise is to say some men were born with humility in their hearts and some were not and that is why He chose some. This starts to unravel grace all together. He does give grace on the same conditions but we will never meet those conditions until He changes our heart first. Grace is unmerited favor, nothing that we do gets us saved, it is only because God decided to save some for His good pleasure.

  7. Jeff,
    Your foundation is that God gives grace only to the humble correct?
    Therefore with that logic, all professing Christians are the most humble people in the world. Is that the message we should use to evangelize lost people with? Doesn’t that seem a bit arrogant to you?
    Is that the way we want to be perceived?
    We are the most humble people in the world?

  8. Jeff,
    Perhaps your done talking about this, but I believe it is God’s grace that humbles us. When we are set free by God’s grace our hearts are able to grasp the mercy of God, and when we see the goodness of God we are able to trust in Him. Any hint of us getting credit for our salvation would nullify pure grace.

  9. Hence my problem with Calvinism. The Bible says several times and in many contexts that God gives grace to the humble. Calvinism says God doesn’t, that he gives grace first and then humility. If you won’t hear the Bible, what can I say? So yeah, again, I am done! You can have the last word.

  10. Jeff,
    It’s not about winning an argument, it is about the Bible. I did a search for the phrase “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble” it comes up in James and Peter in both cases the authors are addressing “believers” in regards to not being puffed up with pride, that being proud will hinder the Holy Spirit’s working in our lives. God does give grace to the humble, those whom are trusting in Christ and the Holy Spirit is living in, and working through.
    This type of grace is much different than the saving grace we are talking about. If I am in your view, misinterpreting these verses please correct me.
    God’s Peace To You!

  11. Jeff,
    Perhaps we are talking past each other, the grace I am referring to is the grace of election that Paul speaks of in Romans Chapter 11
    2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying,

    3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

    4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

    5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

    6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

    Also chapter 9 of Romans makes it very clear to me that God does as He pleases, it doesn’t seem “fair’ to us that He would harden someone’s heart so that He could show mercy to others. This seems to be your objection to the grace of election that some are set free and others are not?

    But all ARE free to turn from their sins and turn to God, you are saying if we would just humble ourselves, God would give us His grace, I agree with that statement 100%. How is one to humble themselves in this manner though, with their willpower? Should we say to ourselves okay I’m going to be humble now, I’m going to stop being prideful and be humble, don’t you see that is of works? if we could be humble apart from God doing a work in our hearts Christ died in vain.
    It is about trusting, that is how we are set free, in my sin I couldn’t humble myself, but as God showed me His mercy through the cross, I knew I could trust a God like that, He is still working on the humbling part.

  12. OK, I said I’d give you the last word, but your last word sort of asked me a question! Soooooo. . .

    These verses, James and Peter, are a quote of Proverbs 3:34. Most of Proverbs has no context. Thus Proverbs is making a statement about the character of God, James and Peter are making statements off Proverb’s statement about GOd’s nature. You are, as I understand it, saying that God gives “lesser” grace to the humble, but saving grace to who? The proud? Apparently, because according to Calvinism, people who are dead in sin can’t be humble.

    I disagree with that as well. The Bible never says sinners can’t be humble and be saved. The Bible never defines “dead in sin” as an inability to respond to the goodness of God, yet Calvinism bases all its doctrine off this interpretation.

    God gives grace to the humble. Show me one verse that says He gives grace to the proud–I mean, actually says that, not a verse that says a Calvinistic phrase that is interpreted to be this phrase.

  13. Jeff,
    I said I agree that God gives grace to the humble 100%, but only those who are trusting in Christ can be truly humbled. I never said that God gives saving grace to the proud, only to His elect, if I boast, I boast only in what Christ has done, it is only by mercy and truth being revealed to us that men turn to trust in Christ.

    4The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

    5Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

    6By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. Proverbs 16: 4-6

    God has made some for destruction, and others for Himself. I am not proud in my election, but I am truly humbled by it though, I hope you believe me brother. I did nothing to deserve His grace!

  14. Jeff ,
    One final thought, I believe Proverbs 3:34 does have context, both of the preceding verses are addressed to the upright, and the righteous. And that it would be within good reason to believe that the favor of God is given to such as these, and not to the unregenerate who attempt at being humble through human effort and not by true faith. (filthy rags)
    Plus both uses of this verse in the NT are addressed to believers, God does give grace to those working out their salvation and counted as humble, righteous and upright.

    “for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD,
    but the “upright” are in his confidence.
    The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the dwelling of the “righteous”.
    Toward the scorners he is scornful,
    but to the “humble” he gives favor”
    Proverbs 3:32-34

  15. Fine. You’re missing my point.

    If God gives grace to the humble, then how do people get saved? We’re saved by grace–Ephesians 2:8. So, according to you there is “good reason to believe that the favor of God is given to such as these [the upright and righteous], and not to the unregenerate.” these are your words. So now, in a complete reversal, you are saying that a man must be righteous and upright before he gets grace, i.e.–salvation?! I doubt you are saying it even though you just said it.

    I’m just curious how you think the unregenerate get regenerated apart from grace? God must then give grace to the proud. Again, where is this verse that says God gives grace to the proud you are basing your theology on?

  16. How do people get saved?
    By trusting in Christ, God gives us the grace to do this. We cannot humble ourselves, Christ frees our heart, so that we can freely choose Him.
    I have never said that God gives grace to the proud, but only to His elect. I guess we could go on forever talking past each other, because you keep accusing me of saying that God gives grace to the proud, which I have never said.
    Jeff, God does give grace to the humble, so how do we become truly humble? By trusting in Christ, right? So who is trusting in Christ? Those whom He has set free from their sins, by grace.

  17. “We cannot humble ourselves, Christ frees our heart, [ . . . ]” These are your words Paul…. So you are saying God without giving grace helps us to be humble so that He can therefore give us grace because we are humble? Or are you just saying that God gives grace to the proud?

  18. We cannot be humble, and we won’t bend the knee to Christ before He frees our heart because…
    The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

    The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

    even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

    And finally-No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day

  19. Paul, I’m not talking past you, I”m hearing what you are saying.

    You say
    1) We cannot humble ourselves
    2) Christ frees our heart
    3) God gives grace to His elect

    These are your words that I am not talking past!

    Which means, since unregenerate people can’t be humble, then they must be proud, therefore God gives grace to some proud people–His elect people who were proud before He made them saved. Unless you are saying that God’s elect are always saved and were never unregenerate.

    Or, if your’e not saying that the elect were always regenerate, then you must be saying that God does in fact respect people by giving a special group grace and thus destroys all claim he has to being just,

  20. 1. If a man could become humble before God on his own, then he has something to be proud of.
    2. Job 30:11 says, “God has loosed my cord and humbled me.” While it is true that we must humble ourselves, we only do that because God *first* humbles us. And, after humbling us (such that we humble ourselves), God gives us more grace (He exalts us). This is the same pattern we see everywhere in Scripture. For example We must *have faith* to be saved. But, God gives us the gift of faith (Eph 2:8-9). So, we must have faith, but we only do that because God gives us the gift of faith. After having faith, God gives us more grace (He justifies us). So, humility is like any other “grace” of the Bible: it is a gift of God’s grace and it is something we do in order to receive grace upon grace.

  21. Jeff,
    I have answered all your questions to best of my ability. So answer me this one question Before Jacob and Esau were born, was God just in loving Jacob and hating Esau? Did He not choose to love one and hate the other, is this just in our understanding?
    Thanks for your reply brother.

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