Grace – The First Amigo

An Undefinable Word

Grace is a subject that is broad and deep. I could take years examining the word of God and not adequately plumb the depths of grace. If I had an unlimited vocabulary and perfect writing skills, I would not be able to adequately communicate the beauty of His grace. There just are no words for it. So I will do the best I can to share what I have learned. But to describe it accurately is to try to accurately describe a beautiful sunset painted on the canvass of the sky. To adequately communicate its affect on the human souls is more difficult than to describe in detail the joy of watching one’s child be born…or their first intentional smile!

A Theological Description

God’s grace is that perfection or attribute of God that enables Him to have mercy on us. It is that part that strives with a rebellious person like me…and you. Like every other perfection (or attribute) grace just isn’t an adjective, it isn’t even just part of God. Grace IS who God is. Just like He is love, righteous, holy, just, etc. God is grace and He sheds His grace on us. Now how He sheds grace on humanity can be different but make no mistake that all of humanity experiences God’s grace one way or another.


Important Distinctions

Common Grace

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.                   – Matthew 5:44-45 NASB

Common grace is shed on all mankind, not just the elect. We see it in not only the rain cited in Matthew 5, but also in the healing of diseases, feeding the hungry, withholding judgement of those who scoff at God, murder others, and commit all sorts of unrighteousness. We even saw it at the beginning of man’s rebellion when God was gracious to Adam and Eve by making them clothes and graciously allowing them to live rather than execute judgement on them immediately. God’s common grace is that grace that everyone enjoys whether they recognize it as being from God or not.


Saving Grace

But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.  – Acts 15:11 NASB


The saving grace of God is on full display during the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. In Acts 15 the Council has been convened to discuss the issue of gentiles getting saved. A question arose that centered around the issue of whether the gentiles needed to become Jewish and hold to the Law before they could be saved. It was an honest argument that later turned into a legalistic requirement by some. Anyway, the result of that discussion is the verse quoted above: ALL mankind are saved by the grace of God.


In Ephesians 2 Paul states

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.                                            – Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB


Some Questions for Thought

God’s grace is what saves us. So what does this have to do with justification and sanctification? And what about security? Can we once saved ever be not saved? Does God’s grace keep us as well?

All these questions are good ones that need straightforward answer. They all will be addressed in the next few weeks as we continue to consider the three amigos of grace, justification and sanctification. It may get a little tangled, but there are very important things to understand about these three amigos and how they apply to life. We’ll also be able to understand how each is distinct from the other but how each works with and enhances the other. I hope you stick around for the ending. It is really awesome.

And I do mean AWE-some



The Three Amigos

I’m at about 35,000 feet in the air as I write this article. I’m flying to a conference in St. Paul, Minnesota that will take a week of my life. This type of thing isn’t necessarily the most fun I have on my job, but it is part of my job. Sometimes understanding why I have to leave my family for a bit of time is difficult. Like this time. I just don’t always understand the need for me to go somewhere. But my job demands it, so I go. I plug away and work hard to get through it, not just slog through it –  but get through it well. Why? Because everything I do, even the things I don’t fully understand – I do for Christ my King.

This article is the first in a series that examine the relationship between grace, justification, and sanctification. The reason I am examining these three amigos is a dear brother in the Lord asked me a question. I didn’t have an answer for him and I struggled a bit forming one. But I kept going. Not just to get an answer, but for the glory of Christ my Savior and King. Do I fully understand everything? Nope. Does my lack of understanding in any way detract from the truth of God’s word? Nope.

My plan is to examine each of these three important doctrines. I will then put it all together in (hopefully) one article that will try to put these three amigos together. I hope I communicate the truths I have discovered well because, quite frankly, they are nothing short of awesome. So let’s jump in and discover God’s wonderful three amigos – Grace, Justification, and Sanctification.

These three doctrines are important to understand on their own. It is also important to understand how each of them interacts with the others. And not for just these three essential doctrines but for all essential doctrines. Getting that done is not always easy – well, truth be told, it is never easy. But it is important because none of these doctrines works its way out in our lives in a vacuum.

There is a logical progression of sorts in the order these doctrines become effective in the life of a believer. This is only a logical order since there is very little (if any) time between these doctrines becoming active in the life of a believer. The logical progression of these three amigos can be illustrated simply



As I said before, this is simply the logical – not chronological – progression. In real time, the three amigos essentially happen at the same time but do have an affect on each other throughout the Christian’s life.

I hope you  enjoy this short series concerning these three very important doctrines. As usual, we will proceed as fast as the subjects allow. I’m in no hurry to get these done. I am, though, wanting to communicate precisely and clearly the subjects. I trust you will profit from this.