“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”
— Ephesians 2:8
For by grace are we reconciled unto God.
The same grace that motivated the Most High to ordain us unto salvation, according to which it was his purpose to make us lovely even as he is lovely, explains why he reconciled us unto himself through the death of his Son.
Saved we are by grace.
This means that we were lifted from the deepest depth of sin and shame, of guilt and condemnation, of corruption and death, to the highest possible bliss of eternal righteousness and life and glory.
Saved we are.
Created we were with all the elect in the first man Adam, who was made a living soul; who had life, but not in himself; who lived without being the lord of life; whose glory was corruptible, whose righteousness could be lost, whose life was mortal, and who was of the earth earthly. In him we violated God’s covenant and became guilty, liable to death and damnation, subject to corruption, children of wrath. Our condition was hopeless as far as we were concerned. For in Adam we could sin, but we could never pay a ransom for our sin; we could die in him, but we had no power to regain life in God’s favor; we could turn away from the Fount of life, but never could we return to him. We could only increase the guilt of our sin every day, through every word we spoke, by every deed we performed, with every breath we took. Enemies of God we were, hating him and hating one another.
Saved we are.
Saved by grace, by free and sovereign grace.
For even then, when we were dead in sin, objects of God’s righteous wrath, who could never be restored to the favor of God unless we would willingly take the way through the depths of hell, he loved us and reconciled us unto himself.
Us he reconciled. Do not express this differently. Do not say that he reconciled himself to us, for to reconcile is to restore a relation of love and faith and friendship that has been violated and broken, the relation of the covenant. On his part that relation was never violated. He is the eternal I AM, who changes not. With an eternal, immutable, sovereign love he loved his own, even when they were rebels. Us he reconciled. Us he restored to that state in which we were the proper objects of his favor and blessing, the state of eternal righteousness.
For such is reconciliation: restoration to favor in the way of perfect justice.
Justice required satisfaction, and satisfaction of the justice of God with respect to our sin could be accomplished only by a voluntary act of perfect obedience even unto death. Not merely to suffer the punishment for sin is satisfaction. Even the damned in hell suffer the agonies of death, yet they do not atone for their sins. God demands that we love him. This means that the sinner who violated God’s law and trampled underfoot his covenant must love God in his righteous wrath, love him in death and hell, if ever the sinner is to atone.
This act of perfect obedience we could never perform.
Reconciled we are by grace.
For when in sovereign grace he chose us and ordained us to be conformed according to the image of his Son, he chose us in him. By grace he ordained his Son to be the head of the church, to become flesh, to assume the burden of our sin and guilt, to enter into our deepest woe, to become sin for us, so that we could become the righteousness of God in him.
By grace he was sent into the world.
By grace he chose the way of suffering and death, the way through the depth of hell, there to lay upon God’s altar the sacrifice that would be sufficient to satisfy the justice of God.
God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.
That he could show forth the riches of his grace.
For by grace we are saved.
By grace only.
....to be continued.
This is the second part of Chapter 19: By Grace taken from the book All Glory to the Only Good God by Herman Hoeksema, edited by David J. Engelsma.
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