It’s impossible to understand God’s way of bringing people into His Kingdom, without seeing the relationship between His requirements (conditions) and His promises (grace).
He requires faith in Jesus as the grand condition of salvation. Without faith in Christ, no one can be saved. However, there is a problem: no one can work up faith in himself. No one can simply decide one morning, “Today, I will stop disbelieving Jesus and start trusting Him.” The heart of every person is supernaturally locked into unbelief, at enmity with God. Every heart is closed and no one can open it. So how can anyone be saved?
“God knows we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requires no more than he gives, and gives what he requires, and accepts what he gives.”
The beautiful and amazing answer is: grace. In a gesture of all out mercy, God meets the condition for those He saves by giving them faith in Jesus as a gift. Like water on hard ground, this was slow to sink in on me.
So a major and marvelous gospel truth is that God requires faith and then grants faith, all by grace. And that’s how it works. And it is wildly intriguing and comforting to those who know it’s true.
A Slightly More Complicated Way of Putting It:
“Let it be granted on the one hand, that we cannot have an actual participation of the relative grace of this covenant in adoption and justification, without faith or believing; and on the other, that this faith is produced in us, given to us, bestowed on us, by that grace of the covenant.”
John Owen, Covenant Theology, 262.
The Lord Gives What He Requires – JW Hendryx
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